Familia Grande Complicada (by Mike Mag)

It is not a brand. Neither is it a company. We don’t actually make anything (aside from skate videos). CPTMAFIA is a family. A tight-knit crew of street cats from Brazil with a long story, a deep bond, shared passions and drives, and a lot of talent. That talent being the ability to make something out of nothing. Flying higher than most with fewer resources than most. Being the best English speaker of the crew I was asked to help introduce the gang, tell its story past and present, and attempt to put into words the family’s contagious energy.

All photography by Allan Carvalho.

Born in the outskirts of São Paulo (the ABC district), the mafia’s roots began like many others: just a group of kids trying to get to the city centre to skate. The only way is by taking the CPTM train line, but we don’t have money, and train security is tight. Using a series of creative tactics the boys quickly developed ways to jump the CPTM train every try. With their quick wits and the famous Brazilian ‘little way’ (O Jeitinho) they were able to regularly get to the city center to skate, helping one another jump the trains despite the security. Up until this point there was no CPTMAFIA, just a group of local skate rats constantly finesseing their way around the city to skate.

Leo Bodelazzi, switch noseslide.

In order to tell the rest of the story, I must tell the story of the OG big homie ‘Big Key’ (Chavão). Big Key was an older local skater, he knew things, he lived a lot. He saw that this group of punks had the potential to really be something special but lacked the knowledge necessary to get there. Being the Big Key that he was, he passed on an abundance of knowledge to the boys, putting them onto things like literature, cinema, street skating, and skate videos. Today Big Key is serving a sentence in a Brazilian prison. Thankfully he was able to open up many doors for the crew while he was around. He was the one who suggested this group of kids that are always together cherish their bond, form a tight crew, buy a camera, hit the streets, and make some videos.

Taking Big Key’s advice, the youngest member of the crew at the time, Matheus Lima, did some research and suggested the Sony TRV900. The initial CPTMAFIA crew (Leo Bodelazzi, Yuri Amaro, Anderson Gomes, Giovanni Franzo, Matheus Lima, Raphael Soares, Raphael Silva, JP Rocha and resident photographer Allan Carvalho) got together and pitched in with what little they had to score a beat up but working TRV900 and took to the streets to film some clips. But this camera soon after got stolen on a bus ride and all was lost.

Leonardo Adrian, frontside 5-0.

About a year went by until the crew was able to come up on another Sony TRV900. This one was good, and they got a baby death lens to go with it. Filming and skate trips resumed, making connections in other cities such as Maringá (Bruno Prado, Leonardo Adrian, Felipe Munhoz, Cristofer Da Silva) Riberão Preto (Lucas Marques, MKD Skateshop) and Curitiba (Leonardo Bibiano). As the connections grew the family did as well. The trips kept coming and the tapes kept rolling but with no intention or even any idea of how to make a skate video. After aimlessly filling over 100 tapes of footage something had to be done. Thus the first CPTMAFIA video was born: Cadê o Pão. The name being a reference to CPTMAFIA member Wellington Oliveira aka Pão, and his ability to always mysteriously disappear on the session.

Wellington Oliveira, frontside 50-50.

As things grew bigger, the world grew smaller. About half of the crew managed to scrape up some funds together to take a trip to Barcelona. 90 days of using that famous Brazilian ‘little way’ to get the most out of their visit. The result is proudly demonstrated in the ¿Y HOY? video that they were able to come home with. We gained a new family member out of this one too, Akira Utida.

Upon returning to Brazil the world was swept by the Covid pandemic and life was stopped for a while. But eventually, the skating continued and the tapes were rolling again. The crew stayed busy, everyone doing their own thing, but always all together. In this time a lot of great solo parts and projects came out from the individual CPTMAFIA members. We also gained some new members; Leo Favaro, Mike Mag, Hendrik Santos and Felipe Rocha.

Leo Favaro, boardslide to fakie.

This new video is the result of these two odd years during the pandemic. The product of many patchy filming sessions and get-togethers in the ABC district (the mafia’s birthplace).
The tapes kept piling up with no way to capture the footage as no one had a working computer during these times. Anytime we could find someone with a working computer we would ask to use it to try to capture some tapes or edit a little bit of the video. Across 7-8 computers in three continents we were able to use that famous ‘little way’ to get this video finished. Thank you to everyone who helped us through this messy process. This video was edited by Lucas Marques with the democratic input of the whole troop and we are all very proud to present it.

In Brazil everything is five times harder. Making a buck is five times harder and it will be worth five times less when you get it. Skate products from the outside, such as American and European brands, rarely make it over here and if they do they will be five times as expensive. The spots and skate parks are five times rougher and five times as sparse. To ‘make it’ in skating or even get a decent sponsor is five times as unlikely. Faced with this harsh reality of challenges we have to pour five times more of our hearts and souls into what we do. But the reward of all the hard work is five times sweeter.

Matheus Lima, slappy crooked grind.

This video is a testament to our shared bond, passion, and challenges. Making five times more with five times less. We don’t have the latest and greatest video camera gear or equipment. We don’t have one singled out proper filmer. What we have is each other. Everyone films everyone, passing the camera around like a spliff, creating our signature loose filming style. Everyone gives input on the soundtracks and edits. Everything is shared, and everything is together. We all cheer each other on and celebrate each others’ individual goals.

Through this we have been able to make some waves outside of the parallel universe that is Brazil; expanding our world into new territories and making new friendships and connections worldwide. A lot of the crew has come a long way in their individual stories and will continue to fly as high as possible with all of our unwavering support. As I write all this from a small smokey room in Santo André with a chunk of the crew hovering over my shoulder and another bunch on FaceTime giving input, we are actively setting up to have our biggest video premiere to date on this very night. Most of us are here together but others can’t make it because they are off on their own conquests. But forever and always our hearts are in this together all for the love of skateboarding. É nos! (It’s us!)

Anderson Gomes, frontside crooked grind.

During these in-between times here is some of the cool stuff the CPTMAFIA has been up to…

Leo Favaro dropped several video parts including Sentimento Puro, OBRIGADO MKD, and Spiritualized, as well as making regular appearances in other videos and racking up stamps in his passport.

Lucas Marques has been busy in the streets on both sides of the camera, having filmed and edited Contents as well as giving us flowy parts like this one for Free and October Symphony.

Raphael Soares continues to be the most handsome of the group and not too long ago dropped his part Diverta Se.

Giovana Dias makes her debut appearance in our newest video, the first female member of the crew and one of the most G as well.

Leo Bodelazzi filmed a video part with legend Anthony Claravall last year, Leozinho, that I think really blew a lot of minds. He’s in California right now so he is going to miss our premiere. But we know he’s somewhere in the streets having fun, and he’s been skating with some of the Crailtap camp as well. Live it up Leo!

Hendrik Santos is one of our newest members and easily the most stylish. You’ll know who
we’re talking about. He makes his debut in our new video and has another video part of his
own about to come out.

Matheus Lima a day one member and one of the youngest dropped Lilás last year and also teamed up with our lovable panda bear Leonardo Bibiano to give us Bobabu.

Bruno Rocha’s full length video Labirinto documents some of the crew’s time spent in Europe and gave us and gave us a shared part by our Bruno Prado and Lucas Marques, this amazing Akira Utida part, as well as a CPTMAFIA section with Anderson Gomes and the rest of the crew that visited Europe in these times.

Leonardo Beazotto regularly produces videos with the crew like last year’s Joabless amongst many others.

Leonardo Adrian, the youngest of the group is growing strong as displayed in his Retta part from last year, and keeps getting better every day. Keep an eye on him.

Mike Mag often leaves his beaches of Rio de Janeiro behind to adventure around the world and always comes back with a new video part in his pocket featuring appearances from the crew like in The Saudade Express and Own Little World.

Yuri Amaro, Wellington Oliveira, Felipe Munhoz and the rest of the family make regular appearances in some of our other montages and videos like Praça Brasil, CINCO, and even this Day in the Life video from Jenkem.