Gay surfers
"Lewis (Samuels) is first choice, except the waxing costs would break me," winks Matt Warshaw. "(Drew) Kampion I’ve maybe got a daddy thing for. I could be Chas’ (Smith's) daddy. Chas actually might be my #1, not Lewis. Chas talks a big game, perversion-wise, but family life suits him. I’d trust him to raise my son."

Warshaw: Give Me Lewis Samuels as Lover

What surfer or surf writer would you take to bed, men? But only hypothetically (wink!)

A few days ago, BeachGrit ran a story called the Five Best Interviews in Surfing (click here!). In response, the surf historian Matt Warshaw from San Francisco wrote about his own five best interviews (click here!). 

Obvs, Warshaw’s dance all over mine, a result of his superior intelligence gathering.

But one interview I took exception to was that with the big-waver Fred Van Dyke and his claim that most big-wave surfers are “latent homosexuals.” He actually said that in a Life magazine interview in 1967, but it wasn’t until Warshaw spoke to him in 1992  that he clarified it. In the lamest way.

“What everyone missed was that I said latent homosexuals,” Van Dyke told Warshaw. “I didn’t say we were all lovers. I meant that we all came to the North Shore, and it was Boys Town USA. One guy would rent a house, 10 other guys would move in, all these macho big-wave surfers, and it turned into a classic case of arrested development. Freud describes different levels of development, and one of them, for males, comes at around 10 to 12 years of age. That’s when you band together as guys, and don’t let girls into your lives. It doesn’t mean you’re gay. It means that the only thing that matters is your status among male friends—and that was everything for us. Everything! But instead of being 10 years old, we were 18, 20, 22, even older. We were still like kids. We were stuck”

Lame, right? Latent means hidden. Homosexuality is a beautiful dance. It ain’t for me, but not much is besides a gal’s ass that is as precious as bone china and titties that sway and sway and sway across my lips.

Anyway, I got Warshaw into a little exchange, below.

DR: Fred’s explanation regarding latent homosexuality has always bothered me. “Latent” means hidden. And latent homosexuality is that wonderful erotic zing toward your brothers that you keep hidden, not a desire for bonding. So I want to know, was there a genuine latent homosexuality between all those early big-wavers, you think, holed up together on the Shore? All those strong men! All those stiff cocks!

MW: Fred I think messed up the Freudian definition of “latent homosexuality.” Although who knows, like everybody else I haven’t actually read Freud. But yeah, Van Dyke’s take, like he says, is that North Shore big-wave guys were all about the guys. Just like my five-year-old is all about the guys. All that matters is what your buddies think. Girls aren’t in the picture.

DR: But man-on-man action? You think?

MW: Fuck, who knows.

DR: Secret gay feelings? 

MW: Between big-wave surfers? Sure! One of 10 of those guys is probably gay. Just like the rest of the male world.

DR: The one in ten figure is thrown around a lot. Which gives us four fabulous fruits on the tour! I wonder who?

MW: All I know about all those guys is what I see on ASP webstream. I certainly like the cut of Michel Bourez’ jib, though.

DR: Who doesn’t?

MW: What about you?

DR: I’m besotted by the sheer ordinariness of Bede Durbidge.

MW: You’d want to set up house with a guy like Bede?

DR: On the contrary, it’s house-setting I’d like. Sundays in bed with espressos and newspapers and… flashback… amyl.

MW: Okay how about this. Rielly, Warshaw, Doherty, Samuels, Sam George, Chas Smith, Kampion, Jarratt, Carroll, Baker. Pick one.

DR: Whom I’m attracted to? Or who swings?

MW: Both.

DR: I can only mention those I’ve met. Sam George I would describe as a classic Californian beauty, so maybe. Nick would be rough and his tongue would have absolutely no subtlety. So, no. Jarratt is too old, maybe slow to arouse. Tim Baker has a chocolate brown bosom that I’d always longed to tug at with my mouth, again, maybe. Brisick you didn’t mention. I’d fly to Bangkok with Briz and one of us would be gender reassigned in the interests of long-term happo. You?

MW: Lewis is first choice, except the waxing costs would break me. Kampion I’ve maybe got a daddy thing for. I could be Chas’ daddy. Chas actually might be my #1, not Lewis. Chas talks a big game, perversion-wise, but family life suits him. I’d trust him to raise my son.

DR: Yeah, well, I don’t get the Lewis fixation. The last time I saw him he wore a red-checked shirt, baggy stonewash jeans, New Balance sneakers, tortoise-shell seeing glasses (the sort preferred by middle-aged women) and a fist of hair climbed out of the neck of his undershirt. Is Kampion attractive? And tell me what rough trade you’d have with Nick Carroll. 

MW: Kampion was once the spitting image of Bob Dylan, from the Freewheelin’ days. Fine looking man. Nick’s working what we in San Francisco call the Bear angle, which never appealed to me. But honestly, at 54, I’m looking for romance of the mind. I left my libido somewhere in my mid-40s.

DR: No libido? Let’s bust some myths about Miki Dora, tomoz! You ain’t even a sexual being!

Summer’s over! Get radical!

The bubble of youth is going to pop! Soon! Milk it!

Big Wednesday is and always will be the only time that Tinsel Town has effectively captured our beloved surf. The themes portrayed in John Millus and Denny Aaberg’s 1978 classic are still totally relatable to the lives of every surfer today, and offer an almost prophecy like sermon on the circular nature of the surfing life.

The film’s major success is that it’s not about surf; it’s about the golden period in every young man’s life that inevitably has to come to an end. Summer’s almost over and every song has an ending, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the music!

Denny Aaberg, the creative prophet behind the film wrote a short story for Surfer magazine called “No Pants Mance,” from which much of the film was based. The piece is short and describes a swinging Malibu party that ends in a brawl and someone urinating in the host’s Mum’s steam iron.

The intro to the piece is most telling as Aaberg describes how the generation of Malibu surfers that came before him, including Miki ‘Da Cat’ Dora, all packed up their trunks at the end the summer of 1962, “the last great summer,” because, “the great days are gone, the real surfing is over and it’s too crowded!”

This is a theme that rolls through Aaberg’s seminal film, but also acts as a metaphor for all things surf. The influx of surfing’s popularity, the government’s influence and the fact that everyone has to grow up, whether they accept it or not, is most potent.

Big Wednesday’s three protagonists effectively cover the spectrum of the weird and wonderful characters that our beloved pastime attracts. Jack Barlow is the talented introvert, a natural company man who’s been influenced by his beach side habitat.

Far over to the left is Leroy the Masochist, a wild dude who lives to “get radical” in the form of recklessly charging big waves and trying to grill himself in the oven at parties.

Smack bang in the middle is Matt Johnson,  “That is Matt Johnson!” –  an Adonis destined to burn briefly, but ever so brightly. Every surf town from Cape Town to Carlsbad has a Matt Johnson. The handsome, humble dude, who between the ages of 18 and 25 has it all. The best haircut/car/chick/sponsor, but inevitably loses it. Being popular in high school never did anyone any favours.

Male-on-male admiration is portrayed beautifully in the film. It’s such an inescapable part of the surfing world, and it’s totally gay! Stephen Fry says that, “The best thing that you can do is to have a hero, someone that you admire,” but Stevie also used to play a game called ‘rudies’ with a childhood pal, which involved watching each other defecate in the woods! So I’ll leave that one up to you.

However, you know that bile-inducing feeling you got when you first learnt the fate of our Andy Irons!? That’s love my friend! The grommets in the messiah-like Bear’s surf shop certainly feel the same about one Matt Johnson. In a moment of indulgent self-deprecation Johnson tried to shrug his endorsement deal with Bear and declares that:

“I don’t want kids looking up to me… I’m a drunk Bear. I only surf because it’s good to go out and ride with your friends. I don’t even have that anymore.”

This sentiment is quintessential to the route to surf stardom (Bonjour messieurs Marzo, Wood, Archbold, Herring) and brings to a head the reason that professional surfing is almost void of characters: If you want to be a professional surfer at the highest level then you literally have to spend the whole of your adolescence surfing!

Everyday, surf, surf, surf, it sure doesn’t make for interesting interviews! Gabby didn’t spend his teens making out with Bridget Bardot types on picnic rugs at beach-blanket burnout style parties and getting in bar-brawls in Tijuana with Leroy the Masochist. But then again that’s why Gabby’s a world champ and the proverbial Matt Johnson ended up cleaning pools for a living.

The scene ends in classic style, when Bear, with gravel in his voice and tears in his eyes, preaches his poignant sermon:

“Growing up’s hard on any kid. But those kids do look up to you whether you like it or not!

(Lengthy trumpet crescendo to theme tune)

“You better pick yourself out a new board now, don’t ya think.”

The “all good things must come to a end” sentiment is perfectly punctuated in art as in life by the Vietnam War. The conscription scene in Big Wednesday is one of the all time classic depictions of youth defiance in cinema history. The boys belting each other in the knees, dousing themselves in fish oil, dressing up as queens and Nazis alike to dodge the shackles of conscription is absolute silver screen gold! But this shit actually happened.

What a cruel twisted fate it was to go from the real golden era of surfing in the early-to -mid -sixties (think striped trunks, Volkswagon beatles, fires on the beach) to being thrust into the filthiest of mosquito-ridden jungles to fight the yellow man. What a wild ride!

Friendship ties into the tale of the golden era of the Malibu surf scene in an eternally relatable manner. It’s the morally incorruptible Bear, once again, who hits the proverbial nail on the head in his wedding day exchange with the newly appointed Los Angeles state lifeguard/excommunicated surfie Jack Barlow.

“For god’s sake Jack it’s my wedding day, have a drink.”

“No I don’t drink.”

“Jack, your friends are the most important thing you’ve got, have a drink.”

“What are we drinking to?”

“Only to your friends, to your friends come hell or high water.”

My best mate’s Dad’s in his fifties and he runs with a gaggle of weekend warriors that we refer to as The Johns. The Johns spend countless hours at the weekend, away from the trouble and strife, driving up and down the coast hanging out in car parks, drinking coffees, and checking the surf endlessly.

They barely ever surf, even when it’s pumping. The unexplained, eternally greener grass nature of this seemingly pointless activity became clear to me in the re-watching of Big Wednesday. The Johns aren’t searching for a better sandbank or a more sheltered cove. They’re searching for Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, a thing that’s gone and lost forever. The golden era of their youth. This powerful potion of nostalgia is the glue that binds the Johns,and it’s totally spawned an industry. Hello  Deus Ex Machina!

If you, like me, are in the apex of your golden years I urge you, I implore you, not to take for granted the rose-tinted phase in with you currently exist. Cherish your friends and your time, because before too long the bubble of youth will pop!

In the haunting words of Matt Johnson:

“Summer’s almost over, let’s get radical!”

mason ho wins 2015 backdoor shootout
Describe your winning strategy, Mason. "At Pipe and Backdoor, it gets really steep. I poke it down, like you poke the nose down, like you're going to poke something else. You just aim it and shoot it as hard as you can."

Interview: Mason Ho wins Backdoor Shootout!

…collects 10-grand and makes new friend in Bruce Irons!

Yesterday, Mason Ho, the just turned 26 year old from Sunset Beach, won a  slightly shortened version of Da Hui’s Backdoor Shootout. Jamie O’Brien strolled into second, Bruce Irons was third, Billy Kemper, third, Makua Rothman, fourth, and Makai McNamara was fifth.

Oh Mason! Such a popular winner! He gets us all drunk on his surfing. Those beautiful idiosyncrasies make his game the epitome of Hawaiian surf.

So let’s rap!

BeachGrit: Why’d you win? 

Mason: Whooooa! Fuck! I don’t know to be honest. Maybe… mmmm… frick… I can’t say that, let me think… wait… damn! I don’t know. I guess I put my heart into it but then I don’t know if those guys were doing the same. Maybe I picked better waves.

Describe what a pretty wave looks like, front door and back door? 

There’s those rights that look like huge teepees, you know what a teepee is, an Indian fucking thing. You want the rights to look like that. And the lefts, anything that looks like it’s coming from Off the Wall. You try and get as deep as you can and you just… poke it.

Poke it? 

At Pipe and Backdoor, it gets really steep. I poke it down, like you poke the nose down, like you’re going to poke something else. You just aim it and shoot it as hard as you can.

How about the winnings? How much y’get? 

Supposedly I won 10 grand. It’s usually 50 grand, that’s what I’ve seen on the cardboard cheques. The reason I got 10 was, usually it’s three heats and they take your best three scores and you get the results on that. This year, they tried to make it three rounds and the top 16 of the 32 guys were going to qualify for another round and then everyone was going to start from zero and then bang it out. So the plan was to have one more day of competition. But they missed one day. We thought yesterday was going to be the best day and it was kinda shitty. At first, everyone was going to get the same amount of money. But I started rousting everybody that had some power to change it. I told ’em straight to their face that the top six should get the same amount of money. They were laughing about how I was telling it straight. And then they said, “We’ll give you 10 and the other guys five.” I was, like, shooooooots (stoked)!

Who were you rousting?

Pretty much every single guy there. From the people running it to the competitors, from last place to fucking second place. Everybody. I needed the money.

What are you going to throw it at? 

Fuck! First purchase is a remote control car, f’sure.

An RC car? 

Somehow, fuck, I’ve been hanging out with Bruce Irons. I never knew the guy before but… wait… here’s a funny story. My friend had an RC car and I was, like, what the fuck? That’s the sickest thing! And so we went to the store in town so I could get one and the guy said, “Bruce Irons comes in here and buys everything!” I’m, like, what? I’m onto something cool. And then I ran into Bruce at the contest and I only know him to say, “Hey, what’s up, how’s your dad?” And after I got a 10 and a nine in my heat he paddled out… psyching! He’s so rock star, he never talks to guys, he just shines ’em and so I’d learned never to interrupt him or talk to him at Pipe. But he came out psyching, saying, “How was your stall! I love how you’re stalling! People just let go of the rail!” I was overwhelmed. I was in shock. The waves I don’t remember too well, but Bruce saying that was my highlight. And before the heat, my dad was sitting at Off the Wall and a remote control car flies by him. And he’s thinking, What is Mason doing playing with his car on the day of the contest? And he looks behind him and it’s Bruce pinning his car all over. And I say to Bruce, tell me my dad wasn’t lying! Were you playing with your RC car before the heat? And Bruce is, like, “I have my whole quiver here! Let’s go play after!” We get to play RC cars? With Bruce Irons? Winning the contest and playing with cars? 2015 is blowing my mind! I’m glad I got to get that off my chest. I had to tell someone.

How about the game of qualifying this year? Gonna happen? 

It’s been my goal since I was a kid to be world champ. I’m not giving up but to be world champ you have to get on tour. So my goal before my goal is to, yeah, qualify.

How you going to do it? 

I’m going to hypnotise myself into how much fun it is. I just want to beat guys in everything.

Surf photographer Ryan Miller at Teahupoo
The New Jersey ice-creamer and surf photographer Ryan Miller captured underwater by the surfer Damien Hobgood. The tuber in the background is the Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz. | Photo: Damien Hobgood

How to Succeed at Surf Photography!

It's so dirty! And your throat will be cut! But such rewards, says New Jersey's Ryan Miller… 

Where do you find success? And, what is success?

Is it bringing thunder to your craft? Is it making money? Or is it, as is the case of New Jersey surf photographer, Ryan Miller, creating a seasonal business lucrative enough to carry you through eight months of travel, including mortgage payments on your crib, every single year.

If you don’t know Ryan, you’ll know his photos. The hard-working ice-cream store owner travels to each event and… works it. His game isn’t the oblique or the abstract but straight sports photography. Ryan doesn’t misfire. And, every single day, his photos are uploaded and distributed. Red Bull is one major corporate client who rain shekels for his work.

I ask Ryan, who is your favourite surfer to photograph and why?

“Good question but fuck, I don’t even know if I think in those terms. I get “where is your favorite place to go?” all the time. I honestly feel like here and now is my favorite place wherever I’m at right then is just fine by me. If you start to think “Oh this place sucks and I can’t wait to get to Fiji or wherever” then you can suck all the life out of that trip real quick. Same logic applies to my favorite surfer. Whoever I’m shooting at the moment is who I’m excited about shooting. I don’t really think in terms of favorites or that would relegate me to thinking if I was shooting anyone other than that favorite person, then I would be having a lesser experience.”

What essential truths has he learned about the pro tour since following it?

“That if you open yourself up to new experiences and learning new things at every step of the way then you really can. I learned more this year on tour by seeking out new experiences than I have learned all other years cumulatively.”

Ryan mixes a solid education (two photography degrees and a fellowship that allowed him to live in Haiti and document that wildly dysfunctional country for one year) with a work ethic borne out of 80-hour weeks at the beachfront ice creamery called Yum Yums he owns with his wife, Cristen.

The pair bought the biz 15 years ago for five gees. Neither had any experience, but Cristen’s parents knew restaurants, and, with a little help, the two 20 year olds made it through the first year. They didn’t make a ton of money, even working from noon to midnight every day, but it was still enough for ’em to take off for the rough east coast winter. The business turned around when they discovered that they both had a natural affinity for small-talk.

“We created a strong bond with the customers. We learnt their names. We remembered their orders. We taught some of ’em how to surf. We even go their houses for dinner,” says Miller.

These days, Cristen is still in the store for the crazy summer, but Ryan, whose photography is starting to pay off, only stalks the counter one day a week.

If you’re on the Jersey Shore (yep, where the MTV reality show was filmed), you find the Millers at 31 John F Kennedy Boulevard. From mid-May to mid-September, the place is absolutely fucking hectic. But then, it’s like France, the place shuts down. The tourists leave. Absolutely everything closes.

As soon as the first of those autumn fronts move in, the pair are riding the gulfstream to more human-friendly climates. It used to be India, Nepal and Thailand, the classic path for travellers chasing adventures in the sun, but ever since Ryan taught Cristen to surf, their destinations now involve sweet beachbreaks.

In a neat twist, Ryan says that his wife Cristen is “responsible for everything. She’s the one who got me into surf photos. It was her initiative to start traveling. It was her initiative to buy the ice-cream store. And, when I taught her to surf, instead of wanting to go to Asia or wherever, she said, fuck India, let’s go surfing on the Gold Coast.”

How good is the gal? Fuck India! Go surf! Four months of work and eight months of fun. It’s a very good definition of success.

Ryan Miller’s 5 tips for success
1. Find your niche: It ain’t easy, but discover what you’re good at, whether it’s running an ice cream store or taking travel photos or being a hellman water photographer, and make your mark. Stand out. Be better than the next guy. Exploit your talent.
2. Bury your ego: Business is so fricken full of being let down. If you carry that ego thing with you, you’ll be buried alive by rejection. Don’t question your self-worth. Keep going! Keep believing!
3. Customer service: Tie up all your loose ends. Answer emails promptly. If someone’s doing biz with you, make it easy for ’em.
4. Be persistent: But, at the same time, don’t be a dick. It’s a fine line. Don’t freak out if your emails aren’t answered within the hour and don’t start sending paranoid shit full of capital letters.
5. Forge great relationships: Be a good guy. You get so fucked, so let down, that it’s easy for the devil to come out. Don’t let it happen. Take rejection in a gentlemanly fashion and keep rolling.

Follow Ryan on Instagram here (click!) or dive into his archived hot tub here (click!). 

At least he still has his teeth?
At least he still has his teeth?

Bustin’ Down the Door II

Another Australian takes one on the chin in Oahu. Did he deserve it? Maybe.

Reminiscent of the beating Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew was handed some 25 years ago, another Australian has been shown Hawaiian justice. Multiple news outlets report that, last night, Melbourne native and PGA bottom-dweller Robert Allenby was kidnapped and beaten after missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Allenby, 43, said he was at a wine bar in Waikiki when he was abducted at around 11 p.m. local time, placed in a car, driven 6½ miles away and robbed.

“I didn’t think I was going to survive this one,” Allenby told the Australian Associated Press.

“I was separated from my friend (Anthony Puntoriero) in the bar after we had paid the tab at 10:48 p.m., and he went to the bathroom and next thing you know I’m being dumped in a park miles away.”

“I only know this part because a homeless woman found me and told me she saw a few guys pull up and throw me out of the car. That is where I got the scrapes above my eye from the sidewalk.”

Law enforcement officials are busily following leads but I have only one question.

Wine bar? In Waikiki?