They are wholly confident. And their aesthetic beauty translates to the wave…
“How beautiful maleness is, if it finds its right expression.” – D.H. Lawrence
The first time I came across Asher Pacey was in an issue of Tracks, circa 2004. It was a cropped picture of him standing victorious on the podium of a nameless airshow held in a gutless city beach break. This picture however, was not celebrating his achievement; it was ridiculing him for the state of his oral health. The tracks in his mouth were the harshest of metals. My estranged stepfather is a dentist and I showed him the picture.
“That’s clearly Malocclusions caused by moderate to severe crowding,” he said.
The next time I encountered Asher was years later in the Snapper car park. His hair was long and peroxide tipped. His teeth were perfect. Fresh Rhythm stickers graced the medley of fresh crafts in the back of his Holden Commodore as did what looked to be a box of fresh veggies.A beautiful girl sat in the front seat in a floppy felt hat, the first I’d seen. If it wasn’t for my completely useless, stalkeresque selective memory that allows me to recognise every mid-range pro surfer from 2001-2008, I wouldn’t have picked this as the same man from the glossy pages of Tracks. Upon his entering the water I witnessed that the makeover was complete. Gone were the froggy airs and in their place were the most expressive and patient brush strokes you’ll find on the Gold Coast points.
Handsome men surf better. They are wholly confident. Kelly Slater himself documented his own plight with self-confidence/vanity (they’re totally linked in case you hadn’t realised) in his seminal 2004 autobiography Pipedreams. He explained that as a young man he suffered from considerable acne. As the post-Tom Curren Great American Hope the spotlight was fierce and oft shoved right in young Slater’s pustule ridden face.
His dermatological insecurity was highlighted when, while waiting in the Surfer magazine headquarters in California, Kelly read some graffiti scribbled on the wall.
“Kelly Slater has pimples!”
Envy manifests itself like most other forces: by taking the path of least resistance. For proof see the Stab message boards. If somebody’s obviously aesthetically flawed, despite their athletic ability, then it’s easy to highlight. Dane’s fat, Filipe’s ugly, Jordy’s nipples are too close together. It makes arm-chair critics feel better about themselves but it makes the pro’s weep.
Imagine how Asher must have felt, that first day the swells, winds and tides of Snapper Rocks aligned in symphony with the shedding of his train tracks. Like the Berliners the first sunny day after the fall of the wall! Asher’s Instagram (@asher_pacey) depicts the perfect Australian waterman, circa right now. He fishes, surfs (a lot) and has that knack of avoiding overwhelming cheese in staged lifestyle shots. He just looks right. Marketing 101. Asher’s also a damn fine protagonist of riding an alaia, which is akin to pleasuring two women simultaneously: It takes a man with perfect balance, and almost meditative concentration to get the job done.
The web clips produced by Asher and Auteur Matt Kleiner are mesmerising. It might not be the fastest, biggest, most radical or cutting edge surfing, but the waves are East coast blue, the music melancholic, the lifestyle shots reflective of place and time, and Asher’s surfing is truly handsome.
I feel handsome sometimes but not always. I felt handsome the other night. White chinos, cream cashmere sweater, brogues, a new haircut, and a fresh tan. Stepping out into the cool southerly I found my step filled with a rarely realised confidence. The confidence of aesthetic beauty.
My arrival at that night’s function was met with an assortment of pseudo-compliments blended with undertones of jealous mockery. I simply smiled until my greatest friend at the gathering pulled me aside.
“You know you look good, hey.”
Our eyes met, and a burst of shared laughter blew away in the breeze. I knew.