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design unlikely futures /





jean jullien

R I P a d a m y a uch th e z e n g a f a m ily w h y d e lil a st e ph a ni e b o ss e t tub ú c o m m unit y c a r l o s s a nta n a p o stc a r ds

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The Big Stories

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Vince Medeiros

Special Projects

Steph Pomphrey

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mustafah abdulaziz Bastardilla Alice Bag Jason Barbagelott Mike Belleme Mike Blabac Stephanie Bosset Danny Clinch Elizabeth Dalziel Bryan Derballa Ian Dickson Anna-Lise Dunn ben gingold Pat Graham Matthew Green Nick Hand Samuel Hicks Tom Hull jean jullien Nicole C. Kibert Mark Leary guy martin Robin Mellor Spencer Murphy Ilana Panich-Linsman Carlos Santana Charlie Shoemaker Dan Wakeham Anthony Whitely Pablo Ugartetxea Aaron Yoshino Ariel Zambelich Zenga Family


Wh o a r e y o u ? w o m e n in sk at e b o a r din g blit z & k . f l a y w h e e lch a i r r u g b y j o r d y s m ith unlik e ly li v e lih o o ds g i r ls in th e g a n g m ick e y s m ith su r f in g , m a r k e tin g & s e x f e m a l e b o d y build e r s cly d e sin g l e t o n t e e ns a r o und th e w o r ld th e n ati o n - stat e m y th p r o g r e ssi v e punk ?


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Melanie Schönthier

Editorial Director

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Liz Haycroft

Global Editor

Jamie Brisick

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Latin America Editor

Giuliano Cedroni

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Senior Designer

Mike Belleme Rob Boffard Stephanie Bosset Jon Coen Shannon Denny Diákara D’Arcy Doran Tim Donnelly Tetsuhiko Endo Clare Freeman Emma Gaffney Shane Herrick Daniel Ikaika Ito Craig Jarvis Siobhan Jones Ilana Panich-Linsman Chloe Roth Carlos Santana Cori Schumacher Cyrus Shahrad Clyde Singleton Deena Weinstein Benny Zenga



D a nn y w a y sl a cklinin g m o unta in unic y clin g t o m bst o nin g h a w a ii d o w nhill e d sk r e in th e a m a z in g s r un d e m c r e w a r ticl e 3 1 . 1 plus o n e b e r lin w a lk y o u r cit y s w a m i ’ s x s a m bl e a kl e y s a lt + w a x pa bl o u g a r t e t x e a

Evan Lelliott

associate Editor

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Commercial Director

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Managing Director

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brand strategist

bindi kaufmann

Marketing & Distribution Manager

Anna Hopson




Andrea Kurland

Digital Director

Alex Capes


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Distributed worldwide by COMAG | Printed by Buxton Press | This publication is PRINTED ON paper from sustainable sources | Huck MAGAZINE is published six times a year. The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team. © TCOLondon 2012.

WhaT ThE arE YOu DOInG?

da n n y Way The greaT wall oF chinaollieing skaTeboarder insisTs he ain’T no sTunTman. “I love Evel Knievel. I think he’s one of the greatest

some b ounda r i e s

American heroes of all time, but I don’t think I’m like

are Just beggi ng

him,” says a jet-lagged Danny Way in a penthouse bar

to b e pu s he d.

in London’s Leicester Square. “[I don’t do this] to be a daredevil or stuntman, but just to give skateboarding a

push things in less controlled environments, choosing

bigger platform of exposure, push the boundaries and

increasingly technical games of one-upmanship at ad

see where they lie in our sport.”

hoc street spots. So, who’s pushing the limits the most?

Whether he likes it or not, the thirty-eight-year-old

“I think there’s a lot more people that would flip

from Vista, California, will go down in skate history as

off El Toro [a giant twenty-stairs set in Lake Forest,

the guy who likes to do big stunts. Let’s face it, dropping into a giant halfpipe from a helicopter or clearing the Great Wall of China on a skateboard will stick in people’s memories a lot longer than being Thrasher Skater of the Year (1991) or the guy who

in [the megaramp] environment,

reanimated Plan B Skateboards.

so it’s hard for me to judge. I don’t

But now a documentary about

like landing on flat ground from

his life, Waiting for Lightning, looks

big heights, either. I think it’s

set to add some detail to the Danny

fucking [dumb] to be honest.”

Way story. Director and long-time

e d a n dre ws

friend Jacob Rosenberg worked with writer Bret Johnston to piece together

the story of a young boy who found emotional release in skateboarding and pushed himself to new limits for his own personal fulfillment. The narrative builds up to Danny’s Great Wall of China jump in 2005 – an event that, today at least, Danny would rather play down.

California] than drop in on the megaramp. So

“I’m not out there trying to be the guy jumping

you tell me? It depends where your comfort zone

these things [who] wants to be known as that guy,” he

is,” says Danny. “If you sent a decent skateboarder

says. “I took advantage of an amazing opportunity I

out there and said, ‘Megaramp or El Toro?’ they

dreamed of. It wasn’t about doing anything more than

would lean towards El Toro. […] I feel comfortable

what felt right at that time.” What Danny is most proud of, it seems, is his ability to stay “relevant” in skateboarding after twenty-five years. A recent cover of Thrasher sees him flipping a giant euro-gap on his new twenty-seven-foot-tall megaramp in Kauai, Hawaii. But while Danny’s vision for testing the limits of skateboarding involves carefully designed, daredevil constructions and a general defiance of gravity, the younger generation prefers to

Slacklining like Tightrope walkinG, but better. “Slacklining is such a diverse sport,” says Maverick Slacklines team rider Jake White. “What you can do on the line is endless, from ‘tricklining’ – using aerial gymnastic moves, dance, yoga poses and circus tricks – to ‘highlining’, which is where slacklining all began.” Back in the late 1970s, a group of Californian climbers started walking across chain fences to occupy themselves on rainy days. Hooked on the challenge, they started to rig their climbing gear horizontally across gaping canyons and slacklining was born. Unlike tightrope walking, slacklining involves nylon lines that bend easily and are conducive to particularly gnarly tricks. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s grown as an

Be n Gingol d

If you dig Wa i t in g F o r Lightning, check out: Bones Brigade: An A u t o b i o g r a p h y ( 2 0 12 ) Stacy Peralta’s forthcoming documentary explores the impact the seminal 1980s skate team had on the generation that craved a piece of them. F o r m a t P e r s p e c t i v e ( 2 0 11 ) Philip Evans profiles six of Europe’s finest skate photographers and stitches their stories together with Super 8 film. D r a g o n s l a y e r ( 2 0 11 ) Mumblecore meets skateboarding in this snapshot of the life of skater Josh ‘Screech’ Sandoval, shot against a dusty SoCal backdrop of abandoned hopes, dreams and pools.

extreme sport rather than a performance art like it’s circus-friendly predecessor. These days, it’s not just climbers that slackline. In Britain, the guys behind Maverick Skateboards started slacklining to improve their balance, establishing Maverick Slacklines in 2010. Now all kinds of folk are getting onboard, from boardriders to gymnasts and yoga junkies. Teams have started to form and last year saw the first Slackline Championship in Poole. “It was all judged by the people competing,” explains Russ Holbert, a director of Maverick Slacklines. “Who else is in a position to judge such a new sport?” Slacklining may be off the radar for now, but can it stay underground? “Big brands will catch on and will want to make money and you can’t blame them for that,” says Jake. “But there will always be brands like Maverick doing it for the right reasons.” E mma Gaffn e y


Mou nta in U nicyc l ing anthon y w hit el e y

All it takes is a single wheel, apparently. Most people would probably associate the unicycle with clowns and crusty jugglers. But more fool them, it seems. Thanks to the mountain unicycle – a hardcore machine made from sturdy all-terrain components – the tricky art of one-wheel riding can take place just about anywhere, as demonstrated by Alaskan George Peck, the sports’ unofficial godfather who first started unicyling in all sorts of inhospitable places in the late 1980s. “It’s really taking off and diversifying, people are doing spins, flips and everything,” says Kev Callaby, who has undertaken mammoth charity unicycle rides across his home county of Cornwall, and can often be found bombing sand dunes. But what do the general public make of him and his pals clowning around? “That’s part of the draw,” says Kev excitedly. “It’s brilliant. Everyone goes mental! One in a million will disapprove, but generally people get cameras out and scream ‘legend’ at you. A lot of people are confused. Some drop their ice cream and jaws hit the floor!” E d A ndre ws

Tombstoning Jumping off a cliff near you. “You’ll be looking over the edge and thinking, ‘Fuck, I could die here’,” says Reece Douglas, a skater from Plymouth, UK. “But then you do it and as you come up through the water, the excitement is immense.” Together with his friends, Reece is taking tombstoning (i.e. jumping off cliffs into water) to a new level. With a skate-inspired approach to scoping out new spots, the crew regularly head off down the Cornish coastline in search of cliffs. After a leap of faith from the first jumper to check the water depth and look for any submerged rocks, it’s on, with the pinnacle trick being a ‘gainer’/'monkey flip' (a forward-moving backflip) off the top. But as fun as it may look, hazards abound, which is why these guys always look before they jump. “You hear horror stories but it’s mostly people jumping in shallow water and being drunk. We take a lot more care,” Reece insists. E d Andr e ws




H awa ii D o w n hil l A new generation of Hawaiian thrill-seekers are hitting the hills to get their kicks. It’s 4pm on a misty Wednesday in February and Brock Deem, Roland Bargiel and Martin Andruszkiewicz can’t wait to scare the shit out of themselves. The seventeen-year-old students are pacing – with skateboards, safety gear, cameras and backpacks – outside of Kalaheo High School on the eastside of Oahu, Hawaii. They’re frothing to descend down a hill at speeds of sixty-five km/hr, and can barely sit down long enough to wait for their ride. “Our families don’t like it and sports coaches don’t like it either,” says Brock. “But we’re just hooked on the thrill of going super fast on a piece of wood.”

Brock and Roland are the leaders of SK808 DH, a downhill skateboarding crew comprised of five teenagers from Hawaii that are gaining notoriety from viral videos documenting their dangerous, high-speed runs. They shoot with Go Pro HD Hero cameras and use a variety of poles, boards and backpack/helmet mounts to capture unique angles. Brock and Roland have Vimeo channels where they upload their clips, but things really took off when videographer Pete Hodgson featured them on his Hodgson Hawaii YouTube channel. “The hardest part is coming up with new angles, holding them is the easy part,” says Brock, who was the first to start shooting SK808 DH a couple of years ago. Brock is an avid surfer, snowboarder and skateboarder, who moved to Hawaii from San Diego in 2010. “Street skating is just not my vibe,” he explains. “I like [downhill skateboarding] because it’s a mix of surfing and snowboarding. Trick skating is a lot more pain to the shins. This is just about going fast and feeling free. You feel wind on your body and it's a big thrill.” Today the crew are going to skate Lanikai, a picture-perfect Hawaiian suburb on the beach with a small hill called Lanipo. It’s a great spot for them to master new slides and variations. “Hawaii is the number one destination for downhill skaters in the whole world because of the hills and the weather,” explains Roland, who went to France last summer and competed in a tournament. “Hawaii has so many amazing hills on every ridge in town so it’s perfect. We can skate year round. We never stop.” da nie l ik a ik a Ito Search for SK808 DH and Roland/Charles Films at


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Each One, Teach One Know ledge is good. Sha rin g it is b et ter .

Ed Skrein The Ill Manors star and perpetual bad guy is using his skills to spread the love.

“It’s nice to have a platform

“It’s really organic but

to chat some sense instead

mad,” reflects Ed, on his



unexpected career turn. “I’ve


been completely winging it

turned-actor Ed Skrein over

so far, but I feel focused and






clear about what I need to do.

a mid-morning coffee near his home in Dalston, East London. “So many rappers rap about violence,

I’m not going to get picked to be in Downton Abbey or any period dramas.

gun talk and all that madness, but when I speak to them off camera, they

I don’t want to get pigeonholed, but I know my role and my position in the

are lovely, intelligent, kind people. Why do they feel the need to chat this

art form, and my life experience is preparation for it.”

madness on record when they’ve got a lot more to offer?”

Away from the pedestal of celebrity, Ed continues to have an influence

Ed Skrein is known in UK hip hop for his dynamic, rasping raps, but

on others through his work as a swimming coach, an activity that’s been his

now, at twenty-nine, he's gone from being a “rowdy, hungry youth” to a

main source of income since he was fifteen. “I’m very passionate about the

father and actor set to appear in his first feature film, Ill Manors, directed

use of sports in young people’s lives to build self-esteem and self-discipline

by long-time friend Plan B, aka Ben Drew.

and self-confidence. It’s been a big thing for me,” says Ed, who recently,

Having shared an interest in film for many years, Ben invited Ed

opened his own swimming academy in Islington, North London. “It’s not

to play the part of “a horrible cunt” in his short film Michelle in 2007.

as drastic as turning kids lives around but it’s about planting positive seeds.

Despite being unhappy with his own performance, Ed landed similar

However we can spread love and progression, we’ve got to do it.” Ed A n dre ws

parts in Ill Manors, Piggy with Neil Maskell and Nick Love’s The Sweeney without having to audition once.


Ill Manors is in UK cinemas from 6 June, 2012.

B e r n a d e tt e


On knitting

O n w i l d f oo d

“Learn to hold the needles and the

“Japanese Knotweed is a highly

wool properly and you will knit. I

invasive plant. But if you take young,

don’t teach people over the internet,

tender stems you can make jam from

I hold their hand until they can do it.

them exactly as you would make

If it’s shown to someone, they get the

rhubarb jam – many people consider

feel for it. Anyone can learn.”

it to taste better!”

T h e Am a z i n g s Wise old Londoners are coming out of retirement to share their know-how with the world.

all kinds of crazy talents are coming out of the woodwork to share their knitting, cooking and retro-hairdressing skills with the local community. “There’s an absolute gold mine of amazingness all around us, which should be celebrated and passed on,” says Community Manager Lara Swansbury, who joined shortly after Katie Harris founded the project in Hackney, Autumn 2011. “It’s important to help

p ortrait s : samue l hicks

Older people know a lot of cool shit. And now, thanks to The Amazings - a new project and business model that helps retired people run and profit from their own workshops –

different generations connect and feel valued.” Past events have included everything from foraging for food in wildlife parks and dancing the Rhumba to street photography and history tours of local areas. “People in their fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties are an incredibly exciting, important and diverse group of people,” says Lara. “And they should be recognised, celebrated and connected with their wider communities.” sh e l l e y jon es



On glass art

On upc ycling

“Make sure the cutting wheel is sharp

“Instead of dry cleaning, you can use

and learn how to hold the wheel

a solution of purified water, vodka

correctly and everything else will fall

and lavender oil, which works as an

into place.”

antiseptic to stop moths. Spray your clothes and leave to air to keep your clothes smelling and looking fresh.”


Run Dem Crew

A r t i c l e 3 1 .1

Where running and

Meet the collective of urban players

mentoring go hand in hand.

urging grown-ups to get outside and play.

Jayden A l i, BNTL

tom h u l l

“I’ve been blessed to have older people around in my life when I needed

This year’s London Festival of Architecture (June 23 – July 8) is themed

them most,” says Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew (RDC), a

around The Playful City. And for one collective of creative upstarts, that

London-based creative collective mixing running with community

can only mean one thing: forget how old you are and get outside and play.

mentoring. “They’ve been there with a word of advice or an opportunity. A lot of young people need that now.” Founded in 2007, the RDC members offer their time and specialist knowledge to help young, talented kids get the experience

Working under the moniker Article 31.1, the small crew of five artists, designers and architects have come together to create a roving series of events including a giant board game (a bit like Risk), film screenings, playful interventions, workshops and other grassroots activities.

and contacts they need to get ahead in the creative industries. And, of

Quoting Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

course, they all go running together, too. “We basically say to young

– ‘That every human being has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in

people, if you can run a distance you’ve only ever travelled on a bus

play and recreational activities and to participate freely in cultural life and

or a car, then you can achieve anything in your life,” he explains.

the arts’ – the crew of collaborators are investigating the state of play for

“Running is much like life. If you don’t prepare, you can’t blag your

grown-ups in London. According to their website: ‘In the years preparing

way through. You will get found out.”

for the 2012 Olympic Games the city’s built environment has changed

A teacher by trade, Charlie sees firsthand the positive impact that

considerably. Yet alongside the hopes for regeneration and increased

giving your time to younger generations can have, even though the

opportunity, the ongoing privatisation of public space and ubiquity of

rewards aren’t always tangible. “If you believe somebody is going to turn

surveillance threaten to cast a shadow of anxiety over these events.’

around and say, ‘You’ve changed my life!’ that’s never going to happen.

Events will feature a roster of ‘players’ – artists, guerilla activists,

They won’t remember you,” says Charlie. “A good mentor does it because

filmmakers, skaters, cyclists and urban explorers – who they hope will

they genuinely care about making other people’s lives better.” E d A ndr e ws

inspire people to question their environment and engage with it in a new way. Says their mission statement: ‘How free are we? Do you remember

how to play? […] A child’s playground is a place of a thousand activities at once. A place for the negotiation of chance encounters. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the way children play?’ sh e l l e y jon es

Join HUCK and Article 31.1 for Free To Play, a talk exploring how we play in public space on 3 July, 2012, at 71a Leonard Street, London. See 31point1.wordpress. com for ticket info.


g r a v i s f o o t w e a r. c o m

Danny Davis | Quarters

Plus One Berlin See the city through local eyes. The best way to get to know a city is with a local by your side. And now, thanks to Plus One Berlin, that knowledge is for hire. This new twist on the guided tour, which opened for business in March 2012, includes accommodation in a plush, eco-friendly studio in ‘Kreuzkölln’ – an up-and-coming neighbourhood between Kreuzberg and Neukölln – and the opportunity to be the ‘plus one’ of a wellconnected local who will take you along to their favourite hideouts. Here, founder Clare Freeman shares some of hers.

Wa l k yo u r c i t y the best way to

A P e r f e c t Day i n B e r l i n

travel is still by foot.

B r e a k T h e F a s t Bullys Bakery serves yummy homemade pastries. Hudson’s does a Full-English and Sing Blackbird has a great clothes shop next door. G e t S o m e A i r Viktoriapark boasts its very own waterfall and a great view over the city. Sit by the riverbank in Treptower Park. Walk on and you get to Spreepark Berlin, an abandoned amusement park that’s beautifully derelict. G r a b a b i t e Five Elephant café make the best coffee and homemade cakes.And on the corner of Warschauer Strasse and Stralauer Alle lies Scheers Schnitzel, the best place to get tasty affordable grub in Berlin. B u y St u ff Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain is home to two great markets. On a Saturday you can sample local food like

“It’s okay to interact with your environment, have your

macarones, jams and other delights, and on Sundays a great flea market pops up

say and become a stakeholder in your community,”

in its place.

says ‘civic instigator’ Matt Tomasulo, the man who wants to get you walking.

G e t C u l t u r e d If you’re into contemporary art check out The Boros

In January 2012, Matt started posting ‘wayfinding’

Collection housed inside a converted 3,000 square-metre bunker in Mitte. If it’s

signs around his home city of Raleigh, North Carolina,

a sunny Sunday, head to Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, grab a beer and enjoy the

reminding passers-by that local hotspots were just a

live Karaoke. It’s fun, free and the atmosphere is great.

few steps away and encouraging them to walk instead of drive. The response from citizens and city officials

E a t a g a i n Good dinner spots include: Nansen, a laid-back, intimate

was immense. “It’s a simple idea that’s easy to latch

restaurant on the canal in Neukölln; Kimchi Princess, a great Korean restaurant

onto,” says Matt. “It gives you a mental map like, ‘Oh, it

that is ideal for larger groups; and the small and charming Little Otik, run by a lovely

really isn’t that far to there,’ and acts as a reminder that

couple from New York who serve up delicious, simple dishes using local produce.

walking is a choice.”

P a r t y O n ! On a summer’s eve, head to Club Der Visionäre for sundowners

[Your City], an open-source platform, launching

by the canal. Weserstrasse in ‘Kreuzkölln’ is a good spot for small haunts like Tier,

this June, that will allow you to create your own signs

Schilling and the new Gelegenheiten bar. Das Gift, a bar run by a Scottish couple

calling out spots dotted around your city. “It’s a way

with a good selection of drinks, is also fun. Then head to Loftus Hall, a hidden club

to continue the conversation with anyone who wants

on Maybachufer run by three Irish guys. The crowd is always fun, and the parties go

to have it,” says Matt, who funded the project via

on well into the next day. Be warned – it can get very hot and sweaty! Clar e F re e ma n

Kickstarter and is also working with Raleigh City to

That guerrilla action has since morphed into Walk

integrate his signs into official urban plans. “We’re

building in a community-support network to create a dialogue. People can learn how to get involved and talk about city and civic responses. It’s inspired by the tactical urbanism motto, ‘Short-term action, longterm change.’” A n dre a Ku rl a n d


Surf Muse The f eeli ng of water slidin g un derfoot i s a d i f f i c ult thin g to articul ate. some people, lu ckily, always fin d a way.

S wa mi ’ s x S a m Giles Dunn of Swami’s surf company and writer Sam Bleakley discuss waveriding's amorphous form. London-based designer Giles Dunn founded Swami’s in 2000 because

to timing, style and improvisation, as a lens, metaphor and set of

he believed that great surfboards could also be great works of art. Work-

tropes to literally ‘write-out’ and explore longboarding. In my new

ing with talented shapers like Bro Diplock and Ian Zamora, he started

book I’ve tried to capture the performance element of surfing and

glassing artwork into the surface of each bespoke board. This artisanal

travel. And I think that by using this theme of performance, you can

approach struck a chord with British surfers starved of good design, least

develop a syntax that captures the moves of surfing, the energy

not longboard champion-turned-surf writer Sam Bleakley who recently

of music, the flavours of food and the anecdotes of culture and

teamed up with the brand to produce Portrait of a Surfer, a dreamy short

landscape. The outcome is capturing the character of a coastline

film exploring surfing’s

or place. And with the

creative outer-reaches. But

eyes, ears and feel of

can a work of art, pretty

surfing, I think writing

film or beautifully written

can really understand

book ever capture how it

the character of coastal

feels to surf?

places. So then it become less about trying

G i l e s : There’s a reason

to explain what surf-

why it’s so difficult to

ing means, and more



about using surfing as a

experience. And it should

way into exploring what

be difficult. Because if you

other things mean.


could put it into words It’s like you

you’d kill it; the whole


point is that it should be

say, Sam, every wave is

nebulous and you can’t

different and you never

figure it out. That’s the

master it. That’s a canvas

beauty of it. Everyone’s

in itself.

got a certain riff they’re working on or a certain sweet spot that’s making sense to them, but

S a m : Yeah. I will spend a lifetime trying to figure out what it

why define it? That defeats the whole purpose. The joy of it is that

is about surfing that really makes it special. I could use every

it’s fluid, so go with that. With Swami’s we’re trying to make sense

metaphor under the sun and it might make great reading or be

of that. The beautiful thing about surfing is you don’t actually need

entertaining, but I will never lose sight of wanting to explore what

anything. You need a board, but you don’t even need boardshorts.

surfing means, because it is very ephemeral and so hard to define.

A Californian friend of mine surfs naked! So let’s make those few

Sh a n non De n n y

products you need. Let’s make them beautiful and artful. Sam Bleakley’s second book, Surfing Tropical Beats is out now, published by S a m : For me, I experience as much of a buzz articulating and writ-

Alison Hodge.

ing about surfing and travel as I actually do surfing and travelling. With my first book I used music, particularly jazz and its relationship


Watch Portrait of a Surfer at

S a lt + Wa x A book of surfing, made possible by you. Photographer Mark Leary has come up with a nifty way to get his second photo book, Salt + Wax, into the hands of true surfing fiends. Instead of printing thousands of copies and shoving them on a shelf, people can ‘pledge’ to buy one of 500 limited-edition signed copies. As soon as costs are covered, Mark will send his crowd-funded baby to press – complete with a ‘Pledgers Hall of Fame’ featuring the name of everyone who helped him stick a peg in the wheel of commerce. So, what can pledgers expect from Salt + Wax? Lots of beautifully boring moments, it seems. Says Mark: “It’s just about the mundane, really, but that’s what my work has always been about. When I first wanted to be a photographer, I wanted to shoot for NME and Sounds. But then, when I visited an ex-girlfriend in the States, I woke up early one day and just started walking around the house taking shots of the plug sockets and corners of the room. Twelve years on and I’m still doing that. I would love to surf like Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds or Rob Machado, but it’s not going to happen, so I like that here in the UK it’s more about the effort than how radical people are. Getting out of a 5mm suit at 7am in February is really an unpleasant experience, but it still puts a smile on people’s faces.” a n dre a kurl a nd Pledge your copy of Salt + Wax at

A lt. + S e a rc h

“I was never one to look too closely at other peoples’ work. It’s only in recent years that I’ve tapped into the so-called alternative surf scene. But in my view, these

Names to Google for further inspiration,

people and their work represent ‘the norm’ and the way the big surf brands sell

as recommended by Mark Leary.

surfing is the ‘alternative’ as very few people will ever surf Pipeline or trebleoverhead Waimea in their life.” M a rk L e a ry

A l l a n W e i s b e c k e r

C y r u s S u tt o n

The gonzo surf writer self-published his books using

The surf filmmaker’s community site,, has

crowd-funding way before Kickstarter democratised

become an online watering hole for luddite surfers

the idea, and is currently looking for ‘Associate

and backyard shapers seeking a logo-free alternative

Producers’ to help bring his new film, Water Time, to

to the world of big brands.

life. A film version of his darkly comic 1981 memoir, Cosmic Banditos, starring John Cusack is in the works. J o h n S . E l d r i d g e

N i c k R a d f o r d

The Cornish photographer and long-time surfer is

Under the name Frootful, illustrator and musician

an ardent follower of the analogue way. He prints all

Nick Radford produces sights and sounds that match

his images directly from negatives, often overlaying

the grace of his surfing style.

Polaroid transfers with typewritten poetry.

N e i l E r s k i n e

R y a n T a t a r

The British surfer works closely with Cornish brand

Sun-soaked Polaroids and serene surf scenes are a

Finisterre as one of their celebrated ‘Pioneers’. You

breeze for this photographer from Northern California,

could give Neil a tea tray to surf and he’d still do

who also shot the portrait of Cyrus Sutton above.

something amazing with it.

S u r f b a n i sm o Fine artist Pablo Ugartetxea captures Rio’s surfing side. “Surfing is more than a passion,” says Basque artist Pablo Ugartetxea, “it’s a way of life and I can’t stop it being reflected in my paintings. The same happened with Picasso. His wife always knew he was unfaithful because he couldn’t help compulsively painting his lover. The same thing happens to me – only with waves, fortunately.” Two years ago, Pablo sat down to watch Rio Breaks, the moving story of two young friends from a favela near Arpoador Beach, Rio de Janeiro, who turn to surfing as a means of escape. Within a year, he was volunteering at the Favela Surf Clube and immersing himself in the stories that lured him there. “The images of the kids coming out from the shantytown with their surfboards left us all gripped,” says Pablo. “The Favela Surf Clube are working to change the favela from within, giving training to young people, teaching them to be a shaper or a surf instructor, or simply encouraging youngsters to spend their spare time practising sports like surfing, moving them away from the easy path that leads to crime. You can’t regenerate a shantytown with tanks and heavy artillery.” This June, Pablo will return to Rio with Surfbanismo, a show that features paintings inspired by his time in Brazil. “As the relation between nature and architecture is one of the pillars of my work, the favela phenomenon in Rio de Janeiro was bound to hit a chord with me,” he explains. “The interaction between the luxuriant tropical nature and the wild architecture – instantaneous, unplanned and at the mercy of natural phenomena like floods – it’s an endless source of inspiration.” So what’s with the name, Surfbanismo? Well, according to Pablo, this portmanteau of ‘surf’, ‘urbanism’ and ‘tsunami’ is the best way to describe his destructive, creative process: “I create imaginary cities such as Biarritz de Janeiro and destroy them with a tsunami. The tsunami for me is a metaphor prompting us to reflect on man’s impact on the natural world and, reciprocally, nature’s impact on the urban environment; how nature throws the ball back at us, unleashing its strength to destroy our seafronts and other concrete monsters.” An dre a Kurl and Catch Surfbanismo at the Favela Surf Clube, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, June 28 – July 9, 2012.

Visit the Fav e l a Surf Clube and then go to…

P e d r a d o A r p o a d o r , preferably with a Caipirinha in hand, where you can watch the sun set over Morro Dois Irmãos. Explains why they call the place ‘The Wonderful City’. Arpoador Beach (5 mins from the favela) A r p o a d o r to catch a few waves – the definition of city-centre surf-

P a v ã o A z u l for the ultimate boteco (Carioca bar) experience. Sit

ing. The illest view you'll ever see, and great point-break waves to boot!

outside, drink spectacularly cold beer and sample the best-in-town Pas-

Atlantic Ocean (5 mins from the favela)

tel de Camarão (prawn pastry) and Bolinho de Bacalhau (codfish cakes).


Crowd spills onto pavement, tables move to the middle of the road, traf-

P o s t o 9 , I p a n e m a , where every day, when the sun sets, people

fic stops, bacchanalia ensues. All this opposite a police station. Only in

stand up and applaud nature doing its thing. A unique show of reverence

Rio, kinda thing.

for life and our brightest star.

Hilario de Gouveia 71, Copacabana (15 mins from the favela)

Ipanema Beach (10 mins from the favela) V inc e Me de iros

Who Are You And What Am I

A framework for contemplating identity (complete with soundtrack), by Deena Weinstein.


‘We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.’ Chuck Palahniuk, Choke (2001)

The issue of identity is crucial and complex, more so today than

breeding ground for prejudice that, left to simmer long enough,

ever before. Our identity is the answer we give to the question,

can become entrenched and hard to overcome.

‘Who am I?’ There is not one response but many. Always. But in

In this modern world, where most of the people we interact

the past, this question couldn’t arise because the answers were

with each day do not know us well if at all, we tend to advertise

already known by us and all those around us. That is because our

an identity in an obvious way. Walking down the street you can

identities were given to us automatically. There was no choice.

tell a punk fan from a classical music aficionado, a business

They were what sociologists call ‘ascribed statuses’: you are a

executive from a full-time mum. Stereotypes and identities are

daughter; you are a member of this clan; you are unmarried.

sometimes not that different. And people who we only know in

It was these given identities that were the only answers to the

one of their identities seem odd if not false when we see them

question, ‘Who am I?’

project a different one. Have you ever seen a good friend with

In modern societies we still have various ascribed statuses,

their grandmother, or found yourself standing next to your

like sex, age and race. But others that we choose are added to that

teacher at a rock concert?

list. Primary among these are our occupation, our educational

But much, if not most, of our identity comes from those

attainment and, at least theoretically, our social class. I suppose

around us. We more or less have the freedom to choose,

our relationship status, too. And the more diversity there is in

especially when we are no longer children, those with whom

the societies in which we live, the more identities we recognise,

we’ll hang.
 Once there is leisure and some discretionary money,

for ourselves and for others. Take, for example, our faith: when

a range of other identities become possible. Which brings us

all those around us share the same religion, our religion is not

to teenagers. Since the end of WWII that age has become an

one of our identities. Such uniformity is exceedingly rare today.

important identity. Putting hundreds of teens together daily

If we are treated differently because of our religion, religious

(i.e. at school) calls for students to hang in cliques, each with

identity is significant; think of Jews in Germany before WWII

dominant identities that act as a point of differentiation: dope

or Muslims in many Western countries today. When we are

smokers, jocks, brains, etc. If you have a strong relationship

in England we do not think of ourselves as English. But when

with your clique, you adopt that identity and demonstrate it

travelling abroad, that identity tends to move up our list of

to others in your behaviour and looks. When these cliques are

responses to that ‘Who am I?’ question.

found in many places and their members interact, directly or

Everyone has an identity, even if they live somewhere

via various media, subcultures develop. Subcultural identity

completely remote and do not cultivate it in a conscious way. As writer Gary Younge notes in his book Who Are We, ‘The

tends to be, at least for a while, one’s primary identity. As with members of subcultures, one of those answers to the

more power an identity carries, the less likely its carrier is to be

‘Who am I?’ query may become more crucial to us than others

aware of it as an identity at all. Because their identity is never

at different points in our lives. That particular identity may

interrogated they are easily seduced by the idea that they do not

be elevated to the top of our list by our own choice or by the

have one.’

imposition of those around us. Civil rights activists of the 1960s,

Statuses, whether achieved or ascribed, come with a rating –

for example, may no longer label themselves as ‘activists’ today.

some are higher than others: doctors higher than construction

But we always and forever have many identities. And today, more

workers, men higher than women (still?), college graduates

so than ever, the conflicts between our various identities are the

higher than high-school graduates.

source of many of our problems – and of our freedom, too

Those with so-called ‘damaged identities’ such as physical and mental disabilities, tend to be treated by others as one-

Deena Weinstein is the author of Heavy Metal: The Music and Its Culture

dimensional persons, known only by this disability.
It is at

and other books. She sums up her work thus: ‘Identity is a fiction and I’m

this point that our identity, as perceived by others, becomes a

a non-fiction writer.’

This essay is best understood when accompanied by: ‘I’m a Loser’ – The Beatles
 ‘I’m a Natural Born Lover’ – Muddy Waters 
‘I’m Your Pusher’ – Ice-T
 ‘Baby I’m a Star’ – Prince 
‘I’m a Believer’ – The Monkees 
‘Love Me, I’m a Liberal’ – Phil Ochs






‘Women who prefer exercise and liberty, who revel in the cool sea breeze

States during the Industrial Revolution. Although physical competitions

and love to feel the fresh mountain air fanning their cheeks,

existed before the socio-economic upheavals of the late eighteenth and

who are afraid neither of a little fatigue nor of a little exertion,

early nineteenth centuries, it took capital, a sedentary leisure class, and

are the better, the truer, and the healthier, and can yet remain

the then revolutionary idea of ‘leisure time’ to turn games into what we

essentially feminine in their thoughts and manners.’

know as sports today. As machines streamlined production and the work day became shorter and less physical, middle and upper class men

– Lady Violet Greville, Ladies in the Field Sketches of Sport, 1894

who spent a lot of time sitting behind desks found that exercise was a good way to blow off steam. Tennis, football, American football, rugby,

ne afternoon in 1997 twelve-year-old Lucy Adams was leaving

basketball, athletics, swimming and many other sports were refined and

swimming practice in Horsham, England, when she noticed a

popularised as leisure-time activities during this period.

large construction fence had gone up in the vacant lot behind

But while the Industrial Revolution meant physical liberation for

the pool. She wandered over and peered through a small hole

well-to-do men, it meant the opposite for their wives and daughters.

in the boards. On the other side a group of men dressed in

The prevailing medical dogmas of the time dictated that the ‘nature

long T-shirts and baggy jeans were building something that she would

of women’ was determined by a fixed degree of energy for all their

later describe as “fantastic”. With heavy iron bars, scaffolding and large,

endeavours (mental, physical, emotional, etc.). This theory meshed well

smooth strips of wood, they fashioned swooping curves, elegant arcs,

with the bourgeois Victorian ideal of the idle, porcelain-doll woman

gentle waves and precipitous drops into something that looked like a cross

whose role in society was to look good, be the moral heart of the family,

between an obstacle course and a post-modern sculpture. She returned as

show off her husband’s wealth through the purchase of expensive items

often as she could and watched as the ramps and transitions took shape

and make babies. The last point is paramount because it has often been

and the men began to ride them with their skateboards.

a reason, overt or underlying, to exclude women from sports.

One evening before the park had officially opened she went over, roller

In Sporting Females, an illuminating book on the history and

skates in hand, and approached the men. “Can I have a go on my skates?”

sociology of women’s sports, Jennifer Hargreaves quotes the chairman

she asked. They laughed and told her she needed a skateboard. “So I

of the British Medical Association who, in 1887, emphatically stated that

went home and told my dad, ‘These are shit now, we need a skateboard,’”

for the ‘“progressive improvement of the human race”, women should be

she says. Adams has gone on to become one of Britain’s best skaters, but

denied education and other activities which would cause constitutional

her wider relationship with the skate industry remains very similar to

overstrain and inability to produce healthy offspring.’ The Eugenicists

those early days of peeking through the fence. Skateboarding may not be

even got in on the act claiming that sports could cause hormonal

against women, but it’s certainly a consolidated boys club.

imbalances in women and hockey in particular (the bête noire of the

There are few reliable statistics regarding the number of skate-

anti-female sports movements) would disable young women from being

boarders in the world, much less the number of female skateboarders.

able to breastfeed. And so, from their earliest incarnations, sports were

The US boasts over 12 million riders, with the number of women in this

codified in such a way as to explicitly exclude women.

group ranging from twenty-five per cent to nine per cent, depending on the source. If, for the sake of argument, we take the higher estimate, the

‘Woman’s anatomical characteristics are analogous with man’s but

number of women skateboarding is roughly consistent with the num-

her physiological predisposition demands less vigorous treatment. The

ber of women participating in both surfing and snowboarding. How-

law of beauty is based purely on the conception of life and must not be

ever, compared with its sister sports, female skateboarders are still a

abused. The rounded forms of woman must not be transformed into

silent, invisible minority and skating in the wider public consciousness

angularity or nodosity such as in man.’

remains a ‘guy’s sport’. Adams didn’t realise it at the time, but by squeezing through the

– Pehr Henrik Ling, Inventor of Swedish Gymnastics, 1939

fence and daring to “ask for a go” she was, like so many girls before her, stepping onto the frontlines of a bitter and contentious gender

“When sidewalk surfing hit big in the 1960s, both males and females

conflict that has quietly raged in the dark recesses of Western society’s

skated,” says Michael Brooke, publisher of Concrete Wave magazine.

subconscious for over 250 years. It’s a struggle not over land or money,

“The population skewed more towards males but, I mean, Patti McGee

but what the sociologist Michael Messner calls the “contested ideological

doing a handstand on her board made the cover of Life magazine in 1965

territory” of the female body. At stake is the very definition of what it

– that’s one of the most iconic skateboarding images of all time.”

means to be a woman and how you can legitimately use your body.

Women stayed on the scene as an important minority for as long as the skateboard industry focused the action on skateparks and remained

‘Athletic meetings… always attract a large number of women, perhaps

broad in its definition of the sport: from vert and park, to slalom, freestyle

it is the gay colours of the runners, perhaps it is their youth and splendid

and street, girls and young women got involved. However, the late 1970s

physical condition, whatever the reason, they come in their thousands

saw a mass extinction of parks and a narrowing of the industry as well as

and bring brightness and colour to the scene even if their appreciation is

the fusion of skate and punk rock culture that, Brooke speculates, pushed

not always particularly intelligent.’

skating in a more male-oriented direction. “I’m not suggesting women didn’t follow punk rock – they did. But I think it made the industry very

– The Times, 1919

testosterone driven. All of a sudden, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it’s men listening to punk rock and riding on skateboards. All this changed

The notion of ‘guys’ sports’ and ‘girls’ sports’ is completely socially constructed; the ill-begotten child of the specific time period and societies in which sporting culture originated, namely Britain and the United


the image, it got a lot more aggressive, a lot more underground.” The 1990s were boom times for the skateboarding industry, but the companies increased their market shares through a somewhat



Faustian bargain: by narrowly focusing on selling street skating to a

Because sports were and continue to be defined by men, they are

young, male demographic. “They bet the farm on kids doing rail slides

shot through with certain stereotypes that are internalised by both

and forty-stair ollies,” says Brooke. “Once the industry decided it was

sexes. “The major stereotype is still this ‘masculinisation’ of women

going after one thing, it started checking these boxes: males – check;

who play sports and that this masculinisation leads directly into

males under eighteen – check. And as it hit each check point it was

‘lesbianism,’” says Balbier. “You cannot be a ‘beautiful’ wrestler or

reducing the population it was going to appeal to.”

even a ‘beautiful’ boxer because even though we try to get out of our

Such a narrow demographic is a big deterrent, especially for older

gender perspectives, we can’t… We still see certain sports that don’t

women says Brooke: “If you ask a thirty-five-year-old woman if she is

fulfill our own perceptions or images of femininity. And that is why

comfortable hanging out with thirteen-year-old boys, the answer is

many people really don’t want to watch women box, for example. It

no.” Additionally, a hard focus on selling soft goods to teenage boys

takes such a long time to establish new images.”

meant that women were not simply ignored, their image was coopted and turned from that of active participants like McGee, into

‘Hers is all the joy of motion, not to be under-estimated, and the long

passive, hypersexualised groupies, like the scantily clad model in the

days in the open air; all the joy of adventure and change. Hers is the

‘Rosa’ adverts, run by skateboard company Shorty’s throughout the

delightful sense of independence and power.’

1990s. Whatever Rosa’s skills may have included, skateboarding was certainly not one of them.

– Lady Violet Greville on the joys of bicycling, 1894

‘There is a well-known Girls’ College which makes pre-eminently for the

Away from Western skate culture, the image of the female skateboarder

cult of mannishness. And here are seen, absorbed in fierce contest during

is being re-built from the ground up. The country that arguably has the

the exhausting heat of summer afternoons, grim-visaged maidens of

highest percentage of female skateboarders in the world is Afghanistan,

sinewy build, hard of touch and set as working women in the 1840s, some

where girls are neither allowed to ride bikes nor fly kites. Of course,

with brawny throats, square shoulders and stern loins that would do

skateboarding is only about three years old in Kabul. It was introduced

credit to a prize ring. All of which masculine developments are stigmata

by a pair of itinerant Aussies who went on to found NGO Skateistan.

of abnormal sex-transformation…’

“We’ve always made a point of not trying to import any of the cultural elements of skating,” says Rhianon Bader, one of Skateistan’s mix of local

– A criticism of Dartford College, in London, which had an early physical

and international instructors. She grew up riding the streets and parks of

education programme for women, 1920

Calgary, Canada, in the late 1990s and early 2000s where come-ons and sexist comments from the mostly male skating population were par for

As educational opportunities increased for women in the nineteenth

the course. “Because skating was totally new in Afghanistan, no one had

century, so too did their sporting opportunities. By the beginning of the

any preconceptions about it,” she says. “It was seen not as a new sport

twentieth century, most doctors were in favour of exercise for women, but

that might be dangerous or have certain gender taboos associated with it,

the types of exercises considered appropriate were limited, at best. The

but just a game, or a toy.”

most famous of the early ‘women’s sports’ was something called Swedish

This clean cultural slate has seen a nearly equal split between the

Gymnastics, a sort of proto-aerobics that featured a highly regimented

roughly 400 boys and girls who participate in Skateistan’s programmes.

combination of callisthenics, stretching and physical therapy whose

The main difference is that the boys are lining up around the block to

aim was both exercise and subtle nationalist indoctrination. Other

skate while Skateistan has invested a lot of effort into recruiting girls.

sports followed like tennis, hockey and netball, a non-contact version of

One of the most important tactics, according to Bader, was establishing

basketball that is still played exclusively by women.

all-girl skating hours when young women could have the city’s one

Note the pattern: ‘women’s sports’ tended to be ones that reinforced

skatepark entirely to themselves. “I think it’s universal that when girls

wider societal stereotypes about how women should or could behave.

are adolescents or teenagers they get intimidated when boys watch

Many, like dance or gymnastics, were obsessed with rigid bodily control.

them play sports,” she says. “So once we made that space where it was

Sports that allowed freer movements, or some other transgression of the

comfortable for girls just to skate, we really enforced it and it worked

Victorian feminine ideal, like overt aggression, were roundly criticised

really well. I think a lot of the attraction to the sport just comes down to

and the women involved in them stigmatised. When the ‘safety bicycle’

girls seeing other girls doing something.”

became popular in the 1880s and women began to ride them in their

The Longboard Girls Crew, based in Spain, embraces the same ethos

specially designed undergarments – or ‘bloomers’ – an entire world of

of creating a pressure-free space for females to skate with each other. By

bodily and spatial freedom opened up to them. The critics also came

choosing longboarding, which, although not a new discipline, is in the

out of the floorboards. ‘Cycling… was claimed to be an indolent and

midst of a mini-renaissance, they have found a niche that has not yet

indecent activity which tended to destroy the sweet simplicity of a girl’s

strictly defined its gender image. At least not as strictly as street and vert.

nature and which might cause her to fall into the arms of a strange man!’

With an active blog, a large team, and links with similar crews all over the

Hargreaves writes with ironic relish. ‘The worst fear was that cycling

world, they are a breath of fresh air. However, without significant industry

might even transport a girl to prostitution.’

backing, or indeed a significant industry to back them, it remains to be

“Modern sports is a cultural system created by men,” says Dr. Uta

seen if they are the start of a movement or simply a flash in the pan.

Balbier, who teaches a class on the history of sports at King’s College

Brooke, for one, sees hope in the latent longboard industry.

in London. “It has a lot to do with urbanisation, but it also has to do

“Skateboarding is too good to be controlled by a handful of people who

with mechanisation, bureaucratisation – keeping records was a big part

think it should just be about rails and ledges. It’s like saying soccer

of shaping the modern sports system – and all this was done by men and

can only be played by people of European extraction, golf is only

all women could do after this was try to fit into the system.”

for white people, or bike riding is only for guys. The bike industry is


worth 61 billion dollars a year, and there are so many different genres. Skateboarding used to be like that and it can still be like that.”

The marketing argument goes something like this: the only way to sell the sport is to show sexy, rough-and-tumble Lolitas playing it. It’s not that we’re sexist, it’s what the public demands. “On the surface,

‘Your girls play like gentlemen, and behave like ladies.’

the money-making argument is legitimate,” says Dr. Kerrie Kauer, a sports and women’s studies scholar at the University of California,

– ‘Compliment’ paid to a headmistress about her cricket team, 1891

Long Beach. “But if you are trying to market surfing, for instance, to young female surfers, why not show young female surfers surfing,

The task of establishing new images in the Western world – where

instead of lying down with boards on the beach? What they are doing

skateboarding has grown up with men at the helm – has been taken up

is marketing women’s sports to young men in the eighteen-to-thirty-

by a loose group of female skateboarders who are now in their thirties.

five age range… If you actually sell to people interested in sport you

Though some of the best in the world, their careers have often played

have a whole new market.”

out on the margins of a disinterested industry. They include Adams,

One brand that is engaging with that market is Hoopla, an all-

fellow Brit Jenna Selby, Californians Mimi Knoop and Cara-Beth

female skateboard company founded by Californians Cara-Beth

Burnside, and Lisa Whitaker to name but a few. They face an uphill

Burnside and Mimi Knoop. “There are more girls skating than

battle. Aside from occasional, if very significant victories, like Burnside

ever, but you might not know it because it’s so underground,” says

and Knoop’s Action Sports Alliance gaining equal prize money for men

Burnside. As one of America’s greatest competitive skaters and

and women in X Games events, many of their achievements in growing

snowboarders she has been one of the most visible ambassadors of

their sport have taken place under their own initiatives without much

women’s skating over the last twenty years. When Vans dropped her

help from the larger skateboard companies.

from their team in 2011 there was even talk of a boycott. According

Whitaker runs a website called the Girls Skate Network which is a

to her, if female participation, and more importantly visibility, is to

hub for anyone who wants to post photos and videos of female skaters.

increase, skating will need to appeal to parents first. “For me, a big

It is home to an active forum and regular interviews with up-and-coming

part of getting and staying involved in skating was having supportive

riders. Selby hosts all-girl skate jams in the UK, with the help of female-

parents who never told me, ‘You’re a girl and you shouldn’t be doing

focused brands like Nikita, and also founded Rogue – an all-female skate

that,’” she says.

company that doesn’t bend to stereotype. She travels the world making

Convincing other parents to think like hers has become one of

women-centric skate films, including 2009’s As If, And What?, the first

Burnside’s professional goals. To this end she and Knoop use Hoopla

all-female skate video in Europe, and is currently working on her next.

to promote a female skating image that represents a happy middle

Ironically, these women and the younger generation of skaters they are

ground between the Lolitas of the surfing world and the rugged

nurturing, may constitute the only authentic counterculture that still

hardiness often associated with skaters: neither overtly sexual, nor

exists in this multi-billion dollar industry.

overtly masculine. “I want to show girls doing what they love and still

But growing that community can be tough. “One thing we noticed in

looking like girls. On one end you don’t have to look like a guy, and

the UK scene, especially when I was younger, is that there were younger

on the other you don’t have to wear a really short skirt or your bikini

girls with amazing skills who would hit their teenage years and sort of

just to get attention,” Burnside says. “I think if parents can see girls

disappear due to outside pressures like what their friends were doing and

looking like normal girls doing their thing in cute little skater styles

what magazines were telling them to do,” says Selby.

they will think their girls can do that too.”

The trend she touches on is common in many female sports where

To some degree, this solution seems to substitute one pigeonhole

girls drop out as their bodies mature and the role models available to

for another. I consider pointing out that the ‘normal girl’ is another

them change from energetic girls to sexy women. Skateboarding suffers

stereotype, just like the ‘gnarly masculine girl’, and both are moulds

in particular because it is inherently threatening to a rider’s body,

to squish young women into. But as if pre-empting my question,

which is in turn threatening to the still prevalent Victorian notion that

Burnside insists she’s just being pragmatic. “That is the reality of

the female body is delicate and must always be protected. Remember

being a girl skater,” she says, “you have to do things a certain way if

that Victorians worried what horse riding would do to women’s nether

you want the sport to grow. It’s the same with girl athletes everywhere

regions; imagine how they would react to the danger of a young woman

– no one wants to see girls looking like dudes. You might not like it, but

smashing her crotch onto a rail.

you’ll have to meet in the middle if you want to do something more

Some industry players have tried to combine the two images in order

with your career… and that goes for anything in our society. If a girl

to attract women to the sport, but the result is problematic. “I’ve noticed

wants to do anything people can relate to her more if she just looks like

recently that some magazines are more interested in the girls that fit a

a presentable girl.”

certain profile: one that looks ‘right’ rather than one that has a certain

Not exactly what you would call ‘uplifting’. But then, real

skill level,” says Selby. “That’s something we are trying to avoid because I

pragmatism rarely is. It is, to borrow a metaphor from Latin American

know surfing has gone down that route… It’s not all media, but it’s almost

liberation theory, about knowing you are in a cage, and taking small

like some of them are trying to fit us into this box, you know? Like, ‘This

steps to increase the size of the cage. After all, you can’t break the bars

is what people want to see!’ In doing so, I think they’re moving away from

until you have room to take a full swing. In the meantime Burnside

the core ethics that they started out with. I know everyone’s got a job to

and her small but growing vanguard keep expanding, inch by inch,

do and magazines to sell, but you need to remember your ideals as well.” Adams is less circumspect when describing the ‘right look’. “It helps

because if they don’t, no one is going to do it for them. Through it all,

to wear short shorts, inappropriate shoes, and tight tops. It also helps

is at a point right now where it can go one way or another and we are

to have long blonde hair,” she explains wryly, having never bowed to

just trying to keep the importance on skill and personality, not on what

the pressure herself.

a girl looks like or how she dresses.”


Selby remains cautiously optimistic about the future: “Skateboarding



Blitz The Ambassador The G hanaian artist knows full well what it means to be an outsider. Hip hop helped him find his place, but he’s not about to forget his roots.

Text Rob Boffard P h o t o g r a p h y Br y a n D e r b a l l a


few minutes into our conversation with Blitz The

to Ohio and it’s like, ‘Wow, there are two kinds of people here!’

Ambassador, there’s an odd interruption. We’re in

There were white folks and African-Americans. It’s a small pool.

London, he’s in Atlanta, and over the connection

If you were an international person in that town, you were a

comes a burst of what sounds like a saxophone.

student; there weren’t any international residents… It was very,

“Hold on a sec,” says Blitz. He turns away from the phone, and engages in a brief, muffled conversation. “Sorry about

very different. That experience helped shape my understanding [of how you survive in a different culture]. It was crazy.”

that,” he says, coming back on the line. “That’s my son. He

A lot of the ideas behind his music, he says, came from

has a toy saxophone and at some point in the day, he’ll put on

this period of his life. While he certainly had a less traumatic

my show and just rock it. He learns all the dance steps that the

experience than many immigrants do, he got to experience

horn section does. He plays along.”

first-hand what it means to be operating outside the norm.

Blitz’s son is two. He was born in Brooklyn, but his father

Fortunately, he had one major weapon on his side – the music

has already taken him on a trip back to his own native city

genre that defines him. When you’re trying to fit into a strange

of Accra, Ghana. “It’s important that he understands there’s

environment, knowing who Heltah Skeltah and EPMD are

another world besides the US, and there’s another way of

will help you more than a thousand green cards.

thinking and doing things,” he says, knowing full well that his

“Hip hop helped prime me for this environment,” says Blitz,

son will have a very different upbringing. He will grow up an

“and unless you come from another environment you can’t

American citizen. He will never have trouble moving between

understand the impact hip hop has had on how comfortable

the two worlds of Africa and America. He might inherit his

you are getting into an environment like America. I had the

father’s passion for soccer and languages (Blitz speaks four,

advantage of knowing what American society was like through

including Twi and Sisaala) but he’ll always be seen as an

hip hop. Even understanding accents - I’d spent so much time

American first. Still, if the energetic sax is anything to go by,

transcribing Wu Tang lyrics and Biggie lyrics. If you can break

he may well follow his dad’s musical path. Blitz (born Samuel Bazawule) has gained notoriety for

down Wu Tang lyrics, there’s no accent that can beat you!”

his ability to blend the musical traditions and arrangements

help Blitz when he tried to seek a major label deal. He was

of West Africa with hip hop, something that he and his band,

as much an outsider in the music industry as he was at Kent

the Embassy Ensemble, do brilliantly. His most recent album,

State. “The majors couldn’t see how it was possible,” he

2011’s Native Sun, was a spitting, roaring monster of a record. At

laughs. “At the time, K’Naan hadn’t even made a dent in the

its heart sits the Ensemble’s three-part horn section, fizzing and

game – and they were like, ‘Africans, hip hop, really? Makes

growling, while straddling its shoulders stands Blitz himself.

no sense.’ But the times catch up.”

But even speaking the universal language of rap didn’t

There’s a theme to Native Sun. It deals with the immigrant

Now of course, things are a little different. Blitz and his

experience: the feeling of leaving home, of surviving in a

band are an international phenomenon, rocking shows in

country that regards you with suspicion. It’s the feeling of

the US, Europe and in his home country. His previous work

being an outsider: of being separated from your community

has seen him crack the top ten on iTunes – a big deal for an

and being unsure where you now fit in. Alongside the album,

independent artist. He divides his time between New York,

Blitz released a short film about a boy from a small village,

Accra and Atlanta, where he’s working on the follow-up

searching for his absent father in the depths of Accra. It was

to Native Sun, entitled Griot. “Native Sun was done in six

the perfect complement to the album, rooting the stories it

months,” he says. “With Griot, I have time – time to lock it

told with authentic images of his home city.

down. We can sink our teeth into the ideas.”

Blitz grew up in Accra, the second of four children. A

Blitz’s ability to tell a story that could have only come

football fanatic, he’d often sneak out of the house to play, and

from Africa has been strengthened, rather than weakened,

dreamed of running out for Liverpool. His father worked for

by his experiences in the US. “I drew a lot of inspiration

the United Nations, and Blitz grew up in a house filled with

from some of the culture shock, and going through ups

books. He left Ghana as a young man to study at Kent State

and downs of the immigrant life,” he says. “I was fortunate

University in Ohio, stopping first in New York to spend time

coming from Ghana that I was able to process it, and still

with family in the city’s extensive Ghanaian community.

live in two different cultures.”

“Imagine the difference,” he laughs. “Coming to New York, where there’s a diverse cultural environment, you feel safe

Blitz The Ambassador is currently on tour in Europe, taking in France,

because there’s something for everyone there, and then you go

Denmark, Germany and more, finishing in Finland on August 18.

Stori es of h i p hop , from 39

here’s an old joke in which a young man, visiting the

touring lifestyle, she’s living “significantly faster and looser”.

Stanford campus, sees a professor and asks: ‘Where

As such, she’s found herself questioning, “who I really was

are the bathrooms at?’ The professor replies: ‘Here

and which part of me was fooling myself, if either”. Her

at Stanford, we do not end our sentences with a

friends and family never envisioned her on this path. “They

preposition.’ So the kid rephrases: ‘Fine. Where are the

think this is the strangest thing ever,” she laughs, adding that

bathrooms at, asshole?’

her mother and stepfather attend every Oakland show.

Kristine Flaherty, aka K.Flay, is neither the academic nor

But when it comes to fitting in, Flaherty thinks about

the rule-breaker archetype. She’s a little bit of both. Standard

those tick boxes a lot less than everyone else, despite the

demographic boxes would pigeonhole her as a twenty-six-year-

fact that she doesn’t necessarily fit the hip hop mould. “The

old, white Stanford graduate (with degrees in both psychology

female whiteness has been, more than anything, this weird

and sociology). But she’s also a female rapper/producer from

novelty component which can initially discredit me, which I

the Bay Area, who’s opened for Snoop Dogg and Ludacris.

understand,” admits Flaherty.

Flaherty grew up in suburban Chicago, an environment

But despite prejudice from haters, Flaherty thrives on

she describes as “a little Stepford Wives-y”. Aside from what

changing people’s minds. ‘I didn’t want to like you but I did’

she heard on mainstream radio, she didn’t come into contact

is a post-show comment she hears a lot. “It can work to my

with much rap. Then in 2003, she moved to the Bay Area

disadvantage but more often than not people are intrigued at

and her ears were opened to underground hip hop. It wasn’t

the very least,” she explains. “Even though I’ve had bad shows

culture shock, she says, but rather “cultural inundation”.

and made bad songs, at the time I wrote or performed them

“Growing up I was very regimented,” she says. “I was super focused on school and found comfort by controlling my dayto-day life. When I got to college that fell away. I was in a mindstate where I was ready to open up to different ideas.”

I was very sincere… It’s hard to really shit on someone who’s being genuine, even if you don’t like what they’re doing.” K.Flay may not be alone in what she does, but she’s not about to fall in step with artists like fellow Oakland rapper

Impressed that local radio supported local artists like

Kreayshawn or Australia’s Iggy Azalea. For one thing, she

E-40, Flaherty immersed herself in Bay Area hip hop, taking

doesn’t feel the need to sexualise herself or produce the next

influence from UK rappers like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley. “It

party hit. “They’re doing upbeat, party, ‘have fun’ music

felt similar to Bay Area stuff because it was hyper-local and

whereas my music is getting increasingly depressing as time

non-traditional in rhythmic patterns and flow,” she explains.

goes on,” she laughs. “For the most part, in order for a female

She played a few shows on campus but remained focused on

performer to be a viable artist on a mass scale, they have to be

her studies until she graduated from college, during which

hypersexual. It doesn’t exist for males in a comparable way.

time producer AmpLive – of hip hop duo Zion I – encouraged

I’m not making it a part of what I’m doing. I don’t know if

her to bring the technical side of beat production and mixing

that’s working.”

into a live setting.

And as for acceptance? Even if it matters, she’s not about

Today, her live shows are a confident display. K.Flay stands

to chase it. “I have come to the comfortable realisation that

behind her tabletop of electronic goodies and creates live

not everyone’s going to like what you do,” she says. “We’re

beats. Once they’re good and looping, she steps out in front,

coming to this point where young people grew up with rap

throws herself around the stage and keeps audiences laughing

music as part of pop music. The way that people in their

with her stream-of-consciousness, almost Dadaist, banter.

twenties understand hip hop is very different to how people

She’s released a series of mixtapes and EPs, with 2011’s I Stopped Caring in ’96 and this year’s Eyes Shut gaining

in their thirties think about it. But one of the core principles of hip hop and rap is authenticity and self-expression.

recognition beyond the local scene. But a career in rap, post-

“Besides, I like the fact that being a white female makes me

Stanford, was never a conscious goal. “I sort of stumbled into

a little bit of an underdog,” she continues. “People are ready

it,” she recalls. “Everybody has this thing in their life, where

to confirm that I’m terrible and that’s kind of cool. [Underdog

you end up in a situation, even if it’s just a party on a random

stories] make the best movies… At the end of the day, I think

Saturday night, where you’re like, ‘What the hell happened to

it’s good to have more people in an underrepresented group

make me end up in this living room?’ That’s kind of how I feel

doing whatever it is because it makes it less of a novelty. The

about the music stuff.”

more women who are doing it in a visible way, the better.”

“Regimented, disciplined and sober” is how Flaherty describes her life until age twenty-three. Now, thanks to the

m t he o u t s i d e lookin g in . 40 HUCK

K.Flay’s Eyes Shut EP is available for download at

K.Flay She’s a white, suburban, college-educated rapper. And if that makes her an underdog, so be it.

Text Chloe Roth Photography Jason Barbagelott

41 41

Text D’Arcy Doran Photography Elizabeth Dalziel

style wheelchairs that provide a second skin for the athletes battling it out on the court. Originally called murderball, the sport was invented by Canadian quadriplegics who were

W h e e l c h a i r rug b y is set to b e c o me t h e b ig g est crowd - puller a t t h e Pa r a lympic G ames. S o g et r e a d y t o t ake your place on the si d e l i n e s a n d witn ess the true me a n i n g o f stren g th.

frustrated because they couldn’t play wheelchair basketball. It became a Paralympic sport in 2000. Played on a basketball court with four on a side, it’s a fast, high-scoring game that borrows from rugby, handball and ice hockey. All players are classified as quadriplegics. Some were born disabled, but most came to the game after an accident or illness knocked their lives sideways. Britain – aka Team GB – has twice come heartbreakingly close to a medal after losing bronze medal matches in Beijing and Athens. At the London Games, the home team is determined to break that streak. This test event, in April, is a chance for


A bang echoes through London’s cavernous Olympic

Britain, Canada, Sweden and Australia to scuff up the Olympic

basketball arena as one wheelchair rams into another.

basketball court, and for Team GB, ranked sixth in the world,

Britain’s Aaron Phipps has been hit by a Canadian defender,

to test their podium potential ahead of September’s Games.

and for a split-second his left wheel hangs precariously in the

In Beijing, it was Canada who beat them in the bronze medal

air. Phipps spins into a 180. Escaping with the ball, he carves

match. But today, Canada is struggling to handle one of the

around another Canadian opponent who’s been expertly

biggest additions to Team GB’s arsenal: No. 13, Aaron Phipps.

blocked by teammate Ross Morrison. Arms pounding like

Dangerman. Man on fire. One-man wrecking machine.

blades on a steam locomotive, he carries the ball across the

These are just a few of the names the announcer uses

court and over the goal line to score.

to describe Phipps in the hard-fought game against

The guards on Phipps’ wheels are battered like comets;

Canada. The deejay running the arena’s sound system,

a history of hits, both taken and received. This is the world

having picked up on the nickname bandied about by

of wheelchair rugby – the Paralympics’ only full-contact

Phipps’ team mates, decides to play ‘Monster’ by Welsh

sport and its fastest selling ticket. It’s also one of few sports

band The Automatic each time he scores. The song plays

where a welder stands by, ready to reassemble the Mad Max-

forty-five times during the 63-62 win over Canada.


There is no sign of the ferocity shown on court when Phipps opens the door to his home in Southampton. The twenty-nine-year-old is out of his wheelchair, wearing glasses and carpenters’ kneepads over his jeans where his legs were amputated. “It’s easier to chase after Ella without the chair,” he says, introducing his nine-monthold daughter. Inside, a large aquarium houses his pet African Cichleys, smart and aggressive fish that Phipps loves for the way they dart and attack. In front of the aquarium sits his new rugby chair for the Paralympics. Shorter than his old chair, it’s faster but also more unstable. It’s designed to make it easier to go up on one wheel so he can squeeze through tight spots. Phipps digs out a photo of himself at fourteen, a year before he fell ill and lost his legs. He’s on inline skates, grinding a rail in a shopping centre parking lot. The photo is striking because

rushed to the house and immediately called an ambulance.

it both seems like it’s from another life and hints at the athlete

Within an hour, Phipps was on life support. Doctors gave him

he would become. The wheels of his skates are nearly identical

a twenty per cent chance of surviving and told his parents to

to those on the chair in the hall and the black padded gloves

say their goodbyes. But he fought through it. He fell into a

could be the same ones he uses to propel himself across the

coma for two weeks and remained in hospital for a year. His

court, twenty metres in five seconds. The photo, he says, was

legs and fingers went black as a blood disease attacked his

probably snapped just before a security guard chased them

body. At first he thought just his toes would be amputated,

away. He and his friends had campaigned for a skatepark in the

then his feet, but he ended up losing his legs below the knees.

city. By the time it was built, Phipps had lost his legs. “If I could

As for his hands, he didn’t know what would happen.

have my legs back for one day, I would go rollerblading,” he says. Phipps’ life took a turn when meningitis struck him

hands like this,” he says, looking at his fingers, which were

like lightning. He came home from school the day of the

all amputated near the first joint. “You cry your tears and get

Christmas holiday feeling like he had the flu and the next

on with it. But now I look at it and think, ‘Blimey I’m glad

morning he collapsed on his way to the bathroom. A doctor

they’re like this.’ If I had much more I wouldn’t be able to

“It was horrible. To take off your bandages and see your

play rugby. Really.” Aaron Phipps high-fives Kylie Grimes as he comes on court.

In the hospital, people tried to offer reassurance, telling him one day he would run marathons in artificial legs. “I kept saying, ‘I don’t want to run marathons,’” says Phipps, who was determined to not let the illness define him. He kept going out with friends, graduated, and got an HR job at a supermarket where he met his wife Vicky. “Then I had a kind of mid-life crisis in my early twenties and I realised this is it,” he says. “I just had a bit of a head-bake really – coming to terms with the fact that you are going to die, but you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got while you are here. But I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.” It was Vicky who encouraged him to try sports. The scarring on his legs meant artificial legs were too painful so wheelchair sports were his only option. He started playing wheelchair basketball – badly. He couldn’t grip or control the ball with his

Ryley Batt in repose after a spin out.

hands. Then he entered a ten kilometre race to raise money for meningitis research. The other runners all overtook him, but he loved it. So, he bought a second-hand racing chair and, on a friend’s suggestion, entered the London Marathon. He had no idea what to expect. Then, halfway through, his chair broke. “It went rip just under the ‘Mile 13’ sign and my bum dropped down about two inches,” he remembers. “It’s really tight in a racing wheelchair so I started getting a really bad cramp in my ass. I was thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Vicky spotted him at mile 22, snaking down the road as if he were delirious, his head hitting the wheelchair’s crossbar. But then as he crossed the finish line and saw his time – two and a half hours – he decided he could improve on that. “It goes back to that thing about wanting to achieve something,” he says. He


returned the next year in a new chair and, after training six days a week, he cut thirty minutes off his time.

Batt races Phipps to the ball.

It was through racing that Phipps came to rugby. In 2009, while racing in a wheelchair track meet, he met two former Team GB wheelchair rugby players on a scouting mission. Phipps had seen the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball, which chronicles the exploits of the US team, and his first impression was that on top of being quadriplegic, the sport required a dose of insanity. Intrigued, he asked the pair what it was like. “They looked at each other and they looked at me. Then they looked me up and down and said, ‘You’ve got to come and try it.’” Team GB had long been looking for an elusive ‘high pointer’. And while they didn’t know yet, they had just found one in Phipps. Upon entering the murderball world, players effectively get a number stamped on their forehead based on how much of their body works. The system is based on a five-point scale. Someone with no injury would be a five and someone completely paralysed would be a zero. Phipps is a 3.5, the highest

A player's hands: taped for stability, fingers covered in pine tar for better grip.

classification allowed to play wheelchair rugby. The number means his spine has not been broken, but his four limbs are damaged. For others, the higher the break is up their spine, the less they can use their body and the lower their classification. These numbers are crucial in the game because the combined points of the four players on the court cannot exceed eight. For every player like Phipps, a team needs someone like Team GB’s Jonny Coggan – a 0.5 nicknamed ‘The Silent Assassin’ for his knack of sneaking up on and stopping higherclassified players. Or Mike Kerr – a 1.5 who brings the streets of Glasgow to his game with an aggressive style that gets him knocked on his back often but also produces spectacular goals. “It’s a bit bizarre, you spend your time with non-disabled

a week – as hard as an able-bodied Olympic athlete – doing

people and you’re the only disabled one,” Phipps says. “Then

speed work, weight training and team drills. In his kitchen,

you go into an environment where people tell you that you’re

Phipps fixes a protein shake, opening a cupboard with photos of

not disabled because you’re the 3.5 and you’ve got the most

himself in action taped inside the door. “One day when I wasn’t

function.” His Team GB debut was the 2009 European

here, Stewart came by and put these up,” he explains. Beneath

Championships. Despite being the rookie, he was expected to be

the photos, Bruce Lowe posted mantras: ‘Every ceiling, when

the team’s enforcer and top scorer. “Meanwhile, I was thinking,

reached, becomes a floor’ and ‘Champions are made from

‘Oh my God. I’m playing against Denmark, I’m playing against

something they have deep inside them’.

Ireland and I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing.’”

Making Phipps meaner is another of Team GB’s challenges.

But what he lacked in experience, he made up for in fitness.

As a career counsellor who works with school kids, he admits

Trying to make sense of conflicting advice when he began

knocking people out of wheelchairs did not come naturally. “As

racing, Phipps had consulted sports science Professor Stewart

the 3.5, you are meant to be a big bully and I am a nice guy most

Bruce Lowe at Southampton’s Solent University. Bruce Lowe

of the time. But when I’m on court, I try to flick a switch and be

saw huge potential in Phipps and now helps him train six days

something different. It brings out a dark side in me that I didn’t know I had,” he says. “I’m bringing more and more of this dark side out. It’s a great feeling when you smash someone out of their chair. When you connect with someone just right and they go

“When I’m on court, I try to flick a switch and be something different. It brings out a dark side in m e t h a t I d i d n ’ t k n o w I h a d .”

flying. I don’t want to hurt anybody, don’t get me wrong. It’s just for sport, but it is good. It’s the same when you’ve been knocked out as well. It’s no different from regular rugby,” he says. The game often draws people in just as they are coming out of rehabilitation. After being surrounded by tenderness and caution, the sports’ aggression and fearlessness is, for many, a welcome antidote. Team GB’s Kylie Grimes, whose career as a horse show jumper ended after a swimming pool diving accident, first saw the game while she was still in the spinal unit. She remembers the feeling of slipping into a rugby chair for the first time. “I felt like I could do things again,” says the


twenty-four-year-old. “You feel the hits all the way up your legs and

After a week of mates raving about the rugby-meets-bumper

into your head.” A 0.5, she is one of a handful of women competing

cars experience, he gave in and hopped into a wheelchair for

at the international level. The men give her no breaks because

the first time. Soon he was at the Athens Games, competing as

she’s a woman, she says, adding “and I wouldn’t want them to.”

the youngest-ever member of the Australian squad. After that

Back at the Olympic park, Team GB

performance, his original 2.5 rating was bumped up to 3.5. But Batt responded by raising the intensity of his game even higher.

lines up for the test event final. They’re up against No.2-

From the first whistle, Phipps and Batt are on each other like

ranked Australia, a tough crew of guys with rugby player

fighting fish. Wearing a black headband, Phipps hits hard and

physiques, beefy with shaved heads and heavy tattoos.

often but is also knocked down repeatedly. Batt also hits the floor

Britain looks smaller and leaner: Phipps in a John McEnroe

after spinning himself out, but repeatedly blocks passes and grabs

headband, Grimes with hair dyed Union Jack red and thirty-

at the ball, stealing it away. Team GB keep fighting, but Australia

five-kilogram Myles ‘The Killer’ Pearson sporting goggles and

manages to lock up Phipps. And sure enough, the Aussies’ lead

a big grin. “They call us the misshapes,” Phipps jokes, “like

grows and grows, ending with 71-48 on the scoreboard.

Batt and Phipps battle it out.

broken biscuits.” Despite being the lowest-ranked team going

After the game, Batt admits he just witnessed a fiercer

into the tournament, Britain dominated the round robin stage

Team GB. And, by his estimation, they’re only going to get

to enter the final undefeated. But up to today’s test final, most

stronger. “Come the Paralympics,” he says, “they’re going to

teams are trying new line-ups of players and being careful not

be a totally different team.”

to reveal all their secrets. In their earlier game against Team GB, Australia rested its not-so-secret weapon, Ryley Batt.

Phipps, on the other hand, is keeping things in perspective. He sees the chance to perform on home soil in front of a

Twenty-three-year-old Batt is the best wheelchair rugby

12,000-strong audience as a once in a lifetime opportunity – but

player in the world. He was born without legs and needed surgery

he’s not getting carried away just yet. “That was a hard lesson,”

to give him two fingers on each hand. Until he was twelve, he

he says, coming off the court. “It shows how far we’ve come,

refused to use a wheelchair because he did not consider himself

but also how far we’ve got to go. No one is going to remember

disabled. Instead he used a skateboard to get around, relying on

winning a test event. What matters is what lies ahead.”

his callused and scabbed hands as brakes. Wheelchair rugby


found him when a wheelchair sports demonstration came to

his school. His able-bodied classmates leapt at the chance to


try, but Batt was adamant that he would not get into a chair.



J ord y S mith is a s e ri o us c o ntender f o r the surfin g World Title . But no m a tter ho w hi gh he climb s, the S outh Af ri c an f lag i s ne ver f ar behi nd.

G r e e n Interview Craig Jarvis P h o t o g r ap h y C h a r l i e S h o e m a k e r


G o l d

In 1977 professional surfing was still in its infancy. There had only been one world

champion (Australian Peter Townend) and the general public remained

largely unaware that such a professional sport existed. Surfing was for layabouts, for people who didn’t want to work. But by the end of that

Jordy grew up in what he likes to call “an average neighbourhood”

year the surfing world champion was a young South African called

in Durban. “There was a time when my dad’s business, making

Shaun Tomson from Durban. The world was a different place back then

surfboards, went through a really bad patch due to some bad deals,

and South Africa’s well-documented Apartheid laws didn’t make it that

and we had to live entirely off mom’s salary [as a teacher], which

popular around the globe. But as a country, South Africa plodded along,

wasn’t much,” he explains. There are four in the Smith family: dad

not yet the recipient of embargoes and pariah status with the United

Graeme, mom Luellen, sister Casey and Jordy. According to Luellen,

Nations – that was still to come. Shaun Tomson proudly wore the South

Jordy’s upbringing was strict. “Jordy used to take time off school,” she

African label whenever he was interviewed for magazines, appeared on

remembers, “but he always tried to catch up. He worked at night, he

television or walked the streets. He even wore green and gold boardshorts,

did what needed to be done to get back up to speed.”

the colour of the Springbok strip.

When it comes to surfing, Jordy credits his dad as having the biggest

Then the world woke up to the atrocities and human-rights violations

influence, both in his formative years and still to this day. “Family is

and South Africa’s athletes felt the blow. VISAs weren’t granted, and

everything,” he says. “I owe my family everything, and my dad was the one

top sportsmen found themselves barred; careers were finished, so long

who got me into surfing.” Graeme – or Gee Force as he is known to family

as the racist National Party government refused to accept a democracy

and friends – says that Jordy’s natural inclinations showed from a young

of any sort. Martin Potter had to relocate to Australia where he was

age. “He had a skateboard when he was three years old,” he remembers

awarded Australian citizenship before winning the World Title in 1989.

with a chuckle. “He took that skateboard with him wherever he went.”

Similarly, Wendy Botha had to denounce her South African citizenship, and went on to win four World Titles on an Australian passport.

It was in 2007 that Jordy emerged as a serious contender, during a heat against the crazy-determined Neco Padaratz at the Quiksilver Pro

But today surfing has a new World Title contender, and he has

in Durban. Jordy was in a combo situation when he caught a good wave

grown up in the New South Africa – a country that has seen a constant

at his home break, did a quick pump off the bottom before boosting into

stream of people leaving, never to return, scared of the violence and

possibly the biggest, highest aerial that the surfing world had ever seen.

crime. But it’s also a country that espouses democracy. Jordy Smith

He landed in the flats, and proceeded to smash the wave to pieces in

was born on 11 February 1988. Two years later to the day, on Jordy’s

front of a raucous crowd to score a ten-point ride. He found momentum,

second birthday, Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

paddled out and tried the same thing again, this time scoring a good nine points or so and winning the heat. It was the turning point in his career. He had found his niche. And with that, Jordy Smith emerged as one of the best aerial surfers in the world.


So you’re not going to get all nasally twang on us and start saying ‘yeah’ a lot? Nooit! If I haven’t done it by now I’m not going to do it. My accent is me. We also throw a braai wherever we are in the world. Light a fire and cook a whole bunch of meat on it. When you walk around your neighbourhood, everyone knows you as the To meet Jordy today is to meet a very disciplined person, a fierce

best surfer in South Africa, and a possible contender for the world title,

competitor and a man who seems to appreciate everything he’s got. He

which would make you the best in the world. How does that affect you as

is dating the model Lyndall Jarvis, and whenever he gets asked about his

a person? It doesn’t. It hasn’t changed the way I feel about myself. All it

life and his headspace he quickly uses words like ‘thankful’, ‘grateful’ and

has done is make me feel very lucky and privileged to be able to do what

‘happy’. Ask him if there’s anything negative about his life and he’ll reply,

I do. I see my mates and they struggle to get out of bed and head out for

“Nothing. There is nothing that is not good in my life right now.”

their nine-to-five jobs while I get to hang out a bit and then go surfing.

As for that tricky thing called national pride? When Jordy wins

Seriously, how lucky am I?

a contest, it’s always ‘for South Africa’ or ‘for friends back home’. If applicable, a South African flag often appears as the cameras zoom in on

You and your sponsor, O’Neill, are working with the Umthombo Street

the twenty-four-year-old. So while some surfers may shy away from their

Children foundation to sponsor local kids and make sure they have some

national identity, Jordy has grown up wearing his pride on his sleeve.

kit to go surfing. How’s that going? It totally stokes me out to be able to give something back to those kids. It seems to be working well. Whenever

Unlike a lot of surfers in your position, you don’t come from a privileged

I’m in Durban they all come surfing with me, they hassle me and take

background, do you…? We had no money. My parents made a few

all my waves. Maybe it’s working too well [laughs]. They’re pretty amped

business decisions that went a bit sour on them, and a few people burned

now that they have some gear to go surfing in.

them in business; times were often tough. We had no food at times, and we used to chow down on cereal.

You also have a reputation for picking up the tab and buying things for your mates. Do you believe it’s important that people share what they

Do you think that this might have pushed you to where you are today?

have? I know I do that, but at the time I don’t really think about it. It’s

You know, I’m not sure. Yes and no. When you’re younger you don’t really

nice to share my good fortune with my friends. Sometimes I do need to

have the mindset of, like, ‘I’ve got to succeed to make money for food,’ as

pull back a bit, but on the whole I dig to share what I have. Sharing’s good.

such. I think it’s more just a totally competitive streak. What are your wider interests? And have you ever wondered what Combined with natural talent…? There is that as well, but it’s more

you’re going to do when professional surfing comes to an end? I enjoy

of a combination.

soccer, kicking a ball around, but I haven’t considered what I might do later on in life. I still have a long career ahead of me and I’m not too

You and your family have been burgled a number of times. I recall your

worried about anything else just yet. Maybe I’ll open up a restaurant.

dad’s surfboard factory was broken into recently. Despite the crime, you

That could be pretty cool.

haven’t relocated to California or Sydney, or Auckland for that matter, like so many thousands of South Africans before you... I’m proud to be a

When you’re away from surfing, away from the world that recognises

South African and I’m not afraid to live here. We might have some of the

you as one of the best, is there a different Jordy Smith that emerges? I

highest crime stats in the world, but crime can literally hit you anywhere

honestly don’t think I change at all. It’s the same old me. Sometimes I

in the world. My family and I aren’t stupid with regard to crime and

get involved in a bit of people watching and checking out people who are

safety either. We don’t go to the wrong places, we have security at our

outside of the surfing world, which I find pretty interesting, but nothing

house, and we subscribe to a Crime Watch agency. I travel around the

changes with me

world a lot, and we’re not relocating anywhere just yet. When I win an event, I win for South Africa. What is the one thing about your South African identity that you will always hang on to? My South African accent.


“I’m proud to be a South African and I’m not afraid to l i v e h e r e .”

S u b v e r t the ste re otype . J u st do wha t you lov e .


Andy Jackson. Cupcake Man

M i ke Be l l e me

ike I say, baker/biker – there’s only one letter difference.” That’s Andy Jackson’s comment on how he transitioned from badass, tattooed, motorcycle-riding plumber to badass, tattooed, motorcycle-riding plumber who makes and sells cupcakes. His company, FuManChu CupCakes, started as a way to quit drinking. “Anyone can cook and drink, but baking is more of a science. If everything is not just right the whole thing will fail,” he says. FuManChu is blowing up so fast, Andy speculates that his thirty-two-year career in plumbing may have to end so that he can bake full time. He’s outgrown his kitchen and is currently looking for a commercial space. So, what makes his cupcakes special? Straight-up testosterone. With ingredients like Sriracha hot sauce, whisky, sausage and beer, Andy has singlehandedly transformed the humble cupcake in the eyes of the people of Charlotte, North Carolina. Walk into a bar in the NoDa neighbourhood, where Andy lives, and you’ll likely find a group of forty-to-sixty-year-old dudes in leather vests sitting around drinking beer and eating cupcakes. Andy doesn’t feel like he’s making an intentional statement about gender roles, but he does admit that his appearance plays a big part in his success. The novelty of having cupcakes delivered by a guy who looks like he runs a bike gang is an experience in itself. “People say they hope the FuManChu guy delivers them just so they can meet me,” says Andy. And the bizarre flavour combos look set to keep coming. Andy is currently collaborating with local brewers and hot-dog makers to push the limits of what a cupcake can be, with creations like Celtic Salted Caramel and Bacon proving popular. But there are a few things that will never make the cut. “I don’t do chocolate, vanilla or fucking Red Velvet,” he says. Mike Belleme


Lana Phenechka-Spahr. Construction Worker

M i ke Be l l e me

ana Phenechka-Spahr doesn’t fit into a tick box. She was born a man. Now she’s a woman who’s married with a wife and runs her own construction company. “I am just another woman with dreams and goals, getting up every morning, walking the dog, making breakfast with my wife, gardening, going to work, doing the laundry, running my business,” she says. “My life doesn’t revolve around challenging perceptions; it’s about being myself, having love, being healthy, and being part of a community. These are the same things all people want. In this way I am just like everyone else.” Ever the optimist, Lana believes society is becoming more open-minded, but her line of work can be tough. “When I work with teams of other contractors there is often resistance because not only am I a woman, I am a transgender woman,” she explains. “Most of the resistance is from men who think I make no sense because I gave up living as a man, but continued to do a stereotypical ‘man’s job’. This lack of understanding often culminates in inappropriate comments and jokes, mainly because they are uncomfortable with their own lack of understanding.” Lana lives in Asheville, North Carolina, a cultural oasis in the otherwise conservative ‘Bible Belt’ of America’s South. Here, she has found safe zones where she can comfortably express herself, and has met someone with a similar outlook to share her life with. “Sarah, my wife, doesn’t believe in the typical binary gender system,” says Lana. “She believes she should be able to define herself in whatever ways she feels are authentic and meaningful to her, and so should men.” So, is she hopeful that more people will come round to this way of thinking? “I think preconceived notions relating to gender identity and race must be challenged and evaluated in order for people to live more whole, joyous lives.” Mike Belleme


Ben Venom. Heavy Metal Quilter

A ri e l Z amb e l i ch

hink about the Large Hadron Collider,” proclaims artist Ben Venom, “that’s kind of how I see my work. Two polar opposites – quilting and metal – being shot at each other at full speed and when they collide, something new is created.” From his San Francisco studio, Ben stitches quilts out of old heavy-metal T-shirts. This unlikely coupling may sound jarring as all hell, but somehow his blankets stay true to both roots, worthy of grandmas and head-bangers alike. “My work seems to live in three different worlds: there’s the fine art world, there’s the craft world, and then there’s the fucking metal scene,” he laughs. Though Ben started out using conventional mediums like screen-printing, he soon changed tack after seeing The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, an exhibition of geometric blankets sewn by the women of rural Alabama. “It’s about taking these totally opposing mediums of quilting, which is a traditionally female craft, and combining it with heavy-metal music – that over-the-top mentality of ‘turn it up to eleven!’ and the kind of machismo style where dudes are all tough yet, back in the late 1980s, kind of looked like chicks. There’s a kind of irony there. And I like that contradiction. I totally understand the extreme ridiculousness of heavy metal.” Ben’s work may sit in a unique place, but he’s not the only heavy-metal fan keen to shake things up. All kinds of macho dudes, it seems, are keen to be a part of his patchwork world. “It’s not just my own shirts that I’m collecting and quilting,” says Ben. “Other people’s friends and other bands are donating them, too. The work has become more of a community piece where it’s all of our shirts. It’s our quilt. And even though I may not be into a particular band, if my friend sent it to me and he’s a huge fan, I have to use it because it represents part of his life, too.” Shane Herrick


Alice Belle Holden. Farmer

ni c k h a nd

espite growing up on a farm in West Wales, Alice Belle Holden never considered a career in horticulture. “I was inspired by the growers, butchers and chefs I met at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland,” she says. “They were all working hard with food, doing farmers’ markets and enjoying it. Most profoundly they were all around my age and it made me reconsider what I wanted from my work. It’s a powerful thing to have reference points you can relate to and examples that liberate you to take a less conventional path.” After Ballymaloe, Alice helped develop an organic-farming apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association. “I hope every young person has a ripple effect of challenging stereotypes,” she says. “I think attitudes are changing. Farming is perhaps perceived as isolated, repetitive and un-stimulating work. But that’s because our industrialised food system has created such roles.” Determined to buck the trend, Alice moved to the 100-acre Pantsaeson Farm in Cardigan in 2009 where she cultivated veg plots and set up a market. “In my experience farmers have been very open and delighted to share knowledge,” says Alice. “It really helps to have mentors.” Did being a woman hold her back? “I was worried about how I would be perceived and thought I had to take on male traits,” she remembers. “But the male farmers, builders and contractors that I’ve worked with have given me humbling amounts of support. In general they recognise that it’s not an easy road.” Alice now works for a Growing Communities farm in Dagenham, London. “There are a lot of challenges ahead, but with all our knowledge and this planet’s incredible resources, sustainable solutions are attainable,” she says. “We need to get on with it and the solutions don’t have to be gloomy.”


Shelley Jones

Tracey Miller is a mentor, campaigner, advisor and motivational speaker who now focuses on secure units and young offenders’ institutions.


Bad girls make good stories. In recent months, tales of female gang violence and criminal activity have popped up in news, movies and music across the globe. But does the coverage reflect the reality? Are young women really getting more dangerous? Or are they more in danger than ever? HUCK reached out to three former female gang members from London, now helping to protect young people, to find out what’s really going down on the streets.

Text Shelley Jones P hoto g r aph y R o b i n M e l l o r

It’s March 8, 2012, and swarms of young people are making

because they like the sense of feeling safe,” she says, “feeling

their way into the theatre at Westminster King’s College in

like you have support by having friends around you that share

Clerkenwell, London, for a ‘Tackling Gang Crime Conference’.

the same interests, the same views, the same ideas.”

Over the next two hours, these sixteen and seventeen-year-olds

So far, so lawful. In fact, gang membership in this respect is

will watch clips from 2011 girl-gang film Sket, directed by Nirpal

as natural a part of adolescence as writing song lyrics on your

Bhogal, and discuss the issues raised with a panel of former gang

shoestrings. But it gets problematic when, to quote dark high-

members, MPs, teachers, social workers and film industry types.

school movie Heathers, your “teen-angst bullshit has a body

A giggle of girls with gold hoops and artful nails sit at the

count”. So what’s the story behind the ‘gangs’ we hear so much

back of the theatre whispering and chewing gum. In front of

about on the news? More and more young people are dying on

them a group of boys in hoodies and headphones sit low and

the streets of London each year but are crews like Untouchables,

bounce to their beat. To my right, a bunch of studious-looking

Raiders Posse and Get Money Gangsterz really at the root of the

teens wait quietly with notepads and pens. Each group has its

problem? How much is just fear and myth? And if it’s true that

own codes (dress, talk, mannerisms, accessories), which each

more girls are getting involved – why now? To get some truths

member faithfully echoes.

about this storied world, I reached out to three women who

“What draws young people to gangs?” asks the panel as

went through gang hell and came out the other side.

the debate kicks off and several people pipe up. “Ratings I

Thirty-three-year-old Tracey Miller meets us at her sunny South

suppose,” says one boy. “The fact that a lot of older people are

London home during the Easter school holidays. Her two girls,

giving you ratings for doing things you don’t expect yourself

nine months and fourteen, are upstairs listening to Nicki Minaj.

to be doing. So you become bigger. You get more respect.” A girl also raises her hand. “I think people get drawn to gangs

Tracey has worked as a mentor and advisor over the years, but now focuses her efforts on secure units and young offenders’


institutions where she feels she is most needed. She started

areas of London is not good. “Young people think, ‘Why would

“becoming a demon” when she was just twelve years old. “I

you go to the police?’” she says. “This is your gang, this is your

grew up in Brixton in an Islamic household,” she says. “I didn’t

unit, this is what you live for. We were raised on the notion,

understand Islam at the time so I felt very oppressed. My mum’s

‘Informers must die.’ So you dare not inform.”

a manic-depressive and my dad’s incarcerated for life. I had no

If girls do join gangs for protection, they certainly don’t find

one to turn to so I took to the streets and became very wayward.”

it. For Tracey, it was concern for her newborn daughter that

After proving herself to her peers she became involved in a

made her drop out, finally leaving gang life for good at the age

mixed-sex group that seemed bent on disruption. “Being in a

of twenty-four. But having children doesn’t stop everyone, as

gang was like having a family; someone to speak to,” she says.

Jennifer Blake, now forty-five, can attest.

“And I could hide behind what I was really feeling. No one

Jennifer “went off the rails” at the age of thirteen and

knew what was going on at home. I needed the adrenaline rush

didn’t quit till she was thirty-seven. “I had a wonderful family

and boys were more into dangerous things. So we used to rob

background,” she explains. “It wasn’t until I got to secondary

establishments: banks, bookies, anything like that. I was quite

school that all hell broke loose. I started rebelling against my

dangerous for a while. I’ve stabbed people, been shot, gone to

parents and wanted to stay out late. I made new friends who

jail. And that’s how I earned my respect. I proved myself many

didn’t have any discipline at home and could do whatever they

times. I wanted to be top dog, especially being the girl, it was a

wanted. I wanted to be a part of that – it looked fun.”

challenge for me.”

too difficult for her parents to control and was put in care until

‘There are many definitions of what constitutes a gang,’ says Dr.

she was eighteen and she had her son. But that didn’t stop her.

Susan Batchelor in her 2009 report Girls, Gangs and Violence.

“I continued living a dangerous and reckless life,” she says,

‘From a group of young people who spend time hanging out

“from robbing people on the street to becoming a gang leader.

together in public spaces through to a strictly hierarchical,

I started dealing drugs, guns were involved. It was all about

malevolent and organised criminal network.’ According to

money and power... I saw a lot of friends get killed. I became a

the Eurogang Network, a gang is any ‘durable, street-oriented

mistress at one stage. I went through domestic violence. I was

youth group whose involvement in illegal activity is part of its

kidnapped. I was tortured. I went through literal hell just to

group identity.’ Research suggests gangs are territorial, making

keep a reputation. I wanted to get out of it, but I was so used to

fast money from drugs, robberies and other illegal trade, they

that way of living. A nine-to-five job? No, not really, that wasn’t

usually have identifiable traits (themed tees, hand signals,

gonna sustain the way I wanted to live.”

codewords, etc) and are predominantly male with females

Jennifer’s turning point came in the form of religion and she

taking up peripheral roles as girlfriends, carriers, honeytrappers

set up Safe ‘n’ Sound (then called Eternal Life Support) in 2004 to

or sex objects (gang members often rape females as initiation).

help those dealing with similar issues. “We’re here to give young

So do all-girl gangs exist? “Yeah they do exist,” says Tracey, “you

people an opportunity and environment where they can make

need to understand that there are young women out there who

changes in their own lives,” says Jennifer, sitting in her cool,

are just as angry if not angrier at life than I was, who are willing

bustling office. “We can guide them, we can direct them... We can

to go out there and commit crimes all by themselves.”

support them every step of the way, but they have to go through

Detective Chief Inspector Petrina Cribb, who manages the MET’s anti-gang mentoring scheme HEART, is critical of

their own journey to become the adult they’re going to be.” Reputation and identity are recurring themes in the

attempts to exaggerate the involvement of women in gang life.

conversation around gang culture, and they are particularly

“I’m not aware of any data that shows that young women are

complex in a female context. “It’s hard for girls these days

becoming more actively involved in gangs,” she says. “It’s a good

because the media tells them how they should look, dress, wear

story that it’s a ‘growing problem’ but overwhelmingly, almost

their hair and act,” says Jennifer. “Media and music brings

100 per cent of gang members are men or boys. Women’s share of

the girls low self-esteem and sometimes it’s hard for them to

crime is relatively low and remains relatively low. When women

keep up. Especially if they haven’t got the money... We live in a

do commit crime, they tend to get demonised by society.”

consuming world. You have to have the latest phone, the latest

Batchelor agrees that there is a lack of evidence about girl

thing, the latest man and the latest man has got to be involved

gangs in the UK (the US has much more info due to a larger gang

in some form of gang activity. That’s the mentality we need to

problem). But she acknowledges that it may be because girls

get out of these young people. We tell them: be yourself. The

and young women don’t speak up. Where there is information

most powerful thing and the greatest thing is being different.

it tends to be written ‘solely from the perspective of young men,’

Wear funky clothes! Wear dem big glasses! And then you’ll

writes Batchelor. Often, ‘girl gangstas’ are oversimplified as

probably start off a new trend.”

sexually liberated post-feminist criminals or sexually exploited

Remember being a teen? Image is everything. “I think there

victims. But what about the more nuanced positions? Do some

is something about the sort of flamboyant way in which girls

girls turn to gangs instead of police for protection? Perhaps

dress, which is quite unique,” says Dr. Tina Rae who released

young women in the UK feel let down by rape conviction rates,

the education aid Girl Gangs: A Programme of Education and

for example, which are so low? “Certainly the evidence is that

Support for Girls Vulnerable to Gang Culture in March. “The

girls are raped because they are associated with gangs,” says

Peckham Girls in South London, for example, who are mainly

Cribb, “not turning to gangs because they have been raped... In

about thirteen or fourteen years old, wear golden sun visors,

a large number of cases the reason it doesn’t go to conviction

pink fluorescent leggings, red jackets, baseball caps, loads of

is because the victims themselves don’t want to pursue it. The

bling jewellery, double earrings, rings on every single finger, and

MET provides an excellent supportive approach to women. I

blue or green contact lenses. And in a way I can see that there’s

don’t necessarily think that’s really understood by the public.”

a feeling of empowerment in that, being part of the group,

Tracey agrees that the perception of police within certain


Jennifer, still living in Peckham where she grew up, became

So, when does rolling with your crew turn into ‘gang life’?

being safe. But I would question the word empowerment here.

Jennifer Blake runs the Safe ‘n’ Sound youth project in Peckham providing practical, emotional and psychological support for young people and parents.


Peaches Cadogan is CEO of Reality Bytes, an organisation that supports, inspires and encourages young people and parents to embrace the positive aspects of youth culture.


This is making a clone of somebody, making them the same as

see themselves. “Young people as a whole do not have a stable

everyone else in order to be accepted. And asking, forcing, or

platform to have a voice to be heard and respected,” she says.

peer-pressuring them into behaviours that are not safe, that are

“Half of them feel lied to, patronised, none of them really

not healthy and that can ultimately lead to breakdown.”

trust... I’m a communicator to help express what they’re

Tracey sees the same kind of motivation in the young women she works with. “We’re built up on this celebrity lifestyle thing and that’s what a gangster is,” she says. “He keeps himself

trying to get out, but I’d like to see more young people have that platform themselves.”

current, he’s always got the latest trend: cars, gold, jewellery,

There are many reasons girls,

phones. So the girls are attracted to that status... Also, because

and young people in general, are drawn to gangs. Some are just

it’s documented quite a lot, it does seem cool. In a lot of music

a part of growing up, some more sinister. And the solutions

videos the guys are rapping about guns, drugs and women. The

can be equally as complex. Overwhelmingly, research shows

ladies in the videos are looking like Katie Price-types so we have

that young people grow out of gang life, if they survive it, but

a culture of youths that want to be Katie Prices and rappers.”

with youth unemployment at an all-time high, funding cuts to

Peaches Cadogan of Reality Bytes, an organisation that helps

community-based projects and the continued glamorisation

young people embrace the positive aspects of youth culture,

of the ‘gangster lifestyle’ in the press and pop culture, positive

believes that everyone needs to take action to sort this shit

outlets for young people in London are few and far between.

out. “Each individual has a responsibility. Young people have

At the end of last year, Home Secretary Theresa May

a responsibility and I believe that we, as adults, have a greater

commissioned the Ending Gangs and Youth Violence report,

responsibility to be able to lead by example and implement

which warned that there are as many as 200 rival groups in

change,” she says. “If you’re not positively engaging, like the

London alone. As a result, millions of pounds are being put

work we’re doing, it’s just going to get even more chaotic and

into solutions that include a hardened Trident Gangs Crime

more young people are going to lose their lives. There are more

Command to enforce crackdowns. But is more policing really

guns on the street now. These guns didn’t just miraculously fall

what these communities need? “It’s a balance of prevention,

to earth. They had to come from somewhere. How the hell do

intervention, reassurance and enforcement,” says DCI Cribb.

guns get past customs? You can’t blame that on young people!”

“Certainly the Trident Gangs Crime Command has got a

Jennifer also suggests that there are more sinister, organised

partnership and prevention arm to it. The police are doing

forces controlling the streets. “The young people you’re talking

really good work in terms of prevention. HEART, which

about are not in gangs, they’re serious group offenders,” she

provides group work and multiple mentoring for vulnerable

says. “The gangsters are the ones on the top that you don’t really

young people, is a part of that.”

hear about. They’re using young individuals to do their drug

Critics are also quick to point out reports of racially

dealing and so forth. The young people on the street just want

motivated prejudice in Trident’s ranks. Although gang

to get involved because it’s ‘in’. Sometimes they don’t even get

culture affects people from all different ethnic backgrounds

involved, they just find themselves caught up in it. They all go to

(the breakdown in Glasgow and Liverpool, for example,

the same schools and they all move together.”

is almost entirely white), Chairperson of the Trident

‘Ratings’ from an older person can be significant to someone

Independent Advisory Group Claudia Webbe has warned

who hasn’t had much support growing up. Peaches, now thirty-

against the lazy stereotyping that goes on: “Trident is heading

five, was born into an difficult household in North London and

a gang strategy, and we have to be cautious about that. First

she found a sense of self-worth from gang life. “I was getting

of all, problems with gangs are not necessarily to do with the

praise on the streets,” she says. “I was getting hugged by people

black community. Youth violence affects all communities.

every day on the street. My name was shouted from the rooftops.

Secondly the word ‘gang’ has to be used carefully. Youth

I had never had that feeling before.” She was also desperate to

violence happens, and oversimplifying it as ‘gang’ violence

flee the traditional female roles she had been exposed to. “I ran

isn’t helpful.” Tracey echoes the diverse nature of the

away from home because I saw my mum being battered,” she

problem. “The secure units I deal with have no black kids at

says. “I was very angry and I sent that anger out into the public.

all so like you said it’s definitely widespread,” she says. “The

I was the girl who was sent to deal with problems. I always used to stand my own ground, it was imperative that I could not

truth is that only black people are speaking out about it.” Peaches understands the need for police, but doesn’t feel

be one of those girls that was being beat up or used by guys.

that the government puts the people first. “The government

Growing up in an Afro-Caribbean home, the women had to do

is spending money willy nilly, but they’re not improving the

the housework and the men could sit down and read the paper

agencies that do exist by helping them get the necessary

or go to the pub or bookies. I mean it happens to Caucasians as

support,” she says. “Communities should be telling the

well, but I thought it was mad!”

government where money should be spent. And then you would

A conviction in 1998 led to two years in prison for Peaches and

start to see crime rates go down and education grades go up.”

it was there that she began to look at things differently. “I went

Jennifer echoes her concern. “If you take away places like Safe

to Clean Break [an independent theatre dealing with women

‘n’ Sound for youths, then that’s it,” she says. “The riots weren’t

in crime] and that saved my life,” she says. “I launched Reality

nothing. We cried out and said, ‘We need more support!’ for

Bytes in 2007-08 to help young people tap into themselves

years and they did nothing. But then all hell broke loose and

through the arts. Reality Bytes is about youth and community

they wanted to introduce all these initiatives.”

cohesion – that means nurturing, supporting, listening. That

Luckily, the amazing work of people like Tracey, Jennifer

means giving young people aid where necessary.” Peaches, who worked as a mentor on BBC 3’s Peckham

and Peaches proves that if you present young people with a

Finishing School For Girls series, thinks the negative

expect this generation to play by society’s rules when society

representation of youth in the media feeds into the way they

doesn’t offer them much in return

better way of life, they will usually choose it. You just can’t


Mickey Smith is not a Legend 64 HUCK

But in a world full of self-styled heroes, the surf photographer defines the creed.

Text & portraits Michael Fordham Surf photography Mickey Smith

ff the coast of County Clare, somewhere south of Lahinch, Ireland, there is a stretch of high cliff. Beneath the precipice the coastal morphology is madly variegated, lacerated with caves and blowholes, outcrops and scars. We watch as water bleeds off a limestone platform; box-like ledges are bared and the hiss and push of another mini set explodes, obscuring it all in foam. “I’ve looked at the maritime charts for this area,” says Mickey Smith. “The reef steps down five metres, ten metres, then all of a sudden down to fifty.” We look down to the reeling little left, which may be rideable once the tide drops. There’s no continental shelf to slow the swell here – just geometric slabs that project the unmediated rawness of storms into deeply powerful waves. The water today appears deep navy and the sun is shining against a bluebell sky. These soaring cliffs arch out at right angles to a reef cut with perpendicular precision. It all hints at a fathomless kind of power. “This place is really close to my heart,” he says. “There’s just something about it that’s magical.” Mickey first set eyes on this spot in 2007, guided by hard-won knowledge of tide, wind and swell, after months, if not years, of serendipitous wandering. When he got back to the van with his crew after surfing the place for the first time, The Who’s ‘Baba O’ Riley’ was playing. The name stuck – not least because it’s also the name of Mickey’s nephew, who was in hospital on that very day and therefore on his mind. Riley’s is one of the most significant and photogenic waves unearthed by the Cornish waterman in the decade or two that he’s been scouring this outcrop of Europe. As a photographer and filmmaker, his work is about capturing moments that can never exist twice – crystallising elemental magic that without his being there would be lost forever. “Don’t get me started,” he says. “I could go into one of my hippie rants about how magical it is to find a wave like Riley’s. When the elements come together at a certain place and a certain time and you are there to bear witness, it’s the most incredible thing. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life.” Mickey has been showing me around his adopted home, the Irish coastline that he has become associated with ever since he inadvertently introduced it to the world of big-wave surfing. It’s a world populated by big-money marketing spend, heroic egos and incredible athletes. It’s not a world that Mickey Smith is particularly comfortable with, but there’s



not a lot he can do about it now. “Growing up in Newlyn [Cornwall,

attempt to paddle in. The breaking of the news that there was a truly

England] it was just all about the sea, having a laugh, playing my music,”

significant big-wave spot in County Clare collided with the height of

he tells me as Eiva, his six-month-old daughter, coos in the sun next

the madness. Each swell since those first, pioneering moments, both

to where we sit. “I just lived for being out there amongst it all. I had

here and at other Irish big-wave spots like Mullaghmore, has thus been

no intention of being a ‘surf photographer’ and sending off pictures to

beset by the hoards. Mickey, understandably, has mixed feelings about

magazines. I just wanted to capture waves that I wanted to remember.”

the consequences. “I was really naïve then,” he tells me. “We were just

Dad wasn’t around as he grew up. Mum was a freethinker,

a bunch of mates with no agenda. But when the Jet Ski got involved,

independently creating in her children a sense of free-flowing

people became interested. Next time there was a swell it was mental,

adventure. One day, on the way to school, Mickey was bundled into a

photographers all over the cliffs, shit on the internet, films being made. I

shitty old Fiesta and taken by some of the older crew to the West Coast

was like, ‘What the fuck happened to this little place?’”

of Ireland. “I phoned my mum from the ferry and said, ‘Erm, I’m not going to school today, I’m going to Ireland!’” he laughs.

In the wake of the global media’s newly focused glare, Mickey, along with a core team of pioneering surfers headed up by Fergal

This tongue-tip taster of the joys of heavy slabs sent Mickey

Smith and Tom Lowe, began to eschew the tow rope and Jet Ski in

wandering for a couple of years, making decisions on the flip of a coin.

favour of paddling in. “Over the last two to three years we’ve got sick

Though he had never read Luke Rhinehart’s existentially dark paean

to death of the tow-in culture,” he tells me. “It’s bizarre and horrible.

to spontaneity, The Dice Man, he was likewise living with a binary set

Whenever there’s a proper swell, there are lenses all over the point,

of options. “It was just an idea that came into my head,” he says. “I was

vans, camera crews, and about thirty skis buzzing around the water.”

brought up to embrace everything, to follow things to their conclusion.

This sort of scene, more akin to the North Shore of Oahu,

The coin toss just became a way of surrendering to fate.” Like a lot

encourages a kind of short-cut mentality to graduating towards big

of surfers, everything was simply

waves. “The way you normally grow

about facilitating the next wave, the

up, you surf a one-foot wave, then

next feral episode. In 1998, he found himself in Australia. “I was in Sydney, I didn’t fancy having to work on any more building sites,” he smiles. “It was either go back to England or take the bus across the Nullarbor and head to Margaret River. Heads it was.” In Western Australia he became intimate with the specific pleasures of truly powerful waves. Shooting them with whatever equipment was at hand, he cemented a vision. A few shots got published, featuring inside-out barrels and their riders. Mickey didn’t realise there might be a ‘career’ doing this shit. “So many

“I never went surfing or made films to make out I’m a legend. I go surfing and film waves because it’s amazing to be in the sea and I wanted to remember these amazing experiences.”

two, three, four feet, etc. At ten feet, you start shitting yourself, at twenty you start thinking, maybe, just maybe of grabbing a ski and a rope. But these guys haven’t done that. It spins me out. It wouldn’t spin me out if they were quiet about it. Throwing yourself down the shoulder of a great big wave, that’s cool. But they don’t just do that. They call the BBC News, the front cover of every newspaper. They get off on that aspect of it, it becomes the main thing, they’re going out to get a shot or get a film, to be known as ‘a legend’.” When his younger sister Cherry

surf photographers are total fucking

died in 2010, Mickey set out to evoke

wankers,” he laughs. “I’ve got no idea

what it was that was so special about his relationship with the ocean. The

why they think they’re such legends. The people who they’re photographing, they are the legends. So many

outcome was The Dark Side of the Lens, a film that showcased his

of them seem to be doing it to get their names known, getting into the

refreshingly honest take on the waveriding life. “Cherry was sick of

whole heroics of the thing. It shouldn’t be about that.”

seeing my photographs in surf magazines and all the writing was about

In 2004, Mickey returned from Oz and lived in a van here in County

the guys in the pictures,” he remembers. “She used to say to me that she

Clare with Brenden Newton and Adam Benwell, a pair of Australian

wanted to know why I was doing what I was doing, what my motivations

bodyboarders and supreme, unacknowledged watermen in their own

were. She always encouraged me and supported me to do exactly what

right. One day, at the height of an all-time swell, Mickey spotted a big-

it was that I was doing. I wanted to make a tribute to her curiosity, I

wave breaking off the cliffs of Moher. “The first time I saw Aileens,

suppose.” Mickey looks quietly into space when he talks about his sister.

it was this amazing all-time swell, fifteen foot and lined up to the horizon,” he recalls. “We knew there must be somewhere really big and

It’s the same look as when he talks about waves. “It was also coming from a feeling of frustration,” he continues. “I

perfect, but we had more or less given up. We were sitting in the car

never went surfing or made films to make out I’m a legend. I go surfing

park at Doolin Point having a cup of tea. I was like, ‘I swear I can see

and film waves because it’s amazing to be in the sea and I wanted to

some big barrels breaking over there somewhere!’ We walked up the

remember these amazing experiences. When it boils down to it, I was

cliff line from Doolin and got to this little headland. We were basically

just buzzing about rocking around with my little crew around Lands

looking from behind the peak at Aileens.” When the world first learned of Aileens – a big wave that could

End, having something rad to do. I was buzzing about getting barrelled,

match Waimea, Peahi and Mavericks – tow-in surfing was reaching

am to have this thing. And my work is all about reflecting that.”

not about being some sort of hero. I’ve always been aware of how lucky I

the first flush of a peak. An inflated culture of competition had taken

Funny thing is, in the process of eschewing all the bullshit that goes

hold, propelled by an obsession with surfing the biggest, heaviest, most

with big-wave surfing, he has become a hero of ours. Sorry Mickey.

television-friendly waves. Global marketing spend was poured into

Don’t take it too personally

encouraging unfettered access, via Jet Ski and tow rope, to waves that were once barred to surfers who didn’t have the strength, or insanity, to

HUCK travelled to Ireland via Stena Line Ferries,


Quintessential Girl

surfing career. This message had been drilled into me since I was very young, through surf magazines, stories from other surfers and sponsors themselves.

Cori Schumacher is a three-time Women’s World Longboard Champion. In 2011, she boycotted the ASP World Tour’s China event citing human rights concerns. She lives with her wife in North County, San Diego, and refuses to be sponsored, so that instead of being a mouthpiece for a brand, she can talk about what it’s really like to be a woman who surfs. Text cori schumacher i l l u s t r at i o n a n n a - l i s e d u n n

Imagine how crestfallen I was! I had done everything that I could to avoid this type of stereotyping. I kept my hair waist length, exercised every day and restricted my diet to water and fruit when I was told that I was filling out too much. I dressed ‘girly’, flirted with guys, I mean, even the media had recognised my hard work. Surfer Magazine, in the late 1990s, described me as ‘the quintessential California surfer girl’. But it simply wasn’t enough! Everyone knew that to be questioned as a lesbian, even by association, meant no sponsors. No sponsors meant no exposure, no media and no ASP World Tour. I experienced a profound sense of anxiety that often got in the way of my surfing ability and was made worse by the environment I

y mother approached me when I was making


experienced while on tour. I remember being

a shift in my surfing career at the age of

asked who I was hanging out with by those

seventeen. She had come with a dire warning,

‘concerned’ for my career, listened to a friend

one born of her many years as a competitive

describe how a judge had encouraged her to fix

surfer. She had been discussing my future in

her hair so she would be given higher scores.

professional surfing with the mother of a well-

I can recall constant conversations about

known local surf icon.

weight and working out, strange exchanges

I could feel the weight of my mother’s stare

with surfer boys (‘If I wasn’t married...’)

as she warned me that my two oldest friends

somehow being validations of worth, and the

looked too much like they could be lesbians –

ever-present knowledge that all this (plus the

‘not that they were’ – and hanging with them

gruelling, constant self-monitoring it caused)

in public was potentially damaging for my pro

was what you had to ‘tough out’ if you wanted

to make it as a successful, female professional

women and men alike could purchase ‘the

female surfers. The image of the surfer girl

surfer. What had started as a tailoring of my

surfer look’ as it was presented to them in the

during this time shifted from the waif-thin to

self-image to fit the quintessential California

the athletic, and saw women charging giant

surfer-girl archetype in order to fit the

media and movies. The archetypal surfer girl was carried

branding of surf companies had become a very

forward on this wave of surf industry success to

generation coming up, it was lauded by surf

confusing burden that ultimately impacted

new generations. In 1996, Roxy introduced the

media as a Golden Era for women’s surfing.

my ability to remain on tour.

boardshort for women, redefining female surf

I hoped that this new generation of female

What is the quintessential California

fashion during a time when there was a surge

pro surfers would not have to deal with the type

surfer-girl archetype you might ask? She is

in the female sports industry (sales for women’s

of anxiety about their bodies I had to deal with

a white, heterosexual girl with a sun-kissed

athletic shoes topped men’s for the first time

during my time on tour, and that I had watched

tan, and blonde flowing locks framing eyes

in 1994 and by 1995, women were spending $6

my peers suffer through – to the point of extreme

the colour of the sea. If this sounds familiar,

billion compared to men’s $5.6 billion). Roxy was

anorexia to get advertising exposure, in one case.

despite being printed nearly twenty years ago,

able to take its surf fashion into the mainstream

I hoped that they would be able to focus more on

you shouldn’t be surprised. It is the image

with the help of bikini-clad models and the

their surfing ability rather than being burdened

most associated with surfer girls because it

brand’s icon and spokesperson, Lisa Andersen.

by a sexually available, blonde, fit image that

is the image the media, Hollywood, and surf

Andersen was a four-time World Champion,

took much time and money to maintain. But,

brands have consistently presented to the

tall, blonde, white, photogenic, and clearly

as I began to discover last year, the trend of

public, for a long time.

heterosexual (she bore her first child before she

focusing on the bodies and sexuality of female

This image had its first outing after

won her first world title in 1994). I remember

surfers seems to have grown worse. When I

Frederick Kohner’s 1957 book, The Little Girl

repeatedly watching an MTV special when I

speak with Darlene Conolly, who conceived

with Big Ideas, was made into a Hollywood

was young that showed her glowing shyly, then

and managed’s women’s section

movie, Gidget, in 1959. Large numbers of

shredding right-handers to Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet

for nearly four years, about the current state of

young people were so inspired by the movie

Emotion’, while young men gave her the requisite

women’s surfing, she notes that “the infighting,

that they crowded to the beach. Not only did

‘hotness’ nod, insinuating in a confiding tone,

eating disorders, and competing to be ‘the

this movie mark the birth of the archetypal

whole package’ has created this horrible, insular

female surfer, it also heralded a major shift

‘Most guys have got her poster on their wall.’ The nineties saw a tremendous growth

in surf culture. What had once been a small

in the surf industry due, largely, to the

group of deviants rebelling against the

emergence of the female surf fashion trend

much worse than it used to be.” Why is the surfing environment worse for

austere, conformist, post-WWII sensibilities

forged by the bikini-clad ‘Roxy girl’ image.

women today? Female surfers have always

of their parents, morphed rapidly into a

Thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals, surfers

had to deal with this one particular archetype

booming beach lifestyle industry oriented

like Serena Brooke, Megan Abubo, Keala

and excessive focus on their bodies, after all,

around a commodified surf fashion style.

Kennelly, and Layne Beachley, enjoyed more

and surfing is a particularly unique activity

Suddenly, it was hip to be a surfer, and

exposure than past generations of professional

whose ‘uniforms’ are necessarily skin-tight

waves on the ASP Dream Tour. Like this new

environment in the competitive scene. It is


and often scant. What could be making the

the success of all-girl

scene worse, as Conolly had observed?

surf schools like Surf

By taking a look at any core surf magazine, watching recent all-girl surf films, like Nike’s viewing


“It is important to remember that in shaping the image of today’s female surfer, we are also shaping tomorrow’s female surfer.”


ate an identity that was centred around

brands, it is easy to spot the new trend: the

ability rather than

hypersexualisation of the female surfer. Or, to use

image alone. These

the words of Derek Rielly from Stab Magazine,

activities, while of-

‘These new gals are hotter than fish grease...

fering a more active,

[a]nd tote-ally [sic] hetero!’ This emphasis on

healthy lifestyle, can

heterosexuality is a persistent theme in how

be truly empowering

female surfers are valued. Conolly described the


narrow margin pro-female surfers have to walk

ever, if image is em-

between presenting themselves as ‘athletic’ but

phasised and valued

not ‘too butch’ and ‘sexy’ but not ‘slutty’. The


boundaries of this margin are maintained, more

performance in the

by innuendo and suggestion, by peers, the media


and sponsors. Self-monitoring, body anxiety,

it is possible that a

and ‘lesbian baiting’(or the disparagement of

competitive form of shape-shifting will arise

those female bodies that, perhaps being ‘too

(distorting the spirit of achievement found in


athletic’ for this new generation’s image, are

this realm). This is the exact tension within

Sexualisation of Girls, reported effects that

brushed off as ‘lesbian’ and largely ignored)

women’s surfing currently. For example,

include mental and physical health issues

serve to restrict the female surf image. Though I

when Stephanie Gilmore posed nude for

(linking sexualisation with three of the most

can think of plenty of girls that could have been

ESPN, what followed was a stream of ever-

common mental health problems for girls and

described as ‘totally hetero and hotter than fish

more provocative images (some less tasteful

women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and

grease’ when I was a young competitive surfer –

and more passive in their posing) from her

depression or depressed mood), mind and

like Daize Shayne-Goodwin or Sanoe Lake – the

peers. Each one of the women who participat-

emotional effects, as well as negative impacts

spirit of the nineties in both surf culture and

ed in these photo shoots did so for their own

society-at-large was less sexualised in general. The portrayal of women in the nineties as

reasons. It is too simplistic to say that they are

on women, boys, men and society as a whole. The Volcom Europe girls marketing team

being exploited. The question I keep return-

is keenly aware of the impact their images

physically strong and healthy inspired many

ing to is: how will this impact younger girls

and campaigns have on younger girls. One

women to jump into surfing (illustrated by

who are constantly exposed to this trend?

way they have set themselves apart is through




them a chance to cre-

marketing campaigns of many of the top surf

Leave A Message,







realm, In


the in

American their


Task Force on the

their use of narratives. By “letting our athletes

Though marketing can have a positive

they can actually participate in sport and not

and ambassadors share their talent, stories

influence on the culture and norms that shape

and unique lives through ads, blogs, videos

our youth, one must always ask whether

just so they can project a certain image? When Conolly departed from institutional

and [allowing them to] interact with the rest

campaigns simply co-opt female-empowerment

surfing in 2009, she found that the further away

of the Volcom girls out there in the world”

rhetoric to boost sales (‘commodity feminism’).

from the media, surf industry, and competitive

ambassadors are showcased as “artists of their

It is important to consider the amount of money


own lives... walking their own paths,” says Lina

required in the purchasing/(re)constructing

freedom she felt. Before she left,

Stenvall, European girls marketing manager.

of one’s image, as well as the amount of free

she was barely surfing. She says that she is

This ethos was funnelled into Volcom’s Spring

time that must be spent on the body in order

now “falling back in love with surfing” with

2009 ad campaign, under the watchful eye of

to shape it. Body shape itself has become a

each day that passes. The stifling body anxiety

girls marketing manager Josie McNamara

marker of class, beyond, yet intimately tied to,

and self-monitoring that once enveloped

(Josie Clyde before marriage) who is currently

race (documentaries such as Whitewash show

her dropped away when she surrounded

on sabbatical following the birth of her daughter.

how entrenched racism is in surfing). An elite,

herself with a supportive community of non-

It featured a poetic and artistic storyboard that

leisure-class body shape in today’s consumer

competitive surfers and embraced new styles

portrayed girls as capable and independent,

culture is identifiable much the way an

of surfing as an expression of herself. It was in

while many of their competitors’ campaigns

expensive handbag or luxury car is identifiable.

riding new types of boards that she began to

emphasised themes that were easygoing, trivial

Either one has the time (money) to spend at

truly redefine herself. “These days, the board I

and contradictory (using words that might

the gym/running/surfing, or one does not. A

choose to ride is my identity,” she says.

be empowering, yet were paired with silly or

working-class body does not look the same as a

It is important to remember that in shaping

fragile photos, or vice versa). The line separating

leisure-class body, regardless of what clothes it.

the image of today’s female surfer, we are

Volcom from its peers is subtle but profound

We, both men and women, have been schooled

also shaping tomorrow’s female surfer. The

in its impact, especially given how frequently

by consumer culture to desire and value the

environment they will encounter is the gift that

young women are subjected to trivialising

leisure-class, elite body.

we leave them, both ecologically and culturally.






advertisements that do more to induce a general

When asked if having a baby has changed

My hope is that surfing culture is more healthy,

mind/body anxiety, rather than inspiring them

McNamara’s perspective on marketing, she

more empowering, more ability oriented, not

to participate in transformative activities.

replies, “I think that what interests me has

less. I quit surfing completely when I was twenty-


probably changed. I am more interested in

four years old. It took me six years before I set

sexualisation of athletes, senior director of

companies who see a bigger picture – I want to

foot in the ocean with the same passionate love I

women’s marketing for Under Armour Adrienne

buy products that are going to benefit my baby

had when I was a child. I’ll never forget that day;

Lofton-Shaw commented to Marketing Daily,

and not damage her.” In an ideal world, the

the day the ocean, surfing, and the freedom it

“What we get really frustrated with is advertisers

litmus test for marketing campaigns would be

has the potential to be, returned to me

who talk about beauty in terms of how you look,

a simple one: how many girls and women are

not what you are made of...”

inspired by the campaign to buy products so







Sarah Bridges.

m a ch o , s exy, g ir l. Society has long told us what real women should look like, and female bodybuilders break every rule. But this gender-bashing sport could be under threat, as competitors face a new pressure to ‘bring sexy back.’ Will the patriarchy ever stop telling these chicks to do it for the lads? Maybe. Maybe not.

Text Cyrus Shahrad Photography Spencer Murphy


in heavier classes, as though the fashion for Lisa Cross.

slimline models had finally convinced the world that bulking up was for men, and a woman’s job was to stand around smiling and looking thin. With the introduction of the new ‘bikini class’, a sport that formerly stood as a paradigm of a woman’s ability to compete alongside men has been moved a step closer to being one in which women use their sexuality as a weapon, and men show their appreciation by wolf-whistling from the stands. It’s a move that repulses Hollie Walcott, sister of England footballer Theo and rising star of the more feminine, all natural ‘figure’ category.





sport,” she says, sipping green tea in the café of her local fitness centre while kids tear around the crèche behind her. “The way the women pose, sticking their bums out and spending more time with their backs to the judges than their fronts – I find it quite embarrassing, to be honest. The guys love it, and it certainly pulls in crowds, but it’s not bodybuilding, and there’s no place for it at a bodybuilding competition.” Opinions like Hollie’s are being drowned out by the baying of mostly male audiences, and the industry is bending to demand. While you’ll be lucky to find three or four women competing





category at UK competitions – long ago conflated from light, middle and heavyweight divisions due to a lack of competitors – it’s not unusual to see more than thirty women strutting around the stage in the bikini class. Hollie’s own figure category – itself once seen as a threat to the larger divisions – might hey may look more like goddesses than

pull in around ten competitors, its blanket

girls – may be easier to imagine hurling

ban on artificial enhancements allowing for

lightning bolts from clouds than worrying

muscularity that doesn’t negate conventional

about laddered tights or split ends – but the

prettiness. Yet the figure category, like the

female bodybuilder is a creature on the verge

associated ‘body fitness’ discipline, demands

of extinction.

hard graft – Hollie diets as intensely as her

The threat comes from a predator not

heavyweight peers, and puts in the same

mightier in terms of muscle power, but one

amount of hours down the gym, all the more

all the more deadly for its lithe and lascivious

impressive given that she’s now pregnant with

frame. Late last year, the UK Bodybuilding

her third child.






“I already had two kids when I started

controversial bikini category into the national

bodybuilding, and I quickly met a lot of

competition circuit. In doing so, they seemed

mums who were doing it,” she says. “For me

to be helping close the casket on bulkier, less

that made perfect sense, because you kind of

conventionally feminine classes, as seen in

change how you see yourself after you have

the eighties heyday, which culminated in the

kids: you’re more aware of your body, and you

1985 release Pumping Iron II: The Women, a

start having more respect for it. Pregnancy

film that turned female bodybuilders like Bev

and childbirth is amazing, and afterwards

Francis and Rachel McLish into poster stars

it’s hard not to think that your body might be

for the Walkman generation.

capable of anything.”

That age has long passed. Female events







both in the UK and beyond have been

industrially forsaken Welsh valley town of

struggling to pull in competitors, especially

Aberdare, thirty-eight-year-old body fitness


contender Jo Griffiths stands in her garden amid drizzling fog, posing for the camera

Jo Griffiths.

in high heels and a competition bikini embellished with a constellation of diamanté jewellery. Later, warming herself over a cup of tea at the kitchen table, Jo explains that while bodybuilding certainly has the power to make women feel attractive, appealing to potential partners is never going to give girls a good enough reason to stay the course. “That might bring a person to the gym, but it won’t keep them there,” she says. “It’s a torturous sport, and you either enjoy it or you don’t. For those that do, it becomes an addiction, pure and simple. You take yourself right to the edge in the run up to a competition, and afterwards you swear you’ll never do it again. Then you get your strength back, and before you know it you’re back in the gym.” When we meet, Jo is slimming down for a calendar shoot – part of a bid to raise money for an operation to replace faulty PIP breast implants – but she says that she long ago overcame the hunger that once drove her to win repeat Welsh nationals and place third in the 2009 UK championships; a hunger that also left her emotionally and physically drained, and on the receiving end of accusations from a daughter who claimed she was being ignored in favour of a weights machine. “Some days I felt as though I was ready to collapse with exhaustion,” she explains. “At one point, if I had feedback off a judge criticising part of my body at a competition, I’d be back in the gym the following day killing myself. And women who push themselves in those ways are

“There are muscle worshippers o ut th e r e , and you do get asked to ta k e pa r t i n s o m e p r e tt y c r e e p y th i n g s .” 74 HUCK

always looked at in a negative light: men who

in some pretty creepy things,” she says.

take themselves to the edge physically are seen

“A lot of the time it’s men stuck in sad

as heroes, while women are seen as endangering

relationships, or bored by routine, and they

their ability to have children, or to be good

get off on being at the mercy of powerful

mothers if they have children already. People

women. The strange thing is they’re often

see a woman’s job as being in the house, and my

the same people who are the most taken

own family have said it to me themselves.”

aback if they see you in the street.”

Another huge problem faced by women is

The sexual fixation on bodybuilders known

the cost of the sport. Jo estimates an annual

as muscle worship is a fetish today pursued

budget of £4,000 going on costumes and heels,

and practised largely on the internet, but it’s

fake tans and travel expenses, all the more

one that goes back many years, and that’s as

difficult to swallow in light of the fact that there

true for female bodybuilders as it is for men

is no professional female bodybuilding circuit

– from idolisation of Brigitte Nielsen’s sword-

in the UK – those hoping to make money from

swinging heroine in Red Sonja (1985), to the

competing aim for the American stage. Those

twentieth century cartoonist Robert Crumb’s

looking to make money on home shores tend

regular representation of himself at the mercy

to work as personal trainers or try to secure

of engorged Amazonian women. Bespectacled

lucrative sponsorship deals; Jo does both,

and stereotypically weedy, Crumb served

although she’s constantly turning down less

as a neat embodiment of the sort of man

salubrious offers, even when they promise a

many imagine wanting to be wrestled into

small fortune. “Obviously there are muscle worshippers

submission by well-built women, though Jo

out there, and you do get asked to take part

lawyers, judges and bankers.

notes that she’s also been approached by

“ M e n w h o ta k e th e m s e l v e s t o th e e d g e p h y s i c a l ly a r e seen as heroes, while women are seen as endangering th e i r a b i l i t y t o h a v e ch i l d r e n , or to be good m o th e r s .”

Hollie Walcott.

thirty-something female friends whose lives revolved around parenting, and with whom she had little in common. “What I do with my life definitely alienates me from other women my age,” she says. “But I talk to other female bodybuilders and we get each other straight away. That week leading up to a competition when you drop carbs altogether, and then stumbling on stage and struggling to pull poses when you can barely stand up – it’s impossible to go through that and not immediately feel a connection with Female bodybuilding may be a niche

an industrial hangar packed with crates of

other women who have done the same.” It’s a connection forged in adversity, and

market, but muscle worship is big business:

powders, shakes and protein bars. “As far as

based on a shared understanding of what it’s

from ‘female growth stories’ (fan-written

I’m concerned, it’s putting bodybuilding on

like to be an outsider getting stared at in the

short fiction based around browbeaten female

a pedestal, making it available to people who

street (albeit, as Lisa notes, from the other

protagonists who suddenly find themselves

would never consider attending an actual

side of the street). Yet as the UK industry shuts

growing in size and sexual appetite), to

show. It’s a massive industry in the US, and

down around its competitors, girls like Lisa are

rent-a-wrestler services that allow fetish

it’s one that allows me to spend ninety-nine

finding themselves fighting not only for the

fans to order girls to come round and slap

per cent of my time totally focused on my

right to look the way they want to, but for their

them silly. Most common are the personal

career. The federation would probably have

whole way of life. The appeal of oversized female

websites of female bodybuilders looking to

less of a problem with it if they were making

bodies may be as old as attraction itself, but in

earn extra money through hosting their own

money from it themselves.”

an age when even bodybuilding competitions

pornographic videos and galleries. It’s a huge

Now thirty-three, Lisa has been forging

market in the US, but a route that female

her own path since a departure in her mid-

are encouraging women to slim down, female

bodybuilders in the UK pursue at the risk

twenties from the Devon and Cornwall police

“I’ve read forum posts by girls getting

of angering the federation and being barred

force, where her bodybuilding hobby made

ready for bikini class contests, and all they

from competing on home turf, something

her the butt of jokes from male officers. It

talk about is teeth veneers, false nails and

that 2010 UK champion Lisa Cross found

wasn’t until she subsequently began training

hair extensions,” says Lisa. “That’s a beauty

herself battling after launching a website of

hard that she realised her potential for

pageant, not a bodybuilding competition.

her own a few years back.

size and definition; she started to indulge


“Some people argue that it’s bringing

her love of boxing and heavy metal (she

undermining the hard work done by women

bodybuilding into disrepute,” says Lisa,

recently performed a competition routine

who treat bodybuilding as a way of life.

seated in the office of her nutritional sponsor,

to AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’), and found

Everyone knows that we’re a dying breed, and

a glass window behind her looking down on

herself spending less and less time with

this is just another nail in the coffin.”

bodybuilders may soon be a thing of the past.







this is me


Cly d e S in gle to n has been a t ransgressi ve f orc e i n sk ate b o a r d in g h ist ory. Thi s i s a snapshot of hi s l i f e.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call saying Clyde Singleton

went to school with skate shoes on, I was an outcast. People

was skating our local bowl. Asheville, North Carolina is a

would point and stare, laugh, call me ‘white boy’ – I literally

small town. Over the last twelve years I’ve watched the skate

had no clue what the hell everyone was talking about. White

scene wax and wane, like in any other city. Lately things

boy? The majority of my friends who skated were white, but

have been a bit stagnant. There are no big videos in progress

how did that make me a ‘white boy’? I never understood that.

and the energy has been a little low. Enter Clyde. Clyde, now

What I did come to understand is that skateboarding was

thirty-seven, moved here a few months ago and immediately

never really accepted, especially in the South. The place is

integrated into the skate community like he’d been around for

full of ignorant folk – both black and white – and just about

years. From hosting events, to speaking before City Council to

any kinda idiot the good Lord could create. If I wasn’t getting

try to legalise skateboarding downtown, he’s brought a spark

ridiculed by some idiot in my junior high school who actually

of energy that’s spreading like wildfire.

thought white people smelled like ‘wet dog’, then I was getting

Clyde has been a major presence in skateboarding since

chased by some gun-toting rednecks when I tried to go to my

way before I started skating. The video parts that escalated

friend’s house to skateboard. There were plenty of times I

him to legend status, like 101’s Trilogy were a bit before my

wasn’t even allowed to skate people’s ramps because of the

time. But his voice has provided a constant narration to the

colour of my skin. Matter of fact, the kid who actually taught

skate scene that I grew up with. Although he wasn’t getting

me how to ride a skateboard, his parents were racist. I had

a lot of coverage as a skater, his columns in Transworld,

to sneak into his garage to learn tricks. His parents literally

Skateboard Mag, and Big Brother kept him in the spotlight.

had no clue. Months later, they found out and I became the

Clyde’s always been a zero-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is

very first black person they’d ever had in their house. Ever.

character in skateboarding. He calls out the trends and fads

Remember, this wasn’t even twenty-five years ago.

that he thinks are the downfall of skating and isn’t afraid to

As I grew into my teen years, I’d see more and more

poke fun, name names and point fingers. Having him around

brothers skating. Whether it be at a contest, local skatepark or

has been pretty surreal and I can’t wait to see how the breath

in videos. It was a major change (for me, at least) even if it was

of life that Clyde has brought will carry our small-town skate

at a snail’s pace. Cats like Rodney Smith, Ron Allen and Steve

scene into the next phase. This is his story. Mike Belleme

Steadham were starting their own brands. Fred Reeves won the biggest contest (the NSA Finals) as well as placing top five in both mini-ramp and vert. Then there was the emergence

hen I started skateboarding, I

of street skating, with Ray Barbee literally exploding onto the

vividly remember being the only

scene. Then came Ron Chatman, Sal Barbier and so forth.

black skateboarder in my area. I

To me, this was huge. It felt as if I had a leg to stand on, when

lived in Jacksonville, one of the

people would pigeonhole skateboarding for ‘white boys’.

biggest cities land-wise in America,

It gave me hope that, one day, I too could be in magazines,

and yet there were no black kids

videos, contests, etc. Coming from where I come from, I could

skateboarding. From the first day I

use all the hope one could find. My mom always supported

Text C ly d e S i n g l e t o n Photography & intro Mike Belleme


“My mom always supported whatever I did, but being from the South herself, she didn’t see anything coming about for me in the skateboard world.” whatever I did, but being from the South herself, she didn’t

board, and the people who wanna emulate skateboarders.

see anything coming about for me in the skateboard world.

Funny, because not even ten or fifteen years ago, you would

No matter how hard I’d plead my case, she just wasn’t seeing

never have seen half these people near skateboards. They

it. To this day, I don’t fault her. Whatsoever. She was just

didn’t wanna be called ‘white boy’ by their friends. They

protecting me from what she supposed would crush my

didn’t wanna tear their shoes up. They wouldn’t be caught

feelings in the long run. As I said, I don’t fault her.

dead in a skate shop, much less with skateboard gear on. But

As the years passed, I’d frequent every contest I could, network with out-of-town guys and basically do what every


now? Everybody wants to be a skateboarder! Actually, everybody wants to be something they’re not.

skateboarder wanted to do: skateboard, hit new spots and

Look at Lil Wayne, for instance. One minute he’s a blood.

meet new friends along the journey. The more I got out of my

Next, he’s wearing women’s pants and strumming a guitar.

hometown, the more it dawned on me: there were plenty of

Next, he’s a skateboarder. And people find this okay? You

kids like me. I remember meeting Harold Hunter and Keenan

have skateboard companies and pros actually endorsing

Milton for the first time at Eastern Vert. Outside of us three,

this kinda thing. That’s what’s gonna define skateboarding,

there was another cat named BJ from Winston-Salem. We

moving forward, to some people. Not the actual talent; that’s

all made an instant connection. We all had something in

taking a backseat to everything. We still don’t have many (if

common. That day will forever stick in my mind. I remember

any) blacks who actually own skateboard companies. They

going back home and telling my Mom, “I met some black kids

might tell people they do, but as I said, everybody wants to

from New York and North Carolina who skateboard!” She was

be something they’re not. Hopefully, this new generation

like, “Hold on. When were you in North Carolina?” Whoops.

can go back and do some knowledge on exactly how and why

I went pro around 1994. At the time, there were about six

skateboarding is where it is today. How some of the things

or seven of us who were pro, and maybe ten before us. It was

that are going on right now are one of the main reasons

a huge deal. I wasn’t thinking of it as a black/white thing.

skateboarding took a huge nose-dive in the early nineties.

I was living every kid’s dream, travelling, filming videos,

As for me now, I’m quietly ducked off from the

shooting photos – getting paid! All for skateboarding. This

skateboard world’s shenanigans. I’m living up in Asheville,

was the same kid who was chased down, laughed at, told he

North Carolina, and stick to what I know. I know I

was ‘trying to be white’, couldn’t skate some places because

love skateboarding with my friends, hip hop, women,

of the colour of his skin. I had made it. I was right where

photography, video production and making people laugh.

all those dudes on my wall were. Nobody, or nothing, could

I know the skateboard industry is almost a joke. I know

take that away from me.

that skateboarding doesn’t last forever (unless you’re Tony

All along my career, I’ve always been a huge advocate of

Hawk) so I’ve decided to go back to school. And, well, I’m

pointing out real from fake. When skaters thought they were

just doing things I know: skateboarding, majoring in digital

rappers, I’d set it straight. When rappers thought they were

media and making people laugh. It’s been a long journey to

skaters, ditto. Now, I don’t know what skateboarding has be-

get to where I’m at, and I have no idea where it might take me

come. It’s as if it has two sides: the people who actually skate-

next. But I know I’ll enjoy every minute of it

Clyde Singleton

Main image: Clyde presents before the Asheville City Council pleading for them to make skateboarding a legal form of transportation. Smaller images: Clyde attends A-B Tech Community College in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is studying digital media.


Coming of age is a tricky business, whether you’re born in Brooklyn or the Middle East. Text & photography I l a n a P a n i c h - Li n s m a n

Adolescence, with all its chemical shifts, is universal, yet its manifestations differ according to context. I photographed fifteen-year-old girls from Brooklyn, New York, because I was curious about this moment when the push and pull of childhood and adulthood can be equally strong. It’s when a girl begins to define herself as a woman. I became curious about cultural differences in this age group, so I followed the idea from Brooklyn to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. While it may seem like an obvious comparison, I’ve never seen the two sets of photographs juxtaposed as they are before you here. These images have ceased functioning as interplay between my eye, my subjects and myself; they’ve become a dialogue revealing religious, political, social and cultural differences and similarities between two small corners of female teenage culture.


Typical Girls The Slits Top: Katie (15) and friends sit in Libby’s bedroom in Park Slope, Brooklyn, an uppermiddle-class section of New York City. Bottom: Manam (20), Manar (23), Fidaa (18), and Khitam (13), four sisters from Wadi Dawasit, Saudi Arabia, sit in their room in Gaza Camp, Jerash, Jordan, home to more than 20,000 Gazan refugees.


Rebel Girl Bikini Kill Left: Hannah (15) smokes a cigarette outside a music venue in Manhattan, New York City. Right: Riham Al-Quesi (16) at her home in Beddowi camp, Tripoli, Lebanon.

Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard Paul Simon Left: Hannah (15) and Libby (15) embrace in front of their former elementary school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Right: A young girl adjusts her hijab outside an elementary school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).


In Bloom Nirvana Left: Libby performs a cartwheel in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where she and her friends often hang out. Right: A teenager waves over a wall at Jerash Camp.

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want The Smiths Left: Libby dresses for school. She attends a rigorous high school in Park Slope and plans to go to college. Right: Shahanez (13) was born in Gaza Camp. Her family came from Ramla in Palestine. Shahanaz loves school and hopes to become a doctor, but will not be able to do so unless her legal status as a refugee changes, thereby affording her the same rights as local citizens.

Fight For Your Right (To Party) Beastie Boys

Left: Hannah smoking at a party with her boyfriend. Right: A girl laughs with friends. Young Muslim women in the camps rarely spend time with boys from outside their own families.


Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) - Acoustic Deftones Left: Katie (15) rides the subway home from school every day, alone or with friends. Right: Mona Mhmad Al Masri (15) at her home in Burj El-Barajneh camp in the outskirts of Beiruit, Lebanon.

Pretty Girls (The Mover) Against Me! Left: Hannah checks herself in the mirror at a party. Right: Saher Taweh (21), Ruba (20) and Kamar Wakad (18) chat with Wafaa Zeid (17) while they take turns applying makeup to one another during a beauty class held by UNRWA in Beddowi Camp, Tripoli, Lebanon.


Smart Girls Weezer Left: Libby studies for her classes while her father prepares dinner in Brooklyn. Right: Girls take notes in class at an UNRWA school in Beddowi Camp, Tripoli, Lebanon


Text Vince Medeiros I l l u s t r a ti o n A n n a - L i s e D u n n

Going to war for a country is “like being asked to die for the telephone company� Crude ruminations on nation-states and the bewildering nature of passports. 88 HUCK

Historically Contingent Amalgamations of Landmass and People.

Let’s start with the basics. The modern

Aztecs; Pizarro to the Incas; and the Portuguese to the Tupis –

nation-state is a construct. As in France, Pakistan, Swaziland, etc.

would foreshadow the creation of nations that were defined by that

All made up. Some earlier than others, but they were all invented

which they were not; indigenous survivors became largely invisible

and made to represent a particular chunk of earth at some point.

in the societies that ensued.

tearing babies from mothers, dashing their heads against rocks, feeding their dogs on living children, and committing a wide array of unspeakable crimes. What Columbus did to the Arawaks – what Cortés did to the

The USA: 1776. Switzerland: 1848. Italy: 1861. And so the idea of

The same applies to the United States. Settlers had to kill or

timeless historical, cultural, territorial, whatever divisions among

subjugate the locals and separate from Britain first – and then invent

men and women is untrue.

flag, anthem, kitsch iconography, and other state paraphernalia of

As such, nationalism – that longing for group identity, a shared past and culture, sometimes elevated to superiority and uniqueness

imagined ‘national cohesion’ despite internal conflict (class, race, gender, etc).

– is hardly the natural state of things. Instead, it’s typically (and crudely speaking) the result of the intersection of community

Passports: Oh yes, the pocked-sized booklet that tells you who

rites and beliefs and the state’s appropriation of these traditions,

you are and where you’re entitled to live. Wanna live somewhere

which are then elevated to the national level through policy, the

else (say the UK, because you met a girl or boy who accidentally

educational system, national holidays and, ultimately, through

happened to be born there)? Welcome to a fun li’l journey whose

the media. For more, see the Fourth of July, the Queen’s Jubilee,

sequence goes more or less like this: apply for Student Visa,

Bastille Day, etc.

followed by Work Permit, Work Permit Extension, Certificate of

The thing that’s fucked-up about nations is that they do appear

Approval (where the state sanctions - or not - the marriage between

self-evident, like they’ve always been there in some way or another.

indigenous and alien), Limited Leave to Remain, Life in the UK

You feel pride, speak the same language and watch the same

Test, Unlimited Leave to Remain and, if you can stomach pledging

programmes while sipping the same plant-based drink (tea, coffee,

allegiance to the Queen, Citizenship Application. Total cost:

mate, etc). But in reality, that common history has more often than

£5,000 or so at last count. Probably more. No wonder people go

not been created through coercion – with a little help from handed-

illegal, whatever that means.

down mythologies and customs that help separate the narcissistic

Then look at the lines at the airport: if you’re scum (i.e. holder of

‘us’ (our country’s blessed) from the foreign and threatening ‘them’

a passport deemed to be of little economic or political value as per

(let’s launch some drones on their asses!).

treaty between heads of state of questionable legitimacy), go to that

Some Factoids.

long queue next to the border patrol robocops with machine guns. As French thinker Ernest

If you’re one of us, move speedily through the good people’s queue.

Renan said: “Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation.” A

Passports, by the way, weren’t even required in Europe for a

few examples, in no particular chronology or order of importance:

large chunk of the nineteenth century all the way through to WWI. People just moved around, crossed borders, happily enjoying their

The British Isles: Pinning down a nation and related

planet and ours – the planet that we share with animalia and trees,

nationalism would be weird for many reasons. Here’s one: a

lest we forget.

history of conquest and migration that involves Picts, Scots, Romans, Britons, Anglo-Saxons, English, Welsh, Irish, Normans,

War: As you know, our governments looove going to war. Examples

Scandinavians, Highlanders, etc. More recently: Caribbean,

abound: Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and counting. The

Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, Polish, etc, etc, etc. Literally three

ideological cover for this? Nationalism. Or feelings of that nature,

etceteras or more.

such as: us, good; them, evil. Basic Star Wars shit, kept in place by a largely sycophantic media.

Italy: Unified in 1861. As per Massimo d’Azeglio’s dictum: “Italy

Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre elaborates: “The modern

has been made; now it only remains to make Italians.” At the time

nation-state… presents itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic

of unification, only two and a half per cent of the population spoke

supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never

Italian for everyday purposes. In fact, few Italians spoke Italian

actually does, give its clients value for money, and on the other

until television sets became widespread in the 1960s, proving

hand as a repository of sacred values, which from time to time

there’s no causal connection between nation and language.

invites one to lay down one’s life on its behalf… it is like being asked to die for the telephone company.”

The New World: Europeans had to subjugate and kill the original inhabitants before they could partition the land and

Er… ok, so what?

eventually give it names like Brazil, Argentina, the US and so on.

government form or choose to define yourself based on the colour of

The mass killing of indigenous peoples is a key function of the

your passport, remember how random and historically contingent

creation of these new nations. “They willingly traded everything

the whole thing is i.e. you could have been born anywhere; it is

they owned… They do not bear arms, and do not know them…

an accident you were born here [insert landmass represented by

They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could

country of birth]. You are not who the state says you are, nor do you

subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want,”

owe it anything for it, the nation-state, doesn’t even exist – in the

wrote the cuddly Christopher Columbus in his travel log. (How

sense that T-shirts and frogs and lawnmowers exist.

someone can ‘discover’ a place that already exists is beyond me, by the way.) And so Chris’ team went about their daily slaughter,

Next time you fill in a

Or, as historian Eric Hobsbawm says, putting the matter to rest: “Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so.”


Ni c o l e c . ki be rt



Tom Gabel at FEST 10, Gainesville, 2011.



and Pun k wa s sup pos ed to dec ons tru ct soc iet y m cre ate a rad ica l vis ion in its pla ce, fre e fro As rac ism , sex ism and all tha t cra p. So has it? for Ag ain st Me ! fro ntm an Tom Ga bel pre par es s is his firs t out ing as Lau ra Jan e Gra ce, the onu t. on the pun k com mu nit y to tre at her wit h res pec t? Bu t how inc lus ive has it bee n in the pas

Text Jon Coen

or all its 1950s echoes of rebellion, rock ‘n’

In the early 1970s, when Manhattan’s Lower East Side was an

roll got stale pretty quick. Just three decades

incubator of protopunk bands, there was a wild transsexual performer

after white youth co-opted rock from rhythm

called Jayne County. Her role in punk history was relatively small, but

and blues (or simply stole it from black

she helped create a place where it was okay to have an identity that

music, depending on who you ask), much

veered off to the left. In May of this year, Tom Gabel, the hoarse-voiced

of it had become a lethargic pig, wallowing

frontman of Gainesville Florida’s Against Me!, came out via Rolling

in shit and fed from the hand of corporate

Stone as transgender. By the time he heads out on tour with The Cult in

farmers. Punk rock was the exploding

June, Gabel will have started transition procedures to live as a woman

revolution to the sedated, consumer-driven

and changed his name to Laura Jane Grace. Married with a two-year-old

society for which ‘arena rock’ had become

daughter and boasting a thriving fanbase, he is not merely a footnote in

the official soundtrack. Developing most

punk studies. The news tested punk’s acceptance level like never before.

notably in London, New York and LA in the 1970s, punk challenged every notion of

As a music umbrella, punk makes for a wild spectrum

government and corporate interests.

– taking in everything from sludgy noise and ska, to metal, pop,

And a big part of that was tearing down accepted gender roles. One

Oi!, rockabilly and hardcore with elements of country, reggae and

civilisation after the next upheld the tradition of the female as subservient

folk. Because of its long history, range of influences, politics and

to the fantasies and desires of men, not to mention homosexuality as

regionalism, it would be nearly impossible to identify a list of shared

a plague. Despite the Industrial Revolution and women’s suffrage,

norms and beliefs. But let’s give it a shot.

rock became a theatrical pissing contest to guitar solos. The 1960s saw

“In a highly alienated, corporate-dominated society where the lives

progress, but there’s a reason that a 1978 article by Simon Frith and

of workers are highly regulated and externally controlled, beginning

Angela McRobbie referred to popular music driven by gyrating white men

with religion and schools, the appeal of punk to those who depend on

as ‘Cock Rock’. Rock stars assumed the roll of tuneful deities as women

a wage – the working and middle classes – is its rejection of the symbols

shook asses in the background to remind everyone to be heterosexual.

of authority that represent the inherently exploitative and oppressive

Punk would challenge every rule and institution – from teachers

nature of the capitalist ruling class,” offers Doctor Curry Malott.

to Ronald Reagan, the Queen of England to accepted sex symbols.

Malott’s feelings of alienation growing up in Ohio and Oregon pushed

In different forms, in different attire, and to different degrees of

him toward punk rock. He’s now a professor at West Chester University of

effectiveness, feminism helped propel that fight. But for all its system-

Pennsylvania. In 2004, he co-wrote Punk Rockers’ Revolution: A Pedagogy

bashing protest cries, has this stage-diving, skateboard-riding, fanzine-

of Race, Class, and Gender. Though progressive movements have tried

making, sing-along society actually brought down the establishment in

to re-invent punk, Malott sees the rejection of homophobic, racist, pro-

any meaningful way? When 7 Seconds sang ‘Not Just Boys Fun’ in 1984,

capitalist and least not, sexist ideas and practices as a common thread.

did they help push sexism out of punk? Or is it naive to think that this micro-society could extricate itself from the prejudice’s poisonous grip?

British born Dick Hebdige is a professor of film and media studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. For all his titles, it was his


C o l o ur p h o t o s Co urt e sy o f A l i ce Ba g



B /W Ph o t o s b y ian d ic k s on




icia Rainone at elm, Rick Morrison and Patr am, Alice Bag, Shannon Wilh at porno film cinema h) 1. Alex Gibson, Terry Grah Clas The by d dline (hea n 1978. 2. The Slits debut gig ara James, Bruce The Canterbury, Hallowee ge Apostles (Alice Bag, Barb on, March 1977. 3. Cambrid Angeles, 1982. Harlesden Coliseum in Lond ywood, and Cal State, Los Holl erie, Ling Club at ny Kennedy) live tz, Alice Bag, Joe Nanini, Atta, Mike Atta and Tiffa Koon t Jane 5. . 1977 mer on Brighton beach, sum e, August 1977. 4. Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex g the Hollywood Walk of Fam one of The Bags parade alon Geza X and Patricia Rain


observations in London and Birmingham in the mid-1970s that make

personal lifestyle choices, which included eschewing drugs and alcohol

him a true authority on subcultural shifts. “If you bracket everything

as a counteraction within the subculture.

that was going on elsewhere and just concentrate on UK punk, and I

MacKaye is guarded in any comments he makes about punk because

don’t deny there was plenty going on in US and European punk in the

the amoeba-like culture is so difficult to define. The experience of a DC

1970s, punk begins to look like a popular insurgency against authority in

kid in 1981 was vastly different to that of a young punk growing up in

general, the corporate capitalist hegemony we’re all living with right now

LA, London, New York, or anywhere else, not to mention the evolution

and what 2012’s gender-savvy academics call ‘heteronormativity,’” he

of the next three decades. Though sometimes mocked for being too

explains. “Regarding gender and punk, the contribution or intervention

serious, MacKaye was actually drawn to the humour of the scene, and the

of women was absolutely crucial, prophetic, and to my knowledge I don’t

fact that it flew in the face of mainstream America, particularly fervent

think it’s been adequately understood or recognised since.”

nationalism and consumerism of which it was beholden to. Sexism was a

Hebdige contends that the early punkers viewed sexuality the same

“toxic structure” of that society, he says. “At that time there were boys and

way they viewed government and family; they stripped these entities

girls involved in the scene. Most of the bands were made up of boys, but

down to see if there was anything worth keeping, then created new roles

there were a lot of women in different roles. There was a sense that it was

for power and sex. The women were as shocking as the men, if not more

a wide-open community,” he explains.

so, and they pogoed all over the female stereotypes of rock fantasy. Since

In fact, two of the most prolific photographers to document the

history tends to remember the most outlandish, punk is often associated

scene were Cynthia Connolly and Susie Josephson (now Susie Horgan).

with bondage clothing and fetishism.

Women played in bands, but a four piece with only three penises always

“In one corner of the UK punk scene you had ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours’

warranted an asterisk – aka ‘a band with a girl drummer’ or whatever

being belted out by the late, great Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex,” recalls

the case may have been. MacKaye considered this a holdover from

Hebdige, who saw her perform at the 1977 Punkfest at Barbarella’s in

mainstream society. His close circle didn’t see females as objects of

Birmingham. “Poly Styrene – what a wholesomely toxic corrective to neo-

sexual conquest, but that wasn’t universal in punk. “There was a guy in

liberal green-speak that name is now. She was an in-your-face repudiation

California who would hang out and travel with Minor Threat when we

of sexist projections. And in the opposite corner, you have Siouxsie

were out there,” he remembers. “And he was coercing women to give him

Sioux – of Siouxsie and the Banshees – the Marlene Dietrich siren from

blowjobs at shows. That was just something we never did. Punk girls from

Bromley, which happened to be home to David Bowie, the UK’s most

LA would tell me about their experiences there and it sounded insane.”

original suburban gender-bender. Siouxsie more or less singlehandedly

To sum up his stance, MacKaye wrote the song ‘Suggestion’ for Fugazi’s

invented the dominatrix/goth persona that derivative artists like Marilyn

1988 EP from the point of view of a female dealing with harassment. It

Manson and Lady Gaga have since appropriated and made a corporate

became a crux of the gender debate and was later covered by Pearl Jam.

career of. Somewhere in between was the late Ari Up [Arianna Forster]

And yet, as the scene grew, the media ran with the stereotype of punks

of The Slits. Could there be a better name for an all-female punk band?

as violent outcasts. MacKaye can see where the outsider image stems

They were the epitome of feminist autonomy-as-lived-performance.”

from. He counted many of his friends as “nerdy or artistic” and he admits

Alice Bag was a major player in the LA scene, finding it in the late

that’s what brought them together. They weren’t violent people, but they

1970s as a teen. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she grew up in

were a target for the rest of society, and not afraid to stand their ground.

a Spanish-speaking household. And while punk was largely white and

And yet the media’s ability to make every hardcore gathering sound like a

male, she felt welcomed right away. “For me, punk has always been about

bloodbath made vicious people think that this was a place to brawl. And

giving the status quo a bit of the old in-and-out. Punk was inclusive,

the escalating violence of 1983 and 1984 may have driven women away.

outspoken, innovative and often outrageous. The early LA punk scene,

“Violence is an effective form of communication, but it’s an incredibly

in particular, was diversely populated and reflected the many ethnicities

stupid one,” says MacKaye. “And people who are not interested move

that made up Los Angeles. It was a community where people of every

away from it. Women weren’t really into it and less socialised to fight.

class, race and gender felt at home.”

It starts when people back away from the stage and eventually it drives

She is best known for fronting provocative all-female punk outfit The

them right out of the room.”

Bags, and later Stay At Home Bomb, which satirised the role of women

MacKaye vividly recalls confronting a bunch of skinheads about

in society. She has also taught at inner-city schools, specifically helping

the battlefield they were creating. They explained that they were just

children of bilingual families. “I didn’t see sexism in the punk scene

protecting their scene the way he had when he was getting bullied for

until years later, when it became male dominated. I had come to expect

wearing children’s sunglasses. By the mid 1980s, people were being sent

the audiences at punk shows to be populated by extravagantly plumed

to the hospital and the philosophy of ‘bruising egos, not bodies’ was

creatures of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders whose very appearance

crushed. MacKaye decided to pull back. Others followed.

cried out originality. Suddenly, there was an eerie sameness. As punk

But despite what anyone says, punk was never dead. Those who

spread, it went out into different communities and took on the attributes

were part of the punk community during its darkest hours made the

of those communities,” she recalls. “In some places the cultural diversity

most impact later. With Fugazi, Operation Ivy, Bad Religion and other

deepened while in other places it was taken over by skinheads.”

seminal bands credited for turning things around in little pockets,

Washington DC native Ian MacKaye is considered the quintessential punk idealist, with two bands that radically shaped underground music:

female participation in the scene not only rebounded, there were new conversations about gender issues, too.

Minor Threat helped define American hardcore, between 1980 and 1983;

One band that MacKaye produced was Olympia, Washington’s Bikini

and Fugazi, which originated in 1987, was pivotal in expanding the sonic

Kill, fronted by Kathleen Hanna who later went on to form Le Tigre, and

range of punk rock from earlier constraints. You’d be hard-pressed to find

is credited as inciting the Riot Grrrl movement, which juxtaposed the

discrepancies between MacKaye’s life and work. He didn’t just ‘scream

intensity of hardcore with a feminist perspective. An original member of

at a wall’ for a decade and then relegate himself to weekend shows

Bikini Kill, Tobi Vail started the label Kill Rock Stars and Jigsaw fanzine,

while commuting in a Dodge Durango to some marketing gig across

while fem-fronted bands like Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, and Huggy

Georgetown. He’s run independent label Dischord Records for thirty-two

Bear not only defined new voices in the scene, but became a part of Third

years and been an activist and author. But for all his accomplishments,

Wave feminism – a reaction to earlier feminist movements that failed to

he is most often associated with straightedge, a term he coined for his

incorporate the voices of young women.


Bratmobile drummer and writer Allison Wolfe moved from

And in those days of one-word band names, at the back of

Olympia to DC and became a prolific voice of the movement. In a

every underground club was a cadre of social activists armed with

published paper by Julia Downes called The Expansion of Punk Rock:

literature and stickers. MacKaye even recalls the backlash to his

Riot Grrrl Challenges to Gender Power Relations in British Indie Music

feminist lyrics in ‘Suggestion’ when he was accused of capitalising

Subcultures, Wolfe stated: ‘For me what Riot Grrrl meant was a way

on women’s issues for profit.

of making punk rock more feminist because really it was like this

Martin recalls: “Politics were really important in the mid-1990s.

boys club, for the most part. But Riot Grrrl was also a way of making

And a lot of that was sexual politics. There were pro-choice ’zines

academic feminism more punk rock or more DIY.’

and it became very confrontational with women screaming, writing

Over in the UK, Vique Martin started Simba fanzine and Revelation

and ripping up flyers.”

Record’s Europe distribution before moving to the US fourteen years ago to

One of the bands that managed to bridge the gap between

manage Revelation in Huntington Beach, California. A feminist from the

straightedge hardcore and progressive politics was Endpoint from

age of twelve, and devotee of veganism and straightedge, she wasn’t part of

Louisville, Kentucky. Bassist Duncan Barlow, now a professor of

the Riot Grrrl movement, but was deeply affected by its ’zines and politics.

English at the University of North Florida remembers: “By 1992, the

In 1989, when she started going to shows, she noticed sexism right away.

punk scene had grown quite political. On one hand there were trends

“My female friends felt like they had to work twice as hard, making ’zines,

but on the other there were seemingly infinite amounts of new things

shooting photos and putting out records to prove they weren’t just there

to discuss. Certainly it was important to have new discussions about

to latch onto the scene. They had to show their worth,” she remembers.

modes of oppression. It was didactic at times. When one examines

Spotting flaws in the system, Martin helped found XChicks Up FrontX

the rhetorical situation from our current vantage point, it is amazing

Posse, a group of guys and girls that advocated reformation of the dance

that any understanding was ever reached. It was a fiery time. Many of

floor to be more conscious of those around it. She also noticed the sexual

us were barely in college and hadn’t learned the sophisticated tools of

double standard that seeped into punk from the mainstream. A guy who

an educated rhetoric. Still, we managed and learned the art of public

got a lot of action was glorified, while a girl was labelled a slutty ‘band ho’.

speaking, debate and criticism organically.”

“For me what Riot Grrrl meant was a way of making punk rock more feminist because really it was like this boys club, for the most part. But Riot Grrrl was also a way of making academic feminism more punk rock or more DIY.”

1991 is cited as a critical junction in punk. Underground music

While some 1970s punks sported a look that was almost a caricature

was thriving as radio play reached a new level of Mariah Carey

of fringe sexuality, aspects of 1990s hardcore seemed almost asexual:

unbearableness. The commercial success of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and

extremely male-dominated with little mention of anything sexual,

the Red Hot Chili Peppers – bands that weren’t necessarily punk

and the few women generally dressed like boys. If there was any

but could trace lineage to that branch of rock’s family tree – blew

fetishism, it was for coloured vinyl, and not the S&M kind. “There was

the doors open for Green Day, No Doubt and several acts from the

a significance to baggy clothes in the 1990s. It was a time of obscuring

Epitaph Records roster. Kurt Cobain, who dated Tobi Vail, actively

sexuality and gender. In hindsight, it might have caused problems

championed female punks like The Raincoats, The Slits and The

down the line, as it seemed to infer to some that sexuality was a

Vaselines. Although his late life, in particular his death, was the

shameful thing,” reflects Barlow.

antithesis of anything positive about punk, he is said to have stated, “The future of rock belongs to women.” Both the Pixies and Sonic

Now that punk has aged, knee-braces in the pit

Youth, who paved the way for this West Coast scene, had female

at twenty-five-year anniversary shows have become commonplace,

members without having to qualify it.

but there are still voices calling out sexism in the scene. Just this

“It felt like in the 1990s, hardcore was addressing all sorts of

spring, Stockholm Straightedge cancelled the German hardcore

issues – immigration, race, colonialism, war and gender,” says

band Fallbrawl from April’s Firestorm Fest in Sweden because of

Brian Peterson, author of the Revelation Records’ book Burning

a video that depicted the band (very un-ironically) in a strip club.

Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution in Ethics, Politics, Spirit

Conversations echo everywhere.

and Sound. “It was like taking a college sociology class. With

“I have seen women peers in bands who play to large audiences and

Nirvana and Green Day and other mainstream bands rising up

have a real platform,” says twenty-three-year-old Katie Crutchfield of

from hardcore and punk there was a curiosity as to where this came

P.S. Eliot and Waxahatchee. “They have the opportunity to really get

from. It broadened political consciousness. There was talk about

the attention of younger people and they squander it. They don’t take

gender and sexism in music.”

the opportunity to talk about some of these sexist issues.”



A l l P h o t o s by Pat Gr aham






3. ngton DC, April 199 Liberation, Washi Bi Equal Rights and DC, 1992. and on y ngt Ga shi n, Wa bia , Les lum ngton for at Club Asy 1. March on Washi from Bikini Kill live , July 1992. 2. Kathleen Hanna test, Washington DC Punk Percussion Pro 2. rt Cou e rem Sup Grrrl ngton DC, April 199 iot shi Wa ce/R t, For cer e con itiv efit 3. Pos ice Ben at the Rock For Cho live l Kil ini Bik from 4. Tobi Vail


Ten years ago, Katie Crutchfield and her sister Allison were well

Alice Bag believes the criticism is based on a misunderstanding.

accepted in the Birmingham, Alabama, punk scene where they played, and

“Sexuality and sexism are two different things: one is a healthy human

later became intricate members of a volunteer-run, all-age, Gilman-esque

desire; the other is a discriminatory practice. I can assure you that

venue called Cave 9. Crutchfield saw Birmingham as a respectful place.

making less money than my male counterparts for the same work does

But having toured extensively from a young age, she has seen instances

not produce any sexual arousal in me,” she explains. “For years, feminists

of sexism and addressed them – on stage and most recently through a

were wrongfully portrayed as un-feminine, male-bashing, sexless

series of essays that have circulated on punk news sites. One event that

viragos – when in fact feminists can be male or female, feminine and/or

really shook her was when she was playing mandolin with Fake Problems.

masculine and most of us enjoy sex and all its accoutrements, including

Bouncers in Seattle were not only convinced she was a girlfriend trying to

sexy clothing, provocative language and flirtations with the same or

sneak in, but continued to hassle her. She also heard male bands engage in

opposite sex.”

woman-bashing rants on stage.

The ongoing debate about what constitutes ‘good’ feminism – what a

“It was like slighted ex-boyfriend locker room talk. Why bring gender into

liberated woman should look like, say or do – is not confined to the world

it at all?” she wonders. Crutchfield started to notice her acts being pegged as

of punk. Similar discussions are unfolding in the world at large. If we see

‘girl bands’, even though twenty years earlier bands with female members

punk as a mirror for society’s ills – a barometer of where the world is going

were seldom classified that way. She also became aware of males slamming

wrong – it explains why it sounds even louder in societies where the walls

aggressively to her decisively non-aggressive music. “I watch a band like

of oppression have yet to be broken down. Cynics can say that punk is

Ceremony [from San Francisco] and I understand it’s hard not to react. It’s

dead, but tell that to Russia’s Pussy Riot, a renegade band of feminist

a part of punk. You don’t want to keep anyone from expressing themselves,

punks who were arrested in February for staging an impromptu gig in

but you don’t want them ruining shows for anyone else,” she says.

a Cathedral as a part of the growing protest movement against Vladimir

Crutchfield admits to existing in something of a bubble since she

Putin; they’re punks through and through. And so long as battle cries like

relocated to Brooklyn where a lot of the underground music movers and

theirs find a way to be heard, punk, like any good counterculture, is doing

shakers are women. But she’s also acutely aware of the overly PC feminist-

what it was designed to do: shake shit up.

“P un k is so in cl us iv e. It’ s so ea sy to be co m e a pa rt of . Th er e’ s ju st th is lit tle lis t of th in gs – do n’ t be ho m op ho bi c, ra ci st or se xi st . Ba si ca lly, as lo ng as yo u’ re no t a to ta l id io t, pe op le ac ce pt yo u.”

as-killjoy stereotype, and knows how to avoid pitfalls in her writings.

As for how history will treat Tom Gabel,

“When it comes to these debates, men who are insecure will always turn

that’s one story that has yet to be written. Hateful trolls hibernate

it around to make the woman a butt of a joke. So when you confront them

everywhere. But can the good seeds overcome the bad? No

you have to use humour. I mean, macho attitudes, gym shorts and X

discussion about sexism in punk would be valid or complete without

watches? These guys are taking the shittiest parts of a culture and making

acknowledging the wider social context in which it has to function.

it their lifestyle. You can only laugh at that,” she says with a chuckle. “Punk

There’s no escaping the fact that punk, despite its historical ties

is so inclusive. It’s so easy to become a part of. There’s just this little list of

with feminism, is just one tiny pocket of a fundamentally unjust,

things – don’t be homophobic, racist or sexist. Basically, as long as you’re

patriarchal society. As Hebdige explains: “This history plays out

not a total idiot, people accept you.”

against a background of post-imperial, post-industrial decline and

Vique Martin recalls punk women becoming strippers in San

crisis – a period in which industrially derived masculinity gave way to

Francisco saying they were ‘reclaiming’ their sexuality. Today, heels,

beyond-our-means consumerism and the service, celebrity, and social

skirts and makeup have made a comeback. Perhaps it’s a sign of creeping

networking economy we’re now living in.”

commercialisation? But beyond the fashion trends, there are also many

But that’s not to say that things can’t change. Scores of fans as well

websites, some owned by women entrepreneurs, that advertise themselves

as bands like The Gaslight Anthem have been vocal in their support of

as ‘punk porn’. So is this an offshoot of sexual liberation or is it just another

Gabel’s decision to live as Laura Jane Grace. So there are reasons to be

form of objectification, albeit with tattoos and a pierced septum?

hopeful, it seems, provided the misfit mob that calls punk home keeps

“It’s a fine line,” says Martin. “What are you trying to express? Is what

on questioning not only authority, but it’s own ideals, too.

you’re singing about questioning women’s role in society or are you just

“I think it’s kind of like driving down a highway,” opines MacKaye.

objectifying yourself? Punk is a performance art. I never apologised for my

“When you’re going straight it would seem like you would hold the

sexuality in my ’zines.”

wheel in one place, but you’re actually making hundreds of little micro-

Martin’s interest in overtly sexual ’zines evolved into writing erotic fiction for Fracture Magazine, which caused a huge uproar in hardcore.


turns. Even with all of these little adjustments, the idea is that you’re heading in the right direction.”


ENJOYED BY ALL LIVING THINGS WITH EARS. Introducing 1% For The Planet: The Music Vol. 1, featuring Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Jackson Browne, and more. All proceeds benefit 1%’s continued efforts to make the planet a more beautiful place. Visit to listen to exclusive tracks.

SPEAK FOR YOURSELF! Nobody knows your story better than you.

Everyone’s got some kind of agenda. Yup, even us. Hell, let’s face it, especially us. The only way to dig a little closer to the truth is to strip back the voices belching messages in your face. No editors. No filter. No ‘he said, she said’ witty side remarks. Just real people telling real stories, the way they want them to be told. Welcome to Endnotes – where stories unfold straight from the source.


100 HUCK



n the summer of 1994, I was assigned a job that no man had ever done before: to be the first online travelling reporter for My assignment was to go on the Lollapalooza tour, take photographs on the first Apple digital camera, write daily tour journals and interview the musicians. Sounds easy? Not in 1994, when dial-up ruled the world. Lollapalooza ’94 was supposed to be the year of Nirvana, their victory lap, but we all know what happened that spring. Instead, a formidable line-up of Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, The Breeders, A Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, L7, George Clinton and P-Funk, and a snotty, young trio of punks called Green Day, left an indelible tribal tattoo on cities all over the United States and Canada from 5 July through Labour Day Weekend. Despite the daily displays of musicianship from every act, Lollapalooza ’94 was owned by the Beastie Boys, who were now men. Nearing thirty years of age, they were accomplished musicians, no longer the bratty rappers who, when they first formed, took glory in being a ‘bad band’. Forty-ounce malt liquor and whippets were replaced by juicing and meditation. They owned and apologised for their immature and misogynistic behaviour during their ‘Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ days. The nightmare of parents everywhere had evolved into renaissance men. Their artistic, activist and spiritual pursuits were complemented by their passion for sport, namely basketball – the game of their NYC ancestral home – as well as skateboarding and snowboarding. The Lollapalooza schedule was brutal, but the Boys had a positive and healthy way of dealing with the grind: playing hoops. A portable basketball hoop was stowed underneath their tour bus, helping the B-Boys bring the West Fourth Street playground to the backstage of amphitheaters and parks in places like the majestic Gorge in Washington State and underneath the 1-95 in South Philadelphia. As a former high-school player from the Jersey Shore, I loved street ball and was desperate to play in these three-on-three games, even if it was to work off the tour bus shenanigans from the night before. After inquiring daily, I was told to “be behind the buses at noon”. It was the three Beasties against their videographer Evan Bernard, DJ Hurricane and me. After endearing myself to my teammates by setting the table for them, and then getting blocked by Adam Horowitz’s (Ad-Rock) stifling defense, I got pissed and decided to turn it up. I hit three in a row from deep, set up Bernard down low and we won in an intense 15-13 game. After the game, Adam Yauch (MCA) came up to me and said, “Come play anytime you want, man that was a good run.”

102 HUCK

The Lollapalooza powers-that-be would cringe every time the hoop was set up. Here’s the band 20,000 people have come to see and they are playing basketball – not just ‘shooting hoops’, but going all out, all the time. What if one of them got injured? They nearly had a collective coronary when 6”6’ Billy Corgan – frontman for the Smashing Pumpkins, the headlining band – decided to play. And he didn’t just play; he dunked. Yep, in polyester pants and Doc Martens. And to make it worse, he dunked on me and my teammate for the day, MCA. Not too many people in this world can say they got dunked on by Billy Corgan. But Adam and I could. I ran game with them every chance I got, enduring the heckling from the ‘fourth’ Beastie Boy, photographer and documentarian Ricky Powell. During a rather scrappy game in Milwaukee, I was on fire; don’t ask me how, because I spent the previous night sampling Milwaukee’s best. “You gonna let some hungover, small Irish guy from Jersey do that to you?” Powell yelled to MCA, who was now guarding me. With that, MCA backed me down like Ewing, wrapped his razor-sharp elbows around my hips, dug in, turned and took me to the hole, possession after possession, until they beat us into submission. “Come up and watch us from the stage today man. Come up with us,” said MCA, his long arm on my shoulder. As a writer, being privy to their pre-show rituals and hearing the roar of the crowd as I walked up with them, was incredible access. As a fan of their music, it was stupendous. And as an ‘official’ posse member for the day and the rest of the tour, it was unforgettable. Our basketball opus across America culminated at the tour stop at FDR Park in Philadelphia with a visit from Beastie Boy favourite Anthony Mason of the NY Knicks for a feature for the now defunct Slam! Magazine. Fresh off their stunning loss in the NBA Finals to the Rockets (weeks later in Houston, Evan Bernard would save me from being chased by drunk, sunburned Texans for wearing my John Starks jersey) Mason and two buddies took on the Beastie Boys underneath the 1-95 overpass in South Philly. It was a comical affair, the hulking Mason being guarded by the rail-thin Beastie Boys. But, the game wasn’t a skit in a music video (though footage of this and other pick-up games did make it in the video for ‘Root Down’), the Beasties were heated competitors and refused to give up even though they were outmatched by a foot and a ton. Mason toyed with them, Meadowlark Lemonstyle, holding the ball over his head outstretched from the prying hands of the Beastie Boys. MCA was getting frustrated so he tried to back Mason down, like he did to me countless time from Denver to Boston. This time I was sitting on a curb, wondering if his magical “chicken wing” move would work on Mason. Nope. Mason swatted the ball away,

out of bounds, like twenty yards out of bounds. The Boys and everyone around, including Adam Yauch, hit the ground in laughter. From then on, getting your shot blocked was to be “Mased”. At this stage, Adam had devoted his life to Buddhism; he brought Tibetan monks on the tour with him, who in turn blessed the Lollapalooza stage before each show. This was not some self-indulgent rock star move. It was a real and ingenious way to introduce the plight of these humble, religious and persecuted men to the youth of America. Adam would meditate and pray with them, play soccer with them, throw a Frisbee, kick the hacky sack, eat with them and be their guide into a world that was completely upside down to them. After weeks of nodding and smiling to the monks, I joined them and Adam for a potential ankle-busting barefooted soccer match in Charlotte. We ran, laughed and played our own style of kickand-chase with the highly skilled and impeccably trained monks. Looking back on it, I can only recall the laughter and the smiles, the non-verbal happiness between all participants. I didn’t see much of Adam personally after their legendary performance and after-party at the 1994 Video Music Awards. I ran into him at his Tibetan Freedom Concerts and supported his New Yorkers Against Violence show directly after 9/11. Then I literally bumped into him in Soho one afternoon. We spoke of his upcoming snowboarding trip to British Columbia and my recent surf trip to Puerto Rico. He invited me to run ball with him at a downtown school. Of course I got the day wrong when I showed up weeks later. We re-connected via email for an election feature I did for HUCK in 2008 and I looked forward to seeing him soon. I knew he got sick three years ago and had battled the cancer hard. I became concerned when he wasn’t at the induction ceremony for the Beastie Boys at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Then last week, I saw a mutual friend in New Orleans who confirmed my fear. Four days later, Adam Yauch left us. As I watched the Knicks-Heat Sunday afternoon from my couch, I heard the Beastie Boys being played over the PA and saw his picture on the big screen at Madison Square Gardens (a picture that incidentally was shot for HUCK in 2008 when Adam was doing the rounds with his basketball documentary, Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot), Spot I knew that the 15-0 run the Knicks went on to turn the game around was heaven sent. To me it wasn’t Mike Bibby who nailed that big three; it was Adam Yauch, with that whack-ass but highly effective jumper of his. How else could you explain a thirteen-game post-season losing streak coming to an end in a game where they had no chance? Amar’e? ’Melo? Nah, it was my man MCA. TIM DONNELLY



In 1971, our parents embarked on a honeymoon road trip across Canada. Today we’re a family of nine children (eight boys and one girl) with twenty-one members in all. Our house was always full of energy and action with parents who encouraged everyone to express their own interests and passions. Whether it was through music or art, filmmaking or travelling, activism or building, skateboarding or cycling, we were encouraged to live out our dreams. We pushed each other to live everyday adventures. At first, it was BMX and a backyard track, homemade ninja costumes and hand-drawn comic books. In Grade 8, skateboarding became the obsession and we xeroxed ’zines, filmed sweepers and layback grinds on VHS, and built rickety quarter-pipes from whatever material could be scrounged and scavenged. We painted, drew, pinstriped and welded, customised our clothes, cut our hair, starred in plays and musicals, played guitar, piano and violin, started bands and organised shows in community centres, basements and bedrooms. As we grew up we began to see that TV, video games and the relentless assault of consumer culture was robbing other young people of their imagination and creative drive. Motivated by a desire to make a difference, a few of us started a group called The Winking Circle. Our philosophy was this: ‘Create Everywhere, Redeem Everything, Be a Fool’. Our goal was to encourage kids to be radically creative in the face of mind-numbing conformity. We wanted to ‘eccentrify the world’. Here are some of the things we learnt on our rainbow-coloured ride.

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EXPLORE: When we were kids, we explored the farmland and forest surrounding our home. We climbed trees, jumped off cliffs and slept in abandoned barns. As we got older we began to take road trips around our province and then across the country. Soon we were crossing the globe to Romania, Japan, Malawi, Thailand, India, Guatemala, Ethiopia and beyond. Sometimes it was just to explore, other times to work in orphanages and hospices. Like Peewee Herman and The Search for Animal Chin, we are on a journey to discover eccentric characters and hopefully we can combine our talents to inspire those around us and ourselves.

BEAUTIFY YOUR WHIP: After forming The Winking Circle, we regularly held meetings at a condemned house on the outskirts of our small town. Inspired by a ’zine called Chunk 666 we taught ourselves to weld and cut up old bikes to create ’art bikes’. We made tall, chopper, spark, butterfly and arm-pedalled bikes. Our imaginations caught fire and the flame spread. People began to make their own clothes and screen-print custom designs. We organised fundraisers and ramp jams. Finally, after a couple of years of raising money we built our dream ramp: the Tsunami Ramp, aka the Mini-Chin Ramp.

BUILD YOUR OWN: Skateboarding and BMX are threads that have always run through our lives in one way or another, and building our own ramps, obstacles and jumps was always central to that experience. You can start with dirt piled up against an old log and go on to build quarter-pipes, spine ramps, box jumps, halfpipes, kickers and barn ramps. We spent three summers digging and moving tons of dirt, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, to transform an empty lot into a dirt-jump paradise. Never use the excuse that there is nothing to ride. Make stuff to ride!

TAKE OFF ON TWO WHEELS: In 2008, we set off on a four-month bicycle expedition across Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town. We built the Tall Horse – two bicycles joined on top of each other with nuts and bolts – and took to the road. Travelling by bicycle provides an immediate connection with the land and the local people you encounter. Locals could see that we weren’t to be taken seriously and inevitably wanted to join in on the fun. We found that instead of rolling though places with the superiority of a privileged observer, we became the observed, and participants in the local culture.

SHOOT A MOVIE: Making movies became central to our adventures and imaginations as soon as dad brought home his first VHS camera in 1986. Countless movies were written and directed with willing siblings and neighbourhood kids. We killed bad guys and became wise guys, we solved mysteries and saved babies, we hunted sasquatches and became superheroes. And of course, we did all our own stunts. We jumped off everything we could: fences, trees, roofs, stairs, cliffs and moving cars. Molotov cocktails were thrown, lawnmowers set on fire, toboggans were jumped and field cars were destroyed. REV UP A RIOT: On our journey, a few of us have become gearheads, buying vintage Volkswagen vans and Beetles, restoring them and spending countless hours on the side of the road fixing them. Along with the cars and vans, a love of old motorcycles was passed down from our father, who manages a robotics company for a living. From jumping dirt bikes to cross-continental road trips, old motorbikes are ridden hard, rebuilt and customised.

EMBRACE COMMUNITY: Last year the entire family got together and travelled in a wild, customised caravan to share creativity with others. We hosted interactive film screenings, hands-on workshops, and art-bike parades along the West Coast to encourage active living, creative expression and homemade entertainment. Now we stand at the precipice of a new beginning. As life gets more digital, we are seeing people around the world rising up. We believe we have something to offer. We want to take our wild creativity to the streets and work towards a global movement; the eccentrification of the world! BENNY & WILLY ZENGA




It sounds clichéd, but I love the way dancehall makes me feel – that’s what drew me to it and I never turned back. I find it impossible to keep still when I listen to dancehall. I love the riddims, how clever the deejay’s lyrics are, the culture, the dances, the clashes, the sound systems – I can go on forever! Dancehall is one of the most prolific genres out there so it’s impossible to keep on top of what’s coming out – which is great. You are always finding out about new tracks, discovering old tracks from years back, finding old sound tapes. I have been welcomed with open arms from everyone I’ve met in dancehall. Even though it may seem from the outside that the scene is predominantly black and male, this isn’t strictly true. Yes, the origins of dancehall are in Jamaica, but I find myself around people of all cultures, male and female, working in and enjoying this scene (just check out Japanese dancehall!). I am very aware of my demographic at times, but reggae and dancehall are actually very welcoming types of music. Dancehall lyrics cover a whole variety of topics and one of these topics is known as ’slackness’, which essentially refers to deejays chatting sexually explicit lyrics. Deejays, both male and female, like Vybz Kartel, Aidonia, Tanya Stephens and Lady Saw, will talk about what they would like to do to someone they fancy, referring to sexual acts, positions and parts of the body which they want to involve. Primarily, it is men chatting these lyrics (but that could be because most deejays are male rather than anything sexist), so they can be interpreted by people outside of the dancehall culture as offensive towards women – but I don't personally take this stance. The dancehall itself can be thought of as a space of liberation for women who, in other areas of society, may not be celebrated as they should because they do not fit into the typical Euro-centric body type. Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of West Indies Carolyn Cooper has written extensively on slackness and she sates that, “Women are saying, ‘We are beautiful and we’re just celebrating who we are,’ and male deejays are singing songs like, ’It’s not

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your cute face, it's the shape that you have,’ suggesting an alternative body ideal to the anorexic body type.” Rarely will you find a dancehall track accusing a woman of being a ‘whore’ (and such like) for expressing their sexuality, which is often found in other genres of music. So no, I feel that in most cases, these types of lyrics are not offensive to women. But I suppose it depends on what woman you are singing these songs to and how they want to take it. As for homophobia in dancehall? I do not agree with homophobic lyrics and do not play any songs that contain them. Through my own experience in the dancehall community in the UK, I’ve never witnessed any homophobic actions or heard any homophobic remarks from people in the audience. I have gay friends who love and play dancehall. I don’t feel that I can comment on what happens in different communities, such as the Jamaican dancehall scene, seeing as I have no direct, personal experience of it. Daggering was a bit of a hot topic a few years ago and recently seems to have been picked up again by some media [with the Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz making some negative comments about it’s overtly sexual nature]. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a dance move that people perform mostly when listening to dancehall. To someone watching daggering it can appear pretty aggressive, especially for the woman. Concerns have been raised about women being passive in this, but ninety-nine per cent of the time the woman is consenting and actively encouraging it. If people watch other dancehall moves, they will see that some are explicit in this way and some aren’t – it’s just a form of expression. Is it dangerous for young girls? I think young girls have a lot more dangerous things than daggering to worry about. SIOBHAN JONES

Top Five Party Tracks ‘Big Up (Hot This Year Riddim)’ – Shaggy and Rayvon ‘Click Mi Finger (Gearbox Riddim)’ – Erup ‘Greetings (Heavenless Riddim)’ – Half Pint ‘Pump Up (Buzz Riddim)’ – Sizzla ‘Queen of the Pack (Muslim Riddim)’ – Patra


Greetings from Bertrand Trichet, Barcelona, Spain

HAVE YOU SEEN B? W W W. B R I G H T T R A D E S H O W. C O M 4 - 6 J U LY 2 0 1 2 , B E R L I N




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To ask me where I’m from might seem a simple enough question, but it really isn’t. For a Third Culture Kid (TCK) like myself, it is never that straightforward to explain one’s provenance. What is it that defines where I am from? Does it relate to the place I was born or what’s written in my passports? Is it the place that was host to my formative years? In all honesty, I have no idea. Should you ask such a question, be ready for the answer to depend on a number of factors – including current events, the weather, and my mood in general. A TCK of Germanic parentage and African upbringing told me her answer usually rests on the nationality of the person asking. “If they’re French, I say I’m German. If they’re English, I say I’m African...” and so on. Needless to say, growing up in more than one country has been wonderful and completely shaped the person I am today, bestowing me with a great passion for travel and a desire to learn about other cultures. It has also given me the ability to always look at all sides of a story, not just one. There also exists the notion that being a TCK enables one to adapt to different cultures more easily. This is true to an extent, however there is also the risk of becoming strangely intolerant of certain things, like national

pride. In all honesty, I find overt displays of national pride fairly revolting. Most of the time I don’t notice it, but during certain sporting events it often seems national identities are flaunted – and I just want to run for the hills. I will never understand how some people honestly believe their country is the best in the world and continue to criticise other nations and their [enter mindless stereotype here] inhabitants. This mindset makes my blood boil and has landed me in some pretty fierce debates with locals over the years. However, the misunderstanding is mutual: how can I not have national pride? Am I sitting on the fence? Or am I an arrogant foreigner who has apparently ‘travelled a lot’? I’m a little of all those things. There is room in the fabric of society for national pride but not for multinational and multicultural pride, which seems a shame because surely that is a future we are all destined to be a part of. Of course, national folklore and cultural heritage need to be preserved, but I do believe it’s important that we all immerse ourselves in other cultures and nations because there is so much we can and must learn from each other. STEPHANIE BOSSET STEPHANIEBOSSET.COM

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ORIGINS In 1985 our tribal people arrived at San Gerardo del Paca along the Paca River (sixty-three kilometres from the district of Mitú in the Colombian Amazon). This place originated from the mountain peak Humudekosumuru, which means ‘the bellybutton of the world’. In the beginning there were two branches of Tubú and just twenty families existed. Now there are about 700 people in total. Of those, 100 speak the Tubú language and almost all of them are over thirty years old. In Bogota, there exists only twenty-five Tubú people. TERRITORY Our land was invaded due to illegal armed forces, the military and other institutions. We had many difficulties to live our way of life. We were not allowed to go hunting or to make casabe [a flatbread made from cassava root]. We depended on government institutions like Acción Social to give us lentils and rice. Every Native Indian on those lands was deemed a subversive. So we moved to the slums of Bogotá, where violence is very high and public services are precarious. But we hold onto our culture. That’s what keeps us alive; being me, being us.


CULTURE Dances, oratory and healing arts (our alternative form of healthcare) are at the essence of our community. Through them we teach, share and find each other. They are what makes us who we are. Our traditional dance is called Suarí, which means ‘begin to weave from the difference’. Suarí is a fabric between roads and crossings. It is a meeting amongst people; to make agreements and break barriers. We want to generate our own space so we can do Suarí, invite people with different ideas and thoughts, drink yagé, a hallucinogenic brew made from the bark and stems of a tropical vine, and allow our community to love themselves a little more – to have identity.

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SURVIVAL The city is killing us in many ways such as education, food, territory, the way we look and dress, the way we think. We need to sit down and talk, tell our stories, practise our language. My dream is to postpone the extinction of the family. Sometimes I think it’s unavoidable, so much so that we speak Spanish. My hope is that my parents live a while longer so they can keep teaching us. In our community we say, ‘If a language dies, a way of seeing the world also dies.’ DIÁKARA

First st in in SURFING S SU URFING NEWS NEWS First Rider: Tim Boal / Photo: Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Photofiles / Design: ID


Bo al



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I’ve always been attracted to the ocean. My parents moved us from Los Angeles to Orange County when I was about seven years old and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m moving to the beach!’ I was pretty young and I didn’t know that Orange County is big and goes pretty far inland. Around my area there are theme parks, schools and parks. It’s a pretty normal neighbourhood with a big Mexican community. My high school was over fifty per cent Hispanic. When I went to the beach with friends, I’d be the only one in the water. A lot of my best friends are still scared to go into a little two-foot shorebreak. The ocean isn’t really their playground like it is mine. In high school I didn’t know anybody who liked to bodyboard or surf. My brother was pretty much the only person I knew who liked the ocean as much as me. I wanted to do everything he wanted to do. That’s just the thing little brothers have for older brothers. He went out surfing and I followed him. The kids at school were like, ‘Oh you surf!’ But I didn’t really want to be seen as the kid who surfs, because it’s kind of a cliché. I never said I was the surfer dude. I was always very hesitant on claiming that I was a surfer dude because of where I lived. In this area you don’t really see too many Spanish people in the water, it’s mostly white people and other nationalities. So, it was a little different at first, and I could feel it. People would say, ‘Who is this kid?’ But over time I didn’t notice it


so much because I was friendly and would just paddle up to someone, like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ Now, it’s so welcoming! Everybody I meet is so nice. I don’t get the stink eye or whatever. I never have any problems in the water. There’s this shorebreak wave by my house called The Wedge and it’s different from anything in this area. It gets so heavy and at times, really photogenic too. Occasionally you would see someone taking pictures on the sand or in the water, but there weren’t many. One day, when I was about eighteen, I borrowed my friend’s camera on the beach and I started taking pictures. I didn’t want to stop! I liked shooting on the sand, but I loved being in the water, and when I finally combined the two, it was so much fun. I wasn’t riding the wave but I was experiencing it. I was feeling the ocean, feeling its power, and I was able to capture those moments. I only knew a couple of things about photography, but I took a big leap; I just went for it. It was never like, ‘Oh I wanna be a surf photographer.’ I barely knew what that was. A couple of years later, I was still at community college and I felt like, ‘What am I doing here?’ I had a passion, but it wasn't in the books. I couldn't really afford photography school, but I knew people who worked at publications and they told me, ‘If they like your photos, they like your photos.’ So I decided to just pursue it. SURFING Magazine has a foundation grant called ‘Follow The

Light’ and I made that my goal. I began shooting as much as possible to submit a portfolio last year and ended up being chosen as one of five finalists, out of fifty people in the world. I couldn’t believe my work was judged by Aaron Cheng, one of the most legendary surf photographers there is. He really inspired me and told me not to give up, even if things are hard. I guess there should be more diversity in the surf industry in this area. It’s mostly white people, I would say, and I think it would be good to add more cultures. But that’s just this area. Surfing’s so big now, there are so many different types of people involved. I don’t even know what I’d do if I’d never discovered surfing. It truly shaped me as an individual. Maybe I would be going to school, but I don’t know what I’d do there. I feel like people around here get so bored because they don't venture out to do or see other things. The great thing about my photography is that every time I pick up my camera and go shoot it’s like a little adventure, a little getaway. It takes a lot of stress off me. I have a lot of time to think. I get to come home with these memories and be able to express myself. If I didn’t have this, I don’t really know what I’d be doing. CARLOS SANTANA


THANKS TO... Helene Weston, Dan Morgan, Denise Hibbert, Kezia Levitas, Sarah Corbett, Jon Harris, Sinead O'Callaghan, Emma, Tom Birmingham, Loriane Berthon, Sophie Long, John, Charles Richardson, Franck Corbery, Pam Schmidt, Mary Kiser, Liam Clark, Beki Pope, Marlene Klok Mikkelsen, Kirsty Jade Foller, Fort Rixon, Heather Lowe, Noel Drumbor, Rob Brown, Kelsey Graham, Sophie Griffiths, Holly Schmidt Akkerman, Patricia Colli, Nicola Carter, Lourent Krotzenberg, Jo Teague, Leeroy Fairclough, TJ. Jason Gomez, Andreas Maurmier, Stephane Blanchard, Kaley McKean, Jared Cordtz, Stephen Hillier, Benjamin Coombs, Dan Fear, Connor Young, Alex Root, Theo Fournier, Jean Pascal Fournier, Jojo Cook, Morris Smith, Richard Baker, Ella MJ James, Francine Bourdelais, Pater Schilcher, Mathilde Brunelle. — The winners of the Thomas Campbell flower competition were selected at random from all entries received. For full T&C please see

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Profile for TCOLondon

HUCK Magazine The Identity Issue  

HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...

HUCK Magazine The Identity Issue  

HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...


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