Secrets of Surf Magazines! (Part One)

When surf magazines used to burn DVDs for kicks!

Life is an unending river with a different surprise around every corner. An enigmatic puzzle, a puzzling enigma.

And you want to know what really cracks me, a vet of five different print mags from surf to men’s interest (porn) to gossip, up?

It’s the faith in which we hold the paper magazines despite their lack of transparency (sales) and influence (advertising). At face value we accept the magazine’s own inflated sales and circulation figures and the success of its static advertising.

But there is no secret about surf magazines more hidden than the great DVD bonfires of yore. Y’see, back around the turn of the century, the sales of paper mags plunged once DVDs got into the market.

Who wanted photos and dreary words when you could push yourself back into a couch and get all the surf y’needed? And the surfing magazines, realising this, soon began packaging “free” (it actually upped the cover price by a couple of bucks to pay for the raw costs of burning the discs) DVDs onto their covers.

The big surf co’s were happy at this turn because it meant they could make, say, 50,000 DVDs, give ’em to a magazine with a circulation of 50k and they’d have a home for their promo discs.

Such a touching naivety! The childlike innocence!

I remember once pitching for the DVD of a major surf co. and being told they were going to give it to a certain surfing magazine that targeted “youth” because they could shift 40,000 of the co’s DVDs.

I’d worked at that magazine and knew it sold between 4,000 and 9,000 magazines, closer to the former than the latter. What could I say? I wasn’t going to throw the mag under the bus (journalists in arms!) but I knew what was going to happen to 30,000 of those DVDs.

Wanna know?

They arrive in a large truck at the printers. The printer who is altered to the unfortunate mismatch of numbers takes 12k or whatever the print run is and sets ’em aside, ready to be bagged with the magazine.

The rest are burned with incredible precision and discretion. The printer, and the magazine, know that a bonfire of 30,000 DVDs  would likely take down the warehouse with it, and so they are disposed of in lots of one thousand, every second or third day.

Cremation is the only solution despite its toxic payload. The DVDs can’t be dumped because what would happen if an official from a surf co. found thousands of its precious movie scattered over a dirt hill amid the detritus of mattresses and Ikea furniture and broken toys?

Over my career I can estimate almost half-a-million movies, from the very bad to the iconic, ended in flames.

If that doesn’t make your spirit wilt, wait until you hear about the circulation figures. Next month!


The Five Most Compelling Surfers on the Planet

…according to Dion Agius…

Who do you believe are the five most arresting surfers roaming this earth right now? Dion Agius is a pro surfer, a photographer, a business devil (Epokhe) and makes enough hive in his honey to support a beautiful nomadic lifestyle. He sees much surfing. He knows what sticks.

1. Andrew Doheny

I’m sure you’ve seen so much of him but I still feel like we know so little. I’ve known him for a long time and have a lot of friends that claim he’s the most awesome dude ever but I don’t know him very well. There’s a certain air about Andrew that I can’t put my finger on. He feels as though he could take off in a van at any moment and disappear into the depths of Mexico, laying down Tom Curren-esque hacks solo at some mysto point, never to be seen again. Or he might be on the brink of becoming one of the biggest breakthrough performers of the year. Andrew is one of the most talented surfers in the world right now and I think he’s quite content if anyone knows it or not.

2. Ozzie Wright

How can one man be so good for so long and still maintain every bit of awesomeness as Oz? Not only one of the nicest guys ever and a committed family man, Ozzie still maintains his figure head position as one of the greatest influencers on our sport. And he’ll keep doing it until the day he can’t launch himself out of a two-foot shorebreak onto the sand anymore.

3. Ryan Heywood

This man is six foot and has hair past his nipples. But that ain’t all that thrills. Ryan exudes energy unlike any man that has ever lived. Is he on mushrooms consistently or just plain high on life? I think the latter and maybe just plain high on surfing. There’s a good chance you will see a giant flash of a this man wearing an all-over lycra bodysuit and flying down the line like a wild animal at Tallows on a finless craft. When Ryan isn’t in the water surfing he spends his time creating absolutely incredibly images behind his lens. Some of surfing. Some of the tips of soft-serve ice-cream cones. Either way, when he’s shooting surfing he creates some of the most incredible and refreshing imagery you’re likely to see.

4. John John Flo

He is too good. Why is he so good? What is he doing? Does he surf three times a day every day? I don’t understand. Every time I see a video, a contest, a clip, he seems to be getting better. How is it possible to be so good and then keep getting better. Himself. Kelly and this last guy are now the best three surfers in the world.

5. Dane Reynolds

He’s good looking, smart, humble, nice, creative, genuine, has a really pretty house, with heaps of awesome knick-knacks, with nice dogs and a really nice girlfriend. And maybe the best surfer that has ever lived. And what makes him tick, who knows? I don’t think we will ever know. He loves surfing so much. It makes me so motivated because he loves it more than anyone I know. As much as any 12-year-old kid who has just learned how to do floaters or cutbacks. But he is 29, and the best surfer in the world, and he still has that. That’s incredible. I like him so much for that.


Dance, daddy, dance! Sean Combs by Justin Jay.

(Audio): How to shoot rap superstars (and JJF)!

New York photographer Justin Jay and the alchemy of image making… 

Justin Jay, you’ve heard of. At least if you swing around these pages. Maybe you saw his work in Stab magazine or Surfer.

Justin’s the 41-year-old photographer from New York City’s Lower East Side who made his name shooting rap superstars Jay-Z, Sean Combs, Outkast and Drake and, then, ’cause he surfs and he sees surfing “through the eyes of a 13-year-old surf fan” has captured some of the game’s most beguiling images.

Remember this one?

Dion Agius and Kelly Slater, 2014 Surfer Poll
When the Strange Rumblings in Shangri La crew took the stage to accept the award for Movie of the Year, did their antics seem a little contrived and unnecessary? Perhaps. But if they set out to make a mark on the evening, then mission accomplished. Perhaps the most ironic consequence of the night was the assistance that the boys gave to the recent rebranding strategy of the ASP. Noa Deane caught a ton of shit for his profanity laden quip, but after all, he did say “Fuck the WSL”. Clooney and Nicholson pounding gin at the Golden Globes is charming, but apparently referencing prescription meds in front of a surf crowd is strictly verboten, Dion. Live it. Learn it. Later backstage, Australia’s favorite track-suited aerialist got a friendly but firm talking to from surfing’s Cool Dad.

And this?

John John and Alex Florence 2014 Surfer Poll
In most award shows, the main focus is the announcement of the final award. At Surfer Poll however, there were two surfers who so unequivocally occupied the top two places that the unveiling of the number two spot became a de-facto crowning of the winner as well. All eyes were on John John. Number two was finally revealed and it was Kelly. A new King was crowned. Not a single person in the room could muster a justification to argue against this year’s winner. Well deserved. A class act. Period.

And how about this shot of Ali from JJ’s archives?

Muhammad Ali
BeachGrit’s favourite son of Allah, Muhammad Ali! By Justin Jay.

Recently, an interview with Justin featured on Surf SplendorPodcast, the same audio podcast site that jammed with Chas Smith a few weeks back (click here).

Justin talks about his journey from Santa Barbara to New York to Hawaii; from hip-hop to surfing and “how the surf media and WSL has failed to develop compelling narratives and personalities of its stars.”

Listen to to Justin here.

 

And tap into Justin’s Instagram here (you’ll like!).


Controversy: Did Micro have ulterior motives?

BeachGrit hates to speculate but...

And you thought the Glenn “Micro” Hall/Gabriel Medina interference situation would just go away? Well, you don’t know the new World Surf League! It is the grandest all singing, all rock sliding, all surfboard punching soap opera around!

Pictures have recently emerged showing Simone Medina, Gabs’ mom, giving Glenn Micro an innocent peck on the cheek at the Quiksilver Pro. Or is it innocent? Take a hard look at Micro’s eyes. They are both knowing and far too mischievous. They say, “I sit in the sky like a sphinx misunderstood; My heart of snow is wed to the whiteness of swans; I hate the movement that displaces the rigid lines, With lips untaught neither tears nor laughter do I know.”

Could it possibly be that Simone and Glenn Micro are an item? Could Glenn Micro basically be Gabs’ new stepdad? And might the interference have been a strong head cuff from stepdad to stepson, reminding the latter to stay in line?

BeachGrit hates to speculate. We abhor. It is probably nothing. But…


Beat it, kooks.

Rip Curl: Our competitors are kooks!

Billabong and Quiksilver elbowed, sharply, under the bus by Torquay's favorite son.

Rip Curl’s profits rose an astounding 63% and revenue increased 7.8% last year according to The Australian and joy echoes off Torquay’s gloom. The company is now valued at $310 million dollars and major shareholders are buying less major shareholders out and throwing lavish parties which include magnums of Carlton Draught and cabanossi, crackers and cheese (probably). How is Rip Curl’s sun so bright? Director Tony Roberts explains.

“We are more of a core surf brand than either key competitors. They both grew bigger than us but in growing bigger they stretched into that non-core market more than we have and we have been very true to our roots in terms of our core products.”

Ummmmmmmmm. Great.

But, really, didn’t Rip Curl mostly get lucky and not have enough spare change floating about to build thousands of ill-advised mall stores? Wouldn’t the brand have gladly bought multiple New York locations if they could have? Yes. So maybe Mr. Roberts could have been a touch more honest. I will help! Here is his new quote!

“Nobody bought Rip Curl for lots of years and so we couldn’t really do anything stupid but not for lack of trying.”

Now that the sun is gleaming, though, (and also because of hottest surfer Mason Ho) expect profits and revenue to skyrocket even more! Expect a 10,000 sq ft Times Square showroom gleaming as bright as Rip Curl’s sun featuring the latest in platform flip flops and “live the search” XXXL t-shirts.

How will Billabong and Quiksilver respond to the dig? Will they set upon Torquay with pitchforks and torches? Will they laugh and then jointly purchase Rip Curl in hostile takeover, establishing stores only in Syria and Iraq?