Louie Barletta, the Juan Ponce De Leon of skateboarding... With a career spanning thousands of years now, Sweet Lou is still pushing hard as both professional skater and brand director for enjoi, with a style that has you questioning whether anyone does in fact have more fun on a board than him. If you haven't seen "OverVert" by now then shame on you, go watch it, preferably with your favorite beverage in hand. And then maybe you'll understand why just last year he was nominated for Thrasher Skater of the Year and won Transworld's Best Team Award with enjoi. Just to be thorough we should also mention bowl cuts and nose rings in this intro. Nailed it.
This is The Louie Barletta Interview.
I never know how to start these things... How was your trip to Helsinki, what were you doing there?
I always start by not starting… Helsinki? Helsinki was rad. It is part of my history, part of what is me. A huge chunk of my Bag of Suck part was filmed there. What was I doing there? My friend there was getting married.
What’s up with your World War 2 fascination? Do you model your brand manager style after Mussolini?
I am fascinated with all history, if we don't study the past we are doomed to repeat it! Hahaha... In high school my history teacher made an example out of me because I was caught reading Thrasher mag, he said that exact thing to me in front of the whole class. At the time I was like who cares about dead people, all I wanted at the time was to be able to do frigid airs like Tommy Guerrero!
Do you think we did the right thing dropping the big one?
I've wasted quite a few awesome front trucks perfecting crooked grinds… I think it's just in our nature.
What are some of your favorite tricks from OverVert?
Thaynan's hard flip front board, Zack at (Wallin)burg, Cairo nollie flipping the double set in China.
Any good stories behind any of them?
Man, the Cairo one is rad because while we were skating another spot, Cairo went skating off scouting. He found that double set and was like, "it's totally skateable!" We went there and nobody was feeling it. Thaynan ollied it, then wanted to try to switch ollie it, so the cameras came out. I think he did it in 1 or 2 tries then tried to switch heel it, he slammed on like the fourth or fifth try; like landed it and his back foot slipped off and he did the harsh splits. I thought it was done. He was done for sure. Then Cairo started rolling up to it… He nollied it super easy, I immediately was like, "lets they to film this whole thing, it's about to get gnarly!" Our filmer Matt was like, "nah I don't think he is going to try anything..." but I know the Cairo look! I was like, "he is brewing something up." and sure enough he wanted to nollie flip it! I think it took like 20 or 22 tries. He just went for it! Eating shit over and over but just knew he had it. To see him roll away! Wow man, it was rad. Total commitment to a trick. No, "I'm just going to throw this out there and see if it works" it was 100% first try to the last try! Cairo is a beast!!!
Were you at all afraid people were going to think the Louie marionette would be pretentious?
I don't really worry too much about what other people think. Also I don't really know what that word means.
Did you have a backup plan for presenting Zack his pro board if he didn’t land the nollie 180 at Wallenberg that day?
Last weekend of filming, Zack's last try at it, we already edited his part… No, no backup plan, Zack said about a month before hand he was going to wait till the last weekend of filming to go there and do it. I had 100% faith in him that he had it. He is a no bullshit dude. But yeah, I was super nervous!!! Hahahahahaha he wasn't, he had no idea what landing that trick meant! Hahaha!
Click to watch the Enjoi "OverVert" teaser
How’d you end up going from SOTY nominee to SOTY emcee this year?
I have a lovely singing voice! Haha, dunno, Tony V called me up and asked if I would MC it.
We know this is your interview, but what can you tell us about Thaynan? Where’d you find him?
Portuguese teenager, loves shooting photos, so stoked on pizza. He was a flow dude from Portugal, I skated with him a few times when he was super little, he rips, he is super cool, I told him to come out and hang with the crew and see where it goes, he came out and filmed a part and got on the team... A classic tale.
Is he enjoi’s answer to Jerry?
There is no question, Jerry will always be Jerry. We will always love Jerry. There will always be a special place in my heart for him.
What’s with the 49mm wheels?
Wouldn’t it just be easier to use Zack’s old 54mm wheels when he’s done with them?
Haha, yeah, maybe! He rides Pig Wheels too. I love Pig. Seriously, for me they are my all time favorite wheel. Back in the day I got a pair of Hensley Pig's I think the graphic was a dude playing an accordion, after that I traded for them till I got on! Totally a classic tale!!
Why isn’t Jose selling any boards? Is your art direction to blame?
I keep telling him, the best times to go to the skatepark is after 3 when school lets out! He keeps showing up in the mornings with like 7.75 boards, trying to sell them to 30+ bowl trolls… He just doesn't get it.
Favorite Enjoi ad(s)?
So many awesome ones... I love the one of Jose and Jerry shaking hands from the movie predator, also the Caswell one with Jerry where he is yelling and Caswell is feeding him a hot dog, it's a total spoof on his Emerica ad.
Feeding The Pony
Mike Carroll, MJ, Jerry… That one kid who has no idea what the names of tricks are called but is just having the best time ever rolling around.
Not a morning person. I hate cereal, eggs, the whole vibe… I'm more of a hair of the dog kinda guy.
Allowing getting hurt to hold me back.
Click to watch Louie Barletta in Enjoi's "Bag of Suck"
What was your favorite San Jose spot back in the "Man Down" days?
Back then I had a full time job and only had weekends to skate. So schools were my favorite. Quimby, Rancho Bar… the Lawrence flat bar was lit up at night so we would skate there all the time... the Mervyns gap in Cupertino, that was always my after work go to. It's why I'm so good at skating gaps! Hahahaha!
Has your favorite spot changed at all now?
Yeah for sure. Now I love Sunnyvale Skatepark, Sacto has a bunch of fun stuff to skate too!
Will you tell us the story of Jimmy Carlin hooking up with the café’ owner in China?
Sherry!!! Dude, I think it was the day Cairo nollie flipped that double set. We all came back to the hotel hot! Started to party there. In oververt it was the night in Wiegers intro where he grabs the Chinese dude and starts playing air guitar with him!! We were just setting it off and he was like "I love you Cherry" I think her name was sherry though!! Hahahah. She just loved him! Grabbed him and took him to her car. After that night every time we went to that cafe she would be like, "uh where your friend Jimmy???"
If someone is going to buy you a drink at the bar, what’re you having?
If there is a strong wind blowing I always go for rum and coke.
How long have you been doing woodwork? What kind of stuff do you make?
Literally my whole life. I grew up making kitchen cabinets. Just wooden stuff.
How much for a Barletta original?
Hahaha, custom kitchen/bathroom cabinets? With 7 ply enjoi board inlay? Call me and we can talk…
Is it challenging for you to manage your best friends? How does one balance the two relationships without screwing it up?
Yes! It reminds me of back when we used to go to the horse track a lot. When I'm staring at a computer monitor, talking on a phone or at a sales meeting I'm Business Lou. If I'm at the skatepark, in a schoolyard, or passed out at the bar, I'm just Louie.
How does your management style vary between riders? Like who can be a handful and who is easy breezy?
Dudes skate style is a direct correlation with their business savvyness… Nestor is so mellow and smooth. Zack comes in hard and knows exactly what he wants to say with no bull.
Are there any situations you’ve had to “manage” over the years that really stick out?
I have definitely been like, "Louie pro skater loves you and what you do, but brand manager Louie is on the verge of kicking you off!! You need to stop hanging out with Louie at the bar and get out there and skate!!!!"
Click to watch Louie Barletta in Tiltmode's "Man Down"
In Sean Malto’s Epicly Later’d he talks about how his sponsor me tape was passed up by Zero… Who is a rider you have passed on as a young buck who has turned out to be a ripper?
Ahh, classic one. So many dudes rip, but you need to also fit. Malto on Zero, who would he have become though? What if instead of Zero Tommy Sandoval would have gotten on Girl?!? It's that right chemistry that makes it magical. Malto on Girl is amazing. Sandoval on Zero, perfect!
What positive / negative trends in skating do you see currently that you’d like to see more/less of?
this sucks, cause the cool thing to say is trends suck and blah blah.. I'm a skate nerd. I'm a trendy skate nerd! hahaha.. i watch street league and go to sunyvale and pretend i have 5 tries at the handrail.. i do!! i love it! i watch jason adams slappy grind clips and get stoked and go out and pretend i can do those to!! I'm just a fan. i follow the trends, to the best of my ability anyhow! hahaha.
What advice would you give to a young kid from Iowa about his sponsor me video?
Dos and don’ts? If you think you are on par with what's going on in professional skateboarding, do it. Do it like it's your only chance. But don't keep bugging, chances are if you didn't get a response after the first time you probably don't want to hear the next response. I get bombarded with sponsor me videos all the time. I love them! As a fan I love watching skateboarding, but I don't want to watch your very first varial flip on flat filmed by your mom... Or maybe I do?!?
What’re you going to do now that you’ve finished these damn questions?
Go to the bar and hopefully wake up in a foreign bed with a moral hangover.