Interview: Vanessa Torres

Vanessa Torres
Cali local and professional skateboarder
Age: 30
Location: Los Angeles, US

Is this your first time in Sweden?
It’s my first time in Stockholm, but I was visiting Gothenburg in June. The sun didn’t set at all, it literally went down a little bit at 11pm, I had to like close the curtains so I could sleep! So it’s my second time in Sweden this year. 

What do you think about it?
It really depends on what people you’re with, it’s not like I do research and know where I’m going or what I’m doing, when I travel I always meet up with people that shows me what places to check out. I’m always excited about that. 

We had a lot of snow here a few days ago. Have you ever tried snowboarding? 
When I was younger. I don’t go often and I feel like I always start at the very beginning every time. I always knock the air out of myself, I always eat shit. But it’s fun, I just don’t like being cold, and getting snow inside your clothes and not making it off the lift.  

You have a lot of tattoos, when did you get the first one and which one is your favourite? Yeah I have 12 of them. I got the first one when I was 19. I really like the one on my wrist, my friend Ryan Dewitt passed away a year and a half ago, and it’s actually his signature. He was my old team manager at Element, we were really close. So it’s the most significant one. But I really like them all, they all mean something different. 

What’s going on in your life right now? 
I’m going to physical therapy three times a week. I’m trying to do other work-related things around skateboarding while I’m not able to skate, just so I’m still involved and don’t lose my mind. I’m just focusing on getting stronger and healing. 

How did you get injured?
I was filming for the Quit Your Day Job-video and was skating hard that day, I was super pumped and skated a bad handrail. My feet planted on the ground and then my knee went in and fully tore my ACL, I don’t even have a meniscus anymore, they cleaned it out. It was my first major injury and my first surgery, I’ve gotten by for the last 17 years without really hurting myself.   

What do you do when you’re not skating?
People ask me what I’m doing in a day but I don’t even know. But yeah I’m going to physical therapy, get coffee and hang out with friends. I go to bed early and get up early and have meetings about potential projects. Trying to find other stuff to do which I probably wouldn’t have done if I was skating, I live and breathe skating, it keeps me from going crazy. Now I have to find other things to stay busy. 

When and how did you start skateboarding?
I used to hang out with this group of boys when I was younger, there was always different things like BMX, inline skating, skateboarding. I was always running around with these boys and I was a follower so I always did what they did. When they started skating I did too. With skating I found what I wanted to do. It was something that gave me a purpose that I could do anytime, by myself or with friends.  

If you weren’t a professional skateboarder, what do you think you would have done?
I really like animals so probably a veterinarian or marine biologist, but you have to go to school for that, and I’m not really a school person. I dropped out of high school sophomore year. But I love being around animals. 

Where did you grow up? And where do you live now?
I grew up in California. I live in LA close to Echo Park, close to downtown. I have lived all over LA really since I was 18. 

What places would you recommend in LA?
It depends on what person, there’s West Hollywood but I never go because I fucking hate it, it’s awful. But when I was younger and partying I went there all the time, it’s like the gay capital. I really like the beaches south of LA like Laguna, it’s clean and nice. There’s good places all over town but everything is constantly changing, big companies are coming in and changing it and it gets expensive. I like the small dirty bars, which I don’t go to anymore really since I’m not drinking anymore, but places that are more intimate and still cheap that anyone can afford.  

When is your favourite time of the day and why?
Coffee time. I know the boys that work in the shops so I really look forward to it, I usually hang out and smoke cigarettes in the front and drinking coffee for an hour and a half and then I start my day.

Are you on time or are you always late?
I have my moments where I’m punctual. It depends on how serious me being on time is, that decides whether I’m on time or not. I feel like it’s a part of my personality being late. But it was definitely worse when i was drinking, I didn’t care at all, but it’s getting better now when I’m not drinking and getting older.

If you could re-live one moment in your life, which one would it be?
I went to the Galapagos, I was so fortunate to go there, it’s so beautiful. I was a part of the Poseidon foundation, we went there and repaired homes that were damaged from storms and things like that. And we worked with this woman who owns the only skate, surf and mountain bike shop there so we threw contests that really brought the community together. That was a life altering experience for me that I will never forget.

What are your biggest fears? Are you afraid of something?
I have a really hard time being in a car with someone else driving. I get anxiety from that, to not have control. And to not be able to skate ever again.

How do you think people around you would describe you?
I’m sure they think that I’m loud, because I’m a little person and I have to compensate. And that I’m a good friend and dependable, at least now when I don’t drink anymore.

Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you?
That I’m sober and stopped drinking 18 months ago. I probably won’t drink for the rest of my life. In the skate industry everyone is drinking with you and for me it got bad, really bad. Getting sober was for me, I did it for myself and it has really strengthened my relationships with family and friends. I’m more present and I’m there. I think it’s uncomfortable for some people who are still drinking to hang out with a sober person, they don’t know how to be around you but I’m not judging. I’m not going to preach about it. I really don’t miss being hungover, I feel great, like I’m in the best shape of my life.

What was it about Cheapo that made you want to be a part of the team?
I went to Oslo in February and started talking with Viktor Telégin, CEO of Cheapo, about the brand, and what the brand stands for. I’ve been skating for a long time so I’ve had huge corporate sponsors that’s not very personal at all. So when I heard about Cheapo and everything it stands for like women’s rights, gay rights and all of that, it felt right. So I was like “Let’s do this!”. It was a no-brainer.

You have a sunglass pro model coming out next season, can you tell us about that?
It’s super rad, I’m stoked and excited about that. I love sunglasses, I wear them all the time! I’m very much involved in the design, shape and color and everything.

Apart from that, what is your favourite Cheapo piece?
Anything silver, simple and small because my wrists are so tiny. Cheapo is rad though because it’s very clean and simple, have their own style and it’s affordable.

Taking a strong social stance for equality and human rights are fundamental parts of Cheapo’s DNA. What social responsibility and/or charity is the most important to you?
I’m not involved with any charities or anything, but if I get the opportunity to express my support for equality and human rights I will take it. Like when I wore the ‘Gay rights’ t-shirt in Street League. I think it’s important to use where I’m at to stand up for the right things, that’s my way of giving back. I try to do my part but it also comes naturally for me, it’s not anything that’s uncomfortable.

What are your plans for the future?
I really do want to start an apparel company. I just have to figure out how to do it on paper, but I have made so many great friends in the industry that can help me make it happen. I like skating in sweat shorts and I really like pastel colors so it’s going to be something like that. And it’s not going to be gender specific, anyone could wear it.

Last but not least, which animal would you be, and why?I really feel like I look like a french bulldog with no profile, so I’ll go with that!

Illustration by: Iñaki Azpiazu

Photo by: Zorah Olivia

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