words: d. wilson • editor: m. moronie • photo: j. diaz • I suggest you read the whole story and don’t be a BITCH: s. engler
I’m sure that I’m not the first or only to feel this way about you. Each person that hates you has their reasons. Whether it be prejudice, jealousy, ignorance, disappointment etc. My reason is what you’ve molded me to be and most of all the way you make me feel!
You make me feel like a fat dude dating a supermodel; soaking up all the skills I can offer, just until I am replaced by the next with more skills. You’re like a shitty girlfriend who takes and takes, and gives the bare minimum in return, just enough to keep me interested and willing to give more.
You’ve taken my money, my time, and my interest from almost everything (including a successful normal life). You know what else does that to a man? DRUGS! You are my drug of choice and have pushed me to become a “Drug Dealer.”
The Drug Called Rollerblading
I have traveled around the world; designated travels to places in the Middle East like Bahrain to organize a Red Bull competition, and Abu Dhabi to do skate demos and build skateparks. To South American countries such as Ecuador to also perform demos and do sport program interviews; Bogotá, Columbia to judge a contest accompanied by a demo presented to an audience of a couple thousand. I’ve traveled to do photo-shoots in Amsterdam, then engaged in the infamous scene where I did drugs legally. Each new place of travel I’d meet people from different cultural backgrounds whom enjoy skating just as much as I. These encounters created new friendships that I will remember for a lifetime, and the places I’d be so lucky to re-visit…I would reconnect with buddies I haven’t seen in years!
At some destinations I’d have a two bedroom condo all to myself. In others a room to myself, but most of the time I find myself having to share a bed or sleep on the floor in the home of someone I just met. In those rare and lucky instances, I’d end up having to crash in someone’s garage with my clothes as a blanket, in a car sitting up, on a stretcher, or outside; because it’s nicer than inside. All in all I wouldn’t take any of it back!
I am a “Professional” Rollerblader, and I have two signature shoes; each in two different colors (something I would have never imagined as kid just skating to skate). I’ve also had two signature skates, four signature wheels, two signature shirts, a signature bearing, and a signature “signature”.
I’ve been on four skate magazines covers, three main feature interviews in skate magazines, and over fifty appearances within eight different magazines in my career. I have ten profiles that have been featured in skate DVD’s, and ten or more edits for my Sponsors on the World Wide Web. I have over an hour and a half of edited skate footage out there! Enough to make a documentary with no words, just skating. Not bad for nineteen years of work!
I’ve made companies successful with my ideas, marketing and skating. I’ve also rode for companies that couldn’t be helped and it financially strained them more than they could afford. Overtime, I grew tired of others using my hard work to make money and not even listen to my ideas. So, I started something of my own! With the unfortunate help of a relative passing away, I made use of monies received as a beneficiary and gave life to Fester Wheels. Through the dedicated help from two of my favorite skaters and great friends, Joey Chase and Mathieu Ledoux, we made Fester a reality, and a company that we controlled as Skaters!
I can say I’ve achieved a lot within the sport I love and still continue to strive for more and push my own limits, but I never achieved the one goal that may have had a huge impact in career. To get paid enough to just skate for two years. That’s right, I’ve achieved everything listed above while working a full time job, (with the exceptions of layoffs due to traveling excessively, injuries, or construction work being inconsistent) all pushing to that one final goal, to make a living from skating.
I am a twenty-seven year old world traveling “Professional” Rollerblader. I’m known by thousands for my skills, met hundreds of genuine people throughout the world. Made friends with most and partied with all of them! I lived a life most millionaires couldn’t pay to have!
My name is Damien Wilson. I live in my Mother’s garage, and run a Rollerblade business out of her backyard! All things stated above are 100% true. For those of you that skate, I am going to give you a little insight in regards to my relationship with The Conference and Xsjado. Most of all, let you know how I feel about and deal with this “Drug” called “Rollerblading”!
That’s it! That’s all! Two Cents about my Xsjado!
For most of us that skate to this day, we all started for similar reasons: something to do with friends, a self-disciplined sport out of the norm, or the simple enjoyment of having wheels under our feet. As we got older people tapered off due to other interests such as; partying, driving, college, jobs, etc. and most of all PUSSY! Those of us who stuck with it while managing all the above, are what is known as a “functioning drug addict”.
I say this because skating has now become an addictive drug to each of us who still participate even after most of who we started with have quit. Each day that passes without some form of involvement makes us more and more irritable and depressed. Each time we get our “FIX” it lightens our spirits and helps relieve the monotonous day to day stress. Making everyday life which may involve work, girlfriend, moving, bills, etc., a little more tolerable. For those of us “lucky” enough to get “sponsored”, it only gets worse. Everyone wants free shit, especially when it’s directly related to their passion, but once you’ve achieved that stepping stone, you want more. You want to be recognized as a member of the company, an “AM”. With each new stepping stone acquired, the obsession becomes more intense, and withdrawals from skating worsen. Once you reach the top, your personal goal, or “PRO” level…everything changes.
Skating is no longer a self-motivated “for fun” sport. Every person on your level becomes a friend, colleague, inspiration, and direct competition. A threat to your position and hard work. You see, while most of us are blindly striving to reach “the top”: we ignore, or lack the foresight to see there is only “X” amount of space at the top reserved for “PROs” in the industry. To make matters worse, only 1/3 of us “Should Be” or “Need To Be” “PRO” to keep the spot alive and possibly spark interest to new participants and investors (especially in the state of health our sport is in). I’m against my pride, and confidence in self-worth, do not fit that 1/3 alongside many others out there!
Growing up watching and participating in skating on a daily basis, I too had my own favorite skaters that helped shape my skating and mold me as a Professional. Dustin Latimer and Dominic Sagona being the two main influences and favorite to watch. During Latimer’s prime and rise to the top, I rode for Razors as an “AM”. It took a lot of time and effort to get that position, I was proud of what I achieved and honored to be touring with the Razor’s “PRO” Team. Somehow I always knew I would never be a part of the Pro Team. Though my unorthodox approach, and skill in skating had been recognized, it did not fit Razors Team image and type of skating.
A year or so of riding for and touring with Razors had come and gone. All the while I had been thinking of new uses of the same obstacles. Out of the ordinary switch-ups, and different ways to do standard tricks and applying them to my skating; Latimer and the Mind Game dudes had pushed, shaped and molded skating to a more elevated and complex level. Dustin and Shane Coborn (the masterminds of Mind Game) being the thinkers and innovators they are, decided to re-invent the “Roller Blade”. Thus, the creation of Xsjado, a boot company created by and for skaters who envision an “Outside the Box” approach to skating. So much so, they didn’t even spell “Shadow” correct. (Kids, Don’t do Drugs!)
Upon the creation of Xsjado which sparked a new motivation within me, I knew that was where I belonged. I quit Razors, bought a pair of Xsjados, and immediately began filming and shooting photos. I soon established a weekly communication with Shane and had been putting out a ridiculous amount of exposure (as least for that time before the internet ruined skating). When Shane made me “AM”, I continued to put out DVD profiles, photos, and ads in magazines for my other Sponsors; as much exposure as possible to prove myself worthy of “PRO” status.
Six months to a year had passed, the last Mind Game video had dropped with Ben Schwab’s break through section. I received a call, Ben and I were being moved up to “PRO”. BOOM! It’s official, what an honor to be a part of this exclusive team of innovative skaters. The same level as: Dustin Latimer (my still favorite skater to this day), the socially awkward, slightly cocky, but undeniably talented Chris Farmer, (No offense Farmer, but when you’re not skating you remind me of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Funny, but true. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been called Shawn White, Side Show Bob, and Spicoli.) my childhood friend Jeff Stockwell, (who innovated the use of skatepark and bowls) and Ben Schwab! Who in my opinion had to this date, one of the best sections in Rollerblading ever! (BANG, the last Mind Game video.) As Mr. Morales said it best, “I Fucking Made It!”
As few of you may already know, Xsjado had been funded and owned by Salomon which was quickly losing interest in the project due to Aggressive Skating’s decline in participants. When Ben and I were announced “PRO”, it was during negotiations of who was going to buy the Xsjado brand. Therefore, our salaries started off 1/4 of Stockwell and Farmer’s until the deal had been finalized. Once the deal was finalized we were to receive full salaries and start work on our signature skates. The Conference was the winning bidder and thus started the anything but smooth exchange of ownership. The Conference decided to relocate the Xsjado molds, which in turn stopped production for several months. It got so bad I was salvaging parts off old skates and bothering shops to ship me parts to keep skating my Xsjados. Months later with the most tattered, rickety, skates under my feet I finally received a new pair although the company was far from smooth sailing.
It was still difficult to get skates or product when we needed them and even more difficult for U.S. shops to stock them. The Conference had let go of Coborn and Latimer during the mold transfer times, and still to this day don’t have a real U.S. distributer. With no easy way for people to get Xsjados, no brand manager, terrible marketing, and no distinct leadership Xsjado was costing The Conference money. Ben and I got the shit end of that poop stick! We were “at the moment” going to remain at our pay rate and to keep us motivated they began working on our signature skates. Royalties ought to offset not getting paid adequately. All $1.50 per pair of skates sold! Just $0.50 more than a four pack of signature wheels. Considering the history between the Germans and Jews; The Conference sure picked up a trick or two!
With unbreakable compassion for the sport and love of these skates, I continued to push myself in hopes things would get better, but they only worsened. Shortly after I released my promo edit for my first skate, I was riddled with injuries over the next few years. Two severely sprained ankles, a torn ligament in my knee, a fractured pelvis, and a fractured jaw accompanied with a sweet concussion. To make things worse, upon release of my second signature skate I twisted my ankle and made a small tear in my meniscus (the pad in your knee) the first day on my new skates. To add insult to injury, I had seen people in Europe wearing my signature skate two weeks prior to me receiving a pair. I always felt I should be the first to ride my signature skate. One: to start working on a promo edit, and two: it’s just the principle of it.
Shortly before my second signature skate, there were other things brewing amongst Xsjado and The Conference. We had JC Rowe campaigning to be “PRO” for Xsjado. Which in my opinion was Fucking Lame! It was the first time in skating I had heard of such a weird desperate approach. It worked like a charm! Being real good friends with Stockwell and Farmer surely didn’t hurt. I voted “NO” for four reasons: One, he didn’t fit Xsjado’s original philosophy of “Out Side The Box” innovative skating, in fact his skating was always very much “In The Box” traditional. Don’t get me wrong, I respect him as a Professional, and know he is insanely talented. A well rounded park and street skater, who could do tricks I wouldn’t and couldn’t perform, but none the less more of a “PRO” for RollerBlade in my opinion. Two, now that he had been riding Xsjados and trying to become “PRO”, he changed his style of skating and trick selection to better fit in. (Like doing a bunch of negative variations. If that is “Out of the Box” skating, we should have grabbed Josh Letona a long time ago.) Three, if there was no budget to pay Ben and I as proper Professionals, why pick up another rider? Lastly, if this campaigning to be “PRO” worked it would inspire others to attempt this dipshit approach to becoming “PRO”. If you’re reading this, you know who you are!
Let me set things straight. I like JC as a person, respect the shit out of his skills, and since he had become the Xsjado Team Manager, I think he is one of the most “On Top of It” professionals in the industry. As a team and brand manager, well I’ll get in to that later!
So, check it out! While this whole “Rowe for Pro” bullshit is going on, The Conference had brought back Mark Korte, the Team Manager of the original USD “Dream Team”. I don’t want to get in to much detail about Mark, but he’s the dude in the background of the original USD video “Coup de Tat”, a real dip shit! So, Mark was brought in to manage all The Conference aggressive brands including Xsjado. Mark decides to organize a Xsjado meeting at Bitter Cold Showdown 2010. He organizes plane tickets and lodging for JC, Jeff, and Chris but neglects both Ben and myself. I bring this to his attention and he responds back like a total fucking dick! At that point, I call my wheel sponsor at the time M1 and ask him to get me out there. Wally, the owner of M1 knows I am not going to skate the contest; I don’t do that shit anymore, but he loves to party with me, and we are good friends aside. Needless to say, he bought the ticket and got my skinny ass to Detroit!
Wally picks me up when I land in Detroit, MI and takes me straight from the airport to the skatepark where the meeting is being held. The team and I show up a little early but, end up waiting about an hour for Mark. Upon his arrival we start the meeting off right away covering topic after topic; changes we want to see, future marketing, future products, a team video, tours, and finally made it back to the team. Guess who’s on the chopping block? Ben, the only one not there to defend himself. As I recall JC did most of the talking from the three of them, which really pissed me off inside. He was a better speaker and more thought organized than Chris and Jeff, but really? The fucking new guy talking about getting rid of Ben. Both Jeff and Chris agreed under the acknowledgement that Ben hadn’t been producing enough exposure. It was now three votes out to one and that one was me. I just looked at them all and said, “Farmer, you are the face of Xsjado, and Stockwell you are an OG. If you guys say he’s gone, then so be it. I vote him out as well.” I was obviously disappointed with myself, but my vote would have made no difference in this case. I guess it was self-preservation. If I hadn’t made it out to Detroit for the meeting, I’m sure I would have been joining Ben on the bench. Besides, I still wanted a second signature skate and still held on to the delusion of things improving. The meeting pressed forward and Mark took the floor. He began by hyping himself up and talking of legendary tours he managed with the USD “Dream Team” nearly a decade ago. Telling us we need to organize similar tours and get financial backing from other sources, like Gatorade, Levis, etc., seeing as how The Conference no longer held a budget to support such tours.
Mark continued on and on about himself and how successful he had made USD back then, and he used outside resources to make those tours possible. All of us listened intently as if he was going to say something of use to us, instead he continued massaging his ego, and rambled of unrelated bullshit of times past. I raised my hand and broke him in to silence mid-sentence. I began explaining that back then other people organized the tours, the sport was large enough that distributors could easily afford $10,000-$20,000 full team tours. The pros of that era made $6,000-$10,000 a month, and only had to skate. “You are asking us to: to find outside sponsorship for tours, organize the tours, film and document the tour, all the while be the talent and skate. In the meantime our whole team combined makes less than the lowest paid ‘PRO’ on that team you managed nearly a decade ago.” He could sense my irritation, and continued to say, “It’s time to step up. This is you guys’ company. You are the pros, this is your baby, make it grow, you control it’s destiny.” “Bullshit!” I said, “That’s a cop out. You are asking us for way too much on top of inadequate pay. On another note, stop acting as if you personally went out and got outside sponsorship for tours back then. You didn’t, and that didn’t happen! Furthermore, stop acting as if you had something to do with the success of USD back then! Hands down, the USD Team consisted of the six best skaters in the world at that time!” JC then then steps in saying, “Alright, calm down Damien. He’s just saying…” Without hesitation I immediately responded, “Stay out of it JC! He’s just saying what? Let him talk, let him explain why he is sitting here blatantly lying to our faces! You and I know goddamn well he didn’t have outside sponsorship! Did you Mark? You come here and try to motivate us to run this company for you with bullshit lies and past glories! Shit is different now!” I started shaking a little; half from frustration, half because I knew I might have to start fighting any second. Mark was my height and about 40-50 pounds heavier. I knew he’d give me a run for my money, but either way he’d regret swinging. I continued by saying, “Why don’t you stop bullshitting us, and start offering realistic solutions to the problems at hand?” No one had much to say after my quick rant. JC and Mark decided we had covered enough today, and called the meeting to an end. So, we all split ways; I went to the bar to grab a beer and cool my jets. I never saw or heard from that leech again.
About a month or so after our meeting, Mark was fired. He wrote some heart felt fag letter acting as if he was resigning from the industry due to prior commitments and serving his country, but a few of us knew the real deal. As if it weren’t bad enough with the way he spoke to riders, including the most disrespectful letter I have ever read to Collin Kelso, (even though now Collin is a nutzo pussy with an addiction to attention. The Perez Hilton of Rollerblading!) Mark had sent Stockwell and Billy O’Neill to Turkey to do a thirty day mini ramp demo for some candy company out there. I mean this was a real shit gig for guys of their skills. They had to do a one hour demo, 2-3 times a day for thirty days, all the while wearing some silly purple shirts representing the candy company. It’s a pretty shitty gig, but if you’re getting paid well…fuck it! In this case they weren’t; Mark had found a way to swindle the money. A week or two in Billy and Jeff noticed something was up, and decided to hop on a plane and ditch that disaster. They met up with some homies in Europe, contacted The Conference and exposed Mark for the piece of shit he was. Adios Fuck Head!
Another few months had passed, and I was busy working on my Fester section and starting the company. Luckily I had been laid off for sawing my thumb off and was on unemployment, in a positive way it gave me time to work on this, and I didn’t realize how much time it took to start a company from scratch. The downside of the unemployment was my income was cut nearly in half, and I actually now relied on what little money Xsjado paid me. It had been a month or two with no check before I decided to investigate the situation. I wrote an e-mail to the guys at The Conference, only to receive no reply and three days later I wrote another receiving the same results.
I forgot to mention this: Shortly before JC had joined the team, The Conference and I had fairly good communication. They had decided I should be Team Manager and get a raise with added responsibilities. The Conference never actually told me what their expectations of me were, or what my new responsibilities entailed. In fact the whole three months I was team manager the only request they made was to book flights and organize a ride for Stockwell and Farmer to Europe. Three months as team manager had passed, and I got an e-mail relieving me of manager and cutting my pay back to what it was before. I asked why, and was told because I didn’t fulfill the duties required. I explained I was given no direction, list of duties, any form of guidance, or expectations. No reply, was their response. This was the beginning of our lack of communication and I thought to myself, “All well. I guess it was good while it lasted.” My only regret thinking back, was I should have booked myself on every tour possible. You know, like Demetrios George has been doing for the last couple years.
Alright, back to the story, “Where’s my money!” With no response from The Conference I knew I had to call the team manager. Guess who? JC Rowe! Now not only has he campaigned and become “PRO”, leaving my chances slim to none to get paid as I was promised a couple years prior; but with his professional attitude, organization, and ass kissing skills, he was my fucking boss!
I cooled my frustration and collected my thoughts before calling JC. I didn’t want to be a dick to him, believe it or not, I like the guy. I just don’t like how he received his position. I’ve dealt with similar situations in the workforce, and now I’m dealing with it in my favorite activity, my passion, and my sanity. I’ve always hated ass kissers; I always believed you should be able to get what and where you want with hard work, a strong personality, and good communication. Now I know I was way off. If you wanna move up…Kiss Ass! If you wanna reach the top…swallow cum! That’s right! Sometimes even kissing ass isn’t enough, you might have to go as far as being a “Pole Smoker”!
I went on to make the call to JC and to my surprise he picked up right away. I explained the situation, and that I kind of needed the money as soon as possible. He said he’d get to the bottom of it and get back to me ASAP. Maybe 2-3 hours later my phone rang with JC on the other line. Like I said, I appreciated his professionalism. He explained that The Conference had cut six or so rider’s pay, due to lack of exposure. I quickly rebutted with the facts: I explained I had one full page photo in Be-Mag, one full page Xsjado Ad, a two page spread in The Conference mag., a 90 second edit with Revolution, a two and half minute edit for Psyko clothing, a Puerto Rico tour edit accompanied with photos of the tour, the cover and full interview in ONE mag., and was finishing up my profile for the Fester DVD. He listened quietly as I ranted of my achievements. I continued to tell him that was more exposure than more than half of The Conference riders during that time. He waited until I was done and said, “Sorry. The way they explained it, was none of that was exclusive to their brands. Therefore, it doesn’t count.” There’s a saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger”, but I felt like one of those bad ass Spartans in 300; I wanted to kick the shit out of him, and throw his ass in the pit. I stayed silent for a moment to let it soak in. It wasn’t just anger I felt towards him or The Conference, but more so a sense of defeat. All my hard work, injuries, experiences…gone. My hope, for nothing and now crushed. He began to apologize again, when I stopped him and said, “It’s cool. It’s not your fault. I’ll figure it out.” Inside I wanted to tell film to fuck himself, but I knew it was my fault, or more so The Conference. Once again they gave no direction, or a hint as to what they expect from me as a professional, then shafted me for it. Can’t win them all, I guess.
For some odd reason I still had a little bit of hope, like Charlie from “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” pursuing the waitress. I wrapped up my Fester section and began filming for the Ground Control video. My thoughts were to wrap this section up and have enough time to do a section for the Xsjado video. That would show them! Three sections in less than a year span!
The Ground Control video was the best. The most fun and fulfilling video I have ever filmed for; with the exception of being hurt throughout most of it, until the last couple months. I had been tossed in as a trial team/tour manager. Captain of the ship, presiding over three tours. Trust me, I’m sure Jon Elliot is glad I was there to handle shit. There were fights, black eyes, black outs, and lots of destruction. I managed to do a fairly good job of partying, picking up the pieces, skating, and keeping things in line. On top of it all, we were paid $10 a clip to the Skater and $10 a clip to the Filmer. Productivity and moral was high, team spirit was the theme of the video (at least behind the scenes). Anytime a trick was being performed, everyone felt a sense of accomplishment. I did a decent job, decent enough that I landed team manager of GC. I am not afraid to tell riders why they are not getting a raise, paid, or kicked off! It’s someone’s responsibility and I don’t pussy foot around!
During the filming of the GC video, I wrote an e-mail to The Conference, to update them on my progress and full plan, they seemed excited and wished me luck. A week or so later I was in AZ visiting Mathieu Ledoux and Revolution. Thursday Night Skate went down, and out of many Dominic Sagona showed up to also shred. Dominic and I did a little skating and a lot more talking. I explained my situation with The Conference and asked for his advice. He explained that The Conference told him they expect their “PRO” riders to do six internet sections exclusive to The Conference companies per year. I thought to myself, “Really?”
Internet sections are fucking weird to me, as I am sure they are to a lot of “PRO”s of my generation. Most of us gained “PRO” status through DVD profiles and magazines. When it comes to internet sections, most of us, as I can tell from watching, are not sure how hard to try. During our days of coming up the ranks, you busted your ass and skated your hardest for anyone with a camera in hopes of achieving a full profile. A full section in a DVD was a big deal!
Now days, you make an edit for the internet and it’s knocked back a page or two the next day by the constant flow of other edits coming in. If this offends anyone, get over it. If you can’t get over it…Eat Shit! This is the truth. I know from speaking with many fellow professionals, and my own personal experience and feelings. It’s tough enough to bust your ass for a full DVD profile. We all did as “AMs” only to see 1/4 of our tricks in montages throughout the video with bigger names than yours having full profiles. It did not matter if you had performed “better” tricks than them, they were “PRO”, and you were not. There was clear separation, which kept us motivated to skate harder and progress. Like I said earlier, when a “PRO”, even someone as bad ass as Broskow posts an edit; it gets knocked back a page or two within a couple days by ten guys no one has even heard of from wherever, trying to make a name for themselves. Now I don’t blame them, they are on the hunt,just like we were at one time. But, do you honestly believe skaters as kickass as Broskow, Haffey , and Farmer want to bust their ass only to have their section moved from the front page by “Luke from Missouri 2011 summer skate park edit”? The answer is NO! So there lies the dilemma of “PROs” posting “left over” sections and other half-assed shit, which ultimately makes our sport look adolescent to outsiders. I’ll get deep into that shit another time!
Back to the story! I took the info that Dominic had gave me about the internet edits and wrote The Conference an e-mail to get confirmation. They got back to me, and confirmed the information and that it was a standard they had started implementing. I replied back to them, explaining I will have six edits in six months (this was in June 2011). I’ll meet their standard in half the time required. I also told them that my GC profile and Fester profile will be released by Christmas as well. I explained that if I accomplished all the above, I wanted my pay I was originally promised. It was time to step it up!
I decided because most internet edits are super half-assed and lame, I was going to theme my edits, and do shit no one had done. I was also going to build obstacles for every one of them. Some being more of quick ads for Xsjado, and others creative thoughtful edits. I was thinking, “This is it!” I went out and bought the materials for the first three and got to work building. We originally did the “Bridge Over the Water” edit first. It was going to be edited differently, and we originally saved the footage to give to Negrete. “Bridge Over the Water” was supposed to show a quick building of an obstacle, then a Tru-Top Soul over the water and then go black. Xsjado logo fade in, then a phrase. Something lame but kind of cool like, “Xsjado… bridging the gap to the future!” or something along those lines. I decided to have that one wait as the second release of the six. I thought it would be more appropriate and comical to do the “Couch Potato” edit first. Seeing as The Conference cut my pay because of “lack of exposure” or being lazy in their eyes. It was a double edge sword kind of spitting back in their faces for cutting my pay without telling me, but yet providing entertaining content.
A week or so had passed after I sent the edit to JC and I noticed no response and that it hadn’t been posted yet. In the middle of building the third obstacle for the series of edits, I decided to call and see what the deal was. JC of course answered like a champ; but what he had to say was pure garbage (at least to me)! He continued to explain that both Farmer and Stockwell didn’t like it. It didn’t fit in with the theme of Xsjado. It wasn’t a street edit, and since it was built it doesn’t count. “NO SHIT! This is what they had to say?” Stockwell, my buddy and fellow “PRO” of over a decade. Thanks for looking out duder! Sorry Jeff, but every time I see you in that jean jacket and cowboy hat, I think “Broke Back Mountain”! Heath Ledger would roll over in his grave to lay some meat in you! Farmer, he can say whatever he wants…I saw that vampire edit! Vampires are gay! Seriously! Where did you find the inspiration for that little gem? Twilight? I mean seriously, vampires always hang out with hot chicks, because they are food! They are like old rockers who have tons of hot pussy in their face, but go back stage to snort a half ounce of coke and fuck their rowdies’! I like you guys, but pull your ego filled heads out of each other’s asses from time to time. You get so caught up with only what the people see on a regular basis that you forget you have a homie and teammate who gives a shit about the company too. Instead of wasting time an energy filming and pushing people like Victor? (whatever his last name is) give me a call and ask for shit. Footage, photos, whatever. If you see it from my point of view; being the “Runt” of this “PRO” litter, not being “BIG” enough to reach and suck the nipple for some “MILK” money, at least give me the respect I’ve earned! I didn’t campaign to be “PRO” for Xsjado! I earned it, and was selected by the two creators of Xsjado! Here we are years later, and you don’t want to post my section under the brand, because the colors and editing doesn’t match or because I built it. Fuck That! I know I don’t dress like you guys, or like the same shit, the same music, or even skate the same. That’s the point of Xsjado. Just because I like to use my hands to build shit, shoot guns, fuck my woman, and have a kick ass time, does not mean I should be pushed aside for people who got your dicks in their mouth!
Side rant aside, I was pretty upset! I continued to explain to JC the situation at hand was bullshit. My edit doesn’t count because I built it, but Stockwell’s edit “Left Over Lines” from “Regardless” does? It is not even trying to hide anything, the title says it all, “Left Overs”. This is acceptable and Xsjado worthy? Not to mention Farmer’s vampire edit which consisted of 1/3 skating, 1/3 vampire, 1/3 showing the skate, and was still Xsjado worthy? I will admit it was filmed great, edited perfect, and skating was good…but really? Vampires? On another note, not all of us (nearly none of us), have access to someone as great a Filmer, Editor, and Director as Paul John!
JC listened to my blind raged words until I finished. He then continued to explain to me that The Conference had also not enjoyed it in the least. They sensed my sarcasm with their keen observation skills. They never replied to me, but told JC they found the edit disrespectful and insulting. “They didn’t see the humor in it? That would be like Comedy Central getting pissed at Tosh.O for making fun of them. I’m sure they aren’t always happy about it, no one likes to be the butt end of a joke. Regardless they still air the episode because it is entertaining and brings views.” Once again, he just listened and he replied, “I personally saw the humor and sarcasm. I also agree it is an entertaining edit, but that is how they feel, and dislike the edit. It will not be posted as a Xsjado or Conference edit.” God Damn It! Now, I kind of feel like a dick for going off about Chris and Jeff, and I am not going to accomplish my six edits in six months goal. Plus, I pissed off the owners!
I took the news graciously. Meaning I hung up the phone and threw a verbal temper tantrum to those around me. I knew I was fucked! I decided it was best to forget about that situation for a little and focus on releasing Fester and finishing my GC section. A few months had passed; all the while I had launched Fester, and finished my GC section. I found my niche for skating again. I was now once again confident and comfortable with skates as feet. Ready to perform and test my talent to it’s fullest creative and physical limit and it was time to work on my Xsjado section. I may not have been getting paid as a “PRO” but sure as hell was ready to push myself as one for this video. Xsjado was my calling. I loved these skates and this companies “Out of the Box” influence within our sport.
With majority of my funds tied into Fester, and being a jobless loser; I was kind of “broke”. I knew this would present some difficulties in executing this section to my full potential. Making the decision to break radio silence I called JC and to my surprise he didn’t answer, nor get back to me this time. I wrote him an e-mail to see what the deal was. A day or two later he got back to me and said he was in Spain with the team filming for the Xsjado video. “FUCK!” I had always wanted to go to Spain. The architecture there offered an array of possibilities to my vision of skating. On top of that, it was a beautiful place full of culture to visit. Now here I was with my dick in my hand for being the outcast. As if I wasn’t bummed enough about missing out on this trip/opportunity, I came to find out they brought Paul John instead. How did I get so far off track that they are bringing “AMs” on tours instead of me? Needless to say I was pissed, but more so feeling rejected. Like a fat kid on the line up; standing next to Jeremiah the unsocial weirdo; the two of us glancing back and forth to each other, wondering who will be last picked for the Dodgeball team.
For some reason or another, not sure why, I still wanted to do a Xsjado section. I was persistent on completing this task. SIDE NOTE: Who ever said persistence pays off is only half correct. I feel persistence in the form of requesting something or in the situation of striving for a position, is much the same as begging. For an example, when someone asks you to go to a party; and you know that you don’t want to go, but you don’t wanna be a dick. So you say, “maybe”, “sounds good”, or “we’ll see”. Now a couple of days before the party and this person has asked you multiple times (persistent) that you come. Depending on your conscience, most of us will breakdown and go. Not because we want to, but more so you “feel bad”. The other person may be delighted, but in the back of their heads they must know they are just receiving a “Pity Fuck”. Keep in mind, business’ have no conscience, even if you are the only one to hit on her that night, she may still say, “NO”!
Back to my persistent quest to receive a “Pity Fuck” from Xsjado. I wrote an e-mail to The Conference explaining my financial situation, and also explained how filming for the GC video worked. If you were a “PRO” you received $10 per clip for the skater, and $10 per clip to the filmer. They also paid for my gas, so long as I was filming for the video. This made filming for the video more enjoyable and motivating. Now, filming a section not only cost nothing, but I got to make a few bucks doing so. It wasn’t a lot, but considering the condition of our sports health, it seemed fair enough. I told the Conference, seeing as I am an unpaid “PRO”, I would like the same from them. I would like to film a section, but don’t feel that it is fair to spend my own money to film a section promoting their company in which I receive no compensation. I also insisted upon completion of my section, I want to receive a $500 bonus. I backed my request with facts and continued to explain that the Xsjado video is a much anticipated video, and is going to sell very well. I projected they would sell a minimum of 2,500 copies, upward to four or five thousand. I based my facts off a minimum, and previous video sells we had done. Furthermore I explained that videos cost around $1.50 a copy to duplicate. Shops buy the video for ten dollars a copy and sell for twenty dollars a copy. Now if shops buy them for $10 and they cost us $1.50, that leaves $8.50 per copy profit to The Conference. At 2,500 copies (minimum) that’s $21,250! If I had performed a fifty trick section at the amount I requested, I would be receiving $1,500 which includes the $500 completion bonus. Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are tons of miscellaneous costs on their end; such as, plane tickets, tours, filmers, etc… but I know there’s a sizable chuck of profit even after all costs and my requested amount. Besides, I figured it was a more than fair request, considering I have been a “PRO” for them over five years, and to film this section would take a minimum of three months; that’s with zero injuries, which is highly unlikely!
The Conference replied back a day or two later; they said they have never paid their “PRO”s to do sections in the past, it was kind of against policy. But they did give a glimpse of hope and said they will speak to the team and see what they think. I figured I should give them a heads up, and to get them to hook me up and say “YES”. Thinking back now, I could have written the e-mail differently, maybe a little less “ASSHOLE-ISH”. I wrote to Jeff and Chris (not JC). I explained what I had written to The Conference, asking them to hook me up and look out for me on this one. Seeing as they didn’t give much shit about my pay being dropped in the first place, and now focused on promoting their friends and not their teammate. That was FUCK UP #1. FUCK UP #2 was when I continued to talk about how they looked out for JC as a “PRO”. While the whole year and a half as a “PRO” for Xsjado, he had only done one internet section. “Welcome to Xsjado” which was an impressive section. Meanwhile I had produced triple the amount of exposure during that time and they stood idle as my pay was cut, and my stature with Xsjado dwindled. I’m sure, thinking about it now that e-mail left more of a sour taste in their mouths, rather than motivate them to look out for me. All said were facts, but the truth sucks sometimes!
A few days had passed, and you wouldn’t believe what happened next! They didn’t respond! I went back and re-read the e-mail; I took a moment and thought to myself, “figures.” It was confrontational, and both Chris and Jeff were very much non-confrontational. I don’t know what I expected by writing the shit I did. In this case “Kissing Ass” could have worked in my favor. Maybe the slip of a dong or two in the old gullet and I’d be writing a different story, but that goes against my rules; and I love pussy! So much so, I keep this scraggly ass “Joe Dirt” facial hair to keep the scent of my lady with after mating!
At this point; I figured fuck it! I’m not going to do a section for the video. I’m pretty sure my chances of making something happen with Xsjado are out the door. Not sure of what to be motivated by, or why I should continue to push myself to skate…I still continued to do so. I went out a couple days during the week, filmed and shot photos with my buddy “New Spot” on the weekends. By this time, both my Fester section and GC section had been out for a month or so; I started to film a OMOS for Be-Mag. I was gonna use Santee as my spot, day one had gone well, and I ended up obtaining eight tricks worthy of the section. It was motivating to see that I can be productive and still enjoy it. I woke up the next morning thinking if I perform as I did the day prior, the section would be complete with ease today. I got in my truck with a mental list of spots to come. While driving to spot #1, I got to thinking of the whole situation with Xsjado and The Conference. It kind of bummed me out a little and pissed me off, it made me realize they hadn’t said anything to me about my last two sections. Not “good job” or a “thank you”. Not even a “thank you for supporting and promoting our product.” Not to mention the only one in both videos riding Conference products. Zero appreciation of my efforts.
I began skating the first spot, warming up with simple tricks leading up to my desired trick for that spot. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything and it was clearly distracting for me. I began thinking of what Xsjado has become and the influence over people’s skating and fashion. It seems now most of every kid in Xsjado’s are wearing skinny jeans and some sort of accessory. Almost all of them doing some variation of negatives, or some off the wall weird shit, in attempts to mimic Xsjado’s “vision” of skating. Just then I realized; Xsjado has become the “EMO” version of Zero skateboards!
I stopped skating and went back to my truck, told the dudes I was skating with, “ I’m done. I’ll be at the truck. Meet me there when you’re done with this spot.” It had finally clicked; I was done with this company. Why am I wearing the skates of a company that doesn’t appreciate my skating or anything I could offer? Furthermore, why do I care? I don’t associate myself with people similar in my life outside of skating. Why should I now?
Fuck it! Fuck Xsjado! Most of all, Fuck The Conference!
With that being said, I took off my Xsjados and never put them on again. Xsjado went from being my favorite skate to an aching thought of failure. They say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Now I know why. If you drop that shit, you don’t get breakfast!
Now you know the jest of Xsjado and I. The one thing I can tell you of The Conference from my own perspective is that most “PROs” that have ever rode for them, don’t just quit and keep skating. They usually disappear. No filming, little to no skating, and generally are not seen or heard from within our industry for a couple years. If at all again. The Conference will milk you for your talent, your input and influence. Then replace you like a dead battery. In the end they’ll leave you feeling like a rape victim. To those of you who’ve been raped by them, or are currently being raped, just keep skating. Pick up your dignity and keep trucking along for the sake of skating. Mostly in hopes of not letting our sport die completely!
Jeff and Chris, I’m sure you’ll take offense to some of my words. You’ll get over it. Next time don’t let me find out your opinions of me through others. On another note, I do respect your talent and think your contribution to the sport is inspirational and timeless. With that being said, “Keep Kick’n Ass”.
JC, you are doing a great job with Xsjado. Easily the one of the best team managers I have worked with.
To The Conference, you remind of a GIRL! FUCK YOU! I hope you fail!
Collin Kelso, eat shit! You’re a turd!
To my Sponsors who supported me and kept me motivated to skate and push myself. (M1 Urethane, Revolution Skate Shop, Ground Control, and Psyko Clothing) Thanks dudes! Keep your heads up and keeping trucking, things are going to get better!
To everyone else, this is just a story to let you know my opinion on a company and it’s riders I had direct contact and communication with. I continually hear complaints of deserving this or that and change. NOW you know how much work I put in as a skater and professional, only to end up with the results listed. To all the “AMs” I hear bitching…step it up. This story, lists my achievements; imagine all the top guys’ (Broskow, Haffey, Aragon, Farmer, Bailey, Stockwell etc…) resumes. All of their accomplishments and they are still producing more than almost all of you on a regular basis.
You want change? Say fuck you to The Conference! I will now and forever! Support companies that give back to the rollerblading like, Valo, Remz and SSM/Nimh. Deep inside, we all know that true and absolute change can only happen with “Skater Owned” or at least, “Skater Operated” companies. Who better to know what to say or how to treat a skater, than someone who has been there, or is still living it!
As for me, I will continue to skate and produce as much as possible. I will skate until I can no longer walk. This is my “DRUG”. It courses through my veins and is my happiness. I will continue to push Fester Wheels to it’s fullest potential and give anyone who has earned it, the opportunity to grow with us.
Go skate, have fun, hold your head high and be proud of who you are. When people ask you if you skate, say “No, I Rollerblade”. If they have a problem with that, say “Fuck You” from Fester Wheels!
- d. wilson