Donovon Piscopo Interview
Photos By Ben Colen
What time did you wake up and what have you done so far today? When I was your age I slept past noon every day.
I woke up at 10:30 this morning. I could’ve easily slept ’til the night but I have a checkup at the doctor’s office. Gotta take care of a couple things with the body and mind. Then I ate about five meals and was in and out of the shop all day. Now I gotta go get my legs ready for tomorrow. I wish I could’ve hung out with you during those years but this is great. You’ve taught me what works and what doesn’t.
Precision tap past the pylons
I don’t know if I taught you what works or not. Ha! Shit, you aren’t done learning. I do believe that you are motivated and have a better mindset than six months ago. How do you feel about your place in the world and your responsibilities as a professional skateboarder these days? Are you enjoying yourself? Do you feel happy?
Yeah, I still have so much to learn and accept. As far as being a professional skateboarder, I still can’t believe it. It seems so unreal and funny at times, but it’s a dream of a life. I don’t want to take it for granted. I do enjoy it but I do need to work harder at it and with that I know I’ll love it more. It’s wild to see the youth at the shop growing up and finding purpose and a family with it. Thank God for skateboarding.
Don’t fence him in
How old were you when you first came to New York?
I was 14 years old. That was the first time we met, I think, under that bridge spot in Brooklyn? You rolled up on this sick cruiser board.
You were so small, so wide-eyed but very, very mellow. What do you remember about that trip? I know we filmed a bit. I don’t remember much.
I remember being really happy. Everything was so new. I fucking loved being able to skate through the city. It was a sick crew. I remember going to bed on time and laughing when Cody would walk into the room after a “fun” night and being able to skate all day.
It helps to have homies—tire pivot. RIP, Dylan
Yes, it seemed like you had a good time being there.
I had a good experience. It was a good skate trip, that’s all I remember—and being culture shocked. Being from Covina, there’s no place like it.
Right, you were very young; you were easy to hang out with.
Yeah, I feel like I was older then.
The right tool for the job … if you’re trying to murder a goat
Do you grocery shop or do you eat at restaurants and take-out?
I eat out almost every meal—actually, every meal and it’s usually the same thing from the same spots.
If you were to cook at home what’s the one meal that you are good at making? And have you ever cooked for anybody?
All I ever cook is bagels with some avocado, pickled beets, tomatoes and hummus. That’s what my lady friend and I were living off of for awhile.
Do you believe in God? If so, is there a heaven?
I believe in a higher power or something that is bigger than us, but I think heaven and hell is now. I also don’t know anything.
What do you mean by heaven and hell is now?
When you live with love and good morals and you’re just a good person, that’s heaven. And when you live and accept all the evil, that feels like hell.
Micro bump can clearance
Do you remember a time when you weren’t able to ride a skateboard? You were basically born into it, correct?
My father let it come into my life naturally, before I knew what I liked or thought I liked, and it was a way to be free later on in my life. I’ve been beyond blessed to have a relationship with that board. It’s a real personal relationship but I get lost with it sometimes. But I know it will always be there. I need that thing to feel normal. It saved my life because I don’t know where or what I would be doing without it. It showed me the world and gave me a family that I absolutely love.
I mean, shit, two very important things are how you feel about the skateboarding you are putting out and what the people closest to you feel about the human you are. I had that too, though—there was no time before skateboarding. It was just there before I remember much else. Do you think you will ever live anywhere other than Covina?
Covina is home, but for now I am happy being home. If I did move away again I’d probably move to Australia or somewhere out of America.
I understand. You do not suffer from lack of travel. You have been going and seeing places for most of your life now.
It’s bizarre to say I’ve been to the places I’ve been too. I’m thankful.
Smith around the vents
What are a few of your favorite movies right now at this point in your life?
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, There Will Be Blood, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mindfield and Little Miss Sunshine.
You have been filming for a new Nike video for about ten months. It’ll be done by the time this is out I bet. Did you pick your music or did they suggest something?
I’m still in the middle of figuring it out. I want to skate to Harry Nilsson or Black Flag but it’s hard to choose. It’s almost harder than picking a spot for the day. I get to choose but I just hope it is something that goes right.
No comply tailslide on the roof of Santa’s western workshop. Might wanna move out the way, ol’ timer Photo: Atiba
Just don’t skate to anybody’s hits. Use something surprising.
Do you have songs you’ve been stoked on? I remember when John and I set tents up in your Hollywood apartment you were playing “Dark End Of The Street” by The Flying Burrito Brothers. I still play that one.
I could absolutely think of a few to see if they can get the rights to them. You and John would come from Covina to Hollywood to stay at my place and set up tents in the living room like you were camping. That was great. See how time flies? I’ve always told you, “Watch that time. Do all you can while you can here and now.”
I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by. It is scary and it is real.
Well, you have done a solid amount of tremendous skateboarding already in your life. I know you’ve really been at it lately and I am so very looking forward to seeing your new shit. I’m glad they got Aaron Meza overseeing that whole project. Have you filmed with him at all, or has it been mostly Ant Travis you’ve been filming with?
I appreciate that coming from you. In today’s funny, wild skate scene, you created the best shit out. I am working on myself, trying to create my best work on the board. I’m not sure if it’s my best but I’m trying. Meza is a great man. He’s been super great to speak and work with, but I’ve only been filming with Ant! He’s a sick dude. Hopefully this footage that comes out is just the beginning, but I haven’t had the honor of filming with Meza.
What videos do you watch? I don’t imagine you really keep up with new videos. Are there any videos or people’s parts that get you motivated to film these days?
I honestly don’t watch much skating these days. I just watch our shit and whatever friends’ stuff that comes out, but other than that, Natas and Jason Lee have been stoking me out lately.
Less of a jam, more of a journey—Donovon hits the pipe for a natural high over the fence
He’s got one of the best styles ever.
He makes it look real good. Dylan, I watch Dylan. Dylan will forever be my idol. Sometimes I cry watching him.
Not to be like that, but fuck.
No, I totally understand. I think it’s a combination of him being just that graceful and exactly what you want to see on a skateboard and the fact that he’s gone. It’s tough not to cry. He thought very highly of you and John. I know he appreciated everything you guys brought to the table. Dylan was such a hard worker. I know he liked seeing that quality in you.
He will forever be my hero.
Fully-dipped back Smith, feels like heaven
When did you first meet Dylan? Were you with us on Alien already or did you meet him before when you were a Zero baby?
I was a Zero baby the first time I ever saw his beautiful being. I woke up at that fucked-up Black Box room. I was 12 years old and he was shooting pool to “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles at eight in the morning. He kept repeating it and didn’t care I was sitting, watching on the floor, ’cause I was all scared and lonely and shit and wanted to be home. He let me just hang and made peaceful eye contact with me. He made me feel okay and he was also solo. Jon Goemann bailed on him and he was just shooting pool and smiling. I just sat and watched. He made me feel safe with his eyes and a smile.
I never knew that. That’s so cool.
When I hear “Hello, Goodbye” now it makes me cry a little and smile. Dylan was a true original.
Absolutely. God bless the sleeping prince.
What was your first photo in Thrasher? How old were you?
A frontside ollie on a water slide. I was 16. Burnett shot it.
I remember that photo.
I was solo skating and he just came over and shot it. I get embarrassed sometimes skating, so skating solo was my favorite when I was younger.
Right? Nobody else around, just you and the photographer. I get it.
It’s weird. It’s like looking in a mirror: Oh, fuck, I look like that? When I skate I want it to look natural and if it is forced, I hate it. Fuck that. I like it just to flow and feel good. So when I feel like I’m forcing it, it’s not right. I want it wild and raw.
Raging rooftops! Front blunt in a second-story birdbath, don’t look down
You will never look forced on a board. You are so much better than you know. I feel like most especially talented skateboarders don’t know how good they really are—KB, Gino. There are certain people who don’t know they really could do just about anything. I wanna see you start doin’ nollie frontside flips and tech shit. You can do all the tech shit.
You used to say, “Donny could do it.” That made me smile.
We still say that when we see some psycho possibility in the streets: “Donny could do that.” Me, AVE and Benny still say that.
Those are my guys!
Sage gets it a lot from me. I’m always telling him shit I think he could do.
Sage is so sick!
“Hey, Sage, look, you can get up on this.”
Sage is the best. He’s so sweet also.
Sage has vicious pop.
Basketball pop. I’m gonna wrap this up with a couple questions.
Don’t be. You’ve had good answers. Do you plan on having children in our ever-warming world? Do you think about it much?
I want a family.
The kicker is back! Bump to grind up a sixer
Okay. Who is someone that helped you get where you are that you haven’t thanked enough?
I want to thank you, Dill. You helped me and checked me when I needed to be checked. I’m still working on my existence, but thank you. I want to thank my father. He’s done so much for me. Also Steve Chalme, AVE, Benny, my family. I honestly can’t believe I have even had this life. I thank my brothers and sisters, the loved ones that helped me, the loved ones I hope I can help through thick and thin. All I can say is thank you!
And lastly, is there anything that you would like to say to the kids out there?
Love your life.
Right on, Donovon. Have a good night and thank you for doing this interview.
Thank you. And love you.
Wild and raw kickflip into the balance beam—of course Donny could do it!
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