The Friday Interview – Mike "Rooftop" Escamilla
Stranger? No. Dangerous? Yes.
Interview by Keith Mulligan. Photos courtesy of Rooftop.
His passport says his name is Miguel. But we all know him as Rooftop. Some attributes…street innovator, living legend, part time stuntman and reality show personality, full time jackass. He jumps from planes, shreds on a snowboard, Gumballs, rubs elbows with famous people, and sometimes rides his BMX. He just released a video part online this week, and has a new show on Fuel TV called Strangers in Danger with Catfish happening. No time like the present for a little Q&A session with the man, right? So here's a little more insight on the before mentioned and more…
Current Residence: Studio City, California
Sponsors: Hurley, Nixon, United, Incipio
What's the story with the video part you're releasing?
Well, I had been filming for the Demolition video for the past year and once I parted ways with them I had almost enough footage for a section, so United and Hurley stepped up and sent me on some trips to get the rest of the footage to use for a United edit.
Is it a legit part or Web fodder? Why a full video part dropping on the Internet?
I'm really looking at this part as a video section more then a Web edit. And hopefully people will take it that way as well.
What went into putting it together?
The hardest part of filming this was injuries and having an available filmer. I drove to a spot three times, 2,000 miles round trip each time, only to try it one time because of weather and security. I ended up coming up short and was instantly rolled up on and they tried to get the footage. It ended up being the first clip in the section.
Download this video for Apple TV or your iPod from unitedbikeco.com.
Paint it Black.
It was my first section and this may be my last, I figured it was a fitting way to have it. I mean you can't song jack yourself, can you?
Why would this be your last section?
Well with the way DVD's are going I just see fewer and fewer opportunities to have a real part. I'm not saying I won't have edits here and here, but if you came from the time period I grew up in, a video part is something different then a Web edit. Also, with the show starting up, it will take me off my bike for months at a time while filming.
Compare this video part to your Dirty Deeds section from '95—sixteen years ago. Most of our readers weren't even born when that came out.
Well I'm pretty stoked to still be pushing myself, still get scared, and still have the drive to get it done once I've decided to do it. The best thing about both these sections is that they happened in a time of my life where every clip I filmed was for me, no one else.
Any crazy rails, fire moves, or other unexpected-yet-classic Rooftop-style clips?
This one's a pretty straightforward street section. The kind of street I like to ride—not me trying to fit into what's hot right now. I do what I do and I'm pretty content with that.
So this new show of yours, Strangers in Danger…tell me some lies about it.
Snake blood is delicious.
Basic details for the fans: when will the show start airing on Fuel, length of the show, how many times Catfish pukes per episode, how much time you talk about yourself vs. actually doing dangerous stuff, etc.
The show starts airing in September, but the pilot airs this weekend on Fuel: Saturday at 5pm ET/2pm PT, and again on Sunday at 6pm ET/3pm PT. I'm hoping Catfish pukes every episode.
BMX on it? No BMX? We've talked about it a little. Tell the kids your thoughts.
Well, there may be a little, but I'm not expecting it to be in every episode, and to be honest, I'm not sure it fits in every episode, I'm sure if it makes sense we will make it happen.
Blame Catfish for something.
Who comes up with the danger scenarios for the show?
They have a whole team of people looking stuff up. When you go into the room and see all the ideas on the walls, you start reading them and just cringe. Then I remember, damn I have to do this!
I just had the pleasure of spending 12 days in Kuwait and Iraq with you, again. What were the Bikes Over Baghdad tours like for you? How does the sketchy shit you get into on Strangers in Danger compare to being in Iraq?
There's no words to explain how much those shows (B.O.B.) mean to me. As far as danger, this last trip to Iraq was riddled with attacks and bombings, so it was a little scary this time. On Strangers, some stuff is funny and some stuff is gross… But yeah, the scary stuff definitely has me worried a bit.
When are you going to ruin your friendships with people like Kat Von D and other celebrities by getting them into the BMX mix? BMX could use some star power, right?
Nah, they just need more people doing their own thing and less people hating on them for it.
Do they give you your lines for your reality shows weeks in advance or right before you do a shoot?
There are no lines, but there are scripted story lines—some good, some really bad. We do our best to meet them in the middle.
You showed me the pilot for Strangers in Danger. I caught some camera trickery on one of the situations. You gonna keep it real or are you faking some of that stuff? I know you're tough, but Catfish is a different story.
If you ask Catfish, he's the toughest man alive with a dick like an elephant…feel free to do the leg work on that fact to see if it's just camera trickery.
Can you promise to try and make him throw up as much as possible every episode?
This I can do.
Let's talk about the first show. Crossing the street in traffic and running around in underground tunnels was weak. But the unborn bird looked tasty. How was that, as well as the snake blood?
To be honest, the traffic was pretty gnarly, I mean anybody who is halfway intelligent would be fine, but if you hesitate you will get hit. And not every gag is supposed to be dangerous, some are just strange customs or things specific to that country. And yes, the blood and eggs were gross. Really gross.
Were you scared in the minefield?
For a few minutes while I was down in the sand alone with a GoPro taping up the TNT charges, there was a moment where I realized I was in real danger.
Okay, fess up: you didn't go into 150+° water. Don't even try to pass that one off.
Are calling me a liar?
Yes. Moving on, I know you have a big trip coming up. Where are some places you're going for the show and what are some future "dangers" you're going to flirt with?
Far as I know, Indonesia, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Bolivia, and Columbia. All I know is it will involve crocodiles, sewage, sulfur mines, Thai fighters, ninja training, and some really disgusting food.
Besides the shows, have you been doing any movie stuff or stunt work?
I was pretty busy the first few months of the year doing stunt work on NBC's The Cape, Chuck, and Outsourced.
What have you learned from working in the TV and film industry? Has BMX helped or hurt with certain situations?
Just that in BMX you are the cameraman, the host, the editor, and the director…makes doing just one job a lot easier.
How much time have you spent practicing signing your autograph? You got it dialed yet?
I'm hoping by 2015 I'll finally get it. Can I add a thanks?
I guess so. Go for it.
First off, I wanna thank Brian Castillo for all the years of friendship and support, also Ian and everyone at United for letting me get this done on my time. Without Hurley this part would of never gotten finished. Another big thanks to Glenn Milligan for really going out of his way to film most of the part. He took his own time and money to help me out. Chris Long also filmed a bit. But I think most of all I wanna thank the crew that I rode with the entire time the most. Without these guys every trip, crash, clip and laugh would have not been worth it: Jason Enns, Biz Jordan, Glenn Milligan and Brian Kachinsky—you guys truly are one kind. Thanks for the motivation and the laughs. Mom's Spaghetti.