“We’re Here, We’re Queer”
An Interview with Pink Dollar’s founding members
By Stan Leveille
While the crew’s signature pink sweatshirts are reason enough to turn heads, The Pink Dollar Po$$y’s entrance on the scene has made a splash based on their riding ability, as well as their much-needed loud and proud qualifier of being a queer snowboarder crew. And while some of the more close-minded individuals in the sport seem to imply that sexual orientation is a frivolous detail, the crew’s founding members, Elias (Eli) Lamm and Casey Pflispsen, are firm in their belief that representation helps to create a safe space for queer snowboarders to exist comfortably for the rest of snowboarding’s history.
As we come to the end of Pride month, we thought there no better time than now to connect with the two founders of the Pink Dollar Po$$y, one of, if not the first queer snowboarding crews, to discuss their beginnings, what Pride represents, and what we can expect from the Po$$y in the future.
I wanted to start off with how both of you started interacting with snowboarding and when that was?
Eli: Grew up riding Hyland Hills and kind of around here. Trollhaugen a little bit. I started filming with the homie Billy Bjork back in the day. That was the first time I experienced filming in snowboarding. I was like, ‘damn this is fun.’ After that, I was just like, I want to keep doing this.
Casey: I grew up in the Midwest in the suburbs of Minneapolis. I got into snowboarding because I did whatever my brother did. I looked up to him and he went snowboarding, so I was like ‘OK, I’ll go snowboarding,’ back when we were like six. My parents would take us to the local ski hill, Hyland Hills. But later, once I really got into it and started riding park, Elm Creek is really what raised me as a snowboarder. I grew up underneath the generation of Mike Liddle, Jesse Paul, Kevin Gillespie, Billy Bottoms and the Common Apparel boys. Those were the cool cats at the hill when I was in elementary and junior high. They were a big influence.
And when did you two meet each other?
Eli: We were filming with Brandon and Alex Kirkland. We were filming a movie called Clockwork. We each filmed a street part and that was how we met.
Casey: It was the first time I felt like part of a crew, and we just went out and filmed every day we could. We would skip class if we could, whatever to make it happen. Oh, and we were older than them, so we were their ride to all the spots. It was kind of a symbiotic relationship.
Eli: I think there were a few times when their parents would pay us to drive them to spots.
Casey: I never got money!
At that point, you’re filming. Is the goal to be a pro snowboarder?
Casey: Uh, a little bit, yeah. I don’t even like admitting that. It’s weird to say, but that was definitely always a dream when I was younger. But then the other thing was we were just having fun copying what we saw other pro snowboarders do. Sometimes we would literally do the same trick at the same spot because we didn’t understand the rules back then. The movie Clockwork is just a bunch of ABDs probably.
I think that’s common in people’s early projects. So you film a project together in high school, at what point do you guys form the Pink Dollar Po$$y as we know it?
Eli: Two summers ago, Casey and I went to the Pride fair. Right around that time, we had been in talks about starting some sort of queer snowboard crew. Then Seen Snowboarding came on the scene [an Instagram dedicated to queer snowboarding], did their whole thing, and we were just like “damn, we can do this.”
Casey: Yeah, and then the Torment Mag interviews were big, too. We were like “damn, we can be out now.” It was so sick.
Was that a part of yourself that was hiding up until that point?
Casey: I was in the closet until I was like 19. What about you, Eli?
Eli: I came out when I was like 18.
Casey: We came out after we’d already filmed a bunch in high school. Him and I both went separate ways for college, and then it was so cool when we found out that we were both gay. I felt alone forever, and I’m sure Eli did, too.
I’m happy you two were able to reconnect and create the Po$$y. The crew is growing, or that is how it seems to me.
Casey: It’s crazy. Ever since Seen Snowboarding started, and Pink Dollar Po$$y started, queer snowboarders just keep popping up here, there, everywhere across the world, across the U.S., across Canada. There’s this one dude who immediately followed the Pink Dollar Po$$y from Spain. He DMed us and gave us so much love and support; it’s so cool. We just keep learning about new queer people in the industry. It’ll just take time for the Po$$Y to grow. You gotta make friends with us first!
Yes, it’s a Possy.
Casey: Exactly. You gotta be initiated into the Possy.
What are the future video plans? I see you hitting social edits, are you guys filming for anything in particular?
Eli: Yeah, we filmed a full street movie this year in Minneapolis.
Casey: A little bit of Duluth, but the main people in it are me, Eli, and Jeff Deforge. He filmed a little bit with us in Minneapolis, but he also filmed a bunch on the east coast and some Colorado clips, too.
Have you received pushback, or in general mostly positive feedback?
Eli: I mean, a couple people have said stuff like, “Why does your sexual orientation have to be involved?”
Casey: They just don’t understand that representation is important right now. It’s just coming from ignorance when people say shit like that. I kind of get where they’re coming from, but they just literally don’t understand.
They could never understand what it could feel like to have to suppress who you are to exist in a sport like snowboarding. Whether they want to admit it or not, there was and continues to be this sort of macho persona that is often associated with snowboarding, and it’s important to break that down.
Casey: Yeah. We just want to let the people and the kids know that we’re here, we’re queer, we’re gay, but whatever! That way the younger generation can have something to look up to and gay kids out there can feel like snowboarding is a place for them too, because we never really had that.
If you had to recount the members of the Po$$y as it stands, I know you two are the founders, but if this was a Wu-Tang Clan song and you had an intro where you had to list the members of the Po$$y, who are we putting on this list?
Casey: Me, Eli, Jeff Deforge, Dev Gupta, Mariah Crabb.
Eli: They are our full-time photographer.
Tell me a little bit about them.
Eli: They recently started wanting to get into snowboard photography and basically, they were there at every spot this year taking photos.
Casey: Yeah, they’re so dedicated. They’re just as dedicated as us and it’s so cool to see that from a photography perspective. Going out hitting spots, there’s a lot of work, and a lot of waiting around, and it’s cold and shit like that. They were a fucking trooper, capturing all of it. And they’re so talented with the lens. We actually met them because they slid into Seen Snowboarding’s DMs like, “Hey, do you know anyone in Minneapolis?” Tanner, who runs Seen, connected us. And the rest is history.
It’s been really incredible to see Tanner’s dedication to helping this cause.
Casey: Yeah, he is working his ass off doing all the Seen Snowboarding meet ups and doing whatever he can to help the queer snowboarding community. It’s amazing.
Is there anything in particular that you would like to stress about the Pink Dollar Po$$y?
Eli: We’re coming out with some good street footage and we’re going to make a dope movie. We’re not trying to separate ourselves from other snowboarders. The reason why we’re doing it is because we feel more comfortable at spots or wherever it might be to just be surrounded by more queer snowboarders. That’s the whole point of it, to just help build that community.
Casey: We are stronger in numbers.
What do you think the significance of Pride is in terms of how different industries can celebrate it?
Casey: Pride is about being unapologetically yourself. It’s just a month to remember that. It’s a lot of things. It’s also about remembering the Stonewall riots and all the riots across America that have given us the right to be out and proud right now in America.
Eli: Yeah. Like you said, it’s almost like a tribute in a way to older generations who fought hard for gay rights and free rights. Just being yourself and not really giving a fuck what anyone else has to think about you regardless.
Money talks. Is the merch for sale?
Eli: It’s on the way. We got stuff in the works right now.
Casey: Keep your eye on our IG and website, possy.bigcartel.com
Any final words or any thank yous that you two would like to address?
Eli: Thank you to all the filmers and photographers that came out and shot with us this season. Dan Pergrin, Evan Pierce and Spencer Nelson.
Casey: Riley Erickson helped out a little bit. Sierra Forchamer. Charlie Folker. Colin Mayner. All the allies. Shout out Mister Winfield for wearing the Po$$y hoodie in the latest Slush Magazine video. That was so sick. Josh Tranby donated a winch to us to borrow, much love to him for that. Shout out Tanner Pendleton, too. He helped us in so many ways.