The idea behind REEL DEALS is simple: wrangle together links to sections from the best bladers of the past, present and future — and get ’em all in one place. Then we set Michigan-to-California transplant Chris Couture loose on a fact finding mission to uncover more about the men (or women!) behind the blading. The results — sometimes familiar and sometimes surprising — speak to the enduring power of a great section… and a love of blading.
Here, alongside their blade catalogs and in their own words, is the REEL DEAL.
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How old are you? What year did you start blading?
I’m 31, and started blading around 1993.
The first profile of you I remember seeing was “VG 8: Ocho.” Was that your first profile, or are there earlier ones?
I had a few smaller sections in some of Joe Navran’s early videos, but “VG8” was a huge deal at the time. It was actually like a mini-profile or something or other, but I guess I kinda nailed it, ha ha, because people always remember it as a full-on profile.
Ha ha, I think that started the reign of Gangstarr as a soundtrack for blade videos as well! Did you pick “You know my Steez” or did Dave Paine choose the track?
I’m pretty sure Dave Paine and Joe Navran chose the track together. They worked on the section together even though it was Dave’s video. I don’t think I chose the song for any of my sections ’cause everyone hated techno. LOL
You skated Fifth Elements in a number of videos that I can remember. Were you riding for Roces at the time?
Actually, no. A ton of people asked me that over the years but I was never involved with them at all. Just free exposure for them, ha ha. Brian Konoske would just flow me skates ’cause at that time he was sponsored by Roces and I had some torn up Majestic 12s. I never even asked anyone for skates or anything — people just loved giving me stuff back then.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure your influence is one of the main reasons that skate was so popular — you pretty much killed four sections in those white ones. Way ahead of your time!
I just looked for the “Like” button for a sec, ha ha, damn. Thanks man.
Who was your first sponsor? How did that come about?
I was supposed to be sponsored by Team Paradise (former skate shop in Huntington Beach) but the contract they offered me, well, my dad didn’t like it! We asked them to revise a few things and they just lagged forever… almost a year. At that time Shane Coburn was the team manager, but before they even had the new contract ready, Coburn left. Then he started the wheel/clothing company Medium and I asked if he had a flow team. He’s like, “Yeah, you wanna be on it?” and handed me some Jake Elliotts. Nice. Side note: I found it amusing I ended up on the cover of the Team Paradise catalog five years later.
You rode for two of the biggest companies of their time: Senate and Salomon. Do you have a favorite moment in that time period?
Without a doubt, traveling with Salomon and chillin’ with Feinberg and Skower. There is really no one single moment, but if I had to pick one it would be getting crazy on absinthe at a random tavern in the middle of the Scottish countryside. I also have to mention when I had Salomon fly me to Milwakee for an ASA comp I wasn’t even qualified to skate in so I could go see Eminem at the Up in Smoke Tour. Heh!
I was at that comp!
Speaking of Flow/Am/Pro, what was the transition: Medium flow, Senate am, then pro? Salomon Pro straight up? I ask this ’cause many would say today’s system of transition for riders to progress in the game is broken. What was the process like back then?
It just depends on the person, the company, and the environment. Like, for me, going from Medium to Senate wasn’t a planned thing. Before Senate I got an offer from United Urethane and was sponsored by them for a month or two. Then one day I was skating with Roadhouse and BK, doing true top acids on a square rail, and Randy was just like “We should put Billy on Senate.” BK agreed, too. I thought they were just saying that, but then people kept telling me they were serious. That was like my sell-out moment, ’cause I thought about it for a few days then dropped United. Can’t say I regret it though. When Kevin Gillan took over as Senate team manager he made me pro, because everyone thought I deserved it, but most people in charge were only looking at ASA results and stuff. Me and Jeff Frederick were some of the first skaters to go pro for any company without being ASA pro.
Salomon had kind of a weird system of National team and International team. I started on the National team but had the opportunity to fly to Germany with Aaron and Shayne. A few days into the trip I just kept bugging Aaron to get me on the International team. Then they put my wheels on the Salomon soft boot skates and that got my name out there. I don’t know, I guess a combination of those things got me on the Intrernational team. But back to your question, the system has always been broken.
When I think of style in blading your name has always come up immediately. What are your thoughts on style? Where would you like to see styles go in the future?
First off — thanks, man — I never get tired of hearing that. Some people make shit look effortless, like Latimer and Feinberg. Others get crispy like Broscow and B Cam. I think where we’re at now is that it’s all about control, like, a lot of holding shit fakie, full on fakie lines, just holding grinds forever, switch lines, one foot lines, etc. All of that is really dope and creative. I hear people say skating isn’t as stylish as it was back then but I disagree, skating is more steezy than ever from the top pros and up and comers. The difference is everyone makes videos and there’s so much non-stylish stuff to watch, too. If you pick and choose what you watch, like I do, skating is dope right now. For example, I only watch edits from big events like Bittercold and a few video premieres here and there, so everything I see is the business. But yeah, a trick always gets you way more hyped when it looks good. That goes without saying.
Other then your eventual hiatus from blading, are there any regrets in your career? Things you wanted to accomplish but didn’t?
I would’ve liked to have won at least one IMYTA because it was right up my alley. Before that, competitions all focused on park skating. Overall, I just wish I didn’t take the opportunities I was given for granted and had cherished them a little more. Could’ve stayed in the game like Stockwell, Miranda, Dre, Rachard, Franky, Vinny, Sagona, Julio and anyone else I missed. The list goes on and on.
Are there any bladers today that you really enjoy watching? Other then the main pros, are there any up and comers out there who you really like what their doing?
Buzz Hollbrook, Julian Cudot, Chris Cout-AIR
Ha ha! Not sure how to respond. That’s amazing to hear you say that. Thanks doggy, much appreciated!
Yeah man, you kill it.
You were involved with a groundbreaking video in “Amateur.” This concept took the up and coming Ams of their time and made a statement, basically letting the world know the status quo wasn’t enough, and that new blood is always needed, As in any sport or art, new people will always have new things to bring the table that become appreciated. Do you think were getting to a time in blading like this again?
I think the beauty of that video was that although it was called “Amateur,” all the skating held its own against the pros. Joe was always trying to make statements like that — “Future of Rollerblading,” “Future Prospects,” etc. The difference now is the whole bar has been raised and there is an expectation to make skating look really clean. I think most of the new bladers now are people who notice ill bladers at skateparks. Because really there aren’t many other ways for new people to find out about blading, it’s so out of the public eye. No matter what, if there are new people getting involved they will bring something new with them.
You’re really involved with music. Can you describe your style of music, and what you do? Is there a spot online we can check some of it out?
Ever since college I have played trance records. My style is just really dark, hard and gritty. It’s not happy music at all… just really powerful. Honestly, it’s just a hobby, off and on. I just play for myself in my own apartment. Never took it to the next level and maybe never will. I’ve just never really met many people that share the same taste as me, and the ones who do aren’t people I would want to be around all the time. I dunno, it’s hard to explain but spinning records gives me a crazy rush, like skating, so I never gave it up, but never fully pursued it either. If I ever take it to the level you will be able to find it on Facebook/Soundcloud easy as pie. When I’m just rolling around I’m usually listening to classic rock. I love it, and it’s more genuine artistry. Spinning records is kinda just catering to my chemical imbalance and just a quick shot of adrenaline. It’s funny, I can’t even handle it for much longer than 30 minutes anymore without a break or two.
Did you get a chance to go to the Blading Cup? What were your thoughts?
I showed up and watched the bLady heats. Then I wandered over to the bar right at the corner there and kicked it with my friends Rob, Andre and Rina. I was there for the whole pro comp chilling with different people. I was pretty flabbergasted when they were announcing the winner — couldn’t believe I missed the whole thing. I barely even said ‘what up’ to anyone. Weird day for me.
Who were some of your favorite people to session with, and who would you like to session with in the future?
Aaron Feinberg and B Cam. Those dudes just crush shit. Never got to session with Broskow much and he crushes, too.
How often are you blading these days? A few stars from the past have recently comeback with full force, is there a Billy Prislin resurgence planned?
I’ve been trying to get back into it. A few years ago I was getting a lot back, but I’m not there yet. As of now it’s like a once a month thing, if that. I don’t wanna just ramble off excuses but I really haven’t been comfortable enough financially to be able to just go out and enjoy myself. Until recently that is, so that’s all about to change. It’s a work in progress, but I would like to get a few more bangers before it really is too late.
You’re still young! Ha ha, only three years older then me! I can honestly say I — and I’m sure many others — can’t wait to see you back on them blades! BTW, when are you coming to a ONE Sunday sesh?
Let’s friggin do it, no more half-steppin!
I’ve been hyped about it, but sitting here letting words flow has got me even more hyped.
Any shout outs?
I think I covered ’em all except Dave Paine.
Excellent section!!! Long life to Prislin and all the upcoming veterans, because I am hoping to check more interesting characters here like him!!!