WHAT YOUTH: Crazy you grew up in Fontana.
LEO ROMERO: I never go out there. It’s funny ‘cause I’ve seen kids go, “Fuck yeah! Fontana! Fuckin’ represent!” I’m just like, “No! I just can’t do it, I hate it there. I try to tell people that I’m not from there.”
What do you tell people, Long Beach?
I just don’t…people ask me and I say I’m not proud of it, you know? Like I was in Albuquerque and this kid was going crazy, like, “Fuckin’ Fontana, represent! Fuck yeah, that’s sick!” And I was just like, “What? Why? Fontana sucks.” And he’s like, “No dude, fuckin’ hometown!” And I was like, “What’s cool about Fontana? Tell me one good thing about it.” And he’s like, “I guess you’re right. It does fuckin’ suck…”
You just ruined that kid’s life. He’s like trying to be optimistic about it.
Well, I was like, “You moved out! You’re in Albuquerque.” And he’s like, “Yeah, you’re right it’s way cooler out here.”
What’s Fontana like?
I mean, I don’t know nowadays, but when I was a kid it was shitty. There’s nothing going on. I don’t think there’s anything going on still.
What do you mean, “shitty”? Nothing to do?
There’s not much to do. Where I grew up, the area was a bit rough, but it’s gotten better now. It’s just a shitty town. I’m obviously biased because I grew up there wanting to get the fuck out, but it’s just a desert town, it’s like a place you pass through. It’s old as fuck.
What kind of shit do people do out there?
There weren’t many skaters when I was growing up. There probably are now but I don’t know, gang bang? Skate, a lot of gangs in that zone. I played T-ball when I was a little kid for a season or whatever. But I don’t know, I just played with action figures, doodled. Then I started skating.
What kind of gangs?
Just high school gangs and shit like that. I don’t know the severity of it, like, how crazy it was ‘cause I didn’t participate, but just stupid shit like that.
Were you friends with any of those dudes?
Did you ever see anything happen, like fighting or drugs or anything like that?
I’ve seen my brothers get in fights with people but other than that nothing really too crazy.
Were your brothers in that scene?
I mean, they were just regular dudes who went to high school and didn’t take shit from anyone.
How’d you get into skating?
A friend of mine from elementary school. During the summer, I went over to his house and he was skating and I was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” My mom found me a board on the street and I just started skating. And that’s pretty much how it started.
Who did you skate with growing up?
I mainly just skated by myself. And the community center by my house, I would just skate there everyday. One day I showed up and this dude was skating and I was like, “What the fuck? Another skater?” I guess his little brother went to the community center there, he was a gymnast, so he would come every single time with them and then I would have another random dude. And he was really good. He’d like tre flip. And nowadays everyone can switch fuckin’ 360 flip but as a kid I remember seeing him doing 360 flips, and he could do them really well and it was shocking to me.
How old were you at that point?
Probably 12 or something, maybe.
What kind of shit were you doing then?
Just kickflips and frontside flips, grinds, nose grinds and tail slides and what not.
When did you start skating rails and stairs and more real stuff?
That didn’t come until later. I mean I guess with just natural progression I started getting better. By the stuff I was being influenced — like my first actual video that I watched was Mislead Youth, and just from watching that I realized that’s what I wanted to do was jump on rails.
Do you remember skating your first hand rail?
Yep, I remember it. It’s still there.
Where is it? Is it in fontana?
It’s by my mom’s house. It’s the worst rail ever, but I just boardslid it.
How big is it?
It’s like a four.
Were you scared?
I don’t know if I was scared. I think the idea of doing a hand rail was kind of like having sex, for me at least. It was one of those things like, “I just need to do a handrail already!” You know, you reach that certain age where you’re like, “How have I not fucked a chick already?” For any skater, there’s that point in skateboarding where they’re like, “I need to do a handrail,” and it was that for me, watching those videos and being influenced by all those skaters. It was just one of those things where I was like, “I need to do a handrail.” I wouldn’t consider it by any means a handrail, it was just a shitty, steep little four stair. But that was my cherry popper. It was so tiny.
So you barely even lost your virginity on it.
Barely. It’s like when people say they lose their virginity but they barely fucked, didn’t even come. It was one of those situations.
You rolled away, you kinda came.
I kinda came.
And then you got skater of the year that year.
Just kidding. How does the judging for that work? Who picks you?
I think it has a lot to do with sponsorship people. I think I was on the tail end of it, like, sponsors influencing it, you know?
Do you think they’ve ever made a bad call?
No, I don’t think so. I mean is there a bad call.? It’s all a matter of opinion.
So you said you have bad eyesight? So you skate with shitty eyesight?
No. I’m nearsighted, so I can’t see too far — and once it gets dark it’s really hard for me to see.
So how about the distance from your eyes to your feet. When you’re standing on a skateboard are your feet sharp?
They’re sharp enough, it’s not blurry. It’s fine. When I’m at an indoor park, that sucks ‘cause it’s usually weird lighting usually and it’s hard for me to see.
How have you seen skating changed since you started?
There wasn’t anything where you could pick a certain genre of skating. It was all cool. Now there’s so many genres of skateboarding, and people are like, “Street League dudes are lame, contests suck.” There are so many different genres now that I don’t even know who the fuck is out there and there were just 411’s and teams would come out with videos and that’s it.
Do you think it’s better that way or how it is now?
Umm, I mean, I grew up with a certain type of skateboarding. I’m sure kids nowadays are stoked ‘cause if they’re into a skater they can just look him up and find stuff. I don’t hate the way it is now I’m just from a different time I guess.
Is there anything that you’re not down for right now? Street League or anything like that?
I don’t care much for it. I don’t think anything anyone does to support themselves or their livelihood or their families is bad though. I’m not trying to diss anyone who’s just trying to support their life but I don’t subscribe to it or care much for it. If someone’s making a million dollars riding for Red Bull and skating contests, then all the power to ‘em.
What happened in that contest where you smashed the cop car?
Oh, I just felt like doing it.
So what’d you do? What did your run look like?
I don’t even remember. It was a downhill contest so you would just do tricks all the way down the hill.
For the rest of Leo’s interview, pick up What Youth Issue 13 here.
And check out his Fairly Normal below.