Benny Fairfax 'CoverStories' interview from Sidewalk 200

Ayumi Powell

From Sidewalk 200 – May 2013

 

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Benny Fairfax
Sidewalk issue 81 : June 2003
Cover photo: Horse

 

 

This cover, (your first) is from the summer of 2003 – what was going on in your life a decade ago?
- I was living in Waterloo and going to Southbank Uni, enjoying my first taste of freedom away from my hometown!

This 5050 photo is from a trip to Malaga to finish off the first Sidewalk vid, what do you remember about the process of shooting this photo and off that trip in particular?
- Yeah that trip was sick! If I remember rightly the crew was Horse, Chez, Zak, Stalks, Frank, Grove, Vaughan, Magee and maybe another old Blueprint rider. All I can remember about shooting that photo is that loads of little kids had just got out of school and they were in the way, and I had to dodge some kind of pillar or post just after the landing.

Isn’t this the trip where Horse threw Dan Magee into a swimming pool for pulling his kegs (and duds) down in public and exposing his little man to the Spaniards?
- (Laughing), yeah and I think the pool was freezing as well!

It feels like we never really got to do that much stuff with you in the mag because you came up pretty quick, filmed the In Motion part and then got on Stereo and disappeared to America – how has ‘living the dream’ been?
- It’s been amazing! I’ve been to so many places, met so many rad people and had experiences I’ll always remember, all thanks to skateboarding. I’m very grateful!

Did you ever have words with Chez for using that cross-dressing anthem for your section?
- (Laughing), no I didn’t. I was just happy to film a section.

So how exactly did you go from riding for Clown with Chroliver, Woody and Skipp to nollie heelflipping the Santa Monica triple-set? Did you get the famed ‘phone call from Jason Lee’?
- Well I met Jason and Chris in Sweden on a Wesc trip while I was still skating for Clown and skated with him for a couple days. They mentioned that they were starting up their company again and asked if I was interested. I didn’t really know who Jason was if I’m honest! I knew about Stereo though and I was always hyped on Carl Shipman…

You were on adidas first though, right? How did that happen?
- No I got on adidas in ‘06. Bryce Kanights hit me up and said he was putting a team together and flew me up to SF to hang out and go skate and it kind of went from there. The f*cked up thing that happened was that about three or four weeks after I got my first box of shoes, I was out filming with Jason Hernandez and I dislocated my ankle and snapped my leg in three places. I had surgery, was on crutches for six months and didn’t really step on a board for a year or so. Fortunately, adidas was really cool about it and gave me the chance to recover and come back.

Riding for the three stripes looks like being an all round good time – European-based despite US pros, lots of trips, Mark Gonzales, Chewy and generally a way more mellow approach than you’d maybe expect from a mainstream sports brand – what are your favourite memories from your time with them?
- Ah too many good memories to pick just one! We’ve been on so many rad trips! Brazil was a sick one, we got to take a couple days off skating to surf and hike up to a Tarzan style rope swing in the rain forest!

Aside from the traditional route of skate mag coverage and video parts, you’re also somebody who has benefitted from Internet skate-fame. How much effect do you think coming second in the first BATB has had on your life? Or, to put it another way – where would you be without nollie hardflip reverts?
- Well I still get a lot of kids trying to play me at SKATE, wherever I go! They always play dirty too! Double flips and shit!

What do you remember about that night? Did you get wrecked afterwards?
- Yeah, myself and a couple of mates got a lift from the Berrics to our local bar at the time in the boot of Jeron Wilson’s SUV! The rest is a bit of a blur!

That’s not the first online prize you’ve won either is it? You and Toddy won that Redbull thing – that was like 10G’s too wasn’t it? Have it Tony Hawk…
- Yeah, Toddy and I got 10g’s in cash in a bag from Clyde Singleton! Toddy told me he got back to London and showered his bird in $100 bills!

 

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You were a bit of a comp dog though back in the day, right?
- Yeah I used to really enjoy taking a contest run! Not so much anymore though, I’d rather be in the streets!

Chroliver’s in this issue too, his cover is that f*cked up rail in Italy: you and him are deep right? Tell us what you can remember about that Clown trip, Chris’ 5050 and just the Jinjah one in particular.
- Yeah I’ve known Chrissy forever, he has always been such a good skater. That was the last Clown trip I went on and that rail was f*cking insane! Long, steep, round a corner and with a water hazard at the landing! He has always been up for jumping on a hairy set up like that…

How long have you been living in the States for? Where feels like home over there?
- I’ve lived in the States for pretty much 10 years. I haven’t been in California for about a year now, I have been permanently on the road! I like it that way; it’s hard for me to stay in one place for too long. Last winter I was in Australia and now I’m back in Europe for the summertime.

You’re back over in the UK now – how come? Are you staying or is it an extended break?
- Yeah I’m just back visiting some fam and skating with the PWBC!

Am I allowed to ask if you’re on Palace yet? Or are we still pretending that’s not happening?
- (Laughing), yeaaaah!! It’s happening!! PWBC takeover!!

What was your first skate photo ever printed in a mag?
- My first photo was a nollie heel by Horse at the Alex Moul/Tom Penny stairs in Oxford.

What’s your favourite Sidewalk cover from over the years and why?
- I’m gonna go with the Chrissy 5050 in Italy because I saw it go down and I know how gnarly it was!

You’ve been a part of the UK scene and lived and skated within the Cali skate industry universe so give us the benefit of your perspective: what does skateboarding as a whole seem like to you these days?
- That’s a deep one! I know a lot of people say this, but I try not to pay attention to the ‘skate industry’. There’s so much crap out there these days, keeping up to date with all that’s going on is a full time job and I’d rather be enjoying myself…

What about the UK scene/industry?
- To tell the truth I’m out of the loop! There are a lot of skaters and companies I’ve never seen before. Gotta do my homework!

Why does traditional skateboard culture still matter in a world where anyone can be a Facebook hero with minimum effort?
- Who gives a f*ck about a Facebook hero? Gimme a 30ish pro from the 90’s that has good style and works for his tricks any day! That’s what I wanna see! Carroll, Ellington, Reynolds and Mariano are a few favs!

What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read about yourself on the Internet?
- I try not to read Internet skate comments!

Can you imagine a life without skateboarding?
- Yeah of course! No one can skate forever and there are plenty of other things in life to make you happy.

 

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Kickflip. Photo: Sam

 

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