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Image: Photos from Spring/Summer 2012 SFSU Mag

Alumni & Friends

Success at High Speed

 

Photo of publisher Gwynn Vitello and son Tony VitelloGwynn Vitello and her son Tony continue the legacy of skating luminary Fausto Vitello at High Speed Productions.

As a humanities student in the 1970s, magazine publisher Gwynn Rose Vitello (B.A., '74) was a sucker for the tragic works of Shakespeare and the English romantic poets, Byron, Keats and Shelley. She admits she harbored a crush on her bohemian professor, Arthur Chandler, who wore his hair long and spoke with erudition.

That changed the day she met her future husband, a Spanish major named Fausto Vitello (B.A., '71).

"He happened to walk by me on campus one day and said, 'Hello, Gorgeous.'" She laughs. "It must have been all that Spanish romance literature he was reading.”

The young Argentinean, who would revolutionize skateboarding by inventing pivoting wheel trucks and by launching innovative art and skateboarding magazines, won her heart. They married after graduation.

Gwynn's first job was at City Hall with the Civil Service Commission. "I thought my humanities background would translate," she says. She was soon recruited by Mayor George Moscone, and then became an assistant to Mayor Dianne Feinstein.

As Fausto grew his skateboarding magazine, Thrasher, which catapulted skate culture into the mainstream, Gwynn began working for Deputy Mayor Hadley Roff, a former speech writer for Edward Kennedy, who would later teach at SF State.

"He could write about policy and make it riveting," she says. "I really learned how to write from him.”

She took those skills to Thrasher and then later to Juxtapoz, a groundbreaking urban art magazine that Fausto launched in 1994. Business thrived, Gwynn bore two children, and she settled happily into motherhood.

Today her son, Tony Vitello (attended '03-'06), helms Thrasher magazine and oversees their online skate magazine, SLAP. Her daughter, Sally, handles marketing and sales.

"It's a family business," she says, surrounded by pictures and memorabilia of her husband in her offices at High Speed Productions in San Francisco.

Gwynn took over after his sudden death six years ago when he suffered a massive coronary. Time magazine ran his obituary.

"Fausto was a larger-than-life character, full of ideas and emotion. It's as if his heart couldn't contain it all. He wasn't a person for old age... ."

Driven to keep Fausto's legacy alive, she has become a savvy businesswoman. In the fast-morphing publishing world, where the quick turnover of digital content outpaces the posterity of glossy pages, she's succeeding: today, Thrasher and Juxtapoz are the world's largest-circulation magazines of their genre.

SF State students continue to cycle through as interns, and the company employs a couple of graduates. But the connection that delights Gwynn most is discovering that her new IT guy is none other than the son of her former crush, Professor Arthur Chandler.

 

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