In Memory of Otis Barthoulameu
Even if you didn’t know Otis Barthoulameu, you were never more than two or three degrees from him. If you are a skater or have ever been to a punk show, then “O” helped shape your world, whether you knew it or not.
A musician, skateboarder, photographer, artist, and perpetual barger at will, O had more fun everyday than most people have in a lifetime. He was always skating, playing music, making art, taking photos, or any combination of those things. And always with his friends. O had lots of friends—friends everywhere, both literally and figuratively. He was as likely to know the doorman at the club as he was the headlining act. And neither got preferential treatment from him. O was the ultimate egalitarian—a friend is a friend.
Still, for all the people he knew, O wasn’t famous. He was infamous. Notorious, even. He wasn’t an influencer, he influenced the influencers. If O wasn’t your hero, then he was your hero’s hero.
O passed away in February 2023 after a day doing what he loved most—skateboarding with his friends. ’80s skaters will remember him dorking around with Lance Mountain and Neil Blender in the Junk Skating segment from the Bones Brigade video Ban This, which also featured the trio “performing” as the Titus Skates Band. His more serious musical efforts took the shape of Olivelawn, fluf, and most recently Harshmellow—all of which featured his Fender-heavy, drop-D guitar sound. As a frontman, his vocals belted out harmonies that matched his playing in both volume and intensity. As a producer, he helped countless emerging bands find their unique sound.
As a friend, O was unwavering in his loyalty and true to his word. If he said it, it happened, and the dude always had your back. As a skate photographer in the mid 1980s, when he wasn’t shooting one of the legends, he used his position to help emerging skaters get in the mag. If you were down for skateboarding, O was down for you. Period.
It’s difficult to put into words just who and what we lost. We lost a friend, a mentor, a true champion for the underdog—many of whom he encouraged until they became champions themselves. He could spot talent like that, and he nurtured it. Not for his own gain, but for theirs, or yours, or mine.
O gave each of us who knew him a gift—the gift of friendship—and he showed us how one person can be a fountain of inspiration for so many others. Perhaps we’re just realizing it now, but he taught us how to do it, and we’re already mentoring, encouraging, and supporting those around us. Because that’s what he did.
Continue O’s legacy of supporting the growth of women’s skateboarding with a gift to Exposure Skate. Donations made in O’s memory through this page will help girls get started on their journey through skateboarding with safe, supportive programming and will also support emerging female competitors.
O’s legacy goes way beyond the music, the photos, and the art he made. It grows as we continue to do for others what he did for us. And I don’t mean just me and you—I mean the hundreds or maybe thousands he inspired. He may no longer be with us in this conscious world, but he is not gone. Not by a longshot.
O is everywhere.
Established in 2012, EXPOSURE® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to empowering women, Trans & Non-Binary individuals through skateboarding. We create opportunities by organizing events and programs that provide Professional and Amateur skateboarding competitions, learn-to-skate clinics, community service learning, and wellness education. Proceeds from our events support survivors of domestic violence.
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