SMLTalk With: Abe Dubin

The Fancy Lad guys have always had a certain something about them. From their trick selection, to their always entertaining videos. We had Milwaukee transplant and friend of the site, Chris Botsch, chat with old friend Abe "Orange Man" Dubin about everything from his choice of clothing, to his new part debuting on the site. Thanks to Abe and Chris for getting the interview together, and Mike Decker for the video. Enjoy.

Mr. Abe Dubin

Mr. Abe Dubin

Whats up?

What’s good brotherrrr!

Let’s just start out with this – Why orange? Let us in on the origins of “ The Orange Man”

Where we grew up, South Shore Massachusetts, Route 53 is a long stretch of strip malls and car dealerships. Nestled between an ice cream shop and a Toyota dealership is a yellow house with two yellow trucks in the driveway. The rest of the yard is filled with yellow decorations including a yellow crucifix. This is Yellow Man’s home. Yellow Man is an eccentric, energetic, older man with long flowing white hair and long white beard who dons all yellow clothing. He can be found collecting cans along the auto-mile, riding his bike, driving his yellow pick-up, chatting with passersby or dancing on the side of the road.  He speaks in jokes and poetry.  He is goofy, witty and consistently a ray of sunshine. Coincidently, as if my some kind of mystical divine intervention, a man known as Red Man, paces the same auto-mile, passing by Yellow Man’s house on his daily march.  Red Man is a wide, barrel-chested man, who wears red sweatpants and a red crew neck sweatshirt.  His face is red and weathered from enduring the elements everyday of the harsh and unpredictable New England weather.  He suspects that he is under constant surveillance and suspects everyone of being one of the “Satellite People”.  Yellow Man represents the creative spirit, pure joy and the lust of life that we all have.  He is exuberant, fun and full of love, whereas Red Man represents rugged individualism and survival.  He is weary of modern culture and is a freedom fighter in a suburban wasteland. These men are both my heroes.

I’ve known you for over 10 years now- “pre-orange” if you will. When did you start skating and who were some of your early influences?

I started skating like most kids, around age 7, with a banana board from the local used sports store.  I had other interests, and skateboarding waned from my extra curricular activities until I was 14.  My little brother, Isaac, and all my neighbors suddenly were skating everyday out on the street.  They had “real” boards and were learning tricks that I didn’t even know existed. I could still ride and push so I got a board and joined them. I finally understood why my brother and our friends would try, without success, for hours to accomplish one trick.  The struggle of skating- overcoming fear and physical limitations, became the most fulfilling thing I’d ever experienced, and I’ve never stopped since then. The first videos I ever saw were The Search For Animal Chin and Welcome to Hell. I watched a lot of SK8-TV too, so the eighties and early nineties skaters had a huge impact on me.  The whole presentation, goofy tricks, wild fashion and the sense of humor all felt so relatable and free.  

Real quick. Gimme your top 5 favorite skaters from the South Shore.

Zacher with the unique moves, improvisational genius and unemulatable collapsible body bending.  Dave Darling with the unmatchable fury and massive bonelesses. Mike Decker with the diehard passion and ability to learn any trick he wanted, no matter how long it took. Chris Roe with the giant pop and beautiful sway of his switch-looking style. You, Chris Botsch, for the tech wizardry, infinite balance and spontaneous and fun-loving attitude.  

Aw, you’re too sweet. I recall you having a pretty heavy Alien Workshop/Habitat vibe going on as a teen. Other than FL, what are some companies that you’re into in 2017?                                                                                                                                                                                           
Nowadays there are a lot of small brands with a lot of creative influence.  I really enjoy the Polar videos, the art direction and spots are always a treat.  I’ve always been a big fan of Traffic Skateboards, all of those OG and younger east coast guys charging through the streets and powering through the crustiest spots. I Really admire the Japanese skaters involved with Magenta and Heroin. Takahiro Morito, Gou Miyagi and The Osaka Daggers are some of the most inspirational skaters to me.  Their uninhibited creativity and individuality is something you can’t get in the states.  

As far as Fancy Lad goes, how did you meet Big and get involved with the company?

I met Big, and the other Fancy Lads long before Fancy Lad existed, through my friend Mike Lindquist. We went to art school together and lived in the same dorms. We realized that each other skated, and soon were chilling in his dorm room, eating cheese balls, watching Tim and Eric (the show) on YouTube…and doing other illicit (but now legal) things that college students do. One day in 2011, in the middle of winter, Big told us he was starting a board company and that we were all the team riders.

Any good Fiske stories?

Any time spent with Fiske is a trip. I live with the guy now, so I’m a little desensitized to his unique worldview and often bizarre behavior.

Is there any process you have for your tricks? Is it more of a spur of the moment kind of thing (free form jazz style), or do you make a list of tricks you want to do?

Rather than write out a trick list, I often draw up detailed diagrams of the boards I want to build. They are like cartoon blueprints, labeling the specific supplies and tools necessary to create it. Sometimes I make comic strips, or dance step maps to wrap my head around how to execute the trick. I take pictures of spots on my flip phone and collect them as a spot rolodex. Other times, I head out with just my cruiser board and try to skate somewhere I’ve never been before. Cruising down a street for the first time ever, adapting to the cracks, carving little banks and negotiating any other obstacles in your way, as you see them for the very first time. That to me is true skateboarding. Like surfing, that immediate reaction to your environment and how you move through it, using what you’ve learned and what your body knows.  

"How about 'Humpy Dumpty sat on a Wallie' ?" - A.D

"How about 'Humpy Dumpty sat on a Wallie' ?" - A.D

If you could put anyone on the FL team, who would it be?

Hands down, Branden Leonardo, AKA Gnardo! If you haven’t seen his parts in Vic’s Market and Vic’s Market 2, you really need to treat yourself. The man is a genius.  Definitely my favorite skater.  He’s come to visit us from Washington twice now and he’s the best!

Do you feel as though Fancy Lad is shunned at all by the mainstream media of skateboarding?

I think that Fancy Lad is not exactly, commercially viable.  Fancy Lad, although it is a board company, is very different from almost every other capitalistic entity. The way that we skate and perform is meant to suggest that you can be whatever you want and whoever you want to be. I think most products are sold using tactics of coercion, i.e. “you need us to better a better you”.  We don’t follow the rules, and in every business and industry, there are rules.

When it comes to your skating, how do you take criticism? Is that something you like to read into, or no?

I love getting feedback. Positive feedback tickles my ego, but it’s the negative comments I am much more entertained by. Constructive, or not so constructive criticism can help me learn more about what it is that I’m doing, and what the audience’s expectations are. I try not to let either side go to my head. I’m very open to people’s critique if there is an open dialogue and a thoughtful conversation taking place. None of us can do anything alone, we need suggestions and helpful hints from the people we respect, strangers and the haters!

I know you have a background in illustration, so when it comes to creating boards- Is that something you like to draw out first, or do you just start drilling? For instance, with the wallride that was made of boards. Is that something you knew you wanted to do, or did you just happen to have a trunk full of old boards that day?

Right, so many of my tricks are drawn out beforehand, including the wall ride on boards. Drawing has always helped me envision things more clearly, especially with skateboarding. As complicated as it tends to be, making a visual representation really helps me in meditating on the tricks and bringing it to reality. The drawing is the first step in bringing the idea from the imagination to the physical realm.  

I don’t want you to let the cat out of the bag or anything, but is there a dream clip for you?

Every trick that I want to do starts as a dream, and so many of them have come true.  A lot of times I’m brainstorming or thinking about tricks, or special skateboards that intrigue me - suddenly I’ll think, “What if you could somehow…” From that moment I want the trick to happen. I’ll think about it all day, draw diagrams, find the perfect spot, gather the supplies with which to build it, choose a dope outfit to film it in, etc.. I treat nearly all of my tricks as my most important work.

You received the second pro model for FL this past year- How has your life changed since that fateful day?

Haha yeah… honestly I’m not sure how many people are aware that this pro model exists…or that Fancy Lad Skateboards exists for that matter. Someone asked me the other day, “You guys make boards?” What has happened since I got a pro board, well, it’s still kind of a shock. It is something I never ever expected or thought I could ever have. As a kid, I never even bothered dreaming about it. The fact that people are psyched enough for the board to exist is an honor. Having a board with my name on it, and for a company with all of my best friends, that is such an amazing honor.  Obviously I’m not your Street League contender pro, but the idea of what “pro skateboarder” means needs a serious make over.  

Abe's very appropriately designed board for Fancy Lad

Abe's very appropriately designed board for Fancy Lad

You once skated Eggs in a dress. What are some of the pro’s and con’s of skating in a dress?

Skating in a dress is not only a fashion “hell yeah”, it is extremely comfortable! It’s like skating in shorts, but three times as much breathability! Obviously, you have a lot less protection from your board hitting you, or falling on the ground and getting all scraped up.  

So how did this part come about? I know you grew up with Deck (Mike Decker), so did he approach you to film this part?

Yeah, I grew up skating with Mike Decker. We lived across the street from each other for about 12 years.  Mike has always been killing it on the streets, filming and editing our videos since we were little. He now does animation professionally and asked me to do a “day in the life” style edit, using my drawings as animated characters that inhabit the world of my imagination.  

You once told me that "walking is for suckers", and it's stuck with me to this day. How did you stumble upon this conclusion?                                                                                                           
I went to college in the city, and I quickly learned that walking, although great for you in so many ways, is such a slow way to get around. I had always skated around the city, but discovering biking, and the time it saves, the exercise you get, and the fun you have- there is just no substitute. Especially as skaters, we might as well use the skills that we've been practicing our entire lives. Skate to the store, or work- it’s so much efficient and fun. Realistically, riding any kind of self-propelled vehicle is going to be so much faster and easier on your ankles! You gotta coast through life!

What’s next for Abe “Orange Man” Dubin? Is there a new fancy lad video in the works?

I’m always thinking of my next trick, and tricks add up. We’re all currently trying to bust out another Fancy Lad full length video, set to premiere at the end of spring. I hope you can make it brother! I hope you can all make it.