Skaters, I got a story about hard work for ya. It centers around my man Mike Cusanelli. Affectionately known as Spanish Mike. Skateboarding was his passion growing up on Long Island, NY and filming his friends skating was his outlet to have some pretty big dreams. Thru persistence and trial-and-error, Mike was able to achieve those dreams. Nothing was handed to him-he earned everything! I first met him when I was on Axion Footwear and he was Manny Santiago’s filmer. I could tell then -that he had ‘it.’ His work ethic, his attention to detail, his desire to get better- he never let’s up! Mike is living his dreams today, traveling the world and working with some of the best skateboarders on the planet. Recently he was given the opportunity to take it to the next level: He’s now the team manager of the superstar-stacked line-up over at Primitive Skate/Apparel. Read on and get to know a lil something something about my Brova Spanish Mike.
What are your overall responsibilities at Primitive Skate/Apparel?
Getting the team together for photo shoots, making sure everyone has boards and clothes. I try to make sure the guys are hyped at all times, never really a dull moment with the team.
How did it feel to get the call to be TM?
I was in shock; honestly, I just remember it being a brief conversation I had with Heath. I remember he was telling me something and out of no where he was like , “Oh, yeah, trying to make you TM” and then he went back to talking about getting Starbucks or something along those lines.
Spanish Mike is how you are known by. Who started to call you that? Was it Manny?
Actually the name was given to me when I was growing up by my childhood friend Joeface. At the time, there were a lot of “Mike’s” in the crew and everyone would always ask Joe who are you skating with and Joe would tell them, “Mike, the Spanish one, Spanish Mike.”They would come over to my house and watch skate videos and my grandmother would be cooking rice and beans and ever since then, it just stuck.
Working with Manny Santiago-was he your first big gig? How did you meet?
Everything started with Manny, I met him at ‘Tampa AM’ after I had filmed footage of the Famous crew and my goal was simply to give it to them; so I walked up to Manny and asked for his contact information so he could let Felix know about the footage and the rest is history.
What do you think about the state of the skate industry today? Would you change anything?
I wouldn’t change anything about it but I understand that with time there will always come new changes. Young blood is what drives this industry. Overall, I think the contribution towards something we all love is a blessing and if that leads to change, I understand. I’m just blessed to be a part of it.
So hyped on Devine Calloway getting a board on Primitive. His welcome video was bangin! I first met him when I was just getting on Kanten Russell’s Elenex Clothing Brand back in the day to do art for them(unfortunately near the end), and Devine was riding for em. He was rocking the dreads big time! How’s it feel to have him on board?
Devine is a ‘G’ and one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met with the biggest smile in skateboarding. It’s crazy when you get to spend time with skaters you grew up watching; you really learn a lot from the team. Devine has a lot of stuff coming out and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
Frank Frazetta is straight up my favorite artist of any genre, and the board graphics I saw at Agenda came out absolutely gorgeous. All wall bangers! I wouldn’t even wanna skate em! How did Primitive get involved with his estate?
I wasn’t in the building when the idea came up, but I remember seeing samples being made. The team of workers we have in that building working day-in and day-out are truly inspiring people that inspire me every day. I can agree with you, too, I wouldn’t skate those boards either.
Favorite part about being involved with Primitive Skate/Apparel?
There are too many favorite parts; just the simple fact that I can be involved with a group of great people doing what we love is more than enough for me. I wake up every day feeling blessed to have to opportunity to use my creativity and create. It’s truly a blessing to be a part of something I dreamed of as a kid.
What’s in store for the brand in 2016?
A lot of fantastic and innovative things to come. Everyone is working nonstop while having fun. Love what you do and do what you love.
Gotta hit you this. East Coast or West Coast- which do you prefer and why?
East in the summer, West for the rest. I couldn’t pick one because they truly both have a special a place in my heart.
God first off! my parents for believing me in what I wanted to do which was live out my dreams. My brother and sister my grand ma because she is a big part of my life and my girlfriend Candy thank you for your patience. Felix and Manny for the opportunity, Ben for seeing my vision, Chaz and the Ortiz family for taking care of me, Heath for always making me a better person and truly believing me, Paul pushing me to the next level not only in skating but in life, Andy, and Jubal at Primitive for giving me the chance of a life time. Shane for understanding and looking out for me. The whole Primitive family and everyone else who is in my life appreciate you all because there is way too many people to name you all know I love you guys and appreciate everything. And shout out my brotha Humberto for this interview. Don’t be afraid to do what you love in this life and always live out your dreams.
“Congrats Mike, you the right guy for the gig. You earned it. So proud of this young man. Skaters! Take inspiration- with hard work and perseverance- you never know what you can achieve. Peace. ” – Berto