Burton Snowboards has announced a new collaboration with hip-hop artists Salt-N-Pepa, introducing a special-edition 2014 Burton Lip-Stick board at the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) Snow Show last week in Denver. The board was developed in concert with Lifebeat, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS prevention organization that Burton is partnering with this year for the first time and with which Salt-N-Pepa has been involved since the early '90s.
Salt-N-Pepa first became involved with Lifebeat after the success of their 1991 single "Let's Talk About Sex" gave them a public platform to do just that. The trio recorded an alternate version of the song, "Let's Talk About AIDS," to perform at the first-ever Lifebeat fundraising concert in June 1992, and the ladies have worked with the organization ever since.
The Lip-Stick is a women's-specific twin-shaped freestyle board with a flat base between the feet and rocker in the exaggerated tip and tail. The topsheet features the now-classic image of Salt and Pepa shot by photographer Janette Beckman, with your choice of lyrics excerpted from their 1987 breakout hit, "Push It," on the base: "Real Good!" or "Ah Push It." The board will be available to the public next fall as part of Burton's 2013-14 line. XGames.com caught up with Sandy "Pepa" Denton -- "Pep" to those in the know -- at SIA for details.
XGames.com: So, let's talk about ... snowboarding.
Pep: Ha! Cute!
Do you have a first-time story?
I have a first-time and a last-time story; so far it's been just the once. We were filming a scene, actually, for "The Salt-N-Pepa Show" on VH1, with my son. He'd always been trying to get me to go snowboarding and finally I was like, "Okay, I'm going to do this thing." I'd never even been skiing before, but I said I'd try it.
I still don't even know if I'm a goofy or a regular; I kept falling both ways, so I guess I'm switch? I kept getting up and falling down, but I'm going to give it another try. And now, with my own board, I'll be falling down with style.
My son, he's been riding forever, since he was, like, 14. He's 22 now and he's like the black-diamond dude, going down flipping and jumping over stuff. He's really good at it. When he first found out about this project, he was so excited. Out of everything I've done, in hip-hop and whatever else, this was it. He thought it was the coolest thing for me to have my own board.
And not just any board. When I told him, he was like, "What, Burton?" He could not believe it. What female hip-hop artist gets her own Burton snowboard? I can brag.
What about Salt? Did she try it too?
Yes, but she won't get back on! She's not as cool as me. Quote! See, I'll get back on. I know she won't get back on. I'll get back on because I want to go out there and rock this new board, show this thing off.
What can you tell me about the board and the photo you ended up choosing for it?
Burton and Lifebeat wanted to represent that particular moment in the hip-hop era, and out of all the pictures to choose from, when they picked this one I had to agree it was the best. When you think of Salt-N-Pepa, you remember this picture, these jackets. They called it the "Push It" jacket! If someone's dressed up as Salt-N-Pepa for Halloween, this is what they're dressed up like.
This was our take on that gold-chain-and-door-knocker-earrings b-boy stance era. It's a great photo by Janette Beckman, and Play, from Kid 'n Play, actually designed these jackets for us. ... So there's a lot of stories and a lot of memories behind that photo for us. Those were good times. The '80s rocked!
How did your work with Lifebeat first come about?
It's been over 20 years now and it all started from a show we'd done and just became something we've always been passionate about. It's sad because the numbers [of those afflicted with HIV/AIDS] are still growing 20 years later, especially in that 13-to-24 age bracket -- my son's age bracket. ... [I]t's a constant battle and you've got to keep getting that message out -- wear condoms, get tested -- and fight to get those numbers down.
When you first got involved in the HIV/AIDS battle, did you have a sense of how big the problem was, or that it would be something you'd still be fighting 20 years on or having to talk to your kid about?
Not then. I was kinda naive. I remember when we first heard about HIV and AIDS and the whole Magic Johnson thing. Before that we all kind of thought it was someone else's problem, but that was the wake-up call in the black community. Unfortunately there are still a lot of misconceptions about it.
That's why it's great to see so many artists getting involved with Lifebeat and to see companies like Burton teaming up and collaborating to get that message out there. It's always progress to be able to speak openly about it. People like us, we have a platform, and if we're talking about it and we're cool to say, "I've been tested," and "I use protection," then it helps make it cool, you know? Sometimes that stuff is harder to hear from your parents or your teachers than it is from your favorite artists or your favorite snowboard company.
Abstinence, of course, is the best thing, but our message has always been "Let's be real." If you're engaged in sexual activities, which, let's be honest here, then it's best to protect yourself. And get tested. That's important because a lot of people are living with HIV/AIDS and don't even know they have it, and that's how it's spreading like crazy. So that's our message: Respect yourself, protect yourself, get tested.
When "Let's Talk About Sex" came out, it was kind of a big deal. There was all kinds of controversy around it at the time.
Please. We were like nuns compared to the kind of music that's on the radio now! I mean, can you even imagine? They were getting on us about that stuff! But that's what made Salt-N-Pepa what we were: We were focused, we were true to ourselves and whatever topic we wanted to address, we did.
To come out and say "Let's talk about sex" was very bold, very gutsy, but we didn't think about it like that at the time. We were just saying what needed to be said.
What message do you hope people take away from this Burton collaboration and your work with Lifebeat?
The main thing is to encourage young people to protect themselves, get tested, be safe. I really want to thank Burton for taking such a chance. I know they do some charitable work, and this is a great one to be a part of.
And the other message is that Salt-N-Pepa still rocks! We've been performing together nonstop for years, and now we're taking it to the slopes. Salt-N-Pepa's gettin' stoked.