By Nick Shields, Photos by Mike Goodman
Like most of you reading this, I was first introduced to Spencer Nuzzi (pronounced like fuzzy not newsy) through his trick tips and day in the life videos on Tony Hawk’s Ride channel. This kid came seemingly out of nowhere with great style and trick selection but no major video parts or magazine shots. As the Ride channel fizzled out, so did my familiarity with Spencer but he never stopped creating content. In the last year or two I noticed him popping up on mag alumni Dominic Mabile’s Sea Rat skateboards Instagram. Spencer was back on my radar riding these monstrous set ups and doing some insanely difficult but stylish slappy grinds. I watched from the sidelines as his setup turned from this wide popsicle shape into the dangerous shin splitter. Over time I kept bumping into Spencer at all of SD’s finest curb spots and was in awe of his curb dancing ability but even more so by his humble and friendly persona. Not knowing much about the “Youtube skater” I quickly realized that the guy talking to the camera on social media was just another welcoming skater out in the streets. After we did this interview Spencer invited me to his home to celebrate his 30th birthday, and premier his latest video Curb Dawgys Volume 4, with his closest friends and family. Not having known him very long I was surprised by the invitation to such a personal event. His modest party included skateboard shaped cookies, a piñata, pin the truck on the skateboard, a mini ramp session, and of course, after the kiddos went home, some generous cannabis consumption. A respectful skater and a diligent content creator, Nuzzi has managed to leave an impression on many skateboarders around the world without the help of major corporate sponsors or “core” media outlets, sticking to the true D.I.Y. roots of skateboarding that we like to celebrate here at Shieldless.
First off, how are you doing?
Dude, I’m doing well! I can’t lie, I’m doing pretty good, even coming out of this crazy time, staying positive, family’s well, friends are well, so I’m stoked.
On the Eve of your 30th birthday, how’s it feel?
Good man, good. You know cause my last birthday was during the pandemic. So it’s kind of chill, I’m just thankful that I can literally just be around friends and family, you know? That’s my biggest thing I’m looking forward to.
Sick! Well I’m going to jump right into it, this is what people want to know the most it seems like, is how did you get involved with doing videos with the Ride channel?
Okay so, I guess we can start before the Ride channel even happened. So me and my homies, we were already making silly YouTube videos, like funny trick tips. Then fast forward a few years I started riding for Birdhouse. I rode for Willy’s Workshop then he introduced me to the Birdhouse team and I started riding for them. Then at that time, Tony [Hawk] was starting his own YouTube channel and that was going to be Ride channel. It was supposed to be kind of like Transworld and Thrasher, just like daily content, daily videos. So there was a trick tip segment that they wanted to do, and they’re like, “Spencer, you’ve been doing these for a while so like let’s just make a few fun ones and we’ll put them up.” Honestly, if you see those first few, they were so goofy. It was like the backside flip and switch bigspin, I think were the first ones. We were just having fun with it, it wasn’t serious or anything, but people loved it. Some people really gravitated towards it. Then of course other people, if you’re an advanced skater, you don’t need these trick tips, you’re going to make fun of them. But for these kids, they didn’t have a trick tip video, so it was something for them to learn on. Before I knew it, those videos, they became my job, it was nuts. The production put into those videos was so intense. People didn’t even realize how much work we put into it, from writing the script, to picking the tricks, there was so much to go into it. But it was pretty fun, I can’t lie.
So you got paid for doing this?
Can you talk price range?
I don’t want to talk about price range because it definitely varied obviously on pricing and stuff depending on how much time we put into it. It was almost like I got paid pretty much hourly. So just really depends on how long of a day it was and how many videos we cranked out that day.
Do you still make money from those videos?
Nah, unfortunately. They’ll be evergreen videos. They’ll always be kind of searched up like “how to ollie,” or “how to kickflip.” Those videos will always be viewed, but since it’s under their account, unfortunately I don’t get royalties for that.
Can you talk about what is an evergreen video?
So an evergreen video is just a video that is always searched. So like I was saying, “how to skateboard,” you’re always going to have somebody search that video. You’re not going to have someone look up, “switch flip back tail,” you know what I mean? But “how to ollie,” “how to kick-turn,” “how to push,” those are very easy things to look up that anybody, from a kid to an adult, can search on the internet and learn how to do.
You’ve kind of made a mark in skateboarding in some way through a generation of kids who came up at the time when YouTube was like the thing to pass time with.
Exactly. That’s kind of my biggest take, cause when I was riding for Birdhouse and going on tours and when I was going to the contests and stuff, like I’m not the best skater, I know this, I’m not stupid. I would go to spots with Jaws and he’d be skating the gnarliest stuff, like the whole team would be jumping down the 20 stair rail and I’m like, that’s just not for me. So at least now I found where I could leave my mark in skating.
“The whole team would be jumping down the 20 stair rail and I’m like, that’s just not for me.”
Before that, were you like working on filming video parts and trying to do the traditional route of going pro?
Oh totally, it was gnarly. I always looked up to skating like, oh I can’t wait for that one day I could finally go on tour and do all this stuff. And once I finally got there, it was kind of gnarly, it was intense. You have to be really ready to get broke off, honestly. That was the other thing too, at that time I was going to school, I was in college during that time. I was riding for Birdhouse and I was missing a lot of school, we’d be on tour for two weeks. So that was kind of hard. Then I started thinking about real life because I was like, oh man, I need to make money, I can’t just be a pro skateboarder. I’m not getting paid that much money. I was always working all through college. I dunno, pro skating is hard if you want to become a pro skater and make a living off of skating, you have to be pretty gnarly. It’s hard to do, but it’s not impossible.
So that kind of brings me into this point, how do you feel about the term “YouTube skater”?
I mean, it doesn’t offend me. I can see how it maybe offends some people or it makes people look lame in some sense, or whatever, but I mean they’re skaters, we’re all skating, that’s all that really matters. If you don’t like them then move on. You don’t have to keep watching their page or you just get over it.
Why do you think that “YouTube skater” has a negative connotation to it?
There’s a few reasons, don’t get me wrong, cause I mean the persona that people obviously put on their YouTube, that person’s making content. They have to be acting a certain way, but it’s not exactly how they act in real life. It’s kind of like actors and everything. Everyone’s got these two sides that you have to play. It’s annoying too, when people are really good at skating and they’re YouTubers, cause there are definitely a few that are really good. So it’s like you want to hate on them so hard, but then you’re like, oh, that dude is still really good though. So it’s just this kind of funny oxymoron kind of goes on.
You kind of touched on this, but talk about the persona, like you talking to your camera in your house by yourself is different than you on the skate sesh with the homies.
Yeah, that’s the biggest thing. I mean, I have to make videos every single day pretty much. You’re putting on an act when you have your phone out or your camera, this is like a staged show. It’s like being a teacher, but then when you’re with the homies you’re taking that outfit off of a teacher and you can be just yourself. With these videos, they are edited, you have to remember that too.
“It’s annoying too, when people are really good at skating and they’re YouTubers”
Do you have fun making these videos?
I do. I mean, it’s fun, but it’s also work and it can get kind of tiring sometimes. Sometimes you’re like, oh man, this isn’t as fun as it was. Or people think it’s so easy, but it’s kind of hard to be creative sometimes and come up with videos, film these videos, edit these videos all by yourself. You have no help, and that’s the thing, half the time you’re not even getting paid to do this, you know? It’s nuts.
It’s like a full-time job.
It kinda is. Yeah, exactly.
What do you think about people who consider this skate vlog content “cringe-worthy”? I hear that word a lot.
If it’s cringe-worthy don’t watch it cause someone might like it. I mean I can look at skaters’ styles and it’s cringe-worthy, but if I don’t like it I’m just not going to watch it. If you just don’t like something or somebody don’t watch it, get over it. I don’t know [laughs].
It’s not for you then.
Yeah, totally. If it’s not for you then just skip it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not for anybody. So just let that person do their thing.
I think that’s where I got hated on. I think so much for me is that I was kind of always doing my own thing, I didn’t really care what people said. I was just like, whatever, and people hated me for that. Hence @ihatespencernuzzi.
It’s in the name.
Dude it really is, and it’s so funny cause, I’ve gotten kicked off of so many skate teams. I’ve had the whole team group-unfollow me and stuff, it’s so ridiculous. It’s like, if you don’t like my content it’s fine, you don’t have to tell me about it, you can just unfollow me, that’s fine. Just be like, alright it’s not for me, I totally get that. But to have a meeting about it, man, I don’t know about that. Like, I’ve actually had that happen to me.
Yeah. It was nuts.
That’s insane, man. It seems like there’s this divide between “core” skateboarding versus “social media” skateboarding or something, but you can’t even have core skateboarding without social media anymore!
Exactly, what is the balance between core and not core? Skateboarding is for everybody, it’s in the Olympics now. If you want to be core, still do your thing, you’re still rocking all your core brands, that’s rad, more respect to you.
Now it’s more like talking to the camera versus not talking to the camera.
Yeah, honestly. But it’s like you got to put in the work for both. It’s like, if you’re skating’s talking, that’s all it needs to do.
What do you think makes skaters so driven to get out and make stuff on their own? Like you’re driven to make these videos and continue doing them every week. Dominic’s driven to shape boards out of his garage at five in the morning every day, etc..
You know what it is? It’s skateboarding. We just love it. It’s crazy, skateboarding is so funny cause you can hate it sometimes so much. It’s the most frustrating thing you’ll be like, fuck this I never want to do this again, but you love it. So you keep going back and you do it, whether it’s Dom making boards, or making videos or trick tips, at the end of the day I do love skateboarding and I don’t think that’ll ever change.
Hell yeah, that’s what it’s all about. It’s the passion. So we talked about this a little earlier, but do you work a job and skateboard or do you skateboard full-time?
I mean, it’d be really nice to skateboard full-time and make some good money off of just skateboarding, that would be great. But I have a few different jobs actually. I work for a cannabis accessory brand that is kind of my main part-time job. My other part-time job is actually helping my wife, she’s a cookie decorator. So, “Doughboy Spence” when he’s not skating, he’s rolling dough, he’s cutting cookies out. There’s a lot of work behind cookie-ing. I can’t lie and yes, I said cookie-ing, like there’s a cookie con. So I mean, it’s kind of nice, I get to skate and bake, if you think about it! [Laughs]
Do you want to plug her cookie company?
Yeah, so you could see my wife’s page @mikandcookiesco and she does a lot of online classes. We’ll be doing in-person classes again soon.
Sick, how long have you been married?
We’ve been only married now for a year, but we’ve been together for like six years now. We met at school at FIDM, we were both in the same marketing major. So we ended up having a few classes and stuff. It was great cause we definitely learned each other’s work experience, we learned a lot about each other before we dated, so I felt like that’s why it works so well.
Going back to the social media discussion, do you think people misjudge you by your content and your Instagram page?
I mean always, I’m sure I get misjudged all the time. I’m always getting hated on and that’s the thing too about hate, if you hate something you’re going to talk about it almost more than if you love something for some reason. I don’t mind the hate though, all those bad things are still good engagement on my page. [Laughs]
So what caused the leap to curb skating, which seems to be a majority of your skateboarding nowadays?
I used to love skating ledges, which was kind of like my main thing. And then, I kinda got burned out on skating. I feel like every skater goes through it, you get burnt out for a little while. It was a few years where I was just kind of over it, and there was nothing in skating that was really fulfilling. So I was like, okay, I’m not going to straight skate street anymore, I’m forcing it too much right now. So I started skating parks a little bit more. I even tried skating transition and pools and stuff a little at the time, it was scary. It was kind of sketchy, I really wasn’t into it, I had a few curb spots by my house in LA and I was like, you know what, let me just take it all back to the basics, let me bring it back and let’s relearn some things. There were so many slappies that I never really learned how to do. I kind of kept it pretty simple from just noseslides and fifties, but then I saw people doing slappy crooks, slappy feeble, slappy smith, all these things. I was like, wow, I didn’t realize how challenging this is, how new it is to me and how fun it is to me. So it kind of just resparked that fun for me again.
“I don’t mind the hate though, all those bad things are still good engagement on my page.”
Then how did you develop this current setup of a 10 inch board with two fifteens and tiny wheels?
So that kind of slowly happened over time. I was snow skating all winter and my snow skate is about, I think it’s like 9” or 9 ¼” and it’s like a 33” length board. So I’m getting used to flipping this huge board all winter. So by the time I go back and skate I’m like, 8” or 8.25” is looking like a popsicle, it’s a little thing now. It just felt weird.
So then I was like, okay, I need a bigger board. So I started looking for bigger boards and then I realized usually around after 8 ½”, all the boards get shaped. You’re not going to find a buttery 9” popsicle, it’s like it doesn’t exist. Then that’s when I found and met Dom (Mabile), I saw Dom’s page and I was like, oh man, he makes handcrafted, customized boards. The first boards I ever bought off him were two 9” popsicles, one with a 14” wheelbase and one with a 15” wheelbase.
I started riding a big board and I noticed that the smaller wheels help because you have more clearance on the actual curb. You gain that extra few millimeters, so you can actually pop off a curb, or if you’re boardsliding your wheels don’t hit the bottom of the curb right away.
Then I got the Sea Rat shin splitter, which was 10”. Literally couldn’t even ride it for like a month or two because it took me forever to find trucks. Then I find out Indy’s going through this 215 rebuild pretty much. I was literally calling homies who lived on the east coast and being like, “Yo, does your shop still have 215s? I’ll buy them. I’ll pay for shipping, anything man.”
Switching gears a little bit. I’ve got to talk about weed because that’s a lot of your content. How, how long have you been smoking weed?
I guess for a long time. [Laughs]
Like an everyday situation?
Oh yeah, we definitely smoke weed every day. I definitely consume a lot of cannabis on the daily. I don’t feel like it’s a lot, but it’s probably a lot more than what most people would maybe smoke. I could be wrong.
Do you think there’s still a stigma around it, even though it’s mostly legal in this part of the country?
With me and cannabis it’s always kinda been there. It’s always been my friend so to say. Hence, all the videos with the sunglasses kind of always giving this stoner vibe. People would always ask like, oh, is he stoned during this stuff? And I was like, well yeah probably. Back then if you were to look at my page when Ride channel was popping, weed was super not chill. I was getting kicked off of teams because of weed. It was illegal, so companies couldn’t back skaters that were supporting weed. This was when it was still medical. Now that it is recreational, it’s really rad how you see cannabis CBD brands in skateboarding because it goes hand-in-hand. Now that cannabis is legal it opens it up to even me and my family, like we all smoke now together, it’s crazy. My dad’s bringing home crazy edibles dude, it’s nuts. It just only brought us closer together, it’s really cool.
“there’s way worse stuff on Tik Tok than smoking weed.”
It seems like you have a younger audience with the fingerboarding and the trick tips and stuff, do you get pushback for introducing that younger audience to weed stuff?
I guess it’s kind of funny how it is because I tried it with posting on my page. I do know there are still some young generations, but it is cool that a lot of the generation who’s been following me since they were kids have now kind of grown up. So it was kind of funny to see comments of kids being like, bro, you’ve taught me how to kickflip to picking out whatever glass may be best for me, or whatever it is. Also, I guess even if little kids do see it, hopefully they see it and don’t feel like, oh, it’s like a gnarly drug, it is just like drinking a beer or something.
Yeah. Or also, hopefully they don’t feel like they need to do it.
Exactly. It really just shows people it’s not that crazy. Smoking is not gonna make you act super gnarly, you know? It’s pretty chill.
Nowadays you can’t control what your kid’s looking at, especially on Instagram, there’s some crazy shit on Tik Tok and whatever.
I was just going to say there’s way worse stuff on Tik Tok than smoking weed.
Before we go, we’ve got to talk about Curb Dawgys.
That’s the crew, I guess Curb Dawgys really just started when I moved back to San Diego and reconnected with some old homies and with some new homies, and we all love to skate curbs together. We just always seek out new curb spots, that’s the best thing about it, it’s not like we’re trying to find the gnarliest thing to skate. And the hype is real, it’s like if someone’s learning, it doesn’t matter your skill level, honestly, with Curb Dawgys we’ll be hyped no matter what you’re trying. Even today, homie did his first frontside slappy and the hype was so fricking real. That’s what’s cool, it’s just the group of the homies that love to skate, have fun and anyone’s welcome. Just got to have a good attitude and have some passion for some curbs.
You’re about to premiere the fourth video?
Yeah, so our fourth video is going to be coming out tomorrow, I’m pretty hyped. If you guys go to the curb dawgys account @curbdawgys, you can peep all the videos. We’ve got 1, 2, 3, and 4 up.
Sick, and do those just get better and better with each volume?
Oh dude, it’s amazing. I love watching the progression, and the vibe of the videos is always different, but the progression is always so cool to watch, and it’s cool to see everyone get out of their comfort zone. Cause like now people are kind of pushing towards some gaps, they’re pushing towards other things now. So it’s like they’ll slap a curb and then ollie a gap, and the stoke is so real.
You basically have content for every day of the week, how long can you keep this up? Are you just trying to keep this going forever? Do you have a goal?
It’s pretty rad right now, so Monday through Friday I like to call it Nuzzi network. Because it’s like my channel, you know that you can watch different videos every day. But I mean, sheesh, I’m waiting for someone to pick this up, like Hulu, what’s up MTV? We got a show going on, and I can’t lie, long story short; I almost had my own show and it was kind of crazy. We filmed some legit episodes and it was going to be kind of like those day in the life things that we made on Ride channel, but it was a legit show. I would teach people that would be pro drivers or something, I would teach them a little skating and they would teach me a little pro driving skills. It was great but then obviously things got canceled, but it would’ve been sick.
Well let’s bring it back. Somebody pick this up.
Hopefully we’ll make something big out of it. Maybe Curb Dawgys too, we need some funding for some Curb Dawgys stuff too!
“I almost had my own show and it was kind of crazy.”
What advice would you give to any kids out there that want to do the social media skateboarding thing and actually make a living off of it?
I get this question asked all the time actually and honestly the biggest advice I can tell you is just to get your phone, or whatever you’re filming with, and just start doing it. Because that’s the thing, people will talk about it, or they’ll hate on it, or they’ll be like, oh, I’ll do it eventually, and you just don’t do it. Until you make that first video or second or third or fourth video then it’ll start happening. That’s when companies will be like, oh, okay they’re doing something, it’s all about consistency. It’s about making it all the time and putting on a good show, and if you can keep people’s attention, you’re killing it. I feel like you’ve got to really find the content that works for you. Find whatever that passion is and share it.
Cool man, any shout outs to close this out?
Shoutout my wife for just being mad supportive of whatever I do in skating and the cannabis world and the baking world. Definitely shoutout to Dom at Sea Rat skateboards, for just being an all around awesome mastercrafter, teaching me so much about skateboarding and providing us these handmade skateboards that we get to use and rip up and shred. Definitely shout out to Boardy Cakes for making some awesome wheels. Those little tires, those low flying saucers go places, that’s all I got to say about that. Boardy Cakes and I have some big things coming. Shoutout Scott Herskovitz for inspiring me on and off the board. All the homies, Willy, June, Kyong! You, for shouting me out, this was so rad man. I feel like I haven’t been able to speak my words in a while, so that’s kinda rad. I appreciate you spending your time with me. And just all the Curb Dawgys for all the hype straight up!
Hell yeah. Thanks dude. Appreciate it.
Dude I appreciate you, man. This was fun.
Checkout our feature with Sea Rat Skateboards HERE.