"I barely get away with it here and there but fuck it, it might kinda suck to get hurt, but it’s the funnest shit ever.”
After watching Mason “Baby” Ho’s latest YouTube cut I was spurred into sending the exuberant thirty one year old a text message requesting an interview.
Baby personifies all that is good and worthy in surfing and when I watch him cast his magic like a fishing line, Satan is temporarily exorcised from my thoughts.
Baby was midway through a shopping excursion to Foodland, filling his little basket with canned Fuji apple juice and pop tarts, when the text landed. He quickly accepted the request, asked for thirty minutes to bivouac his precious foodstuffs at the Sunset Beach house he shares with Daddy Mike, and called back at the appointed time.
In the liner notes to his YouTube cut, filmer Rory Pringle had noted that Baby had flirted with death during the two sessions at this reef ledge that only breaks once, maybe twice, a year.
“I had one or two little times out there when I thought, well, not that I was going to…die…but that I was going to get hurt pretty bad.”
“The worst was the wave I tried to pencil dive. My heels went into the reef. It cut up my achilles rather than the bottom of my feet so I could still walk. I got real lucky.”
Baby says he and Sheldon “Bubba” Paishon “got away with murder” on the morning session at the wave.
“We both came in and looked at each other and said, ‘We did it!’ Sheldon said let’s get a beer. I told him to wait a little on the beers, I know once me and him and Rory drink we might not…”
Baby cuts off. He laughs.
“Loooooong story short. We came in, bought some poi and ice-cream, came back to eat the bowl, saw it was still good and dropped everything and went back out. It’s weird. After we came in that first time I was thinking, thank god we won’t surf that way for another year, it never breaks. But when we came back, I instantly forgot that feeling. It’s like finding a chip of gold. You want more gold! More gold! Eventually we got so sore, Sheldon hit his tailbone hard, we came in. We probably could’ve had an evening session.”
I ask if head injuries are a vital concern?
“I definitely worry about hitting my head. My friends say, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ I don’t wanna go on those wave that are stupid, those rides that look so dumb I’m clearly going to hurt myself. But there’s…something…about those waves where you pull it off and there are all those variables, all the special stuff. That’s what I think about. In that moment when I surf, I don’t think about the head stuff only…happy happy happy…barrels barrels barrels…I barely get away with it here and there but fuck it, it might kinda suck to get hurt, but it’s the funnest shit ever.”
Advice for wrangling a dirty ol ledge?
Paddle like crazy man, yes?
“Paddle fast, yeah, that’s the best tip you could possibly have. The little paddle fast. If you take your time you’re going to become one with the lip. Another little trick is not to think about the consequences ’cause there are some.”
Baby says there’s been times when he’s looked at a slab for years, eating his plate lunch at the joint, figuring it’s unsurfable but daydreaming about surfing it anyway and then, one day, hitting it.
“I don’t need a good ride, just to paddle out and look at it. Then you might get a little one, get barrelled, not hit the reef and you think, not bad, fuck yeah. Get into your little zone. Got out and try and do a backside turn. That’s all it takes and you’re psyching.”
Over the last two years, you might’ve noticed that Baby and Rory have shifted their clips from Vimeo to YouTube after counsel from champion vlogger Jamie O’Brien.
“We were drinking at Kalani Chapman’s party and Jamie was telling us we were blowing it.” Jamie told Baby, you’re making cool shit, why aren’t you putting it on YouTube?
“Two years ago, I thought YouTube, ugh, fuck YouTube. On Vimeo I can use my music, this and that, then Jamie just started showing me, saying, look, here’s three grand, two grand, in twenty-eight days.”
And then Baby’s clips on YouTube started going.
“Fucking seven hundred here, twelve-hundred there. I never wanted to overdo it; we wanted to put so much love into our edits and, all of a sudden, there’s another one that has to be out in seven days, fourteen days. I didn’t want to put out a bunch of shit. I wanted each new edit to be better than the last.”
The game has shifted. Baby knows it; Rory knows it.
The audience wants quantity and a reality TV sorta rawness instead of slick edits.
“You start letting go of all the bullshit,” says Baby. “How about we just keep it up to date. Every week. Just letting go and letting people see my downfall!”