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Giorgi Balkhamishvili Interview

Mental Issues

Giorgi Balkhamishvili belongs to this young breed of skateboarders that no longer need skate mags or full length videos to express their skating – they gain popularity by themselves just by utilizing their smartphone in the right way (which might be old news to you because you already saw it on Insta). Well, it still is an exception that it actually works as good as it did for @giorgi_armani, who right now has remarkable 12.8k followers on Instagram. Because of his quality output, he caught the attention of Brad Staba, who eventually put him on Skate Mental. Without a doubt, things are going pretty well for Giorgi. Nevertheless, we were able to convince him to do an old-school print interview – and he committed to the old-school way to the fullest. With his best mate Paul Röhrs, he shot the entire thing on film. For all you kids out there that don’t know what we’re talking about: That’s like using filters on Instagram – just handmade. And now get ready to throw the dice together with Civilist’s finest Alex Flach. 

Why are you on this planet and what’s your purpose? 

The reason for that is probably that my parents didn’t use condoms.              

Where were you born? 

In Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. I came to Germany when I was six. It was Christmas ’94 and I came here illegal. My parents hid me in like a basket and when we arrived at the border control, they threw a blanket over me and I had to shut up.               

Why was it illegal? 

I wasn’t registered. I guess I didn’t have a passport. We came to Potsdam first and then kept on moving a lot. Probably like 15 times. But we mostly stayed in Friedrichshain – Samariterstraße. 

You got into the Chinchilla Crew pretty early on. For me, you never were like a regular skater dude, [Giorgi laughs] you always did your own thing. Your output on Insta is way more creative and funnier than most of the stuff you see on there. Where does that come from? 

I can’t really say. But I think I got it from my father. He always did everything his way, but I can’t really explain it. My upbringing was rather informal and I was never forced to do anything. You could say that I want to shock people by being stupid or doing weird things that other people wouldn’t want to see published.               

"My parents hid me in like a basket when we arrived at the border control."

You don’t care what other people think, right? 

That has its limits, I guess. If I did even crazier stuff, people would think I’m mad. I only show what I think is bearable for people.  

Yeah, you actually tend to do that. That’s why I’d really like to spy on you sometimes when you’re alone. No, but really, it’s very refreshing to see what you do. That’s also why Brad Staba is interested in supporting you. Has anything changed ever since you got on Skate Mental and Nike SB? More pressure?

When I started skating, I never thought I’d make it this far. There’s some pressure, I guess, because you really have to get things done. But really, it’s chill, you don’t have to worry about it all the time or anything. But the thing with Skate Mental… When Brad Staba was here, he gave me a package with some boards and said that he wants me to be on Skate Mental. That was big news for sure. If I was just flow on Skate Mental for the rest of my life, I’d be the happiest skater ever. At the end of the year, they plan to release a video and I’m really hyped to have some clips in there.

You went to Barcelona, right?  

Yeah, it was pretty much half of the Skate Mental crew. Wieger [Van Wageningen], Youness [Amrani]… It was a really great experience to see how the “superstars” act. I couldn’t imagine how it will be at all. When you look at their parts, you don’t know anything about their personality. I thought I’d go there as some kind of amateur and only watch how they kill one spot after another. But really, it was a pretty family-like atmosphere. Everyone was cool and down-to-earth.              

Giorgi Bs Crooks Highres Bearbeitet

Backside Crooks

How does your daily routine look like? Do you wake up in your room surrounded by shoe boxes? Do you have pictures I shot of you hanging in your room? 

No I can’t put them up.               

Why? 

You’d need a drill for that… I don’t know… I never got to do it. Maybe someday when I have a family, I’ll put them up. 

Having a family seems far away, doesn’t it?

Who knows? I have a tinder date after this and forgot to bring a condom. [laughs] Just kidding. 

You said that you love the life you’re living right now and only want to get boards for the rest of your life. Do you ever wonder about what you will do in the future? 

Right now, I work at Puro. That’s a high-society nightclub in Berlin. 20th floor, with a view of all of Berlin. And I’m the idiot that brings the people up and down in the elevator. I have to push two buttons for eight hours and my ears ache from the pressure because it’s going so fast. I get out of there with a brain tumor and walk home thinking I’m on another planet.

Backside Overcrooks

Giorgi Bs Overcrooks Highres Bearbeitet

Backside Overcrooks.

For the next couple of years, you probably will keep on skating. Your best homeboy Paul [Röhrs] is shooting pictures and writing a little bit for a magazine, and it seems like he will keep on doing this. Is there anything that you see yourself doing in ten years or do you just not think about it at all?

I think about that every day of my life, but after all, it doesn’t make any sense, because I have new ideas every day and there’s way too much going on in my head to sort things out. I can imagine a lot though. My parents are artists and I used to make some art as well, but I don’t feel like doing that right now. Maybe that will come back though, but for the next ten years, I see myself skating if nothing bad happens. Normally, life is leading to the right places anyways. Five or six years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and somehow I ended up here. So nothing to worry about. 

It doesn’t seem like you are the kind of guy that really needs to have a new Porsche waiting in his driveway…

No, but I’d still like to have a nice Panamera. But I probably wouldn’t pay it with blood sweat and tears but rather win it in a small bet. Invest two in a betting slip, seven games… The easy way. Nah, I don’t really need a lot. The most important things are to have a place to sleep, happiness, and good food. So food means a lot to you? * Yeah, food is really important. There are days where I eat things that not even bums would take, and there are the ones where I garnish my steak with gold. Just kidding, I just want to try to stick to skating for the next ten years because I would be fucking mad when I look back and think: “Wow man, you should have never stopped,” or anything like that. If it works: great. If it doesn’t: fuck it.

"Six years ago, I didn't know what I wanted to do and somehow I ended up here. "

I mean, right now, you just skate pretty much every day and get some money for it. Are you someone who’s into skating contests?

I’d like to win one someday, but I’m just too stupid.

Why?

Because I think every trick needs to be in “The Nine Club” and not even Nyjah gets that done. But actually, I won one contest in my life. But other than that, I usually completely fail or… completely fail.

Is it hard for you to skate in front of people?

Actually, I don’t care at all. But when I’m at the skatepark or at the Polendenkmal and people you don’t know stare at you, it can be strange. My body just starts making moves that it never did before and autonomously tries out tricks that I have never tried. No, I just feel a bit pressured. Same thing with skating new spots. On tour, I always hope to at least get one trick. It’s just weird. 

Giorgi Balkhamishvili Fs Crooked Paris Highres

Frontside Crooks

That’s why you have the Polendenkmal. It’s pretty much your home ground. But do you have any trick that you still have on your list for the Skate Mental video?

There’s always a couple of those, but I don’t know if I’ll make it in time. There’s a couple of risky things and I don’t want to get hurt. I fly to Sicily tomorrow with Skate Mental and we’ll see what will happen there. But they’re not making a full length, just like a ten minute clip.

Did the trip to Barcelona have an impact on your behavior? I’m glad we can have an after-skate beer nowadays because you used to never drink.

Well, I really wanted to get to know these guys. So I didn’t want to be a crybaby and go to bed alone after the skate sessions and that’s why I always went out with them and drank as much in this month as I never drank before.

I saw that on your Instagram stories. I never saw you with so much beer ever before. But that’s how life is on tour. But why did you not drink?

I drank for the first time when I was thirteen and had a mad blackout. I just hoped that my parents wouldn’t call. The second time was not much later and the exact same thing went down, except that my parents really called and I answered and had to come home. Six out of ten times, it was a total catastrophe when I drank. I basically had to learn how to drink properly. Also, I just didn’t like beer. Now, after drinking like 100 beers, there’s no nerve in my forehead going crazy anymore just from taking one sip.

There are many people who can’t say no to alcohol. But you also didn’t went out to party a lot, right?

Since I’m working at a night club, I’m busy over the weekends. But for events like Bright, I’m down for sure. I go to local clubs from time to time though… Since I’ve been single for 22 years…

"Six out of ten times, it was a total catastrophe when I drank. I basically had to learn how to drink properly."

No offense, but the girl who wants to be with you either has to be related to Stephen Hawking, or… [both laugh] But no, I guess you can be normal too. But I want to talk about your creative output. When I think about our Skate Mental board release… You belong to some of the most creative and funny people that I know. Would doing films be a thing for you? 

I could imagine doing that. But I just don’t have the contacts right now, but you guys should hit me up when you have something going on. I don’t know. Besides, I don’t think about that stuff too much and try to apply to some agencies or anything.

I guess you’re too much of a skateboarder right now anyways to be working for some production company. But I think you have a lot of potential because your things really shine out.

Actually, you only have to do the things that come to your mind first, no matter how crazy the idea is. Just do it! You can’t be everybody’s darling.

You know this is an interview which usually ends with last words. Anything?

Pfffff… I don’t know about interviews in general. If you just say what you think, something stupid comes out.

Sometimes it’s not as easy. But if you do a classic interview where you ask things like… Age?

22.

Color of your eyes?

Black.

Black?

Yes.

Oh, you’re right, damn. Color of your hair?

Blonde.

Size?

Two meters. You mean my dick, right?

Right or left side?

Carrying it on the right side.

Weight?

300-400 grams. No, we were talking about my last words… Foley, I love you. And all the other guys who support me. Brad Staba and Nike SB.

Giorgi Bs 50 50 Highres Bearbeitet

Backside 50

So what are you doing tonight? Working?

No, I stopped working. Maybe… Well I’m thinking about quitting. Just don’t feel like it anymore. I want to live skating to the fullest. Bug you at the shop every day, always asking for grip. That’s the life.

I think that’s a great idea. By the way, did you get the money from your boss by now?

Nah, not yet.

What are you doing with the money you have though? Eating, gambling?

From time to time.

What are you playing?

Pretty much everything. I really like to play the things that are risky. For example, when does the next tram come? I say six minutes, you say four. Alright, ten Euros!

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the casino and it was really crazy to see how busy you seemed when the ball rolls.

I mean the world is based only on probabilities. Same with skating, it’s all probability as well. You practice a trick and it becomes more probable.

"You only have to do the things that come to your mind first, no matter how crazy the idea is."

You for sure seem like Rain Man. Are you counting numbers?

I checked out some strategies on the internet and I read 17 books and from 70 out of 100, turns I can call the numbers.

We should go to the casino again tonight! Let’s assume I’ll give you 400 Euros right now. How would you play?

I probably would put 50 on red, when it doesn’t come I’d put another 350 on red. When it doesn’t come again, I’d get mad, go out, take the train home without getting a ticket, get busted, and pay another 60 Euros on top.

Do you usually pay the fees right away or do you postpone it?

Most of the time, I postpone. The thing is: When I postpone, I have the chance to go back to the casino the next day and maybe win the 60 bucks.

Do you usually tend to procrastinate? I myself have mailbox-phobia. I just go past it, knock a couple of times instead of looking in and, most of the time, it sounds pretty dull because it’s packed with all kinds of things.

Same for me. When I look inside and there’s nothing… I can’t really explain the feeling. But then I usually realize that it’s Sunday and the mailman doesn’t come anyways. But there always comes the time you have to face it.

Did anything ever happened to you because of this habit? Did your power get cut off?

[laughs] A month ago, I came home from Paris, where I went to with Paul, and when I tried to switch on the light, it didn’t work. When I checked the mailbox, I found a letter saying I didn’t pay my bills and they had to cut me off. I went back upstairs really fast because I only had 1% of battery left on my phone and had to use the flashlight to gather all the candles I had. After all, it turned out that they were mistaken.

And how was it? What did you do? I have this romantic image of you in your room surrounded by candles, no telephone, no light, no warm water, no internet, no music…

It was the warm-up for jail. [laughs] It sucked for sure and it wasn’t late enough for me yet to just go to bed and sleep. But then I thought: “Since the bill is already here, I should go to the casino.” I won a couple of bucks and paid it.

Really?

Yes, really. Exactly like this.

You for sure seem like Rain Man. Are you counting numbers?

I checked out some strategies on the internet and I read 17 books and from 70 out of 100, turns I can call the numbers.

We should go to the casino again tonight! Let’s assume I’ll give you 400 Euros right now. How would you play?

I probably would put 50 on red, when it doesn’t come I’d put another 350 on red. When it doesn’t come again, I’d get mad, go out, take the train home without getting a ticket, get busted, and pay another 60 Euros on top.

Do you usually pay the fees right away or do you postpone it?

Most of the time, I postpone. The thing is: When I postpone, I have the chance to go back to the casino the next day and maybe win the 60 bucks.

Do you usually tend to procrastinate? I myself have mailbox-phobia. I just go past it, knock a couple of times instead of looking in and, most of the time, it sounds pretty dull because it’s packed with all kinds of things.

Same for me. When I look inside and there’s nothing… I can’t really explain the feeling. But then I usually realize that it’s Sunday and the mailman doesn’t come anyways. But there always comes the time you have to face it.

Did anything ever happened to you because of this habit? Did your power get cut off?

[laughs] A month ago, I came home from Paris, where I went to with Paul, and when I tried to switch on the light, it didn’t work. When I checked the mailbox, I found a letter saying I didn’t pay my bills and they had to cut me off. I went back upstairs really fast because I only had 1% of battery left on my phone and had to use the flashlight to gather all the candles I had. After all, it turned out that they were mistaken.

And how was it? What did you do? I have this romantic image of you in your room surrounded by candles, no telephone, no light, no warm water, no internet, no music…

It was the warm-up for jail. [laughs] It sucked for sure and it wasn’t late enough for me yet to just go to bed and sleep. But then I thought: “Since the bill is already here, I should go to the casino.” I won a couple of bucks and paid it.

Really?

Yes, really. Exactly like this.

Giorgi Balkhamishvili Switch Bs Tailslide Highres

Switch Backtail

How long were you without electricity?

Five days. When I took a shower in the morning, I got heart attacks. So, lesson learned – open your mailbox, actually read the letters, and always pay your bills.

I had my fair share of that too. To be honest, I think I already burned like a couple of grants because I just didn’t open letters and thought they will leave me alone someday. Taking the train without a ticket, not paying electricity bills, which leads to paying the travel costs for the dude who just comes to switch it back on. The amount of money you just give away for free… I’d rather like to spent it in the casino with you.

It’s almost the same. [laughs]

No, I think I might get lucky with the help of you as the Rain Man. I think I’d have good chances of doubling my money.

More than doubling. I’m expecting to buy a mansion one day, so it’s all or nothing most of the time.

I mean you don’t even play with coins anymore.

Nah, way too heavy. Coins make my pants sag.

We should shoot some dice afterwards.

Can you borrow me some money?

Sure, you’ll probably return it right away because you’ll win.

And if not, you can just write me a letter. I usually answer really fast.

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