I met 8Booth in the garage of a nice house in an Orange County suburb. Smoking weed in his wheelchair, he looked like a surfer conscripted into military service who’d been sent home after being wounded in an IED explosion; ankles heavily bandaged with metal rods sticking out in every direction.
He was skeptical of us even though it was just me and our cameraman. I hit the weed to show him we weren’t the cops.
He he didn’t want to do the interview there so we went to the beach, which entailed folding him and his wheelchair up and cramming them into the little sedan we’d driven down in. At the beach, he kept his head on a swivel for lifeguards and other hostiles; it was clear he’d earned a degree of notoriety. If he’s recognizable on foot, he’s unmistakable in a wheelchair.
Depending on who you ask, he’s a local legend or a public nuisance. Ask him, and he’ll tell you he’s just a guy who likes to send it and film sh-t. He never planned on becoming a viral sensation, or worse, a local celebrity.
A longboarding mishap ended up getting him fired from his job at a nice restaurant. The job was his last tether to mainstream society and any semblance of normalcy.
Without a job, he devoted all his time to what he actually liked: filming. Once he combined that with his penchant for danger and lust for adrenaline, things took off. He posted his videos online and people started watching. First thousands, then millions. Everybody fancies themselves a bit of a daredevil, but you watch 8Booth send it off a 6-story roof into a hotel pool and you have a physical reaction.
I asked how he filmed all this. “Spongey,” he said, like I should know what a spongey was. It’s an accessory you use to hold a camera in your mouth.
Wiggle your bottom jaw and imagine how you’d be able to manipulate the angle of a camera attached to a mouthpiece. Now imagine you have a camera strapped to your head like a coal miner’s headlamp and move your head up and down and side to side.
A spongey allows you to film angles you couldn’t with a regular head mount because you’re not confined to two axes of motion; it’s why 8Booth’s videos are so dope.
His arrest and subsequent news coverage was a watershed moment. With his mugshot and name plastered on the evening news, he was no longer “low.”
When minor trespassing is part of your process, anonymity is a plus. But that didn’t stop him. He doubled down and hit more jumps, because f-ck the establishment.
He was doing his thing: hitting sick jumps and feeding the streets with dope videos until he messed up – jumping before a stepped lip on the edge of a roof instead of off of it and came up a little short.
He shattered both his ankles and had to go to the hospital, where doctors pumped him full of drugs and put a bunch of metal rods in his legs, Wolverine-style, to begin the process of fixing his ankles, which are destroyed.
Rehab will be long and expensive. Being confined to a wheelchair sucks. But 8Booth knew the risks of what he was doing. Sometimes you gotta pay the piper. If anything, his resolve has deepened.
He’s carved out a lane for himself, and it doesn’t intersect with what society deems normal or appropriate. When 8Booth’s legs start working again, he won’t be any different. People don’t change, and 8Booth is a savage motherfu-ker who likes to go big and send it.