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Eli Reed Interview

Old Fashioned

It was 4:30 p.m. in New York when Pontus called. Eli just came home from a dancehall party. You could say that’s the perfect setting to not do just another boring skateboard interview, talking about kickflips, but rather talk about partying, self-expression, sex toys, and for sure girls, girls, girls. The fun things in life.


Where have you been?

At this dancehall party in Flatbush. It’s mad fun. Just dancehall, reggae, and hip hop.

Do you go every Sunday?

Yeah and because I grew my hair and beard, they call me Jesus at the door. The bouncers are like: “Come over here, Jesus.” I’m getting that a lot lately, people calling me Jesus.

You don’t drink or do drugs. So you dance sober all night?

That’s why I like going to those parties cause it’s really just for the music. Reggae music is for your soul. People dance with their soul out there.

Back in the days you drank a lot, right?

"I’m Irish, I come from a long line of alcoholics."

I used to go crazy. I used to drink a lot and partied all my 20s. I got all that out of my system. Drinking really wasn’t for me, I’d black out easy. I’m Irish, I come from a long line of alcoholics. I had my years where I partied really hard and I feel so good now. I get high of just dancing or skating. I’m a high-energy person. I’m super sensitive to my surrounding, I get really amped and high off life. I just have a lot of energy. I do yoga, I bike over the Manhattan Bridge, I skate, I go out dancing – if I don’t get it out, then I don’t think straight.

Have you been partying in all boroughs?

In my early years I just was at Max Fish, I did the whole Lower East Side thing for years. I pretty much dated girls in different parts of the city. I don’t really go to Queens much. There’s strip clubs in Queens, but I’m not really much going out there.

Have you ever been to high-class sex clubs in New York?

No, I always wanted to, but I’m not too crazy with that stuff. It would be funny though, but nah.

Did you date some models or girls from rich families and end up in a penthouse in midtown?

I don’t really date too many rich girls. I definitely ended up on Park Avenue and 30th in crazy places after a blackout or something.

I don’t believe that you don’t have any juicy stories.

I got a million of them, but where do you start?

I won’t push for it. Let’s talk about your companies ER and Becky. What’s your role?

I do everything for my brand and with Becky, me and my partner are doing everything. We just started, but we have a strong vision. We have a lot of footage already and we gonna start releasing some crazy little videos. But Becky Factory means anything. We gonna put out all sorts of crazy projects from skating to film stuff to weird shit.

"I’m a very sensitive person, I have a lot of emotions, so every day I will dress differently because I feel that way."

You have a special interest in clothing. What made you dress different than the “normal” skater?

I’ve always done whatever the fuck I wanted, as far as wearing and expressing myself. In my first video part I’m wearing a big, green velour suit. I like green because I like the way the trees look in front of my house or the way my mum painted green in a portrait. Then I wear green velours. It’s all an expression of how I feel for the day. But it’s hard to say why it is like that.


Back in the days you had the board, the griptape, the clothing. Guys were even experimenting with coloring their hair and going all in and one day everybody looked the same.

I feel that’s what’s going on now, again. Sometimes you see people wearing a uniform of what a skater’s supposed to look like.

I felt like you’re one of the guys that go all in and I always liked that.

My mum was an art teacher, so we lived in an old school Boston house, but when you came into our house, you’d see sculptures of naked people and paintings that me and my brother did. It doesn’t look like your average house. I was always just like: “Whatever I do, I do it in an expressive way.” I don’t like to say that I like to be seen, but everybody is trying to be seen in a certain way. I’m a very sensitive person, I have a lot of emotions, so every day I will dress differently because I feel the way. I don’t think about it so detaily. I really like clothes, but they’re the last thing on my brain when they’re on me.

It’s cool that you just put on what you feel, cause you see a lot of people that look like they thought about it too much.

I see dudes that are very put together in a way and I don’t understand that. That’s almost more feminine to me to take that much time to do all their stuff. If I like something, I wear the same clothes for a week too. I think clothes are kinda boring, but I express myself through everything that I do.

It’s a part of your expression and you start your day with it when you go to your wardrobe.

Yeah, it’s a big part cause you see it. And if you skate, you understand the skating part. If you spend more time with me, you’ll see how I express myself in other parts.

What are your top inspirational skaters clothing wise?

It’s more like the person as a whole, not just what they wear, but I would say of course Mark [Gonzales], Steve Olson… When I first came to New York, some of the dudes – Steven Cales, Ivan Perez, Akira Mowatt – they were crazy thugged out and just doing crazy skate tricks. They just looked like they never saw a skateboard in their life until it was on their feet and they can nollie flip.

Clothing can change the perception. If you put on a suit, you can go to a posh restaurant. If you’re in a skater outfit, they might stop you at the door, although you have the same money. I like to dress up sometimes and enter different zones.

I think there’s two ways the dynamic is. Number one is, I’ll go to a nice restaurant a lot and I’ll bring a date and look nice, but then I’ll go so much that I’ll go in sweatpants as well if I want. I do have a lot of clothes and go through different phases. If I wanna slick back the hair and shave and rock some nice clothes, I’m gonna do that. But it’s not like: “I’m gonna rock like this!”

Yeah, but sometimes you can play with it and how people will look at you then.

Totally, it’s funny that it’s that easy to just flip it if you want and just go wherever and kinda have a secret identity. But I’m just kinda always me. I’m always changing styles or whatever and it’s different times if I’m in these things and I might be wearing something and going somewhere… If I was gonna go fancy, then for sure I like to dress up. I was dating this really wealthy business woman for a while and she liked it when I wore a suit. It was fun. Just because me as a skater, I’d love to wear a suit cause my whole life I didn’t have to dress nice. So after a while it would be nice to dress nice. I was down to wear a suite to go to a party.

As a skater you’re proud to be this kind of street kid. That’s your identity. But sometimes you get sick of it and feel like a dirtbag.

You can switch it up, that’s why I have all the different clothes. I’m into a lot of different things. We used to go to the Carlyle, which is one of the richest hotels uptown. You go there and chill and have fun. You’re definitely just around billionaires.

That’s nice to be there and see that and in your heart still know that you’re a skater.

The difference between some people and the way I think is that I go to a nice place with a girl and wear something nice, but I go as Eli, and you meet somebody and they ask what you do and… I think we as skaters have the right to be on the forefront of any situation because our art is one of the highest forms of art, physical art. So we should be able to go into any room and hold our ground.

Now skating is accepted, but coming from the ‘90s in New York, skaters were kind of like shit. You didn’t get laid or anything. I think the younger generation doesn’t understand how it is to be that outsider trash.

"Sometimes I wanna wear the same clothes for two days and just be a dirty skate rat."

I think that’s a part of why I wanna be proud of being in a nice hotel and wearing something nice and I’m a skater. I wear the skating on my chest. Or I skate to the place and still carry my board wherever I’m at. That’s why it’s kinda fun cause you and me, we experienced all the other stuff. Nowhere to go, crashing on friends couches, no money. And I still do that. Sometimes I wanna just slam and wear the same clothes for two days and just be a dirty skate rat. Or just walk around in the rain with my skateboard cause I like the rain. Or I wanna sit on my board in a train station when I don’t have to, when I could take a cab.

I have that feeling too. I’m making money, I have a nice life, I can have a car and everything, but most of the time it’s a good feeling to just be on my board, pushing through the streets like it was when you were a kid. Just go out all day, end up at a house party.

Yeah, the best stuff we probably ever experienced was those times that we didn’t have a plan. Shit just happened.

Now that skateboarding is so hot, with fashion and all that, is it easier to get girls now?

I’m someone that really, really loves skateboarding – just skateboarding. I’m obsessed with the actual aspect of being on a skateboard. All that other stuff doesn’t matter. I just feel so lucky to have that thing. I try to fall in love with other things, but I have to admit that I haven’t. And as skating is getting more popular… I never use it to get girls. I prefer to meet people on a very human basis. I like to meet girls with a smile or a wink or a street-normal conversation. Later they can know about skating or anything else I do. I like the very human qualities that people have. The way they talk, their accent, their choice of words rather than: “What do you do?” Cause once you’re labeling somebody as an office worker, skateboarder… I think people are way more complicated than that.

It takes away the mystery.

Yeah, I like just meeting people and having a conversation about life or coffee. Those little details will give you so much more insight to who someone is. I also don’t go to downtown parties or even skate parties that much. I do like to meet new people. I had been going out, meeting girls around Brooklyn. Just normal, cool, down-to-earth people, that’s just more my thing.

Do you have a girlfriend at the moment or do you want to get married?

I had a girl for seven years when I was in New York and I was a mess when I was drinking. I’ll always love her, but it was a tough one. I’ve been in and out some relationships the past few years. I definitely see myself with one chick and having a kid and all that, but it’s hard man. It’s tricky, but I’m not like: “Yeah, this summer I’ll met a bunch new girls.” I think I get misperceived very easy, I think I can come off as an asshole or too cool or this dude that’s always with chicks. But I know a lot of people and girls just come to me, I don’t do anything. So people can get the wrong idea about me, but I’m not a player. I was talking to a lot of girls this summer and I just let it all fade out because it’s not really me. Once I have like two or three, I feel weird. That’s never been my thing.

"Everything that comes down to meeting a girl is animal instinct."

Do you have Tinder? How do you meet people?

That’s a good question, but no, I don’t do Tinder, I don’t have any social media. I’m really into just natural human behavior. You ever go people watching?

All the time, sitting solo in a coffee shop.

That’s my thing, watching human behavior and ask what they do. Cause we live such an interesting life, we’re kinda outcasts to normal people. I definitely love meeting people, especially women, on the street and just having random conversations when you bump into somebody.

You seem to be a guy who has no problem to go straight to a chick and talk to her. Do you have any good stories?

I tell you a funny one from recently. This is the main reason why I love New York cause anything is still possible. I was in a bookstore with my friend Sam and was walking home cause I was tired. I was walking down the street and saw the most beautiful half Dominican, half black girl – she looked like a porn star. Then she just looked up and said, “Oh, hey,” and I said, “Hey, what’s up? You wanna get some tea?“ That was the first thing that came to my mind. And she’s like: “Yeah, I don’t really wanna go home right now, my ex-boyfriend might be stalking me.” She had some drinks, she got pretty crazy. One thing led to another. It was just one of those unforeseen moments, meeting a girl right on 14th street, hanging out with her, then we ended up going out and I had just met her and we hooked up and everything.

There is this super attractive woman and all of a sudden you’re sitting next to her and next thing you know is you’re making out.

And ten minutes before I was in a bookstore, tired, and wanted to go home. You can meet the most beautiful girl of your dreams like that. A lot of people in general life have to be more open to their surrounding.

You say she looked like a porn star. Did you ever date a porn star or strippers? What is your type of girl? 

I dated a lot of types of girls, but I really like all types. I definitely have a thing for Caribbean girls lately cause there’s a lot in my neighborhood. My last girlfriend was Korean and black and she was a firecracker, dude! A beautiful blasian, I couldn’t believe it. That was next level.

What’s your best advice? You just go to them and talk to them?

Yeah, if somebody asked me how to talk to girls on the streets, I would say, everything that comes down to meeting a girl is animal instinct. You should always go on your first instinct. If you see a girl and you like her, go right up to her and say something. Even if it’s stupid. It’s just retarded not to because as soon as you get that moment, “Well, I don’t know, she’s with her girlfriends,” it’s already gone. It’s gotta be on the moment. It’s like thinking of a skate trick and then it gets first try, but if you’re thinking about it, then you lose it. The energy has to be there. That’s the animal instinct.


Did a girl ever say: “Fuck off!” 

I come very gentle. I never forced a girl ever. I’m like, “Hey, what’s up?“ Basic shit. That’s what’s fun about the dancehall shit. If you dance in a rhythm, you could almost watch a girl from across the room and start dancing with her and then slowly you get closer and closer and you know that you’re actually very intimate from a distance. Then you can just go up to them and dance with them. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes it’s not about what you’re gonna say, it’s about your body language. That’s why I’m so into skating and performance art because I like body language. Somebody lately used a term I like: physical intelligence. That’s why I brought up the animal instinct. If a woman has physical intelligence, she’ll be able to see how they carry themselves. If I wanna talk to a girl, I could tell most of the time, just by what they’re wearing, how they hold themselves, and the way the walk, what they’re into.

Communication, just as you choose your outfits in the morning.

I don’t like women that wear much makeup. Maybe a little bit, but makeup is such a turn off. I like girls that are all natural. I like girls that rock grey hair. So many of these girls are just too much makeup, wigs, dyeing their hair forever.

But you must have had some girls dissing you straight when you walked up to them.

At the dancehall it was mad funny. Sometimes you think you gotta dance with a girl and I just go up to her and grab her ass and they just look at you all pissed off. You can’t always win. With girls you have to strike out at least five times till you hit a homerun.

You got to practice, just like skating. Talking about practicing, do you still have this dildo sponsor?

That Tenga shit, nah. That was just my homie. He works for them and they flew me out to Japan. That’s all it really was, but I actually thought it was awesome. I think I was the first skater to be sponsored by a sex toy. I’m just kind of into pushing the limits in any way. I like to look back at things and laugh. I’m very serious and passionate about skateboarding and what I do, but at the same time I’m not serious about a lot of things in life. I’m very serious, but I don’t take myself too serious.

"If I’m gonna handle my shit, I’ll handle it old fashioned."

It’s funny that you had a sex toy sponsor.

I kind of wanted to make a vibrator. But when I tried this Tenga thing…

What you mean you tried?

You stick your dick in this thing. They made those and I never tried them and finally I tried it and yo dude, I freaked out! It felt so weird, this thing on my dick. But then when I actually came, it felt too real. I freaked out.

Would you recommend it?

Oh man, not for me. I’m old fashioned and if I’m gonna handle my shit, I’ll handle it old fashioned. [laughs]


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