Lisa Forman was a solid skateboarder in both transition and slalom, and further proof that there were some amazing female skaters during the 1980s. While she is practically ignored by mainstream skateboarding magazines outside of contest results, Lisa is fortunately found in the pages of her friend Lynn Kramer’s ‘zines Girls Who Grind (1988) which would become Equal Time (1989).
Early contest results show that Lisa represented the skatepark called “SkaterCross” in Reseda, CA perhaps meeting Wendy Gooding who worked there as a secretary and cashier. She was active at the Association of Skate Park Owners (ASPO) contests, which were held at skateparks primarily in the Los Angeles to San Diego area as a way for amateur skateboarders to garner attention and become more confident in competition.
In the results for the April 5th, 1980 ASPO contest at Oasis Skatepark, Lisa won the slalom event and was 2nd to Cara-beth Burnside in pool. She was leading in the points for Girls 14-16, while Cara-beth was taking the lead for Girls Open, as noted in Skateboarder magazine, July 1980. In the same issue, it was listed that Lisa competed in the April 1980 Reseda Pro-Am event, coming in third place behind Patti Hoffman (the skater to beat!) and Burnside. Cindy Whitehead was present as the lone pro skateboarder and received a token $50 for her efforts, compared to the $600 to $100 prizes for the men’s top 8 finishers.
In the August 23, 1980 issue of Skat’nNews, Lisa is again back and forth against Cara-beth Burnside in the results from the August 2nd ASPO contest at SkaterCross. Lisa took first place in slalom, then swapped places and became second behind Burnside in pool for Girls 15 and over. At a very competitive ASPO contest at Marina del Rey on September 13, 1980, Lisa was second place in the overall results behind Burnside, but ahead of Sue Smith, Shirley McClelland, Gale Springer and Joanna Field. She had solid results placing 5th in pool and 2nd in slalom as reported in Skat’nNews.
Wrapping up the year, the December 30, 1980 issue of Skat’n News listed the final standings of ASPO contests with Cara-beth taking first for the girls, followed by Lisa and Sue, which is then confirmed in the March 1981 issue of Thrasher.
While the skateboarding industry took a dip in the early 1980s, Lisa must have kept on skating because she was an active member of the Ready To Shred (RTS) skateboard club at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in the late 80s. Lisa and Lynn Kramer met there as students while rallying for a skateboard ramp on campus. Lynn said that Lisa, “had skated ASPO with Cara-Beth as adolescents. She ripped on vert, with inverts and laybacks. She travelled with us for Women’s Skateboard Network stories and was often featured in Equal Time.”
In an article within The UCSD Guardian on Monday, January 30, 1989 it was reported that there was a contest on the campus ramp with Advanced and Intermediate divisions. “Lisa Forman placed first among the lower division contestants. The contest was judged by Lynn Kramer, Nathalie Rictor [Richter] (a sponsor from Germany) and [Steve] Villarreal.” Pro skater, Stephanie Person was also present and noted how female skaters were a rarity.
Kramer’s first zine Girls Who Grind was her early attempt at rallying members of the Women’s Skateboarding Club, and Lisa was one of the first members. It’s reported that, “On November 19, 1988, Street Life held an amateur streetstyle contest in San Diego, CA. Included in the contest was a women’s division. Five women showed up to skate that day, and skate they did… Lisa Forman placed second. This was Lisa’s first streetstyle contest; her first love being the Masonite transitions on a great big, vertical, ramp. Lisa pulled sweepers, an invert, foot plants on the quarter pipe, and almost pulled off a frontside wallride. Lisa is backed by the UCSD ‘Ready to Shred’ skate club.”
The legendary street skater, Christy Jordahl won the event, and while it sounded like a good time there were some highs and lows. Kramer explained how the timing of the women’s division was an afterthought. “The women competed at the end of the day, right between the sponsored ams’ preliminary and final heats. The ams were less than gentlemen when the girls went out to practice, refusing to get off the course. About ten or fifteen of them even had the balls, or lack of, to skate DURING the girls runs.” Kramer recommended contest organizers be a bit more strategic, but it sounds like the guys were simply arrogant and disrespectful – so a credit to women like Lisa for forging on!
Lisa was proud of her role at UCSD, and wrote in Girls Who Grind how the club was able to host a skate-a-thon/benefit for Battered Women and Children and the Homeless. “I am happy to inform all that the club does include at least four female skaters including myself, and our very own WSC president, Lynn Kramer. By the way, this ramp is the first ever on any campus across the United States. So Congrats!! To everyone involved in such an important ground breaking event – Lisa Forman.”
In April 1989, Lisa competed at the Tempe contest, going on a roadtrip to Arizona with Lynn, which was reported on in Equal Time (Vol. 1, No. 3). She incorporated some of her vert skating skills to the streetstyle contest “like an invert and a rock-n-roll to the quarter pipe and launch ramp, but I guess the judges wanted to see those tricks on the mini-ramp,” so she was given 5th place.
Lisa was then rewarded with a 1st place in mini-ramp ahead of Danielle McDade (2nd) and Vicky Voughn (3rd). Lynn wrote, “Lisa surprised everybody, even herself. She did every trick she knew how, and even one she didn’t. On the list were inverts, fakie rock-n-rolls, a sweeper, and a layback grind.”
This is the last source I have related to Lisa and skateboarding, and it appears that she must have graduated from UCSD and moved to San Francisco.
It’s also unclear if this Lisa Forman is the same person who became a media designer and passionate drummer. I plan to connect with family, as there is a memorial online from 2011 that suggests she passed away and was deeply loved by a community of musicians. I will update when I know for certain.
In the meantime, would love to find more skateboarding photos of Lisa (hopefully Steve has the original photos before they were photocopied!) and to honour her presence as a kickass skater in this fascinating history of ours.
Photos: George Medlock, Steve Villarreal