Collin Graham in Conversation with Henry Gutierrez

COLLIN GRAHAM INTERVIEW BY HENRY GUTIERREZ

Where are you at this very moment?

I’m at my apartment in Virginia Beach.

Where did you skate today?

I skated up at Williams Farm Skatepark, best skatepark around.

Is that your favorite spot?

Best one around here locally for me to skate. It’s the best we got right now.

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. You’re the one everyone knows as the kid that does the stalefish eggplant Elguerial. What do you call it? 

The Collinoscopy.

Why do you call it that?

It’s just a hard trick and my friend, Derek Krasauskas, always makes jokes about farts and ass and he came up with the name. I thought it was funny, so I just kind of used it and it stuck.

Your dad skates. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your dad.

My dad grew up skating with the Windsor Woods guys and Rob “Peewee” Agliam back in the day and he got me on a skateboard as soon as I started standing. I slowly worked my way up to ramps and got to go to Trashmore. He used to take me there all the time and I’d just practice. It just kind of escalated from there.

“There are really some massive skate families here. Some people outside of Virginia don’t really know what it’s about. They just think, “Oh, they brand themselves with forks. That’s crazy.” It’s really a legacy of skateboarding and the brotherhood of Virginia Beach. To be a part of it means so much, especially that so many people around the world know about it. We definitely made an impact on the skateboarding community and it really means the most for me to be a part of that.”

We can’t leave your mom out. Tell us about your mom.

[Laughs] My mom supports me as much as she can from home and with moral support. 

That’s good. I know you consider yourself an all terrain dog. What do you like skating the most terrain-wise?

I like to skate ramps, any kind really, and bowls. Bigger bowls are fun to skate. It’s a lot easier for me to skate bigger stuff just because of the gradual tranny. You can flow. It’s not a lot of ollie-ing down stuff, like the street side of it is. Ramps are just more fun for me to skate.

When I first started skating with you, when you were a little kid, you used to pop stinkbug frontside airs everywhere to keep your speed. It was like your go-to trick.

[Laughs] That was bad.

What is your go-to trick now?

[Laughs] I don’t know. I do frontside airs pretty consistently, a sort of big frontside tuck knee air or something like that is what I feel pretty comfortable with.

Cool. What’s your philosophy towards learning new stuff?

Don’t be a bitch and give yourself a chance to try and really attempt it. Don’t count yourself out, although I feel like I do that a lot with some tricks I want to learn. You really just gotta work at it day and night if you want to learn something. If you try over and over and over again, you’ll definitely get it eventually. I’ve done that with a lot of tricks.

What motivates you to keep improving?

I’ll skate with a lot of other pros and crews and try to improve. It’s crazy what people are doing now and it makes you want to do something different like the Collinoscopy and evolve skateboarding and keep making changes and trying better tricks and harder tricks.

Who do you skate for?

I’m skating for Embassy Skateboards, Ace Trucks, Powerflex Wheels, Merge4 and WRV.

When did you first turn pro?

I turned pro when I was 18. I was at the Florida Bowlriders Cup and I got third place against Kevin Kowalski and Chris Russell and won money in my first pro contest.

As a skateboarder, would you rather be liked or respected?

Like or respected? Why can’t you have both?

You can have both. That’s a good answer.

[Laughs] Yeah.

CLASSIC COLLINOSCOPY – PHOTO © JJ KEFALAS

What are your favorite bands?

Slayer is definitely always a favorite choice to get me pumped up to skate. It depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I listen to some random hip hop or rap, but normally it’s some punk. David Gonzalez’s band, Ratt Black, is really good. It’s been getting me hyped up. I listen to Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Adolescents, Misfits and bands like that.

What’s it like skating for Embassy?

It’s the best. Lee Leal is the best team manager you could ever ask for. He supports you every way he can. He gets you there because you definitely need to be there.

How did you get on Embassy?

I went to Texas with you for the Jeff Phillips Memorial contest at the vert ramp. I was on Shipyard at the time. Lee was there and I was with you and you were riding for Embassy, and I guess Lee saw me and liked the way that I skated and wanted to put me on the team. I knew you were on the team and I really liked all the rad guys that were on there and I thought it was a good move for me to make. Lee seemed like he could make things happen for me, so I went that route.

What’s your earliest memory of seeing skateboarding?

That’s hard. I will tell you a good solid memory that was a long time ago. Jeff Grosso and Adam Effertz and a bunch of other people came to Trashmore to have a session. I was really young. I wasn’t even dropping into vert yet, I don’t think. Those guys came and just shredded the ramp. That’s the first time I really remember watching people skate when I was younger.

Okay, where is your favorite place to eat? 

I always gotta go with Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A is amazing.

Chick-Fil-A is definitely good. Do you think the best part of your life has already happened and if not, what’s your guess about the best part that will come?

I hope the best part of my life hasn’t come yet. I mean, I’ve had a lot of fun so far, but everything I’m doing now is just working towards what could be in the future. Hopefully, I can make it for myself and, when everything has calmed down and I’m settled and everything is good financially, I’m still skateboarding and have a family mixed in and I’m happy. I guess that would be the high point of my life, when I’m fully satisfied with everything. 

Awesome. Okay let’s talk about the scene in Virginia Beach compared to a lot of the places that you’ve been. What are some of the differences?

In California, there are always people skating somewhere. There’s an abundance of skaters in California and places like that. Even in Australia and Brazil, there’s a huge skate scene. In Virginia Beach, some of the older heads skate and there’s some new kids that skate and it’s growing slowly. I wish there would be more contests on the East Coast because that would definitely blow it up more. There’s not as much recognition by big companies here. You don’t really see too much stuff that we do. It kind of goes unnoticed as opposed to any little thing that happens on the West Coast.

Do you like contests?

Yeah. I do. I like getting to hang out with all of the guys that I love skating with that push me a lot. It’s fun to catch up and skate and just have a rad session at a contest where everyone is just killing it the best they can.

Skateboarding has a long history in Virginia Beach, especially in vert, and all the freaks around here in the scene do dumb stuff like branding themselves with forks. It’s a tradition in our long history of skating through the early ‘80s. Tell us about the night that you got your first fork burn.

We had started having Super Bowl parties at our friend Bob’s house. Everyone was just getting rowdy for Super Bowl and he had started building a bowl in his backyard. We got to session it a little bit and the party was winding down and there had been some talk about me getting the brand. I didn’t know this was going to happen, but then he called me over during the last couple minutes of the game and he fired up the forks on the stove and just went for it. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it was going to, but over the next couple weeks it definitely hurt when it was healing. It hurt like a bitch, especially when everyone slapped it like tradition says.

Did you get to skate Bob’s pool before he put water in it?

I was coming back from Brazil when he was having the big session right before he filled it up. I got to skate it when it was all crusty with no pool coping on it, holes everywhere and pipes sticking out. That was pretty rad. 

“When I’m bored, I just want to skate. It’s the one thing that I want to do. I like to be active and I can express myself through my style and my tricks. After I went to Mt. Trashmore every day for two years, by the time I was 13 or 14, I was starting to get better and get more tricks and I was just like, “Wow, I really love this. It would be so cool to be with pros skating those contests, doing what I love.” I think that’s when it really sunk in. I was like, “I want to make it in skateboarding and be a professional and have my name out there and make it better if possible.”

Besides skateboarding, what else do you like doing in your spare time?

I like to hang out with friends, and relax on my time off when it’s crappy outside or I’m a little out of it from being out of the country for a while. It kind of takes a toll on your body. I just hang out and chill. I have the beach right here, so it’s always fun to just kick it for the day at the beach with someone.

What was the last lie you told?

Half of that last one. 

[Laughs] Here’s another dumb question. If you were a t-shirt, what color would you be and why?

[Laughs] I’d be green. Green is my favorite color.

Okay, let’s go back to contests. You have entered a lot of contests, so what’s your approach? When you go to contests, do you just concentrate on the contest or do you like having a good time there? Is the contest kind of secondary in a way sometimes? What do you think?

The contest is usually my main priority because I’m there because of skateboarding and I definitely want to do good and make a name for myself. I don’t want to blow it and have people waste money on me getting there and stuff. You definitely have to enjoy the fun side of it too, but skating is fun for me. Just getting to skate with all the guys is fun. If you can win money in the contest or not, either way is good as long as you’re having fun. The competition scene is always a fun one to be around. You should definitely go have fun, but definitely try your hardest at the same time.

Who do you mostly skate with when you’re at home?

Normally, I skate with the older Windsor Woods guys, like you and Allen Midgette and his son, Nathan. Ronnie and Dylan O’Neal are always fun to skate with too. Ronan Livingston is my favorite younger skater right now. He’s killing it so much. There are all kinds of people to skate with here and it’s always a fun session. 

If somebody from out of town wanted to come and skate, what are some of the spots here in Virginia Beach that you would bring them to?

I would definitely take them to Williams Farm Skatepark just because it’s such a rad park. There are so many different things there. It’s one of the biggest bowls on the East Coast, and one of the best bowls on the East Coast, in my opinion. I would definitely show them that. Other than that, there are some spots around here, like Trashmore which is famous, if they want to skate a vert ramp. If they wanted to skate an old school size vert ramp, I’d take them to Stewart Black’s backyard vert ramp. If they wanted to skate some gnarlier pools, we’d go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and hit up some backyard pools or some of the gnarly parks out there.

Have you ever skated at Science’s?

Oh yeah. It’s basically Noah’s Ark. He built it by himself in his backyard. It started out as a vert ramp with an entire bowled in section and then he made a waterfall coming up on one side and a waterfall drop back down into a 9’ round and then he made another 7’ corner section. It’s massive and I can’t believe that someone built that in their backyard. It’s only an hour and a half away from me. It’s an amazing spot. If anyone is in the area, they definitely should check it out.

Yeah. That is definitely an awesome structure. Okay, back to the tradition of Virginia Beach and the solidarity amongst the skaters. Can you talk about some of the people in the Fork crew, and explain to everybody what it’s about?

There are really some massive skate families here. Some people outside of Virginia don’t really know what it’s about. They just think, “Oh, they brand themselves with forks. That’s crazy.” It’s really a legacy of skateboarding and the brotherhood of Virginia Beach. To be a part of it means so much, especially that so many people around the world know about it. We definitely made an impact on the skateboarding community and it really means the most for me to be a part of that. 

Okay. What moment in your life made you think that you were going to keep skateboarding forever?

Well, I always loved doing it. My dad got me started so early that it really just got sunk into my heart and I loved doing it and I just have to keep doing it. When I’m bored, I just want to skate. It’s the one thing that I want to do. I like to be active and I can express myself through my style and my tricks. After I went to Mt. Trashmore every day for two years, by the time I was 13 or 14, I was starting to get better and get more tricks and I was just like, “Wow, I really love this. It would be so cool to be with pros skating those contests, doing what I love.” I think that’s when it really sunk in. I was like, “I want to make it in skateboarding and be a professional and have my name out there and make it better if possible.”

Sick. Okay, I think we pretty much covered it. Why don’t you give a shout out to whoever you want right now?

Okay, shout out to my mom, my dad, all the Windsor Woods crew, Virginia Beach, the East Coast, all my sponsors, Embassy Skateboards and Juice Magazine. I’m stoked. Thank you so much.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, GET ISSUE #77 AT THE JUICE SHOP HERE.

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