New York blader Ryan Many reflects on how he first got introduced to the sport and talks about some of the pivotal moments in his life since picking up a pair of skates.
When we started Wheel Scene, we were fortunate enough that many like-minded people from various parts of the world got in contact with us in order to get involved and contribute in any way they can – one of those individuals was Ryan Loewy. Despite the fact that he is an extremely driven individual with a career, he regularly takes time out of his busy schedule to hook us up with some pretty great content and is always full of ideas. While discussing our plans for issue 9, he offered the suggestion of a Ryan Many interview. We were familiar with Many’s blading because we had seen his joint profile with Rick Rodriguez that was filmed by Wheel Scene alumni Erick Rodriguez, as well as various other online edits, and we were intrigued.
Over the past two years, we have published interviews with rollerbladers from countries all over the world, some well-known, others not so much, because we love exposing fresh talent and giving dedicated individuals a platform to display their talents. Ryan Many is one of the ever-expanding generation of bladers that is now fully-grown, holding down a full-time job and handling the responsibilities that come with it, but he still finds time to blade on a regular basis and has managed to keep his skills intact. In fact, he is so on top of his game that Xsjado hook him up with free skates. While it is true that we only decided to feature him in this issue under the advice of our New York correspondent Ryan Loewy, something tells us that it was only a matter of time before we tracked him down for a full-length feature.
Wheel Scene: Let’s talk about where you grew up, how you first got introduced to rollerblading and those that were influential in terms of the development of your style.
Ryan Many: Well, for starters, my father was military, so I moved around a few times before finishing up high school in New Jersey. I was first introduced to rollerblading back in ‘89 by my mom, who loved to rollerskate and would take me to the roller rink with her when I was four. Shortly after that, I saw kids with blades on and had to have ‘em, so she bought us both rollerblades and thus began the beginning of the bane of my existence.
In 1995, all the kids in my middle school were skateboarding and wearing skateboarding shoes, ‘cause it was the cool thing to do. I wanted to fit in, being the new guy and all, so I bought a board so I wouldn’t be a “poser” for wearing the clothes and started hanging around with them. They all progressed much faster than I, which bothered me. Then one day, a random kid named Justin came in with a Team Paradise magazine, being like, “Yo! Look at this!” I looked and, for the first time, saw guys grinding on rails with rollerblades on – that was it for me. I threw the skateboard away and the next day showed my only friend, and still illest homie, Brandon aka B Real, and we were on our way. We went out and traded in our hockey skates for some Tarmacs, we dremel-ed grooves into the frames and started jumping on the curbs outside my house. Shortly after, we begged B Real’s dad to make us a box with a rail on it – thus began our vocabulary. We spent day and night skating that box. In the winter, we’d put it in the garage and blade until we were forced to sleep. We bladed that thing well into high school before building a much higher and longer one.
At the same time, when we were trading in our hockey skates, we purchased VHS tapes, Hoax 2 being the first – then came the TBTV, Day of the Rope and Espionage. That was the kick starter for style and creativity for me, as I was immediately drawn to Dustin Latimer. Something about him reminded me a lot of myself. Close behind were Josh Petty, Kevin Gillan, Brian Shima, Billy Prislin and last but not least, the ill homie and good friend Ryan Jacklone, who has put me on to his new line Regalia.
Right around 1998, I found out about a local indoor skatepark called Hackettstown. If you’re as old as me, you definitely know about this place. It was there that I met the local scene and started to make a name for myself. I was the younger guy of the crew, so getting harassed was natural. I began blading with and learning from guys like Bo Bird, Marc Messina, Jim Frey, Casey Guttman and the god himself, Mike Duke. Mike Duke was one of the best bladers in the world. He was so far ahead of his time. I mean, this guy was doing switch fakie flatspin 720’s over launch boxes back in Oxygens, true top porns switch and natural and disasters on down rails long before I could even fathom what the fuck was going on. This guy was incredible.
By 2002, Mike had gone off to college and later started working on Wall Street. I saw him a few years ago in Brooklyn outside a coffee shop and it blew my mind. He said he’d walk by Wall Street and see us blading, but was too afraid to approach us for fear he might get schooled by us. I laughed my ass off at the thought of any of us ever being better than him. I bet in five minutes he’d pick up where he left off and shit down all of our throats. It was Mike that I most looked up to. He had that flawless Latimer steez, with the attitude of Aragon. He was the perfect combination of rollerblader. Bo was like the Josh Petty of the group; bad ass attitude, GQ looks, always tryin’ to bag girls, smokin’ cigarettes, being mad cool. Casey was the super tech switch-up master, doing soul variations of every kind possible. Jimmy was like Champion Baumstimler; he could acid drop anything you put in front of him – it was so amazing to watch.
What inspires you to keep going? Do you still return to your roots and look for motivation there or is it with current bladers that you find inspiration?
Yes, most definitely. Oh, I must not forget Walt Austin! I would have to say it is a mix of both. I love to watch old videos to find hype. Walt Austin’s Hashassins section is an all-time favourite, and I could sit and watch every Latimer section ever made, plus any Lonnie Gallegos film.
As for today, when I’m out with the maniacs, the dude that stays pushing me most would def be Franco Cammayo. He’s always been better than me and always one-ups me at every spot, so it drives me to do weirder and crazier shit that I would like to believe he can’t do – haha! He will skate anything, anywhere, like me, no matter how shitty it is, and that’s a major thumbs up from me. I can’t stand blading with people who complain about every little inch of a spot, and sit and watch and hang out. You are here to blade, so fucking blade.
Number two goes to Ariel Surun, the old man ninja steez extraordinaire. He has a great attitude, loves to skate anywhere, always comes through with some sneaky ass clip when you didn’t think it was possible, and all-round great dude to have around to laugh with. Also, there are a ton of young up and comers in NYC that I’ve been taking notice of. I’m not going to say names but I’m watching you guys! They’re getting good fast, so it drives me to stay on top of my game in order to make sure there is a tech bar and level set for these guys to work off and keep them motivated to get better – but not better than me!
What have you been up to lately?
Well, I’ve recently moved uptown to Harlem. It’s much different than SoHo or Brooklyn, which is where you’d usually find me, but I still work downtown in the West Village at a millinery, making and selling hats.
What is a day in the life of Ryan Many usually like?
I wake up, pee, walk the dog, shower, get dressed and ride my bike downtown to work. Ride home, walk the dog, go blade or source out vintage clothing/props. Then I make dinner, roll up and relax, usually consisting of movie watching with fine ass women and music.
What direction would you like to go with your skating?
My skating, I feel, is at its peak. I am one with my mind and body and very confident with my trick vocabulary. I can do anything I put my mind to and complete it. I’m really over conventional skating in the ledge, rail, gap sense. I would rather skate something that, at first glance, you don’t even think is skate-able. The more complex and intricate the trick, the more intrigued I am to skate it. Don’t get me wrong though, I still love my sessions with the homies.
Speaking of homies, who do you think is a solid up and comer in the NYC scene?
I have a few up and comers that I’ve been consistently impressed by every time I blade with them – Jordan Baez, Pablo Munoz, Steven Sin and Jash Ruiz are at the top of my list – these guys are gonna run shit one day.
Finally, any shout outs?
Yes, of course. Big shout out to all of my NYC family for holding me down all these years and being the best scene in the world. Cesar Macay, Sam Black, Jake, Emonay, JC Rowe and Xsjado, my dog Sky and E Rod and the Bladergang! Also, Greg Kieffer from Tri State Skate – thanks for the hook ups, homie!
Words and photos: Ryan Loewy
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