Julian Agliardi

‘Take it kid, I know you are gonna do something good with it.’

Interview with
Julian Agliardi
and his dad

October 2022

Who is calikidzlb?
So, Julian is 12yrs old, his little brother is Quentin, 10 yrs old. They are both American through their mother who is Asian (Chinese) American, and French through me. Julian discovered skateboarding at the age of 7, when a homeless gave him a skateboard. He got on it, and he hasn’t gotten down from it since.

Hi Julian. We just learned from your dad that a homeless gave you your first skateboard. Why do you think he has done that?
Yeah.The prophecy is true. (laughing) I think that , I don’t know. Maybe he sensed an energy. Is it possible that there is some spirits all around? I believe things happen for a reason. But I don’t know, maybe he was just being cool when he said “Take it kid, I know you are gonna do something good with it.” So, maybe even he doesn’t know, but the universe told him to give me the board, and made him feel good about it, or maybe he knows and he was a spirit. I don’t know.

What was your involvement with skateboarding up to that point?
None, they had no interest at all until that moment. Then I guess maybe, you see “he was a spirit from the universe” like Julian says. He gave it to him and Julian stood up on it, and suddenly he went “Damn, I love this thing” and he wouldn’t come down from it. Since then, it’s been a crazy road. We used to live in Hollywood then, and I would take the boys to swimming lessons in Long Beach, and take them skating or scootering after to wait for the rush hour traffic to end. Then, the passion started to blossom slowly. Mostly when we moved to Long Beach, not too far from a skatepark. Julian was 8. Then one night I was like “there has got to be some kind of competitions, or championship.” Sure enough. We took the boys, to compete, and “bang” an explosion in their minds. A monster had awaken.

There must be a fine line between having fun and practicing. How do you manage this with Julian as a dad?
It’s fun everyday. I can’t push him. I don’t skate. I tried, it’s pretty scary and I almost lost my knee. So I can’t force him or Quentin to do something. But I can help them. I know their potential, their abilities and skills, and they know I would never tell them to do something if it wasn’t safe. I always remind them “you don’t have to do this” or “Have fun and do it safely or just don’t”. Julian has a confidence, in me and himself, and we have developped an understanding which doesn’t really need words. We have signs sometimes to communicate. I know when he has doubt or he is scared, and I stop him so we can talk about it, find a way to do it, or just call it out. It’s also part of their homeschooling. We sometimes look at engineering behind skateboard tricks, angle, velocity, gravity, etc. We keep it fun. I try and suggest things I know they can do, but it is outside of their comfort zone. With Quentin it’s a different dance. Like a tango. Sometimes, I encourage him and he either goes or shuts down, or I don’t encourage him and the same happens. It used to drive me crazy. He is so talented, I kept reminding him that he was doing things Julian wasn’t doing at the same age!! 2 years earlier!! But I know he doesn’t like falling and getting hurt at all, and he’s grown a love for freestyle skateboarding and filming skateboarding. He still hits rails and street spots, on his own terms, if and when he feels it.

‘I was flow for 1 year, and one day my dad got a text from the TM, that Stacy was impressed and wanted to meet me.’

Julian Nose grind San Pedro photo by Justin Crawford
Julian • Nose grind • San Pedro   © Justin Crawford
Who are some of the other kids you go skating with? Not a lot of kids really. Not that I don’t want to, but I am always skateboarding at different skate parks. Always learning from grown ups and pros. We come home late (when the sun disappears, or the skatepark lights turn off). We always go to different skateparks, so I don’t get used to one park. Always looking for street spots with my app or spots I find on social. Sometimes, when my dad is away on travel for work, and our mom takes us to our local, in Long Beach, I see some of my local friends, and we play mostly skate tag. Otherwise, the “kids” I skate with, would be Joey Brezinski, Boo Johnson, Daewon Song, Stevie Williams, Mike Piwowar, Tyson Peterson, and so many more. I mean really I am usually the smallest and youngest at the skate park. I live in Southern California, all the pros live and practice here. It’s like we are all kids wild at the park. (laughing) The skate scene is a big family.

Tell me how you ended up with Powell Peralta.
I was winning all the California Skateboarding League (CASL) events, and the people in charge of running the events, kept yelling in the PA system, event after event: “Can someone sponsor this kid!! How come he doesn’t have a sponsor!!” Then a guy named Gerry from a local skateshop in L.A told my dad to send an edit to Deville Nunes Powell Peralta’s TM, and the response was “Sure, we take him” and just like that I became flow sponsored by Powell. I was flow for 1 year, and one day my dad got a text from the TM, that Stacy was impressed and wanted to meet me. So, off we went to the Powell Peralta’s headquarters in Santa Barbara to meet Stacy, at their private skate park “The Orchid” managed by Mikey Taylor. Then, I was skating, the team had gone to the ocean, or somewhere, and Stacy showed up and watched me skate. After my sesh, he said “you impressed me, I saw you might have rolled your ankle. I want you to rest and stay. Tomorrow, I am bringing someone. And the day after he shows up with George Powell!!! Imagine that, I was 11 years old. That was crazy. Then, they had a talk with my dad. And they came to talk to me. And I did an interview of them for the video blog Quentin and I do, the “4 and half club” @4_half_club on instagram or on our youtube/calikidzlb, where we interview pro and legends and people who have made an impact in the skateboarding world. That was sick. Talking to the two guys who pretty much invented skateboard.

How much are you involved in sorting out those sponsorship deals?
Well, very much involved. And I make sure both boys and Cathy my wife is aware of the moves we make, and what happens. It’s a family team work. We have turned down quite a few sponsors in the past, and this year so far, we had to end a few partnerships. Lesson #1: skaters need a piece of wood and four wheels to skate. Brands need skaters to use their wood and wheels. Your greatest power is the power to say “NO”.

‘We’ve seen some of these parents write some nasty stuff about “Julian and his f…. dad” in skateboarding blogs’

Julian and the French National Skateboarding team
Julian & French National Skateboard Team

It’s your life and your skateboarding story. Make it as close you can to your ultimate most amazing story for yourself. Don’t settle. Expect more from the sponsors IF you are ready to give more. Associate yourself and your talents with people and brands that see it, support it, get it and are ready top help you go where you want to go. We can buy boards, wheels, shoes, etc. It has to be a two sided street, and the respect as well. So we make sure to let them know what makes our bubble. RIght now the industry still enjoys unlimited pool of talents willing to break a bone to be in a mag, without even getting paid for it. Brands know it. Some even pit their riders against each other to do dangerous stunts, to get the almighty ad. And when hey end up at the hospital, and it’s out of their own pocket. SInce there is no contract, the brands are off the hook. It’s the wild wild west. And if the rider can’t deliver, or doesn’t want to do take the risk, they could get the boot. I see so much talent get broken, and dumped, losing the fire, crawling under medical debt, or with long lasting injuries, that prevent them from being the potential they could have been. It’s good that the boys get to see and understand this. But in the end, it has to change. Brands make good money. Enough to take better care of their riders. But riders should go back to repeat Rule #1.

You sound like an agent. Have you guys thought about engaging one or maybe you should be one for the other kids/parents from what you have learned so far?
We wished we had an agent at times. But thanks to social media, and our experience (mom in law and me in media/pr and sports) we are able to learn the world of skateboarding and adapt. Making connections is not always easy. We have seen a lot of doors being shut right in front of Julian. We understood we are not “skate parents” (and they have been pretty clear at letting us know that). A lot of parents have skated all their lives, and grew up with the those who now have placed themselves in “control” (or so they think) of the skateboarding industry/world. We’ve seen some of these parents write some nasty stuff about “Julian and his f…. dad” in skateboarding blogs, we’ve even have found ourselves at some skateparks where the kid and the dad insulted us for being at “their” skatepark. In the end, the results speak volume. We have always laughed at these people and this non sense. It’s just background noise. And if anything it’s been a great source of learning for Julian to turn this into fuel and drive. It’s fun. But it gets tough when it’s your own kids that are on the line.

Truly inside, there had been nights where I felt helpless, and wished I could have helped Julian and Quentin more. It got depressing for me (and maybe for Cathy) at times, but I had to stay strong, and show the boys, you can’t let this affect you. But when adults come after a 9, 10, 11 yr old, just because he is so good and passionate, you want to go out swinging. Would I want to be an agent for other kids ? I don’t know. This has and is taking most of my time. But I have some parents asking me stuff from time to time, and the boys are always up to give some tips or teach other kids they see struggling at the skatepark.

‘They thought it was impossible, and I did it at 11 yrs old. Forever my favorite spot, for sure.’

5050 triple kink thrasher powell photo by Deville Nunes
Julian • 5050 kink • CalState LB • Powell ad in Thrasher Dec’21   © Deville Nunes

I like how you take skateboarding back to the streets. What is your favorite skate spot at the moment and why?
Thank you. Yes the street is so much fun and creative. My favorite spot. Hum. Well it changes all the time, because, once you hit the spot, there is always a new spot or a friend that send you a new spot, that you have to go hit before it gets destroyed. But really my favorite spot. The triple kink at CalState LB. I am still stoked that I did that beast. It is still surreal. The rail is as thin as a thumb, and super long. That thing is crazy. My dad, Quentin and I had stopped by to look at it and wondered if it was possible. “yes…no… yes.. no, crazy… “ And “Yes..” We sat there many times looking at it, wondering, trying. I wanted to boardslide it first, but there is that light post right next and barely enough room to clear if you get the right angle. And I did clear it 3 times, and bailed so close to the end. I was stuck on boardsliding it. My dad was more like “dude 5050.. trust me”. So we went back again and I went for the 5050. Quentin, my dad and me, and like 7th try, I had almost landed it twice (once I rolled out on the grass), and “bam” I land it. Then I realize it and grab my head with my hands and start crying like a baby. I can’t stop. (laughing) Quentin is making a little fun, I called my mum, I’m trying to talk to my mum to tell her I did it, I am crying so much. Damn. That was. And I got my first ad in Thrasher a full page for Powell Peralta, for my birthday month issue too. Then everyone and all the big guys were telling me they saw the triple kink and it was insane. Nyjah, Koston, Boo Johnson, etc, they all told me stories on how they used to look at that beast and wonder if it was even possible to do anything on it. These guys man!! They thought it was impossible, and I did it at 11 yrs old. Forever my favorite spot, for sure.

What do you want to do with your skateboarding? What are your dreams?
I want to be pro. I want to be the best in the world. I want to own a skatepark. I want to build skateparks for children all around the world, I want to do a kickflip on the moon. So far I did one at 34,000 ft in the air. I want to be like Nyjah, Prod, Cab, Hosoi, like all the big guys. I want to inspire kids. I want to keep being inspired. It’s so much fun, I want to keep having so much fun and more. And I want to have a farm, with a lot of animals, and a bigger garden to grow food for my family and the animals.

Tell us more about your kick flip 34,000 feet in the air?
(laughing) That was funny. I so wanted to try and kickflip in an airplane, but you know people and airline and all the non sense in the US. We didn’t want to end up on a no fly list. (laughing) So anyway, we were coming back from a comp in Florida and I asked the flight attendant if I could take a photo on my board in the back of the plane, near the last row of seats. He said ok. But then I did a kickflip and it was so loud, and the passengers all turned to look, with a freakout look on some of their faces. The guy from the airplane company was a little mad “you said a photo you didn’t tell me you were going to skate.” My dad laughed and said he had the video, it was all good. We went back to our seats.

‘We’ve always homeschooled the boys, so skateboarding isthe PE class.’

FP ad original photo by Seu Trinh

If you could represent a country for the next Olympics, which one would it be and why? USA or France?
Well, I have been picked by the French National Skateboarding team, and I really hope to be in the Olympics. When the team came to the US for a SoCal session, they invited me to test me and shred with the team. It was supposed to be one day, then it turned into seven days, then another week in Arizona, and they flew me to France and Europe for events with the team, and skating street spots all around Europe. It’s sick!!!

What advise would you give a 12 year old kid that wants to the same thing you do?
Be who you want to be, skate how you want to skate. Enjoy it or don’t do it, for everything you do in life. If you think it, you can do it. And then practice, but keep it fun. A LOT.

What advise would you give to their parents?
Don’t push too hard. Let them find themselves first. Positive reinforcement goes far further than anger and force. Help them stay motivated, and inspired, and be safe, and mostly fun. They are kids before anything else. Don’t project your own successes, limitations or failures on them. It’s their life, their chapter, their thing. Not yours. You are the parent, you have the understanding of life and how to stay safe and fun, and a driver’s license to take them to the park and the hospital if things go wrong. (laughing) Follow their emotional leads, and help them with their emotions. You can’t be more frustrated than them. You can’t be happier than them. It’s their time to shine, to learn, to fall and get back up and conquer. You had your time, or you can find some time for yourself later. Listen to them, they are learning. Keep them having fun. It’s only life. And love them, and let them know. Time is running out. And enjoy the show. Kids kick ass, kick ass with them. I think.

Last question: If you could interview one person, who will it be, why and what would you ask?
I think Rodney Mullen. He does TED talks and I love watching TED talks. I am not sure if I would ask just one question. But I think I would just listen to what he says. He starts to talk about aksteboarding and it goes to life, universe, spirituality, human experience.. He is so cool and inspiring. Oh, and I would also have him sign a few collectors thing I have in my collection. (laughing)

‘Kids kick ass, kick ass with them.’

Lance Mountain and Julian
Lance Mountain • Julian