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Villa Villa Cola
Female skateboarders get tough and organized over at Pippi Longstocking's crib.

Villa Villa Cola logo

Seeing a girl skateboarding can be a fairly rare sighting, but the women of VVC are out to change that. They're doing it through organization and community - reaching out to women and letting them know they're not alone. Tons of women skate. Check out their video, Getting Nowhere Faster.

VVC has set up their own virtual Villa Villekula online and are getting the word out - girls skate!

I found this article on TW Biz and wanted to pass it along (steal it) rather than having to do the work myself. Isn't that just like a typical guy?

Villa Villa Cola » Getting Somewhere Fast

Originally posted May 2005 in Transworld Biz... and subsequently ripped-off and posted here.

Ever heard of Villa Villa Cola? Didn't think so. But don't worry, you're not alone. But now that Getting Nowhere Faster has hit skate shops, chances are you'll get to know this group of skaters. And if all goes well, so will the rest of America.

But what is Villa Villa Cola? The short story is that Villa Villa Cola is a skate-video company made up of women who simply love skateboarding. They don't necessarily have anything in common with each other--other than their four-wheeled obsession--and they aren't afraid to tell you they may never have been friends if it weren't for skateboarding. They're honest. They make videos (well, two full-length features so far to be exact and a bunch of earlier rough home videos). They're a creative collective of artists, writers, filmers, and photographers. And now after three years of filming women from around the world, they have their second video--a film that stands as one of the most legitimate girls' skateboard films ever produced. Yes, You Can Skate.

My search for Villa Villa Cola started in the OC where I met Lisa Whitaker one evening at the Vans skate park. The park was hosting an Op Girls Learn To Ride event, so the park was closed to guys all evening and Whitaker was one of the skaters teaching the 30 or so women how to skate, along with pros Van Nguyen and Alex White.

After the session, a woman in her mid-thirties came up to Whitaker and asked her for an autograph. "You're the best teacher ever," she gushed at Whitaker, who could easily be described as a wallflower kind of gal with her dishwater blond hair and skater uniform of nondescript jeans, T-shirt, and a beanie pulled almost over her eyes.

Whitaker blushed and shuffled her feet, but you could tell she was pleased. She's part of the glue that makes up VVC. With more than eighteen years of skate experience and ten years filming for 411 Productions, she knows the sport better than most. Three years ago she officially turned her lens on girls, and with the help of the other VVC gals they've edited, written, produced, cartooned, and created a film that documents most of the best women skateboarders in the world.

But VVC is more than a skate-video company. With no real revenue stream--or even a business license--it could be considered more of a club with no membership dues. If you skate and you're mellow, you are Villa Villa Cola.

"We really see it as just a group of skateboarders who encourage one another to keep skating," says Whitaker after signing the new recruit's skate poster at the Vans park that evening. The woman standing there with a big smile on her face has never skated before tonight, and she's hooked. Seeing this kind of enthusiasm on a woman's face over skateboarding is what Whitaker lives for and what she hopes to one day live on. "I'm 17,000 dollars in debt from making this movie, but if it gets more girls skating, it's worth it," she says.

The Beginning

VVC started in 1996 with twins named Tiffany and Nicole Morgan rolling around the streets of San Diego. They found a few female recruits to join them and soon formed a gang of sorts called Villa Villa Cola that produced a 'zine and the occasional home video for girls who liked to skate.

"Mostly it was just me and my sister and our friend Jamie {Sinift} skating around in silver capes and pulling silly stunts," recalls Nicole Morgan, who lives now in Pescadero, California. The girls called themselves Villa Villa Cola after a famous children's book, Pippi Longstocking.

Pippi was a Swedish girl whose mother had died and father was a pirate. She lived in a house called Villa Villekula. "Her house symbolized freedom," says Nicole. "She would have her friends over, and they had crazy adventures. There were no rules, and you could be creative there. That was what we wanted our skateboarding to be all about."

Whether it was youthful enthusiasm or just naiveté, the VVC girls decided there must be plenty more female skaters out there just like them who would join their crew if they could just spread the word somehow. A road trip around the country with their homegrown skate videos and their 'zines ensued, and Villa Villa Cola became more than just a private club for the Morgan sisters and their few skater friends. But was the world ready for them?

"The videos we made and the 'zine had really good reception," recalls Nicole, "but everywhere we went people told us that there was no female market and that we weren't going to sell anything, but we didn't care. We just wanted to show people that girls skate." Interestingly, she says that the girls they did find on their cross-country tour that year are still devoted to the VVC mission to this day.

In 1997, one of the first girls' contests ever--the All Girl Skate Jam--introduced the Morgan sisters to Whitaker and a skater named Van Nguyen. By that time they'd also met an artist named Lori Damiano who put together the cartoons that appeared on their homemade skate videos. The contest showed what the VVC crew knew--there were other girls out there skating, it was just hard to get them together.

Another road trip ensued, which helped provide the footage for Striking Fear Into The Hearts Of Teenage Girls. The film was a rough, homespun flick and Nicole's city college project, and while it didn't offer the breadth of skaters their current film has, it was a start.

"I think originally we were more forced to work with each other because we were all that we had," says Nicole, who remembers hanging out with girls she never would have talked to in her non-skate life just to skate with them. "We saw how amazing it was to work with different personalities and the results of what we could create," she says. "Just having a common purpose was enough to work with all of us."

The Rise And Fall And Rise

By 2000, however, all of the girls decided to go their separate ways, the result of grown-up responsibilities like college and jobs. It was supposed to be just a temporary break, and they tried to hold VVC together, but there was no money, no product they could all agree on, and really no company, so they shelved their video dreams.

But elements of Villa Villa Cola managed to stay alive within the girls' skate community. Whitaker had a successful girls' skate Web site called www.thesideproject.com that showcased pictures of girls and profiles. And since 2000, another contest seemed to open up every year for female skaters--from the Slam City Skate Jam to the X-Games--so there was a guarantee for those who stuck with it that they would have at least one event to go to a year.

Van Nuygen, who calls herself the "mascot" of VVC, continued skating. Even though she was in her mid twenties and could see no real financial future in skateboarding she moved up to San Francisco so she could be closer to two newly emerging teen powerhouse skaters, Amy Caron and Vanessa Torres.

"I was basically a fuck-up," says Nguyen. "I had a tennis scholarship to college, but I threw that away because I was spending more time running around with fifteen year olds skateboarding." As the break in the original crew became more than just a year, Nuygen and Whitaker remained the main driving force keeping Villa Villa Cola at least slightly on the radar in the underground scene.

They distributed what videos they had to girls they came across at contests and through the Web site. One youngster who got her hands on a VVC video was Alex White.

"I remember when I was like fifteen I wrote to the Villa Villa Cola 'zine and got the video Striking Fear, and I was like, ‘Wow!' I was so stoked on it. It was one of the reasons I got really into skating. I had this dream that I could be in a video."

In early 2003, after an ASR show, the girls had a reunion at Whitaker's house. During the VVC downtime, Whitaker had continued filming, mainly guys for skate videos, but occasionally she'd come across a girl and keep the camera rolling. That afternoon she pulled out some footage of the then eighteen-year-old Alex White. Not only was White an absolutely amazing skater, but Whitaker had managed to get an excellent shot of a security guard pinning White to the ground, wrenching her arm behind her back, and threatening to beat her up if she tried to run. This was the kind of thing you saw in the guys' videos. It was priceless. The Villa Villa Cola girls were mesmerized.

"As soon as we all put our minds together and decided we were going to make it happen, it all fell into place," says Damiano. "It came together so easily it was almost spooky. We had wanted to do this for ten years, and suddenly there it was." Around the same time as the girls got back together, Josh Friedberg from 411 Video told Whitaker he was interested in making a girls' skate video. Element Skateboards also expressed interest in helping Villa Villa Cola. There was no reason not to move on the project.

"A lot of the problems we saw out there with girls in skate videos was how they were always asked what it's like skating with guys or being the only girl," says Nicole Morgan. "Also there's this desire to make the girls more marketable. We decided we would stay away from all of that because it gets old. We just wanted to make it a skateboard video that was just a good video."

For veteran professional skateboarder Cara-Beth Burnside, Villa Villa Cola has been a welcome inspiration: "They aren't like, ‘Check us out, we're girls.' They aren't trying to get attention. They do it because they love skateboarding and they don't care what anyone says."

With VVC, this credo is incredibly apparent--from the goofy skits in their video to the lack of self-promotion. These girls do it for themselves. This nonchalance has paid off though support from the skate industry. Last year TransWorld Skateboarding gave Villa Villa Cola a two-page spread in every issue to do with it what they wanted. From writing about a fight in a checkout line at Costco to the story of VVC's humble beginnings, they're slowly becoming the mouthpiece of girls skateboarding--one media moment at a time.

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