EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PATTI MCGEE, FIRST FEMALE PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER


Talk about feeling honored. The one and only, OG SK8 Bettie, Patti McGee, granted in interview with GROWSK8LIFE. Following is her take on being an icon, skateboarding and where it's headed, and the future of the OG Betties skate team, headed by her own daughter Hailey.
 PATTI: Hola everybody. First I want to thank you for the opportunity to share my life with you & your corner of the world, this is special for me.


GROW:It's special for us too Patti. Thank you so much. OK, first question. How old where you when you started skating?


PATTI:You know.. I always had something with wheels. 1949 I had my 1st bicycle (I was 4). 1952'ish I had my 1st Roller Skates. 1954 I nailed-em to a 2x4 sideways and sat on it with my feet up & down the hill I went (I was 9), right about then I got a Flexie Flyer & we bombed the street sewer pipes that ran down to San Diego bay. 1956 we started standing up on our roller skate scooters with a citrus box nailed to it, then we lost the boxes and the rest is history. I started surfing & sailing & diving in 1958-1963, not to leave out the water in my life, but that's another story. In 1962 I rode a skateboard from the wood shop, and the wheels, my brother stole off my rink skates. In 1964 I had my 1st commercial SkateBoard by Cooley, a "BUNBUSTER", and in 1965 I started riding for "HOBIE."
PATTI ON HER BUNBUSTER
  GROW: When you started skating were a lot of other females skating?



PATTI: The girls I hung with were the girls in our Surf Club & a few skated around the parking lots in the afternoon when the surf blew out.   

GROW:Skating then seems so different from now. You started your competitive career in a freestyle contest, right?



PATTI: OH different most definitely!! The contest was "The 1st National Skateboard Contest" in Santa Monica. DEC 1964. It wasn't just freestyle. There was a Salomon course with little cones, a fig. 8 ( which isn't as ez at it looks), then the freestyle, and that's when I hit the pavement with what was considered my signature trick, "my handstand". It was the first one ever done in a competition. Those were the days when tricks were born.
 

GROW: Can you explain for our readers how the skating style then differentiates from the style of skating you see today?



PATTI: Today's style has many facets. Street is "radical", any surface is game. Pool Sk8ing is "Xstream".... Downhill is the "Need for Speed" and everything in between. Not to mention that in the 60's we were SK8ing on clay wheels. The invention of the Urethane wheel changed EVERYTHING! 
CLAY WHEELS. HOW FUN!!
  GROW:We would love to hear about your infamous Life Magazine cover photo. How did that all come about? How excited were you? What did you parents think of it all?

PATTI: All my publicity was arranged ahead of me on that tour for "Hobie Skateboards". The Life photographer caught up with me in Latrobe Penn.via Marcy's Dept store in N. Y. The Shoot was the next day in Pittsburgh, Pa. & the release was the following Monday, in N.Y. I was STOKED!!! Macys arranged a Limo & my Mom sent me a really special telegram to congratulate me. Sunday night, before the Zine hit the street, they had me all gussied up & on the "Whats My Line " show. Monday night I was on The "Johnny Carson Show" and I did demos all over the state. It was a whirlwind for a 19yr old surfer/SK8er chick from the west coast, for sure. *grin* 

GROW:How does it feel to look back and know that you were the first female Pro-Skater? Does it bother you that many pros today may not even know who you are? What did it mean to be Pro back then?
   
PATTI: Looking back It's AWESOME. Getting paid to just look good & Sk8 was a trip. Actually I'm really surprised how many folks really do know who I am, and email,post, and Facebook me, that they still have the Time Zine on their wall, or that I inspired them when THEY were young. Being the 1st Woman to be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall Of Fame (SHOF) has brought my history into light, and of course MySpace, and now FaceBook, has made many, many friends for me. Humbling for sure, but it also makes me very proud to know I made a difference no matter for better or worse. 

GROW:Let's get to the present day and your daughter Hailey. Hailey also skates and is currently the Team Manager of The OG Betties. How proud are you of her and her fellow female skaters?


 PATTI: My Darling Daughter is a blessing. It was Hailey's initial idea to market her good O'l Mom, lol. She started by interviewing me on film for her communications class at college, then screen printing became our new avenue, with that it morphed into doing my 1st and long awaited signature deck with Hailey's Graphic design knowledge. Then the Flow Team Riders. "THE ORIGINAL BETTYS", three in Arizona and three in California, they all rip and I'm as proud of them as if i was their MOM. Their ages are from 34 to 17, oh...and one 1 grom, shes 8 and rips too. Hailey is like a Mini Me & for the past 5 years she has made a %100 effort to "DO IT OR DIE" ... take her lumps and keep on skating. Hailey will carry my torch..that's for sure!
 
GROW:They OG Bettys just recently skated in the Vans Combi Pool Contest. Do you see more contests including females today, then lets say, 10 years ago? How did the girls do?   
PATTI: The Van's Combi is finally making a statement for the Woman & Girls. The invitational is a draw of the best 2, out of our 7. They were invited and they placed 9 and 10 in their age group. We are grinning to be in the top 10. Van's Sk8Park is a giant... a BIG Daddy of parks, and to just drop in there can be breathtaking.
 

GROW:Do you feel like you opened the doors for a lot of females to become skaters?
 
PATTI: That wasn't my aim. I was pretty much a rebel at heart, but Stevie Caballero, David Hackett, and many more, state that I paved the way for not just women but skateboarding in general. I truly value their praise. ya know? :)



GROW:What do you think of today's generation of Pros and the skate industry in general?

PATTI: Whooaaaa that's a big Q. The pros today are HUGE role models! I admire their talent & love to watch them push the limits. The industry, with it's ever present innovations, has brought on great gear & the incentive to wear helmets, which is totally important.




GROW:Do you have any words of wisdom for the ladies blazing the trail today?



PATTI: Practice,Practice,Practice!! Be aggressive when you SK8! Be nice while you're out in the world. Your being watched, you're a Role Model too.
And "WEAR YOUR HELMET SO YOU CAN LIVE TO SK8 ANOTHER DAY"


X~Patti* ***|:)+</:



GROW:Thank you so much for your time Patti. You are a true inspiration.



PATTI: It was all my pleasure.
MUCH LOVE,
Patti*~~

For more information on Patti Mcgee check out following links.