Denise Fleming

Denise Fleming is a skateboarder who went pro back in 1976 and continues to skate today, overcoming a mountain of hurdles! These days she has many tattoos, vibrant dyed hair, a rad style, and epitomizes true commitment to skateboarding especially considering that she has endured two near-fatal traumas, including a random drive-by shooting incident in 2004.

Denise first appeared in the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper on October 15, 1975 within a feature about a YMCA fundraiser for the local Y and other international projects (photo Hal Lowe).

Her LinkedIn bio says that her passion for skateboarding and the freedom it provides literally gave her new life and motivation. Denise was in a wheelchair for four years and had to re-learn how to walk through physio. “Skating has saved my life in many ways,” she explains, also noting that she didn’t have the privileges that come with a supportive family.

Denise became sponsored for Powerflex and found a different kind of family, under the guidance of the ultimate skate mom, Gale Webb. Denise appeared in several of their ads.

She also rode for Independent trucks and Pepsi, and competed at events like the California State Championships in 1977. Denise has great memories of skating with Shogo Kubo of the Z-Boys on the Pepsi team, including the “Texxas World Music” festival at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Denise was featured in the East Coast skateboard magazine called Wave Rider (no. 5) in the fall of 1978, skateboarding at Lakewood Skate Center, which was included in the team Powerflex ad.

Most of her photos were documented by Bob Ballou, who was originally a surfboard manufacturer before creating Powerflex in 1975 at Huntington Beach along with Dave Catterall and Dave Glover.

There’s an interesting quote from D.D. Grisham, the kid sister of punk musician Jack Grisham (singer for T.S.O.L.) who remembers the 1970s skateboard scene as a thirteen-year-old, including Denise! D.D. shares with Stacy Russo that, “Our house was the house to be at. Jack had band practice in the garage and built this huge skate ramp in the driveway, and all the skaters would come over and skate the ramp. I was constantly thrown into this heavily male-dominated environment, and I was quite impressionable… There were very few women in my world at that time who were choosing to be equals to the men. There was one girl, Denise Fleming, who was an amazing skater—still is—but she was the only one.”

Denise was also good friends with Cindy Whitehead as they used to skate together back in the 1970s. The two legends have reunited over the years, with Denise coming out to Ladies Skate Jams, competing, and representing the OGs!

Denise, as a survivor, is also a strong advocate for women who have been victims of violence. She perseveres and finds skateboarding to be a positive outlet.


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