AKA: Girl Skater

The skateboard video AKA: Girl Skater (dir. Mike Hill, 2003) on VHS and DVD, was highly anticipated since it showcased the Gallaz pro team including Jaime Reyes, Vanessa Torres, Amy Caron and Monica Shaw during their roadtrip through Australia, performing demos and competing at the Globe World Cup with bonus footage of New Zealand local Georgina Matthews.

There was also a website devoted to the film, which included a trailer, sneak previews of the girls’ video parts, advice towards landing a new trick with Lauren Mollica, and the classic “slams” section. The majority of the footage was filmed by the legendary Lisa Whitaker who also ran the websites, The Side Project and Girls Skate Network.

The 30-minute video had elements of a typical skateboarding film but it did combine skateboarding footage with interviews giving it a documentary vibe. AKA: Girl Skater was an exciting production for the skate community, considering the impressive range of tricks, which received positive reviews in several magazines including Slap (March 2003). In his review, writer Mark Whiteley acknowledged how skateboarding tended to act like a fraternity, but that it’s important to support female skateboarders. Whiteley stated that, “there is also some skating in here that will make most skaters say, ‘Hey, that chick rips!’ and not add on ‘for a girl.’ AKA: Girl Skater is also worth seeing to get an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to experience skating from another viewpoint.”

About the trip to Australia, Vanessa said that “It’s really mind-blowing. I didn’t think that me riding on a skateboard would ever get me anywhere.” She also appreciated how people would respect her for what she was doing and finding those quality people who understood the mission. For Jamie, it was her first time on a tour with girls, although she clarified that, “There are a lot of girl skaters, they’re just incognito, I guess.” Amy explained that most girl skateboarders have this pressure to keep up with the guys, so she felt they had to be rebels.

Dave Carnie, probably the most infamous skate journalist ever, had accompanied the Gallaz team to Australia as their official “foster mom,” reporting on his experience for Big Brother. The article, “Gallaz in Australia: An All-Female Skate Tour” was published in the June 2002 issue and had substance, taking up 14 pages (pp 68-83). Dave’s random reflections were accompanied by a good selection of photographs by Jaya Bonderov with boardslides, noseslides, grinds and flip tricks featuring Reyes, Caron, Torres, and Jessie Van Roechoudt (even though she wasn’t technically on Gallaz).

The contest itself had the biggest prize pack for women at the time (it included a car, which Amy won!), especially since pro contests like the Globe World Cup and Slam City Jam had only just started “allowing” a section for women to compete in the late 1990s. Carnie recognized the impact the visibility would have on younger generations. He stated that, “When I got on the trip, that was the first thing Jaya said to me. ‘The girls are good,’ he said, ‘and not just good for girls. They’re taking guys out.’ He was right. They all skated at a level I hadn’t expected, especially the evil twins Amy and Vanessa… Though the girls aren’t doing anything to raise the level of skating, they are contributing to the overall progression of skating by being the first girls in possession of enough style and talent to look like skaters about to raise the level of skating.”

And the tour made an impression! In one town, it was such a big deal that not only were all the kids there waiting at the park, but even the mayor showed up to welcome them.

The biggest impact in the AKA video came from the skate parts of Torres and Caron, who carried on the legacy of sick street skateboarding from Elissa Steamer. Their progression lead to consistent contest results, as well as making hand-rails and technical flip-tricks the norm. Their infectious enthusiasm for skating and fun personalities also garnered them a massive fan base which has transcended the decades. Vanessa explained how they fueled each other because they were both each other’s inspiration.

Carnie certainly found them fascinating and refreshing compared to mainstream male skaters who felt were being poisoned by grandeur. Within the video, he said, “They’re a weird group. You don’t really know anything about them. They’re such a weird little sub-class. Kind of like how skateboarding used to be, you know, like the punks… How often do you see this little clique of girl skaters? They’re just fucking skaters, that’s all there is to it. Pirates at that.” Rad!

Among the female skateboarding community, the video was a god send! Within the female-focused magazine called Push (edited by Denise Williams), a review by Sam Robinson in the Spring 2003 issue described the crew as a “dream team.” Sam said, “the girls’ styles in AKA are consistent from trick to trick, which indicates the same consistency that’s had them blowing away contest audiences for the last few years. It’s about time that we have it in a format we can watch over and over.”

Rubicongirl.com website shared that “Even ignoring the all-star lineup, the phenomenal footage and crazy fun antics, the team provides a rare and fascinating insight into the unique and rapidly emerging youth subculture that is girls skateboarding. There are no rose-tinted glasses here and many of the struggles and challenges of the industry are laid bare – not to mention the rewards crucial to a career in professional skateboarding. As they say on the video, ‘See the face of modern skating change before your very eyes.’”

Photos: Jaya Bonderov


  • Carnie, Dave. “Gallaz in Australia: An All-Female Skate Tour.” Big Brother No. 85 (June 2002): 68-83.
  • Lotta (Editor). “Review: AKA Girl Skater.” Rubicon Girl. 2003.
  • Robinson, Sam. “AKA: Girl Skater.” Push magazine (Vol. 1.2), Spring 2003.
  • Whiteley, Mark. “AKA: Girl Skater documentary DVD from Gallaz shoes.” Slap Skateboard Magazine No. 130 (March 2003): 139.

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