Rob Dyrdek: A Q&A With the Dream Warrior Himself

The pro skateboarder and MTV fixture gives us the dirt on Season 2 of "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory"
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The pro skateboarder and MTV fixture gives us the dirt on Season 2 of "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory"
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As he gears up for the Season 2 premiere of “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory” on MTV (Thursday Aug. 28 at 9:oo p.m. EST), the record-breaking skateboarder, reality TV star and entrepreneur discusses jockeying, serious injuries and why he’ll never get “fantasy-ed out.”

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Dyrdek, center, and the "Fantasy Factory" cast. Photo by Mike Piscitelli

Congrats on the new season; you’ve already wrapped filming, so how are you feeling about it?
I feel like, thank God in the heavens and earth, I didn’t die, and I got another one in the bank, it’s over and I can stop filming (laughs). For me, there was a lot pressure with that first season to step out of “Rob & Big,” do something new and still be creative – as much as you write the show and have to conceptualize it, it still has to find itself while you’re filming. With this season, the formula was already set and it already made sense, but for me, every single one of these episodes is so ridiculous, and the stuff I did was so mind-blowing, that I’m really excited for the world to see it.

Coming out of the first season, did you need a break from the factory, from making all of these fantasies come true? Were you “fantasy-ed out”?
I don’t need a break from the factory, I just need a break from cameras on me. Working and living in the fantasy factory, it’s the greatest place on earth. You spend all day every day there, but when you’re jammed up with cameras and production schedules, and trying to get content, that’ll take its toll. But the fantasy factory never gets old. You can’t get fantasy-ed out (laughs).

What’s been your favorite dream to make come true so far?
For me, it was jockeying [in an episode of the new season], buying that racehorse and jockeying it for its first race. It’s so left-field, which is sort of the epitome of my life; one guy I happen to work with closely has a habit of buying racehorses, which led to me buying one myself, which led to me thinking how funny it could be if I jockeyed it, which ultimately led to me getting in a gate on a 1500-pound Thoroughbred and going 50 miles an hour at Hollywood Park. It’s just so ridiculous.

Did you form an instant bond with the horse?
Funny you should mention that, because in this actual episode, I convince myself that I need to find this horse and bond with him, and one point I’m hugging him and telling him how much I love him. So yeah, we formed a pretty instant bond.

Are you really that hard on Drama [Dyrdek’s put-upon cousin and co-star] in real life?
No, no … a lot of stuff I just throw out there, and he just falls into the trap. He could have easily stepped away from the trap, it’s not like there’s this incredible intent to make him suffer … I just always put a little bait out there, and he always seems to grab it. When he cleaned Timmy [the test dummy]’s mangina [in a memorable Season 1 episode], he could have easily said “I ain’t cleaning that mangina,” but he just said, “Well, I guess…” He’s certainly evolving in this season; it’s a growth of Drama in Season 2.

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Christopher "Drama" Pfaff, Timmy the Testie, and Dyrdek. Photo by Mike Piscitelli

Seeing how well both “Rob & Big” and “Fantasy Factory” have done, does that make you proud to be an ambassador to the skateboarding community?
Absolutely, but it far outreaches just a television show; I hope it’s the contributions I’m making with skate park design, putting out the first true skateboard feature film [this summer’s “Street Dreams”], and next up, launching the first true league, so despite having  fun … for me, the television show is my vacation time, ya know? When I’m done with the show, I get back to the business at hand, building a brand that represents skateboarding in the proper way - from developing an authentic toy line and cartoon for kids as the first taste of skateboarding with the Wild Grinderz to ultimately creating a place for these kids to be superstars, which is the street league.

Do you ever need a vacation from the vacation?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a vacation, to be quite honest with you. I went to Cabo, I think, once … I love when the shooting schedule’s done and I can just get back to where I can just skate, work out and work all day, every day … honestly, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

You grew up and got your start in Ohio, but now live in Hollywood; what’s the skate scene like around there?
Hollywood is the end-all, be-all. Of the top 200 pros in the world, 100 of them live within a 20-mile radius of here, so the culture is very deep, and the most significant piece of professional street skating in Los Angeles is the Barracks, which is barely two blocks down the road from the Fantasy Factory. It’s sort of the centerpiece of the Los Angeles skate culture, and L.A. is still, without a doubt, the biggest skate city in the world.

With the new season of “Fantasy Factory,” were there any major injuries sustained?
I seriously almost died, and when I watch the footage and remember the experience … wow. Have you ever watched the Ken Block Gymkhana videos where he does the crazy car drifting? It’s huge, psycho; like, 20 million views on some of them. He has this crazy monster rally car, so I wanted to do the 2.0 version. So I made a perfect replica of his car, only it’s like three feet long, on a high-powered go-kart. So it’s Ken and I trying to do these crazy car-sliding tricks, and one time I missed him by like half an inch to me just getting annihilated. And while I was spinning 360s and he was spinning 360s around me, he just slammed into me and I never recovered. Since then I have been in physical therapy for, like, side whiplash and was just fucked for the entire season.

Since that’s such a major injury, how do you feel about people seeing this on TV and most likely laughing at it?
For me, it just is what it is … people never know what all the consequences are from these things. The horse race looks like, “Oh, that’s pretty sick, that’s crazy.” It was one of the gnarliest fuckin’ things I’ve ever done in my life! I had no business doing that. When I had that episode [last season] where I was attacked by a shark, it just seems like, “Oh that was pretty crazy” when you’re watching it, but living through it was the most psychotic adrenaline rush you can imagine, feeling like, “What am I doing?” TV will never capture things like that or jumping a car 100 feet. All of this stuff is so outside your element, TV will never capture how psychotic it is or the fear that’s associated with it when you’re doing the shit like this. But that’s just what I get to own as life experience, and I get to look back and watch it. And when you film it, it’s in the bank forever – that’s the skate mentality. You know once you get a trick on film, it’s there forever. That’s almost how I approach all of the shows; yeah, you get in these incredibly hairy situations, but you know once you do it, it’s in the bank.

Photo by Mike Piscitelli

How many episodes did you film for the new season? 12 again?
No man, just eight … I can’t do more than eight ever again. On that first season we did 12, and it tore my soul out. I’ve got about two months of tolerance for filming. I told MTV, “Either I do multiple seasons of eight, or I just do one more at 12.” It’s quite taxing.

Aside from getting the skating league off the ground, what are your goals at this point?
There is no grand goal, I don’t think; everything just sort of works together in the sense of growing the sport of skateboarding into what I believe should be the premier athletic alternative to organized sports. To me, that would be the closest thing to my ultimate goal, and that’s why I’m developing all of the different properties. Wanting to build the skate parks and develop the league and do the toy line, do the movie, this is all about helping create growth inside the sport. But then again, I get so inspired by something random. Like, somebody approached me about wanting to do a limited run of finger boards. I was like, “I can’t do that, that’s so corny; Rob & Big finger boards?” But a year later, that led to an entire toy line and cartoon. So you never know what’s going to come down your path and inspire you to create something that you hadn’t thought of.