The Follow Up: Manny Santiago

MannySantiago TitleHeelflip crook on Sylmar's most famous stairs

Interview by Paul Rodriguez
Photos by Luis Ferrá

In his 20s, Manny was pushing nollie flips to new heights and handrail tricks further than most had imagined. Now in his 30s, he’s still at it like time doesn’t affect him. Manny sits down with P-Rod to discuss his fresh part full of new moves on well-covered California terrain and breaks down the unbelievable tale of refilming a trip's worth of stolen clips.

Manny makes his mark on Clipper, Hollywood High, Sylmar and more. Just watch

So, Manny, you’re releasing your video part California. I’ve never seen anyone approach a video part like you have in this sense. I’ve watched a lot of it go down, but I think you should take the moment here to explain to the audience what the whole idea behind it is.
Well, the reason why I called it California is because we couldn’t go anywhere due to COVID. We were skating a lot, but just not going street skating ‘cause we had to stay inside. I had released a video part called June First, just to get everybody super hyped online, to put something fun out with the friends. Then I realized after I put out that project, although it was cool and fun and had a couple good tricks in it, it’s not ultimately what I wanted to put out to showcase my skating, since I hadn’t put out a part in a while. From watching video parts every morning I got super hyped on working on a part. Sometimes you go back to the video parts that motivate you and get you super hyped, and those videos were the ones that I watched before coming to California for the first time in the early 2000s. Which, to me, is the best era of skateboarding to date, maybe because that’s what I grew up watching. So the concept part is spots I grew up watching in California before I stepped foot in California.

Hollywood12 HeelflipLip FerraPhotoHeelflip front lip on Hollywood 12 wasn't even conceivable in the early 2000’s—hell, it still ain’t!

MannySantiago Pullquote 2
I like that. But not just any spots.
No, it had to be the iconic spots, ‘cause back in the early 2000s when you came to California, you had to prove yourself. You couldn’t just be in the game and not do a trick at certain spots. You had to go to Hollywood 12 or Hollywood 16; you had to go to Clipper; you had to go to Santa Monica triple set. You had to go to all these iconic spots that kind of put your name in the game, like you left your skin at the spot or put your name on the trick list. The part was based around that but also being able to envision what a part for me at that time would have looked like. That’s why I chose to go to all of these iconic spots and tried to do a trick that no one’s done yet. ‘Cause also, you can’t do ABDs at spots—it don’t work that way.

You even resurrected a couple spots, yeah?
Yeah. So we did a lot of research and we brought back a couple spots. I can’t say that I did it but, you know, but obviously I did it. We had to deknob spots and fix spots and grind bolts out and Bondo. For me it’s like whatever—by all means necessary. Whatever it took to get the spot so I can get the clip.

Holmes NollieHeelNose FerraPhotoNollie heel noseslide through the knob scars

I wanna talk about the epic San Francisco trip, because people need to know the story. So you guys went on a trip to San Francisco. How long were you there?
We were there for a total of I wanna say seven days. The first day I’d taken off since I’d driven down from Oregon, ‘cause I had to see my son.

So once you were there for the first four days, you have a checklist of tricks you wanna get and you get 'em. And then what happens?

So we get all the clips that we had in mind. At that point it was like six clips including skating Clipper.

Manny Santiago Pull quote Not only did my window break but then Mike crashes the car
That’s six clips in four days, like bangers?
Yeah. And then Spanish Mike’s car had a problem, so he had to bring his car to the dealership which extended our stay an extra four days which we didn’t plan for. We had to book a new Airbnb, too. So we realized instead of staying out of the city we should stay in the city for a second after the trip, which meant we had to pack our bags and kill some time before we could check into the next Airbnb. Then we were like, Oh, let’s do something touristy, since a couple of the guys hadn’t been to SF. Let’s take them somewhere cool. So we went to the park where all the Full House houses are. We’re chilling there and just hanging, the car’s really close. We’re just having a good time drinking some Trulys, listening to some Lauren Hill. And then next thing you know, Johnny Hernandez walks over and he tells me that my window’s broken and that’s where everything hit the fan. Mike starts to have a panic attack, literally turns pale white, runs to the car, realizes the backpack with the hard drive is gone, which is all our footage we’d just gotten in four days. He’s apologizing, he’s short of breath, he’s on the ground, he’s breathing really deep and at that point I had to kinda calm the situation down and I told Mike, “Look, it’s just footage. It’s okay. We can get them all back. I need you to calm down. The last thing I need is for you to have a heart attack here in the park.” So once we calmed everyone down we made an effort to try to find the people that stole the stuff, but it didn’t work. I told Mike, “Let’s recover everything equipment-wise that we need before we check into the Airbnb.” So we go get the chargers that we need and another new hard drive. At that point it was getting really late, but eventually we got someone to come fix the window. We drive to the Airbnb, the guy shows up and fixes the window, then we go inside. Right after, Mike comes back inside and he’s freaking out. I’m telling him “Mike, yo, we’re gonna get all this footage back but I need you to stay calm.” And he looks at me and he’s like “I just crashed your car.” So not only did my window break but then Mike crashes the car. I go outside and I start laughing. He’s freaking out and I’m like “Mike, it’s okay. It’s just a car. It’s just a hard drive. it's no big deal.

Bundy Hubba Heelflip Front 5050 Ferra PhotoYou gotta have a cool head to step up to this Heelflip 50-50 

It’s a hard drive with all the footage you planned on getting on the trip.
Yeah. I told Mike, “Look, I just need everybody to stay calm. The car’s fixed, we got everything we needed and we’re gonna wake up early tomorrow and go ahead and start the checklist all over again.”

So you guys had what, another two days?
Yeah, two days. So we wake up at 7 AM and drive straight to Sacramento.

Wait, before you keep going, tell me the list of the tricks that you had on the hard drive that got stolen and then made it in this video part.
I did front shove nose manny nollie tré on Pier 7. I did a line at the double set under the awning that Arto does a switch tré on. What’s the name of that school? Novato High. I did a varial heel 5-0 Clipper. I did a manual trick in Sacramento. I front shove feebled the San Juan rail and then a couple other things that I can’t really remember. But I know there was like one more thing. Luckily, though, Mike had sent the front shove nose manny nollie tré high res to Kev to check out and approve, so we had that one and I didn’t have to go back to Pier 7.

Thrasher Follow UP Manny Santiago Pullquote Man I gotta Varial Heel 5-0 this thing again?
So you had at least five tricks that you had already filmed on the hard drive that got stolen that now you’re like, Fuck it, let’s go back and do ‘em?
Yeah, so we started off at the manual pad around 9 AM. I warm up, do the fakie three shove switch manual. It’s on the rock manual pad that Jeron Wilson does the nollie laser flip manual. Another concept of the part was to film the tricks really similar to the video parts that we grew up watching. Then after I did that, I was like, “You know what, Mike? Let’s get a complimentary trick fisheye.” ‘Cause you had done switch tré manual and it was filmed fisheye in something else and Jeremy did nollie 180 heel switch manny, but I liked the way it looked fisheye. So then I did three shove nose manual and we ended up with two clips. Then we go to the San Juan rail, where I end up doing front shove feeble better than I did the first time and faster. We go to Folsom High 11. When we get there I just jump down the eleven. I already had two sessions and I was like, Okay, we just gotta push through. I’m gonna do the varial heel down this. I hit up Miles to make sure certain tricks hadn’t been done; I was doing my research. I get there, do the varial heel, get super hyped. Then I ran down to the bottom of that school where there’s like a shotgun rail. I ended up getting three clips on that for something else. So at that point I’d gotten seven tricks the first day. Then we drove back and the next day I was obviously going back to Clipper so I just relaxed, kept my mind fresh. I told Mike, “We’re gonna get up early and go straight to Clipper, get the clip and go home.” But we get to Clipper and I’m like, Man, I gotta varial heel 5-0 this thing again? Took a couple slams warming up but I knew I was gonna do it ‘cause at that point I had no choice. I had the mentality that I had no choice, because I didn’t want to drive all the way back to try that again. I end up doing the varial heel 5-0 better than I did the first time. Then we went straight to the dealership. We didn’t even stay the extra night. We went straight to the dealership, got Mike’s car and drove back to LA.

Thrasher Magazine Follow Up Manny Santiago Sylmar Heel Crook Celebration Ferra Photo Cropped
That’s what I’m talking ‘bout!
So in two days I got nine clips.

Two days you not only got all the clips back that you did the first time but then you added a few extra.

Essentially in one day. The second day was just Clipper.
Yeah, facts. I feel like when you set your mind to something so bad and you put yourself against the ropes, there’s no turning back at that point. Like I had made a promise to myself that I was gonna film my version of an era that I admired so much in skating and there was no way that I couldn’t be done by a certain timeframe. Whenever I said I was gonna do a trick, 99 percent of the time I went and did it. And you were witness to that because you’d always be like, “Damn, you already got the clip?” And I was like “Yep, on to the next.”

It was very inspiring for me. You said you dropped something else in June. When did you start filming for this part?
It was two to three weeks or a month after that. So let’s say I started filming this part in July. You gotta think, too, we’re held to such a high standard that when you put stuff out that you’re not truly happy with, you wanna push yourself. We’re also in a generation where we’re pushing the envelope for skaters as time goes on and they can still be able to do crazy tricks. Like you don’t have to slow down when you think you should. There’s still more time and there’s still more tricks to be done. And I feel like it’s up to us to show kids also that there’s a lot of levels to skating. There’s the fun skating that’s cool, but then there’s the progressive skating. It’s very motivational. I feel like skateboarding has given us so much so it’s only right that we give something back for skating.

TustinRail NollieHeelBack5050 FerraPhoto TSNollie Heel backside 50-50 is certainly that progessive skating

And when did you end filming?
A little into February, so it was six or seven months.

Seven months of filming a part that I would say is probably the best part of your life.
Yeah, thus far.

Willoughby Heelflip50 FerraPhotoHeelflip frontside 5-0 at 35 is a bonafide NBD

And we come from a generation where you take two or three years to film a part.
Yeah, facts.

And now, at 35 you’re getting it all done.
Actually it was five months, ‘cause I was in Puerto Rico for a whole month.

So Spanish Mike just got here, he’s about to ask a question.
Spanish Mike: Why was filming so easy for you for this video part?
Because my squad was heavy. I was laced skating with you, Paul and the boys, and I felt like the ball was in my court and I had to hold it down for the squad. And now one thing that people don’t know is that Mr. Paul right here is about to put out something crazy. So he’s up next.

750 Manny Santiago FrontShove Nosegrind SequenceHoldin' down the squad with a heelflip frontside nosegrind

SM: You saw the part, Paul, what’s your favorite trick? A majority of it is inspired by a lot of your skating.
P-Rod: So what I would say is, I’ve seen the part and all the tricks are amazing. The one that right now that is standing out the most is the moment where we were getting kicked out and were in a rush. It was the double set with the frontside flip over the double set rail. The old Bed Bath and Beyond double set. We were there, it was all fenced off, it was about to be under construction. We got there and I was like, Oh shit, we’re probably not gonna skate it, it's all fenced up. Shit, that sucks, ‘cause I wanted to try some tricks. Then we get there and I look at it. I’m rolling up and I’m warming up slow and you just already ollie it. I’m like, Fuck, alright. So I’m just trying to warm up. Eventually I start ollieing it. I ollied a couple times and then you’re already like 180ing over the rail and I’m like, Shit, this boy’s focused. Then the security guard comes out and is like, “Hey you guys need to go. I’m calling the cops.” So in my head I’m like, Alright, we gotta go. We tried. And you’re like, “Wait, come on; film it.” And you just started throwing the frontside flip out and catching it. The security guard’s like, “Come on, you gotta go," I just stopped ‘cause I’m like, I’m not gonna force myself to warm up and throw a trick out right now during this situation. Then three tries, four tries later, frontside flip—catch, land, boom. Everyone cheers and we head out with the clip. We come back to the house, hop in the jacuzzi like we’re doing now and the rest is history. So there you go, folks. There you have it. Get off your ass and get some clips.

VenturaBlvdDub FrontsideFlip FerraPhoto 2000 TSSketchy filmers, cops on the way... nothing can distract him from his frontside flip focus. Keep slayin' 'em, Manny!

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