Back in September while visiting San Fran, I was lucky enough to get to ride, hang out with and film Sean Parker. For those who don’t know, Sean is a flatland legend and from talking to him even a little bit, it was obvious he had a unique outlook on life. I hit him up for an interview and I really like the end result. You can check out a few clips of Sean riding, plus everything else we did in SF in the new BMXFU DVD by the way.
What’s your name, age and where are you from?
Sean Parker, 33, originally from Northern Virginia, lived all over the east coast until I discovered San Francisco roughly twelve years ago.
Who do you ride for?
My damn self, it’s the only way to make sense of BMX. I’ve been getting love from S&M and Revenge for many years and stoked to be a part of the Lotek team as well.
You’re primarily a flatlander but you also ride street and parks, are you actually stoked on street or do you just ride it once in a while because your friends do?
I started out skateboarding in 1984, then went back and forth with riding BMX around ’87 after looking at tons of magazines. My friends that rode were cooler than my friends that skated and seemed have a better time, so the bike took over back in ’91.
Eventually, I went off to college to study photography in Pittsburgh, Pa in ’93 and met up with a really good group of flatland riders and got heavily into riding flat, but I still rode everything I possibly could.
Shouts to Paul Palmer who was recently killed in a confrontation with the police. He was an amazing rider and really helped teach me the groundwork of flatland. Tangent, I apologize.
I’ve always been stoked to ride street because you have to constantly explore and adapt to what spots are available, even if you stay in the same town or city. Street riding can also get my mind off of other things that may be distracting. Nothing beats a late night solo sesh in that scenario. It’s always a good time rolling with the homies for the most part, especially if you find something you might break yourself on.
What’s the flatland scene like now compared to when you first started riding? Is it bigger, smaller?
It definitely seems a lot smaller these days in the U.S. to me. When I started, there were so many pro flat riders and so much originality at that time. Pro classes at the contests were so stacked, but it seems like a lot of guys have moved on with their lives. I haven’t seen too many younger riders step up and get involved as much. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that most flat frames suck these days or what, but I see things falling off in that aspect. I’d love to see a change for the better.
I saw you do one of the craziest tricks I’ve ever seen out in SF… it was like a whiplash, to bunnyhop barspin off your front pegs. How long did it take you to learn that trick and how hard was it? It seems like you have it decently consistent.
Ah, the Whip Cream… that one took me about three years, but as soon as I lightened up my bike and started doing bunnyhop barspins, it was on. I pulled the first ones into a skatepark wedge, then on flat ground. It still gives me a hard time, I sprained my ankle last week shooting one for a Vimby thing I’m working on. That was three days before I went to Woodward, which really blew because I’ve never ridden the place. As soon as this heals, I want to start throwing them down some stairs.
How do you feel about the general BMX media’s coverage of flatland? Do you think it’s covered fairly by magazines, websites and DVDs?
Flatland is such the redheaded stepchild of BMX in the states. As a genre, it’s been dropped from every major event over the years. You can’t cover an event if it doesn’t exist. Now, seems like you have to approach the media to get them to pay attention to flat. Terry Adams does a good job at that, but it’s not my thing. Props to the kid, but with flat being so divided, it has to now have flatland specific websites, dvds, and events to keep it alive and fresh. Which makes no sense when I see so many street riders nibbling on what’s been going on for many years in my city.
How would you describe the SF scene? It seems pretty laid back but at the same time, shit definitely goes down.
I really dig the scene here, it’s completely diverse and always changing. Sometimes it’s hard to link up with people to ride certain spots, but you can usually default to the clocktower and find some heads to ride with. We get tons of fools visiting also, so it mixes things up. We’re pretty laid back, maybe it’s that good herb, but everyone wants to progress, shine, and have a good time.
For people who don’t know him, how exactly would you explain D Block???
Fucking hood rat. No, totally kidding, Block’s pure comedy and a natural athlete, always entertaining. He learns fast and gets people fired up to try some new or crazy stuff on their bike. Speaking of firing up, I bet he’s still smokin’.
How would you describe your job? Is that something you can talk openly about on the internet?
I would say my job is Sean Parker. Every day I wake up, there’s something else on my plate to devour. One day it’s crumbs, others it’s crab cakes benedict with bloody marys. Every waking hour is a hustle in the Bay. Shit’s expensive, what can I say?
The past decade or so would consist of a mix of photography, graphic design, DJing, bar tending, bike shows, and/or making brownies. Lately an emphasis on the latter, since I’ve created a niche that can’t be matched. I barter quite a bit, so it’s not a money thing. I would rather cut my costs on things and give myself more freedom to ride and enjoy life, rather than chasing that evil dollar.
I do what I love and I love what I do. BMX has saved my life and ruined it so many times that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself otherwise. I’ve made the best friends I could find on the planet and wouldn’t/couldn’t trade it for anything else I’ve been a part of.
You got a shout out to end this with?
Oh hell yeah. Maybe too many to read, but hope I don’t forget where it came from. Moms, of course, The Bay, Mat Hoffman, Mirra, Plywood Hoods, Bryan Blyther, Grasso, Ron W., Josh Harrison, Davy Widdecombe, Clay Brown (& Denver), Baco Crew, Pitt Posse, P.U.S.H., every single person in the S&M building, especially Sean McKinney, Fit fam, Solid fam, Ath fam, Rich Hirsch and Eric Stefano for the fresh gear, Pete B., Chad and Amy J., Jesse P.(and all Flatland Fugitives for that matter), R-Dog, Sheps, and the rest of the REAL O.G. Austin heads, Chris Hardy, Ells & Gonz, Rat, Peacy, Cisco, Cobbs, Cubby, Bottle, Penonzek, Ant, Mutt, Drew daddy & the Gatt band, Paul O., S.White (Nomad brotha), pink parts (not bmx parts by any means), Brownie Mary, Tommy Chong, black comedy, underground/independent hip-hop, R-Bar SF, Mother’s (Athene), people without cars, Sam P., Drob, Booth & Losey (photo pimps that put me on the map), Team Shoots Bra, Ramp Rats, Gutter Crew, First Rule, Adam double deuce, and anyone that loves this stuff as much as I do. That’s real.
By the way, you can peep some old pics that have been marinating at…
Or check the beats and videos at.