Babes In Useless Wooden Toyland


Suffrage the joy

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.

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14 Responses to “Babes In Useless Wooden Toyland”

  1. rich Says:

    I think Brian Wenning did a lot more to open the doors for ape skating.

  2. pilot light Says:

    Alright, not bad

  3. theProgram Says:

    suffrage the joy. ROFLcopter requesting a fly-by.

  4. Watson Says:

    I was quite impressed by Marisa Santos’ section mainly because she has man style as one of my friends quipped “to match her man face”. She definitely is kicking it up a notch for chicks. But uhhhhh flip trick grabs? Get the fuck out of here.

    Sablone gets my nod for best chick skater after Elissa.

    Also I’d gladly have an affirmative action bar-fight with chick skaters. I have lots of experience with hitting women anyway. (I kid, I kid.)

  5. KDP Says:

    She has exactly the same style as Ollie Tyreman.

    (see Consolidated’s Goin’ Bananas).

  6. jacobrobins Says:

    Flip-grab tricks aren’t so bad, dude in the $lave video does a flip tuck knee which is pretty rad.

  7. ND Says:

    “Suffrage the joy”… I think you just peaked. Can that be the first BTO t-shirt?

  8. the hungover ghost of dash snow Says:

    Jilleeen from Peir 7 is /was the tightest girl skater ever- she even was a “Do” in the Vice magazine fashion section

  9. clew Says:

    Vanessa Torres can fuckin’ rip, and Stu Graham and Simon Woodstock are two to test the weight/sponsorship ratio.

  10. Roger Says:

    It’s kind of a stretch to say that skateboarding success comes directly from skill. Lot’s of dudes can do tricks, but only some are picked up. Seems to have a lot to do with hype/hair/pants or something. And where do “little kid” video parts fit into this hierarchy? The aforementioned Simon Woodstock is a perfect example of a guy who was sort of skilled, but seemed to be sponsored primarily for his ability to make and ride skateboards made out of bowling balls, fish tanks, pizzas (?) etc…..

  11. OaklandPete Says:

    Is anybody really going to suggest that being a pro is based on skateboard ability?!? The only ability that qualifies you to turn pro is the ability to sell product. Simon Woodstock is a good example. How about Tom Green for Birdhouse? How about Natas and Hensley and Grosso and even Cab still having pro boards?
    As far as I’m concerned, Cardiel is the only person who should have a lifetime pro-model status.

    Women have every right to participate and earn coverage/sponsorship/money in skateboarding as they do in everything else. Physically, men have more strength than women (on average), and this is why there are often different divisions in competitive professional sports for men and women. Skateboarding is WAY behind other boardsports when it comes to treating women fairly. Surfing and snowboarding have had women in the spotlight for about as long as men. Frankly, I am embarrassed that the skate industry has taken this long to legitimately include girls as equal participants.

    So, is Zero just trying to capitalize on a much untapped revenue demographic? And if so, is it wrong to reach out to girls if money is the motivation.
    Good post.

  12. al Says:

    Brockman made his back nosegrind look better any other instance of that trick since Jake Johnson took it to fakie in Mind Field.

    It was pretty intense.

  13. The ghost of Jilleen from Pier 7 Says:

    I remember thinking back in the day if a girl were to ever switch varial heel down a 10 stair and make it look good, I could be comfortable with that. Style, choice of tricks, her part could be all flatground as long as it looked good. Why are Steamer and Reyes considered female pioneers in their own right? Cause they made shit look good without corny ass style.

    Girls skateboarding has since then evolved into countless life-long orange county vans memberships of 14 year old girls who rip only with helmets on. The current benchmark of sizeable tricks at any girls contest at 9 a.m. is a testament that skillwise girls are capable, but the problem has always been and always will be that girls look corny when they skate. A similar predicament would be having trex arms when you skate, which transcends the gender arguement.

    That being said, Marissa’s part was good as shit cause she looked better than any chick at your local skate park.

    Even for a dude, she fucking rips and if you want to argue that you can film the same exact part but look like a douche doing it. She can get away with tuck knees and grabs you know why? Because there are probably like less than three females on the planet that can make a tuck knee look sick. And by sick I mean fun, you know what fun is right?

    Girls have been skateboarding as long as guys have been. The problem with overanalyzing shit is that at the end of the day skating is just skating and as long as people are pushing, why are you complaining?

  14. billy Says:

    OMG T-Rex arms……..Please do a post about that.

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