Ben Raybourn x Lizzie Armanto's “Street Spots and Flip Flops" Interview
Lizzie and Ben got close during all those hours on tour waiting for the rail sessions to be over. While they both love a good handplant, Lizzie’s Miss Responsible while Ben’s the Birdhouse resident most likely to lose his phone, and wallet… and passport. Challenge either of them to a game of SKATE though—they need the practice!
Lizzie Armanto: Let’s talk about the Vegas trip. Remember the morning of the wallride spot. I guess the people who worked there figured out we were going to be there somehow.
Ben Raybourn: Yeah, there was no one at the building and this dude just walked up out of nowhere from a few parking lots away. I was skating this building that looked like a soccer ball or—what would you call it?
L: It was a geometrical-dome building.
B: So it had this awning that you could throw down and then wallride down. You tell it Lizzie; you probably know it better than I do! I was tripping the whole time.
Four wheels out, four wheels on, four eyes buggin’—Ben smacks dab into his own reality Photo: Zaslavsky
L: Well, we were at that spot and this guy comes really close to you and starts hassling you. You landed it but wanted to do it better. So you went back up to do it and this guy stood in the landing and tried to shoulder check you. Then what happened?
B: You know your adrenaline is going and I got pissed. It’s not like I was trying to fight him or anything but I kind of puffed up on him and had my fist balled up.
L: You scared him!
B: Yeah, then the cops just saw that part of it. The cops pulled up right as that happened. The guy had already called them.
Lizzie ain’t scared either, vert tech-gnar kickflip indy Photo: Broach
L: Yeah, it sucked because the guy was being such a dick and then all the cops see was you freaking out because the guy was getting physical. The guy just jumped away like a scared dog when you got mad and that’s all the cops saw.
B: I guess I scared him. I’m like a tiny little troll. I don’t know why I scared him.
L: It was insane, though, because you came off the building and he got in your way. You didn’t touch him; you basically just flexed on him and he was, like, “Ahhhh!” all scared.
B: Yeah, then I had to go to jail. It was just a holding cell but it’s Vegas so you know there was just a shitload of people in there and it took, like, 15 hours to process me. It was fun, though. What was really funny is, I like really shitty food like hamburgers and chicken strips and shit and I swear the best hot dog I’ve ever had in my life was at that jail.
L: That’s crazy.
B: I like when people boil hotdogs in water, not grilled. It was so good. There were a bunch of really tough guys there and you know how you can’t have shoes because of the laces or whatever?
B: So they gave us flip flops and there was this old dude who had been there for months and his flip flops were broken so he was limping around. You’re not supposed to give anyone anything in jail but I just saw he needed them and gave him mine because I knew I wouldn’t be there very long. I guess some people saw that and instead of mean mugging me and looking at me like this tiny little human they could destroy, they hung out at my table and talked to me and asked me what was going on. It was kind of cool really. I got so lucky. That place is gnarly packed, so they keep people in that jail for months and months. It’s not just like a drunk tank. It was kind of scary at first for sure, but I got lucky.
L: Everyone was scared for you! We were all trying really hard to get you out.
B: Everyone in the van was asking me how big my butthole was after I got out. Is it kind of crazy for you to watch that stuff, people getting kicked out?
Beautiful girl, ugly trick—upstream ‘beef at Prince Photo: Burnett
L: Yeah, it’s way different than what I’m used to. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s definitely a lot more entertaining than a park.
B: Hey, the grass is always greener on the other side and in jail.
L: It seems like everyone has to deal with a lot more stuff and we just do the same old thing. But at the same time it’s pretty cool that I don’t have to deal with bullshit like that.
B: Do you get psyched to skate street spots when you are in the van, though? You’ve been skating street! I’ve seen it!
L: No, all the spots I skated were mellow. I didn’t have any trouble like that. I’ve been skating spots like the Manzanita wall in Sac.
B: Oh yeah!
L: On the way to that spot everyone was naming off all these tricks I should do and I just said, “We’ll see when we get there.” We finally got there and everyone built it up so big that I was kind of nervous. I was having a meltdown in my head.
B: You killed that spot! You were the one holding the bungee for me the whole time in the beginning! That shit is hard to do. That’s work. If anyone has ever had to do it, they know. The whole team was so stoked that you just jumped out of the van and went straight to work.
L: It was cool because you tried your trick for ages and I got to see you skate it. Because at first I was nervous but watching you made me think I could skate it. The ground is literally the worst ever. I was afraid to drop in on that thing at first.
B: No you weren’t!
L: Yeah, remember. I made you come up with me and drop in. I told you I was scared.
B: Ha! That’s right!
The shadow knows! Handplant at The Flumes Photo: Muller
L: It was the ground; it was so fucked! I was saying the other day how watching you skate street spots makes me think I can do it. Even in Vegas there was that ditch that was basically a vert wall, remember?
B: People get used to skating ramps and parks, but when you just half ass at a street spot and let your legs go loose it doesn’t bother you as much.
L: My brain just doesn’t communicate that.
B: You just have to shut that fucking brain off!
L: I just need to be on your program.
B: No, you’re good. Trust me!
L: Remember on the last trip when I lost my wallet and Aaron lost his phone? You know, at the hotel in Washington on the very last trip.
B: Yeah, the nice hotel that Tony got us!
Street Ben, dumptruckin’ in the Old Country Photo: Muller
L: We all lost our stuff and you were just at the bar icing your knee in your fancy hotel robe.
B: Oh yeah! I’m always the one who loses stuff! Not even every trip, every town we go to there is at least one time when I’m panicking about losing something or I’m looking for something. It’s bad. It’s fucked.
My mother told me that I’ve had more phones in the last six months than she’s had in her whole life. I just lose shit. I’m a space cadet.
L: You didn’t lose anything on the last one.
B: I figured out the trick: It’s the fanny pack. The bum bag. I was scared at first because I thought if I kept everything in one bag I’d just lose everything at once. But I figured out when I lose shit it’s because it’s all scattered. If it’s all in one bag I can keep track of it.
L: That sounds like a purse.
B: Yeah, it’s like a purse. I’m just a guy that needs a purse!
L: In Europe they call it a satchel.
B: I’ve been watching Game Of Thrones and they call it a coin purse, so I’m just going to call it that. Let’s talk about your street skating some more.
L: It doesn’t really happen.
B: Yeah it does. You were just playing SKATE with the whole team.
L: I play SKATE so I can get better. I’m at a 95-percent loss and I’m slowly getting better. Now it’s fun, but forever I was out in the first five tricks.
B: That’s why people play SKATE! You’re killing it. You are way better than me at it now.
L: I just like flatground skating.
B: Do you think if you keep going on trips with everyone we will see a Lizzie street part?
L: Since I’ve been going on trips my street skating has gotten a lot better but I don’t know about a part. You know how going to look at spots is a thing on trips? I’d never even done that before I was in the van!
B: That’s amazing. But pool skating is the same thing, right? You’ve got to find pools.
L: I don’t even skate pools.
B: Yes you do! I’ve seen it. Is Axel showing you how to skate street? I’ve seen footage of him skating vert. It’s only fair if he teaches you street.
L: Yeah, but sometimes it sucks!
Try following this fastplant, ya creeps! Lizzie flies safe behind the fence at Vans HB Photo: Burnett
L: Because he’s just good at everything and I’m, like, “Damnit!” I can’t just pull up to a rail and think I’m going to skate it. He can go to a vert ramp and do tricks.
B: You just got to go skate spots and it’ll happen. Think about how many street skaters look at vert ramps and say, “I’d never drop in on that,” and then a few years later they are doing inverts. Why didn’t you skate more street when you were growing up?
L: I didn’t grow up skating street because my mom wouldn’t want me just roaming around the streets. I needed to be somewhere safe and not get kidnapped.
B: That’s the classic parents treating skateparks like daycare.
L: To be fair, though, I’ve been harassed on the streets, so I get it.
B: Oh, that sucks.
L: Like, I’ve been followed and weird shit like that in Santa Monica. It’s such a tourist place that you don’t know who the people are around you. No one knows who’s sketchy and not sketchy. It’s a city and you have to be aware of that kind of stuff. Even if you have your board, anything can happen.
B: Other skaters never fucked with you, right?
L: No, I’ve always seen other skaters watch out for other skaters even if they don’t know each other.
B: Wait…What did you just say? My friend Donovan just rolled over my nuts with his bike so I was trying not to throw up.
Fuck yeah. Fuck longboards Photo: Jones
L: Nothing. Let’s get back to the video. Were you stressed about filming for this thing at all?
B: Dude, fuck yeah I was. I just felt like I was going on all these trips and it was so sick to watch everyone and I’m such a little bitch and just sit at rails and feel like I can’t do anything. It’s hard because I want to do something that’s worthy of everyone else’s skating! I just don’t want to sit there and do shit that everyone else had already done.
L: You are your own worst critic. You definitely don’t do that.
B: Dude, Clive is going to have the best part ever. Do you think it’s hard to find spots on the trips?
L: It’s not necessarily hard. I just want to skate different things than I get to skate at home. It can be sometimes, I guess, but I feel like as a group we always make it work.
B: Like Mills and the whole team is always super down to make sure both of us have spots we can skate. There isn’t ever any selfishness or anything like that.
L: I always wake up early to go skate parks. I try to wake up early and be a functional human being on trips.
B: I wake up at 1pm and you’ve already skated.
L: What? You make it with us to the parks! What are you talking about?
B: Yeah, I’ve made it. But you always make it happen. You kill it, Lizzie. Everyone in the van is better because you’re in it.
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