Aaron Fotheringham vs. Leeder O. Men

Wheelchair Backflip

One of the stories being recycled on CNN (TV) today is footage of some guys at the winter X-Games doing back flips on Snowmobiles. Whatever. Get back to me when you do it in a pickup truck. In the mean time, in a case of life catching up to skateboarding, a 14 year old kid named Aaron Fotheringham has completed a backflip on his wheelchair. What do I mean by life catching up to skateboarding? I’m talking about the character known as Leeder O. Men from the 80’s skate zine known as Naughty Nomads. Although fictional, Leeder was the first guy to ride vert on a wheelchair. There have been admirable, but mostly tame videos on the web of guys in wheelchairs at skateparks. Aaron seems to be taking it to another level. A where-are-they-now for Leeder O. Men, Naughty Nomads and more on Aaron Fotheringham, including the video after the jump. [Source: News of Doom ]

Aaron Fotheringham

Ok, let’s get right to it. Here’s the video of Aaron Fotheringham doing the backflip. Enjoy.

Before I read the interview on NewDisability.com, I assumed Aaron was in his 20’s, but it turns out he’s only 14. Makes sense. He can do 180’s too, and wants to work on a 180 backflip combo. The pictures below are from the interview.

Aaron Fotheringham

Aaron calls his activities Hard Core Sitting, or Wheelchair Skateboarding, but curiously he says he draws more influence from BMX. He seems to have a good sense of humor too.

ND: Was the first jump without cushions successful?
Aaron: Almost, but my momentum threw me on my back. It took about 15 more times before I landed it squarely. But it doesn’t matter because I still can’t walk. Just kidding I’m doing fine.

Aaron seems like he’s got his head on straight. He might even have a sponsorship from Colors Wheelchairs since he’s on the front page of the site. Colors appears to be the de-facto Extreme wheelchair-lifestyle company. If you dig around on the web site, it’s half catalog, half Maxxim or FHM. Hopefully Aaron will buck the trend of the Extreme Jock attitude. He’s already ducking out of one popularity contest, as he won’t ride without a helmet. Apparently he’s seen too many broken teeth and gouged skulls.

Leeder O. Men and Naughty Nomads

Leeder is the creation of John Lytle. He was first published in his zine Naughty Nomads some time in the latter half of the 80’s. If I’m not mistaken, Leeder appeared in some issues of Transworld Skateboarding as well. Leeder is definitely more skate and create than skate and destroy.

Leeder O Men - Naughty Nomads

I contacted John in 2005, trying to figure out what issues of Naughty Nomad I had since they weren’t numbered, and to try and get a little info about the zine from him. he’s a busy guy. This is all I got from him:

I’m a web developer now for the skateboard mag, powell-peralta, skate one, iasc, etc. still a naughty nomad at heart. I made 20 or so. I started in 1985 I think, stopped in 90. Leeder O. Men is still going strong.

Here are the two issues of Naughty Nomads that I have. Click to enlarge.

Naughty Nomad Zine thumbNaughty Nomad Zine thumb

Leeder O. Men is indeed, still going strong in the form of a comic strip. He’s undergone a sort of metamorphosis. Whereas he used to be more of a GSD-Lucero-Blender looking character, he’s blond and buff now, more like Rob Roskopp, or a frat guy. He still rides the vert ramp though.

Dizabled.com and Leeder O. Men

John has taken some heat for daring to make a comic about a disabled character while being able-bodied himself.

“Your comics stink I hate them. You think we are just product placement or some sick twisted way to make money off of the misery me and so many others go through. You should be ashamed of your self so should everyone elese who likes your comics. I hope you have to live in a wheelchair. Try spending your life in this sick twisted little chair”

In his defense, well he doesn’t really need any.

I began to develop the idea of Leeder O. Men in 1985 while I was a teacher’s assistant at an adaptive weight training class at Santa Barbara City College. When I started to lift grown men with their wheelchairs buckled to their bodies up to the chin-up bar for fifty pull-ups, I became irreversibly involved. Leeder’s first stunt emerged in my sketch book shortly after.

He’s got more admirers than detractors. The first time I saw Leeder, it made perfect sense to me. Leeder was a person who refused to be restrained by the rigid roles defined by our society. To me, it was more of a comment on skateboarders at the time and the creativity involved with adapting circumstances and terrains to unforeseen uses. Of course, as it turns out, I was approaching it backwards from the author’s intentions. No matter, my interpretation still works. If people only created art about their own personal and direct experiences, well the world would be a boring place.

UPDATE: As per Danimal’s comment, here’s another video made by Aaron himself. He takes some really hard slams. This kid rips! Check out the powerslide around the 40 second mark.

9 Comments

  1. Yeah! Naughty Nomads rules! I think I have one issue that you don’t.

  2. Danimal on January 26, 2007 - Reply

    there’s another vid of Aaron , I think this might be the link to it, (the filters here at work block it so i cant check)

    http://break.com/index/extreme_wheelchair_riding.html

    he takes some hard slams, tough kid.

  3. yeah the wheelchair backflip, i filmed all of that footage. The footage has been sold to OLN, and i never got paid. win some lose some. Aaron is a good kid, he will go far.

  4. HELL YEAH!!!!!!

    Definitely brings a smile to this jaded old man’s face to see this kind of gutsy bravado.

    Rock on, Aaron. You’ll be an inspiration to many.

    –SKot

  5. Thanks for the observations. Wheelchair skateboarding was born on watercolor paper from the mind of this skateboarder some 20 years ago, that is a fact. Way more importantly though, is the reality that it did in fact happen as I had always hoped adn drawn. Leeder is more on the skate and create side, always was. Ignorant in many ways, to his “condition”.
    Look for more Heart-Warming Adventures of Leeder O. Men and the Naughty Nomads in the future.
    Thanks for your attention. Hats off to all participants of wheelchair skating. I hope Colours designs the proper chair for this activity. In my observation, the chair seems to be the weak link. Hands off and hands on is not going to cut it. As I see it, we need to see the hands and arms in charge of the full rotation of the wheel… Leeder had a chair many moons ago, called the Ramshackler. It had spindles at 90 degrees to the wheels, a sort of disengaging ratcheting system to steer, and propel the chair.
    I want to see tow-in action.
    But most of all, I want Aaron to meet Danny Way and jump his Mega Ramp. Then he can call Tony Hawk or something and join the Boom Boom Huck Throw Down and blow it wide open. Ha! I live partly on account to see where this all goes.

    P.S. I don’t think you had it opposite of my original intent in terms of Leeder’s peronality. Some ideas are born of necessity. It was a combination of me being a skateboarder and exposure to some PWD’s. All in good ole 1987, many ironies earlier.

  6. Okay who ever the DICK is that wrote

    “Your comics stink I hate them. You think we are just product placement or some sick twisted way to make money off of the misery me and so many others go through. You should be ashamed of your self so should everyone elese who likes your comics. I hope you have to live in a wheelchair. Try spending your life in this sick twisted little chair”

    can lick my swingers…I’m in a chair and think these cartoons are funny as hell and you need to quit feeling sorry for yourself and get over it. It’s life stuff happens deal with it. Would it have made you feel better if a crip had drawn it up? If so your saying people in chairs arent equal…FYI I dont even use HC parking cause those of us who dont pitty ourselves dont want to be treated,talked to or anything differently.

    PS Aaron your a hero to those of us who still want to do something with our lives!

  7. I was wondering if anyone knows how this kid is doing up to date. I work at a rehab hospital and was talking about his flip and was told that he had an accident and became quadraplegic. Hopefully this is just a rumor-anyone with any info-it would be appreciated so if it is just that-a rumor-I can squelch it now. Thanks Colleen

  8. It looks like he appeared on TV sometime in December. Here’s the Link,

  9. John Lytle on April 2, 2009 - Reply

    Aaron and I have become close friends. Life is beautiful. Here’s the site we built together for hardcore sitting. Good things coming up…

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