Photos: Skate Kitchen Comes Home to Brooklyn
The all-woman skate crew reunited in Cooper Park for the first time in over two years.
1:45 PM EDT on May 26, 2022
On Wednesday afternoon, the femme skateboarding crew Skate Kitchen held their first meet-up in over two years at Cooper Park in Brooklyn.
The group Skate Kitchen began with an Instagram account, became a film by Crystal Moselle with the same title, and was turned into a television show on HBO called "Betty." That show was unfortunately canceled after two seasons.
They invited other skaters to Cooper Park to commemorate their sixth anniversary.
Hell Gate caught up with two of their members—Rachelle Vinberg and Moonbear—plus talked to some of the skaters who came through. They hailed from the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and California.
We talked about their favorite tricks, gnarliest bails (when a skater falls), and on the sport making an Olympic debut last year.
These interviews have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Rachelle Vinberg, 23 of Bushwick — a co-founder of Skate Kitchen
How long have you been skateboarding? 11 years
On skateboarding being an official sport in the Olympics: I think it's awesome. I think that there's more people that are going to skate because of it. And to see those young girls win? It's crazy. I think it was really exciting and fun to watch people take it seriously.
Favorite trick? Kickflip
Gnarliest bail? Definitely when I credit-carded [when the board lands vertically between your legs] and hurt myself really bad. That sucked.
Moonbear, 20-something, of Los Angeles and formerly Bushwick — co-founder of Skate Kitchen
How long have you been skating? Since 2005
Where do you like to skate in the city? The last place I skated here was like a week ago at Blue Park. I used to skate here at Cooper Park a lot though.
Favorite trick? I'm going to go with No Comply 180 for now.
Gnarliest bail? This was a while ago, maybe 2016 or something like that. It was not my fault, but I was at this ramp—R.I.P., the spot is closed now—and I got hung up on the coping, and the ramp is, like, seven feet. When I got hung up, the gravity brought my body down, and I fell straight on my butt and I couldn't skate.
Vision-Skye, 24 of East New York
How long have you been skating? I got my board for Christmas of 2019 and I started during the pandemic, so since 2020.
Where do you like to skate in New York City? Kind of all over. Most times I like to cruise, so definitely if the ground is smooth—and also train stations.
How did you learn about Skate Kitchen? I've always liked skate culture and skate videos and skaters in general. It was a group of skater girls so I was like "oh shit!"
Mika Gurary, of Geneva but based in London
How long have you been skateboarding? I've been skating on and off for five years because I've had two knee surgeries. So very erratically skating.
How did you learn about Skate Kitchen and get involved? I'm not that involved with them, but I do just know Rachelle because she's like an icon of skateboarding and some of my friends met her when they were traveling through Europe a few years ago. I've just always followed her and she's been really inspiring to me. But I've actually not followed Skate Kitchen that much. It was more mostly Rachelle, but I'm still catching up to the whole skate scene thing, and I kind of just do my own thing a lot.
Favorite trick? Switch heels for sure.
Gnarliest bail? I actually tore my ACL and meniscus six months into skating. I had just started skating and got really carried away, started progressing really fast and set an ollie down a seven-set and just broke all my ligaments in my knee. I had to sit out for two years, get surgery, do a shit ton of physio, finally came back to it, bossed it for two years, got sponsored, got hooked up, like learned everything super fast because I was so strong after the recovery and then recently tore my other ACL, also drunk, also doing something I shouldn't have been doing. Now I'm just figuring out a new relationship to skating now where I don't drink and fuck myself up.
Kearah-Armonie Jeudy, 29 of Crown Heights
How long have you been skateboarding? Three months
Where do you like to skate in NYC? I've been to Golconda Skate Park, that's a cool park. I'm hosting my own meet-up at Betsy Head Park on June 18th. That's going to be my first time going there.
How'd you get into skateboarding? Very much something I've always wanted to try, but then also I never had a board. I had a penny board at one point but the wheels were trash—they didn't move as smoothly as larger boards. I think it was a mix of 2020, a lot of things going on and a lot of that "seize the day" feeling and being in control of my own time, since I was working remotely and going to school remotely and watching "Betty" with my sister. My sister hosted a skate meet-up. Just to be around other Black girls with boards—it was encouraging. Earlier this year, I was like "I'm finally going to do it!"
Kava Vasquez, 27, of The Bronx
How long have you been skating? I got introduced to skateboarding at 13 but I started skating consistently at 19.
Where do you like to skate in New York City? I love to skate in Brooklyn. I like street skating in Manhattan. And I also enjoy the skate parks in the South Bronx as well. Really anywhere I can catch a vibe.
Favorite trick? Varial flip
Gnarliest bail? Oh shit. One time I was in Durban in South Africa at the skatepark by the sea there, and they have this huge rolling hill that you can pick up speed for the rest of the park. I wasn't comfortable with speed then—this was 2017—and I ate shit. I slid a couple feet after I fell, so I skinned my whole left side. It was not cute.
On skateboarding being an official sport in the Olympics: I have my own organization called Bronx Girls Skate that I co-founded with my friend Mel. I’ve done this type of work around the world, and I feel like, for a lot of people, the Olympics is a huge source of motivation.
It's driving shifts in urban landscapes, more development, and projects around skateboarding. There's more visibility and resources because of the Olympics. Developing nations, in particular, recognize the opportunities for growth that it brings, not only to athletes from their nation, but to the country more broadly.
I don't love the rules and the sort of corporatization of skateboarding, although the presence of corporations in skateboarding has existed for a long time. Culturally, I think it's really important for the growth of skateboarding globally moving forward.
Jelsy Trochez, 29, of Crotona Park
How long have you been skateboarding? For about six months now.
What inspired you to get on a board only six months ago? To be honest, I've always wanted to get into skateboarding, but I took roller skating up first because I figured it would be a safer way, so I thought. I absolutely love roller skating, but there's just something about skateboarding. Especially where I live in the Bronx, there's not enough girls or women actually skateboarding. It's also one thing that kept me hesitant to even take up the sport, but now with everyone on wheels, it's like how can you even not? How do you deny yourself the joy of riding?
Where do you like to skate in New York City? The streets. From point A to point B.
How did you learn about Skate Kitchen? From the show "Betty." I fell in love with the show and I saw some clips and then I actually saw the movie and I was like "Oh my God! This is where it's at! This is something I absolutely want to be a part of and represent in my own neighborhood and community." It's awesome.
Favorite trick? I'm a super beginner so I'm just learning to keep myself alive on the board.
On skateboarding being an official sport in the Olympics: Oh my God, yes. I was so proud of the girls who were in there doing their thing. It was really inspiring because for the longest time we've seen this sport be so male-dominated. Even the spaces—if we choose to hang out in our local community spaces, we can sort of feel that heavy aggressive male energy, so seeing women come in, do their thing and absolutely kill it, I just think it's inspiring worldwide for everyone to get out there, conquer some fears and push your boundaries and keep pushing yourself.
Brooklyn Bryan, 18, in town from Laguna Beach, California
How long have you been skateboarding? Since I was 2-years-old, but on and off. My dad is a skater and my whole family skates. But they never taught me anything so I never learned many tricks at all. I just think it’s fun.
Favorite trick? It's really fun to bomb hills and go on ramps.
Gnarliest bail? The funny thing is [that] the time I got most hurt was the time when I was literally doing nothing. It was a pebble. My whole arm was bleeding profusely, and I was just going to the grocery store with my brother.
Brooke Paxman, 24 of Bushwick
How long have you been skating? A little bit over a year now.
Favorite trick? Shove it because that's one I can do with the most accuracy.
Gnarliest bail? I rolled into the bowl, and stepped off and sprained my ankle kind of bad. It was really swollen for a few weeks.
On skateboarding being an official sport in the Olympics: I thought it was cool. I mean I think it depends on how you approach skateboarding. For me, it's more like a hobby that I just like to do when I'm feeling stressed and getting out some stress or anxiety. Some people go really hard with it. There are some really cool skaters at the Olympics.
Brittany Moore, 25, of St. George, Staten Island
How long have you been skateboarding? Four years
Where do you like to skate in NYC? I usually come to the Lower East Side Skate Park downtown or maybe Cooper.
Favorite trick? I just got kickflip so now it's my favorite.
Gnarliest bail? I was bombing a hill at night, and I hit a stop rock. I busted my lip. I'm glad I didn't lose any teeth.
Bella Mullin, 18, in town from Laguna Beach, California
How long have you been skateboarding? Very on and off but since I was like 10.
Favorite trick? The board slide, which I just learned.
Iris Erwin, 19, of the East Village
How long have you been skating? I used to skate when I was a kid a lot because I'm from Venice, but I kind of lost it.
Now I'm trying to do it again. I love to walk through Tompkins Square Park and see the skaters there.
Alana Bassett, 18, of Stuy Town & Laguna Beach, California
How long have you been skateboarding? I've skated on and off. I haven't skated that much before. Over quarantine, I tried to get into it, and I have a board that me and my brother share. I can't really do many tricks.
On skateboarding being an official sport in the Olympics: I think it's really cool. I'm really happy that's a thing. I feel that skateboarding is so difficult. I definitely cannot even do an ollie, so I want to get there. It's so impressive to me seeing people do the ramps and all that. It's so inspiring to me. The town that we live in, Laguna Beach, there's a lot of people who skate and surf so it's just fun to be surrounded by that and see people on my street skating all the time.
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