Manny Roots • Wallride • DIY Punta Las Marias, Puerto Rico  © Andres Mora

‘PUERTO RICO IS A BEAUTIFUL DISASTER FOR ME.’

DISASTERL

Puerto Rico

Hugo Hernandez
Founder
Disasterl

January 2024

Tell us something about Puerto Rico that no one knows.
We like salt, sugar, and lard. What I mean is our food is packed with flavor. Bring the noise and we sing along, so if there is a party, we wanna go. We survive any invasion from any colonizer in our own little pink bubble bouncing all over our own territory. We are very humble, but we aren’t stupid.


How would you describe the skate scene in Puerto Rico?
Crusty, rusty with big dreams. Lots of amazing talents stay in this rock living with the puff puff give and a sip of cañita (local moonshine (rum)) beers and whatever with alcohol. We have concrete skateparks, we made DIY in some municipality of the island. The scene is growing by the minute, more now with our rePResentation in the Olympics. Street skateboarding is heavier than any other, We have more talent in the street than transition, but we have some transition skaters, including all generations.

‘THE MOMENT I STARTED SKATEBOARDING AGAIN IT WAS LIKE BEING REBORN, SO I DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.’

Hugo Hernandez • Kick turn • DIY Punta Las Marias, Puerto Rico   © Ed Mariota

You run the only skatemag in Puerto Rico. How long have you been doing it?
Yes, the only one, it’s more like a fanzine, I’ll do it once in a while and right now, just recently made a new one with a new format, just like a newsletter on one side and a poster on the other side. Made the first one in 2012 when at the same time I release a 1hr documentary about the skateboarding in Puerto Rico, EJKEI, you can find tons of info on the web, we won some festival awards, including best documentary in LA, California in 2012.


Congrats. How come you put this documentary together?
That’s a long story, but all starts when I grab a skate after almost 10 years of retirement. The moment I started skateboarding again it was like being reborn, so I decided to do something about it. That’s when I decided I wanted to do a movie about skateboarding in PR. One thing led to another and after 6 to 7 years of collecting all sources of information about different generations of the culture we have enough to build a 1-hour audiovisual project of nonstop action of the activity of the skateboarding in the island. It was an unforgettable experience.


What inspired you to start the fanzine?
My passion and love for skateboarding with the help of some good friends. I start it with the idea to do something local, something for us, from us to us, I wanna create or help create our own industry. But if I look deeper, I will say I want to create a puertorrican Thrasher Mag. I want to emulate what I consider the Bible of skateboarding.

Cover: Ferni Quiñonez • FS flip • DIY Las Piedras Puerto Rico   © Gibran Lucas

Any special meaning behind the name ‘Disasterl?
Absolutely. To start is a skateboard trick, just go and smack the board in the middle against the coping. But the real meaning goes like this, after a disaster there is a new beginning, a rebirth. Puerto Rico is a beautiful disaster for me, jeje. Also, we play with the R and the L at the end, cause puertorrican main language is Spanish and when we pronounce a word with the letter R in English its sound more like an L. It’s the way we sound for some when we speak English.


I assume you finance the printing mainly through paid ads.
Yep, ads are the way to pay for. However that part is pretty hard and I don’t enjoy it very much. Just a month ago as did the last one and I am working in a new one. It’s a new format, cheaper and I can make more copies.


How difficult is it to find brands that pay for printed media?
Very hard, it’s kind of upsetting. Seeing a bunch of friends working in the industry and not supporting the mag because they said they don’t have budget for that, some buy space for ads but is more like a help, kind of understand why not but it’s frustrating. There is a bunch of local brands that want exposure but there is not enough budget in their pocket, so they only do it once in a while.


Ever thought about of putting magazines up on your website as well or do you want the people to buy prints only?
Right now is just print and social media, I did a website once but you have to be on top of it filling with content and that’s take me time of my family, work and free time. I want to do it if I can make an income out of it. The magazine is for free.

‘HOWEVER THAT PART IS PRETTY HARD AND I DON’T ENJOY IT VERY MUCH.’

Ferni Quiñonez • Kick flip • San Juan, Puerto Rico   © Gabyn

What is the proudest moment around your Disasterl project?
When the print is out and the feedback of the audience when they have it in their hands, feels good to see the final product out after recollecting the money from the ads and wrapping up all the articles.


Most embarrassing or fun stories you can share?
Once, when local IRS (Tax Government Agency) take money from my bank account and that money was form the ads clients, that was kind of insane. In that time, I ow some money to PR IRS from a house I sold. It wasn’t much but I guess they get tired of waiting. I made it, anyway, found a great sponsor who pays for everything.


Last question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
Jeff Grosso and Jake Phelps but for those I have taken the trip which I hope isn’t gonna happen anytime soon. There are so many interesting people out there but to pick one randomly maybe Jim Greco, in the last couple of days I been googling about him.

Bz Boy Rio Piedras • Kick flip • DIY San Juan, Puerto Rico   © Andres Mora
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