VIBE Exclusive! Paul Rodriguez & Theotis Beasley Take VIBE Through L.A. Skate Life (Photos)
Hanging with pro skater Paul Rodriguez gives you a higher respect for the sport—even if you're familiar with the culture-filled lifestyle.
When he doesn't land a move just right, he'll whisper to himself, "Man up, son!" Witnessing moments like this first-hand puts everything in perspective. This isn't just a hobby; It's a way of life. It is his life.
One person who knows this philosophy well is his right-hand man—brother, even—Theotis Beasley. At just 22 years old (a fresh 22; he celebrated his birthday a little over a week ago), the newly-turned pro is taking the skating world by storm with tons of sponsors—like Nike SB and Skull Candy—and a permanent smile on his face.
In a world where skate parks are sanctuaries and walking comes secondary to kickflips, "P. Rod" and Theo B. are the standout athletes that currently dominate the SB scene.
VIBE headed out to L.A. to hang with the legends in the making (also accompanied by their Dew Tour squad) to check out some behind the scenes action as they shot an ad campaign & commercial for Mountain Dew—as well as tasting Dew's brand new caffeinated juice Kickstart for the first time.
In our exclusive double feature, we got P. Rod & Theo, side-by-side, to discuss everything from their favorite rappers, tips for first-time skaters, the biggest things they've learned from each other, and even one really hilarious story from their Dew Tour.
You guys are here shooting ad spots for Mountain Dew’s new Kickstart drink. Where did the Dew relationship start for both of you?
Paul Rodriguez: This will be my 9th year [riding for Mountain Dew]. I been there for a while. Theo, when did you get on?
Theotis Beasley: Probably like my 3rd year.
PR: Nah! You’ve definitely been here longer.
TB: OK, at least fourth—since ‘08.
PR: Now that Kickstart is coming out, it’s just natural that the Dew skate team be part of helping roll it out.
This Dew Tour is pretty dope. I know you guys aren’t rappers, but you’ve got to have some crazy tour stories [Laughs].
PR: Theo’s got the tour stories.
TB: The Wayne story?
PR: Tell them about your “tour adventures.” Tell them about last night [Laughs].
TB: OK, fine. I’m at the hotel, and I happened to see an Instagram photo of my homegirl. I hit her up and was like, ‘Yeah, I’m staying in L.A. I forgot you live out here.’ She was like, ‘Yeah, come through.’ I took a cab, but come to think about it, she was two blocks away. I could’ve skated [Laughs]!
PR: It worked out, though.
TB: Yeah, it was about 80 bucks. We stayed there for about an hour, got it in, and came back at like 3 in the morning.
PR: Theo stays on that program.
TB: This story is so dirty, but it’s part of life.
PR: Nah, he’s far from dirty. This man is polished.
TB: Damn—hardwood floors! [Laughs] You got to keep the “Alabama snake” clean though. It’s hibernating right now. Well, except for last night.
Wild. Getting back on track, since we’ve all tried Kickstart for the first time today, describe the taste in 10 words or less.
PR: Juicy. Fruity. Sweet.
TB: You can drink that with a meal, as opposed to a soda.
PR: It’s more of a morning drink to me. You don’t have to pound a soda straight out of bed.
TB: It’s tasteful.
PR: Oh, and robust!
What are your feelings on Mountain Dew branching outside of the soda market?
PR: They’ve been doing it for a long time, so it’s not a brand new thing. They’ve always done cool projects & limited flavors. They’ve done the AMP Energy Drink and now they’re doing the Kickstart. I think it’s just a natural progression for them. It seems like they’ve done everything you can do in soda, with so many different flavors and varieties.
I want to jump into your skate life a little bit, P. Rod. All skaters dream of opening up their own skate park, and you did just that not too long ago. What was it like creating a space to call your own?
PR: If we’re talking about the public park that opened, that was really cool. I did that in partnership with Nike. We did that in the Valley, which is my home. Yeah, right in Pacoima—which is 10 minutes from where I grew up. It means a lot, because I wish I had that when I was growing up. A park of that caliber, where you can practice real street stuff, is just dope. It was a way to help give back to a sport in the community that is responsible for where I’m at now.
Theo, was it hard expressing you love for skating while growing up in, and essentially avoiding, the tough area of Englewood?
TB: Yeah. I had homies that gangbanged. In middle school, we always made jokes and clowned on each other, but those were my good homies I grew up with. When they started gangbanging, I didn’t get into it, but that’s still my crew. I didn’t want to hang out with people I didn’t know. I used to go on missions where they would steal, but I would never get involved. If anything, I was the lookout man. I was just a fool to even be there. I did get into a couple of fights just because I hung with them.
My cousin eventually got me into skating. It was like a family get-together. He used to skate, and he told me to come outside and showed me a kick flip. I thought it was interesting how fast he flicked the board, so after that first day I found a board & a skate shop, and started skating. I found this park, started talking to people, meeting new people, and became cool with everybody who was skating around.
In the right place at the right time, [professional skater] Andrew Reynolds—my favorite skater, as well as Paul’s—came up to me and was like, ‘Hey. Before you leave, I want to hook you up.’ It was unbelievable. I was shy even. It was crazy. It’s a blessing to be where I am today. My man Paul has looked out for me, especially for Mountain Dew. It’s good to have a homie like that, straight up. He really cares. We got a solid crew.
Paul, I was catching up on your LIFE series earlier today. What made you venture into the “vlog” platform?
PR: YouTube started giving out all this money to people to make channels. They wanted to do an action/sports channel, which happened to be NetworkA. They came to my management, and was like, ‘Look, we want to give different athletes budgets to do projects.’ At first I wasn’t really sure what to do, but I still thought it was cool that they wanted to do something. Fortunately, I have a friend that’s a good director, filmmaker, and visionary, Steve Berra. He’s also the creative mind of “The Berrics.” We had conversations about what I should do, and we agreed that it was a great opportunity, but wouldn’t be worth much if I didn’t have the right idea.
We wanted to do more than a reality-based “day-in-the-life” thing, but still make it more than one-dimensional. I ultimately wanted to show different aspects of what goes on in the life of a professional skateboarder’s life. You know that he skates, but now you see it in a real cool way, with good storytelling, and the key elements that are interesting. So far we’ve got really cool responses.
One of the most memorable episodes is when you went to New Orleans for Lil Wayne’s Trukstop grand opening. I was wondering, on behalf of all the ‘late-in-life’ skateboarders, is it possible to learn now or is Weezy the exception?
PR: No, dude. Anyone with the—
PR: Yeah, definitely the right mindset, but more or less the determination to know how to skate. There are millions of skaters out there. If you have the determination, you can learn it. You just have to stick with it. It’s really hard at the beginning because you don’t have the foundation of basic skills, so it’s really slow. Usually the first year is the toughest. A lot of people don’t last past the first year. At that point, you’re just getting acquainted with rolling. You want to get out and do all the cool tricks you see, but if you skip steps you’re liable to taking longer and potentially hurting yourself. [Lil] Wayne’s not the exception, he ‘s just the type of individual who already knows what it is to take on a craft and put a lot of time and effort into it. To become what he’s became in music, he just has to apply that same formula to skateboarding.
Theo, you’ve been racking in these sponsors like crazy—yet you’re still in your early 20s! How is it heading into that pro life?
TB: Being surrounded by great people brought more opportunities to the table. Right after Nike came aboard, so many different doors opened up. I still get opportunities to this day to ride for stuff, but it’s like ‘Damn, I can’t ride for nothing [else] because I got everything!’ At this point, I’m trying to get like Paul and do stuff outside of skating. That’s all we can do since we got everything in the skating world. Whether it’s a music video or something, I’m really about branching out. I’m not looking for any more sponsors, but mainly looking to slim it down and keep it fresh. I’ll start looking like a NASCAR [Laughs].
Your whole squad seems to be really tight, but especially the two of you. What’s the biggest thing you guys have learned from each other?
PR: The thing I learned from Theo is to always keep your positive attitude. Sometimes I find myself getting a little grumpy, and being really hard on myself when I don’t skate the way I want to skate. This guy is always smiling, happy, and really excited to see people. It definitely reminds me to lighten up.
TB: Shit, just looking back, he’s been doing it for years. He’s always been my number one favorite skater. It’s crazy to now realize he backs me 100%—whether it’s Nike or Mountain Dew. We’re such good friends now. When he goes to contests, he gets there a day or two before. He’s out on the course killing it, but we’ve never seen him practice. He’s in this mindset where he gets there early when nobody’s there, so he’s mentally focusing. He’s just a professional at everything. That’s where I want to go. He’s the prime example.
Who are some of the people you guys are feeling, whether it’s on the Dew Tour or in the local skate park?
PR: Lots of people. Right now, skateboarding is in a huge growth. There are a lot of cool, upcoming, innovative, talented skaters. The name that pops in my head—and he’s not that new—is Wes Kremer. He’s really sick. Nick [Tucker] is our newest addition to the Mountain Dew squad. He’s a very stylish skater.
TB: One person I’m always watching in contest is Bastien [Salabanzi]. To see him come back, and when he lands a trick, it’s like, ‘Yeah motherfucker, clap for me!’ [Laughs].
PR: He’s got some flare.
TB: Yeah, he definitely got flare. He gets the crowd hyped. They want him in every contest. He’ll be about to fall, but somehow make his way out of it. I really enjoy watching him.
Let’s end this with a round of threes: Give me each of your three best and most important skate tips and three favorite rappers.
PR: Rappers would be Jay-Z, Nas, and Tupac. My top three skate tips would be to focus on the basics, be prepared to deal with pain, and, although this sounds cliché, make sure it remains fun. Sometimes I got to even remind myself that one. That’s why you started in the first place.
TB: Top three favorite rappers: Rick Ross…ah this is hard because there’s more than three! But aside from the bawse, Meek Mill and J. Cole. As far as skate tips, stretch, eat healthy, and just stay surrounded with the right people. If you're around people that got something going and really successful, you’ll be successful. If you hang around somebody who’s not doing anything and not about getting money, then you ain’t gonna be successful. Hang with the right people that are hustling.
No need to stop here. Keep clicking to see some exclusive shots from our L.A. trip with P. Rod & Theo—from the skate park to Venice Beach:
(Images courtesy of VIBE.com's Online Style + Sneaker Editor, Keenan Higgins)