INTERVIEW: MIKE “ROOFTOP” ESCAMILLA

mike escamilla, rooftop, defgrip, bmx, interview

To be honest, it dawned on me to interview you because I was genuinely curious about your lifestyle. You ride, you skydive, Gumball 3000, you”re traveling all over and so on. It seems like you”re always chilling. How do you primarily make your living these days?

Well I haven’t made a living off just BMX in a long time. I think people have a preconceived notion that I make a ton of money. Wish I did! Now I”m not saying I”m the worst off, I”m just saying I have to constantly hustle to keep rent money coming in. Pros these days make way more than I ever have riding BMX. Lately my income source has been shifting from different jobs, BMX, hosting, stunts and lately photography. Just like everyone else, I live check to check. The TV show money wise probably hurt the most cause it pays so little when you work for a network that small. Actually would make more a month working a normal job then doing that show.

I think branching out from BMX is a smart move. Do you think all your other gigs allow you to enjoy riding more?

No I don’t think I enjoy it more because of those things, I think maybe I can”t wait to ride more because I just can”t everyday now.

Let”s talk about Strangers in Danger. How did the idea for the show come about?

Basically Catfish got hired for the job and they needed a co-host and couldn’t find one, he suggested me and the rest was history.

First off, the show was definitely fun and entertaining, so good job on that. It”s great seeing BMX dudes in a position like that. However, the shows name always bothered me because you guys aren”t strangers and are labeled “best friends” in the teasers. I might just be an over-observing nerd on that one, but what happen there?

“Strangers” I believe refers to being strangers in the country we were in. Hey it”s better than some of the other names I heard being thrown around.

You guys got into some gnarly shit on that show. Was there a certain situation/scenario where you had to back out? Wether on the drawing board or on set?

Well we did most everything that was put in front of us. I do think at some point in Mexico City we were supposed to join a “Mexican fight club”, which at that point I said “Nope” cause really they were just gonna hire a bunch of Mexicans to beat us up in a alley. I can’t be more honest about that. That’s really what would have happened. We did argue about a few or a lot of the bits we did, but we ended up doing them all.

Do you have a memorable story regarding Catfish that stands out from filming that series?

Man, we spent 7 months out of a year traveling the world getting into situations that most couldn’t dream of or knew existed, we went from loving each other to hating each other on a weekly basis. All I can say about Catfish is the dude knows how to make people entertained and is truly a bad ass. He was truly scared of a lot of things we did and he stepped up to the plate on all of them, which I know now most people would not. I also saw him fist a sex doll in a Japanese sex torture dungeon.

Are you working on anything currently that you can spill the beans on?

I do a little work on a NBC show called “world of adventure sports” may turn into more, have some things that are also looking good maybe on the TV front. Been shooting photos for New York Times Magazine this summer, which I have some more assignments coming from them.

You just turned 36, have a solid place in BMX history and continue to keep us entertained. What”s next?

An edit would be nice. I have my first baby coming in Late October early November, so that’s what I”m focusing on now. But hoping the time I take off to stay home will leave more time for BMX, so looking forward to that.

Thanks Rooftop. Would you like to add anything before we wrap this up?

Yeah stop being pussies, get out and look for new spots, smile more, keep up the good work, grind taller ledges, have fun. There’s something in that list for everyone.

*click through for some classic Rooftop

  • Oompa

    Solid guy, smart enough to enjoy life through the diverse opportunities offered but loyal enough to remember his roots. Funny to hear him talk about Morgan on mega when he was the first guy to step up and take it on AND he back flipped a helicopter!!


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