Words by Posy Dixon, photos by Ana Paula Negrao
She’s 19 years old, Brazilian born and bred but now living the dream in California, and kicking the living shit out of the world of female street skating while she’s at it. Meet Leticia Bufoni
Describe where you grew up in Brazil and how you got into skating?
I grew up always doing boyish things like playing soccer and racing karts. I have two older sisters and a brother and when I was about ten I saw the boys on my street skating and I wanted to skate too. My grandmother Maria bought my first skateboard and I started skating with the boys, but my Dad got really mad and cut it in half. The next day I set up a new board and when he saw that he was like, “I’m giving up, I can’t do anything about it.” But he didn’t like it because it meant I was hanging out with boys all the time.
At what point did you realise skating was something you could do professionally?
When I started to win all these contests in Brazil I thought I could try to be a professional skateboarder. I was inspired by Sandro Dias even thought he’s a vert skater, I thought I could be like him – a professional.
Sao Paulo as a city seems to produce a load of sick skaters – is it such a good city to skate?
No! The city produces great skaters because we don’t have anywhere good to skate, the floors are all in pretty bad shape with cracks everywhere. So we learn to skate in the worst situations, then when we get to perfect spots like in California or Europe, and it’s just like butter.
When and why did you move to California?
I came to California for the first time for the X games in 2007 when I was thirteen. Ana Paula [Negrao the photographer] and Micaela Ramirez had a tour in South America called the Poseiden Skate Tour, I got second place and everyone was telling me I should go to America because I was so good. So Ana Paula started persuading my Dad I should come to the X Games, we put together my portfolio and my Dad sent all the videos we had to the World Cup people. Micaela helped me with a sponsorship from Peru and I got to go to my first international skate contest. It was an amazing experience.
Was it hard leaving Brazil and your family at such a young age?
The first few times I travelled with my Dad, so he could check out where I was going to be hanging out. After he got to know Ana better he let me stay for a bit longer by myself, I was 14 years old and lucky to have a cool Dad. I finally moved to California in 2008 after the Maloof Money Cup, I talked to Osiris and they got me a working permit to stay legally in the States. So I moved in with Ana. It was hard to leave my family, friends and city, but I have to go for my dreams and the time is now.
Having been voted female skater of the year, do you hope to use your publicity to change the face of female skateboarding for good?
I think the girls need more respect and help from their sponsors, just because we are girls we shouldn’t be different. I know there are not a lot of us out there but girls shouldn’t be afraid to skate like the boys, while never forgetting that we are girls, we can still be girls and skate good. As a female skateboarder I just want to help to open doors to other females and to show them we can do it too. Just because we are girls doesn’t mean we can’t do the same tricks the guys do.
Are you aware that you’re raising the bar for women’s street skating globally?
Yeah I’m aware of that and I want it to be a good thing for all the other girls that will come after me, and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of little girls coming after me. There’s a little girl in Brazil who is 12 years old and she’s little ripper. Watch out for her.
Do you prefer filming, shooting stills or riding comps?
I like all of them but my favourite is skating contests because I get to travel and get to know new places and make new friends.
What’s been your best and worst shooting experiences to date?
Last year we were skating a roof gap in San Clemente with Ana, Liza Araujo, Lacey Baker, Jake Hill and his dad. I did an ollie and was gonna try to kick flip but on after my second ollie the cops showed up and almost took us to jail. The funny thing is they got really mad at Jake’s dad. He was sitting in a beach chair watching us and the cops were like, “Don’t you realise your son is jumping over a roof gap and he could fall and die? Are you out of you mind?!” So Jakes dad said, “It’s a sport like any other one, don’t parents go and sit to watch their kids play soccer on the weekends? And can’t those kids hit their heads on the goalpost and die too?!” The cop was so mad at him, but it was the funniest argument I’ve ever heard, we were all falling over laughing. Anyways the cops were so shocked by him they let us go. The photo ended up on the cover of 100%, a skate magazine in Brazil, and we went home very happy, so that’s my worst and best experience rolled into one.
Tell us about the Secret deodorant ad when you’re doing a boardslide in a red dress.
When we went there I had no idea about the set up, they just asked me to skate in a dress. I was slightly dubious about the whole thing but at the same time I knew this could be something really big and good for female skateboarders. Taking it to the next level. Every girl who saw could think and be inspired to go buy and skateboard and start skating.
Describe what your personal opinion of style is?
In skating, tight pants and a simple tee with something on my head. Style in life is to be yourself, to not be afraid to wear anything you want with confidence. I think rules are made to be broken.
I’ve heard you play in a band, what kind of music do you play?
We’re called “As Catantes” which means “The hook ups” and we sing funny things about boys and our relationships with them. We sing in Portuguese, it’s a Portuguese punk band inspired by this old band called “As Mercenarias”. The band is Liza Araujo on vocals and guitar, Ana Paula plays the bass and I play drums. We don’t have any tracks recorded yet. We get together to have fun and sometimes we laugh so hard about our lyrics that we can’t even play. It’s a hobby that makes us happy.
It seems like you an Ana have a pretty tight relationship?
Ana is like my family, we live together and travel together and the most important we’re great friends. My mom even calls her daughter. I’m just very lucky to live with an amazing photographer. We have lots of fun because she’s always down to skate, surf, snowboard, ride motorcycles, go bowling. I’ve learnt a lot with her and I’m sure she’s learnt something from me. We’re a good team.
What have you got planned for 2011?
To skate all the contests in Europe if I can, to shoot a lot, film a lot and maybe go to Australia to go snowboarding.
Finally can you name one skater who’s on the up who we should keep an eye out for?
For guys Carlo Ribeiro (Dudu) he’s a great kid from Brazil who skates for Converse. For girls Jessica Florencio, she got third on the Supergirl contest last year – she’s got some real good hardflips.
Leticia is sponsored by Volcom, Osiris, Foundation, Rockstar Bearings, Bones Wheels and Destructo