Story Adell Henderson /// Photography Estevan Oriol
(Left to Right: Jereme Rogers, Terry Kennedy, Paul Rodriguez & Stevie Williams)
Zenetti Wheels is breaking the mold. Don’t worry—your favorite wheel design is safe—but the West Coast rim designer recently broke away from the competition by introducing the Zenetti Skate Team. The official advertising/marketing package is the first of its kind between skaters and a wheel company. This year, Zenetti partnered with Dominic DeLuca, owner of L.A.-based skate shop Brooklyn Projects, to step out of the box and put their money where the boards were. “These kids are making millions of dollars, are already buying Benzes, Bimmers and Porches, and are putting rims on them, so the connection is there,” explains Melloe Won, brand marketing consultant for Zenetti, who helped organize the all-star team of Stevie Williams, Paul Rodriguez, Jereme Rogers, Terry Kennedy and Braydon Szafranski (not featured). “These guys have the skating game on lock, but we introduce them to the automotive side. In turn, they will validate Zenetti as a legitimate company in their world, which enables us to cross over into the extreme-sports industry.” This year’s SEMA should be interesting…
Name: Paul Rodriguez
Hometown: Chatsworth, California
Years in the game: Five (pro)
Signature trick: Technical skating
Cars: ’05 BMW 645, ’05 Mercedes SL 500
Skating ain’t a bad nine-to-five. How’s the life?
Words can’t even explain what happens when your dreams come true right before your eyes. It hits you every day more and more when you consider what your life could have been like otherwise. It’s just a blessing.
As expected, you went for a sportier combination of cars. That BMW has been getting a lot of love since it dropped.
I had been looking at the 645 after noticing it on the street—it was really catching my eye. It just so happens that a friend of mine had one, and he only had it for a year and had driven it a very low amount of miles. He was getting another car, so he asked if I would take it from him, and I came across a good deal.
With friends like that, who needs dealerships? Since getting your license, have you noticed any similarities between the way you skate and drive? Maybe a little bit. I don’t consider myself a wild and reckless type of person, but I guess my driving and skating personalities are kind of combined. I’ll do a little speeding here and there, but I’m not going to be switching through lanes at an erratic pace or anything. I don’t wanna mess up my nice car that I worked so hard to get. So, like my skating, I take my time, and when I feel like I’m ready to approach an obstacle, I won’t rush it and force myself into a situation that’s likely to get me hurt.
That makes sense. So when you finally saw your big payday as a pro skater, what was the first thing you splurged on?
The first purchase I made was probably my first car. Back in ’02, I got a Mercedes CLK 320.
Can’t be mad at getting paid to play. What’s your take on all the new attention skateboarding is getting these days?
I think it’s great, because now people are able to see how we’ve evolved in the past 10 years. Anybody can do it, no matter who you are. Whether you consider yourself more hip-hop, punk-rock or a bookworm-type dude, skateboarding can appeal to anyone.
Name: Jereme Rogers
Years in the game: Two (pro)
Signature trick: Backside flip
Cars: ’07 Mercedes CLS 500, ’07 Dodge Charger HEMI
You’ve been getting money in this business since you were a kid, but it has to still be crazy waking up every morning realizing that you ride a skateboard for a living.
Yeah. It happened really quick for me, because I started skating at 13, and within the next year, I was sponsored by a small company. So even then, I was making $400 to $500 a month, which is a lot at that age. Ever since then, I tried to keep climbing.
That sure beats a paper route and trying to trick the Tooth Fairy by placing Tic-Tacs under the pillow. What was the first thing you spent a lot of money on?
One of the first things I got was one of those TechnoMarine diving watches, back when Puffy and a gang of people were rockin’ those. I bought it for like $2,500, and it took me a few months to pay for it. I was definitely check to check for a while after that.
You could have copped an old school Caddy for that much. Have you ever noticed any similarities between the way you drive and the way you skate?
Yeah, I guess so. I definitely am a comfortable driver. I probably drive a lot faster than most normal people. I cut lanes a lot, but I’m comfortable with that. I know how I am with cars. I don’t really drive under 100mph when I’m on the freeway unless there’s traffic.
Daaaamn! Although skateboarding is finally getting its just due, what is your take on those who still don’t accept it as a real sport?
It’s harder than anything, in my eyes. If you get on a skateboard, you’re not just gonna get lucky and make a kick flip or make a trick—it’s gonna take you a year to land something like that. I have tons of respect for basketball, but you can get lucky and make a three-pointer or half-court shot, but you can’t really get lucky on a skateboard. We’ve been waiting to get that respect for a while now.
Yeah, and its finally happening for you guys. Where do you see yourself as your career continues to blossom?
I just see what Tony Hawk has done, and I see that door is open for a skateboarder to go that far. Tony Hawk’s worth more than Puffy or Jay-Z or 50—many people that are out there. I just see that as being a door that’s open, and I see myself trying to reach that.
Hometown:Long Beach, California
Years in the game: Five (pro)
Signature trick: Fakey stuff down handrails
Cars: ’07 BMW 745, ’06 Chrysler 300C
Aside from being able to get a check for doing something that you love to do, what’s the coolest thing about skating for you?
That now, it’s cool to be black and skateboard and do other stuff outside of our element. When I started doing it, it wasn’t accepted, so I used to have to hide it by not coming home with my skateboard, and I didn’t wear my skate shoes around. I just kept it from my friends and neighborhood. So for people to accept it is truly a blessing, and I’m happy as hell.
It took a while, but you guys are finally getting your time to shine. What was it about skateboarding that made you go against the grain instead of getting in where you fit in?
I got into it because of the uniqueness of skating. I could have tried to play basketball, play football, rapping, acting or whatever, but I’ve always seen the uniqueness in it. So now to see and hear girls say that skateboarding is sexy is insane to me.
It’s insane, but you’ve gotta love it. When you first started seeing real money, what was the first thing you dropped a few stacks on? The first thing I got was a car. I went and got a ’99 Cadillac DeVille. It was pimp, too. I was hype. That’s right around the time I started really getting money.
Play on, playa. So when you get behind the wheel of your cars, do you ever notice any similarities with your style of skating?
In both, I like to be stylish. I like skating in the newest shit, and I like driving in the newest shit. I’m happy. Anything I do, I don’t do it to be better than anyone or try to put myself on a pedestal, it’s just the fact that I’m 21 years old, and I’m doing something I love, and I’m just able to get some stuff that I just wanted to grab.
How far do you think you guys will be able to push the envelope with this sport?
There’s no limit. Me, Paul Rodriguez, Rob Dyrdek and Big Black are working on a movie (Street Dreams) together right now which is really going to push the envelope. It’s going to show what the skate life is really about and what you go through, and the trials and tribulations of getting old. Now people will really be able to sit and learn the ins and outs about skateboarding.
Name: Stevie Williams
Years in the game: Six (pro)
Signature trick: Hang maker
Cars: ’03 BMW 325i, ’07 Mercedes S550, ’04 Range Rover
How did you make your transition from skateboarding as a hobby to skateboarding as a professional?
I started skating at 10, and by 11 I found out you can get money from sponsors. So once I figured everything out, people told me to take pictures of myself doing tricks. By the time I was 12, I was already sponsored and getting money.
Most kids are saving up their lunch money for G.I. Joes at that age, and you were rolling in dough. Once your money really
got right, what was the first thing you spent it on?
Benzes for everybody. Sneakers for everybody. Just looking out for people. But my first personal purchase was a car. I copped a ’94 Accord back in 1998. Then I stepped it up to a ’97 Maxima and then a ’98 Range Rover.
Obviously, you had no problem using what you got to get what you wanted. How much has being a skateboarder
affected your driving?
I learned how to drive from skating in the streets, dipping and dodging through traffic and cars at a young age, learning how to time the road. So by the time I got my license, I got a chance to go places in Philly I couldn’t go when I was walking around or taking the train.
Yeah, and your board can only take you so far. Was there ever a problem coming up as a skateboarder around your way?
I’m from the ’hood in Philly, so for the longest, dudes was laughing at me. Skateboarding has only been popular for the hip-hop and entertainment public for the last two years. So a lot of these people coming out now get to benefit off of what it’s become. They don’t have to put in as much work as I had to put in, but I’m excited that shit is actually poppin’ now.
Well, the joke’s on them now, because you’re one of the illest in the game. What do you think the future has in store for your sport? I’m trying to take it to the next level and build a culture out of it along with a lifestyle. I’m just trying to be creative and positive so the kids will have something more to look forward to than dead-end jobs or selling drugs. It’s definitely another outlet for the kids, and if the kids are the future, then why not bring them something different?