Nick Merlino Interview
So you’re a pro skater, Nick, but like many pro skaters these days you’re having to supplement your skateboarding income, right? What are some of the jobs that you’ve picked up in the last couple of years?
Yeah, definitely. Well, right now I’m on LA Casting which is like acting and commercial kind of stuff—just like backgrounds, commercials and little acting roles. People need skateboarders a lot of times for background or for music videos or whatever it may be so I do that and then right now I’m also working for this company that’s like a Cirque du Soleil type of show. So yeah, I’ve been doing that and then working for Uber, just whatever kind of jobs I can find.
So you’re not a carnie at the circus, are you?
No, I’m just a cashier there, man. No, nothing like that. I could probably do some backflips, though. If they let me jump in there I could probably do a couple backflips or something.
Kickflip noseslide, definitely not a circus trick Photo: Hammeke
How’s Uber been going?
It’s alright. It’s tiring. You have to drive a lot of hours. Weekends are really good. The weekdays kind of suck. I’ll be lucky to make 80 bucks in ten hours.
But weekends are really good. Sometimes I can make 100 bucks in five hours so I’ll drive anywhere from like three in the day to two in the morning and then I’ll make around $250 or something.
Nice. Have you had any weird experiences with Uber?
Yeah, I was back in Jersey last year for a couple months trying to save money so that I could move back out here and I picked up a couple from this bar and the girl was really, really drunk and the guy, he was a little tipsy but he wasn’t anywhere near where the girl was. She was really blacked out and she started fucking with me saying, “I’m gonna report you!” and I hadn’t even said one word. And he’s trying to contain her and keep her under control and then this girl tries to get out of the car while I’m driving and doing like 40 miles per hour! She’s trying to open up the door while the car is moving so I’m trying to lock the door and she’s trying to open it. So I just lock it and then she says, “You mother fucker! Let me out of the fucking car! I’m gonna report you to Uber you piece of shit!” And this guy’s, like, “Bianca, stop. You’re gonna fucking die.” And I’m, like, “If you don’t chill her out I’ve got to let her out of the car. This is crazy, you know? I’m not trying to run her over with my car while I’m doing 50 miles per hour! You guys got to stop!” So eventually she got to the point where she had to puke so I had to pull over so she could throw up and then she passed out in her boyfriend’s lap and I drove them to their house. That was fun, man.
Have you ever picked anybody up who you thought might murder you?
No, I haven’t really picked up too many sketchy people. The only really sketchy people are usually the drunk ones and the people that I pick up that are that drunk I feel like you could beat them in a fight, that’s how drunk they are. I’m not really ever worried.
On the wagon, off the edge with a nollie flip Photo: Gould
I know you used to sometimes get wild when you were drinking. Are you still off the sauce?
Yeah, I’m sober right now. I haven’t been drinking so that’s something that I’ve got to keep on track with and just take it day by day because number one: I don’t have the money to drink and number two: it’s just not good for me, man. I know that I’ve done a lot of bad things in my past. I’ve probably pissed off a lot of people which I’m very sorry for and I just want to make amends and apologize to anybody that I might have offended because I know it’s not good for business or for my image or for my life.
That’s good that you realized it wasn’t working for you at least. A lot of people never figure that out.
Yeah. It’s good to be on a good positive level for once, you know? Being sober is a good thing and it’s definitely been helping me out.
So back to some of your acting jobs, I was told you had one where you surfed with bikini babes all day.
Oh yeah. That one was rad, man. That one was really cool! I got paid a couple hundred bucks to just go out and surf for the day with this model chick. And she knows how to surf too so it’s cool. We went out to Malibu and we got fed for the day and made some money and it was just mellow. It was really cool. I actually missed my call time because I set my alarm but my phone was on silent. For some reason I woke up and I had a bunch of missed calls and I was, like, “Oh shit. I gotta go!” I was supposed to be there at six and it was already like seven o’clock and they were, like, “Where the fuck are you at?” So I drove from Long Beach to meet them in Santa Monica and I got there at like eight. But they were still setting up so it was okay. They weren’t too bummed. Yeah, it was fun, man. I was really bummed on that because I was trying to be as professional as possible and it kind of made me look bad. But it all ended up working out.
Why play the lottery when you're hitting payday in the streets? Front board drop down Photos: Rhino
What would you do if you won the lottery? Do you play the it very often?
I play sometimes. My dad plays the lottery every week. He never misses a week. If I won the lottery, to be honest with you, I don’t know if I’m ready to even handle something that big. I think that might make me drink or do something bad again. All of the fantasy things like nice cars and all that shit would be cool but right now at this point in my life the way I’m recovering from alcoholism I don’t even think I would be ready for something like that, man, so I think it would be better for me not even to play the lottery and have the chance of winning. But in a better state of mind if I did win I’d probably own a house in California and own a house in Jersey and just move back and forth and start a company. I would love to start something that involves skateboarding because that’s all I’ve ever loved my whole life.
Do you have a name for your company in mind?
No, not yet. I had a really cool name for, like, a YouTube channel which I’m probably gonna start soon. That’s one of the things that’s on my goal list. I’ve wanted to start a little sketch-comedy show with episodes on YouTube. But I’ve got a name for that.
Who inspires you in the world of sketch comedy?
I like people like Eric Andre and Tom Green. I just like people that say ridiculous shit just to try to get reactions out of people. It’s sick. Eric Andre is, like, the master of that. He’s really funny, man. There’s another dude. Have you ever seen Nathan for You?
Nick's a funny guy but this switch back tail is serious as F Photo: Gould
He’s one of those shows where they go out in the streets and make people really, really uncomfortable?
Yeah, he’s super awkward. Basically his show is to try to help out peoples’ businesses that are failing but the way that he tries to fix them is so absurd and just out of this world and crazy. It’s just funny, man.
Have you tried doing your own shit like that yet?
I’ve definitely filmed some stuff with some of my buddies, but it’s basically me with my Jersey accent and we’ve gone around to a couple places and I’ve ordered sandwiches in places with my Jersey accent and just ask a lot of questions in the Jersey voice. Just trying to piss people off and make them irritable, like, that’s probably the best way to do it. I know some of the questions you can ask to start to annoy people, you know what I mean? They’re like, “What the fuck, dude? Get the fuck out of here!”
That sounds like your relationship with Sinclair already.
Yeah. I mean, Mike gets annoyed with everybody, man. It’s not just me. I keep having to remind him that we’re the pros and he’s the team manager and his job is to make us comfortable, not for him to be comfortable, you know what I mean? Because we’re always catering to his needs and his wants but—a little news flash, Mike: we’re the ones jumping down the fucking stairs! So shut the fuck up and eat your fuckin’ pizza!
Avoiding the piss on the stairs with a switch back heel. Now eat your pizza, Mike! Photo: Rodent
Tell the story of when you were a kid and you weren’t allowed at your aunt’s house anymore because of the wallpaper.
Oh yeah. I didn’t get invited back until I was, like, 12 or something. I walked into my Aunt Rose’s house when I was younger and I was off the walls with ADHD. I did a lot of bad things when I was a little kid and I would want to touch her wallpaper. She had really nice, like, beautiful wallpaper and my hands were just disgusting from touching dirt or whatever I was touching and I couldn’t keep my hands off of it. And she got really mad one day. I think I left a smudge on her wall and she’s, like, “That’s it, no more, you’re not allowed at my house anymore!” And I just started crying and my mom came and picked me up and my aunt was, like, “He’s not allowed here again until he’s older.” And every summer I wasn’t invited back. My sister would go and swim in her swimming pool with all of my cousins and I wasn’t allowed to go there.
Because you couldn’t keep your hands off the elegant wallpaper?
Yeah. Well, I touched it one time and then ever since that one time she just got really mad at me. I left a smudge on it and I guess apparently it was really hard to get it off the wall or something. I don’t even remember, man. It was so long ago, but yeah, she got really bummed I guess and she never invited me back until I was older.
When you realized you weren’t gonna be able to make a living as a pro skater really, did you ever consider just giving it all up?
Oh, man, yes. To be honest, there was a point where I was thinking about fuckin’ killing myself. I was just kind of over everything. I was just, like, “Fuck this world,” you know? There’s definitely a lot more out there for me, though. That’s not really an option. I can make it with something else. Obviously I’m still going to always love skateboarding. I’m gonna do what I do and I’m gonna always fucking skate but I know that I can find another calling that’s gonna be just as good. But yeah, I got really depressed, man. When Dekline went out of business and Foundation cut us down to board royalties and then my Neff contract was up it was like all at once all of my income kind of went away. It was depressing, man. I got really sad for a long time.
He can't keep his hands off the wallpaper but he kept 'em off the ground on this biggie board. Sick trick, Nick! Now where's that wagon at? Photos: Rhino
So how was it like making this video? You guys basically had nothing but each other on this one, right?
Yeah. It was rad. You know, it was cool with the little resources we had we still made it fun and Don and all the dudes that helped contribute and film it made it really fun for me and I want to thank them for that. It was cool. Obviously it would be sick if we could have a budget to go to Barcelona or do something sick but we made it work with what we had and I think it was really cool the way we made it work out.
Who’s your dream girl? Do you have one?
Oh, man, that’s tough. Scarlett Johansson’s a babe. Jessica Alba is fucking really hot. Megan Fox is sick. I don’t know, man, there’s a lot of Playboy bunnies that I’ve probably never heard of or seen that are fucking my dream girl too.
Do you think you could hang with a girl like that, though? Do you think that they’re down to Earth enough?
Not really, man. I feel like their face has too much Botox in it to really think. Probably not, man. I mean, I could probably last for like a month or two and then I’d probably get tired of them or vice versa—they’d get tired of me. I think it’s gonna take a really unique woman to be able to deal with me and my shit. You know?
3/26/2021From the Baker van to King of the Road to 20-plus years of shooting photos, Burnett’s done a lot of miles and met a lot of folks working for the Mag. Check out who made an impression on Phelper’s right-hand man. As seen in our March 2021 issue.
11/09/2020Hawk, Hosoi, Salba, Cab, Lance and fellow legends take in the news of O getting his own Foundation board. You gotta see it to believe it.
10/14/2020Julian puts down a hammer and gets humbled on huge rails in his Foundation intro. We told you he was on the Lunatic Fringe.
6/11/2020Cedric and Roman get the fire going, burning up the banks before Aaron, Julian, Nick and Ryan blast it into a full-blown blaze. Serving Cypress and beyond for decades, Furnace knows how to keep the heat on.
4/03/2020Whether as a struggling pro or team manager, Mike Sinclair’s come across almost every character in skateboarding, and even invented a few himself. Wonder who's made a lasting impression in his lifetime among legends? Read through and laugh along.