Ronnie Bertino took care of business in the 90s, sponsored by bLind and Plan B amongst others, he lived the dream and smoked his way to many people's top 5 skater lists. Most skate related questions have been answered here, here and here, so we thought we'd take a slightly different angle and ask him about Wendy's fries.
Ever push mongo?
I push switch mongo!
When I first started, I used to have to make a board last a year at least - until the tail was an inch long. Did you have the same issues, or did your parents love you more than mine did me?
I am sure your mom loved you just as much as mine loved me. When my mom knew it was something I loved doing she would sacrifice to make sure i had what i needed. I wasn't getting a board a week or anything but she did what she could when she could to make sure I was rollin.
Coming up (and whilst you were pro for that matter) was there any basic tricks that you couldn't get your head around? It's always funny to hear about the sickest skater that has a secret shame of not being able to do regular kickflips or something.
I still to this day cannot wrap my mind around regular hardflips. Could do em switch but regular I am convinced will never happen.
You ever get down on a BMX/scooter/blades/snowboard before finding your feet in skating?
I snowboarded for about 3 seasons straight, loved it but too much of a task. Rode bmx with a crew out here in san diego. Jake Brown, Rich Flores, Ken hale aka Action and a few others. Bmx is fun! We mostly did the dirt jumping none of that crazy street stuff.
Must have been pretty stressful getting on bLind in those days. Some of the heaviest hitting guys in the world on the team. Nobody really talks of the nervousness that skaters must go through getting hooked up, did you handle it or trip out?
To be honest I never thought i was good enough to be on Blind. I always doubted myself but I did it cause at the time that was everyones dream team and I better take advantage. I don't feel I ever truly fit in with the squad. They were established and were tight for years before I came on, so it was a little weird but an honor none the less. Got to see some great skating from all of those dudes in those days.
I recall an article Rodney (Mullen) wrote about sponsored kids on tour and the awkward hometown demo. Any experiences like that?
No, never really did a demo in my hometown until way later on so it wasn't really something that bothered me.
Plenty of rumours of Rocco treating riders to money, clothes, girls etc. Reportedly some skaters enjoyed it more than others. What is your take on the notorious Steve Rocco and how did he treat you, personally?
Personally? I met the dude like twice. Once for a dinner with all of us in New York (we were on tour) and maybe spent 2 minutes in his office when him and Rodney were about to have a meeting. Don't really know him so as far as how he treated me there is nothing to gauge it off of. He seemed alright.
Do you think there is room in skateboarding for a new Rocco these days?
Sure, Rocco ruffled feathers and did some cool shit. At an asr tradeshow back in the day when skating was doing pretty well, he paid 2 bums to sit in his tradeshow booth on milk crates and drink forties. No one who actually had anything to do with or worked at world at the time was in the booth. That shit was funny.
When was the last time you saw or spoke to him?
Couldn't even tell you.
Oh, in the bLind section of Virtual Reality you end a line with a switch backside 360 over that hip. Strange question, but do you spit on the ground as you roll away?
Yes, I spit then and I spit after the halfcab heel to noseslide on the ledge. I was a spitter.
Talking of Virtual Reality, top left in the intro section - is that you doing the frontside nollie - switch manual - switch heel out? I always thought that was dope, apologies if it's someone else.
It was me and thanks.
Plan B Ronnie:
Did you eat the Biggie Fries before doing that backside nollie heel?
No I didn't eat any fries. The empty package was already there and Dan Sturt had a certain way he liked to do things so he filmed them and then panned to me.
Everyone asks about the switch backside lipper - I'm going to go right ahead and say it was the first. So yeah, no question here, just a - fuck yeah that was sick, Ronnie.
Thanks. Highlight of my skating.
Who were you tightest with on Plan B?
I would have to say Sal Barbier and Duffy
You ever go out and learn darkslides/casper slides with Rodney?
No! Too hard and it was Rodney's thing.
Was Hensley skating at all by this point? No disrespect, but I think his billiards section was my favourite part in Second Hand Smoke.
Yeah he skated, he did it how he wanted to do it and will always be a ripper, but he was also the team manager so he was driving the van and stuff like that.
On a side note, my friend Daz broke into the dumpster outside World and thought he'd come up on a load of fresh boards that appeared mint. On closer inspection the top three plys were gouged out from darkslide stuff. Not a question, more of an anecdote.
Umm I think when they threw shit away they would purposely fuck it up cause they knew kids were going through the trash. Honestly, Sell it on ebay and say it's Rodney's.
I know as far as I am concerned, skating is still as fun as ever, but every day the body gets a bit less willing to comply. How much are you still skating and are you still learning tricks at all?
I haven't skated consistently in a long time, I have been focusing on fitness (Most skaters are going to say gay, I know) But I have a kid and trying to stick around for as long as I can to enjoy my son. Wish I would have jumped on the fitness thing sooner as My career would have lasted a lot Longer. I can still land some stuff but not trying to make any kind of come back like that. I do it for fun and when I want to do it. Nothing more nothing less.
Sometimes it's more a case of just not losing tricks. As long as I can skate a mini ramp and ollie up a curb I'll keep skating till I'm dead. What do you think you'll have forever and do you still enjoy it like you used to?
My memories will be embedded in me forever, They can't take those away. I will always have love for skating, I saw the world because of it and had a lot of years with a paycheck coming in because of it, can't beat it, it was a great time in my life. As far as tricks I would say frontside flips is something I might be able to throw out after a few tries.
What's going on over at ATM these days? Did you always know you'd end up working in the industry after you were done being a full time skate rat?
Atm is doing well, we manufacture a lot of our own product, pour wheels, print stickers, print wheels etc... Not a lot of companies are doing that anymore. I am honored to still be able to be in the industry. If you asked me when I was 20 what I would be doing it wouldn't be anything with skating.
Do you keep up to date with current clips and new skaters etc, or not that interested?
I'll check out what the hype is all about. like Nyjah's frontside blunt or Raven tershy's half cab nosegrind through the corner of the bowl in denmark or whatever, but If I want to get stoked on skating I throw in the old vids that I grew up on.
That said, if you were asked to commentate at Street League, what would you say?
Commentating isn't for me. Not sure and will never be in the position so I don't have to worry about it.
I know you had a bombshell with taxes and shit, but do you ever look at the money that skaters are making these days and feel a bit ripped off? Or do you thank your lucky stars that you came up in a time where shit was more fun and loose and none of your friends were walking around wearing RockStar Energy Drink hats and doing press conferences?
It seems the two eras are different and I wouldn't change jump ramps or ramps to walls for anything, skating 10 miles to skate a shitty red curb. I think our days were the best days. Do I feel robbed? Nah!! If anything I robbed myself and my drug use and drinking, if I did make that money I wouldn't be doing this interview. Everything happens for a reason. I might not of met the girl I did and had a kid, I might have never really learned the lessons i needed to in life if I made that much money! So nah, not bummed at all. Stoked for the dudes who are making that money though, serious come ups going on out there.
Did you ever get offered/take any terrible sponsors or awkward acting roles or any of that nonsense?
No! i was pretty happy with everyone I rode for
You make any hefty checks during those days? Manage to buy anything good before the taxman caught up with you?
My best year was like $75,000 which at the time wasn't bad. That was with all my photo incentives and other companies checks. The best thing I had (but it didn't last long) was a volskwagen Gti v6 the year they came out. 94 or 95 but that was short lived because of a DUI.
What was your smallest paycheck for a month?
When i was pretty much washed up and done Brian Ridgeway delivered my last check to me at a motel I was staying at, my last check was from Orion for $500 and then that was it. At the time I was stoked cause I was going to get some alcohol.
You've always been one to let the skating do the talking for you, and I'm sure you'd be past all the petty beefs by now, but was there anyone that you just couldn't stand that you had to skate with due to sponsors/location/whatever, that you'd like to call out now?
At my age now I won't even talk about anyone like that. I am 38 with a kid and too much positive going on. In life whether it be through skateboarding or anything else you are always going to find people that you do not mend well with, it's called life. Not everyone gets along. I will say this. Even if i didn't like any skaters of my time I respected em.
Cheers and thanks for the interview.
Sick, cheers for doing this Ronnie.
All pics are stolen from Chromeball and fairwaysandflips or boosted from YouTube clips. Hope you don't mind, lads.
Thanks to The Chromeball Incident for the photos.
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