Five Favorite Parts With Elissa Steamer

Headline Photo by Bram De Martelaere
Interview by Farran Golding

Elissa’s 45 seconds of new footage from last month managed to come up in more human conversation around the QS office than some marquee full-length videos, and offered up a nice reminder that we had yet to have her on here for one of these.

She’s a Menace head.

Frankie Hill — Powell-Peralta: Ban This (1989)

These are five of my favorites but I don’t know if they’re necessarily my five favorites. They fluctuate with time.

Public Domain was probably the first video my friends and I had a copy of, which we watched religiously. About a year later, Ban This came along. In Public Domain, there was this street section to the McRad song [“Weakness”] with Ray Barbee, Chet Thomas, Eric Sanderson and Steve Saiz. That was insane: skating schoolyards, stairs, hella no-complies, kickflip pivots and stuff like that, so I was paying attention to street skating because there were no ramps where I was from.

I think Frankie Hill and I were probably the same age, 14 or 15, when Ban This came out. Powell had switched up their image a little bit, had some different looking graphics and shapes than before. It was more street-oriented.

Frankie Hill was the first person you saw in [Ban This] and he went absolutely bonkers. Jumping huge gaps, his board looked super sick – he was a riding a black Lance Mountain “Family Crest,” and he was skating rails, doing grabs. I liked how he’d land and skid out. He just looked good on a board. There was definitely people skating gaps and stuff, but I feel like he stepped it up a notch.

Maybe it was filmed in a day or two, maybe [Stacy Peralta] came back a week later, but it’s done quick, not taking two years to get your best shit. I don’t know if that’s more enjoyable, but it’s definitely more nostalgic and brings me back to a place, for sure.

Menace Skateboards — World Industries: 20 Shot Sequence (1995)

The Menace section in 20 Shot was super influential to me and all my friends. There had never been that sort of marketing before. Hip-hop had taken over my life a few years prior, so along with Wu-Tang and Method Man, I was super into that video part.

It was Kareem Campbell’s thing [Menace was Kareem’s company but he rode for World – ed.], he was somebody I looked up to, enjoyed his skating and tried to mimic it in mine. [Eric] Pupecki was one of my favorites in that section. His switch front crooks, Billy Valdez’s back tails – all of it, really. The hip-hop, the soundtrack, the rebelliousness – it was a new way of presenting skateboarding. It spoke to me.

I got on Toy Machine in March or February of ’96, filmed throughout June then Welcome To Hell came out in the summer. I had a Menace board until I got on Toy Machine. Everybody [at Toy Machine] loved that segment; [Mike] Maldonado, Brian [Anderson] and I, we were all into rap. I’m from a small town in Florida where information was very slow, at least back then. We were drinking 32 ounces – which is a quart – so we’d call them “quarites” because they didn’t have 40 ounces in Florida. That was my vibe: Wu-Tang, blunts and forties.

As soon as I thought of 20 Shot, I thought about Kareem checking his pager mid-line, then I was like, “Oh, what about Gino [Iannucci] – the hardflip over the hip to start [his part in Trilogy]?” I was like, “Fuck were does it end?” So I tried to be a little diverse.

Looking at it, the personality of the people, the part, whoever is skating shows through. The skating is top notch, but their personality shows.

Keenan Milton — Chocolate Skateboards: Las Nueve Vidas De Paco (1995)

Keenan’s in 20 Shot too. I picked Paco [over 20 Shot] because I love that song, “Shanty Town,” but also he does that line at the Courthouse where he switch tails, then does the floating nollie flip which I feel has never been topped. The line ends on the switch frontside flip over the wall. His flatground is so impeccable. The line at the Sand Gaps and the nollie hardflip is insane.

It’s quality over quantity with him; Guy Mariano also. After Video Days, he’d have three or four tricks in a video up until Mouse where he had a full part. It was a way of being that kept you wanting more: put three sick-ass tricks in a video instead of a bunch of time-consuming stuff that might not be the best, just to fill a song.

I pictured California as a place as big as my town [Fort Myers, Florida], filled with every spot. I knew geography enough to know California is a humongous place, but I envisioned that everybody runs into everybody, everybody skates together, and you show up on a corner and everybody’s there. I had no idea how much skateboarding was happening in the whole state of California.

Frank Gerwer — Anti-Hero: Cash Money Vagrant (2003)

It’s like his introduction to Anti-Hero. The beginning sequence where he’s going mental after he slams on the rail, the car comes and stops for his board, he picks his board up and he throws it under the tire, like, “Please break this thing and get me out of here.” That and the O.D.B. song [“Recognize” ft. Chris Rock] — it’s perfect.

Frank can skate everything. I don’t think it’s different to see him skating schoolyards and picnic tables. He lived in San Francisco, so you were more used to seeing him skate San Francisco spots rather than benches in L.A., but I think it adds a nice little mix.

That [ender] was before you’d do a trick at the top of the hill. Bombing the hill was “phase two” of the trick. It was right up the street from our house when we all lived together. We would skate, get photos and stuff on that, then one day he just decided he’s going the whole way. No spotters or anything. That hill is three long, steep sections and then two sort of mellower sections. You can see the camera guy doesn’t even know he’s going to do it. He has to run down a hill to get into position to film the last of that hill.

I have so many Frank memories I don’t even know where to begin. I love him so much.

Sammy Baca — Baker 4 (2019)

[Sammy’s part plays at 55:47]

Sammy is super stylish, but his whole get-up, running around with his kids, and the way Andrew [Reynolds] edited it to “Earth Angel” — it’s a really powerful video part. I love Sammy; I love everyone on Baker. When he kisses his youngest son after he lands a trick, and he’s smiling at the end, it’s great.

Honorable Mention: Kareem Campbell — World Industries: Trilogy (1996)

Previously: Casper Brooker, John Gardner, Bobshirt, Brandon Turner, Shari White, Nick Jensen, Tony Hawk, Naquan Rollings, Jack O’Grady, Josh Wilson, Maité Steenhoudt, Jahmir Brown, Una Farrar, Chris Jones, Mason Silva, Beatrice Domond, Mark Suciu, Justin Henry, Breana Geering, Sage Elsesser, Bobby Worrest, Nik Stain, Anthony Van Engelen, Dom Henry, Bing Liu, Andrew Reynolds, Cyrus Bennett, Jacob Harris, Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbert Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams

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