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Victor Pellegrin – The Luckiest Bastard

You’ll hear Victor before you can see him, and when you see him, it’s already too late. He’s like an unstoppable force of nature that is moving forward. That’s how he lives, that’s how he skates: the baguette propelling, doobies devouring, beer burping, monstrous spots leaping, loudly yelling Frenchman with the Sideshow Bob haircut. If Doobie is around, it quickly gets intense and maybe too much for some – understandably. Those, however, who are blinded by the fireworks that ignite as soon as Doobie appears, miss the fact that Victor is a sensitive person as well, who likes to fish and relax, is full of intimate love for his friends and family, and ponders about life and existence in quiet moments. Most of the time, he comes to the conclusion that it’s best to simply enjoy the here and now, whenever and wherever it’s possible. That’s why he trudges through life with his legs spread apart and a smile on his face, full throttle – just like his grandfather did before him. Seeing him in full action is like watching a lion on a hunt, and it’s rather difficult to translate all of that into words and pictures. There are just too many things missing: the yelling, the sweat, the blood, the rumbling, the roaring, and the trembling. The electric shimmer in the air and the orchestral laughter. The slobbering, smacking, and burbling – and the sweet breeze that you can smell when it’s all over. Nonetheless, we have done our best to portray Doobie in all his glory with these magazine pages. Watch out and hold on: three, two, one… ignition!

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Frontside 50-50 | Photo: Davy Van Laere

Davy [van Laere] told me that, right now, you are the happiest you have ever been in your life. How come?

I don’t know, I think I’ve changed my mind a little bit. I was waiting for something – and now I’m just enjoying. I took a look at what I was doing and was like, “Fuck, man! What I am doing now is actually what I was dreaming about,” even more than that! I’ve got my friends, the best people around me, what’s better than that? I am living my dream.

So you’ve always dreamed about making a living off of skateboarding?

No, I never thought about that. When I started skateboarding, I didn’t even know you could make a living off of it. Having good times on my skateboard with my friends, traveling – that’s what I hoped for, and now I make money as well. What the fuck? I am the luckiest bastard.

How did you get into skateboarding in the first place?

My older brother, he was a little poser. [laughs] He got a board, but he never used it, and there was this friend, Bubu. I saw him doing an ollie over a can and a kickflip on flatground, and he did it with so much style. That’s what made me think, “I wanna do the same!” There is this guy from my hometown, he would always skate the two stairs at the market where I was going with my mum on Thursdays and do kickflips, heelflips, all that stuff. For me, that was fucking sick, he could do so many tricks – like shove-its on two stairs. [laughs] That’s how I started, but I was doing a lot of BMX at the same time.

Your family has a motocross background, right?

Fuck man, yes! Everything started with my grandfather – rest in peace. He recently passed away during a motorcycle trip at the age of 82. Fucking sad, but that’s life, eh? However, during the ‘50s and ‘60s, he was one of the big guys in motocross and competed all over Europe, even internationally. Later, my father did the same thing as well and my brother tried it too.

You told me some crazy stories about your grandfather. Do you have a good one for this interview?

A few years ago, my dad and my grandfather went on a cruise together. He took the Honda 900 and my father a Ducati. My grandfather had problems following my father because he was in his late 70s already. So he tried to go faster and, at one point, there was a tight curve and he was too fast and went off the road. Next to the road, there was a concrete canal, so he drove down and was riding in there. My father was looking at him like, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”, but my grandfather just drove back up to the street next to him with this bike as if it was a motocross bike. He was fucking gnarly!

Do you think you got a lot from him?

That’s for sure. My grandfather was fucked, my dad is fucked, my uncle as well. Like my dad used to say, “It’s in the veins.”

Some gypsy blood.

Yup.

He lived in a trailer, right?

Yeah, he had a trailer, he was a real gypsy! His roots were somewhere in Italy.

Victor Pellegrin Wallie Boardslide To Fakie Sharpened Adobe RGB 4400 BW

Wallie to Boardslide to Fakie

Victor Pellegrin Wallie Boardslide To Fakie Sharpened Adobe RGB 4403 BW

Photo: Davy Van Laere

So where are you originally from?

I’m from Livron. It’s a shithole, but it’s good for fishing.

Is fishing something you’ve always done or did you just start recently?

I started two years ago. I ran into it and it’s weird. I don’t know, it’s kind of shit when you think about it, but I love it.

How did you get into it?

Because of a friend of mine. He’s really good at fishing and if he would be in the US, he could be a pro fishermen. So I started and then I wanted to fish bigger and bigger ones.

Is it true that you pulled the biggest fish out of Davy’s lake?

I don’t really know, but I fished some good ones.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

I once caught a catfish that was one meter sixty. [more than five feet, editor’s note]

Wow, I know people that are smaller than that! How long did you fight with it?

About 20 minutes. I was really lucky because I only had a really light line.

Do you eat the fish you catch?

Nah, I throw them back every time. I don’t eat the wild fish, just fish from fish farms.

"Yeah man, I feel alive! I like to scare myself. I think skateboarding is about that: scaring your fucking self!"

What’s it like when you go fishing?

It’s not like skateboarding at all for me. I don’t really enjoy to go skating by myself, I like to be with friends. But with fishing, I don’t really care. You can go by yourself and that’s nice as well. The spots depend mostly on what kind of fish you are trying to catch: if you’re looking for wild trout, you’d go to a small river, you want catfish, you go to a big river. For other kinds of fish, you go to a lake. Every single kind will drive you to different places.

You also brought your fishing equipment on the recent Greece trip.

Yeah, everywhere! [laughs]

You lived in Hossegor and Biarritz for a while.

Yeah, but I wasn’t fishing there. Just surfing all day.

That’s also something you’re into?

Oh yeah, man. I didn’t surf for a long time and I’m probably surfing so bad right now, but I used to do it a lot. I was living with a friend of mine in the Volcom surf house and it was fucking sick: crazy people, partying, surfing, skating – that was a gnarly time! I lived there for about a year, but the winter was really gnarly over there.

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Fs Smithgrind Fs 180 out | Photo: Davy Van Laere

Victor Pellegrin Crooked Tailgrab Sharpened Adobe RGB 7252 2

Crooked Grind Tailgrab | Photo: Davy Van Laere

You also went on a road trip with Sam Partaix and two surfer girls. What kind of trip was that?

[laughs] …fucking hell, man – that was nice! We blew it at some point. So we were on the road for two weeks in a camper van with two girls and they don’t drink, they don’t smoke… It was fun though, but it was hard for them sometimes because we just had completely different lifestyles.

Is there a difference between living in a surf house and hanging out with skaters?

In the beginning, it was the worst thing. They were fucking dickheads to me. In fact, it’s completely different. They were very much into sports and doing push-ups and making shakes in the morning. Eventually, we became really good friends though. They were really close-minded and judging everybody and everything and, at one point, I was just like "Fuck this shit. It’s time for good times,” and then they tried and they’re still doing it and having so much fun. No more push-ups, no more practice, but they’re in better shape than ever. It was way better for them as well, and they’re killing it.

Is it important for you to have this lifestyle of letting loose?

Yeah, because I used to try and take it serious and think about what I should do. It was too much to think about stuff like that and that kind of fucked me up at some point. If you think too much, you lose something. You wanna be happy and make people happy around you; you wanna spread love and just live your own way. I used to think that karma is really important. I kept twisting my ankle session after session, getting smoked. I was thinking about why I did things in a certain way on the run-up. Now, I just don’t give a shit anymore – and it´s working out so well!

Did you ever consider living a “normal life” – studying, working a regular job, and things like that?

Not really. I got into skateboarding and just did that and never thought about those other things. I’m an obsessive guy. Maybe I can be a team manager one day: you make the crew happy, have a good time traveling and skating around. It’s basically the same life, but your job is to make the boys happy.

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Backside Wallride | Photo: Fabiene Ponsero

You told me you turned down a Hérmes shooting where you could have made some good money. Why?

It’s not skateboarding to me. Skateboarding has become very fashionable and a lot of people are into it, but for me, it’s nice to keep it in the streets and not contribute to shit like that. Yeah, there’s money in it, but fuck it – we want to keep the soul of skateboarding that the legends created, we have to keep that thing rolling and not let it become some fashionable shit.

Speaking of legends, who are your idols?

Dustin [Dollin], Pfannman, Jeff Grosso – I learned so much from them, so much!

You and Dustin seem to connect really well.

Yeah, I love him so much! He’s the best! He’s just a super nice guy – a weirdo for sure, but who isn´t in skateboarding?

The weirdos are the interesting ones.

He’s so fucking weird, but he has the biggest heart ever.

Did you skate a lot with the Antiz crew when you lived in Lyon?

I was skating a lot with them and I also skated a lot at l’Hôtel-de-Ville. At some point, I was kind of over it.

I wouldn’t have thought that this is your type of spot at all.

I loved to skate there all day long, I really did, but at some point, I wanted to do something else, and it’s always the same people at the same plaza. The same thing with the same fights for the same problems… and you have to be a dick to everybody.

Why?

The people around, everybody is looking for trouble and fucking fights, and someone might steal your bag.

Ah, the people around, not the skaters.

Sometimes even the skaters. You know, nobody skates all together, there’s crews everywhere and some people don’t say hello to others because… I don’t know, fuck it, I don’t have time for this bullshit.

"You wanna be happy and make people happy around you, you wanna spread love and just live your own way"

I know you can do all kinds of tricks, including the hot-right-now tricks. What do you think about the notion to not go too gnarly but rather emphasize style?

I think it depends on what you want to show to people. Now, everybody is trying to be cool and doing the same things like slappies and early grabs and all that shit, and some people are thinking they’re doing something new, but it’s nothing new. It was there for years, but they didn’t know. They watched Zero or Baker videos and were hyped on those, and now by chance, because it’s more cool, they changed.

I remember you standing in front of that hubba you backtailed in Athens. You could see the tension rising and the adrenaline pumping, and you said, “I’m really scared, but I like the fear of dying.” What’s going on in your head in those moments?

I don’t know, but this spot was really gnarly, man. Everybody was drunk and it was so big. I was shitting my pants, but everybody was hyped and that was a beautiful one, so it was now or never!

That was definitely one of the gnarliest tricks I’ve ever witnessed firsthand. What makes it even gnarlier is that you skated like crazy two days before, then we went for a little partying, and the next morning, you were puking blood. You were basically done for the whole day, did not skate at all and then we get to this hubba. It was dark already, lights were set up, and you just did it. How is that even possible, doing a trick like that out of nowhere?

I don’t know. I think it was the vibe and the crew that made me do it. Sometimes you’re like, “I really want to skate this spot,” so you just do it.

When we looked at the hubba, no one was claiming any tricks, and then you said, “Backtail!” and nobody really believed it. How did you come up with this?

I was sure I could do it. Like, if you really believe you can do something, you’re sure about it.

The rollaway was legendary: you went right into traffic and jumped on the back of a motorbike. What actually happened there?

I don’t know, man! [laughs] I don’t really remember. I was so happy and there was this guy with the bike who saw you guys screaming and going crazy and I just jumped on the bike and drove a few meters with him. Good times!

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Fs Nosebluntslide | Photo: Davy Van Laere

Do you feel different after going through all this fear in contrast to a rather chill day of skating?

Yeah man, I feel alive! I like to scare myself. I think skateboarding is about that: scaring your fucking self! It’s nice if you’re confident, but that’s not how you send it. If you wanna send it, you have to go out of your comfort zone and just hope for the best.

You don’t get that kind of vibe from skating ledges.

True. Nobody is skating like Pfannman. When he is skating his Pfannman spots, everybody is like, “What the fuck is going on?” When you are skating a manual pad or a ledge, you don’t have the fear, the fire, and the energy like when you skate big spots. Even people who are not really into this kind of skating will feel it deep down and be like, “Wow!”

You need a special mindset for this kind of skating. To really say, “Fuck it, I’m doing this and there is no way of stopping me!” That reminds me of when we met in Milan and you forgot the keys to the apartment. So what you did was to just crash through the massive entrance door. There was no way of stopping you.

[laughs] Yeah, I guess I blew it a little bit.

It seems like you don’t accept restrictions that don’t make sense to you.

That’s most definitely true, yeah! [laughs] Sometimes it gets me into trouble.

…and you sure love weed. What do you love about it?

Fuck, I love the taste, I love… basically everything about it. The art of rolling, the smell that you get from a plant.

We started the interview at around 11 a.m. and, before that, you sent me a photo of your “breakfast”. Is it always like that? Wake and bake?

Wake and bake! [laughs] When it’s after twelve, you’re allowed to drink.

How many of those doobies a day?

Around ten per day, I guess. I’m trying to cut down a little though.

How does it affect your skateboarding? Most people wouldn’t be able to push anymore after one of your doobies, but it seems like it doesn’t do anything to you.

Not really, but you tend to get lazy and it takes more time to warm up. I guess it’s better to be drunk if you want to skate big shit.

"My grandfather was fucked, my dad is fucked, my uncle as well. Like my dad used to say, “It’s in the veins.”"

On your profile on the Vans website, there’s this question "If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?“ and your answer is "Pablo Escobar straight away!" Why?

Because of the lifestyle and… yeah! [laughs] I don’t know if it is a good lifestyle really, but it’s fucking intense.

Talking about intense, is it true that you peed on your mother right after you were born?

Yeah, that’s what she told me. [laughs]

That’s how you came into this world: pissing on everything.

Yep. [laughs]

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Backside Tailslide | Photo: Davy Van Laere

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Kickflip | Photo: Davy Van Laere

The first time I saw you, I was sitting in a kitchen and you were coming out of the bedroom naked, playing around with your dick. Is that a common introduction for you?

[laughs] Nah, not really.

But you did the same thing in Berlin after days of partying when you came back to the flat with some friends…

Fuck man, no more of that. [laughs]

You don’t want to talk about it?

No, no, I don’t care. It’s just some thing when I get drunk, I do some helicopters.

What exactly is the “shwank”?

[laughs hard] Shit and wank.

Is there a special technique?

Don’t come when you sit down or it gets on your pants. If you have time in an airport you can go for a shwank.

Oh my God, you do it at airports?

Yeah, sometimes. [laughs]

You also told me this story of when you had sex with a girl while her parents were in the room and you were all watching TV together…

They were on the front sofa, we were behind them in the back.

The parents didn’t notice anything?

No, nothing. That was gnarly but easy.

And what about the story when you took a shit in the shower?

Oh god, please don’t… [laughs]

…or the girl that wanted to cut your hair?

That one is a classic! It was a campus party and I met this girl. She asked me if she can cut my hair and I said no. She said she wanted to keep a bit of it and I said, “Okay, if I can fuck you,” and she said yes. Then she dragged me to the basement and it was raining, so there was water everywhere somehow, and then she started, you know, she took the baguette… Afterwards, we went back up and she went straight to her friend and was like, “Yo, you should fuck this guy.” So her friend came to me and told me, “You come back with me.” I asked her to give me some time and then we went down again. She still sends me crazy texts, saying things like she wants to fuck with me again and stuff.

The important question is: did the first girl cut your hair?

No, she did not in the end, cause we ended up fucking.

Things happen.

Yeaaah… [laughs]

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