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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Updated: April 17, 6:04 AM ET
Benny Fairfax Interview


With all the good that's been coming his way, Benny's probably trying to figure out what's next.
I have a soft spot in my heart for British culture. I'm down for it. Like, I love The Young Ones, even though most people tend to grimace at the TV whenever I put it on. I'm stoked on Monty Python, intrigued by London slang, down for bangers and mash, Cadbury Flakes, BBC News ... you name it. When Benny hit me back with the answers to these questions, he was surprised and wrote, "You really did some research." But, for me, interviewing a Brit is always a pleasure and even more so when that Brit skates like Benny Fairfax. Over the past couple years, he's come back from a horrible ankle injury, only to remind everyone in The Battle at the Berrics how dang good he is, graduate into the pro ranks and leave people waiting on his part in Stereo's upcoming release A Journey through Sound. As far as I'm concerned, it'll be about as good as fifty Fridays at the pub sipping a Carlings Black Label with your mates (or so I'd guess; I've never had a Carlings Black Label at a pub on Friday with friends, but it's a real good beer and looks like something that's pretty epic in England, so Benny's part will probably be that tight).

So, you made it to the finals of the Battle of the Berrics. Was there any one game prior to the finals where you thought, "There's no way I can win this?"
Not really. I knew Ellington was gonna be a tough game.

Did you know anyone's weaknesses in the finals? Like PJ?
Well, in the practice he was following me around just doing every trick I was, so that gave me some idea

You were out for a while with your ankle injury. In the often short attention span of skateboard fans, I think a lot of people were reminded of just how good you are during the BATB. Almost like a second coming. Have you gotten that response at all?
Yeah, definitely, I think, also because so many people watched all the games.

What was your upbringing in the UK like?
I grew up in a little seaside village on the southwest coast of England called New Milton. Its pretty rural with not much going on. I spent the majority of my teenage years trying to figure out how to leave the place.

You were born in Ascot. Did you spend any time there ... go to a horse race ever?
Actually I did once as a kid. The hospital I was born in is right across the road from the racecourse.

Your hometown is New Milton, though. Correct? Tell me something about New Milton.
New Milton is a retirement town full of old people. I wouldn't recommend going there.

What would be a comparable town in the U.S., from your experience?
Hmm ... not sure if i've found one yet.

When you lived there, what did you do for entertainment? The Rydal Arms, The Old Barn, The Wheatsheaf, travel to Lymington to party or none of the above (Ed: I don't know any of these bars — I just got them off Wikipedia)?
Maybe the Rydal on a Friday night but other than that we'd travel to Bournemouth. Lots of student bars!

How would you describe the New Milton skatepark? Fun time? Or, certified piece of suck? You spend any time there?
I spent way too much time in that place. That's pretty much the worst park I've ever seen, but it was all we had so we made the best of it.

Is there a sort of woman around where you grew up to the west of London that's anything like an Essex girl?
Ha ha. Yeah, slappers like that exist all over England.

Could you explain, to those who don't know, what an Essex girl is, using whatever you deem to be the American equivalent?
Just think of that girl who's always in the bar and has hooked up with all your friends and their friends. After a few shots, she could be going home with anyone — that's an Essex girl.

So, when did you live in Anguilla? How old were you and how many years did you spend there? Were you skating then?
I lived out there from age 7 to 12. That was before I started skating.

Did you eventually make a move to London then, after living in Anguilla? Or, did you commute into the city?
Yeah, I moved back to New Milton. Then, eventually went to university in London. I lived 2 minutes from Southbank, the skatespot. It was hard to stay in class!

You made your connection with Stereo, meeting Jason Lee and Chris Pastras through WESC. But, how did you get involved with WESC originally?
Well it was only Mark Baines skating for WE in England and my shoe team manager put me in contact with the distributor and he sent me on a trip to Stockholm for a photo shoot and that's how I met all those guys.

Were you skating in the city and got hooked up? Did you skate in contests?
I skated it all as a kid. I preferred being in the streets, but I'd go to any contest they'd send me to. Contests in England are taken a lot less seriously. Everyone is pretty much mates.

How long did you live in London? Were you couch surfing or did you have a place?
For a few years, I had student halls of residence for just over a year. Then, I was couch hoppin', livin' in the Brixton Palace! Those were good times.

The UK has always produced good skaters. What's the scene like over there? Is it big? Is it small? Do people in the south know people from the north? Do people in a city like Liverpool skate with dudes in London or are the scenes isolated?
Everything to do with the English skate scene is smaller than in America, but it's sick. There are rippers coming up all over.

Have there been more spots popping up in London? Have you skated the new plazas there?
Every time I go back to London there's a new hot spot everyone is going to. I wish I got to go back more often.

Usually people from England are either into cricket or football. Are you a fan of either? If so, who's your team?
Football of course. Cricket's a bit of a toff's game. Southampton FC is my team.

Is there an easy way to explain cricket to an American without saying, "It's like baseball?"
Not really. It is sort of like baseball.

L.A. transplants skate L.A. spots. Benny back noseblunt transfers a ledge on 9th St. in downtown L.A.
Considering you're sponsored by adidas, a Euro company that sponsors football, you get any free perks getting into football?
I got to go to a Euro 2008 footy match between France and Romania in Switzerland. It was amazing. We had really good seats. The score was 0-0 but the atmosphere made up for that. Thanks, Jascha!

Although some pockets of the U.S. can be somewhat similar to the UK, it's very different. So, for those interested in understanding English slang, I'm going to ask you to explain some words often used in either London proper or greater England. Here it goes (all definitions taken from London Slang):

Gaff.
Your 'gaff' is like your home or your "crib."

Fanny Magnet.
Means the ladies can't get enough of you.

Anorak.
An anorak is like a jacket. (Ed: Benny's definition is correct, but it also used to mean "geek, nerd. A term that has been used since the '80s. An 'anorak' is always male, unfashionable and possibly a 'trainspotter.'")

Forrest Gump
Dunno (Ed: Slang for "dump").

Raspberry
Ha ha, just like a strawberry (Ed: It does mean "strawberry," as in a scrape on the side of your leg or it can in rhyming slang, as in "raspberry tart"... "fart." It can be used like, "Did you blow a raspberry?").

Do a runner.
To flee a scene ... break out from somewhere.

Pants!
Pants in England are underpants. The word trousers is used to describe what Americans call pants (Ed: This is true, but it was also used in the '90s as an exclamation of frustration or to describe something that sucks. It's sometimes used in the expression, "a load of old pants" or "complete pants.").

Khazi.
Did you make these up? (Ed: The Indian word for lavatory or bathroom. In the 2001 UK National Census, there were 1,051,800 people of Indian origin in the UK.)

Don't give a monkey's.
Couldn't care less.

Jack and Danny.
Dunno (Ed: Slang for "fanny").

Offie.
Liquor store (Ed: Term for "off-license," where they sell alcohol).

On the job.
At work or hooking up with a chick.

See you next Tuesday.
Self explanatory.

Being a skateboarder usually puts you in a different category, so do you use any of the proceeding expressions?
A few of them, yeah.

All right. Enough of that. When did you first come here and when did you start spending most of the year in the U.S.?
I first came to L.A. in November 2004 and I tried to be here as much as I could from then on.

Is there one thing that you miss more than anything about being in England?
My friends and family.

Would you live in L.A. if you weren't skating or is there another place in America where you could see yourself living?
I like L.A., but if I had the choice I definitely would be somewhere else.

I don't mean to discount your looks or charm, but — be honest — how many times do you think you've picked up a girl in the U.S. almost entirely on your accent?
Ha ha ... in all honesty, it happens pretty regularly.

After your injury and re-emergence via The Berrics games of SKATE, what do you have coming up?
Filming for the Stereo video is my main focus at the moment.

Is A Journey through Sound going to be an Internet release or a full video?
It'll be a full length video.

Does adidas have anything coming up?
They have a European video coming out this summer which will be really good. ... Look out for Lem Villemin and Chewy Cannon.