Since writing my underground zine called The Magic of Skateboarding, which teaches magic effects and philosophy with regular skateboards and fingerboards, I'm always on the lookout for artists combining magic and skating. Then I came across this YouTube clip by Kirby Martin where he’s creating magic with a fingerboard, and I knew I had to interview him. Enjoy!
Joe Ledoux: How long have been fingerboarding?
Kirby Martin: I have been fingerboarding on and off for 19 years. My first fingerboard came out of a McDonald's Happy Meal!
JL: Do you have an interest in magic? If so, explain your connection.
KM: I love magic! I was actually sitting at a bar about 6 years ago and a street performer approached me, asking me for a lighter. He then continued to make a cigarette appear at his fingertips out of thin air. So long story short, I ended up bumping into him on the street again a few weeks later and convinced him to teach me the illusion. I paid him 5 bucks! Haha. I have been hooked ever since!
JL: What gave you the idea to combine magic with fingerboarding?
KM: Well, when I started learning these "sleight of hand" tricks I was using mostly coins, cards, pencils, pens, et cetera. And so naturally, when I started to get interested in fingerboarding again I sorta just thought, "Hey, this thing’s tiny.”
JL: I was really intrigued by how you made the board reappear by throwing it, a kind of bold move but effective on the first view. How did you think of that?
KM: When I started filming this particular trick, I was just doing the French Drop and that was it. So in the true nature of Skateboarding and Magic, I just wanted to take it one step further and add my personal spin to it. No pun intended.
JL: Are you really trying to fool the viewers?
KM: No. I don't think people really have the mindset to be fooled anymore. Also I'm not that good, haha.
JL: Do you think fingerboarding is an art?
KM: It can be. It depends on the presentation. One of the great things about fingerboarding that most people don't realize is that it incorporates not only performance art, but also recording arts like audio, video and lighting. Just like in skateboarding.
JL: What is the most magical trick you have seen done with a fingerboard?
KM: There is a particular video on YouTube where one fingerboarder throws his board from across the room, and another fingerboarder catches the board on the lip of a ramp, in the "drop-in" position. There’s nothing particularly magical about it, other than it reminds me of something David Blaine would do if he had a Tech Deck, haha.
I would sincerely like to thank Kirby Martin for doing this interview - I was deeply moved to meet a creative individual combining these two art forms! I really enjoyed his insights into the theatrical side of fingerboarding and some of the nostalgic aspects of the magician’s path!
If you know of any connections between magic and skateboarding, please email me at email@example.com.
You can find a lot of questions and posts about these subjects on my Facebook Fan Page here: https://www.facebook.com/joeledouxmagic.
Here's the link to the review of my book by Genii Magazine, one of the biggest magic magazines in the world!
I received a letter from skateboarder Benoit Smith and he gave me permission to share his thoughts on skateboard magic. This is what he had to say.
hey dude, firstly, thank you. hope you don't mind but wanted to share a little magical moment with you. apologize in advance if this turns into thesis levels walls of text.
woke up today and out of habit went out to smoke, pondered some abstractions, felt the need to concreticize a couple thoughts, and did so with the aid of a nicotine shit; this was the result:
Skateboarding is inherently magical. The act of inducing one's will to conjure and manifest whatever the individual desires to achieve on their skateboard is fundamentally magic; the resulted "trick" the act of the magician. Both psychologically and physically, the act of transmutation is enforced. Physically, taking the already established environment (nature) and combining the physical environment with beauty in the form of performative art, the two come together in unity. Derived from a socioeconomic perspective, skateboarding itself is the same union between high and low culture. Psychologically, the perception of environment to skateboarders are entirely transmuted; the mind is now trained and sharpened to recognize every instance of physical environment as a (skateboard) potentiality. In the same nature of humanity, each individual's skateboarding is entirely personal in it's expression, as the nuances in someone's style, trick selection, etc. are all rooted in the myriad facets of one's mind, but one in it's overarching community, as people from all walks of life from all over the world share the same source of love that trancend all human barriers such as language, sexuality/gender, culture, etc.
right after i came across an interview for your book, and fuck dude, hell yeah. so glad you made this, especially in this format since i do illustration work as well. probably shoulda held off on emailing you until after i bought and read it but it already resonates. when i do ill be sure to send you a follow up dissertation.
In different episodes of Gumby, his skateboard says CLAY POWER on top of it with a picture of himself.
I think it's an interesting question to dig a little deeper into the meaning of the power of clay, and what Gumby represents.
Clay has its roots in bringing things to life, from Biblical sources to stories of the golem. Art Clokey would animate clay objects and bring them to life. In the beginning of the film Gumby Dharma, Art Clokey says, "In the Shakespearean plays, all the characters are Shakespeare. Like we are all a god, they’re all me. All of it is in me. All of these characters. Don’t know how it happened, but that’s life."
Gumby himself has some spiritual associations. Clokey discovered the works of Alan Watts and starting seeking Eastern religions. He brought the Gumby figure to Sathya Sai Baba, a famous guru from India. Clokey explained:
"I stood there with Gumby and he did this circular motion with his arms... Out of nowhere he materialized this sacred ash. He plopped it right on top of Gumby. When we came home again, things started to happen." Afterward, sales from Gumby toys started going up.
Would you expect a cartoon skateboard to carry serious meaning? It gets more interesting when you you see how Clokey used Gumby as a vehicle to spread love. Clokey was given a drug that caused him to go on a shamanic journey, and his trip was so marvelous he wanted to share it on TV. The episode was called "Moon Trip." I think Clokey’s role with using Gumby to inspire love is similar to a spiritual healer.
Clokey says, "When people watch Gumby, they get a blissful feeling. Gumby loves you. We love you. That's about all I can say."
I think Clay Power is like saying Flesh Power: no matter what color you are, we all have that life force inside us that connects us all together.
To me, “Clay Power” is a symbol for the spark of the divine within us!
A secret show under the moonlight will happen in the fall.
The location and time of this free show will be announced on my Facebook fan page!