April 2 is a big day around New York City. Aside from it marking the first time Einstein lectured in NYC about his theory of relativity in 1921, the day also marks what would have been the 40th birthday of the late, great Harold Hunter, along with the two-year anniversary of Rodney Torres' Torro Skateboards.
To help commemorate this momentous date in New York history, Torro dropped the first full-part ever from Staten Island's own Leo Heinert. Leo has been a staple on the NYC scene for years, generally winning any mini ramp/tranny contest in the tri-state area and always with the biggest, Kool-Aid smile on his face. This new part does a great job of showcasing Leo as the well-rounded skater he is and one of the most talented, hard-working skaters in all of the five boroughs.
XGames.com: How did you get on Torro Skateboards?
Heinert: I got on Torro by just skating with Rodney [Torres] all the time. He brought the idea of Torro up to me one day while we were skating and I was psyched on it. I told him I would be super down to be a part of it. Then New Year's 2012 came and we decided to skate the first day of the year by Flushing. I basically came from a New Year's party straight to the sesh and decided to go for that 16-stair rail noseslide. I think when I landed that it basically concreted my spot on the team. That's my theory.
How did this video part come about and how long did it take you to film?
That noseslide started the filming process for this Torro part. It was originally going to be an intro part for Joseph Delgado and one for me but basically after that trick, we just started to stack upon that but it was difficult because everyone is on different schedules. I had work and school, and everyone had different hustles and responsibilities. We were sitting on the noseslide for a while until the next trick filmed for the part, but basically two years of filming.
I've been seeing you at events on the East Coast for years and didn't even know you had a name. I just called you "Smiley" because you're always smiling. What are you so happy about? Why are you always smiling?
I was always going to the NJ Skateshop demos and random events, and I would just be psyched to be there and skate. I also have a natural smirk on both sides of my face. But I am happy to be skating, having fun, and being alive. I never really thought about why I am so happy though, I guess I just am.
You ride for a Queens based company but you have roots in all five boroughs. Explain that.
I was born in Brooklyn, and lived there until I was about 11 or 12, then I moved to Staten Island. But the first skatepark I went to was Riverside Skatepark in uptown Manhattan, then to Owl's Head in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn the next day. So my dad used to play soccer and once I started skating, the next best thing to do with his feet was to skate. So we would go to different spots and parks in the five boroughs and even Jersey, so I met a bunch of people everywhere. We used to go to Flushing and skate the globe, go to the Bronx and skate Mullalys. We even helped build the old Tribeca Park one day with Dan Pensyl and Andy Kessler. So I guess by just being around everything with my pops, my roots were formed. Then from high school on I would just take the ferry to the city and skate after school with all the homies.
Were you living on Staten Island when Hurricane Sandy hit?
Yeah I was living on Staten Island during Sandy. My parents and I didn't think it was going to be that bad because of the false alarm the year before with Irene. But it definitely turned out horrible. The worst for us was that we lost power for about a week, but we just made the best out of it.
Why do you think there's been somewhat of an East Coast resurgence in the skate media in the last couple years?
I think it's because the more skateboarding progresses, the more people are going to look for untouched spots to be shown in media so that people don't see the same stuff. The East Coast also has a sense of pride of how raw it really is and people want to see and be a part of it. Also, people have started to appreciate the factor of difficulty in skating certain spots. So all that together makes each photo or video taken on the East Coast different from each other and interesting to the viewer's eye.
You ever see yourself moving to California to chase the dream?
It'd be cool to go out there, but I don't see myself moving out there. My dream is here, I want to help build East Coast/New York's Empire in skateboarding just like California has their empire. Also I am kind of stuck here. My mom moved to Ecuador and left me with the mortgage of the house, so I have to be responsible and come up with mortgage money.
I heard you have an associates degree in Architecture. Is that your day job? Or is architecture your goal after skateboarding?
My associates in architecture is from New York City College Of Technology. My day job though is being a courier. I work for a cool company called Postmates. I ride or skate around the city doing deliveries and personal shopping for people. Recently, I also have been doing a lot of background acting gigs. I also got casted to be an Ecuadorian gang member in this show called 'Trafico.' I am also getting my real estate license. I have a bunch of different hustles, but I really would love to work with a skatepark or skate plaza design and build firm. That's the route I would like to take with my degree. But if acting, real estate, or (preferably) designing skateparks works out and I can make a career out of it, I'll stick with it.
Torro owner, Rodney Torres, and I go way back and he's an NYC OG. He's one of the first people I ever saw tre flip into grinds on flatbars and bump to bars. He's also a great source of entertainment. What's a good Rodney story?
This is kind of a Rodney and Luis [Tolentino] story that they told me. Basically they found a pigeon in Rodney's building, and they decided to help heal the pigeon's wing, but not before they filmed a music video with it. So Rodney decided to whip out the camera and film Luis rapping with the pigeon. Then he made the pigeon fly towards the camera epicly. Then they helped the pigeon heal up and everyone lived happily ever after. It's always a good time with Rodney.
What's your goals in skateboarding and the rest of the year?
I just want to keep skating all year, but also keep at the background acting, and real estate. I also want to rent out the house to a family but still keep my section downstairs. And I am looking into going back to school to finish my bachelor degree. But in terms of skateboarding, I want to continue skating and having fun, and see how far I can go with it. I want to keep supporting everyone that has supported me and continues to support me. Hopefully I can start making some money through skateboarding so I can have fun while also being able to meet my responsibilities financially for this mortgage. I also want to travel as much as I can in 2014.