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Created by T. Gentsch | News

Lacey Baker Interview


Skateboarding, New York and LGBTQI

Interview: T. Gentsch
Photos: Tyler Smolinski

Lacey Baker not only is one of the most progressive and well known female skateboarders but also one of the most influential and respected member of the LGBTQI community. The „Rainbow Push“ photo she shot with Sam Mcguire became iconic not only in the community but worldwide in skateboardings microcosmos. And, since it also became the campaign motiv for our „Support Diversity“ Clothing-Line it was a no brainer to get an interview with Lacey alongside. But that wasn´t as easy as it sounds. Since Lacey moved from LA to New York in 2017, living openly queer, skating for NIKE and winning Street League contests, her schedule became pretty busy. Plus, she´s had so many interviews in the last two years that covered pretty much everything regarding her (skate-)life. So getting some interesting interview going not asking the same questions over and over again wasn´t the easiest task. It happens very rarely that i get nervous before an interview but the minutes before i called up Lacey my hands started to shake – for absolutely no reason at all!

Hey Lacey, how are you doing today?

Good, good, thank you. Hanging out at home…

Nice, sounds great, you just came from skating or what?

Yeah, i skated a little bit but decided to come back home to switch my board up.

It´s 6 o´clock in the evening at yours right now, right? In yesterdays email you wrote that you have to give skate lessons prior to this interview…

Yes!

Is that like a class in the neighborhood of yours or what kind of…?

No, i just give private lessons to these three girls. I met their moms on a shoot i had and that was kind of how the connection started. So yeah, it´s just some private lessons for some girls that i think are all about 13 years of age.

Oh, that´s sweet. Do they got talent?

Yeah yeah, they are good and progressing, picking up stuff pretty quick.

Nice, i guess it can´t really get any better than seeing somebody progressing in what you try to teach the person, right?! So, living in New York now, what is it the city is giving you another (city) can´t really do? I´ve overread before that you like the fact not having to have a car, getting out of the house and being right in the city, but what sets New York apart from other cities? I mean, one can have this in other cities, too…!

Yeah, i mean, you named it already, just being able to get out and skate right away, people are all over the place. It´s so condensed here and New York is just an awesome city to live in. I like the change in the weather. It gives me more motivation if it´s sunny to do certain things. I feel like here, everyday is an adventure compared to living in LA. It´s just really boring there.

I hear you. You mentioned the seasons, it doesn´t bum you out that it´s getting freezy in the winter? How was the weather today anyways?

Today it was about 60 degrees (15 Grad Celsius) and sunny, so it was really nice, but the next four days it´s supposed to be raining so this is also the reason why i wanted to go out skating today. Weather can be really challenging, because obviously i wanna be skating as much as i can, but i travel a lot as well so if i need to go skating in warm weather, i might as well catch a plane and fly to LA and meet some friends there (to go skating); if i am not on the road anyways.

…you get to appreciate the good weather way more, right?

Yeah, it´s just like, as soon as the sun is coming out, the people are as well. Everybody is in a good mood, has fun going to the skatepark… just everybody being outside, you know...!

Yeah, i know. Another thing i´ve overread in a previous interview of you was that when you wake up here (in New York) you feel like „you just wanna do EVERYTHING“ so, what would be your first „everything“?

Well, when it comes to that it´s just about things i like doing in general, you know. Like wake up, make coffee, make food, go skate, do physical therapy… I´m coming out of a knee injury right now, so i got to take care of that. But i also like to just wander around the city discovering things. And yeah, you named it, coffee shops, checking out some music stores…

…Coffee, black or with milk?

I drink it black, hahaha. But yeah, i also like to persue different hobbies like art and graphic design, playing some music, trying to write songs and stuff like that. Just keep everyday fresh, you know.

What was the most surprisingly stunning thing you´ve discovered in New York?

Hmm, i would really say the skateboarding community. There are a lot of queer and female skateboarders. I feel it´s just easier to access the (diverse skateboarding) community here compared to when i was living in LA. And, just being able to explore, not having a set plan, you know. Hopping on the train, deciding to get off at some point, check something out, hop back on… Just like having an adventure, you know. That´s like my favorite part.

Which skateboarder, male or female, have you always looked up to?

Well, obviously, as a woman Elissa Steamer and Alexis Sablone, but also Andrew Reynolds, Arto Saari… those were the ones i was looking up to as a kid.

And who does your (skate) crew in New York consist of nowadays?

I don´t really have a set crew, i just go to the skatepark and meet some friends there, like my friend Jessica or whoever is around… It´s pretty easy here to just run into friends, one doesn´t really need to much coordination, you know…

…even though it´s such a big city?

Yeah, that (meeting friends) happens all the time. It´s because a lot of skateboarders hang out in the areas where the skateparks are at, so yeah, you kind of meet everybody all the time.

So, looking back at your skateboarding career, what was the best and what was the worst decision you´ve ever made?

The best decision i´ve made was definetely to quit my dayjob to just skate when i was 24. Worst decision, i don´t even know, can´t really think of something right now. If there was something in that direction, it was me feeling pressured to please the industry (back when i was coming up) by dressing more feminine, so that wasn´t really a great time.

Yeah, i can understand that pretty good. Who do you think is running the skate industry nowadays?

Well, i think, and it´s kinda obvious, a lot of the cooperative shoe brands have their finger pretty hard on the skate industry and then maybe some of the newer board companies… But honestly, i don´t really pay too much attention what goes on in the skateboarding industry outside of queer or non-traditional skateboarding, women in skateboarding… But yeah, the cooperate brands coming in and putting money in where it seems (for them) neccessary, i think it comes down to that.

Is that a good or a bad thing?

I think it really is a double edged sword. It´s good on the one side, but it´s hard for a lot of the core brands not being as able to sell their stuff as they used to be. They might not have the technology and the money some of the cooperative brands have, so it takes a little bit away from the core skaters that are doing it. But you know, the more mainstream things get, the more stuff like this is about to happen, anywhere. But there are always gonna be awesome new and small board brands, a bunch of DIY type companies, like MEOW Skateboards might be a good example. Unity Skateboards is a good example as well. FA or Hockey are core skatebrands and i guess doing pretty good, Frog just popped up and is really cool. All these are just some companys created by skateboardes but then again, cooperate companies are also getting behind these core ones so it kinda helps to elevate them as well.

Yeah, i know what you mean. Unity, the company you mentioned, comes from the Bay Area (Oakland) and i have never heared of them. What kind of a company is that?

It´s a board company which was created by Jeffery Cheung. He started by handpainting a couple of boards and gave them away to any queer person he knew who had the desire to skate. So by doing that, he pretty much created a queer skatescene in Oakland, and regardless of the (queer) people who were already skating or being beginners he was able to bring all those (people) together and out of that the company Unity evolved.

I understand. Let´s get into the queer topic since you already mentioned it. You know, i really tried to look it up what exactly queer means, or embodies, but couldn´t really figure it out. Can you explain it to me properly?

Oh yeah. Like before, the term was used to describe any gay or lesbian or transgender person but some years ago it was reclaimend and basically it´s kind of an umbrella term for all those types of people and it can be a lot of different things. It just describes your gender identity, your presentation, your sexuality and all those things kind of fit under the umbrella (term) queer. It just describes all those orientations you can have and their combination inbetween.

So what does it describe more, like sexual orientiation or is it more of a political statement? Or like a mindset that becomes a statement?

Well, it´s basically just your personal identity. The way you identify with masculinity or feminism, the combination of the two things or maybe nothing at all. Or being not gender conforming, or whatever you feel like. So, pretty much neither one of those you said but more just about yourself.

You´ve been to europe quite some times. Did you, especially as a queer person, ever consider moving here?

Yeah, totally, there are so many beautiful cities in Europe, absolutely.

Which would be your city of choice then?

Well, i am in love with Paris so i guess that would be my first choice. Also Spain, which is awesome for skating, Berlin obviously is like a super queer city, so that could be really interesting, even though i´ve never been there.

Never been to Berlin? Seriously?

No, never.

Oh Lacey, you gotta do something about that next summer, just don´t get lost there, hahaha. No, but really, you would love Berlin, let me tell you that. Just be careful not getting too wild, it happens really quick that you turn your shoulder and realise „ups, i´ve just been awake for 3 days“.

Yeah, i´ve overheard it gets out of hand pretty easily, hahaha.

Is there a city or part of the US where you would never wanna go to again?

Fuck, i don´t even know, i never thought about that one. I mean, most of the US can be pretty boring, besides the cities along the coastlines. But i can´t really think of a specific one that i absolutely would never wanna go to again and for the most part i also don´t really care - i guess pretty much anywhere in the middle states. But i like Seattle, i like Portland and LA and New York, obviously. But any of the so called "red states" i definetely don´t have to go to.

How important is your outward attire to yourself? I´ve read you like to alter clothes, so do you stand in front of the mirror in the morning thinking „ahhh, this doesn´t really match“, or look into your closet and think „fuck i only have shit in here“?

Well, i choose my clothes based on my gender identity and how i like to express and present myself, a bit more masculin, you know. So i just choose my clothes based on feeling fine and looking good (in them) and by wearing more masculine clothes i also feel way more comfortable skating. Altering clothes is just fun but adds up feeling even more comfortable.

So, whats the best combo: black-black, black-white or white-white?

A lot of times i´ve had all black or all white but lately i´ve actually been into wearing different colors as well. But even then i try to keep it monocromatic and maybe like a little pop of color somewhere. Like a red beanie or something like that.

So, you wouldn´t go purple pants and neon-green shirt?

Never!

Maybe when you are in Berlin…

Well, maybe if i´ve been awake for 3 days i don´t know, hahaha…!

Ok Lacey, we gonna meet this summer there, hahaha. We are coming to an end, but let me ask you a couple either/or questions:

-Pen & Paper or Notes on I-Pad or Phone?

Both, even though i prefer pen and paper.

-Nollie or Switch?

Hahaha, as switch as i can!

-Kickflip or Heelflip?

Kickflip

-Rolling Stone or VICE?

Can´t really tell since i don´t really have copies of neither both.

-Ledges or Flatbars?

Ledges, for sure.

-In & Out or Carls Jr.?

In & Out

-Seattle or Miami?

Never been to Miami so i don´t know.

-Cat or Dog?

Haha, both.

-Rowley or Reynolds?

Reynolds, sorry Geoff.

Alright Lacey, i guess that was it. Thanx a lot for your time, that was really sweet.

Yeah, thank you too. Bye!