It’s probably pretty hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy Yann. On the ol’ skateboard, he’s great. Off it, he might even be greater… Attractive energy, attractive dude! Like the universe jerking off to Freddy Mercury and out cums this rad, down-to-earth human. That type of person that just draws you in. He’s got it! Whatever the fuck “that” is. Hats off to you, Yann. He is a fuxing G, enjoying to skate the crustiest spot rather than some perfect bullshit. Go search his name on the interweb and find him standing out next to those ledge-waxing-boring-same-trick dudes just shining like the rainbow diamond he is. I love him and so will you if you get to know him. So give him the chance and let’s all love Yann together. Here he is. Enjoy!
We did, but we also met in Barcelona before that. I was 18 years old and not tainted by the world yet – and then Barcelona happened. I was staying with [Thomas] Winkle for six months in that crazy house. I went to Barcelona to go and find myself and I think I lost myself.
It was. You know, it’s every skater’s dream – especially for a young skater from South Africa.
And it happened?
“I’m gonna hold your hand while we walk through MACBA.” [laughs]
… small-town syndrome. But yeah, I guess we got to know each other really well in Berlin.
[laughs] I hope so, Jesus! But yeah, Berlin… we made history out there. I tried to skate Berlin, but I found it to be a pretty tricky city to skate and also all those fucking techno clubs slowly got the best of me.
"I realized how fragile being sane actually is. I felt out of my mind and completely crazy and I was worried I wasn’t going to come back"
That was the first time I realized how fragile being sane actually is. I felt out of my mind and completely crazy and I was worried I wasn’t going to come back, but I did. Well, maybe halfway. [laughs]
Yeah, at X-Games James’ house! He found us on his couch, stroking each other’s hair. He was like, “How did you get into my house?!” and we were just like, “Don‘t worry about it.”
… oh, that was so off.
Me too. She had never done psychedelics before, and this was a very intense one, but she pulled it together. She had a good time afterwards – she just needed to get rid of her clothes.
“Everything is ok, just go with the flow! Stop fighting it, bro!” [both laugh]
I think I tried, too. Even being in Europe now, I haven’t been given any rules or regulations [by his boyfriend Adam], but the one was, “Dude, you can do whatever you want, just don’t go to Berlin!” He’s heard all my stories from that summer…
I think that’s why we were going so hard in Berlin. You were like, “This is the last time I have before the baby comes,” and we were like, “Cool, let’s get it out of your system and then it’s daddy mode.” And it worked!
"Classic fucking tourists in Holland, killing ourselves laughing and hiding behind trees. That was so much fun"
That’s good. Dude, I had a fucking blast in Helsinki, though!
I had about three weeks in Holland and Sam and I just went to different cities to get photos done for this article. It was a very productive trip – I mean, we had our party weekends, but during the week, we were out just filming and skating. Holland is actually a great place! I had an amazing truffles experience in Arnhem. It’s a very fun and intense hallucinogen. It’s the part of the mushroom that grows under the ground, not on top, so that’s the grey area to sell it legally. These things kicked us in the ass and we ended up finding this park with these amazing sculptures and got lost for five hours. Classic fucking tourists in Holland, killing ourselves laughing and hiding behind trees. That was so much fun.
Yeah, that was pretty much why I was in Europe: doing this conference and this talk on the LGBTQ community in the skate industry and how to create allyship against racism, sexism, and all that kind of stuff. It was a beautiful event. At times, it was exhausting because you’re sitting through so many intense talks and trying to absorb all this knowledge. At the end of the day, your brain hardly works anymore. They booked my tickets two months earlier, so I could come to Helsinki and travel a bit before.
Pretty much – I got to use that gay ticket! [both laugh]
Say, “What, you don’t want me there because I‘m gay?” and then people get weird and buy me anything I want. No, just kidding! [laughs]
I think it’s amazing how through these losses that we have had, people are getting together a lot more. I think people aren’t afraid of expressing more emotion and love towards each other.
Yes, we have to keep looking after each other.
"Take off your clothes and then you’re wearing these onesie singlets and then just slowly unbutton the back and take a giant shit down the three block"
I had this weird fantasy about trying to get into the Olympics, and then during my run, I would do a whole Neil Blender scenario: just buy some spray paint, tag the ramps, and maybe light some firecrackers.
Just try to convince them to turn it into a live art piece: take off your clothes and then you’re wearing these onesie singlets and then just slowly unbutton the back and take a giant shit down the three block.Stu Graham took a shit in the middle of one of these big contests sponsored by Boost Mobile or some shit. Security didn’t say anything, they just cleaned it up afterwards.That is fucking wild!
Yeah, I won it last year and it took me to China.
On Sundays, Yannika comes out.
Yannika would have been my name if I came out as a girl, but I became Yann. So that naturally became my feminine alter ego. What was the question? Oh yeah, I’m a tranny skater. I really enjoy skating street tranny…
A friend of mine got flagged on Instagram for using the word “tranny”, like, “Oh, this tranny was so fun!” He got some hate mail after that. You’ve got to be so careful of what you say these days.
So, I love skating street transition. [laughs] I can skate tranny, but I’m not like Pedro Barros or anyone like that. I just enjoy anything, whatever makes me happy. Just don’t take me to a set of stairs or a 20 stair handrail. Did you see the taildrop off the bridge?
I know! [laughs] There were lots of families around, it wasn’t too much of a safe space. I borrowed some swim shorts and we made a leash with a friend’s shoe lace. When we were walking past it, all the locals, the SLP dudes, were like, “We’ve been talking about taildropping this for five years and no one has ever done it.” They talked me into it and I said, “If anyone lends me a skateboard, I’ll do it!” and that was the worst thing to say because, of course, everyone handed me their skateboard instantly. It was scary: I had to swim down there to see if there were any rocks underneath the bank – and the bank keeps going into the water, so if you kicked out or landed wrong, you were landing straight onto that bank.
Yeah, I had to, dude. If I kicked out, I would really have hurt myself.
"Trampolines make you gay, kids. Watch out."
That is actually in the harbor in Cape Town. We had to break so many laws to get in there. We jumped quite a few fences and there were security guards with guns everywhere. That was sketchy. We had a lookout and whenever something was moving, we would hide underneath whatever we could find and be as quiet as possible.
I told it on stage in Malmö as well. I was jumping on my trampoline in the garden when I was ten years old. And I was just jumping, minding my own business and then I had this weird epiphany: every time I was reaching the apex of my jump, when I was floating, in my head I was like, “I think I like boys.” And I’d jump again and was like, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure.” So I kept jumping and eventually came to the conclusion and said, “Yeah, I’m gay!” in my brain. It was quite profound. [laughs] Trampolines make you gay, kids. Watch out.
Yeah, eventually. But only once I’m financially stable and have my shit together. It’s not like I’m a straight person that can just like, you know, pop them out. [both laugh] But, eventually, I think I could be a really good family man.
I’ll babysit for sure! I’ll be a good guncle!
I just want to go and check it out. See what the hype is about. I have been to New York and Florida when I was really young, so it will be a different experience. San Francisco has a lot of amazing history, specifically gay history. It will be nice to hang out with my people. [laughs]
All kinds of people are my people. I’ll probably be fucking starving and poor by the time I leave, but it will be worth it. [laughs]
Yes, Vans is giving me a good salary. Then I get photo and video incentives, I DJ and I work part-time at a bar.
It’s not actually, but I’m not drinking when I’m behind the bar.
We’ve done this entire month sober and I’m breaking that tonight, so wish me luck. I’m on a bitchy phase.
… I turn back into a gremlin!
Exactly. We’re breaking it tonight, but then my boyfriend and I will do it next month as well. Just keep it going.
Or “It’s Tuesday and it’s raining, so…” [both laugh]
"My idea for this art show I’m doing is “butts and flowers”. I’m trying to find the best butts in Cape Town"
Yeah, I think I’m just really comfortable with not giving a fuck. I think it was a really crazy afterparty the night before and everyone was taking bets on who was going to win that hill-bomb competition – and a lot of people bet money on me. I was feeling so horrid from the night before and was not at all sure I was going to win this thing, so I just made sure everyone got their money’s worth. I was standing next to Sam Beckett and said, “I think I might bomb this thing naked,” and he replied, “I‘ll give you 50 euros right now if you do it!” He took my clothes with him when he bombed the hill, so I wouldn’t have to do the walk of shame back up.
You woke up to my blinding white ass. [laughs] I got some Wi-Fi after that and got a message from my boyfriend saying, “Oh, so half of Helsinki gets a dick pic before I do?”
Yeah, exactly. That’s why I’m sold and wanna come back next year. But Dallas, my uncle is arriving in like ten minutes to pick up some furniture. I’m just gonna get dressed and ready while we’re talking.
I’ve actually been buck naked the whole time.
That would be a very interesting one.
I was actually born in Geneva, Switzerland. As soon as my parents had three kids and Mandela came into power in South Africa, they moved back. They wanted to get away from apartheid, and as soon as it ended, they came back. So I’ve been growing up pretty much my entire life in South Africa. Do you know the horse smuggling story that my mom did? They moved their lives to Nairobi, Kenya, for two years and my mom got a couple of horses up there. My dad’s contract ended and they had to leave Nairobi within three months and move back to South Africa, but my mom could not get the paperwork to get these horses legally back into the country. She was like, “Fuck this, I’m not leaving these horses behind.” So she hired a truck and her and my sister drove from Nairobi over six days, paying authorities off, and getting through borders. They said it was the wildest trip they ever had, they slept a total of five hours on the entire trip!
Yeah, they have always been very supportive. I wouldn’t let them come watch me at skate competitions, because I had this weird thing that it would be too much pressure – so they would come in disguise. Later in my life, they told me, “We used to come to all your competitions,” and I was like, “You tricky bastards!”
No, it doesn’t. You can’t change a whole country’s dynamic within 30 years.
It’s actually very similar here. Our crews consist of rich kids and kids who live on the streets. No one cares as long as you’re not a fucking kook… I actually don’t like using that word.
… don’t catcall girls …
… there are always these assholes, but they don’t last long in the crews.
I studied sound engineering for a while, but I realized it wasn’t for me. It just kinda ruined music for me because it made me hypercritical. So I’m actually doing a collaboration with a local fashion designer. He wants me to design a few pieces for him. I’m branching out and doing more art these days. I definitely want to stick to a more creative path, it’s what makes me happy. I think a lot of skateboarders are just naturally creative people, I don’t think it’s just a cliché.
I might have something coming up soon as well. [both laugh]
… of someone walking past a building in Morocco. [laughs] My idea for this art show I’m doing is “butts and flowers”. I’m trying to find the best butts in Cape Town – guys, girls, black, white, doesn’t matter –, and then I’m going to create these floral backgrounds, so these butts are coming out of these beautifully set flowers. And maybe they will be all vaselined up, so they are just glowing and gorgeous. [both laugh]
I used to. I’d been pro for Familiar and it was an amazing company to skate for, but the owner moved to Portugal and couldn’t run the company from there. At the moment, Deluxe is putting me on flow for Antihero.
Yeah, I want to go there to meet all the dudes and see what it’s about.
Shout-out to Sam Clark for dealing with my bullshit for two months throughout Europe. I’d love to thank my boyfriend for dealing with my bullshit as well and I wanna thank you, Dallas Rockvam, for calling me on this really busy Saturday.