Diane (Veerman) Desiderio was a competitive freestyle skateboarder who embraced the 1980s with big hair, big earrings, and work-out gear as a whole look, including the slouchy socks (or maybe those were just her shin guards)!
In July of 1983, the NSA Paramount contest results in Los Angeles includes Diane (under her maiden name Veerman) who performed in the amateur freestyle competition. She placed 13th out of 31 competitors, all men with the exception being Leslie Ann Miller. Thrasher shared in their September 1983 issue that, “The formidable ranks of finalists consisted of several up and coming young freestylers who happened to include two exceptionally hot female skaters. Leslie Miller and Diane Veerman. They put a strain on some of the best of the amateurs, besting several of their performances” (p. 32). At that particular event, Shirley McLelland was the lone female amateur slalom racer out of sixteen.
Diane didn’t shy away when it was decided that the 1983 Oceanside Freestyle contest would include a bikini contest. She went for it and took first place, as well as first place in the actual skateboarding contest, ahead of April Hoffman and Michelle Sanderson, as reported in the October 1983 issue of Thrasher. In the same issue, it was noted that Diane competed at the Southern California World Series of Skateboarding contest at Del Mar in 1983 as the lone female. She placed 13th out of 15 Amateur men.
Diane was sponsored by Tracker Trucks and Madrid skateboards and was included in their ad placed in Transworld magazine (1983, Volume 1 no. 3) alongside her future husband, Primo Desiderio (above).
By 1984, Diane had moved into the ranks of being a professional skater! On July 15th, 1984 at Venice Beach for the NSA Summer Series, she placed 6th out of 8 pro men ahead of Per Holknekt and Mike Foster. Her fellow female skater, April Hoffman came a respectable 7th in the amateur division as mentioned in a Thrasher article called “Freeloading at Venice Beach” in the September 1984 issue.
A video by Brad Dorfman and D. Paul Hoffman was released in 1985 called “The NSA’s Sure-Grip Beach Style” at Oceanside, which included footage of Diane. Here’s her run:
And, a quick interview with Diane from the event affirming that she was hopeful that freestyle would progress with more and more girls coming out to compete:
A video called Psycho Skate by Vision Street Wear was released in 1988, and the freestyle segment included Diane performing in tandem with Primo who rode for Vision. You’ve got to love their commitment!
It was suggested that Diane was the only female pro skater in the world which appeared to be true in the mid-1980s until 1988 when Stephanie Person became fully sponsored, competing and touring over in Europe. At Expo ’86 in Vancouver for the Transworld Skateboard Championships Diane competed in the professional category against the men, as seen in the film Radical Moves (1986).
In an interview by Terry Trimble for GTurn zine in 1987, Primo reported that the couple were doing six demos a day in the summer, and two a day in the winter at San Diego SeaWorld’s “City Streets” show, which included BMX demos, dancing, and dog performances! Check out this home video of all the action with Primo and Diane at 20:20.
A photo of Diane by Dave Omer appeared in the June 1986 issue of Thrasher doing her routine, but juxtaposed within a searing article about the approaching death of skateboarding.
Here is footage of Diane in September of 1987 at a NSA freestyle contest at the Velodrome in Carson, CA:
Coverage of a freestyle contest in Louisville, Kentucky embedded footage of Primo and Diane at SeaWorld in 1988 before Primo’s run. Diane is looking pretty badass in her 80s inspired outfit!
Primo and Diane were relentless performers, and even appeared on the “Paul Daniels Magic Show” in 1989 on BBC with a choreographed routine. Diane rocked a pretty epic Madonna-esque outfit including a massive scrunchie in her hair. The couple had an impact on many young people who saw them perform – they were also very open about their Christian faith.
It was almost like the lack of enthusiasm for freestyle in the 1980s with street-style taking over never phased the couple – they had found their passion and persevered. In 1992, Diane had a part in the first all-female skateboard video called Sk8Hers, directed by Ethan Fox – she was still acknowledged as a major contributor to the scene and obviously loved to skate.
Diane and Primo were still skating and gathering footage in the early 2000s, including a post in 2018 on Sk8Kings facebook page. Their pro boards with Sk8Kings are available for purchase here.
What I would like to find is an interview solely with Diane, as the attention tends to focus on Primo rather than how she contributed to the legacy of women in skateboarding. The couple received a Freestyle Hall of Fame award in 2008 in Huntington Beach for their efforts.