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Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Beatrice Domond

Never have I ever, in my years of interviewing, had a subject themselves reach out to confirm our appointment. But the day before we were due to meet, I got a text from ‘maybe: Beatrice’: ‘Hey, just making sure tomorrow at noon is still good for you?’ A small move, yes, but undoubtedly a Beatrice one: she proceeds with purpose, cuts out all the fat, lands exactly where she wants to. Beatrice is a 26-year-old professional skateboarder, and her story begins literally: she picked up a skateboard for the first time in elementary school, when it was one of the props offered to her during picture day, and never put it down. Now, she’s among the most accomplished in the culture and the first woman on Supreme’s skate team.

Back in New York after decamping for Florida during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beatrice and I met in Manhattan one long weekend. Fate smiled on us in a New York way—the wait at Cafe Mogador, our original plan, was too long, so we trekked to Dimes Square, a bite of the Lower East Side that is frequented bythe types of people we used to call ‘hipsters’. (I ran into all my friends.) Dimes, the restaurant and main meeting place of the mini neighbourhood, sits directly across the street from Labor, a beloved skate shop. The block was closed to car traffic, which meant that skaters had descended: a wooden ramp lay in the middle of the street, a sprinkling of boards catching air at any moment, a line of patient skaters snaked outside of Labor. Beatrice and I got our food and picked a table, then switched to another, in order to get out of the sun. Beatrice speaks firmly but softly; I kept inching my recorder closer to her, worried that it would pick up more of the ambient noise—wheels smacking back onto the asphalt after descending from a ramp, clusters of people around us yelling over lunch, a small dog right behind us that wanted to join in on his owner’s conversation—than her voice.

The dog never interrupted us, but his owner—Dev Hynes, of Blood Orange—did. ‘I’m sorry—I love your skating’, he said to Beatrice. ‘I love your music’, she responded. They exchanged pleasantries, messages of mutual admiration. After Dev wished us well, Beatrice revelled in the scene for a minute: wow, that was fucking sick. A beat later, she was disappointed: she didn’t ask for a picture! He was still standing on the corner—would it be crazy to go over and ask for one? We went back and forth. Beatrice had just listened to one of his songs that morning, right before we met. It was too crazy to pass up. We ran over, camera app already open on our phones. While Beatrice and Dev got into formation for the shot, she said, ‘I can’t believe I get to take a pic with you’. He volleyed it right back: ‘I can’t believe I get a pic with you’. I snapped the photo.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Beatrice Domond Instagram. Photo: Jazmine Hughes.

What do you want to talk about?

The things I want to talk about—I just don’t feel like talking about them right now. They’re a bit heavy. And I’m exhausted.

OK, let’s start light. What did you think of New York before you moved here?

My first impression was my dad, since he’s from here. He grew up in the Bronx. My first true depiction of New York was Hey Arnold! and my dad saying, ‘New York’s the best, Florida sucks’.

I’m glad you subscribe to the popular belief that Hey Arnold! takes place in New York, because the creators were very vague. What about the show drew you to New York?

The kids were so cool; seeing them go outside and meet people. I didn’t grow up crazy sheltered, but my mom was very protective of us.

What’s the wildest thing you do?

Get crazy on the skateboard, bro. Skitching—when you hold onto the car—it’s so fun. You just find a car and hold onto it; it’ll take you up the street, especially if you’re tired. Usually I’m here, skating all day, hanging out, then I’ll be like, ‘I want to go to Tompkins, but it’s mad far’. The ground is super nice on Essex—just take Essex all the way, and you just push.

Do drivers ever yell at you?

For some reason, the trucks will see you and they’ll either stop, which, low-key, is scarier than me holding on. Or they’ll just pause, and you let go. But yeah, people notice.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Since I’ve started skating, any time I’m walking down the street and a skateboarder goes by, my friends are always joking, ‘Do you know them? Is that your homie?’ But do you actually know those people skating around us?

No, but when you start skating, you have to check. I’ll be in bed and hear someone skate by—I get up and go see who it is.

If it’s your friend, do you just jump out of bed and join them?

I’ll text them, like, ‘Yo, I just saw you pass through St Marks’. It’ll just be funny.

Do you go outside a lot? Are you an active, social person?

No, but I like to skate around. When I first came out here, I’d go skate from the Lower East Side all the way to Midtown by myself. You see people on the way, you say what’s up, and they’re like, ‘Where are you going?’ I’m just going to Midtown.

Why Midtown? What would you do up there?

You skate around, you look for spots. I just like pushing my board. It gets you more comfortable and more alert. Traffic keeps me on my toes.

What’s on your mind when you skate from Downtown to Midtown?

Nothing. That’s the best part. I could have so much on my mind, but I go outside on my board and all I’m paying attention to is the sound and watching out for the two feet ahead of me. It’s my favourite thing.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Do you listen to music when you skate?

Not in the city, because I like the sounds.

Have you noticed an influx with the number of people skating in the past six months?

Definitely. People just want to be outside. It’s not a team sport, you can do it alone; it’s a good social-distancing sport.

Do you prefer to skate alone?

I used to, growing up. I still kind of do. As I grow up, I’m on teams and I skate with people; I get that energy too. I get why you skate with people and why it’s good for your skating. I’ve progressed on my own. I’ve progressed with people around. It doesn’t really matter for me.

Did you watch all the skateboarding TikToks during quarantine?

That’s the worst depiction of skating I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t really hate on a lot of things. I give things a chance to grow. But that is like—you’re in an art show and somebody vomits and hangs it up next to your art.

What does it mean to be on a skating team?

There are sponsors, who put people together, and it becomes a skate team.

Does that mean that everyone goes to the park together and skates?

Not really. Everyone lives in different places, but we take trips and skate the world together.

Were you in New York when COVID started?

No, I was in San Francisco on a skate trip. All you could hear was all the crazy shit, so I went home with my family, because people were saying, ‘If you get COVID, you won’t be able to see your family’.

Do you live in Florida part-time?

No, I live here. I have a room there, though, and it’s way cooler.

Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine

What’s in it?

My first skateboard. All of my Thrasher collection. Things I feel like would be cool.

Are you really into decorating your room, having it show who you are?

Always. I went through a minimalist phase where I was like, ‘I have nothing’. Then I’ll be inspired. When I was younger, I’d go through phases. I went through a boy-crazy phase where you have all the hottest guys from TV on your wall.

Like who?

I loved that movie Holes. And then I got into the America’s Next Top Model thing. That came down, and then I was like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a skater skater, for real’. So the skater photos went up.

How old were you for these phases?

Middle school and high school. I always had the skating magazines because I started skating at seven, but I never really felt, ‘This is what I want to do’. More like, ‘This is what I do’. But I knew I wanted to be a skater-skater when I was 14. I’d just started grade nine.

You had lots of extracurriculars growing up, right?

Yeah, basketball, soccer, tennis. I played tennis for seven years. There’s four of us: me and my two brothers, one sister. My mom put us in everything to keep us active and busy.

What order are you in?

I’m second. My brother Mario is the oldest. Amber’s third, and my little brother Joshua.

Do you think that being the second-eldest affects the way you approach the world?

I realised this week that I kind of take a back seat. My siblings treat me like the youngest. I’m sensitive. And the skateboarding keeps me young.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Have you met a lot of your friends through skateboarding?

Yeah. Take this conversation for an example. I’m very shy. The skateboard really opens up conversation and helps me be myself. Skateboarding made me speak up, or just say hello and be around.

How did you get into skating?

This is my favourite story to tell. Have you seen the photo of five-year-old me, holding the skateboard? I went into school, it’s picture day, and there was a football, basketball, and a skateboard. I just grabbed a skateboard and took a photo with it. And that’s it. I think I’d watched Rocket Power a little bit. I thought about the skateboard for the rest of the day, and I wondered if I could ride it. I went home, asked my dad, and he got me a really shitty one from Walmart. I was like, ‘This is not the real deal’. But thank God for mothers—they come in clutch. She goes online, she buys me this sick one. I still have it at my house back in Florida. Real trucks, the real board, everything. And from there—I’m a YouTube kid. Typed in ‘skateboarding’. Boom. From there, just kept going.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

You were filming all your stuff and putting it on YouTube and sending it out.

Sending it to Bill Strobeck. He’s a skateboard cinematographer; he made Cherry, he made Blessed. I was so interested in the way he filmed stuff, and I wondered if I could meet him. Just being a kid, thinking I could be anybody’s friend. When I love something, I do all the research. I read every single one of his interviews, and there’s one interview when he said that he thought about quitting skateboarding to make real films about skating. I was like, ‘Fuck, I gotta get to him before he leaves skating forever’. So that made me more ambitious. I’d film every day and email it to everyone, but he was the nicest to me and the one who always got back to me. Just the smallest things, like, ‘Keep it up’, ‘You’re great’.

How old were you when you started emailing?

Maybe 15.

How would you describe your skating proficiency then?

I could kickflip, but not consistently. If I got up right now, I could kickflip, but back then it would maybe take me three or four tries. I wasn’t that good. I would talk to him and he would tell me to keep going, and one day he was like, ‘Yo, I’m making this video, Cherry, and I want you to have a clip in it. Could you film something?’ I would just be in Florida, filming all that shit; I sent him all that stuff and he ended up using the one clip that’s in the corner.

How did you know you should be promoting yourself, at 15?

I just wanted this cool guy, who I thought was sick, to see my stuff.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Do you ever think of what your life would look like if you hadn’t stuck with skateboarding?

I would be an editor for films. I love movies. I love cinema. I like all that. You don’t have to talk to anyone, just edit the movie. Someone once told me the best editors are women, and that was always sick to me, you know? Jaws: a woman edited that movie. That’s why the suspense was so good, and why you never saw the shark. Dude, a man couldn’t think of that.

What was the first movie that made you think you wanted to be a film editor?

Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. 1993. I was watching it this morning again. It’s three hours long, but it’s good. All in black and white. So crisp.

How old were you when you saw it for the first time?

So young. I think my mom had it on VHS. I’d end up watching it again through all my years, but my mom was gnarly. She made me watch Roots when I was about seven. We had to do a project in school and I got Alex Haley, so she made me watch the entire movie. I remember being like, ‘What the hell is this?’ She’s protective, but you know how parents baby their kids? She never did that.

What bearing does that have on you today?

I feel like I’m well-spoken. I can hold a conversation in different avenues.

Have you been watching a lot of movies since COVID began?

I was, and then I started picking up the drums. I like to learn things when I’m watching or reading. I have to take something away from it. It can’t be bullshit. Except for America’s Next Top Model and 90 Day Fiancé; those are my guilty pleasures.

You have a lot of hobbies!

Not really. I just skate. But I like to do a lot of other things. I just started the drums maybe two months ago. I played guitar for so long, and it’s so depressing to learn a new song. It’s hard to learn. With the drums, you just put on any song and catch what they’re doing. And I needed something to bang on.

Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine
Beatrice Domond | Apartamento Magazine

You also take photos.

I do. I went to school for film, but I didn’t finish. I had my associates. But I had a film photography class and we only shot with film cameras, so I started shooting from there. There was a darkroom, we took the film out ourselves. From then I thought, ‘This is sick, I really enjoy it’. I was taking photos for school and presenting them to the class, because that was part of the project, but I was saving them too. Over time, I just kept shooting photos and I travelled more. I go through phases where I think Instagram is whack: ‘You just put a picture up and three people like it, and then it goes away forever. If I made a book, it’d be really cool’. So I made a book.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".
Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
Spreads from "Fly On The Wall".

How would you describe your book?

My life, through my travels and my friends. My skate life. Just what I see.

What are some of your favourite places to travel?

London, number one. Best place ever. It’s so sick, especially if you skate. The people are great. Go to South Bank, you’ll have the best time. Sweden is really sick. Malmö. That place is made for skating. I used to go every year, three years so far, except for this year, because of COVID. Denmark: I love the architecture. I love Scandinavia. I love Oslo. I went there last summer, and it had this light at 10 o’clock at night. The sun doesn’t go down in the summer.

Another hobby is that you’re teaching yourself Hebrew.

When I was in college, I took two semesters of Hebrew. I’ve always been interested in the language, so, from there, I just kept on practising and practising. I still teach myself now, since I’m no longer in school. I have all the books from the course.

Why Hebrew?

Well, my favourite movie growing up was Prince of Egypt.

Are you broadly interested in religion?

I went to school for film, but my minor was Jewish studies. I took a lot of Holocaust courses. Helen Hirsch was the Jewish maid for an important SS functionary, and she came to our school to give a talk. She’s 90, and she lives in Boca Raton, where I’m from. I found it very interesting that people were killing people based on faith. Not even a race, just a faith, because that’s supposed to be one thing someone can’t take away from you, and that’s the one thing they were trying to take from them.

What attracts you about the Jewish faith?

They don’t evangelise. They don’t witness to people. I just thought that was so interesting. Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, they go and preach, like, ‘This is my God—get to know him!’ But I feel like the Jewish community is very to themselves and enclosed, and I find that intriguing.

You know, I’ve thought about converting to Judaism. I grew up very Christian, but a few years ago I was at a time in my life where everything was going wrong, and I didn’t have the vocabulary to really mourn. Jews know to grieve.

Maybe it’s not religion, not being able to grieve. Maybe that’s just being Black. You could’ve been any religion, but just being a Black person and a Black woman and always having to be strong and always having someone say, ‘Oh, you can handle it, you’re good’ is also why you can’t grieve. I sit and ponder all these things as well. As humans, it’s like, if a tree is breaking and you’re holding onto a branch, you’re going to grab onto the next one, you’re not going to try to figure out how to put this branch back on. It’s easier to grab onto something else.

Right.

Especially now, I realise that Black people do not know how to grieve. Especially when, as a Black woman, they always tell you you’re strong—it’s so fucking annoying. Just let this girl be vulnerable, let her cry.

Do you think that’s happened to you? Have there been times in your life when people wanted you to be the Strong Black Woman?

They want it, but I don’t allow them. When I’m stressed or tired, it shows. I can’t help it! I like to be strong and independent for other reasons, but not because they assume I should be. I feel like they put that on people all the time. For the little white girl, they ask, ‘Oh, do you need help?’ And the Black girl can carry her own shit. No, they both need help. Or maybe the white girl doesn’t need help at all, but you’ve been babying her for her whole life, and this girl’s been struggling. It’s all systematic oppression—you watch it on TV, you always have the loud Black woman. Well, no, we’re not all loud. Some of us are, which is fine, but you should depict other Black women. Thank God for Issa Rae and Insecure; it’s so nice to be represented and to show other sides of people. Imagine us, being Black women, we have some similarities, but not all. But religion does take part in it. I do understand what you’re getting at. I believe if you grow up in a Black church, sometimes it’s like we should give all our suffering to Him.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond

Do you go to church?

I used to. I haven’t in a long time, which is kind of fucked up.

Why do you think that’s fucked up?

Because I like it sometimes. I’ve worked so much these last three, four years and I haven’t had the time, especially now, during the pandemic. That was actually my New Year’s resolution—my grandparents, they go every day. It’s like their skate park.

Do you miss anything about church from when you went more regularly?

I like when I get something out of it, when I learn something, or we read something I would never get to read. Other than that—I don’t like being too cold.

Well, since we’re kind of already talking about it, as a Black person living in America—how’s your summer been?

Exhausted. I think that’s a good word. Shocked. I don’t personally know these people who are passing away, but I feel like I know them, and it hurts me to see their deaths just posted on social media. And people are still saying this isn’t real. How could you say that? I’m an optimistic person, I like to be happy and positive. But quarantine really taught me, ‘Well, you could go pretty low’.

Why do you think you have that instinct to be happy and positive?

I think it’s natural. I just always like the bright side of stuff. I don’t like being sad. I believe when you open yourself up to positivity, positive things come to you. I’m not going to lie: I’ve never been as sad as I was during quarantine. That’s the saddest I’ve ever been.

Do you ever have interactions with the police when you’re skating around?

No. I pay attention to my surroundings. Skating actually has the opposite effect. I’ve run into some cops and they’re just so shocked: ‘You’re not white, you’re not a boy—whoa’. They’re more intrigued. Or if there is a cop—mostly when people are in groups—I’ll just slowly make my exit, towards the opposite way. For one, I don’t like being told what to do—that’s why I’m a skateboarder. Two, I’m not really about to get into that.

In a video for Jenkem, you said that you aren’t a partier now, but you may party someday, like in your 60s. What does that look like?

Leopard pants, all the time. Crop top. Maybe sports. You know, just always on go. Some crazy sneakers. Order weed to the house, because people do that. And just rage.

Rage at a house party? Does that mean dancing?

I can’t dance. But maybe just go out and be in the mix.

Do you think you’d still be skating in your 60s?

I would want to. I wouldn’t be ollieing over tables. I want to be pushing, though. I never want to be that old lady, ‘Oh, Old Lady Beatrice is skating’. I already have an old-lady name! I want it to be like, ‘Oh, Beatrice is still doing it? Fuck yeah’.

Apartamento Magazine - Beatrice Domond
interview, photography, skateboarding
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