Peter Talks… Girl stuff with Leanne Pelosi
On Christmas day in 1965, Sherman Poppen and his daughters were outside sledding when he noticed his daughter Wendy sliding down the hill on the sled, standing up. He quickly ran back to the garage, fastened two old kid’s skis together and let Wendy try it out. She loved it. Sherman dubbed his creation The Snurfer. Soon all the neighborhood kids wanted one. The Snurfer gained in popularity and was the first marketed snowboard selling upwards of a million units. What Sherman originally designed as a toy for a girl, is now a billion dollar sport dominated by men. Wendy Poppen wasn’t just the fi rst woman’s snowboarder, she was THE first snowboarder.
Peter: There’s definitely one question I really need to ask you… what’s your
P: That’s my favorite color too.
L: Is it?
P: No, I don’t have a favorite color.
L: Maybe black, is that even a color?
P: Ahhh, is it all colors?
L: No colors.
P: Well, with “crans” it’s all colors if you scribble them together.
P: Cray-ons, I’m from Pennsylvania (born) we say “Crans.”
L: What’s a “Cran?”
P: Everyone has been making fun of me my whole childhood. Have I been saying that wrong, “Cran?” I just say it very fast.
P: K, next very important question.
L: That last one was very difficult.
P: Are you related to Nancy Pelosi the Democratic Majority Leader?
L: No, but every time I go through the border, it’s the easiest way to get through, they always ask me that question.
P: Do you say yes?
L: Yeah, ha, I just get to blab on.
P: You say she’s a distant relative?
P: So do you often lie when you go through the border?
L: No, I never lie, I’m sure she can be.
P: Last year you filmed with Standard Films, and you were sort of… displeased with your part. Did you film again, or what have you been up to?
L: We filmed with Standard, but it was definitely a different year because first, the weather…which is the same with everyone, but we didn’t get any sunny days and we were short a filmer. There were a bunch of people and the first people they cut were the girls.
P: So, the first people cut from a film crew are the girls?
L: Yeah, which is kind of the consensus with the crew I was with. It’s like they aren’t going to tell Lonnie K. (Kauk) to stay at home, but they have no problem telling me to stay. It was kinda disheartening for sure.
P: Oh for sure. Are there a lot of things where it becomes guys first, girls second?
L: I think so, I mean… comp wise. Things are kinda set for girls on the most part in the comp world, girls have the same prize money, blah, blah, but when you move over to the film scene, it’s a full boys club. So, I think its def where you need to sharpen your elbows and try to get into crews. There’s not that many opportunities for girls to film with guys, and then they’re like “OK, we’ll take your sponsor money, but you can just come film with us whenever.” I don’t know, it’s hard to spend 100 perent of your time doing that [filming]. It’s really difficult to be a priority on a girl’s crew, which is completely different.
P: Which you’ve done before. You’ve done your own girls movie.
P: How was that, and why haven’t you continued doing more?
L: Well, it was awesome. I think we created a lot of opportunities for girls.
P: I thought it was really good. I liked it.
L: It was fun but it could have been better. At the point we made our movie, we were all over the place. Some of the girls were doing the X Games and the U.S. Open, the Chicken Jam, and we’d film in between and we never got to the point where we were all filming for the full season. So I think we could have made even better movies if we had a crew that did that.
P: Well, it seems like girls don’t just film all year, they do everything… for their careers. Where with guys, there’s contest guys and filming guys and a few that do both.
L: Well, it’s kinda changing where there are a few girls that just film, like Annie (Boulanger) and Marie (-France Roy). I didn’t do any contest this year, just filmed. And Kimmy (Fasani), (Erin) Comstock, Hana (Beaman) and all the Peepshow girls… they just film. When we were doing our women’s movie Runway, Jeff, they guy who was producing with me, it was hard cause we were in a relationship. He kinda got burnt out and wanted to do his own thing, which I totally respect. At that point I didn’t have the time and didn’t put in the effort to find someone to replace him. Looking back, it would have been hard cause Jeff did so much and such a good job that I think it wouldn’t be possible to find someone that could handle all the things he did and run it successfully without me having to fully sacrifice snowboarding. And I totally scarified my snowboarding for a couple years running that.
P: It seems you kind of do a lot of things besides being a girl snowboarder for other girl snowboarders, women’s camps, all kinds of women’s snowboarding stuff. It seems like you’re kind of taking a lead in that, is it for a bigger reason, or you just enjoy it?
L: I think the main reason, why I do these things is to create an opportunity for myself because no one is out there saying, “Come join us.”
P: So it’s a greed thing? (Laughs)
L: (Laughs) Nooooo.
P: I saw it a few years ago as you taking charge of this whole women’s movement in snowboarding, but now it comes out that you’re just doing it for yourself. (Laughs)
L: Oh fuck off!
P: (More laughing)
L: If that were the case, 70 percent of the money for the movie came from my personal sponsors. So, I wouldn’t have invited 15 other girls to film, if I was just like, “Oh, it’s my project, I’m just going to film with just me and pocket the money.”
P: Well, now that we brought this whole women’s movement up that you didn’t even think you were kind of starting (which I saw you as a figure head of, something for the future)…where in snowboarding do you see that girls still aren’t really getting their fair shake?
L: Well, I think the support is there, but since the sport is so male-dominated, you don’t see guys create opportunities for women. It’s kinda got to come from the girls. The girls have to create their own opportunities and it’s nice to see that, like the Peepshow girls and some of the new projects that have been popping out of the wood work. Then there is Nikita that supported the whole girl thing, which was awesome. Then Roxy, they kill it with the whole girl thing as far as I’m concerned. They’re probably on of the best companies that do it right. They don’t just pay a girl on the team because they win all the contests then forget
about them. They work with them and do projects and film things and put on contests for girls only. It’s pretty rad… I don’t know where I was going with this. What was the question again?
L: I’m really thankful for all the support I’ve got through out my years of snowboarding, but I definitely feel I’ve created most of the opportunities for myself. It would be real nice for someone to be thinking about the girl side of things.