Once upon a time, parents did not want their kids to be skateboarders. In the 80s and 90s, skating was reserved for a rebellious and unsavory lot of outcasts and misfits with no futures. Today, thanks to big-money contests and endorsement deals, skateboarding is seen as a "real" sport and a possibly lucrative career. With that mentality comes the very ugly segment of society known as stage moms and soccer dads who force their kids to train like Olympic figure skaters—anything less than perfection is unacceptable. That sort of competitive parenting has always been around in skateboarding to some degree, but with payouts exploding from $100 in the 80s to $150,000 in 2014, the lecherous parents far outnumber the passive ones who just want their kids to have a good time.
Lucky for Louie Lopez, Flip Skateboards' newest pro, his father was not one of those dads. Big Lou never imagined that 14 years after his son first picked up the little toy at age five he would be skating professionally for one of the most respected companies in the world. Despite having the last ten years of his life documented in photos and videos and making enough money to buy his own home before his 20th birthday, Louie has somehow managed to remain grounded and avoid the toxic mix of shitty attitudes and inflated egos that often plague young people who are really good at balancing on pieces of wood.
I caught up with Louie at his New York hotel room on a recent press junket to discuss his newest part (above) and a number of other interesting topics from the life of Louie Lopez.
VICE: Was your dad one of those soccer dads who forced you to skate? Did he ever kick you off a vert ramp?
Louie Lopez: No, my dad has always been mellow. He's always been supportive with what I wanted to do. He definitely didn't expect me to skateboard. I think he expected me to play soccer or something, but he's always been down for the cause. It's sick that he got to come on so many trips with me until I turned 18.
What's the secret to not kooking it as a child star?
I think for most kids it's just when they're young and on trips the older guys can't really handle them—but that's how it is with any young kid. Obviously they're going to be annoying if they're 12. I guess if you don't grow out of it, that's when you blow it.
Were you a shitty little kid?
Nah, I've always been super shy and quiet, so I learned to keep my mouth shut.
You've been on Flip for a long time with Geoff Rowley and Arto Saari, two of the most legendary skaters of all time. Have those guys given you solid guidance throughout the years?
Yeah, I can always go to Geoff or Arto if I have any questions or need help with something. Those guys are great. But the best advice came from my dad. He taught me to never be mad at myself for not winning a contest or missing a trick or something like that. As long as I tried my best, that's all that mattered.
Louie and the fam
That's not a very soccer-dad mentality at all. Was there a time when you'd freak out over contests?
I haven't really freaked out, but I have definitely been super nervous. I just turned pro, and skating these pro contests is pretty nerve-wracking. It's cool, but you look around and you're skating against P-Rod and all of them and you're like, God dammit! I try not to think about it too much.
Have you ever asked P-Rod for his autograph during a contest?
Yeah, like last week. I had to hit him up for an autograph as he was walking behind the ramp.
I heard your dad got you strippers for your 18th birthday, but that it didn't work out as planned. What happened?
It worked out for a little bit, but yeah, my dad got me strippers for my 18th birthday, and they were hot. Their gimmick was that they were school teachers.
Like dressed in business-sexy attire and glasses?
No, real school teachers. So they were all like, "No one can take photos of us doing anything because we have to teach on Monday, and we can't have it get out that we strip." That's what they said; that they were actual school teachers. So a bunch of my friends were there, and people kept showing up and taking photos with their flashes on, and after about 30 minutes the strippers had had enough. They did some crazy stuff, though. They got hot candles and melted them all over my body and were burning me in front of everybody. They pulled me aside and made me do this whole show in front of everybody.
So you didn't get any private time?
I did. After they got pissed about the photos they kicked everyone out and gave me a private dance. That was sick.
Did they let you finger-bang them?
Nah, I didn't get to finger-bang them, but they were making out and going down on each other in front of me. It was pretty tight.
I'm blown away at how easy it is for young skaters to get laid these days. I've been on recent skate trips where guys will post on social media that the van is 30 minutes outside of town, and by the time we get there girls are waiting at the hotel.
Oh, yeah, it's insane. I don't have it like that, but someone who is crazy like that is David Gonzalez. I was rooming with him last year at Tampa Pro, and I remember he had girl after girl after girl coming to the room. They were crossing paths in the elevators coming up and down; it was insane! I would say he had at least five girls over the weekend—at least.
My favorite thing about David is how he says, when he retires from skateboarding, he wants to take his money and go back to Colombia and open up a whorehouse.
Yeah, I don't doubt that he'll do that.
If times get rough for you would you consider going down and working at David's whorehouse?
Yeah, I would hit that up if all else fails.
Curren Caples and Louie Lopez
We talked about skate dads, but let's discuss hot skate moms. There are quite a few of them in the new crop of young skaters. Curren's [Caples] mom is pretty hot. I've always wanted to do a calendar of hot skate moms in bikinis. Who would you say is the hottest?
Maybe [Ryan] Sheckler's mom. I haven't seen her in a while, but I always remember she used to be pretty hot. I'll stick with that as my answer.
Yeah, I'm backing Gretchen for sure. She'd be a great Ms. February. The newest thing on your plate is that you'll soon be officially on the Converse team. Why did it take two years?
I had talked to Converse a while ago, and since then they got rid of their team manager and have been doing a bunch of cleaning up around their offices. They took a little while to get that sorted out, but once they did they said, "Let's do it."
I heard they didn't want to put you on because they were scared you were never going to grow up.
I haven't heard that one, but I wouldn't doubt it. For a while there I didn't even know if I was ever going to grow.
Photo by Arto Saari
Were you nervous that you might actually be a midget?
There have definitely been times where I was like, Damn, this isn't looking too good. But my dad always told me to just wait, it'll happen. He was the same way. He was the shortest kid in high school, and out of nowhere he just grew.
What would you do if your old man stole all your money and footage like Nyjah Huston's dad did?
I'd have to call him out, and we'd have to take it outside.
Your dad is big. He'd kick your ass.
I'd figure out a way to give him a good one.
You just dropped a Goosenectar part this weekend. Tell me about that.
The people in that video are all my friends, who I skate with every day. We worked on a video a while ago called Disorganized Fun, and this is the new one. We've just been skating together, and my friends Ryan Lee and Andrew Freeman made the video. I didn't get to focus on this one as much as I would have liked, because I was always traveling. But when I was home and free I was out skating with them. Alec Majerus and I have a shared part, and I'm stoked on how it turned out.
Curren and Louie in their younger days. Photo by John Bradford
What have you got lined up for the rest of the year?
I have a Flip part dropping in the next couple months with Curren and Alec. I've been going out and skating with Arto a bunch because he films, so it'll be pretty sick. It's rad filming with him because he's one of the best skaters ever, and you'll get scared and see him standing there and think to yourself, Damn, this guy backlips through double kinks. I have to try this.
I saw Alec was in Tampa pro. Is he officially going pro?
Yeah, he'll be pro sometime this year.
Are you pissed that you put in all those years and he's been on Flip for five minutes and already turning pro?
No, I'm not mad at him at all. Everyone knows how good he is. He's one of the gnarliest skateboarders. He's so comfortable on rails it's ridiculous. He deserves it.
I agree. He's my favorite new Canadian skater.
Ha! I've heard that one before. Dane Burman always gives him crap and calls him Canadian. Alec just laughs. He does look Canadian, though. I'm not going to lie.
What's a harder stigma to beat in skateboarding: being Canadian or being Brazilian?
I'd say being Brazilian. I don't know. That's a tough one. They're both about the same.
One last question. If you're all grown-up now, when are you going to stop calling yourself Louie and start going by Lou Lopez?
A few of my close friends call me Lou, but I guess I'm not grown-up enough for everyone to start calling me Lou. Hopefully when I get a mustache or something people will start calling me Lou.