He’s got the blockbuster ender in much-hyped skate flick Pretty Sweet, but Guy Mariano concedes it wasn’t easily won.
Eight years ago, Guy Mariano stepped out of relative, drug habit-induced obscurity to work on his part for Lakai Footwear’s Fully Flared - the explosive skateboard video co-directed by Spike Jonze, Ty Evans and Cory Weincheque. His section – a culmination of intense training, re-learning old tricks, conjuring up nimble-footed new ones and battling demons – became one of the finest video parts of the decade. Guy stunned and inspired skateboarders across the world with Fully Flared. Now, having earned himself the ender in Girl and Chocolate Skateboards’ Pretty Sweet, Mr. Mariano has stylishly cemented what is arguably one of the finest comebacks in skateboarding history.
Guy’s latest part, however, wasn’t always so… sweet. “I was in amontage,” he chuckles over the phone from Los Angeles, the day before the LA premiere. “Ty [Evans, co-director] was like, ‘Yeah, you’re in a montage. Maybe you should do some solo trips and focus more on your stuff,’ and that’s what I ended up doing. I got really lucky at the end and I got on a good run.” These “solo trips” came in the form of multiple jaunts to China, a haven of marble plazas where Guy got some of his best work done.
With the video boasting a new generation of highly talented skaters wielding impressive sections of their own, Guy wasn’t entirely sure why he’d been granted the hotly contested last spot. “I had to ask Ty if he was just giving me the ender to pay homage to me,” he says humbly. “He just said, ‘Nah man, you earned that spot. You went out for it and the part’s amazing.’ I’m honoured. My comeback for Fully Flared was like a Cinderella story, but now people are like, ‘Okay, what has he got now?’ I just hope people enjoy it.”
It wasn’t just Guy who put in the hours for his part, he says, and he praises the commitment of the Pretty Sweet film crew for keeping him motivated. His longest battles and toughest tricks were captured by Roger Bagley. Some of these skirmishes could go on for four hours a day, for four or five days a week. “You gotta give it up for someone that does that, that’s gnarly man,” he says in admiration of their patience. “It’s so good to work with a filmer that you’re compatible and comfortable with. You have to build those bonds because a lot of the time when you’re skateboarding there can be a lot of pressure on you.”
The line-up for Pretty Sweet is a colourful one. You’ve got the OG generation, like Mike Carroll, Gino Lannucci, Rick McCrank, Brian Anderson, Eric Koston, Marc Johnson, Chico Brenes and Mariano himself. But then you’ve got the new kids – from the light-footed, smooth-as-butter likes of Cory Kennedy and Sean Malto, to gnarly chargers Raven Tershy, Elijah Berle, Vincent Alvarez et al. Guy struggled with figuring out where he could fit in among all this talent, but eventually decided that in order to stand out, “technical as fuck” was the only way forward. “If I’m going to be the dude that just has some never-been-dones, then that’s the part I’ll play and I’ll be comfortable with that,” he offers. “Once I figured that out, it got a lot easier for me.”
Being a thirty-six-year-old professional skateboarder who’s arguably still at the top of his game is no doddle. To get through five years of intense filming for Pretty Sweet, as well as switching up his diet, Guy regularly sought ice baths, massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments. “When I was thirty I was killing it; I could go on five sessions a day. But when you get around thirty-six, reality sets in that your body is getting older and it doesn’t recover as it used to,” he explains. “Anything you can do to reduce that [recovery time] is the best way to go.”
A year after Guy’s legendary part in Girl’s Mouse video (1998), his incessant partying took a more sinister turn. After developing something of an alcohol and weed problem, he gradually moved on to hard narcotics and almost destroyed his career. For Guy, his memories of the late 1990s and early 2000s aren’t as they should have been. With the support of his friends and family, he started on the road to recovery in October 2004.
Clearly, despite success since that off-board period, Guy’s still living with regret. “Sometimes I get stressed out because of all the years I missed skateboarding,” he laments. “I’m always thinking about what it could have been, so it’s hard for me to be in the moment and just enjoy what’s happening right now. I wish I could’ve been more motivated in my prime, I feel like I missed it.”
Despite being as excited and positive about the video as is humanly possible, Guy lets on that his career, and this video part in particular, haven’t come without their downsides. “I made a lot of sacrifices – I missed my mom’s birthdays, my girlfriend’s birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, because I was on skate trips,” he offers. “I have to put a lot of my life on hold to be a skateboarder at this age. A lot of people are moving on in life and having babies and families, but I’m still not around every weekend. It can get a little old for the people around you in your life, you know?”
As of right now, the day before the Pretty Sweet premiere, Guy hasn’t even seen the finished product. In the buildup to the date, there’s been one four-letter word in particular that’s caused him some angst. “I think that’s the thing that gets me nervous the most: the hype,” he says. “Sometimes I don’t understand hype, it’s like, what are they expecting? Are they expecting this crazy part or are they just happy to see me?’ I get so wrapped up in that and I don’t think I’ll be able to take the video in and enjoy it until I get home at night and watch it by myself.”
It’s little surprise then that Guy is looking forward to a bit of normality once the hype subsides. “I need some balance back in my life,” he laughs. “I just need to fucking chill out. I hate getting caught up in some of the stuff I do sometimes, you forget about having fun when you’ve got your head immersed in the industry.”