Mike Escamilla discusses LA Ink
In the past, the BMX community associated the name "Mike 'Rooftop' Escamilla" with legendary sections in videos such as "Dirty Deeds," "Nowhere Fast" and Forward." But more recently, Rooftop has branched out away from BMX, performing stunt work in movies such as "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and on MTV's Nitro Circus. This season, Rooftop is taking a break from the stunt work, but still getting airtime on LA Ink. His latest gig? He's Kat Von D.'s roommate.
On the show, Rooftop hangs out at High Voltage Tattoo and offers occasional opinions on tattoo art. And if you didn't know that he invented the crooked grind or was the first BMXer to ride the MegaRamp at the X Games, you'd think he was just some guy hanging around a tattoo shop. But that changed last week when LA Ink showcased Rooftop's riding, including clips from "Forward," Ride BMX magazine covers and footage of Rooftop backflipping over a spinning helicopter. If that wasn't enough, one of LA Ink's artists even got a tattoo in tribute to Rooftop.
Having seen the episode, I called Rooftop and asked him some questions about the show. This is Rooftop, post-reality TV.
ESPN.com: Can you explain how you ended up on LA Ink?
Escamilla: I've been friends with Kat [Von D.] forever. And I've been on the show before, just coming on and getting tattooed. I had been living in San Diego, and I decided that I needed to start doing more stunt work. So I started staying at Kat's house 2-3 days a week in LA. And then she said, "You know what, you should just be on the show." She pitched an idea to me, and I said "Sure," and it worked out.
What is your role on the show?
Reality television isn't really reality. It's scripted reality. They give you an idea of what's gonna happen, and you know what the storyline is, but it's a sort of set reality. The original story was that they were opening an art gallery next door, and I was going to be Kat's roommate. The producers wanted something to add to her persona outside of the shop. And I was going to help her brother with this gallery, just getting it together. As the season's filming went on, they changed everything. Originally, I was going to be on ten of the 13 episodes, and that turned into three of the episodes. Then, they split the footage up and I just kinda filmed my own things that I did on the side. Like the Nikki Sixx Twitter war and a few other things that I just started doing on my own around the show, and they just made them about the show. Now, I think you could just say I'm her roommate. I come in and out, and there are no real story lines. She asks me for help sometimes, and that's it. I don't feel like there's a necessary reason for me to be on the show other than that I'm another character that's part of her life. At least I don't feel like it's embarrassing to watch now.
Can you explain what happened with Nikki Sixx and Twitter?
Kat and Nikki were dating. He'd come over and I'd give him a hard time about wearing spandex and makeup. I saw this album one time of him with all these truly amazing photos, just all of the things Motley Crüe has gotten to do and be a part of. But at the same time, it's such a different genre from where I came from, so it looked insane and ridiculous to me. So I started Photoshopping the photos, and that's how it got started. And he retaliated by putting my phone number on the Internet, and that was the end of that.
What's it like hanging out with dudes from Motley Crüe?
It's no different than hanging out with anyone else. He's a normal guy. The coolest thing about it is that Nikki has a lot of really wild stories. He's done so much, and people that don't know much about Motley Crüe don't realize what he did for music, and what he's still doing for music. It would be the same if you never met [Mat] Hoffman, and you were a fan, and you got to listen to stories from Mat.
Did all of the other characters on the show know about your background as a BMX pro?
Nobody did. At least that's what I thought. Halfway through the season, the one guy Dennis, who I became close friends with, he never told me this, but he was a big fan of mine growing up. He had pictures of me on his walls growing up, and in one of the episodes, he got a Rooftop tattoo. And I ended up getting the same tattoo. That was on just last week, and I bought it off iTunes cause I was on the road. That was the coolest episode for me, cause they actually showed me as a bike rider. I think the general public, up until that episode, didn't really know who I was. I wasn't Mike Escamilla the bike rider. I was just some guy named Mike Escamilla. That was a little hard to swallow at first, cause I felt like people might think I was some sort of monkey. Not that they put me off like that, but I always feel that, when I see someone on TV that's just there, and doesn't have a talent, you're just like, "Who is this goon?" So that made me feel better, and I think they did a pretty good job of showing what I do without making it look like I was an extreme idiot. I felt that it was good for bike riding. There's some other bike riding that might be on the show, riding ledges and not doing backflips off of box jumps.
What's next for you and LA Ink?
I don't know. They may be doing another season, but I don't know. Today I'm off to do a stunt job, and I'll hopefully continue to do that. If something comes up, cool. I think I slipped under the radar with this one. Most of the time, when anyone in BMX does anything outside of BMX, you become a pretty big target for ridicule. But there hasn't been too much bad over this. It's just fun with friends and I can't see why anyone wouldn't want to do that.
Are you doing a full part for the Demolition video?
I'm trying to. It's been hard cause we haven't really had a solid filmer. And also, I was filming for LA Ink for four or five months, and it was hard to get away to really concentrate on filming. And then as soon as I got done filming, I broke my wrist. Since July, I've been hurt. I went on a trip after that, and got nothing. And I just got back from a trip (myself, Brian Kachinsky and Glenn Milligan) and I got some clips. I'm gonna try my hardest to have a part. I do have, literally, three and a half weeks. I've got a few clips from earlier in the summer, but the rest is going to be from the next few weeks. It's probably not going to be the part that I could have had if I spent a year filming, but at the same time, it's been pretty motivating and fun for me, and I did stuff that I literally haven't done in ten years.