Gelek Gonzalez – FORMER

It’s hard to consider what consumes most people’s heads and it’s safe to say it’s never accurate. It takes a lot of time for most people to allow themselves to be truly vulnerable and just say what’s on their mind without any hesitation. The risks are pretty clear though. Someone finds it refreshing or someone finds you extremely unsavoury. As a culinary graduate, I think Gelek has had no choice other than to maintain that brutally honest kitchen chatter out loud and proudly I must say. It’s a lawless recipe that gives him charm, even though I’ve seen it not work many times. Sprinkle his fake American accent in there and watch people’s reactions. It’s a show you really don’t want to miss.
It’s been an extremely entertaining experience watching Gelek develop over the last few years. His journey that finally led him to Barcelona is unpredictable to say the least. His outlook on life seems fearless and unapologetic. Something that I haven’t seen in a while. Allow yourself a couple minutes to step into this Catalonian cowboy’s head and see if you understand why he may have ended up this way.

– Austyn Gillette

Gap to backside lipslide, Barcelona. All photos by Gerard Riera.

Austyn Gillette: Do you want to do this interview in Spanish or English?
Gelek Gonzalez: (Says something in a cocky Catalan accent)

Hmm, yeah sounds great. Tell me about your journey from being born in Peru and ending up in Barcelona? You were born in Peru right?
Yeah I was born in Peru. My dad’s been living there for half his life, maybe even more? He has property in the Andes near Cusco where Machu Picchu is actually. We used to go there a lot as a kid and he still spends most of his time there now that he’s older. I guess I spent most of my time there with my family until we moved to the US when I was 16, but we actually started visiting when I was thirteen.

It was for my birthday and he knew I was really into skating at the time. I was watching skate videos and discovered YouTube. You could say it was a present and we flew out to the US for me to go skate at Skate Lab in California.

Noseslide, Barcelona.

You accidentally found YouTube ha ha?
Yeah I think so ha ha.
I don’t know how I found out about it. This is going to sound pretty embarrassing, but I used to be really into watching Alex Midler skate when I was a kid for some reason. The only videos I would see were him, Bryan Herman and Leo Romero’s Stay Gold B-sides. Those were the only videos I knew at the time. Somehow Alex Midler would always pop up and I knew he was around the same age, so I would see him doing stuff I’d never seen before at wooden skateparks and whatnot. I think that’s how I ended up wanting to go to that Skate Lab Skatepark and was able to meet some older friends that I stayed in contact with. When I was 16 or so, I ended up moving to Portland while my Dad went off to New York to do his Buddhism retirement.

So he just went off to New York and left you in Portland? Seems pretty rogue.
Yeah pretty much. I was placed in a boarding school up there for a while and I would do little trips back to California to skate when there was school holidays and then a couple years later I moved back to California into a full skate house. It was a fucking disaster. I got the worst experiences that you could have in a skate house.

Kickflip, L’Escala.

That sounds really loose, but it’s cool your dad let you do that and trusted you.
Man my dad has been the coolest and always let me do what I wanted. He knew all of my friends and knew that they would take care of me. It was cool while it lasted.

Wait, wasn’t that house in Simi Valley or something?
No, it was Moorpark.

What a place to end up, ha ha.
At some point it felt like everyone hated each other and the
lease was up. People were living there with their girlfriends on couches and never paying rent. It was a fucking mess. I was probably about nineteen then and I decided to go to Barcelona to visit my
sister. After spending some time there, I just didn’t see the point in going back. It felt like home for the first time in my life. It just felt right, so I just stayed.

Bump to bank ollie, Barcelona.

I can’t believe you moved to the US because of Alex Midler.
Ha ha.

Nothing against him or anything, I just find that really funny. So you were nineteen and moved to a foreign country to visit your sister with no plans of moving back?
Yeah, I guess so.

And now you’re twenty- five. Do you feel like you’re twenty-five?
Definitely. I turned 25 this summer and now it feels like I can’t be a fucking idiot anymore ha ha.

Are you getting grey hairs yet?
Grey hairs? No. My hair is thinning out, that’s for sure. I actually saw photos from when I was twenty and I had way more hair.

Ollies, Barcelona.

That happens.
My dad is a good ol’ baldy, so I’ll get there eventually.
(fake American accent)

Let’s shave that head of yours.
Ha ha.

You know when we’ve been out at night on trips and you play characters from movies for the whole night and people actually believe that you’re an actor?
I guess so ha ha, what do you mean?

50-50, Barcelona, Torelló.

Don’t lie, you know exactly what you’re doing. Do you think you could actually do that? It seems like something that is right up your alley.
Acting? Over the last few years I realised that working fucking sucks and if I’m going to do anything I want to be having fun you know?

I get that.
I’ve always thought acting could be nice. You get to pretend you’re someone else all the time and talk shit ha ha. You get paid a lot of money and whatnot.

Backside smith grind to ball ride, Barcelona.

I don’t know if it’s that easy, but I hope it is. If that’s the case, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
Yeah, maybe we should just become actors.

Yeah let’s quit while we are ahead. Speaking of quitting, tell the readers about your time in culinary school. I still can’t believe all the things you have done in such a short span of time.
Well I was living with my sister here in Barcelona and my dad was pressuring me to figure something out so I could start supporting myself. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but my sister’s ex-husband was a chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant. He was nice enough to let me hang out and work there for a while, so I decided to enrol in culinary school. Everybody was saying that I wouldn’t finish because it was a three-year program and really expensive, but I managed to get through it in the end.

What did they tell you at the end of the program? Like you when you finish any schooling, you’re not guaranteed a job and that’s a pretty competitive world to enter.
Well I had that experience working in that Michelin star restaurant for a while, so I was able to use that and my school diploma to help me get to wherever I wanted to go.

Michelin-rated restaurants look pretty damn good on that resume I could imagine.
Yeah, definitely.

Did you know that the Michelin rating came from the Michelin tire company originally?
No, but I know that tire company.

Frontside 50-50, Sabadell.

Yeah, they would make books for people going on road trips and it would tell them where to find food, gas and other things to do along the way.

It’s all a bunch of bullshit anyways.
The more you get older the more you realise that everything is a bunch of bullshit ha ha.

I like hearing you say ‘older’. I would say the same thing when I was younger, but I’m now doing an interview with you and I have been skating for as long as you’ve been alive.

Ride-on 50-50, Masnou.

Yeah I think so. I’ve been skating since I was eight, so that would make it twenty-four years. So if you’re saying you feel old, then I’m a fucking fossil. What’s up with boxing?
I’ve been boxing for about a year now. I tried it before Covid, but I was too busy with cooking school and didn’t have enough time to get fully into it. I really didn’t have much of a life outside of school and I was also skating as much as I could when I had free time. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really got into it. I love every single thing about it. I haven’t had anything else that felt like it besides skating. I can see now how all those other skaters have biking, art and other things that disconnect them from skating for a second.

It’s probably in everyone’s best interest to have other interests.
Yeah, I need it. I also have some homies that are really fucking good and they took me under their wing. Now I’m fully sparring with the big boys. It makes me feel really good. I have a lot of anger, so it’s perfect for me to have a place to get that energy out.

You’ve got a lot of demons, so I’m glad you found something to get it all out.
You know it also made my skating better. It’s going to sound super cliché, but it made all of my muscles feel really connected and I can feel it from my toes to my fingers. I can feel it when I’m just doing an ollie or pushing down the street. I’m not really afraid to fall anymore.

Well it’s clearly working because you have a full interview in this magazine now, but if you were to spar with any skater, who would it be?
Fuck I feel like there’s a lot of people, but the first person that comes to mind is Jake Anderson ha ha.

The people would love to see that ha ha. That should actually just be this whole interview. Fuck the skating. Just a sequence of the entire fight. I couldn’t imagine it lasting very long.
Probably not ha ha.

Is this your first interview?
Yeah it is.

Holy shit that’s pretty exciting. I’m sorry you had to do it with me.
No, it’s been a pleasure.

I know you’ve been working hard and with all the footage you’ve been sending me, I think people won’t be expecting what they see. I’m really excited to see the reaction.
Thanks man.

Let’s get the gloves on next trip and maybe I can show you a thing or two?
Ha ha, sounds good partner.