Jaime Reyes is arguably one of the toughest people in skateboarding.
At the height of her skateboarding career in the mid 90’s, you could catch her breezing down Lafayette with the Supreme squad, or doing kickflips in the Rookie loft with Lauren Mollica and Lisa Whitaker. We had the pleasure of interviewing Jaime Reyes on our podcast about her skate beginnings and career in the 90s and early 2000s. After getting to know her more and more since the podcast, we wanted to catch up with Jaime on what skateboarding means to her now and her plans for the future. We invited Jaime to Brooklyn for a whole weekend to find out.
While we already know Jaime is a badass, we were impressed when we witnessed her push through a stomach bug (we’ll spare the details) on a humid, 95 degree Saturday. She busted out a pivot to fakie on a crusty bank and promptly re-named it the ‘puke to fakie’ – a true legend.
Jaime played a little backseat DJ, made a necessary fried chicken stop a la Harold Hunter and never missed a Yankee’s score update. She even admitted she has 23 blue Yankee’s fitted hats (the brim color changes, obviously). But what stood out to us even more, was that Jaime made sure we felt as good about skating the spots as she did, even pushing us to land our tricks before moving onto the next spot.
Kristen Scalise: I don’t want to call it a comeback, but it feels like you’re making a comeback to skateboarding. I don’t know if that’s more because of social media. Have you been actually skating more recently?
Jaime Reyes: I’ve been skating for the last three years. I went on a seven year hiatus. 2009 I just went into a dark place after my pops passed away. When he passed away I completely stopped skating. I had been miserable for seven years. Three years ago, I was like ‘you know, I need to skate because that’s what always made me happy.’ So yes, I’ve started skating.
KS: And do you feel happier?
JR: Fuck yeah. Relearning some stuff gets frustrating but hey if I did it before I can do it again. It’s all part of skateboarding and I love you skateboarding.
KS: It doesn’t matter.
JR: It doesn’t matter because I fucking threw down some shit.
KS: Laughs you paid your dues.
JR: It’s like being in a union. I paid my dues and I fell today hard. Still paying dues.
KS: What’s the union?
JR: The skate union. You know, like union workers.
KS: Get that insurance.
JR: No yeah, I love skating. Trying to be the best I can at it. I’m slowly getting all my stuff back. Flipping the board, jumping on ledges. I’m not going to jump down handrails and stairs anymore.
KS: What tricks are you trying to get back next?
JR: Everything, I just want to skate. Darcy [Jaime’s Partner] said I was way happier now that I’ve been skating. I mean I built a fucking mini ramp– sweat, blood, tears and empty pockets!
KS: Does she skate?
JR: No. She’s the complete opposite of me. I am so much happier and better of a person when I get to skate.
Adrian Koenigsberg: What about skateboarding really makes you feel that drive and that love?
JR: It’s a feeling you can’t describe.
KS: I can’t imagine trying to describe that too. You’ll know it.
Abi Teixeira: It’s just you on that shit.
KS: That’s something I love about skateboarding. You go and do something by yourself but with your friends.
KS: Do you think your love for skateboarding grew over the years, or was it love at first sight?
JR: I think it was love at first sight. When I stepped on a skateboard I was like dude I love this. I ate shit, I still love you. It’s like my best friend. I call it my purse because I carry it everywhere.
AT: How long have you been skating for?
JR: Since ‘92. Before you were born probably. I got the cover [of Thrasher] when you were in your dad’s nut sack.
AT: What year?
AK: That’s the worst way to phrase that. Laughs.
KS: Jaime, what are you scared of?
JR: I don’t know. Disappointing someone, or people.
KS: That’s a real fear though. Not as good as butterflies [Adrian’s fear]. I’m also afraid of that.
AK: Yeah I’m all about the crippling anxiety of disappointing people.
KS: You probably have it worse than I do. Laughs. This is an out of the blue question: Max Fish then versus now.
JR: I miss the old Max Fish, but I am grateful it’s still around!
KS: I feel like Max Fish is not only a bar but a spiritual place.
AT: What’s different about it?
JR: To me it was more of a dive bar. Now it’s a little more clubby. For the most part the peeps are the same. I love going to Max Fish when I am in town!
KS: I can’t think of any other place that is a more open arms place to skateboarders. If you’re a skater you have a home at Max Fish.
JR: When I go to Philly I go to Tattooed Moms. It’s just like that.
KS: What do you think about the skate scene in Richmond? [Where she currently lives]
JR: In Richmond I go to my friend’s house called The Lost Bowl, and it’s awesome because he has a transition park in the backyard and the front yard he has a slappy curb. Thank you Pat Lowry. I learned how to slappy on that curb, it’s awesome. There’s a planter on the front curb. He built all that stuff. Look up #TheLostBowl.
KS: Why did you like the Seaport Ledges so much?
JR: I don’t know, they were dope. There were the old wooden benches and they put the metal corner coping on the ledge. The ground was so smooth.
KS: What’s your favorite trick you got on that ledge?
JR: The switch backside 5-0 and the switch back tail line. That was probably my favorite.
KS: What do you think about skating in Brooklyn?
JR: Everything is all new to me here. Obviously these spots weren’t here when I was skating back then. It was cool.
AK: Do you feel like a lot of Manhattan spots have changed since you skated them?
JR: Hell yeah! There are like 20 Manhattan spots parks now. Back in the day it was just Riverside and the one on the West side and like Canal Street. Before they re did the LES park, it was so bad before.
KS: Do you use wax?
JR: We talked about this. I shellac a curb.
KS: What is that?
JR: I buy these spray paint thing, and when you gloss up the curb it’s so much better.
AT: You don’t need that in New York, with the metal and shit.
JR: Yeah but did you see that spot where I did the nose slide? That has so much wax on it.
KS: People love wax in New York City.
JR: Jaime points to a three inch scar. This is why I don’t like wax.
KS: What happened?
JR: Someone waxed a metal curb.
KS: Oh cool.
JR: Metal. Angle. Curb. I slid out and caught the corner. I had to get 20 stitches and 5 internal stitches. This was recently.
KS: I’ve never heard of internal stitches.
JR: Go look at the photo.
KS: I don’t want to look at your injuries anymore.
JR: It was so bad that the doctor thought I got bit by a dog, and I kept skating, drove home and I told my girl that I had to clean my arm up… I didn’t know. It was cold, so it must have been the fall and then blood started dripping down my arm. As soon as I took my long sleeve off, she was like you have to go to the ER now.
KS: Oh my god.
AK: Is this going to make me so nauseous?
KS: This looks a lot like the steak picture next to that post.
JR: That’s a prime rib by the way, that I cooked to a perfect medium rare, it was delicious.
KS: You earned it with those
JR: I didn’t know the whole time. The doctor was like you drove from Richmond to home, an hour, and back. Yeah, I didn’t take my long sleeve off. He was like ‘you didn’t feel that?’. He thought I was crazy.
KS: It is crazy! We skated around all weekend and you definitely skoached me.
JR: Yes, I would like to be an Olympic Assistant Skoach. Mimi Knoop, holla at ya girl.
KS: Can we start a petition? Like the Alex White Petition? It does make sense to have a park skoach and a street skoach.
JR: I would love to be a skoach.
KS: What do you like about skoaching?
JR: I just want to get people hyped.
KS: I think you’re really good at that. You really pushed me today, and I could see how you can push someone who really has skills. Laughs.
JR: I recently skoached some kids last weekend. That was fun.
AK: Do you feel like that just comes naturally because you’re interested in seeing other people skate?
JR: I am interested in everyone having fun. If they want to learn, I’ll skoach the shit out of you.
KS: Can you tell if people want it?
JR: Yeah. I hate “I can’t”. Fuck it, at least try. I think that’s probably the most important thing in the skoach. It’s not that I can’t do that, it’s I haven’t done it yet. You at least haven’t tried.
AK: I think that’s cool though, that that’s your approach to it. Especially because you don’t have to be that person.
JR: I can tell, if you want to learn, I will be your hype woman. I am going to be so hyped when you land it.
Abi T: It’s always good to have that one person.
KS: You’re hyped for yourself but you kind of feel like you did it for that person too.
AT: That shit does get me hyped.
JR: You did a kick flip today!
AT: I tried.
JR: We all made you do a rock to fakie.
AK: What is one of your favorite Skoaching memories?
JR: Having them land it. Everyone landing that trick. Their reaction is priceless, they’re so psyched. It doesn’t matter what the trick is.
KS: In the car, we were talking about music. Favorite song you’ve ever skated to?
JR: Gloria Estefan, Falling in Love.
KS: You said your friend Darin put the retrospective together. Who is Darin?
JR: Darin Lee is a dude I grew up skating with in Hawaii. He filmed 90% of my Hawaii stuff.
KS: What’s your favorite type of music?
JR: I like everything. Cage the Elephant. Modest Mouse. When in Rome. I loved Jay-Z’s first three albums. I used to always skate to the Pixies back in the day. Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite growing up. Let’s listen to Mayonnaise right now.
AK: How do you feel when people are making retrospectives of you? Or talking about your career in the past tense, even though you’re still here and still active.
JR: I guess it should bug me but I am just here to skate.
AK: I don’t mean to get in your head.
KS: If you’re here to skate and have fun, why should it bug you? Do you think social media has influenced skating?
JR: It glorified skateboarding. I don’t know if that’s the right word but you see more skateboarding now through social media period.
KS: Totally. Do you interact with skateboarding differently since joining social media?
JR: I’m not sure. There’s a lot of good fuckers out there.
KS: Do you wish there was social media in the 90’s.
KS: I wouldn’t either
JR: I came up without it.
AK: The only reason I would wish there was social media in the 90’s is so that I could see better quality footage of the people that I really haven’t gotten to see.
JR: If there was social media in the 90’s, I think I spoke about this before, there would have been a lot more girls out there that we didn’t know about.
KS: Do you think there are more girls out there now because of social media?
JR: Oh yeah.
KS: What are some current skaters that are crushing it?
JR: Everyone’s killing it. Everyone. There’s too many to name.
AK: To go back to our social media question, do you think there’s a combined stoke that is pushing everyone?
JR: Yeah I think so.
KS: Do you think people are just as hyped to see it on social media as they are in person? Like I can see my friends land a trick in Australia.
JR: Yeah if you have a heart, you’re fucking stoked. You should always be stoked to see someone else land shit.
KS: This might just be because of my radar, but you’ve been at a lot more women focused events like Wheels of Fortune, or the SK8 Babes meet-up. Have you always attended women’s meet-ups? Is that something new?
JR: I go to wherever, whenever, whoever flys me out. Thank you to those sponsors!
KS: Are you seeing more women’s skate meet ups as of late?
JR: Yeah in the last few years, there are more women’s events than before. It’s definitely due to social media and it is a positive thing. I don’t care if you’re brown, yellow, green, dude, chick…just skate.
AK: I feel like if you feel comfortable about the people you’re with, it’s such a good feeling.
KS: That’s what really interests me about you [Jaime] and interviews with Elissa Steamer. You are two people that have just stuck out to me as like ‘yeah I’ve just always skated’. I think there’s a personality type that is you and Steamer that is like ‘I just love it so I did it.’ I really connect with that feeling. I’m just going to show up to the park and you can just wait for me, I don’t care about how slow I’m going, I’m learning. I think that’s super sick.
Anyway, there’s been a few movies featuring skateboarding lately, such as Mid 90’s. How do you feel about how people are portraying skateboarding?
JR: I think that Mid 90’s did a great job. They didn’t glorify skateboarding. They showed both sides, that everyone has their fucking problems. It reminded me of when I was in the 90’s growing up skateboarding.
We all were coming from fucked up backgrounds. There were only a couple of us whose parents are together. I identified with Mid 90’s. It was the crew I grew up with.
KS: I do think the perspective they took was cool.
JR: You know, skateboarding really brings all types of people together.
That’s a beautiful thing.
Interview by Kristen Scalise + Adrian Koenigsberg
Photos by Abi Teixeira
A version of this interview appears in Issue 004 of Quell Skateboarding.
Buy a copy online here.