Question Mark: Justin Schulte
Words: Rob Brink The Skateboard Mag February 2009
The day before our interview, 22-year-old Justin Schulte missed his connecting flight from Dallas TX to Newark, NJ by about 30 seconds and was preparing for a night of less-than-comfortable sleep on an airport floor.
“I watched my plane leave, dude!” Justin says, “And all because I had to go and buy a Whopper.”
“Is that a typical Schulte circumstance?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m pretty much the last-minute guy. ‘Oh no worries, the plane’s not gonna leave without me.’ Then I get to the front and they’re like, ‘You’re Justin Schulte right? We paged you four times.’ But somehow I foreshadowed myself blowing it. I had a feeling that something wasn’t gonna pan out right, so I didn’t check a bag in. I just carried on my bag with the skate.”
Justin was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, an area just over the hill from Hollywood and famous for producing heaps of great skateboarders—Paul Rodriguez, Mikey Taylor, Jeron Wilson, Kevin Long, Mike Anderson, Mike Mo Capaldi, Mike Barker, Torey Pudwill and Van Wastell, to name a few. According to Justin, it’s also the porn capital of the world.
Speaking of Hollywood, Justin’s first career was that of a child actor. He appeared in Go-Gurt and Hot Wheels commercials, did a voice over in The Little Mermaid 2 and starred in ABC’s Two of a Kind with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. He even had the pair’s digits for a hot minute. Until he lost it…
“I washed my pants and with the number in the pocket. I blew it,” Justin says, laughing.
Forced into acting by his parents back then, Justin has no interest in pursuing it now that he’s older. But it wasn’t entirely bad—he’s still got money in the bank from it, and aside from a week-long stint at Jamba Juice a few years ago, he’s never had to work a “real” job in his life—and likes it that way.
“Yeah, I’m not trying to serve anyone, dude,” Justin grumbles.
Like most Valley kids, Justin grew up skating at Skatelab day after day, where he met his now good friend, Torey Pudwill. Then sprayed him in the eyes with Windex during their first encounter.
Justin admits, “I just saw Windex and like, my hand was close to it. I wanted to pull the trigger so bad and I aimed at his face. I used to be a little shit, dude. We drive-by paintballed people standing on line outside music venues, broke windshields, and, well, maybe stole a golf cart from a college campus once and wrecked it on accident.”
Justin attributes the amount of talent coming out of the Valley to the abundance of good spots there are to skate, the amount of great skaters there and everyone knowing one another, skating together all the time. But does someone like Justin, who is virtually sponsorless at his age (Val Surf and Circa and Almost flow—“Man Flow” as he calls it), feel the sting from being surrounded by so much talent? Are all his friends that are pro or soon-to-be pro passing him by? Is it harder to get noticed when you’re just “another good skater from the Valley”?
“It’s definitely a double-edged sword,” he says. “I skate with all these fools, but at the same time maybe no one stands out. Like everyone’s too good. What are you gonna do with a group of twenty dudes? Some of us just kind of get lost.”
Justin should be way further along in his skateboarding career by now and he knows it. He’s had some “circumstances” over the years, hence the “man flow” situation. It’s been a combination of the business side of skateboarding, bad timing, bad luck and even his own personality and decisions.
“In this industry you have to kiss a little ass to get somewhere and Justin’s not always willing to do that,” says Scott Mackey, long-time friend of Justin’s. “Which might have hurt him, but I feel no one’s actually given him a real chance yet.”
“I was never fully on Element,” Justin explains, “but I’d been getting stuff from them and had parts in two of their videos. I didn’t know they were gonna use my footage in the first video, Elementality, so I was like ‘Thanks for the coverage but you can’t really be using my footage like that if you don’t pay me or anything.’ And they just kind of treated me like I was out of line and big-headed.”
According to Justin, he’d been asked by Daewon Song to skate for Almost about four years ago. And he would’ve done it had Element not told him not to.
“I like the individuality over there at Almost.” Justin says. “Torey is my best homie. Daewon is the shit. He tried to help me out long ago and I’m just down for him. Element said they were gonna pay me the next month and didn’t. How come people look you in the eye and tell you shit? I come from a place where what you say is your word and you stand by it. I’d be in a completely different place right now if I was never involved with them.”
Despite a bitter taste in his mouth here and there, Justin’s confident and optimistic about the future. He knows he has to work. He knows sometimes, no matter what, getting noticed in our little world is part of the job and relies on more than just being a good skateboarder. It’s also knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time.
“He’s skating a lot—really trying,” explains Tony Tave, Element/Circa pro and close friend of Justin’s. “He knows how to skate and skates his way and that’s what’s gonna work for him. Skateboarding is going to appreciate that and the way Justin skates in the future.”
“Justin just grew up buttery. Gimmick-free skateboarding, ” says Mackey.
“I know Atiba, so it’s all good! Justin jokes.
“Skateboarding is what I’m here to do. I feel like it’s meant to be because I have this money from acting to sit on while I sort things out. Honestly, as long as I can have fun and be with my friends, it doesn’t matter. We all love skating.”
Justin’s favorite skateboarders and inspirations are his friends. As legendary as they all are, his list doesn’t include the obvious list of Gonzes Carrolls, Cardiels, Kostons and Marianos.
“Torey can do anything thing at any given time,” Justin gushes. “Like, he can be higher and drunker than anyone and be insane. Every time he does a trick it’s some shit he just thought of that he’s never done before that he did in like, 10 tries. The type of shit that makes you laugh. I swear to God he can do anything that anyone can do.”
“Mike Anderson… that’s another one. You’ll be out skating and he’s the smileyest dude and he’s psyched to be skating. He’s definitely one of the best skateboarders. And Van Wastell has always inspired me. Now that he’s passed it’s crazy thinking about how happy he would be just being able to backtail a ledge. Him always being down for absolutely anything at any point in time gets me psyched. I skate a lot for him nowadays. I don’t even get sad when I think about Van ‘cause he makes me so happy. He’s probably just kicking it with Shane Cross up there laughing it up.”
At this point, you may still be on the fence about Justin. He’s part raw talent, part stoney slacker, part lucky, part stubborn, part victim, part perpetrator, part privileged, part smart, part appreciative, part real, part confident and part enlightened about what his skateboarding and life are all about. Sounds pretty human to me. Perhaps you still don’t care. Perhaps you’re sold and want more. He’ll be okay with it either way. It’s his first interview and he knows what matters to him and what he needs to do to be okay with himself.
“I’m really, really psyched to get this interview. Hopefully shit pans out for me.” Justin concludes. From his skating, attitude and the way he’s speaking, “things panning out” seems like it could be a reality soon.
And then, just for shits ‘n giggles, before I let him go, sI asked Justin if there’s anything that irks him about the skateboard industry.
“I honestly don’t even feel like I’m in the skateboarding industry,” he says. “I’m just, like, watching the skateboarding industry. It’s funny. You guys are mad funny. People thinking they make a difference or matter or something in skateboarding… that’s what bugs me. You can quote me on that… people thinking they make a difference.”
Festivus: Downtown Showdown '08
Words: Rob Brink The Skateboard Mag February 2009
It’s virtually impossible to be surrounded by a few hundred of your friends in a Hollywood replica of downtown Manhattan, with Slayer’s "Angel of Death" playing at mind-shearing volumes while Jon Ponts kamikazes himself twenty-something feet across a pentagram-shaped monstrosity of a skateboarding obstacle named the “Five Points of Pure Evil” and not have a good time. Im-fucking-possible.
In fact, if you’re incapable of enjoying such a spectacle, you’re just plain dull. You have no business even reading this article. Go watch time-lapsed erosion on YouTube instead.
One of the most remarkable things about the annual Vans Downtown Showdown contest is that it’s never not amazing. “Moments” happen and stories that will be verbally shared for years to come are created right before your very eyes. Isn’t that special?
Whether it’s an inebriated Dustin Dollin dropping in (or at least attempting so) on a 1/5 scaled down version of the Mega Ramp, Omar Hassan peeling off his own scalp skating through a janky wooden tunnel, or Alex Olson and Heavy Metal Chuck colliding at high velocities—like the car accident on the side of the road that everyone rubbernecks, something entertainingly sketchy is waiting to be seen and missing it would be a travesty.
Humans, especially skateboarders it seems, have an insatiable desire for chaos. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, our plight might actually be that there’s just not enough chaotic circumstance in our daily life to satisfy our needs. So naturally, a day full of four thirty-minute jam sessions, consisting of 15 or so skaters each, on obstacles no ones ever skated, is a much-needed catalyst for chaos. Thanks, Vans!
Not to be glossed over, these skaters’ ability to adapt to obstacles unfamiliar to them at moment’s notice is always a testament to their talent. It’s remarkable actually. You watch, they go for it, and you get lost in it… forgetting that you quite possibly will never be that good on a skateboard or never have the privilege to skate such madness or land those tricks. But it doesn’t really matter; because skateboarding is one of the few things in the world that you don’t always need to be doing to be happy. Its mere presence in your day is sheer glee. The free hot dogs help too, especially when a jolly Hawaiian shirt-clad Steve Van Doren personally puts one on your plate for you.
Festivus: Goofy Vs. regular 2008
Words: Rob Brink The Skateboard Mag February 2009
Winning is played. Seriously. Throughout all of history, people just want to win shit. Free stuff, games, wars, bets, the affection of another person or many people, skateboarding contests. Wanting to win just starts trouble and drama and usually results in mental anguish or a loss of income and pride. So, in an unprecedented new marketing strategy that will soon resonate and be imitated throughout the entire industry, The Skateboard Mag decided to lose this year’s GvR on purpose. Keep an eye on your inboxes for the big press release next week.
Since we’ve declared losing to be the new winning, we purposefully told Paul Rodriguez and Nyjah Huston to just kick it wherever they were and not even come to the contest… you know, relax for the weekend.
“Yo dawgs, don’t even bother coming to this GvR thing! We want to lose this contest to start a new craze, homies! It’ll be tight!”
And boy they were psyched!
We also told Ronnie Creager, two-time Team Goofy winner and MVP, to not qualify.
“Yo man, you had surgery not too long ago, you’re filming a sick part for the Blind video… take it easy, seriously… it’s just a contest.”
So he purposely held back some potentially-winning moves that he can’t reveal until the video is out. You (and Blind) will thank us later.
You saw what Paul and Nyjah did at Maloof Money Cup, right? First and second place, respectively. Yeah, having them show up and skate for Team Goofy or having Ronnie rip like he usually does would have made winning way too easy—like taking candy from a baby.
We sprinkled a little taste of what we got in our back pockets around all weekend long anyway. Justin Figueroa took Goofy MVP and basically made the most exciting heat of the finals the most exciting heat of the finals. Kevin Romar qualified first for the Goofies and Rodolfo Ramos won best trick. Brandon Westgate had jaws dropping. It’s not like we don’t got it if we want it.
Aside from that, we were the first to win GvR two years in a row. ABD, son! We did it the second and third year. It took you Regular fools five years to do it. That’s kinda like how snowboarding bites everything skateboarding does, just five years later. Hell, those kooks are just figuring out tight jeans are in, except they wont know for a while that they are kind of out already. I hear just this year at Mammoth there was a mass exodus of brimmed beanies, a la Muska/Penny circa 1996. The local dumpsters and thrift stores were overflowing with them from what witnesses said.
Remember when Andrew Reynolds won Tampa Pro two years in a row and decided not to go compete the third year, because he didn’t want to be “that guy”? Yeah. That’s a class act right there. Do you know anyone who would hate on The Boss right now? Me either. So we didn’t really try for a third win. And now Regular has gone and copied us by winning two years in a row. Big deal. Get of our nuts. Next year they’ll probably try to lose just to keep up with our groundbreaking techniques.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Besides, in the real word of skateboarding, out on the streets, Goofy still wins if we want to because we have the Gonz, Gino, Carroll, Koston, Howard, Alex Olson, Daewon, Appleyard, Og De Souza and Busenitz. We need not go on…
So go ahead and gloat about your big “sudden death overtime” win this year, Regular footers. Cash your big winning checks and surrender 40% in taxes to The Man…
It's nice to be able to speak/post freely about my friend Jose riding for etnies now. Waiting for the formal announcements and ads are hard sometimes, especially when you are sitting on tons of cool photos and video and most people know the scoop already.
Anyway, we did an interview the other night for his "Welcome to the team" deal. Part one of three is live. I like it.
My head's been spinning lately. The end of the year is always insane. I always think I have it under control and then all hell breaks loose. Interviews in the works include Jose Rojo, Danny Garcia, Omar Salazar and JT Aultz.
Maybe you don't care... but that's my excuse for the lack of updates.
What many people don't know, or often seem to forget about the skateboarding industry, is that sometimes, everyone stops giving a shit about the politics of who they work or ride for and just decide to go have fun... together... kinda like when you go skateboarding with your friends, right? In recent times, it's something I particularly admire The Berrics for achieving.
The holiday party that etnies threw last night, for any adidas employee willing to come, was a pretty damn good time. Nike dudes showed up, adidas dudes showed up, Burnside dudes showed up, big media dudes like Yahoo! and CNBC showed up, cute ladies showed up and dressed like elves for us, Santa showed up, regular people with no idea what was going on showed up... it was well worth the there-and-back-in-24-hours trip up to Portland.
Santa totally killing it.
No one ever said this was a family site. I'd "read more" if I were you... that is, unless you are under 18... then you should go read a different part of this site.
Aside from this, here's three other reasons Leo is one of the sickest dudes:
1. Cricket: Why did you run into the Maloofs at that contest?
Because they were dressed all jacked. They were walking across the street course while people where skating, and I was trying a trick while they were walking. I figured, “Why wait for them to move? They’re rich, they could pay for it.” I think I hurt myself more than I hurt them, though. It wasn’t even the Maloofs; it was the Prince of Sudan or some shit. It was definitely someone official. You know when you’re like, “What is this fool doing just walking across right now?” You just want to hit them, or at least give them a close call. I’m just a thrill seeker.
2. SP: Who’s the biggest douche bag you’ve met in LA?
You ever heard of that guy Cobra Snake? That dude’s like the biggest douche bag I’ve ever met. He’s some rich Hollywood scenester who calls himself a photographer. RVCA makes clothes for him, and I think it’s gay that RVCA makes clothes for that guy. Hopefully they’ll read this and know that I think it’s gay.
3. What would you do if Sheckler got on RVCA?
I’d probably make more money and get some pay raises. I’d be stoked.