Words: Robert Brink / April 2011
Photos: Gabe Morford.
It's rare that a kid from New Jersey blows up like Ishod Wair has. Don't hold me to this, because I suck at math, but it probably only happens like, once per decade.
In the best way possible, Ishod is a skate rat with skateboarding on the brain 110 percent of the time. Which probably explains why he didn’t know when he officially got on Real and postpones late night filming missions because he forgets to clip his toenails.
Easily forgivable offenses when you consider the reward is a bonkers part in Real’s Since Day One from one of the most notable ams of the last couple of years.
He's a kid you wish you could skate like. He’s a kid you wish you could skate as much as. Talking to him makes you realize you sweat the small stuff way too much. He even has a cookie sponsor. Curb your jealousy for the time being and enjoy a brief moment in time with Ishod Wair.
Hey Ishod, how long have you been on Real?
I started getting flow right after Tampa Am, like two and a half years ago. I was there passing out my DVD. I guess I skated well and they liked my footage and I officially got on last April. But I didn’t know that ‘til yesterday. I thought I got on when my first ad came out a few months ago. I just found out that I’ve been on for a year rather than for three months.
What? Weird. So then how did getting on Nike happen?
Same as with Real. I gave them my DVD at Tampa Am that year.
So one day you’re some skate rat from Jersey and all of a sudden you’re out here in Cali on Real and Nike and kids want your autograph and you win Phoenix Am and Maloof and everyone’s waiting to see your video part …
It’s crazy. Sometimes when I think about it too much I get dizzy. You know how you’re sitting down for a long time and then you stand up, and you get light-headed? I didn’t think it would come this quick at all.
It usually doesn’t.
It’s just shocking. I can’t even put it into words.
And you ride for Anthony’s Cookies?
Yeah. It’s a cookie store in San Francisco on Valencia and 24th. I like cookies and I’d always talk about how good they were. So Darin [Real Team Manager] happened to know the owner and got me sponsored by ‘em.
If I’m in SF and go to Anthony’s Cookies, what cookie should I get?
The cookies n’ cream cookie.
Done deal. Do they send you packages?
They don’t send me boxes but Darin will randomly go there and send a box to my house, which is awesome.
You moving out west to live the dream?
I like it here in New Jersey. I don’t think I’m gonna move any time soon. I feel like I’d be productive out west but my friends are over here and I still skate as much as I would be skating out there, it’s just that over there the spots are cooler.
When I moved out west, I was surprised how common it is to be a skater in Cali compared to back home in Jersey.
Yeah, I realize that so much. Everybody has skate shoes and knows about skating in some way. In New Jersey it’s all mainstream sports like baseball and football and basketball. But over here it’s really normal to be a skateboarder. I just see so many people skating down the street all the time.
I was one of like, five skateboarders in my whole high school.
Yeah, in my town it was like five, too … [starts screaming] Oh my fucking god! That was scary! Oh my god!
What just happened?
Dude, the biggest swarm of bees was just over me, dude. It was like, the whole entire backyard. I thought they were gonna attack me. I was so scared. Oh my god!
Is there a hive around? Are you okay?
Dude, I don’t even know, dude. That was insane. It was a hundred, maybe thousands of bees. There were so many. It was the biggest swarm. I was walking along the edge of the backyard and I just hear “bzzzzzzzzzz” and then I look up and maybe five feet above my head there’s the biggest cloud of bees.
I’m seriously like, so confused.
Have you ever been stung before?
When I was younger I stepped on one once. And it stung the bottom of my foot. I got stung by wasps a couple times. That sucks because it just hurts so long. They are like, toxic or something.
How about your nickname, “tails”?
Oh my god. I hate that, dude.
I think Pete Eldridge or someone said I was following him around the skatepark once. I wasn’t. I was in the skatepark first and I was just doing the same line that everybody does in that skatepark, always. He didn’t realize so he was like, “This kid keeps following me.”
Someone was telling me you’re hard on yourself despite being super consistent.
I’ve always liked to do things over and over. When I started skating I would always try to do a trick as many times as I could so I can do it always—so my mind knows I can do that.
If I fall or if I’m having a bad day I can tell right away. And it just pisses me off because I know in my head I can do it, but it’s just not clicking for some reason.
What’s your go-to when you get to a big set or rail? What helps you know if you’re gonna have a good day or not?
It changes. Usually it’s a tre flip, switch flip or kickflip. But sometimes it’s a hardflip or frontside flip. I randomly won’t be able to kickflip at all and then I’ll be able to hardflip good. And in two weeks I’ll be able to kickflip and I can’t hardflip anything. It’s crazy.
Do you ever get mistaken for anyone else?
Dude, I saw Theotis the other day, he got super tall.
Well the first time I saw him, he’s a lot taller from then to now—or from now to then —whatever.
Exactly. Crazy growth spurt.
Yeah. Theo’s awesome.
Tell me the story about not being able to skate a rail in Philly because your toenails were too long.
That happens a lot. Sometimes I forget to cut my toenails for a while. It sounds kind of gross. They won’t even be that long but it’s just the way my toenails are. If they get too long, they hit my shoe. If I’m skating the whole day it’ll start to hurt pretty bad. It’s not like they’re even that long but after I cut ‘em it just feels so much better.
But yeah, that was at this bump to rail and my toes were hurting me. Lately I’ve been real good with cutting my toenails because I know when they’re too long now. But back then, we were just skating and at the end of the day my toes were just so sore. I was like, “Dude, I can’t skate unless I cut my toenails.” So I had to go find a place that sold toenail clippers.
Probably better off to make sure your toes don’t hurt or your mind isn’t distracted while jumping down big stuff, right?
Sometimes I think about the worst-case scenarios … but that doesn’t bother me for some reason. I think about hitting my face and go like, “Okay, I don’t think this is gonna happen.” Usually the likelihood of that actually happening is really low so it helps me block it out.
What was one of the most embarrassing moments of your life?
I used to wear big shirts and I peed on my shirt in school a whole bunch of times. My shirt falls over my penis and I just pee on my shirt. I used the dryer to fix it up so no one really sees it. I dry it up.
Did you wring the shirt out over the urinal after you peed it?
Yeah and then I air dry it. No one ever finds out about that because I dry it out with the hand dryer.
You’re resourceful for sure. So you were in that van that got hit by the train, right?
Oh yeah, that was pretty crazy. I was in there but I didn’t see that happen.
The whole day sucked. It was raining and it sucked and we’re just waiting to get back to Double Rock because that’s where we’re staying. So we’re two blocks away and we really didn’t know where we were going so we’re listening to the GPS and the train system was kind of new. I guess the GPS didn’t know about the train so it told us to make a left where we couldn’t make a left. Then the train hit us.
Dude. Getting hit by a train, that’s like the one thing you worry about your whole life. Having a car stall out on the train tracks or something.
Yeah, dude. It wasn’t going that fast but it was really gnarly. It could’ve been worse, luckily no one died or anything.
Were you on the side of the van where the train hit?
Yeah, but I was in the back and the train hit in the front. It was really loud. The windows busted out and crashed so loud and then glass was everywhere, followed by screeching and then a train was halfway in the van window. It was insane. I don’t remember how long it was, but we got dragged by the train for a bit.
Speaking of crazy, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen done on a skateboard?
I can’t say it’s the craziest thing, but I can say that every time I see Tom Asta skate, it is insane. All those tricks that you see him do and all the lines and all the tricks he does in his parts, he does ‘em so easy. I’ve seen him nollie heel front crook a good portion of a box in one try. He’ll go up and do it so many times.
He’s one of those guys that’s better than most people know.
Exactly. He’s so good in footage, but you don’t realize how easy he does all that stuff until you see him in real life.
Is there anyone else coming up that we should know about?
My boy Ed Duff is good. He’s really good. He’s gnarly. Edward Duff from Doylestown, PA. He’s gnarly.
Ishod's toenail incident, as told by Dan Wolfe:
On a filming trip to Philly in August 2010, we end up at the bump to flat rail in the Italian Market that Anthony Pappalardo front boarded in 2001. Ishod wants to skate it so we set up the generator, the lights, get three video cameras going and Gabe sets up a few flashes as well. We even have a little metal sign for the weird crack just before the bump set up for him. Then Ishod mumbles something.
"What?" Someone in our crew asks.
Then Ishod speaks up: "My toes hurt, I think my toenails are too long."
Someone else asks, "Are you serious?"
Turns out there's a discount store on the corner where you start the approach to hit the spot so, Gabe says, "Go in there and see if they have nail clippers."
Ishod answers, "I don't have any money."
Someone gives him a dollar, either me or Darin—I forget. And there's an old Chinese guy out front sweeping because they are closing down but they let Ishod in and they have nail clippers. So after the purchase, Ishod sits on the curb, takes off his shoes and socks and cuts his toenails. Once the shoes and socks are back on, he takes a few ride-ups to the rail and then proceeds to rip it a new asshole:
Boardslide, boardslide fakie, backside 50/50, backside smith and backside lipslide ... each trick two or three times to boot. Weirdo.