Words: Rob Brink
Slap, July 2008
A few years ago it was “Everybody loves Leo.” And, don’t get me wrong, we all still do. However, as of late, it seems Sean Malto has taken the “Everyone loves” title by a mile. His energy is infectious. Watching him, you can’t help but smile. Sean makes skateboarding look really fun and really easy. The former is true for all of us. The latter, for most of us, not so much. The best part about Sean though, is that he doesn’t really seem to care how fun or cool or talented he is… he’s just humbly enjoying the ride. In fact, he’d probably just smile at this sappy little intro, deny it all, saying someone else is cooler and better and more fun, then push off and switch flip a 12 first try.
Do you get weirded out when I say you have the best hair in skateboarding?
Uh, a little bit. I don’t know why you say that. My hair kinda sucks.
Your mom cuts it still?
If I ever come to Kansas City, I’m having your mom cut my hair. Do you think she’ll be down?
Oh yeah, for sure. Whoever comes to Kansas City, free haircuts.
In Barcelona you started the chai tea latte with a shot of espresso craze for the entire etnies team…
Oh yeah, the grandé chai teas. I just get one shot.
Someone started getting like three after that.
That was Heath [Brinkley, etnies team manager]. I just really like the chai teas and people ask me “What do you get?” and I tell ‘em I just get the chai tea with one shot of espresso. I don’t know what happened but he was getting three, four shots at a time in his drink.
It happened in a matter of two days. And Tyler Bledsoe and them were getting two, three shots.
Seriously, I don’t know what happened. Everyone started going overboard with shots of espresso and I was feeling kinda guilty. I was talking to Heath and he was like “Yeah I know, it’s getting kind of bad and stuff.” I was like “Yeah.”
I talked to him recently and he was at Starbucks getting another chai tea with like 15 shots of espresso in it. He’s hooked.
What’s the lamest thing anyone’s ever said about you?
There’s a story in Oklahoma or Omaha that some kid made up. I don’t know who it was but it was like “Sean Malto came to Oklahoma and was skating this handrail and rolled up and was stressing over it and was like, ‘why am I stressing? I am Sean Malto! I can do this!’” Which is completely untrue. That story spread to Kansas City and people were asking about it and I was like, “No I haven’t been there in so long and I wouldn’t say that.” Then it just became a joke and all my friends would be like, “You’re Sean Malto. You can do this!”
What about the first thing Pat Channita ever said to you?
We were at Carl’s Jr. and Pat Channita walks up… it was me and Heath at a table and he says to Heath, “Hey, tell your boy over here to loosen up his pants,” and walks away. I’m just like, “What?” I did have tight pants on at the time but there was no need to say that. I was like “Who is this guy?”
You didn’t even know him?
I knew who he was. He didn’t know me. I was just some flow kid on DC back then. He’s a cool dude. Me and Heath still laugh about it.
How much money do you spend altering your pants?
I just blew out two pairs of cords this month so…
Is that because you didn’t get them altered or was that after you got them altered?
No. I will alter some pants if I don’t really like how they stretch. It’s usually ten dollars a pair, which is pretty sick. I blow out cords for some reason. I can’t keep a pair of cords. No matter what I blow them out. Like the crotch to the inside of my kneecap, so I get both fixed a lot. I just think my body is different or something.
Do you have short legs or longer legs or something?
Probably. I’m getting fat I think.
You still have a girlfriend?
You been taking to the boneyard or what?
No comment there.
What’s your favorite trick to do?
There’s a lot of fun tricks. Powerslides are pretty fun.
What’s a pancake flip?
It’s like that frontside flip but where the board goes straight between your legs.
Oh, like an illusion flip? A phantom flip? Is that how you do yours?
Yeah. I can’t do real ones. My frontside flips just go straight between the legs. And I can’t spin for some reason.
What, like a 360 ollie or something?
Yeah, it’s hard for me to do 360s. When I try backside flips or backside bigspins, it’s hard for me to turn my body that way.
So two video parts and two big interviews this year. You’re going to be “Skater of the Year” and you’re not even pro yet, dude!
Yeah right. There are so many people better than me at skating.
What’s the last book you read?
Oh wow. I don’t even know. Probably To Catch a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird, you mean?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Whatever. See! That’s how long it’s been since I’ve read a book.
How do you feel about Mikey Taylor’s man crush on you?
He has a man crush?
Totally. Does that change your friendship?
Yeah, well now I need to call him up and tell him I’m not coming over to his house anymore.
What’s weirder? Man crush or hair envy?
Man I don’t know. That’s pretty crazy. Man crush or hair envy? You’re giving me some hard questions.
I’m not making this like every other interview.
Man crush seems pretty bad. I don’t know that Mikey actually has a man crush, but obviously I’m not looking at it from another person’s perspective.
How about hug envy?
Who has hug envy?
When you showed up at the Tempe park and you and I had a bro hug…
Because I came up to Mikey and gave him a high five and then I was like, “What’s up Brink?” and I gave you a hug, and like, yeah, he got bummed.
I’m just that kind of dude. I’m down for hugs. Does Mikey get bummed when you beat him at stuff?
He’s really competitive. The thing about Mikey is he’s a cheater. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. Whatever it takes. I’ve seen him in wrestling matches, biting people and stuff. I think he races cars a lot and I think he really wants to win and he always wants to get the best stuff. Mikey’s just competitive.
Do you ever tell him he is cheating?
No. He’s actually pretty funny.
You just let him have it so he feels good?
It’s always one trick too. Last time it was impossibles. He’ll try impossibles all day until he can do it and then he’ll keep doing it until he gets better than you at it. Which is sick. It’s really fun just being around him. He’s always trying to start something, too. Like the water balloon fight in Phoenix. Do you remember that? He had to get the last throw in. It was all over and he had to take Vince outside and smash a balloon in his face.
The ender. What’s the worst advice anyone ever gave you?
Lizard King had real cool advice. He goes, “You know what? When you get money just go and spend it all as fast as you can.” I think that was his advice, which is pretty sick, but not my style.
Who do you think is the weirdest dude on Girl/Chocolate?
Marc Johnson probably. He’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. He just reads a lot and he has a lot of theories and stuff. It gets crazy… like galaxies and Bigfoot and going outside of your body. He studies on it and I have no idea what’s going on.
He’s just trying to enlighten you.
Back in the day, did you ever send a sponsor-me video to any companies and get rejected?
Yeah, I did actually.
Who turned you down?
Zero turned me down. Twice. I was really hyped on Jamie Thomas. He was my favorite skater. I had his shoes and stuff and he came to a demo and I handed him a tape and never got that call back. I’m glad it worked out the way it did. Zero is cool but Girl is obviously so fun.
I guess you going over to etnies caused a little stir in the industry, huh?
I don’t think people knew I wanted to be with Heath and Mikey and stuff. They didn’t know Mikey was getting on. I think people thought I was going over there for no reason at all. It’s changing a lot. We get to do a lot of cool stuff. I’m pretty psyched.
Is it weird feeling that pressure that everyone thinks you’re making a mistake?
That was so hard to deal with. I had so many people talking to me like, “Why are you doing this? You should do this and you should do that.” It was hard to stick with what I was just trying to do, but I’m glad I did.
Why do you think your slam at Tampa Am is so famous?
They gave me a big intro and I just blew it. They were like “Sean Malto rides for Girl Skateboards!” And then someone was like “Yeah this kid is good I’ve seen him in practice!” And then, bam! I was on the flat bar on my stomach teeter-tottering back and forth. It was my first trick.
Then, later, I was watching this video of Tampa footage and they were showing all these guys make tricks and then my part came on and I slammed so hard and that was it for me. They didn’t show my makes. So I was like, “cool.”
Do you know you smile, even while you’re slamming?
Yeah. I’m really bummed in my head but I try to just laugh it off and hopefully people will forget about it.
How about you knocking your teeth out?
That was fun. Yeah.
It was such a difficult process to go through. All those dentist appointments and everything. I was just skating a three block into this pool and it starting misting out and it got wet and I bailed and my feet just slipped out from under me and my face hit the ground. My tooth just busted out. Half my tooth shoved up into my nasal cavity and I had to get wired shut and stitches in my lip and my gums. I had half a tooth for so long and I just got it fixed. It seriously took like three years to actually get my teeth back in my mouth.
Were you smiling after that slam?
When I first did it, it scared me so much I didn’t even know what was going on. Ten minutes I calmed down and it was okay. It’s like one of those things, when you get hurt, you’re not really bummed on the pain so much as you know you’re not going to be skating for the next four weeks.
How about the moped incident in Hawaii?
I’m so embarrassed of that. I was skating this demo… me, Devine and Brian Wenning. And Devine had stopped skating early and I didn’t know why. I just kept skating and he comes back and says he was riding a moped all around the city and I was like “What! That’s so sick! I want to do that!”
I had never rode a moped before. So Devine takes off and the guy was telling me “To start it you have to twist the handle back and turn the key.” So I did that and the bike just took off and I was flying. My feet were dragging and my stomach was on the seat and then on the ground. And because I slipped out I pulled the handle even faster and I started wobbling and smashed into this truck and the bike got wedged between two cars and I fell over.
I was just lying on my back with my eyes closed. Just so embarrassed. Everyone thought I was hurt but we all just laughed it off. I think it was Jeff King’s moped rental and I heard he had to pay like 300 dollars for the repair and that kinda sucks for him. Sorry, Jeff. Next time I see you I’ll try to make it up to you.
Sucks that nobody filmed it.
I know. That would’ve been cool.