STREET MEMO - Alyssa Maxwell
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’m proud to present the Alyssa Maxwell Street Memo. Earlier this month I got an opportunity to talk to Alyssa about her experiences with the female queer skate scene, rediscovering her passion for skateboarding, and the new ventures she has going on in the community with @nolaskateclub. I even got an opportunity to talk about her opinion on Mongo pushing. So without further delay, here’s: STREET MEMO - Alyssa Maxwell.
STREET MEMO - Alyssa Maxwell
Interview by: Stephen Serrano
Since you've been back in New Orleans what's been your experience with the female queer skate scene?
At first I felt like it was nonexistent, like when I came back out here meeting up with Adam Laudin, I only saw myself here. There were more kids, though, which is always a plus. I didn't see any other females except for his girlfriend Aimee. Then a couple of weeks later I ran into a couple other females, new beginners, and I saw some beacon of hope.
Alyssa at Parisite
I was like, okay, New Orleans changed a little bit. I saw a lot of female skaters in Austin, so it was kind of exciting to see some new fresh faces. It wasn't until during the pandemic that a whole bunch of females, mostly college kids, were starting to skate.
My friend Maci was like, “Hey, come to the skate park, there's a whole bunch of, female queer skaters that are trying to learn how to skate and they need a coach.” And I'm like, all right. So I wasn't really skating hardcore at that time, so I was like, I'll come show up. I'm really grateful that I did because it's honestly where it's pushed me the past couple of years to just find my love for skateboarding again and just keep pushing and reaching out to people.
So what started out small during the pandemic grew to I think at one point we might of had like, I don't know, 30 or 40 female or queer skaters just coming to hang out on a Sunday.
I tried to empower them and instill, skateboarding into them. A lot of them, I'd say half stuck with it. But you know what? That's skateboarding. You know, it's either for you or it's not, you know? But it was really exciting to watch the community just grow. And then from there, everyone helped allow us to grow and the community and for acceptance, I guess.
Alyssa, Ollie with style, 2022, Photo: Larry Blossom
When did move back to New Orleans from Austin?
I think it was January 2018. Austin just wasn't doing it for me, so I came back home.
Do you think Warren Day's skating influenced you at all?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I still don't have back 180 Noseblunts, but he always made sure to remind me to just give no fucks and just fuck the haters and skate for yourself. He always reminded me of that.
Alyssa, Ollie the whole pyramid, mid 2000’s
What's the best thing you can think of that's different from the past for female queer skaters?
What I like to see is the change in how the representation is for the culture of women and queers. We now have more competitions and a lot of female skateboarding. You were only recognized if you were killing competitions, like the Leticia Bufoni’s, they win everything, so she has the biggest footprint. Back then, competitions, they were just kind of glazed upon, nobody really cared but it was important for, you know, us female skaters because that's the only way we were going to get representation or possibly sponsorship.
So what I like to see now is just how many more contests there are and how accessible they are and that they do allow the queer skating, well it's all in mesh now. It's not just, you know, white and black. The tides are changing, especially with the Olympics and a lot of skaters in general coming out or just giving their story. And I think it's because that culture has shifted into just allowing all walks of life to come enjoy this sport, without having to deal with a lot of the bullshit that a lot of others came up with, you know?
Do you remember your first kickflip?
Actually, I do remember. So when I was learning how to kickflip, I couldn't stay over the board. I always had to turn. So I learned how to sex change, sorry, not PC anymore. But I always had those and I remember telling myself one summer I'm going to get this kickflip. I don't know how many kickflips I kicked but it took me all day and I finally landed one at my dad's friend's birthday party. I was the only weird kid, in the garage making noise. I landed it and I remember that moment of I finally did it, you know? I couldn't wait to show my neighbor friends because they were guys and they couldn't do one yet. I was ready to be like, check out what I can do. I think I was 11 when I landed my first kickflip. I was already skating, hardcore for, a year. Yeah, it took me a year.
Alyssa, Kickflip @ Parisite
Unfortunately, you dealt with a lot of toxic masculinity in your past skateboarding in the south. What do you think communities can do to empower women and queer skaters?
It's a slow process in certain communities, especially our scene. It's kind of small, we don't have all the resources like some bigger cities that have huge skate scenes and have all the resources to just be like, let's throw together an event and like, 50 to 100 women and queers come to skate, we're so small. So I definitely think just, we just gotta keep reaching out to people and making space for ourselves.
Pride Skate Parisite Event 2021
Especially like what Phil has been doing for the Crescent Skate Crew is that, any time there's a competition that he's holding here at Parasite, he always makes sure to be like, “Hey, do you guys want to have something? And what's your input?” I think it's great because it's what needs to happen. Since the skate scene is kind of small right now in New Orleans, we have to be able to cater to what's here and empower the women and queers that are here.
Monique & Phillip , drying the ground @ Parisite
Also I think, honestly, just safe space and feeling welcome. At that point, I think things will just snowball and grow naturally. Just even since I started the Crescent Skate Crew Instagram, there's been just an outpouring of love for it and the queer community and just even female skaters or even parents that I have met with coaching their kids and stuff. They think it's great to see a platform used for marginalized skaters. In the past, maybe, decade, five years, I feel like the non-traditional skateboarding is starting to just snowball and grow. I think little grass root movements like this can really just impact any city, of any kind. So I think it's great that I was able to play a part in that, for a lot of the people in the city and I want to continue to help because I didn't have that growing up.
So when did you meet Amy Caron?
So we randomly met Amy here at Parasite. This was, I think it was March 2020. No, no, no. March 2021. Her girlfriend was scoping out the skatepark for her and she got in our group chat for the Crescent Skate Crew and she posted this long thing like, “Oh, my girlfriend, she's a retired pro skater, she's looking to come skate.” And I was like, retired pro skater, hold up. And I remember texting my friends like, I think I know who it is. I did some digging, and I was like, It's Amy Caron. And everyone's like, “Who's Amy Caron” And I was like, Y'all are killing me, that was like one of my heroes growing up because I identified with her. I knew she was gay. It was just clear as day, and that's how I felt inside. So when she got here, it was really cool to just kind of like have a similar story as hers. She was a pro, she skated X games, medaled and all these things. She had something similar with me, my story, just dealing with sexism and just the gross skate culture at the time, trying to have fun and just being knocked down every which way, you know.
But we're actually friends now and it's actually pretty great because like, if you would have told, you know, 15 year old Alyssa, you'd be really good friends with Amy Caron in your thirties, she'd be like, “Oh, shut the fuck up.”
Amy Caron, Photo: @burnout
What's your opinion on certain skate culture faux pas like pushing mongo, mall-grabs and things like that?
I can't hate on the mall grab because I find myself doing it sometimes. But I will say Mongo, it's got to go. You gotta have some better skate… What is the word I'm looking for? Habits. Like, every time I see someone push mongo, I'm like, should try it this way. You don't push that way. It's not cool.
What’s been your most favorite thing in general about skateboarding since you've been back?
You know I can't say that my skating is a little bit different than what it was back then, it's a lil less aggressive. Honestly, just reconnecting with old friends that I skated with on the North Shore, people that I may have met, you know, back in the Waveland days at the king of the park, like Jordan and stuff like that. Just reconnecting with all the homies again. Just them supporting me and in small incremental ways that just drive me to keep doing better for myself, my skating and all my friends that are skating.
I'm momma bird, I just want everyone to just have a good time and feel safe and keep going. And some of the old friends are giving me that , giving me a safe space so that I can create something for others, you know? And I think that's just important and I love doing it. I care. I care about all walks of life. And so, yeah, I mean, it's not so much my skateboarding, it's the community that I never really had growing up. So to have it now, it feels really good.
What's some advice you give to up and coming female and queer skaters?
Just skate. Just keep skating. Don't let any man or any just anyone in general tell you how you need to be doing something. Just approach skateboarding for yourself.
It's an art, like no one's telling you how to draw. You know what I mean? Just be yourself. Find friends that you can relate with to keep pushing you. Because I think the thing about skateboarding, especially when you first start out, is you got to have that one friend that just eggs you on and pushes you, you know, because if you're doing it by yourself all the time, you're just like, "Oh, I don't know, I can't do that."
But if you have that one friend that's just constantly like , “you could jump off that”, they just keep pushing, but honestly, just skate. Don't worry about anyone else because it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's your skateboard, it's you doing it, it's your skills and who gives a shit if you ever get sponsored or win a contest. That's not what skateboarding is. You know what I mean? Skateboarding is in your heart. It's poetic. It's art. And it is what you make of it. So fuck the haters. That’s all I can keep saying. Because it's so true though, you know?
Alyssa on the come up, mid 2000’s
Who’s your favorite skater right now or a couple favorites?
Okay. Well, I think right now who I'm really feeling she skates for vans, Fabiana Delfino, I just love watching her skate. Like, how she skates transition, it's what I wish I could do on transition. She's just flawless. She's a fucking badass, like, she's hardcore. I guess runner up would be Nora, she's just cool as fuck. So meeting her and like, knowing her personality and how she skates, she's just like a rad fucking human, you know? So she's probably number two right now.
We see that you've been doing a lot in the community right now, what exactly do you got going on?
Currently, we're starting a skate clinic for kids and it's going to be called Nola Skate Club. My friend Annie and I started it and kind of just saw a need that a lot of kids want to learn how to skate, but no one knows where to start. And as you know, I started coaching during the pandemic and not everybody can afford that luxury. So when I met Annie, we had a very similar goal and values of how we see skateboarding and what it can potentially do to impact a child's life, we both got stoked on it.
We came up with Nola Skate Club and the goal is to have a free clinic, in each different part of the city and different neighborhoods so that it gives a chance for, all kids, of all walks of life, to have fun. We'll have skateboards for them, so no one will feel left out. So we're going to start with that. See how it goes with that and it could be something bigger later on, I don't know, but we're going to start it. We're starting small, gathering some data and hopefully we can have some fun with some kids and change some lives. Yeah, I'm excited about it, seeing a little kid smile when they get on a board feels good.
Nola Skate Club Flyer, go follow @nolaskateclub
Thank you, by the way. And do you have any last words? Got any shout outs? Anything like that?
Shout out to Phil at Humidity for welcoming me with big arms and to the NOLA skate community. Second is Earl with GULF skateboards for hooking me up. Other ones would be my good friends that keep pushing me along like, Kelsey, Maci, Monique and Larry Blossom, without them I don't know if I even would've skated with everyone during the pandemic at first I just wasn't feeling it, so big shout out to them for pushing me and getting me back out here. Getting me back on my board and just reminding me that skateboarding is fun. That’s it.
STREET MEMO - Alyssa Maxwell
Interview By: Stephen Serrano