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Portrait of Marbie Miller in a dark room with colorful lights highlighting her face.

Marbie Miller has gone on one hell of a journey to find her way back to skateboarding. Marbie is from a small town in Iowa and after suffering a devastating leg injury around the same time that she came out as a trans woman, she didn’t feel like skateboarding was for her anymore. After finding inspiration through Jeff Cheung’s Unity Queer Skateboarding movement along with a surge in women’s representation in skateboarding, Marbie slowly got her groove back and ended up on her board again. With out a doubt, Marbie is one of your favorite skaters’, favorite skaters and recently she has caught the eye of brands like Krux, There Skateboards, and Nike SB. You can’t watch Marbie skate with out getting inspired and we’re stoked to have her on the squad at CCS! We had her chat it up with her There Skateboards teammate, Leo Banuelos to learn more about what makes her tick.

Interview By Leo Banuelos. Photos By Matt Price.

LB: Alright Marbie, Let’s clear the basics I guess. I mean, actually no let’s not. The basics are on your profile, so if people are gonna want to know that they can like look at your Instagram (@marbie.princess). So…how’ve you been? What’s new?

MM: I’ve been A-OKAY. I haven’t had any time to process anything that’s been happening for the past couple of months. I hurt my hip. I’m trying not to skate but it’s hard. I keep skating and hurting it more.

LB: Not fun. Well, let’s start this interview out really gay. What’s your sun, moon, and rising?

MM: Fuck, okay. I’m an Aries double Taurus.

LB: Aries double Taurus, wowwww.

MM: Oh yeah. This is really gay.

LB: That’s why we can bump heads real easily, because you’re an Aries.

And I’m a Taurus. But you’re also a double Taurus so you’re pretty much a Taurus as well so we’re chill.

MM: I feel like I’m more Taurus than Aries to be honest.

LB: What’s the most Aries and Taurus thing about you?

MM: Fuck. I guess, I try to get away from my Aries identity, but, I don’t know, I feel like…fuck…I’m just really into myself a lot of the time, but… that’s very generic.

LB: Do you think astrology is something queers just like to exaggerate, or do you think it actually has some sustenance?

MM: Or do I believe in astrology…

LB: Yeah, there you go.

MM: I don’t know. It’s hard to feel a certain way about it. Honestly, like I think a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but every now and then it does.

LB: Oooh, ok. So I saw you’re in LA again, what brought you back?

MM: I think I was just due for another trip. I just accumulated enough money for a ticket and I needed to not be cold for a little bit and skate outside. I don’t really know, I just like bought a ticket without any plans, and somehow more stuff happened on this trip than any other trip I’ve ever gone on, so it was just kind of dumb luck.

LB: It looked like you had a good time. Are you thinking of maybe relocating soon?

MM: Yeah I’m thinking about moving to LA in July when my lease is up here in Madison (Wisconsin). Well, I’m not just thinking about it, I think it’s a for sure thing, I’m just figuring it out still.

LB: That seems like a much better place to be. What do you find important in the place where you decide to live?

MM: I’m going to sound like an asshole to people I skate with here, but I just want a crew of people motivated to go street skate and film. It’s kind of hard here because my best friend is down to skate, but he always works and, I don’t know, while my body is still young I want to at least finish a video part before I die. I just like to skate and I want to live the little 12-year-old fantasy, like I’m gonna go to LA and film a skate part!

Marbie Miller doing a backside flip on brick pavement in Downtown LA
Backside Flip on the impossibly tight brick quarters in Downtown LA.

LB: Do you think because we’re queer, we may have like, uh let’s see, what do they say with queer people? Queer people kind of come into their own much later in life and have to play catch up – do you think that you’re coming into your own now with skateboarding and being queer?

MM: Damn, way to put it. I’ve never even thought of it like that but yeah, completely. Before I came out and started transitioning and everything, all I thought about was skateboarding, but I never thought about doing anything with it. Then when I came out it was after I’d broken my leg and had surgery so I had to teach myself how to skate again and re-learn how to do everything. It feels weird and like my injury and everything else kind of shaped how I skate now. I feel like I like skateboarding even more than I did before cause it was more mindless before. Now I have a community of people. It’s like back in the day you’d see a skater and it’s like, oh we’ve got something in common, but now you see a queer skater, you’ve got like a million things in common.

LB: Yeah! I feel the exact same way. So, when was your last injury?

MM: My last injury – like how gnarly we talkin?

LB: It’s up to you!

MM: I pretty much get hurt every time I skate, but, my last major injury – fuck – was probably, I re-broke the same leg I had surgery on last year when I was in LA at the Baker Boys park.

LB: Oh yeah, I was standing right above when that happened.

MM: You watched my bone snap?

LB: Yeah that was gnarly. The thing that I remember most about that happening was that James (Pitonyak) was ripping the park for like five minutes, then that happened and he just volunteered to take you to the hospital and hang out with you for the next 6 hours. He wasn’t bitter about it, because he would have destroyed that park, but he was such a kind and gentle soul that he literally didn’t care and just took you to the hospital.

MM: Yeah, shout-out to James, he’s a fucking angel. (both laughing)…As soon as I broke my leg I just sat down and Eric helped me prop my leg up, and then everybody rushed over with weed just trying to get me away from the pain and being super depressed, cause I was more depressed than feeling the pain. As soon as I got to the hospital with James we were in this shitty little waiting room, and I just remember like realizing that I was actually really stoned (laughs) for most of that time. We were watching some kids movies in Spanish and I don’t speak Spanish so I had no idea what was going on. Yeah, it was intense.

LB: They say that’s a good way to learn a language is to watch movies…

MM: Yeah, the Bilingual challenge with a freshly-broken leg.

LB: So how did you meet Matt from CCS?

MM: I just remember seeing a video of him talking about Golden Hour when he was releasing his first issue, and he was just talking about taking photos to show what a skate trick feels like. It was the first time I saw a skate photographer really talk about a skate photo from an art perspective and not just like telling the story of what the trick is and how they did it and how big it was. I don’t know, it was cool, so I remember sending that video to my roommate, and then I followed him. Then he followed me back on Instagram and offered to send me some CCS shit, so I was pumped. It just felt like really sick, I remember telling my mom “hey remember that catalog we used to get in the mail? I’m gonna get that shit for free now!”.

LB: Yeah!

MM: I remember I got a stupid ass Flip setup. It was the HKD board, that Hate/Kill/Destroy shit, like why did I like that? It was an all red and black setup.

LB: Oh my god, yeah my favorite thing was definitely circling everything I wanted and then rolling up to school and flexing on whoever didn’t get their catalog yet.

MM: Yeah! And then all the accessories in the back…

LB: And my parents would only get me one thing. I’d circle a million things and they were like, okay – you can have a pant.

MM: You can have one pant. I just remember getting the stupid Bam Margera grip tape and stuff with the devil horns and shit.

LB: Oh man, the glory days.

MM: Yeah.

Marbie Miller skateboarding in CCS cargo pants and Nike skateboarding shoes
BS 5-0 whipped around to FS Crook with that photo incentive chic.

LB: Tell me a good story about Matt.

MM: I just remember meeting him was really weird cause it felt like full on Tony Hawk American Wasteland. I was in the Bay area and I’d never been there before, so I took the Megabus down to L.A. for the first time, and he was like “do you care if my friend Ryan comes with me to pick you up?” and I’m like “sure…I don’t care” then he picks me up with Ryan Lay and then we went and skated with Kenny Anderson it was just really crazy. After we skated with Ryan and Kenny we met up with Sam McGuire and got Indian food and went to a gay bar and got really drunk. We got home to Matt’s place and smoked, then I remember laying on his couch and thinking, wow, this whole day has been really crazy, like I don’t do anything like this back home and then I totally sharted. It was the first time in a couple years and I was so worried that I shit on his couch, and the shorts I was wearing had a swimsuit lining and that’s when I discovered that Matt had a bidet. It was the perfect first bidet experience, after you shit your pants, but I didn’t tell him about that until just recently. I was like fuck – what a first impression, I just shit on your couch.

LB: Oh my god, okay! Well, I love that. Let’s talk about queerness and identity. What inspired your name?

MM: Well, I was at the skate park with my friend Laurel and I would always just refer to any garbage as the “garbie” and refer to the marble ledges as the “marbie”. It was so dumb and then she just started calling me “Marbie” and she was like “I like that, I’m gonna start calling you Marbie” and it was kind of cool that someone took one of my words and made it a name for me and I was like, fuck, I like that. I don’t know, it’s also like Barbie.

LB: Yeah! I like that! That’s really cool!

MM: “Alternative Barbie”.

LB: Yeah! Alternative Barbie! So when did you know you gay and/or trans?

MM: I always kind of knew, I’m just trying to remember the first time I saw something about like trans girls. Obviously growing up in a town of like 2000 people, I had no exposure to anything like that, and I honestly didn’t even allow myself to do any research until I was way older. I remember finding a porn mag under my parents bed and it had an ad in it that was “chicks with dicks” and I was like “WHAT?”, and my first thought wasn’t “oh this is fucked up”, it was more like “oh, girls can have dicks too, sick”. My mom had a ton of like old dance leotards from when I was young and I’d always wear that shit. I used to take grocery sacks and put two holes in the bottom and pull my legs through like a leotard or like a ballerina thing, I don’t know. I feel like I always kind of knew. I’ve always been attracted to people of all types. I remember when I lost my virginity I was a freshman in high school and it was to the only girl at my school that skated. Then two months after we broke up, I hooked up with a guy skater friend. I started experimenting sexually with everybody around the same time.

LB: I like that, yeah! So when did you officially come out? Was it public or more intimate?

MM: I’m trying to think because I had given little glimpses. I was out about being bi or pansexual to my close friends for a couple years, and then I came out about my gender identity very loosely online. I posted a picture of me wearing makeup in 2017, like – I like this, my femininity, I don’t care what you think. If you have a problem with this then don’t talk to me. It was very angsty and weird. I don’t know why I put it out there like that, but I guess that was the introduction. I didn’t explain anything to anybody and I just started experimenting with my own looks for a while until eventually just everyone knew. I remember using they/them pronouns to try and test the waters. I remember wondering how people, like my close friends would react. I had no idea until I eventually told everybody exactly how I felt, and that I used she/her pronouns and not a lot of people really questioned me or gave me shit. I didn’t lose a lot of friends.

LB: Cool! That’s always nice. I feel like that’s usually how it turns out. I feel like most queers are more scared than what the outcome tends to be. Do you ever deal with intolerance at the skate parks or street skating amongst some other skateboarders?

MM: I feel like a lot of it comes online, where people just comment really fucked up shit or send me messages. Even on Tinder when I have “Men” turned on people will just match with me to message me and tell me to kill myself and shit. I guess with skaters, I didn’t really get much shit in person except for when I first came out. I wouldn’t go to the skate park unless I was the only one there and then whenever I did, little kids and dumb teenagers would make fun of me and just like laugh and shit, but eventually I just got good at skateboarding again. It sucks because if you’re good at skateboarding there’s like this “being good privilege” to where it doesn’t matter. She’s cool because she rips, or like “sure he’s gay but like he can fucking Back Tail the handrail so I don’t care”. So if you’re an entry-level person getting into skateboarding and you’re queer, people are gonna fuck with you more. At a skate park it can suck.

LB: Very true. You either have to have a social past with someone else who is already established or you have to already just be good at skateboarding and that is unfortunately the sad truth but, do you think things like that are going to change?

MM: I’d like to think that they’re going to change and progress. It’s hard to see anything without my own lens, but for me personally, I have a really good skate scene that I’m around here and not everyone’s queer but everybody respects my pronouns and doesn’t treat me any differently than any other skateboarder. In the larger scope for queers in skateboarding I do think it’s getting better, but obviously there’s still a lot of work to do. I hope it’s getting better. There’s definitely a lot more exposure.

Marbie Miller and Chandler Burton sitting on their skateboards at the skatepark.
Marbie and Chandler Burton. Teammates, buds, and of course, cuties.

LB: Yeah, there is. Is there anything, like a general statement you have for any non-queer people who might say some off the wall shit to you? Like a kind of PSA for people?

MM: I know what you’re trying to say, I’m just trying to think because there’s so many things I could say.

LB: I feel like a lot of people I know always say to just “do your fucking research”. That’s a pretty broad one, but I think in general it’s just about thinking before you speak. I was wondering if there’s a more specific version of that maybe pertains to you, or other experiences that are generally shared in the queer/trans community.

MM: For me personally and I know other people might feel different because not everyone wants to explain things to people all the time, but I’d rather somebody ask me questions. People will come up to me and ask “is it ok if I call you dude,” and a lot of people take offense to that immediately, but I would rather have somebody ask me a question about something they don’t know anything about rather than just be silent, or make assumptions, or just say whatever the fuck they’re thinking. If someone does correct you on something you don’t know about, like gender identity or just being from a different group in skateboarding, I just say try to listen and learn from it it before you just shut it down, because obviously this trans skater at the skatepark is gonna know more about what makes them comfortable than you do.

LB: I whole-heartedly agree with you and you said it really well. I fully understand how educating other folks can be taxing but, I also see how it’s all about the approach and tone and how you go about it. If someone comes up to you respectfully and asks you a question about your identity, or just about making you feel more comfortable, I agree that it’s best to answer it in a way that the person is more likely to absorb it, and digest it and share it with others. Then they have a neutral experience asking you and being educated about it. Whereas if you replied in a scolding tone or ignored them it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for that person to want to grow. A really mature person outside this community would probably understand like “ah, shit this is probably kind of taxing to them, I’ll look this up”. A lot of people aren’t that mature unfortunately and I don’t blame them entirely because of culture and society, but I think if they were educated on it in a neutral way it would leave a better taste, and then they could share that experience and educate others and leave less explaining for the queer community.

MM: Yeah, that totally makes sense. I think at the end of the day I’d like to believe in the good in people, and especially in people who skate when it comes to other people who skate or even people who don’t skate. The bottom line is that we should respect each other as much as we can and treat people how they are asking to be treated. If someone asks you to treat them a certain way or tells you something you’re doing is making them uncomfortable you should understand that they wouldn’t tell you that unless it really was and that’s that! That’s that on that!!

LB: (Laughing) Ok, so how did you learn to do makeup? What was your learning process?

MM: Well, I learned a lot of it on my own. I was really scared to ask people questions about it at first or even talk about what was going on with me in general. I would look at tutorials on YouTube and realize I didn’t have any of the shit they had, or even enough money for it and it really bummed me out, but what happened was I would just see photos of makeup looks that I liked and I would just try to replicate that as best as I could with what I had. I found that to be way more helpful than following step by step instructions from somebody. I remember I saved one of @technopagan420's photos like “Fuck, that’s a good shape. I want to use that shape of winged eyeliner”. It wasn’t even anything special. I would just take photos or screenshots of something I liked and I would try to do it the best I could. I feel like with my makeup or my style, the more I tried to be as genuine as I could it just worked better. I stopped caring about looking a certain way, like – oh, fuck, I’ll just do crazy colors, I’ll wear shit that clashes with itself like, trying to find that true style without a ton of outside influence. It’s like tapping into being by yourself by just saying “fuck it”.

LB: Are you still doing makeup tutorials for Skateism Mag?

MM: I’m trying to do more. I have a giant list on my whiteboard, and I originally just wrote it as an idea for a zine, because I’d broken my leg and had nothing to do. I think it was a stoned idea, but like “what if I just did like skate-inspired makeup looks, like what if I somehow incorporated El Toro or a giant stair set?” That would be pretty difficult to do exactly how I thought about it, but I’ve done little sketch-ups and right now I’m in the process of thinking of more things to do with what I have.

LB: You should do Flame Boy andWet Willy.

MM: Oh my god – yeah! Like a double eye look, shit, the hot and cold – dammit, you just gave me that--that’s what I’m gonna do next.

LB: Yeah, sick!

MM: I thought about doing a total fuckin Zero look and getting transparencies from the transfer sheets from the tattoo shop I work at and get the “die trying” on my chest like Tommy Sandoval or like, skull shit on my face and try to pay homage to like old Zero videos, but I’m kind of just in between thinking about doing different shit.

LB: Is it important for you to have your makeup on?

MM: Oh, yeah.

LB: Do you have it on pretty much all the time you’re out?

MM: I pretty much don’t leave my house without makeup on. I think the end goal for me is to not feel like I have to do it all the time, and to feel like I’m not gonna get misgendered if I don’t have my makeup on, or just to feel okay with the way I look without makeup on. But right now I do my makeup before I go skate, even though I know it’s gonna get fucked up and shitty. I’d rather have fucked up and shitty makeup on than not have any. I think it’s just like a little armor or protection to have people see me the way I see me.

LB: That’s the way you know, we ourselves are the deciders of how we want people to perceive us. So, how is the queer skate scene in Madison?

MM: It’s pretty good, like I was awfully surprised. My friend Elyse who is also queer and trans, they started these femme skate nights. I don’t even know how many years ago that was, but that got a lot of people who maybe normally wouldn’t have been skating into skating. That’s how I found my crew here was going to femme skate night, every Wednesday. It wasn’t even like a giant event, it was just an excuse to come together on the same day and like not feel uncomfortable at a skate park, because of the power in numbers. I was accepted immediately. They accept everybody. Elyse is the reason why a lot of people have started skateboarding here who wouldn’t have, and they’re why a lot of skaters here might have more education on queer identity, and just seeing people on skateboards who aren’t straight white dudes. They’re creating space for people. It’s small, but really good.

LB: Good! It looks Madison is a place where I would not expect something like that so it’s really nice to hear that that is happening, and it’s growing and expanding I presume?

MM: Yeah! Elyse is one of the main key holders at our local DIY park. I think there’s 6 or 7 key holders right now, and we do a gratitude at the end of every key holder meeting and I remember recently Elyse came out to a group of skaters saying that they were going to use they/them pronouns, and it was just crazy witnessing how well received that was in a room of skaters. It was beautiful, and we were going around the room saying our gratitudes and I was like, “I’m just thankful that we have such a good crew of people who are open-minded to be accepting of other people”. This isn’t normal. Like everything here may seem normal to all of us, but we have a fuckin pride flag and a ton of gay shit at this DIY and it’s cool and it’s accepted that sometimes I forget that not everybody has a little group like that. It just feels nice to have a good crew welcoming people and skateboarders and to have built something.

LB: I totally understand that, and I feel like every city is kind of starting to do the same. Every city that doesn’t already have a queer skate group or collective is kind of starting to develop one, and I feel like Unity and Jeff (Cheung) kind of ignited that flame, and it spread like wildfire – like beautiful wildfire.

MM: Jeff and Gabe and Unity pretty much saved my life and gave me identity. I didn’t skate for 5 years after I had surgery cause , well because I physically couldn’t, and also cause I just didn’t feel like I connected with skateboarding anymore. I was more into art and music than anything and I had just come out , but around the same time there was that Brian Anderson coming out story, and all these women turning pro, then I found Unity and was like holy shit there’s other trans people skating, and queer people, this is so insane! All that did was make me want to skate more, and I don’t even know how to say it, but they definitely got me back into skating and it helped me find confidence in who I was.

LB: Yeah, I think a lot of queer skaters have said that they owe a lot of where they’re at today to Jeff and Gabe for what they did and I will also say that B.A. is a part of that. Even though in my opinion his coming out story was monumental, but also very corporate, but it’s kind of what we needed to get that first person to pound on that door before it got opened. You know what I mean?

MM: Yeah, pound on the door…goddammit.

Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Marbeline.

LB: And it had to be someone with some pull, you know? B.A. has some pull. So, what do you think about queer appropriation? Do you think that’s something that’s happened in skateboarding? Like, an example would be CIS dudes sexualizing each other consistently but also being slightly homophobic.

MM: Yeah I definitely think it exists, but it’s so hard because I feel like a lot of stuff just from like slang and style, a lot of good artistic ideas start with queers and then just get taken in crazy other directions by other people with more pull. It happens in different industries or with someone who is a better skater, like that shit happens all the time. It is weird to be like fake sexual with friends as like a shock value thing. It’s totally a thing.

LB: How did you feel when Jeff started There?

MM: Fuck… um let me think. I was shocked. I heard rumors that he was going to start a board company, but when he started it and asked me to be a part of it, I looked at myself next to all the other people that were involved and I was like what the fuck, why did he choose me?

LB: That’s what I said too, like “what? This is crazy. Why me?” I told him I would film but I didn’t want to be on the team cause I’m not good enough. He said “no” and I was like alright, I can’t say no to Jeff.

MM: That was like my dream. I would rather skate for whatever Jeff is doing than anything else, cause that’s what I owe everything to.

LB: So, what’s your current take on general present day skateboarding?

MM: I feel like I live in my own little bubble in skateboarding – I really only pay attention to my friends. That’s what gets me pumped to skate rather than seeing some new tech or gnarly trick done by a pro skater. I would rather see my friend learn to slash for the first time, that’s like what gets me pumped and makes me feel like skateboarding. Not that it ever wasn’t like that, but from when I was a little kid I paid more attention to what was going on with pro’s and now I’d rather just see my friends skate online and be like “aw sick, they did that!”. I think there’s a big shift in skating right now where it’s going back to what separates skateboarding from other sports, it’s splitting again. That’s why I even have a chance to do anything in skateboarding. I’m not anything near a pro, or “pro” status, but apparently people like seeing me skate and obviously I like seeing people skate who are not even as good as me. It’s going back to what separates you, what do you bring to skateboarding that’s not just skill level, because skateboarding’s not fair. I can beat myself up until I just break my legs or something and I’ll never be as good as like somebody who was born in a different body. I just feel like skateboarding is in an identity crisis, like what is skateboarding? Do we just keep pushing for stuff to get gnarlier and more tech? Like what’s the next biggest or hardest trick? I’d rather see people I just love to see riding a skateboard, or just moving around or just doing anything.

LB: Any big plans or predictions for the future for yourself?

MM: Predictions? Um, yeah I’m getting Skater of the Year.. in 20, ummm..54.

LB: You’re getting the SOTY?

MM: Yeah, no… I am going on a big trip with the There Skateboards team to Europe. I never thought I’d go overseas so it’s like blowing my mind, we’ll see what happens there. My plan is if my body cooperates to push myself as hard as I can to try to make something beautiful. I really just want something I can look back at when my body is broken, just like nice like compact skate part, so maybe filming that part.

LB: Yeah, I think everybody who skateboards, that’s like the personal life goal, whether it’s a major video or a small independent video with your group of friends, you want to create a video part for yourself, and as a filmer and editor I totally understand it. It means a lot to go back and look at it. Any final shoutouts? Your sponsors, your people, your loved ones?

MM: Shoutout to anybody who’s supported me and made me feel loved and accepted. Shout out to queer skateboarding. Shout out to Jeff and Gabe and Unity and There and Elise and fuck I don’t know. Shout out to Nick, my best friend. Shout out Matt. Fuck, I don’t know.

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