It hit me watching Zero’s mildly psychedelic new offering “Strange World” that a company concerned with some of the more macho aspects of skate endeavors has drawn into its orbit two bookends of female street skating, that is, mid-90s Toy story Elissa Steamer and new blood Marisa Dal Santo, who seem to share a similar sensibility if not on-board choice of terrain. The possible reasons are as varied as the public projection-fed interpretations of Jamie Thomas’ motivations. Those inclined to believe in the coldhearted capitalist caricature may see this as Black Box’s calculated maneuver to corner the burgeoning female skateboard market. Or perhaps it’s an outcropping of Christian charity, in this the Xmas season. The favored explanation around this blinkered corner of the internet is that Jamie Thomas is a sex maniac and having more women in his employ is one means of expanding his sizable harem.
If the aim is dredging out double X chromosome-tinged photos and footage though, the notoriously slothlike and often laid-up Elissa Steamer may be a shallow reservoir. Her trick count comes up kinda short in what was pitched as her Zero board-earning debut and while it’s possible she’ll have more stuff in Nike productions still to come, you’re kinda left wondering what coulda been. The tailslide and frontside boardslide shove-its are cool tricks and incorporating hill bombs is a good way to up the gnar factor, maybe they need to send her back to SF and get her back on a program with Brian Anderson or something.
The new lady on the scene Marisa Dal Santo brings the heat however, cribbing well-advised moves from the likes of Fred Gall, Donny Binaco and Mike Ruscyzk in ways that put to rest concerns that the Chris Nieratko makeover might see her embrace a more polished and feminine persona. With Steamer’s Toy Machine rise as the benchmark for successive challengers to queen-bee status (Torres, Sablone, Caron) Dal Santo does her share of envelope-pushing and bar-raising via the kickflip f/s boardslide, a fairly major varial heelflip and the 14-stair frontside boardslide. There were several times I jealously muttered “damn” watching this and afterward I pondered briefly whether she ever imagined one of her video parts leading into Jamie Thomas’ section.
We are about to be a decade deeper into this mess, and the debate over girl skateboarders rages on. To wit:
I’m just saying skateboarding is based on skill. So if girls are not as skilled, I don’t think they should be getting magazine articles, pro boards, pro shoes, and the likes. What’s next? Someone getting a pro board because they’re fat and it’s way harder to skate when you’re fat instead of skinny?
A fair point, even if it risks wandering into some kind of affirmative action bar fight, but there may be broader implications here than just whether or not a video is entertaining. Photos, footage etc help establish what is possible and relevant, showcase progression and build the foundation for what’s next – in this respect we’ve traveled from tripping out over even seeing a girl in a video to the first womanly Mctwist. Are the chicks supposed to progress in secret, or some type of separate-but-equal feminine sphere, akin to “international” board/shoe teams? If women are to achieve the same parity with men they have found in basketball, NASCAR and international warfare they need at least the chance to act on the same stage. After all, look what the critically acclaimed documentary “Most Vertical Primate” did to break ape skating out of the underground, and indeed, Ryan Sheckler is now a well-known aerosol deodorant pitchman. It makes you think.