Grey Area – Lack of Coolness

Show Me the Way
Grey Area in Budapest – an interview with Mátyás Ricsi

‘Asking for a tour guide is like asking the skate shop employee to grip your board. Change my mind.’
That’s a meme Mátyás Ricsi put up, to fuck with the Grey Area guys, after showing them around Budapest for a week.
To rewind a bit, last autumn I asked Ricsi to link with Kuba Kaczmarczyk and his crew as I knew they were heading to Budapest on a filming mission for the next Grey Area video. The Rios Crew, which Ricsi is a part of, has a reputation for skating some crusty, unique spots, and I knew that would mesh well with Kuba and the others. Turns out it was a good match (Ricsi’s spots and his sense of humour), so much so, that the boys headed back to Budapest this spring. So read on for a little chat with Ricsi about what’s wrong with skateboarding in 2024, his thoughts on the crew, why people shouldn’t take his memes too seriously and more.  

Eniz, Ricsi, Filip and Andrej, Budapest, 2024.

Photography by Rafal Wojnowski
Interview by Will Harmon

In the past 5-6 years more and more skate tourists have come to Budapest, how do you feel about that? 
It’s a nice thing. It’s also great because it’s always a treat to see alternate approaches and different spots. Guys from abroad see a spot that I would never have noticed before, but it was right in front of my eyes, I just didn’t see it. It’s just a matter of perspective, and this is really sick.

I know you linked with the Grey Area guys again yesterday, it looked fun from your Insta stories… How’s your back? (Editor’s note: Ricsi has had a back injury since early last year.)
It was good, it was my first day skating after 15 months. I took a slam too, but it was a small ledge, so it’s okay, it didn’t hurt. But it was a good sign that I might be properly skating soon.

Michał Juraś, frontside bluntslide gap-out

That’s really good to hear. Maybe you’ll be fully skating by the time summer hits.
Actually, I have two months left of rehab time. So I shouldn’t be skating at all… I won’t be skating today. But after the two months have gone, I will try and do some more ollies maybe, we’ll see.

Ok, so what was it like being the Grey Area crew’s spot guide in Budapest? 
They were one of the best to show around because Kuba (Kaczmarczyk) is very, very prepared. He had tons of screenshots from Rios videos, and even Google Maps and Street View screenshots. So he takes the weight off of my shoulders. That is the kind of stuff I really like, because then you can see how hyped they are on the city and shit. It’s a nice feeling.

It’s a completely different dynamic than some team coming to town and relying on the tour guide for absolutely everything. 
Yeah, but I can totally understand that too. Because they have their big companies that have video deadlines, you know, so I can understand that they don’t want to fuck around for two days in the city and not find any spots.

Antonio Pekovic, backside 50-50

So the crew made a great impression on you…
I mean, they’re really nice guys. And I knew about them before I met them, I was already admiring their skateboarding.

Did they skate any spots that you guys had never skated?
Yeah, I showed one or two spots to Eniz that I had in mind that I thought might be possible, but I never had the balls to try it, and he fucking did it like in 10 minutes! I was like, ‘man, what the fuck!’ So yeah, that was pretty amazing.

Eniz Fazliov, frontside 5-0

Eniz is a wonder of the world. Just incredible isn’t he?
To be honest, I’ve seen and I’ve met a lot of sick skaters throughout my skateboarding life, but I think Eniz is the most gnarly skater I’ve ever seen. He’s a fucking machine. He has no fear; it’s unbelievable!

Also the Dida wallride off the roof spot… That’s a spot I’ve been showing to people like,’ Hey, is it possible you think?’ Because I was gonna try it someday, but I never had the balls for it as well. So I gave it away. And then I showed them and Dida was like, ‘whoa, okay, maybe tomorrow.’ and we went back and he fucking did it. It was shocking; that thing is really a monster.
You have a deep history with the Rios Crew there in Budapest, can you tell us a little about how the crew formed?
We all knew each other before our crew was formed. We are from all over the country and slowly each of us moved to Budapest because of skateboarding. So there was no local spot where we could meet up and hang out. We decided to make a DIY, so that we’d have a spot to do that, and pretty much through the process of making and building the DIY our crew was formed.

Filip Dziewiecki, frontside 50-50

When did you guys start filming and making these Rios Crew edits? 
We were filming way before the DIY happened, but they were like shitty little camera edits on our Vimeo channel starting around 2011. And there was a skate shop at the time in Budapest too, and we were doing things together with the skate shop for their website.

I can’t remember if you told me this before or (Bálint) Bence, but the name Rios comes from the car park you guys had the DIY in correct? 
The spot where the DIY is was a big disco place: The Rio Club. And then we put an ‘s’ at the end because there’s more people in the crew, like, Rios.

Michał ‘Dida’ Zarzycki, backside wallride

A large portion of the spots the Rios Crew skate there in the capital are… How do I put this? Unorthodox? Or imaginative, or inventive I would say. What are some of the crew’s skate influences?  
Through my own perspective I was growing up watching 411’s and Transworld videos and there are always iconic spots that skaters go back to, like the Hollywood 16. It’s good to see because it’s gnarly, but after a while it gets played out and boring. Not the tricks, but the spots. And so I thought, if I’m watching a video, I want to see new stuff. So I thought that I should pay attention to my skateboarding if we are filming it and showcasing it to people, you know? Also, for my own entertainment… It’s entertaining to skate a new spot you’ve never been to before. And the adventure of finding a new spot, it’s more exciting than just, ‘Let’s go to the iconic spot and check the tricks that have been done, then do the tricks that have not been done.’ It’s a robotic way, a little bit… But I can understand totally, it’s another approach to it.

Was there a conscious, collective decision for the Rios Crew to not skate the tramline, city centre spots?
Definitely. It was a conscious decision after a while, because we felt like the video (we made) was boring for us to watch ourselves. If it’s boring to us it could be boring to everyone else, you know? And also, we were fucking bored at the spots, we were like, ‘we have to go find something else!’

Andrzej Palenica, bluntslide

Well I appreciate the effort! 
So I was looking at your memes that you post on your Insta account @balekovits. I can tell you are very anti-energy drink, very anti-skate competition, and you often make fun of the S.O.T.Y. race. In your view, what are the biggest problems with skateboarding in 2024? 
The biggest problem in skateboarding might be strongly opinionated guys, like me.

Ha ha! You’re the biggest problem? 
I mean, if someone takes these jokes seriously, that may be the biggest problem. You need to stay in reality… And yeah, I might be pointing at something that I criticise, but it doesn’t mean I hate that particular person or company, you know?

Michał Juraś, ollie

You’re just poking fun a bit, right? 
Yeah, and maybe trying to see other perspectives, but I can’t carry hate in my chest, because it’s a funny feeling and I’ve had enough of it. I even stopped making memes for a year because I was like, ‘I need to chill.’ And now that I’m in a more mellow place, you know, in my head, I can make jokes again and it won’t just be mean.

Yeah I did see a while back that you wrote, ‘Please someone take the Internet away from me’ as the caption for some of your Insta posts… Have you caught any heat for your memes?
Not too often because I don’t have so many followers. But sometimes I get to argue with people, but usually we settle it. At the end of the day, it’s fucking skateboarding, it is a child’s toy, and we take it way too seriously. And that’s a problem…

Antonio Pekovic, kickflip

And it all comes down to our egos, you know? If you think too much of yourself then it can be sketchy. And I wanna say something about the energy drinks stuff in my memes…

Go on…
I also thought about stopping it, because some people might misunderstand it. Because, for example, in Brazil, which is a poorer country, I can totally understand that someone takes an energy drink sponsor there, because they are poor. And they can really support themselves and others with it and I’m all for that.

Michał ‘Dida’ Zarzycki, backside nosebluntslide

They can leave Brazil and travel the world skateboarding. 
That corporate money, you know, you can feed your family. But there are people on the other hand, that are very famous, have enough money already, and they are kind of making an unhealthy choice. And I think that is something that’s questionable. But even from their perspective, I can understand because they have a family, they have kids, they have a big house, everything, you know, but that goes down to your own expectations. If you don’t have high expectations in your life, then you don’t need a fucking energy drink sponsor and much money. But if you have high expectations and you want a Mercedes Benz or a big mansion, then you might need an energy drink sponsor, but if you think that’s gonna make you happy, good luck with that.

And something I remembered talking about with Kuba… I was asked to get cocaine while tour guiding a few other teams/crews and each time I was asked to get coke I would say, ‘I could get it if I wanted to, but I’m not getting that shit because I have “principles”. I don’t deal with that shit because it’s coming from Colombia, and the cartels are violent and people are dying off of it in many ways so I’m not touching that bloody stuff…’ Hard drugs are off of my repertoire.

Antonio Pekovic, backside smith grind

That’s admirable. You made a t-shirt out of the spray-painted face which Neil Blender painted (mid contest run!) at the Streetstyle in Tempe comp, in 1986, as sort of an homage to Neil but also having five of those faces situated in a way as to resemble the Olympic rings. Why did you decide to make this?
Because I thought it embodied what skateboarding is like, kind of our punk rock attitude, what Neil Blender did in that competition. It was a great example of how a skateboarder should be. I mean it’s not the ultimate form of skateboarding, but I think it hits really close to the soul of skateboarding – what happened there. I made the graphic because the Olympics was coming up, but actually, I made it five years ago, before the Olympics, but I didn’t post it because I was waiting for the fucking Olympics to come (laughs).

Ha ha, had to wait…
It was for fun and just a reminder, like, don’t take competition too seriously. Who is the number one? Who is a second? Who is the third? It’s whatever, you know?

Eniz Fazliov, frontside 50-50 gap to the bank

And did you give Eniz one of your tees because he rides for Neil’s company?
I gave one to Eniz yeah.

Sick. Did you guys talk about Neil Blender together?
Not too much. But I told Eniz, ‘Probably this is the closest I can get to Neil Blender ever.’ Like, I met Eniz! And then Eniz was really nice, because this year he brought me a (The Heated Wheel) t-shirt and a beanie. And it’s a small thing, but it’s always the small things that matter, you know?

Yeah. And I really appreciate the t-shirts you gave me in Croatia. That was really nice of you. You were there as Nikola (Racan, VFF organiser) invited you to read some of your poems. When did you start writing poetry? 
When I was 15 years old, I was just a small kid, and for the first time, I fell in love with a girl and I started to express my feelings in poems. It was only once in the beginning, and later on, when we broke up, the habit of letting my steam out through poems remained. And throughout the years this is how my brain lets off steam, I guess. It’s weird because there are times when I don’t write at all. For example, in the last three or four months, I’ve written five poems, but there was a time that I didn’t write a poem for three years.

Andrzej Palenica, crooked grind

It’s just whenever you feel inspired and whatnot.
It’s not in my control, honestly. And I don’t mind if I don’t have any inspiration; it doesn’t faze me if something happens or not.

All right, cool, I think this about wraps it up… 
There’s maybe one last thing that I would like to say to you… Since I didn’t skate for 15 months, and I’m not sure that I will ever be able to skate the way I want, because I’m a cripple now…

Well it takes time to heal a bad back. You had surgery for it right?
Yeah, I had it. But you know, skateboarding is really hard on the body. I really hope, although I’m not sure, if I ever will be able to jump the shit I want to again, you know? So I can’t really skate, but you asked me to help with the article, to interview me, and that lets me feel like I can still somehow do skateboarding. It’s a big present.

Eniz Fazliov, 50-50 gap out

I mean, you’re helping me, Free
I kind of just realised that I mean… I can’t skate, but it’s all good, I still can do stuff with or about skateboarding, and it’s fucking magic, you know?

It is indeed, and that’s a big reason we do this magazine. We love skateboarding, and doing this keeps us close to it, even if we’re unable to skate as much as we’d like. 
Even if I can’t skate with the guys that come to Budapest to hit me up, I can hang out with them. And it all goes down to friendship, you know, not even skateboarding… Fuck skateboarding, it’s the connections we make. Anyways, I’m very thankful for you for reaching out. Thank you.