In January, in a time quite different from the one we are going through right not, we had the pleasure of going to Carrito and sitting down for a talk with one of Brazil’s biggest names in skateboarding, Roger Macha. Roger has always worked or has been involved with skateboarding in some way, and now he is part of the Olympic skate team as an assistant coach and advisor. Besides that, he is also the owner of Carrito with his wife, a plant-based, organic restaurant. For his interview, he chose a sneaker that is very dear to him, Lance Mountain’s Air Jordan I Low SB ‘Desert Ore’ – a skater that was a great influence to Roger.
“I’m Rogério Mancha and I’ll be 44 this year. I’ve always been involved with skateboarding. I started skating when I was about 10 years old, and it introduced me to a whole new social circle and lifestyle. I became a professional skateboard, and it led me to music, art, fashion and I got to travel for a while to other countries all because of skateboarding. I’ve spent almost three decades – ’80s, ’90s and ‘2000s – skating.
I’ve lived in the U.S. representing brands that, at the time, were very important in the streetwear market. And after I came back to Brazil, I decided to work in the skateboard market, while still skating. I worked at Element, Etnies, LRG, Supra, Emerica and afterwards I figured I wanted my own business. In 2013, I created a skateboard course for women called Forfun, it was a huge success. I’ve also created First Push, an initiative that connected people that wanted to mobilize causes, and we created some projects to fundraise money for social projects. These were very early-stage projects. But then, my wife started Carrito, I was still working at LRG when the company decided to terminate its operations here in Brazil and I had to leave LRG. And then I said “Let’s invest, let’s take this seriously”.
I got really sick during 2013 due to an autoimmune disease that attacked my kidney and then I decided to completely change my eating habits and it became my life’s focus. In 2016, I had a transplant, my wife was my kidney donor and then, a month after the transplant, Carrito was created. And then we embarked on this journey together. We opened a store at a mall and started evolving and understanding this planet based market.
Recently I’ve been asked to be the assistant coach for Brazil’s Olympic Skateboarding Team. So I’m currently in these two situations. Skate has returned to me as an innovation, caring for the sport in its first Olympic games, being the first assistant coach, the first Olympic team. And Carrito is my life because I’m very focused on healthy eating habits, and I try to inspire people. Skateboarding, music, art… I’ve always been a very curious guy towards everything. Ever since I was little.”
THAT’S WHY I THINK WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR LIVES WHILE WE’RE STILL ALIVE, EXPERIMENT AND AWAKEN A NEW WAY OF LIVING AND ALSO BE ABLE TO AWAKEN OTHER PEOPLE.
Were you aware and concerned regarding your eating habits before your surgery, or was it something that you started caring afterward?
No, man. It all started when I got the results for the biopsy and the doctor said: “There’s no treatment, there’s no cure, and there’s no solution to your problem. A transplant could work, it could take three months, six months, a year. Or something more serious can happen to you. And then I said: Damn! And what can I eat Doc? And he said: “Well, you can eat everything. There’s nothing that can fix it”. So I searched the Internet. At the time I thought: “I have no time to go vegan, I have no time for healthy food”. I went with the flow of life, living life. Everything was going great, I was growing, making more money, going out with friends, going to parties, happy hours sponsored by brands, I was always in that scene and things were happening. But then, after that, I thought: “I need to change”.
I started searching where I could find organic food, what eating organic does to your body, what’s a meat-free diet like, how to complement it and all that, and I started creating systems. I researched religions that have segments, from Hare Krishna, Buddhism, Kardecism and I kept on studying. There was nobody who could say either yes or no. But from the end of 2012, until my kidney transplant in 2016, I never had any side effects and I was only for four days in the hospital. A month after and I was back at LRG working, organizing events and skateboarding. And today, my body is super healthy.
That’s why I think we need to change our lives while we’re still alive, experiment and awaken a new way of living and also be able to awaken other people. I think we’re living at a time when we need to evolve our way of thinking. We have all the tools in the world, but our way of living is still a bit archaic, you know? We spend not knowing why we’re spending. And to inspire through a healthy way of eating, a new lifestyle, it’s in a lot of ways, like skateboarding. There has always been a little bit of activism in skateboarding, people never took anyone who skated seriously. It was always someone trying to impose itself on the world. And nowadays people have understood skating, the style, the music. So food is evolving. The greenhouse effect, the fires in Australia, it’s all very much related to the way we consume our food. So people are evolving, it’s normal. I don’t need to say: “Let’s stop consuming this”. But everybody is evolving for a better planet. You want to live longer, everybody wants to live longer, nobody is ready to die, get it? So I think eating healthy was really fundamental for me.
What it’s like working professionally with skateboarding and owning a restaurant?
I’ve always related skating to business. You always try out new tricks and fail. Or you get it right. You always try something new. If someone tells you: “You can’t skate here”, you’ll always answer: “Why can’t I?”. You don’t let it go. People hear a lot of “nos” and they drawback. Skaters hear “no” and they keep on going no matter what.
So I studied a lot. I researched “what’s a business”, “business ideas”, and I based it a lot on skate lifestyle, on what I learned from the daily life in the streets. That’s normal I think in every culture. Streetwear brands are owned by people who grew up on the streets, knowing the streets, sneakerheads… It’s always been like this. This is the concept of business: “we do it differently”. So when I’m in here, I feel like I’m doing something different based on what I’ve learned from skateboarding. I’ve always worked with skateboarding to sell more products and to give better possibilities for skaters. Today I work on an Olympic project, everything is really new. Today I’m working with skaters that have the chance of winning an Olympic medal. I work for the sport. And I find this incredible because I’ve learned so much over the years, over the three decades I’ve dedicated to skateboarding. I feel really honored because I think it will work and we are so close to it. The predictions for medals are really favorable. Some people hate it and some people love it, but I personally think it’s super important for skateboarding to be in the Olympics.
And precisely on this topic, how do you see skateboarding at the Summer Olympics?
Skateboarding will always exist. The current situation is that many sports, which are now in the Olympics, forty years ago also were not. Skateboarding has a very different style when it comes to skaters. There’s no crowd rooting against anybody. There’s no “war between crowds”. So I think people have been wanting and finally they were able to put skateboarding in the Olympic process, and this will increase the movement and the numbers of people skateboarding.
Going to Japan, living all this… I bet you must be very excited, right?
Yes, very! I never thought, when I started skating back in 1986, that I would end up at the Olympics Games. I’ve never been to Japan. This also really excites me. Carrito also excites me, this here is also really cool. Lately very good things have been happening… We really work hard and it’s good to work like this. Today my health allows me to do all this. Everything we do lately, my wife and I, is full of passion to seize the moment, you know? I don’t know what the future holds for the next years or months, so I stick to the moment.
And tell us a little bit about your role as assistant coach of Brazil’s Skateboarding Olympic Team?
My role is to know what’s going on with the skaters if they’re hurt, what exactly is going on with each one of them and as an agent of the Brazilian Skateboarding Confederation, being able to help them. So I’m a hub. Of course, every skater has their own personal trainer, their own coach, and agent. So I’m kind of like a maestro, coordinating, knowing what’s going on with everyone. Some skaters I’m closer with, I help out with strategic situations, who am I to teach them any tricks? But I’m like a “third eye” because sometimes a person can fall into a routine and not notice what’s going on. Sometimes I work with the coaches of the other skaters “what’s he going to do? Do you think he’ll do that?”.
I’m also a bureaucratic tool to schedule the trips, among other things. Besides that, I give psychological support to the athlete, I check to see if the family is distracting him, if he’s not suffering from the pressure, if the skater is in need of something and if this is disturbing his performance. And the team is big, in Street, there are ten skaters. At the Olympics there will be six, three in the men’s division and three in the women’s. They’re high-performance skaters.
And do they train together? How does it work?
No, they each have their own individuality. Each one has a person to help them, a coach or an agent, or whatever… It’s all really new. A skater isn’t born in a youth academy where there is a super coach, the respect towards the coach, like in basketball, in gymnastics, in swimming, in soccer. It was always independent and autonomous. So after you’ve learned the way, you take your lead, right? You don’t, like in a sport like swimming, observe the detail of movement repetition, creating a training program. How am I to tell someone that by doing two hundred kickflips a day, he’ll get better? Because after the eleventh kickflip, he’s going to get it wrong, you see? So everything is still really hard, it’s all really new. Some countries that already have a culture of discipline like China, like Japan have managed to incorporate methods of other sports into skateboarding. I truly believe that this will lose the lifestyle essence.
I’m a guy who’s been through everything with skating. From the hardcore guy to the hater, I’ve worked in corporate, I was a none-competitor, a competitor. I’ve been through hard times in life, I’ve had problems which could have resulted in me not being here now. So I think all these experiences have enabled me to understand the psychological aspects behind each case and what to do to overcome it. Skateboarding is a very mentally challenging sport. Sometimes you have to be a friend and others, you just have to tell it like it is. It’s a learning process, right? The truth hurts. And at the end of the day, we’re there so they can win medals. Not to sell more sneakers, to sell more clothes, but to win medals.
Skateboarding has always been controversial. You almost don’t see in any other sport someone rooting for their competition to do better than them. I think that maybe skateboarding will teach this kind of thing, in the Olympics. We’ll show “may the best win”, but that may the best really win. I’m not hoping the person who’s first placed makes a mistake so who I’m rooting for may win because that person represents a nation. I want that person to get it right and I want who I’m rooting for to truly win. In skateboarding, you still see this. I don’t know if it’ll be different in the future. Everybody together, a bunch of friends traveling together to compete, I think it’s going to be crazy! We have to wait and see.
YOU ALMOST DON’T SEE IN ANY OTHER SPORT SOMEONE ROOTING FOR THEIR COMPETITION TO DO BETTER THAN THEM. I THINK THAT MAYBE SKATEBOARDING WILL TEACH THIS KIND OF THING, IN THE OLYMPICS. WE’LL SHOW “MAY THE BEST WIN”, BUT THAT MAY THE BEST REALLY WIN. I’M NOT HOPING THE PERSON WHO’S FIRST PLACED MAKES A MISTAKE SO WHO I’M ROOTING FOR MAY WIN BECAUSE THAT PERSON REPRESENTS A NATION. I WANT THAT PERSON TO GET IT RIGHT AND I WANT WHO I’M ROOTING FOR TO TRULY WIN.
Do you remember how did you have your first contact with skateboarding?
Yes, man! I was watching “Policy Academy” at the movies, and The Bones Brigade was featured in it. It was amazing. They were wearing colorful outfits, a pink t-shirt, I remember it perfectly. I was also addicted to “CHiPs”, a cop action TV series from the ‘80s, and there’s this one episode where they’re after a gang of thieves that were skateboarders and they went riding on a skatepark. I saw that and said “Wow! This is awesome. I like this, skateboarding is cool”. This was back in ’85. I actually got my first board in April of ’86 and my first pair of sneakers was a green Chuck Taylor. I remember this.
And when was the first time you saw a pair of sneakers and thought: “This is cool, I like this”?
I was never into that whole thing “I want a Nike Air Force, or Agassi, or New Balance”, which were the sneakers back in the day, I wanted an Airwalk Prototype, or a “Rainha de skate”, which was a copy of the Prototype; I also wanted Vans, Mad Rats – I was into skateboarding shoes. I would watch the guys in “Animal Chin” wearing Jordans, but I didn’t have access to Jordans and also I was small. But the older guys in my team wore Raiders caps, Nike Dunks… And I remember Zé Gonzales, who was really active in the streets and already had his style. I would say: “Wow, that’s cool!”. When you’re little you follow your path. So you end up copying some people but kind of making it your own, get it?
The ’80s was a time where I followed the skateboard trends because I was 11, 12 years old, and looked up to the older guys that had style. Later on, during the ’90s, there was a big hip hop influence in skating, so you would get a basketball sneaker to skateboard. People started wearing Adidas Superstar, team shirts, sportswear for skate, polo and so on.
BUT IT’S STILL SKATEBOARDING. A PIECE OF WOOD, WHEELS, AND A TRUCK. THANK GOD SKATEBOARDING WILL EVOLVE AND I DON’T KNOW HOW IT’LL BE IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, BUT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEBODY IN THE RESISTANCE. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE MAKING ORIGINAL ART, MAKING ORIGINAL MUSIC, THAT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE. AND SKATEBOARDING IS THE SAME THING.
And can you make a comparison between skateboarding in the ’90s and today?
Fashion has always been involved with skateboarding, with skateboarders, with the lifestyle, with the way they behave in the streets, with the tricks, with the style. Having dudes like Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas, that had that extra something in their skateboarding style, you know? It was all really new, discovering new trick. Today is different from back then. Today is way more popular and accessible, people respect skateboarders – Skaters are in the media, a skaters might a musician… Today if you say “I’m a skateboarder”, that’s cool. But during the ’80s it was way more controversial. And during the ’90s? Do even get me started! Back then skateboarding actually died for a while, new styles were coming up.
In a way, skateboarding has always been innovative. I personally think it was more innovative during the ’80s because it was harder for you to be a skater. You didn’t have Instagram to post: “Hey, check out the sneakers I just got, check out the outfit I’m wearing, check out my tricks”. You couldn’t show off what you were – you had to earn your respect. Nowadays it’s much easier. Back then you built your fame by being good “Dude, I’ve met a guy at a tournament in Pinheiros. This guy skates so hard dude! Then that person travels to the countryside and tells a friend “I’ve met a skateboarder…”. And then you end up all the way in the Northeast. So a good skateboarder made its fame by word-of-mouth. Today, you post some moves here in São Paulo and it instantly goes out to the whole world.
But it’s still skateboarding. A piece of wood, wheels, and a truck. Thank God skateboarding will evolve and I don’t know how it’ll be in the next few years, but there will always be somebody in the resistance. There will always be someone making original art, making original music, that will always be there. And skateboarding is the same thing.
Do you have or have you ever had a sneaker collection?
During the ’90s I’d buy sneakers. And I’d also get skaters, but I would ride with skate shoes. But normally everybody would bring their lifestyle sneakers in their backpacks, like a basketball sneaker and so. And we lived all that. Back then it was really difficult to get sneakers. We’d see guys from the U.S., especially the Beastie Boys when they appeared wearing Gazelles, and I said: “Wow, how can we get those?”. I remember that in ’93 we traveled to Germany and bought all pink Puma suedes. The guy was selling them for twenty euros a pair. We bought a whole bunch because we didn’t have access to it here. There weren’t sneakers here. So we had to go after them. I wanted to have the kit, to show off for skateboarding, you know? I loved sneakers. Seriously. I’d always get a lot of sneakers because I was sponsored, but they weren’t the sneakers I wanted, so when I’d travel to the U.S. I’d go after those sneakers for chilling – the ones we used to ago out with, the basketball pair, and so. Logically, I’ve never had a Jordan, but I did have an Airwalk Prototype.
When 2000 came I went to City Stars, which was the hip hop brand, the attitude brand, the street brand – it was like the Supreme of the ’90s. And Kareem Campbell, the owner of City Stars, was the man of the hour. I remember the first time I walked into his room and saw over two thousand pairs of sneakers, I was really impressed! I used to live with a guy at Melrose that collected sneakers too. But sneakerhead culture didn’t exist yet. People would buy them because there were guys downtown who’d always sell samples.
I also got a lot of sneakers because I used to work for brands. So for a while I worked at Supra, and I could have any Supra I wanted. At Etnies, I got a few that didn’t have the sneakerhead added value, but there were some older models that were really cool. I always had friends at Adidas, at Converse, and the guys would always send me the new releases.
Then there’s this story: I don’t eat meat, you know? So I don’t really support the use of leather or suede sneakers, even though they’re really good for skating. At the same time, when people send me sneakers, what am I going to do, say no? And then my wife always says “you have way too many sneakers”. And then I think: “Damn, it’s wrong for me to have so many”, you know? Every once in a while, I’ll get rid of a whole bunch. But there are some that my ego is still too attached, I’m trying to do better. Because there are many that I want to keep, that I want to own fifteen years from now. Most sneakers I own, I know the story. I really love understanding the story behind each sneaker. I’m not the type of guy that’s into Yeezys, because Yeezys are hyped right now. I like this Air Jordan 1 because it has the floor and the walls of a scene from “The Search For Animal Chin” printed in the insoles.
I own two pairs of sneakers that are really special to me. Do you guys know Nike’s Dirty Money? Here’s the story: there was a time in the ’90s that skateboarding died. And all of us young kids got together and said: “We don’t agree with this, we want to have our own brand, our own means, our own magazines. Just like they do abroad! Skate, hip hop…”, and from that, the Dirty Money video was born, which was the first Brazilian skateboarding video. Years later, in 2010, Ale Vianna made a documentary about Dirty Money. When it was out, not only did Nike endorse the documentary release, but it also launched two sneakers simultaneously, a Dunk SB Mid and a Blazer High. And it was Fabrício da Costa who designed these sneakers, he was part of Dirty Money. He designed the Air Max Lanceiro as well. But anyhow, I was featured in the documentary, and they sent the two Nike Dirty Money to everyone who was in it. There were very few pairs.
And why, out of all your sneakers, did you choose the Air Jordan I Low Lance Mountain ‘Desert Ore’ for Kickstory?
Dude, counting all my sneakers, including skateboarding sneakers, I must have like… 120 pairs. I chose this pair because I really like Lance and the story behind this sneaker. It’s a sneaker about the movie “The Search For Animal Chin” and the insole is divided into two colors, that represent that Richmound spot from the video. One insole is the wall and the other is the floor. In the video, he wore white and blue and black and blue Jordan Is. So this sneaker here has this overlap detail that I think it’s so far out. It does really show who you are. It’s a Jordan Nike SB, but nobody needs to know. You can decide to cut it off and show the original color underneath, or you can wear it like this. And I don’t know, I identified myself with it like this. There’re many people who don’t need to show off who they are. Some people need to show off. And this is all cool. This sneaker gives you a possibility: to show who you are or to show who you want to be, get it? Nobody is born ready. So it’s an evolution. I think it’s really crazy.
And at Maze fest, Rafa from Nike asked me to mediate with Pérsio, a talk with Lance Mountain, a guy who I really admire, it was really special. Afterward, he came here and spent the whole day here at Carrito and left only when it was time to leave for the airport. And the stories he told… he talked a lot about skateboarding. Lance is a collector of everything, he keeps things from twenty years ago, really random stuff, you know? Steve Caballero’s first dreadlock? He has it. So he’s really full of stories to tell. So this sneaker has meaning to me.
In ’88 we had the Sea Club Overall. I went with my dad to watch Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain’s performances. I wanted to see Lance Mountain more than Tony Hawk. And then the magazines came out: “Lance Mountain in Brazil” and I was like: “I was there!”. You see things in a different way. And Lance Mountain has always had a strong connection with Brazilians because of Bob.
AND AT MAZE FEST, RAFA FROM NIKE ASKED ME TO MEDIATE WITH PÉRSIO, A TALK WITH LANCE MOUNTAIN, A GUY WHO I REALLY ADMIRE, IT WAS REALLY SPECIAL. AFTERWARD, HE CAME HERE AND SPENT THE WHOLE DAY HERE AT CARRITO AND LEFT ONLY WHEN IT WAS TIME TO LEAVE FOR THE AIRPORT. AND THE STORIES HE TOLD… HE TALKED A LOT ABOUT SKATEBOARDING.