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8 Pro Skateboarders With Surprising Side Hobbies

8 pro skaters with surprising side hobbies

Yes, skateboarding is a lifestyle. And yes, it seems like almost every interview that asks "So what do you do besides skateboarding?" gets an answer like "Oh, you know. Just chill. Hang out with friends." Which--don't get me wrong--is super cool and well-deserved.

But also, I want to give a shoutout to 8 pro skateboarders who have side hobbies (or second lives, in some cases) that will almost definitely surprise you.


1. Peggy Oki: Origami Whales

It would be irresponsible to call this a "side hobby"--hence the "second lives" comment above. Peggy Oki, one of THE original Z-Boys of Dogtown, has spent more than 25 years saving the whales--and dolphins. Her organization, the Origami Whales Project (OWP) advocates for these cetaceans via "visually powerful public Environmental Art projects" worldwide. 

The most iconic of these is certainly the Curtain of 38,000 Origami Whales--a crowdsourced memorial for "the thousands of individual whales killed since the 1986 ban on commercial whaling." This curtain is updated every year with 2,000 more origami whales (representing the number of whales reported killed in a year), made by concerned citizens around the world. 

peggy oki


2. Tony Hawk: Former Violinist

Turns out Tony Hawk wasn't always so clear on his life path of skateboarding. As a violinist until about age 11, he remembers enjoying the instrument and playing concerts outside of school--but after a while, he told the NY Times, "It was really impeding my skate time."

Interviewer John Branch asked Hawk about the last time he played a violin--Hawk responded, "I tried to about a year ago. I took a few lessons, and I realized, like, I can’t just jump back on the horse. And I don’t want to learn from scratch. It’s too hard."

But when asked if he thought a great violinist was more impressive than a great skateboarder, Hawk responded, "I really wouldn’t want to compare one to another. They both take incredible discipline and passion. And they both lend themselves to a lot of creativity."

tony hawk


3. Don "Nuge" Nguyen: Classic Rock

Famed skateboarder Don "Nuge" Nguyen doesn't just shred at the skatepark--he also shreds on bass.

He and some buddies (Figgy and Frecks [Sean Stewart]) started their classic rock band, Arctic, back around 2012. "Figgy lives down by the beach. That’s where we jam, at his house," Nguyen told interviewer Maya Eslami, for What Youth Magazine.

"Five bands practice there and have all their gear there. I have a Greco. A Japanese remake of the SG but it’s the full-scale one. It’s from ’76. I love that thing...I’ve been playing bass for 10 years or something."

Nguyen also sings backup vocals, according to another interview with CHPO Brand

Rock on!


4. Beatrice Domond: Learning Hebrew

Beatrice Domond is a skater who's badass in a hundred other ways, and she also responded to CHPO's "What do you do besides skate?" question with something kind of unexpected--

"I’m learning Hebrew right now, I just got the alphabet down. It’s pretty hard starting from scratch and that it’s not words, it’s symbols. But It’s cool though, and challenging."

Judging by her Instagram handle, she's definitely got the alphabet down. Language-learning in your spare time--go, Beatrice!


5. Miles Silvas: Vintage Thrifter

Sometimes skaters will talk about an intriguing hobby in a single interview, and then they'll never bring it up again with anyone else. That's what happened with Miles Silvas and his Thrasher interview, when he revealed he's a bit of a vintage thrifter:

"I try to just kick it, go to the river, go to little markets... Downtown boutique-style stuff--try to find cool stuff...I'm always looking for rings or random little vintage knickknacks. Old paintings or cool stuff for the house."

Will this ever come up again? Who knows. Maybe Silvas has a secret Pinterest board, or an IG account where he documents his findings.


6. Jay Haizlip: Pastor

Another pro skater who falls hard into the "second life" category, Jay Haizlip renounced his partying ways and became...a pastor? And then started a church called The Sanctuary. Here's an excerpt from his interview with Risen Magazine:

"The way I started our church, [The Sanctuary], it wasn’t even the way I wanted to start it. I started with a handful of broken, struggling people, the last people you’d normally want to start a church with...

We started the church in November of 2002. The first five years we were in six different locations. Setting up, tearing down, setting up, and tearing down. I got tired and it got old. We grew little by little, but when we bought our building four-and-a-half years ago, it was like the lid blew off in terms of growth. The church grew about 500 percent in three years."

He says there are also a ton of ex-skaters on the church staff with him, and that he didn't plan it that way--it just kind of happened.


7. Tommy Guerrero: Musician

Tommy Guerrero, notable skateboarder and a member of the Bones Brigade, is also an acclaimed composer and musician. His stuff is all entirely instrumental, and he's released 13 albums, and licensed music to the TV shows Queer As Folk, Sex in the City and CSI: Miami. His albums are critically acclaimed, too--a reviewer for Germany's edition of Rolling Stone called his 2003 album, "Soul Food Taqueria," the second-best album of the year.

In an interview with KQED, Guerrero spills his thoughts about music: 

“Instrument-only music is super-universal,” Guerrero says. “You don’t have the barrier of language when you’re crossing different cultures. Everyone can dig what I do, without having to know how to speak (English)."


8. Stacy Peralta: Director



Plenty of skaters start out filming parts for themselves or their friends at skate parks, but how many become full-blown directors? 

Peralta is best-known for his documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which racked up awards at AFI Fest, the Denver International Film Festival, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival. 

After Dogtown, Peralta moved on to Riding Giants, another award-winning film about the origins of big-wave surfing, and then directed Crips and Bloods: Made In America; a look at the history of gang violence.

Peralta has also directed heartfelt documentary commercials for companies like Budweiser, Burger King, Holiday Inn, and Mass Mutual Insurance.


Photo credit: TedXQueenstown//John Rawlinson//Marc Dalmuder


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