I bumped into Jennifer Goldstein through facebook, and the rest is history. I had no idea who I was talking to at the time, but I found myself talking with a charming, personable and talented individual who was engaging and a genuine pleasure to talk to.
Then I looked her up. Listening to some of her music, I knew she was talented, but I had no idea of the impact she has made with the world until I googled her up. I had no idea.
Jennifer Goldstein is the amazing Skatewoman – who combines her talents in music and rapping to teach people how to figure skate, including people like Dr. Julius Irving and John Cusack. More importantly then that, she is a teacher who has found a creative way to teach people not just how to skate but also covers a variety of other subjects which shows her depth and a glimpse of the lives she has touched.
I was humbled, and here she was talking to me.
I asked if she would be gracious enough to do an interview with me, and she obliged. We talk about Skatewoman, her music, what she likes to teach and more.
Joshua Pantalleresco: What is your first lesson when you try to get people to skate?
Jennifer Goldstein: In the first beginner lesson, I teach my students how to maintain their skates, gear up, use their gear (fall safe or escape), get up, stay up, move forward and back, stop several different ways, change terrains smooth like a snake, turn, skate and more. I also teach the science of skating, which is extremely helpful and important if any existing skater or pro wants to improve their skills.
JP: Tell me a little bit about your music videos. I really loved the happy holidays one in particular but they are all good. I have a few questions, what inspired you to do your skating videos with animation?
JG: I’m producing music videos to teach the world how to skate on quads, ice and inline skates, in under an hour. Currently, I’m wrapping up production of a how to skate music video compilation, called Skate 101, starring Skatewoman. It will be available on DVD and downloadable. Scheduled for release this coming holiday season, Skate 101, will definitely be a totally unique gift. Each music video teaches a different goal. Initially, I was only producing instructional music videos, but as things rolled along, I decided that I wanted Skatewoman to celebrate birthdays and holidays, as well as, promote skating and fun for everyone.
The music videos star Skatewoman, a cartoon caricature of me, along with her funky and furry friends. Skatewoman raps on skates. These days, it’s so much easier and cost effective to produce cool music videos using animation, then live action. I plan on incorporating live action in the near future. Each music video will also have a corresponding comic book.
JP: Do you do them yourself, or do you have others help you?
JG: I work with an amazing team of artists and animators, from all over the world. What they create in a very short time, I couldn’t do in a life time.
JP: Which video is your favorite?
JG: I have to admit, I’m Skatewoman’s biggest fan. My team always surprises and amazes me. I’m in love everything they do. The holiday skate song, birthday song and sexy skating music videos are really fun and well done. Of course, those are not instructional. My favorite videos with lessons are the ones I just approved, the Football song, Snake song, and Pizza Song. Those haven’t been released yet, but will be on SKATE 101, the official dvd/download. I think each one is better than the next, so I really don’t know.
JP: When did you get the idea to link music and teaching people to skate?
JG: It was really a natural progression for me. Even though it was rewarding to see people learn how to skate, I really felt like a broken record. I knew that if I could produce an instructional video, I could teach the world without having to repeat myself. So, I began writing down everything I taught. As soon as my classes were done, I’d write down notes on each class. Then I edited, edited and did I say, edited? I tried to make everything short and sweet, just like me. It started to flow and I realized I’d just written some fine rhymes. Yup, I know what you’re thinking. I was a poet and didn’t know it. I tried them out and that turned me into a rapping skate teacher. The response was overwhelming. I had kids and adults, getting instant results. It was a fun way to teach and learn. It was obvious that the next step was adding rhythms to my rhymes and making music videos to teach everyone, instead of just producing an instructional video. I posted an ad on the internet in 2004, and found my one man band, Taki76. We’ve been working together ever since.
JP: I understand you have a bunch of cds out with your music. Tell me about your most recent album.
JG: Skate 101 and Skatewoman are the latest albums. Skate 101 is instructional music, the set of how to skate songs. Skatewoman is a compilation of our most popular skating songs, including the song that landed us a Top Ten Single of the Year, the how to skate backwards song. Skate 101, the dvd/download, is mostly all new music with similar lyrics that are on the albums.
JG: If it’s good, I’m going to dig it, everything, from punk to opera, and hip hop to gospel. I was always a big funk lover and fan of Prince, James Brown, George Clinton, Rick James, Teena Marie and the like. Since skating is all about moving and grooving, I’ll skate to anything with a good beat. I often get compared to Blondie. I love Debbie Harry. I had the chance to hang out with her one night and she told me how much she loved skiing and wanted to skate with me.
When I’m not skating, it depends on what I’m doing, as to what you’ll catch me listening to. Most likely though, it won’t be anything with auto tune.
As far as skating goes, I’m inspired by all styles. I grew up watching skating on TV and being mesmerized. I often dreamt I could do triple axles on figure skates. So every chance I got, I laced up my skates, and rolled along Hollywood Beach.
JP: Why the name change from Phat Sk8trax to Jenny Jen and Taki76?
JG: Taki76, or Taki, makes all the music and I’m writing the lyrics. He and I started working together to create songs for the skate project. Then we ventured into other projects that are not skate related. We make such a great team that we even began writing songs and jingles for other people, as well. I felt it was important to establish our individual identities, so I changed to Jenny Jen and Taki76.
JP: What else do you teach?
JG: Through Skatewoman, I teach much more than just skating. I teach math and science, as well as many other subjects that you wouldn’t expect. I will be sharing more information about all the core curriculum that Skatewoman teaches soon.
JP: What is your favorite subject besides skating to teach?
JG: Math and physics are most exciting for me. Skatewoman is filling a gap in those areas of study. Most people don’t know Newton’s Laws of Motion or Einstein’s Laws of Relativity, because they aren’t that simple to understand or remember. I developed Jen’s Laws of Skating, which are simple to understand and remember, as well as, be able to apply Jen’s laws to other things that move, roll, glide, float and fly. It will be in the Skate 101 series. If you’re four or more, you’ll get it completely.
JP: How did you end up teaching Dr. J and John Cusack how to skate?
JG: I met them both at one of the gyms where I was teaching skate lessons. Julius asked me if I’d teach him how to skate. It was funny to thing that a basketball legend, wanted me to teach him a sport. Of course, I was elated to, but first I had to find skates to fit his feet, since I didn’t have his size in my rental fleet. I called my friend, who owned Bauer at the time, and he was thrilled for the opportunity to make a size 16 skates for the basketball legend. When his superbly crafted hockey skates arrived, there were 5 wheels, like most speed skates. I called Julius to share the good news. He came over to the gym; I geared him up and taught him how to skate in a private racquetball court.
One afternoon, I noticed someone looking at me, hiding under a hoodie, standing beside the basketball court. It was none other than, John Cusack. I was all laced up, ready to teach a skate class. He was probably wondering why someone would be on skates inside a gym. I asked him if he wanted to take my class and he said, yes. I geared him up and taught them how to skate. John was really sweet and down to earth. We had a blast.
For more information about Jennifer, Skatewoman and her music visit her webpage at http://www.skate101.com. I want to thank Jennifer for her time. It was truly a pleasure.