CONTENTS VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3, July 2011 10 Ed. Note 12 Letters 14 Contributors Features 18 Slave to Soup
For custom surfboard stable Gato Heroi and its talismanic owner / shaper Robin Kegel, it’s not about a cool logo; it’s about riding waves. By Jason Black
34 The Collector
Meet the king of the authentic leather jacket in Goodbye Heart’s vintage clothing purveyor David Watkins. By Jason Black
52 Wild Style
LA-based custom car painter and artist Michael Ramirez aka Buck Wild delivers the goods. By Jake Hooper
80 Ridin’ Aloha
Throw a “hang loose” shaka to Aloha Fixed as they go pedaling by. By Liza Ryan
98 Silver Surfer
Custom bike builder Yaniv Evan builds one-of-a-kind classics one chopper at a time. By Imani Lanier
126 Cali Creation
Swimsuit designer and model Shannon Lewis is Boo-tiful. And so are her skimpy bikinis. By Imani Lanier
MTV reality-TV star Christopher “Drama” Pfaff is the next big thing whether he’s ready or not. By Michael Miller
162 Dogtown Throwdown
WSTRNCV drops in on the Venice Pro / AM Skate Contest. By Imani Lanier
186 Spirit Rider
Traditional wooden board shaper Thomas Pohaku Stone turns ancient Hawaiian trees into massive wave riding vehicles. By Liza Ryan
202 Classic Girl
Summertime rolls on into this whimsical fashion editorial shot at picturesque Pt. Dume, Malibu. Photos by Karl Rothenberger
221 Always Sunny in L.A.
Go behind-the-scenes of this issue’s fashion spread and inside the mind of its photographer, Karl Rothenberger. By Blaine Ashley
224 The Outsider
Surfer and abstract artist Michael Torquato de Nicola is always in motion — and so is his artwork. By Imani Lanier
246 Giant Killer
Slot deep inside some monster barrels with surf photographer Jeff Flindt. By Chris Galvin
272 Shimmer of Hope
Smoking hot chick. Icy cool jewelry: Hoorsenbuhs reps West Coast luxe & leisure like no other. Photos by Josh Madson
288 Junkyard Dog
Tag along on the hunt for the next salvage yard diamond-in-the-rough. Photos by Jacob Hooper
302 Epic Day
You’re invited to a secret backyard skate session to remember with legendary pros Christian Hosoi, Lance Mountain, David Hackett, and more. By Steven Lippman
324 Last Run On the cover: Christopher “Drama” Pfaff is ready for his close-up. Photo by Mike Miller.
Founder Imani Lanier Creative Director
Photo Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Jacob Hooper, Liza Ryan, Michael Miller, Blaine Ashley, Chris Galvin, Steven Lippman, Irene Pak Contributing Photographers Brandon Joseph Baker, Jacob Hooper, Charisa Gum, Hideo Oida, Mike Miller, Karl Rothenberger, Jeff Flindt, Josh Madsen, Steven Lippman, Irene Pak Special Thanks Alexandra Swanson @ Element / Eden, Ford Model Agency, Jacob Hooper, Monica Giselle, Mckenna, Shannon Lewis, Marissa Machado, Michael Leon, Tommy O’gara, Tak Kato, Mike Miller, Robert Keith, Masato Watanabe, Toshi Fujita, Elvis Segarich, Shannon Miller, Anna Harmon, Ever Kai Lanier Advertising email@example.com Editorial Office: 18820 Pacific Coast Highway, suite 104 Malibu, CA. 90265 All contents contained within WSTRNCV Magazine are copyright © WSTRNCV Magazine and the individual copyright holders of the individual works. No reproduction is permitted without written consent of WSTRNCV Magazine and the individual copyright holders. This is especially true when it comes to unoriginal culture vultures who think it’s cool to jack our shit.
Welcome to the lazy days of summer 2011! And what could be a more perfect companion to tons of sun, surf and sand then some quality reading material to inspire and inform you. I’d like to take a minute to introduce you to our Summertime Rolls Issue. This time around, we’re proud to present this bevy of authentic ride culture stories. On the cover, we’ve gone deep inside the young and reckless mind of current MTV phenom Drama. We also spotlight Gato Heroi, a counter-culture surfing company with a vision that’s killing it right now. We check in with talented swimsuit designer Shannon Lewis about her new Native Americaninspired bikini line. And, last but certainly not least, up-and-coming fashion photographer Karl Rothenberger delivers a classic Malibu girl fashion editorial that we’re summer lovin’. Along the way, we’ve added some creative firepower to our arsenal in the form of new Photo Editor Michael Miller. Mike is an accomplished and well-respected lensman as well as an all-around awesome guy. We’re pleased to have him aboard. Read Free, Live Free, Jason Black Editor-in-Chief
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Dear WSTRNCV, I’m a young photographer and wanted to submit my work for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue. Where do I send it?
Dear WSTRNCV, I’m 17 and I live in New York. I love the articles, photos and stuff. I was wondering how I could subscribe to the magazine and get it delivered to my house. Thanks.
Kate Jackson Los Angeles, CA
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Dear WSTRNCV, I loved reading your latest issue especially the Chris Pastras interview. It was funny. I had his board when he was on World Industries and he still rips!
Dear WSTRNCV, Currently, I’m a design student at the University of Hawaii and I was interested in an editorial internship when I return to California upon graduation. How do I submit my portfolio?
Nathan Reinmiller Las Vegas, NV
Madelyn Mello Honolulu, Hi
Dear Nathan, Yeah, Dune is a cool cat and an amazing artist. Be sure to follow him and the Stereo team on twitter at twitter.com/akadune and twitter.com/ StereoSkate
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WSTRNCV CONTRIBUTORS Liza Ryan is a writer, amateur vegan baker and native Canuck presently collecting a paycheck in Honolulu, HI. With a penchant for travel, storytelling and tight spots, she has shuttled across five continents for the last six years volunteering with a humanitarian organization. Currently, she’s a contributor for fashion magazines like DISfunksion while devising schemes to take over the Middle East. Her greatest feats to-date have been escaping gunfire unscathed and routinely waking up at 4:30 a.m. to make muffins. email@example.com
Charisa Gum is an old soul trapped in the body of a 24 year-old, living in the 21st Century. She loves capturing beauty and the essence of people with photography and capturing their souls on what was once called film and is now called memory cards. She is an adrenaline junkie and loves to do anything that involves speed: swimming, biking, running, surfing, free diving and more. She sometimes thinks too much but well, that’s just because she’s OCD. charisagumphotography.com
Steven Lippman, born February 8th 1964, is an accomplished American photographer. Raised in Los Angeles on a steady diet of TV dinners and soda pop, Lippman is famous for producing images that exemplify a mood gripped with the texture of a unique lifestyle that he helped create. A former professional skateboarder and surfer, he has been at the epicenter of the vintage California beach culture his entire life. Lippman is an influential fixture in Malibu, a loving husband and a father of two. stevenlippman.com
Currently residing in San Francisco, California, Brandon Joseph Baker works in advertising and photo production as a producer and photographer. Working in both still and stop-motion animation for apparel companies and independent filmmakers, Baker’s work is equal parts conceptual and narrative. brandonjosephbaker.com
Karl Rothenberger is a New York City-based photographer who, since moving from his native Chicago, has developed his talents assisting most notably the iconic Bruce Weber. His photography has been described as having “…an honest, naked aesthetic” and that his images often “…explore tender, intimate sexuality.” Whether shooting in studio, on location, or backstage during Fashion Week, Rothenberger enjoys creating simple yet intriguing images that exhibit his own idea of what’s captivating and beautiful. “If someone looks at an image of mine for four seconds, I consider that image a success.” karlrothenberger.com
Chris Galvin is a writer living in San Francisco and captured a great interview with skate legend Tommy Guerrero for this issue. Over the years, he has covered music, surfing, beer and travel for notable publications like Draft, URB, Body Boarding, Bikini and many others. His greatest achievement was traveling around the world DJ’ing for the ESPN X-Games. chrisgalvin.com
Irene Pak was born in Hawaii, raised in New York City and moved to Venice Beach, California in 2002. Ever since she has been involved with numerous projects that involve set building, photography, film production and creative management. firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past 18 years, Jacob Hooper has worked in the entertainment industry as a set builder for photographer David LaChappelle as well as an art director for LA’s Best after-school program. Currently, he’s doing creative construction projects for corporate clients like Nike and others. Hooper can also be seen as the wingman on the HGTV show, “The Antonio Treatment.” In his spare time, he is a custom car aficionado who enjoys building one-of-a-kind hot rods and customs. email@example.com
WSTRNCV CONTRIBUTORS Blaine Ashley has been a fashion, lifestyle and scene reporter and writer for nearly a decade. Currently, she spends time jet-setting between Hawaii, LA and New York contributing to HauteLiving.com, WhatToWear.com, Tasting Panel Magazine and the recently launched citYsip.com which she is also co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of. In her spare time, she enjoys all water-related activities especially stand-up paddle boarding, swimming and free diving. She also loves to read, travel, wine and dine. blaineashley.com
Josh Madson has been featured in the pages of InStyle, Elle, Esquire and Paper. Currently, he splits time between Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo photographing the most beautiful models in the world, and occasionally, a few athletes. joshmadson.com
Born in Los Angeles in 1964, Michael Miller grew up visually inspired by a mixture of the film industry, and the skate and surf scene. While attending college in Europe, he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to assist some of the biggest fashion photographers at the time. Subsequently, he began shooting some of the models he met. His first ad campaign was for Cacharel in Paris. While enjoying some early success, he decided to move back to LA where the music industry was thriving. Over the years, Miller has had a steady clientele of musicians from the legendary jazz musician Stan Getz to rap star Snoop Dogg. Advertising clients include Sony, Puma, Nike, MTV, Coca-Cola, and celebrity portraits include Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie and Jack Nicholson among others. Heâ€™s currently hard at work editing his book on the history of West Coast hip-hop. Miller resides in Santa Monica, California with his wife and two daughters. michaelmillerphotography.com While growing up in Bakersfield, California, Marissa Machado expressed a keen interest for working in Hollywood (which was considered to be a long shot for this farmerâ€™s daughter). After high school, she moved to Santa Barbara to attend Santa Barbara City College Cosmetology Academy. Upon graduation, she launched her professional career at Nordstrom working for Stila, where she became the youngest member of their Pro Artist Team. Currently, Machado resides in LA while lending her ample talents to fashion shows, magazine cover shoots and styling classes. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Capistrano Beachâ€™s Gato Heroi crafts quality boards that stand the test of time. By Jason Black Photos by Imani Lanier
Gato Heroi HQ speaks to the design direction of the company as a whole.
“ e propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication — a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.” —Ken Garland, First Things First Manifesto, 1964 Robin G. Kegel, the founder and patron saint of enigmatic Southern California surf brand Gato Heroi, is a relic, an artist creating wave-riding masterpieces in the wrong era. He loves Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” on vinyl. He adores clean mid-century modern furniture and graphic design. By rights, he should have been living and working and surfing in the ’50s and ’60s. But he’s not.
Instead, he’s doing it here and now.
As an insane surfer and in-demand longboard shaper, the lanky, dirty-blond twenty-eight year old traverses the globe and shapes custom boards in between marathon sessions in France, Japan, Italy, Morocco and Australia. He has a select clientele that’s grown up with him. They know his distinct mark of quality and craftsmanship and are willing to pay the price for it. And they want Robbie to shape them one of his limited-edition boards with intriguing monikers like Smooth Operator, Slave for Soup, Daily Driver and Gremlin. And the reason is plain and simple: Robbie is a surfboard-shaping genius. Just don’t be surprised to find fresh wax on your custom, newly finished Gato Heroi from the shaper himself test-driving it for “reference.” Odds are, he’s ridden it.
â€œIf you want a T-shirt that we made last year, somebody else is probably making it now.â€?
“Basically, my surfboards are designed for on top of the water and trying to plane on the surface of the water as much as possible,” says Larry White, Gato’s general manager and one of Robbie’s closest confidants. “Robbie’s boards are completely counterintuitive to the way I do it. His boards have virtually no flat surfaces whatsoever. It’s concave and rounded all over in various dimensions. It’s curved from nose to tail. His designs are more like a porpoise. When a porpoise rides a wave, it’s using the energy in the water to propel forward. It’s the wave form itself, whereas my boards are sitting on top of that form and not being integrated into it. It’s really caused me to think a lot about how surfboards work.”
Since 2007, Gato Heroi’s retro-modern point of view has caused quite a stir in the industry. Even the name itself is inspired retro, chosen for Robbie’s unabashed love of a few famous cats: Mickey “Da Cat” Dora, the iconic ’60s Malibu surfer, and Leonardo “Gato” Berieri, the Argentinean-born ’60s tenor sax player. “Heroi” means “hero,” so it became “Cat Hero” in Portuguese. The company philosophy is simple: Handmade products. Limited production. Highquality materials. “We don’t mass-produce anything,” laughs White. “If you want a T-shirt that we made last year, somebody else is probably making it now.”
The company philosophy is simple: Handmade products. Limited production. High-quality materials.
Itâ€™s not about a cool logo; itâ€™s about riding waves.
As for Robbie’s designs, they also draw inspiration from an era gone by. White recalls the first time he met with Robbie to work on web design for Gato’s previous incarnation, Crème, in 2005. He drove over to Robbie’s place on Sepulveda in Capistrano Beach, opened the door, and instantly stepped back in time. The apartment was laid out with mintcondition ’50s modern furniture, and cool jazz was playing on the hi-fi stereo. The two went into his office area and Robbie said, “This is the kind of stuff I like,” and handed White a hardcover book on 1930s Penguin book-cover design. “There’s a guy named Jan Tschichold, the typographer for Penguin at the time, who’s one of my personal heroes,” says White. “So I’m thinking, ‘This is the son I never had.’” He continues: “He just has a really strong understanding of design and it’s all essentially self-taught. He knows what he likes. And he had a strong sense that the commercialization of surfing is fundamentally not what surfing’s about. It’s not about a cool logo; it’s about riding waves.”
“His designs are more like a porpoise. When a porpoise rides a wave, it’s using the energy in the water to propel forward.”
As you’d imagine, Gato Heroi’s strong design aesthetic is based in mid-century modern, but with a twist—a raw, deconstructed vibe. Traditionally, in surfboard manufacturing, you want the fiberglass fabric to disappear so that it looks like the object itself. Typically, you use bright colors to hide the construction. Not so with a Gato board. In quintessential Robbie fashion, he favors going against the grain and puts his own craftsmanship on display. “In a sense, he wants to embrace the materials, the construction,” says White. “Traditionally, when you do color work, you’d be very careful to trim off the edges. Instead, he started doing a free lap where you let the pieces of cloth wrap around naturally. So you can see the material and the way it’s made. That’s Robbie.” Based on the steady word-of-mouth success of its boards, the team has expanded into a core surf line including wetsuits, T-shirts, backpacks and board bags. Essentially, everything a surfer (like Robbie) would need to circle the globe. Along the way, they’ve done collaborations with Paul Frank for a show at Huntington Art Center as well as an art installation for a gallery in Santa Ana about the monetization of surfing and how the industry is driven by mega-success. As a whole, Gato Heroi is a surfboard company that’s not only a huge creative outlet for its team – it is pushing the creativity of surfing as a whole. Robbie is its talisman. Handcrafting quality products for a global surf citizenry is its future. And it acts as a beacon to remind the surf industry that passion, not capitalism, is its foundation and its promise. “You might think of it as a rushing stream with a rock in the middle that’s causing a diversion and changing the direction of the stream. That’s how I see us.”
And it’s beautiful.
THE COLLECTOR David Watkins breathes new life into vintage style with Goodbye Heart. By Jason Black Photos by Brandon Joseph Baker
“ think guys love to collect,” opines vintage menswear purveyor David Watkins, speaking from his San Francisco-based showroom studio. “When I was a kid I had a rock collection, a stamp collection and a baseball card collection to name a few. As my interests changed, so did my collecting habits. Now I’m proud to say that I have a collection of rare vintage clothing.” Goodbye Heart is just that, a rare vintage collection love child of Watkins and his wife Amanda Hughes-Watkins that specializes in rare leather garments, vintage designer suiting and of-the-moment vintage silhouettes. Together, they pride themselves in showcasing signature items including ’60s and ’70s boutique leather jackets like East West Musical Instruments pieces, various handcrafted leather items, oversized bags and ’70s rock ’n’ roll t-shirts. Clearly, Watkins’ desire to collect heritage drives him and it’s a labor of love that started back in the late ’90s while he was attending Chico State in Northern California. “I noticed that Levi’s jeans and vintage t-shirts were selling for crazy prices,” he recalls. “So I started hunting them down and selling them as a part time job. When I graduated, I moved down to San Francisco and jumped into it full-time. Around that time, the market was changing and inventory was getting more difficult to find. I had to start branching out. When I first met my wife in 2004, she helped open my eyes to a broader spectrum of vintage, introducing me to classic vintage designer pieces to look for, and inspired me to expand my personal aesthetic.” And, from there, Goodbye Heart was born in 2008. Today, the majority of their business is by private appointment but you can also browse their beguiling wares online. Yet, this leads to the obvious question, what are you looking for when you’re out hunting? Go on. Spill it. “I’m always looking for unique pieces. My personal aesthetic tends to lean towards vintage Americana, rock ’n’ roll, custom leather pieces, oversized canvas and leather bags, pre’70s denim, motorcycle related items, one-of-a-kind pieces and anything with unusual wear.” ~36~
“I’m always looking for unique pieces. My personal aesthetic tends to lean towards vintage Americana...one-of-a-kind pieces and anything with unusual wear.”
“What keeps me going is that every day is something new. Everyday is its own treasure hunt.”
As you’d imagine, he’s unearthed many memorable treasures over the years. A few big finds stand out. The first being six pairs of Levi’s jeans from the early 1930s through WWII. They were all reclaimed from the same owner with amazing wear from years of use out on a ranch. Also, in the last year, he purchased a huge lot of dead stock boots, jeans, pants and shirts from a long shuttered work wear store that had opened in the early 1930s. But there’s one beloved item that especially stands out in his memory. And it involves the courtship of his wife. “I remember an East West Musical Instruments leather jacket I found in my wife’s closet when we were first dating. She was putting together a pile of stuff to sell and tossed it into the pile. I told her I could easily sell it and she’d have plenty of money for something else. She agreed and it sold in 24 hours. Instead of getting something for herself, she surprised me and used the money to fly us to Europe. We had only been dating a few weeks at the time and that’s when I knew she was a keeper. And now we’re married with a beautiful three year-old daughter named Luella. So that’s definitely my all-time best find.” When he speaks about the thrill of the hunt, you can sense Watkins’ eyes light up. He loves it. And this passion for collecting drives him to roam to all sorts of out-of-the-way, untouched barns in West Coast towns like Yuba City, Grass Valley, Palm Springs, Novato, Portland, and a few others that no one’s ever heard of. Upon arrival, he connects with random strangers, digs for cool stuff and relishes the adventure every step of the way. “What keeps me going is that every day is something new. Everyday is its own treasure hunt. I’ve been doing it long enough that sometimes I’ll get a sense that I’m going to find something that day, something unusual, and I ~41~
“...sometimes I’ll get a sense that I’m going to find something that day, something unusual, and I actually do.”
actually do. It’s amazing. And I do a lot of hunting for other people too. Many of my clients have a hit list of what they’re looking for and it’s a cool challenge for me to find them all.” Clientele-wise, Goodbye Heart mostly caters to the Japanese market, vintage shop owners who have an incredible appreciation for Americana. He concedes that without their undying support it would be a very different business. But, over the years, he’s also built some lasting relationships with designers of major retail brands, stylists and collectors. Apparently, one-of-a-kind never goes out of style. “Our customers are guys who know that if they’re looking for something that no one else has we probably have it. They enjoy the history, the detailing, and the quality of a genuine vintage piece. If you’re wearing something of ours, chances are you aren’t going to run into someone else wearing that same piece.” Here he makes an important distinction between vintage wear and items with historical significance. He considers anything pre-1970s as vintage. On the other hand, items with historical significance can be anything from a baseball uniform worn by Willie Mays to a leather jacket worn by Amelia Earhart. And, of course, inspirational design pieces can span both of these categories potentially. As he explains, it all depends on the eye of the beholder, the modern designer. Watkins also acknowledges that current designers are influenced by vintage all the time. It’s their stock in trade for collection inspiration. Over the past few years, he’s noticed that plenty of famous designers including Tom Ford, Levi’s, Balenciaga, and most recently, Miu Miu have mined inspiration from the past by copying a classic East West Leather Instruments jacket. “It’s so funny because I sell the originals,” he says. Personally, Watkins is most inspired to share his very specific style aesthetic with others, one that’s defined by quality and collectability. Case in point is his most recent acquisition. “I recently purchased a late 1800s-early 1900s work shirt that’s completely shredded, dirty and completely unwearable. It’s quite possibly the only one in existence and that’s what gives it its value. A modern designer could be inspired by the wear, the cut, the label, the color of the shirt and so on.” So what would you consider to be the holy grail of vintage? “For me, the holy grail would have to be a pre-1900s pair of Levi’s jeans. Finding a pair of pre-1950s jeans out in the wild is becoming rarer everyday, and with each decade you go back to, it’s exponentially more difficult to find. Before the ’50s, jeans weren’t a part of fashion. They were purely functional, worn and repaired until they were beyond repair, and then they were thrown out or burned in a trash bin.” Currently, Watkins’ must-find summer hit list includes authentic work wear and boots in addition to the usual signature items that gave Goodbye Heart its avid following. “Right now, I’m looking for large leather and canvas bags, backpacks, mountaineering and engineer boots, things that can be worn on a hike in the hills or in the city. Year round, I’m always looking for East West leather pieces, vintage motorcycle wear, and pre-1970s denim. I’m also a big fan of outerwear. I always buy that year round as well and put it away until the fall.” ~44~
Smart move. Looking forward to this year’s fall season and beyond, Watkins believes that vintage work wear as a trend will remain strong. He explains: “I see British vintage pieces becoming more collectible and inspirational, especially Belstaff, Lewis Leathers and Barbour. Beyond 2011, it’s hard to say. I think classic vintage from heritage brands will always be collectible such as Levi’s, LL Bean, Filson, and the like. Dead stock pieces are getting harder and harder to find so I only see those becoming more collectible and valuable over time.” Over the past few years, Watkins has been toying with the idea of opening his own retail store in San Francisco. They’re just holding out for the ideal perfect spot. In the near future, they’re also planning a cross-country shopping adventure because what’s more truly Americana than an old fashioned road-trip. No matter what the future holds for Watkins, his family and Goodbye Heart, he’s humbly excited by the possibilities of what’s waiting for him out there on the horizon. “I’m always looking for the next big score and I hope that I continue to be lucky, constantly evolving and learning something new every day. I’ve enjoyed the freedom that this path has afforded me and I’m lucky to have a very supportive wife and daughter who enjoy treasure hunting with me.”
Wild Style LA-based artist Buck Wild strikes a delicate balance between art and commerce. By Jake Hooper Photos by Imani Lanier
Michael Ramirez, aka Buck Wild, is a jack-of-all-trades. Throughout his long-standing career, he’s built up formidable creative skills while tackling every job in the automotive commercial art industry: garage floor sweeper, sign painter, custom car and bike airbrusher, tattoo artist, shop owner and, ultimately, business entrepreneur. But, along the way, the one constant in his life has always been his art. It keeps him sane. And he’s constantly pushing himself and those around him while seeking out the next creative challenge. It’s this passion and creative drive that’s made him successful on his own terms. ~54~
WSTRNCV: When did you first start drawing? Buck Wild: I’d say about first grade. Just scribbling with crayons. WSTRNCV: So straightaway. You were always into it? BW: Yeah, I was always into scribbling and drawing. Always. WSTRNCV: What happened when you were in high school? Did you discover the art scene? BW: I knew absolutely nothing about the art scene. And I still really don’t. All I know is that I’ve been lucky enough to make money doing it. So I figure the better I am at it, the more money I’ll make. WSTRNCV: Where did you find inspiration from when you were young? BW: Well, like most of us, most of my inspiration came from cars. Going to the old car swap meet. Shows that now I think are a little bit whack. But back then… WSTRNCV: That’s what inspired you? BW: Yeah, that was it. WSTRNCV: What was your first car? BW: Dude, honestly, it was my dad’s Subaru. WSTRNCV: That was it. BW: That was my first car because I was like, “Fuck, if I could actually drive that one day, think of all the pussy I’ll be able to pick up.” WSTRNCV: Yeah, my grandfather had every Subaru made up until the ’90s, from the ’70s and ’90s. I think one of my first crashes was in the Subaru. BW: I used to draw pictures of the fuckin’ ’ru with a motor coming out of it. WSTRNCV: You had the big-daddy raw Subaru. BW: Yeah, I was like, “Dad, if I get the Subaru one day, I’m going to put a huge motor and cut a hole in it and tool that thing around.”
WSTRNCV: So what was your fantasy car growing up? BW: I liked Camaros. WSTRNCV: So you were into muscle cars? BW: No, I was into new Camaros, like the ’85 Iroc. And then, of course, like everybody else, I was into the Merc, but it could have been a shoebox. WSTRNCV: That was probably one of my first cars, too. A chopped Merc. BW: Right. Anything with sparkle and metal flake, dude, let’s face it. WSTRNCV: I’m right there with you. What was the first car that you hooked up that you owned? BW: My bug. It was an early ’70s, a ’68 or maybe a ‘’69. It was way before the Super Beetle. WSTRNCV: Was it slammed Cali-style? How were you riding it? BW: Yeah, dude. WSTRNCV: What kind of rims? BW: I had aluminum alloys, and they had weird rounded spokes like the Porsche wheels. WSTRNCV: Yeah, the Porsche alloys. That was the shit. BW: Nothing could fuck with that, dude. That was the shit. WSTRNCV: What color was it? BW: Beige. It wasn’t stock paint. It had been repainted. Actually, my mom bought it for me, which is kind of weird. WSTRNCV: So was that the first car you started working on? BW: Yeah. After that, I got a Toyota Celica that was dumped on some fucking 14s or 15s. That was sick, and we worked on that thing.
WSTRNCV: All right, so let’s paint a picture, from bug to Celica to working at a body shop? How do we get into the whole scene? BW: It went bug, high school and then jail. Then, after jail, I worked in a tire shop. WSTRNCV: A tire shop? How old were you? BW: 17. WSTRNCV: So real jail? BW: Yeah, big boy jail, which I really don’t want to get into because it’s not a badge of honor or anything. But that’s where I was at. Do you know what I mean? Like, in and out, in and out for stupid shit. WSTRNCV: Ok, so you’re in your 20s. You’re starting to get work. Are you still drawing at this point? Are you painting? BW: It wasn’t really made available to me. My dad really wasn’t into cars or anything. So I had to slowly figure it out on my own. WSTRNCV: Right. BW: So I was putting pieces to a puzzle together. From what I could get at the car shows, from what I read in low-rider magazines, and back then, there wasn’t shit on TV. It was a total subculture. It’s not like today where kids can turn on the TV and go, “Look, that fucking car’s got gold wire wheels. That’s metal flake.” Do you know what I mean? I had to put a lot together for myself. WSTRNCV: Right. So you were bouncing around from day jobs. You were just trying to make a buck. You started working at a tire shop. You’re like, “All right, fuck this, I’m getting dirty.” And you started working at a body shop. BW: I was working at a body shop. I started sweeping floors at 18. And I was painting at a body shop by the time I was about 21. WSTRNCV: Production painting. BW: Right, production painting, which by the way, was a pretty big accomplishment, considering that it’s not an easy thing to work in a body shop.
â€œI think that was probably some of the best advice I ever got. Quit worrying about what other people think.â€?
WSTRNCV: Brutal. BW: It’s brutal, dude. There’s a lot of competition. Culturally, it’s tough for a kid who has light skin to work in a body shop because most of the workers are from Mexico. So, even in your own country, they don’t really want you there. So you have to overcome that. I really had to really earn their respect. It was really tough. When I look back, I still think, “Fuck, man. I wouldn’t want to have to do that again.” I started out sanding primer. And I don’t want to sound old, but kids today don’t appreciate the time you put in. They want it now. They want to be sleeved now. They want to be fucking rich now. They want to be fucking good right now. They don’t really want to take their time and put in 10 years. They want it all right now. Think about all you learn as you’re making your way through the ranks, taking your lumps. That first 10 years that you put in anywhere, dude, that’s when you learn all the shit that’s going to make you a master at your craft. And I think people care more about how they look and less about their craft. They don’t really want to learn their craft. They just want to get laid, which is cool. I get that, but I knew I had to know everything about my industry. I had to know everything about the body shop and paint and primer, down to the dirtiest, dirty, nasty primer, wet sanding to airbrushing and all the good shit. I get kids who come in here now. They want to fucking airbrush. “Well, pick up a block first for four fucking years, and then we’ll talk about putting an airbrush in your hand.” And that’s something that they don’t want. They want it now because everything is so fucking instant. It’s instant messaging and instant gratification, and if I need to know something, I’ll just type it in the Internet. It’s not the same world that I grew up in, and I guess that makes me feel kind of old. WSTRNCV: Thank goodness. So, in your mid-20s, you’re painting cars. You’ve been in the production line. You’re over it. You’re looking for salvation. Where are you? BW: Yeah, I’m over it because I realized that I assumed that everybody carried that passion and love for it like I did. But the fact of the matter is that most of the guys that I was working with, they were just collecting a paycheck. And I wasn’t cool with that. In my eyes, I loved what I did. I was fucking passionate about it. So I knew that I needed to get around other people like me that had that same passion. One day, I picked up an old sign-painter magazine, and I saw all these guys in there that were hand-lettering stuff, and I remember thinking to myself, “Where the fuck are these guys? Where are they hiding at? Because I haven’t seen them.” And that’s when I started searching for shops, places that I could work, just to work with other people that have the same love for car culture as a whole, and custom paint and color. WSTRNCV: So you decided to switch jobs and start working at a sign shop. BW: Right. Well, I went to a sign shop and started working with an old pin-striper, and he got me re-inspired on the whole custom world. ~64~
WSTRNCV: How long did you work at the sign shop? BW: I worked there for about a year. WSTRNCV: And you were doing a lot of lettering? BW: Yeah, that’s where I really started — I painted my first custom motorcycle in that sign shop. I did it in the back. We used to call it the compound, but it was just this little garage area, and that’s where I started. And then, from there, I just started doing my own projects. WSTRNCV: So you had some basic painting and lettering skills. So when does the combination come in? When do you decide, “You know what? I’m going to push this towards something more artistic and into my custom bike paint personality.” BW: I think I just started by suggesting it to everybody. The cars I had looked at were always low riders. They were always flaked. But they don’t have a trade school for metal flaking. It’s trial and error. You have to wait for people to come along that are willing to let you. And, back then, people weren’t into it that much. Then, in early 2000, it started making a comeback. People were just started slowly requesting metal flakes, and I fucking loved it. I was like, “Dude, sweet.” Somebody would come in and want black, and I would say, “Hey, how about metal flake? How about we do this and that?” WSTRNCV: So you’re starting to paint your own projects and getting paid to learn? BW: Yeah, I was getting paid to learn. For me, dude, it was never really about the scene. It was never about being cool. It was always about survival. I always knew that I could do this. And I knew that if I was good enough, I could get paid and feed my family. I didn’t have a family but I knew that at one point I was going to. It’s pure for me. I love the craft, and I wanted to be as good at it as I could. The better I am, the more money I can make, and that’s pretty much it. WSTRNCV: You’re coming from a total utilitarian perspective. You’re learning a craft and combining it with another craft. So when did you decide to open up your first shop? BW: It wasn’t too long after that that I decided to open up my own shop. I was 23 and barely knew enough. Barely. WSTRNCV: Where was your first shop? BW: It was right here. You’re sitting in it. WSTRNCV: This is it. ~66~
“It wasn’t too long after that that I decided to open up my own shop. I was 23 and barely knew enough. Barely.”
BW: This is it. WSTRNCV: This has been the one and only. BW: This is the one and only. I’m the sole proprietor and I just fucking made it happen. It’s 5,000 square feet with four offices, and, as always, I was totally in over my head. But fortunately for me at the time, there was an explosion in custom motorcycles with West Coast Choppers and shit. And that’s the only reason why I made it. WSTRNCV: When was your first cover bike? BW: My first cover bike was for Johnny Chop while he was still alive. WSTRNCV: Do you remember what you painted? BW: Yeah, I did the Hard Rock bike for him. WSTRNCV: Was that airbrushing? BW: It was yellow with a chrome frame, and it had striping on it. It was pretty simple, but the thing that made it cool was that it had a yellow metal flake, which nobody had ever seen before. Anyway, this guy from up north saw me years later, and I remember he asked me, “How the fuck did you paint that shit yellow candy?” Because golds are either really red or they’re really green. There’s no yellow candy. And I remember that I mixed up this crazy concoction. I was about two years into business at that point, and it’s when I really started getting good. I was really dedicating myself. I was obsessed with becoming the best custom painter that I could be. I wanted guys out there to respect me for being good. I didn’t give a fuck if they thought I was a good dude. I just wanted them to say, “Damn, that motherfucker can paint.” That was my goal, that and obviously, keeping the doors open. WSTRNCV: Which sounds like a monumental task when you’re that young. BW: Yeah, it was, dude. And there were a lot of obstacles I had to overcome. But luckily at the time, there was an abundance of bike builders. At that time, I was painting for Chika. I was painting for Johnny Chop. I had three or four different Sancar companies. Car dealerships and Harley dealerships were doing shit, too. WSTRNCV: All right, so your business is booming but you’ve got overhead. You’ve got a shop. You’re starting to learn about business and figuring it out by the seat of your pants. So what’s your next move? BW: At that time, dude, I was thinking about growing the custom body shop. There was a point where I was going to put two spray booths in. Because back then, unfortunately, it wasn’t about what kind of work you did. It was about keeping up with the demand. ~68~
â€œI was really dedicating myself. I was obsessed with becoming the best custom painter that I could be.â€?
WSTRNCV: So you’re slinging and painting bikes. At what point did you decide, “I need to up the ante. I need to learn how to airbrush?” BW: I was the whole time. I was working on my skills and getting myself to the point where I was ready. WSTRNCV: So what are you thinking about? You’re 30 years old. You’re painting bikes. You’ve got bikes on the cover of magazines. You’ve got a bunch of people working for you. The sky’s the limit. You’re rolling. You’ve got a fucking watch on your wrist. You’re fucking living the dream. BW: You know what I thought, dude? “This is not as good as I thought it was going to be. This isn’t anything close.” It sucked. WSTRNCV: You’re not personally fulfilled? You’re just a slave to your own business. BW: Yeah, you’re a fucking slave. It sucked. It was the ultimate let down to fucking realize that everything that you thought was success and everything that you thought you were working for, actually, was basically all bullshit. WSTRNCV: Right. BW: Dude, it was at the point where I realized that I had painted for every builder that I could. I had done every fucking job. At that point, seven years into business, I felt like I had reached a pinnacle. I was like, “Wow, this is it?” WSTRNCV: When is the first time you revert back to getting back into your art? When you need to relax, is that what you start to turn to? BW: Right. That’s what started happening is I started to become bored with what I was doing. It wasn’t fulfilling anymore. And I had spent so much time building my body shop. Don’t forget, dude, being good is one thing, but being a business-savvy dude is what keeps your doors open. So there was a whole point where, once again, I was learning things the hard way. It took me years to be good at business because I could paint, and I could work, but I had to become good at business. So there were a lot of hardships for me learning how to just deal with people and customers. There was a ton of shit that I never, ever thought in a million years I was going to have to deal with. But here I am, trying to learn how to motivate people because they didn’t want to work late, or they didn’t believe in what we were doing. So I spent most of my time keeping people motivated. There was a whole other skill I never thought I was going to have to learn. After I had built up the business and things were taking shape is when I started to realize that I was bored. And once a creative guy like me gets bored, you start searching. And that’s when I started doing more artwork because I realized that it was creatively inspiring me and ~70~
it was bringing more to the table. So I would take what I had learned in art and apply it to painting a motorcycle. So, once again, I was getting paid to learn. Nothing has really changed for me since day one. I’m still sitting here talking to you, right now, tattooing somebody and getting paid to learn. And I think the day that that stops I’ll probably quit for real. Nothing has changed. Seriously, I’m slightly over my head but I know that I have what it takes to finish it. I know I can figure it out. I know I’m on the right track. You always want to take something on that’s just a little bit out of your reach. You want to take jobs that are a challenge where you’re like, “I don’t know if I can pull that off.” WSTRNCV: So what’s next for you? You’ve painted the best bikes there is. You’ve acquired new skills. You’re tattooing now. You’re making more fine art. You’re branching out into the fine art world as just straight self-expression. BW: Yeah, the art is mostly for me. When I see the art that I do, I’m only really trying to impress myself. I know that sounds selfish or maybe even slightly arrogant, but I’m really doing it for me to where I don’t usually post my art anywhere. It’s not up, although it’s on my website for sale. WSTRNCV: Prints? BW: Yeah, prints are up there. But that art has gotten me through some tough times. When I’m feeling unsure about what I’m doing or where I’m headed, that art helps me through all that. So it’s very selfish. And that’s ok because art can be selfish. It’s my time to shut off and do what I fucking want to do, because money-wise, I’ve made dick doing art. I’ve probably made maybe a couple hundred bucks. WSTRNCV: Ok, let’s talk about that because you’ve always had a practical skill. You learned the automotive trade. So at what point do art and commerce become the balance of how you support yourself with what’s relevant to you as an artist? BW: The balance between the two is tough, dude. That’s where my body-shop skills come into play because, no matter what I’m doing, there’s always that core out there. Those years I put in learning how to sand and prep, and all that dirty shit nobody wants to do didn’t go to waste. That happens out there every single day, from 8:30 in the morning ’til fucking 5 in the afternoon. So that has saved my ass a million fucking times. WSTRNCV: Do you feel like you’ve reached a point in your career as an artist where you’ve struck a balance between your own self-expression and making money? BW: Dude, there was a time, not long ago, when I really wanted to break into the art world. Then, I realized that artists in the art world and myself have nothing in common. I’m so money motivated that I could never really sacrifice what most of those artists sacrifice just on the chance that somebody is going to recognize them. I mean, I’ll fucking sell out for money. I’ll fucking do something that I don’t want to do ~72~
“I’ll fucking do something that I don’t want to do because I’ve got to keep this business rolling.” ~73~
because I’ve got to keep this business rolling. I guess what I’m trying to say is you’ve got to be a businessman or an artist. You’ve got to pick one. WSTRNCV: Well, you’ve got both. BW: But you really can’t stay true, though. It’s hard because when you meet a real artist, a guy who lives in a fucking studio apartment above a fucking sandwich shop because he’s doing art for the guy down on the bottom, he’s just — these guys don’t have fucking day jobs. Some of them don’t. A good friend of mine works at fucking UPS during the day, and at night, he fucking stays up all night doing art. He’s a real artist to me. Basically, what I’m saying is, the more I learned about the art world, the more I realized that I really don’t have any place there. WSTRNCV: You mean you don’t have any place there because you didn’t feel you could financially support yourself in it. Or, the art world didn’t deserve to have your sole attention? BW: I wish that were the case. I think that, at some point, the art world may come calling. And, if that happens, I’ll consider myself lucky and super accomplished. But, for now, I feel like the art world is filled with a bunch of fucking douche bags that don’t do art but love to put labels on it. And I can’t live or work like that. I just don’t want to put myself out there to be scrutinized by a bunch of fucking losers that just get dressed up and go to art shows and want to fucking talk shit and scrutinize everybody. I don’t love it that much. As far as the artists go, the people that really matter, they seem to have the least amount of say in what goes on. That’s the way it seems to me. WSTRNCV: No, that’s one of the things we’re getting to the heart of is the dichotomy between art and commerce. How do you support yourself? How can you create art and remain true to what you believe in? BW: And that’s the thing, can you do business and art? Can you be a businessman and an artist? Because being a businessman means that you have to sell out. You do what the dollar demands you to do. You have to do what’s best for your company. You fire people that you love, but you can’t have them there anymore. Alternatively, an artist does things from the heart. You stay true. You don’t sell out. It’s a real selfish thing. You’re really exploring yourself, and it’s a whole different way of life. But I’m a businessman. I’ve had to get rid of people that I fucking don’t want to get rid of. I have to manipulate people to do things. When a guy tells me “I don’t want to stay late,” the first thing I think is, “How the fuck can I manipulate this guy to stay late?” I don’t want to be that way. I fucking have to be that way because at the end of the month, when my fucking rent comes and my light bill comes and my cell phone bills come, they’re never going to stop. Someday, I’ll fucking die and there will still be bills coming here in my name two years after I’m dead. So, with that hanging over my head, I made the decision to sell out and be a businessman and do my art on the side. That’s my perspective. ~74~
Like, for instance, my friend who lives and breathes art. He works for the next art show. If he doesn’t sell art, he doesn’t eat. Do you know what I mean? WSTRNCV: I went through that reality. I didn’t want to face that. I didn’t want some jerk telling me that I can’t eat because he didn’t like the painting that I just poured my heart and soul into. BW: Right, and he’ll tell me stories about how he’ll do art shows with people. And there’s a certain particular person who does the same painting over and over and over again. He just makes subtle changes to it and he gets $10,000 a painting. I look at it and think, “Wow, you just did the same old thing. You put a circle around it instead of a square and now it’s worth $20,000.” Who the fuck says it’s worth something? So it’s a tough battle. Early on, I just made the decision to take the high road. Say, a fellow like Cartoon, whom I have a lot of respect for, this is a guy who does “him.” “Fuck you, I’m doing me.” And he does “him” very well. Does he give a fuck what a bunch of art dealers, painters or tattoo artists think or say? Nope. He’s too busy making money. He’s too busy fucking doing his thing. So I look at a guy like Cartoon, and then I look at these other guys that are struggling in the art world, and I think, “All right, which side am I going to be on? What am I going to do? Am I going to suck up to these dickheads in the art world, or am I going to go out and fucking do the corporate suck-up and deal with a bunch of fucking dudes in suits and try and get a licensing deal or send some sketches to Pepsi?” WSTRNCV: So what would you say to anybody who is interested in developing himself or herself as an artist? BW: I would say never put a label on anything you do and explore everything before you decide what you are. Don’t fucking label yourself. Don’t label your art. Do you, and make yourself happy. And, if you can somehow manage to become profitable at it, then you have achieved what most of us are trying to do, because not many of us are going to get there. Don’t label it. Just do you. Read a lot. Study a lot. Keep an open mind. That would be my advice. WSTRNCV: It makes sense. BW: Right. Just do you. And don’t worry about what people are going to say or what they’re going to think. I got that advice from Paul Cox from New York. We were doing an art show. This wasn’t that long ago. And I was talking to him. We were eating fucking dinner at 1 a.m. in downtown LA at that one place down by Union Station, that hamburger joint. It’s fucking great. I forget the name of it. ~76~
WSTRNCV: The Nickel? BW: I think so, yeah. It’s bomb. Anyway, I was telling him, “Hey, man, I don’t know how people are going to perceive my art.” And he says, “Who fucking cares? You worry too much. Who cares what people call your shit? Just do it. Don’t give it a fucking name, just do it. Do you.” And it was good advice because I was actually really worried about it. I felt like I was going to be judged. It really, creatively, wasn’t doing me very much good to be that way. I think that was probably some of the best advice I ever got. Quit worrying about what other people think. buckwildpaint.com ~77~
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Ridin Aloha Pedaling through paradise with Aloha Fixed By Liza Ryan Photos by Charisa Gum
â€œNobody asks for your resume to come ride with us...â€?
Photo: Emma Thorton
“ h, I’m the guy smoking outside.” This is the text I receive from Ryan Lau, blogger turned fixie pioneer, when we meet up to talk about where and what Aloha Fixed has become. From five to ten guys on track bikes in 2007 to multiple events on any given week, Aloha Fixed has transitioned from an online photo journal and haven for those first and lonely ambassadors of bike culture to Hawai’i to a platform for fixed gear enthusiasts across the islands. Contrary to the scene that it has become in places like San Francisco and L.A., what defines the fixie world on the islands is exactly what the name suggests: Aloha. “In San Francisco,” explains Lau, “You keep your eyes down…. Here, everybody will give you a heads up.” At the beginning, Lau says, people used to approach him saying, “Ho brah, what’s that? A racing bike?” But, gradually, the fixie movement has gained popularity and respect among the local scene, welcoming artists, designers and just normal dudes into what can be a rather closed circle. It’s this spirit of inclusion that has demystified the world of bikes to Hawai’i and that draws ever-increasing crowds of bike polo players, track racers, trick guys and commuters into this burgeoning community. Set smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the islands serve as a Petri dish for the confluence between the hyper-hip evolutions on the continental U.S. and the tech-minded adaptations in Japan, Taiwan and China. With visitors continually crashing on couches and jumping in to ride with the crew here, the air of collaboration is high. “Nobody asks for your resume to come ride with us,” says Lau. “When people ride here they try to make events out of it.” ~84~
One such event was held last Sunday afternoon. With military guys playing football in the middle of the track, 20-some fixie enthusiasts gathered around a few coolers under a pop-up tent preparing for the second of what I am sure will be many “Breaking Away” track races, Inspired by the 1970s movie Breaking Away, a bunch of the guys decided that they should recreate their own track race. So there they were, some decidedly “unspandexy” guys donning stretchy shorts for the occasion and riding around a dirty old track 100 times. It was apparent around lap 30 or 33 that the team that had intentionally or unintentionally (I could never get a straight answer on that) chosen to ride a polo bike, wheel cover still attached, would not be taking home the gold. But as the bikes flew past and beers were passed out like electrolytes, you saw why this community was growing. It’s hard to beat camaraderie, wherever you find it. “Everybody waits for their own little crew,” notes Lau when I ask him who and what was causing the movement to flourish. And judging by the spectrum of participants at events like the TNR (Tuesday Night Ride), Wednesday Bike Polo and Aloha Sundays (BBQ + Events + Prizes), Aloha Fixed is doing a good job of creating a niche for anyone who wants to take biking further as long as they’re riding. Gone are the days when one pretty girl on an NJS (a highly coveted Japanese fixie brand) was such an anomaly that she could cause a stir on the blog. “It was like Sasquatch running around Hawai’i. Everybody was like, ‘Hey, I saw her in such and such place,” says Lau of the phantom fixie chick.
â€œI never really understood the idea of having a fixed gear define who you are.â€?
However, as happens with such things, the community is also shifting and splitting, mainly in conjunction with the needs and motivations of those who ride. Some are looking to escape the ever-tightening noose that is gas prices these days, others are searching for a more visceral connection with the road, and some yet just to ‘accessorize’. “Bikes are the new handbags,” laughs Lau as we discuss the slightly obsessive outfitting and color stylizing that has iconocized fixies to the cycling-challenged. Despite the fact that Lau self-admittedly rocks v-neck t-shirts, has a winged chest piece and smokes heaters on the regular, he does not see the point of being defined by one creative outlet. Says Lau, “I never really understood the idea of having a fixed gear define who you are.” And the recent postings on Aloha Fixed serve as visual proof of these words. Replete with shots of local artistic events, wild nights out, breathtaking evening skies and, oh, a few snaps of bikes, like its founder and the crew that ride under its name, Aloha Fixed is so much more than just fixies. It is, according to a recent Aloha Fixed blog post: “Random stuff. Random photos and videos…sort of have nothing to do with bikes, but still have a lot to do with Hawai’i and that’s just how this site goes. Deal with it.” alohafixed.com
Photo: Sergio Jensen
Custom bike craftsman Yaniv Evan is a fearless daredevil at heart. By Imani Lanier Photos by Hideo Oida
WSTRNCV: So then basically that led into your interest in cars and motorcycles. YE: Yeah, I had a motorcycle since I was about 14. I’ve had a scooter, and then a dirt bike, and then a street bike. Around 17, I got my bike stolen — I was already into cars by then — and I’m like, “Am I going to get another bike?” And I got a ‘66 Chevelle that was pretty much my first car. And I just always fucked around with it because it was breaking down all the time. WSTRNCV: You learned how to fix it up.
Just like his handcrafted, custom-built bikes, Yaniv
“Nivo” Evan is one of a kind. Over the past decade, the 36-year-old born and bred Angelino has been building some of the most original choppers in the business. And that’s no surprise. Sitting down and spending some time with Evan in his Hollywoodbased Powerplant garage, you get the feeling that he lives and breathes his vocation and his surroundings. He’s not trying to live up to any set standard of what a bike builder should be. He’s just doing “him” and keeping it real without any apologies. This personal authenticity and integrity is reflected in his custom bike creations. WSTRNCV: How did you get started with welding and building motors? YE: I went through this aviation class. It was an [AMP] course at the L.A. airport. I was 17; I just went. My dad said, “I’ll pay for it. So I went there for like six months. I hated it. I was looking at cars. I was into cars, and then like, I’m going to this thing with a bunch of old dudes — old guys that are retired that want to fly and shit, and build airplanes — and they’re [boring]. And you have to go through their whole safety shit, and there’s like 20 dudes inspecting everything, and it’s too much.
YE: Yeah, I realized how easy it was to fix — nothing to do with like art or anything — just manual, where you have to troubleshoot shit. We went around to shops, guys who knew, and always try to like pay attention to what they say, you know, because I figured I’ll do it another time on another car. Because I knew that I was planning to always have another toy to work on. Once it’s done, you can’t really do anything more to it. I’d just sell it and then get another one. WSTRNCV: Do you still have the ‘66 Chevelle? YE: No, but I really want to get another one. I want to get another ‘66, just like exactly the way I had it. Back then, they were a dime a dozen. Now you can’t find them. WSTRNCV: Exactly. So what led to your interest in restoration becoming a business? YE: I didn’t really know any other way to support my habit. Now, I want to get cars and bikes all the time, and it’s like, you look back and say, “It’s a business. I can afford this. This is a part of the business.”
“...I’m more into the ‘20s, and the early-teens. There was a lot of shit made back then, and they didn’t know how to do it any other way.”
WSTRNCV: So how did Powerplant Choppers come about? YE: When I first got started about 10 years ago, I already had people wanting bikes. I didn’t really want to open a business but I was doing it out of my house down the street. It’s a nice, quiet neighborhood and I’m sitting there wrenching away. And it was cool during the day, but then it was also where I built my own shit. And then the next thing I know, I’m building a bike for my neighbor — he wanted one. And then it got loud, and more people started showing up with bikes. Finally, it got crazy and my neighbors hated me. And then, one day, I see this “For Rent” sign over on Melrose, and I’m like, “Holy shit. It’s a three to four-car garage for 800 bucks. I’m going to take it.”
pull up I like to have parts available. That way, I don’t have to order stuff. You know, the essentials. WSTRNCV: What are your biggest challenges? YE: Letting go of a bike when it’s complete. I mean, there are bikes that I build just because people tell me, “This is how much I have to spend.” But, with my favorite clients, they’ll say, “Whatever it takes…I want you to be free to do what you want.” And those kinds of bikes can cost a lot of money. But those are the ones that I prefer to work with because I put all my love and effort into those, and I feel good about it. WSTRNCV: So each one is a passion project, but even though you’re putting all your time and energy into it, you have to give them away.
YE: Yeah, and then when you’re done, you’re like, “Fuck, I’m never going to do that again.” So then I opened it. But it was commercial And it’s so hard to make this certain piece or space. So then the city wanted to know what that bike. It’s always random brackets and shit I was doing in there. So I’m like, “Fuck it. I’m that you spend so much time on. “I’ll never do going to open a bank account under Powerplant, and just pay whatever taxes I need to so I it again.” And then someone will say, “I want can have a business.” I didn’t think it was going those.” But they’re not going to look the same. I to go anywhere though. At the time, I was still can never do the same thing twice. working at another garage. WSTRNCV: So each bike you build is custom. WSTRNCV: So it was really began as a hobby. YE: Definitely. And every now and then, you blow your own horn. “This is fucking cool.” YE: Yeah, and then I quit my day job and just And now it’s on somebody else’s bike that I have did this full-time. to give away and I know I’ll never make it again. WSTRNCV: And it’s been taking care of you WSTRNCV: So that’s been the biggest challenge ever since. for you, letting go? YE: Sort of. I’m taking care of it too at the same YE: That, and then dedicating the time. Until time. It’s like a little baby that I have to feed every day. I don’t just come in and work on my today, I don’t know how long it’s going to take. bike. Now, I have paperwork, and we need to stock up on shit, and so on. And when people ~107~
WSTRNCV: So what do you tell customers? YE: I tell them when I get involved it’s going to be about this many hours. Now I estimate my hours and how much it’s going to cost. And I say it’s going to come out to about 100 bucks an hour. But if something’s not right — let’s say, this bike seat — then I’m going to redo it and they’re not going to pay for it. I’m going to personally pay for it three or four times ‘til it’s right because it can’t look wrong while it’s at the shop.
WSTRNCV: And that’s the reason why people come to you. YE: It’s very hard to get paid for that. But I’m learning. I charge more. I’m going to pay myself a little, whereas before, it’s just good to have the rent and the bills paid. Now I want to get paid for that level of service. WSTRNCV: Exactly. So what’s happened within this garage that you’re most proud of?
YE: My bike, the one that’s right here. This is 700-plus hours I’ve put into this. It’s not even close to being done and everything is handmade on it. Every fucking part that maybe you could buy somewhere, you won’t recognize because it’s so modified, and I changed the shape, and everything. Even the mechanics in the motor, they work differently than the stock motor is supposed to. Like all the oiling system is external now. All the brass and copper are custom made and machined. Usually you don’t see anything like that.
WSTRNCV: What kind of motor is this? YE: This was a Shovelhead. WSTRNCV: This is a Harley. YE: A Harley-Davidson, yeah. WSTRNCV: Very nice. So everything that you do is by hand here in the shop?
â€œI can never do the same thing twice.â€?
â€œI never looked at myself as an artist. I looked at myself more as a mechanic or a scumbag.â€?
YE: Yeah, all here. All these tools — they look like nothing, but there’s like major tools in here. They’re all custom tools that I’ve made — not all of them, but I make a lot of tools to make my parts on. WSTRNCV: So what was your process in terms of time to get to this point? YE: Ten years of getting to this point right now. Right now, it’s kind of slow but thank god I have little jobs to do. Those are cool. They pay but it’s not fun. So I’m doing my own projects like building myself a bike. And then we’re part of that True Blood thing now. They’re filming here a lot. WSTRNCV: The HBO show? YE: Yeah, that’s big money so I can kind of relax and travel a little bit.
But if you pop the hood, you see all the mechanics — and that’s beautiful. And that’s what the bike is. I mean, you’ve got to have exhaust pipes. You’ve got to have brackets to hold the motor. But it could be just about anything. I take the time to make a sleeve and decorate it, to give it a unique little flair. It’s like making jewelry. WSTRNCV: So, you mentioned the ‘20s, was there a specific era in time that you’re inspired by? Because when I’m looking around your shop you’ve got an old ‘50s-style garage feeling. YE: Yeah. I’m kind of over the ‘50s. That was cool for a while, but now I’m more into the ‘20s, and the early-teens. There was a lot of shit made back then, and they didn’t know how to do it any other way. They didn’t know how to save money. They just did what they had to do, and that’s kind of how I work too.
WSTRNCV: What’s the inspiration behind the bikes you build? I mean, you can tell if something’s generic and cheaply made. And you know when someYE: My own bikes. I look at an old bike — like thing’s made with quality. You can look at how this was an old bike I built. This is a year old it’s made and know that someone took the time now but I see what could be better, and it beto give it a little decor. comes the next bike. WSTRNCV: So would you consider yourself WSTRNCV: What drives you to craft that spe- an artisan? cific detailing? YE: Now, yeah. Definitely. It finally broke into YE: I’ve studied old machinery like motormy head that I am. (Laughs) I never looked at cycles and cars from the ‘20s. You’ve got to pop myself as an artist. I looked at myself more as a the hood and look how some of the brackets mechanic or a scumbag. (Laughs) were made, the shapes of the stamps on the WSTRNCV: But you’re shaping it; you’re putmetal, the body lines, and that kind of shit — ting it all together. the detail. You don’t have to have a beautiful paint job because to me, that hides the body lines.
YE: Yeah, now I see bikes on the cover of a magazine, and I’m like, really, what the fuck man? They just ordered that. I know exactly where they got each part. They didn’t make any of it. They ordered it from a book and built it. That’s fine, you know. I mean, people need to build bikes. There are a lot of clients out there.
YE: Being in this business, I met a lot of interesting people. Now that I think about it, I know guys who make everything. They’re always saying, “I can make that for you.” And I’m like, “Really? You can make me a belt buckle?” So yeah, I give them a design and then we’ve got a belt buckle.
WSTRNCV: So you don’t want people to look at your bikes and compare it to that?
It’s interesting to me because I want to know how everything is made. So I go to the foundry and watch them pour the metal. And ok, that’s the jewelry. As for T-shirts, we just like having our own shirts. I’ve always had a shop shirt. And then they started doing well. We didn’t even realize that when people come here from Alabama, they want a souvenir. So we had to do that. But we’ve taken it to another level with the shirts because I’m anal about the fabric.
YE: No. When a magazine wants to shoot one of my bikes, I tell them, I get the cover. No cover, no bike. I used to let them do whatever. But now, I’m strict unless it’s for friends who helped me starting out. WSTRNCV: So what about others that inspire you within custom bike building?
WSTRNCV: So now you’re a clothing designer, YE: Yeah, there are people who inspire me a lot too. like this guy, Shinya. YE: Not really. But yeah, I took my favorite WSTRNCV: Shinya Kimura. shitty vintage shirt, and I’m like, “I want this shit right here.” It took three years to make a YE: Yeah. People think my bikes look like his good shirt, from dickin’ around with different bikes. fabrics and cuts. Now we’ve got it all down — the fabric, the print, the way it’s printed, the WSTRNCV: I don’t think so. wash — we wash it so it’s vintage. YE: I don’t think so either, but he definitely has that old, hand-made, raw vibe. I think he leaves his weld as well. I like to leave all the welds exposed to show how it was made. But I love his stuff. I love him and we’re pals, you know. He’s cool. I love it. He comes here; he’s like, I love it. And I come over to his shop, and I’m drooling. And that’s cool.
WSTRNCV: Are you doing the production yourself? Or, do you have someone running it for you?
WSTRNCV: And that’s another thing. You’ve obviously expanded beyond building motorcycles. You’ve got a clothing line, jewelry and accessories. How did all that come about?
WSTRNCV: So I know you went to Germany a couple of months ago with [Steve] Olson. How was that?
YE: I have a business partner in Powerplant Clothing and they’ve come in with experience as well as some money. And I’m the creative director.
YE: Yeah, we acquired a distributor in Europe and they’re in Germany. And they take care of every country in Europe so I can’t sell there. They own the distributor’s license, not the license — they can’t make anything. So it’s all made here in LA. That was my biggest thing. I’m like, “That’s going to look bad on the bikes if the shit’s made in China.”
WSTRNCV: So you’re at that point where it’s time to settle down.
YE: Yeah, and I want everything to be quality. I mean, it’s moving toward fashion but for me, it would be more work-ware oriented. I work in a vintage T-shirt. We also make a mechanic’s jacket, and just old Henleys from the ’50s with the [double-button]. We’re trying to keep it simple right now.
YE: Yes. It helps the quality of the bikes. It helps the shop and the spirit within the shop. When you’re stressing and working all the time, you’re full throttle and basically, stepping on the gas pedal in neutral. That’s how my life’s been. But going nowhere…
YE: Mid-life crisis. (Laughs) One day, you look in the mirror and you’re like, “Ok, the clock’s ticking like a woman. I better settle down and get a girlfriend or a wife.”
WSTRNCV: Well, then are you trying to figure WSTRNCV: Right, exactly. So basically, you’re out ways to balance your love of being here creating a brand out of Powerplant. and your personal life?
WSTRNCV: Like you’re on a treadmill.
WSTRNCV: So what is your vision? At the end of the day, when you go home and lay down YE: Yeah, I realize that I walk in here every day on the couch, and you’re thinking about what and turn on the same rock station. It’s like I’m you’ve created, is there a lot more that you’re a fuckin’ robot. still trying to achieve? WSTRNCV: So how are you going to change it YE: No, there’s a lot more here inside because up? I fucked myself off for 10 years, and I stuck my head deep in this place. And now, I see YE: Get out of here. Do other things. Start my dad getting old. I want to have more time writing again. to be with family, and I haven’t done that. I’ve been neglecting the whole world to be here. WSTRNCV: So you haven’t been writing. It’s crazy. I’m going through all this shit right You’ve just been spending all your time in the now, and I’m trying to take care of me, and shop. you know, take some time to travel and get my head clear. I realize that when I leave the shop YE: No, I haven’t been writing. I’ve been ridwith a clear head, I come back in and we bang ing around here, test-driving bikes and stuff. Everyone goes on long riding trips, and you shit out. know, I want to do that, too. WSTRNCV: How old are you now? WSTRNCV: So it’s about balance, enjoying YE: Thirty-six. life and work. ~118~
YE: Yeah, because that’s how it was when I started. It was all about the weekend rides. Now it’s all about the fact that, on Monday, I’ve got to fucking finish this and that. And on the weekend, all I want to do is lay around.
I’m scared about making too many because you can’t maintain quality control. To me, mass production would be to make 100 pieces and that’s it — a limited run gas cap. You buy it; you put it on your bike. And that’s it.
WSTRNCV: Well it sounds like everything was WSTRNCV: A limited edition Powerplant gas organic from the beginning. So maybe organic cap. is [where] it needs to go — it needs to get back to that. That’s what I’m hearing. YE: That’s the only way I see I can doing it because I can keep my eyes on 100. When it gets into YE: Yeah, it’s organic in the sense that we take 1,000s, you don’t know what you’re getting. pride in our work. I don’t want someone to recognize parts on the bike that someone else has WSTRNCV: Exactly. So how about the side that on their bike. I want it to feel like it’s one of a we just saw — the surfing, and the burnouts and kind. So for people -- like if all this stuff is kind all that stuff? Tell us about that side of you. of [unintelligible], you look at it and you’re like, fuck, where’d you get it? They look at it. YE: There’s not a side of me like that. I’m worried since I just got my license back. It was suspended WSTRNCV: They look like they’re on a space for like almost three years. shuttle. WSTRNCV: What did you get your license susYE: You can’t buy them. They’re handmade. pended for? Sometimes I have to beat up a [kit] and make it look more authentic because it comes out too YE: This kind of shit. clean so that’s the organic. WSTRNCV: For “surfing?” WSTRNCV: So where do you see it going? Previously, you mentioned that you want to YE: Just speeding tickets and I got caught for exhitake more time for yourself, but do you see this bition of speed which is “surfing.” And I thought, just becoming a lot bigger than it is, or do you “That’s no big deal. It’s not speeding.” So then, I go want to keep it where it’s at? to court and it’s three times worse than speeding because you’re endangering people’s lives. YE: I’d like to keep it where it’s at. I don’t want to have 20 bikes on lifts. No production. I WSTRNCV: So you don’t consider yourself a want to manufacture a few parts that you can daredevil? buy and put on your bike, but you deal with it yourself. Therefore, it has to be done really nice YE: No, not really. and it has to fit perfect, and I don’t want to deal with recalling a part. WSTRNCV: You just surfed your bike down the alley; you don’t consider yourself a daredevil? WSTRNCV: Ah, so you’re a perfectionist. YE: Yeah, but that’s because I know the bike. YE: Yeah. I’ve already seen it done to other people and I want to learn from their mistakes. powerplantchoppers.com
“...when I leave the shop with a clear head, I come back in and we bang shit out.”
Photo Kiino Villand
Swimsuit designer Shannon Lewis reps Malibu worldwide. By Imani Lanier Photos by Michael Miller
“I’m one of those people that can’t sit still,” says Bubululu swimwear founder and designer
Shannon Lewis. “I’m constantly going and going and going because my brain never shuts off. Right now, I’m still young and so many good things are happening to me. I feel like I have to get on the ball and keep rolling with it.” Right from the start, this lifelong Malibu resident has had an inner drive to succeed. At age seven, Lewis set-up a tiny roadside stand on Dume Drive off Pacific Coast Highway selling lemonade, cookies, tomatoes and strawberries picked from her grandpa’s backyard garden. At 12, she started working in earnest and at 14, she became an instructor at a local Malibu surf camp, making $500 a week. That’s big bucks for a teenager. From there, she moved straight into retail and made the rounds at a few local boutiques in town. “Well, I grew up in Malibu, the home of the rich and famous,” she explains. “So anything materialistic like an expensive Gucci bag or high-end Prada heels is so important to you when you’re a teenager. It’s all about what you wear and what you look like. So, since I grew up in a family that didn’t have any money, I realized that if I wanted to have nice things like those I’d to go out and get them myself.” And that’s exactly what she did. Yet, even though she was always destined for a life in fashion, she actually toyed with the idea of becoming a lawyer like her estranged father. But when she didn’t get accepted into college, she decided to explore her passion and attend fashion school at FiDM in LA. She acknowledges that she made the right decision. Fashion is her true calling, not law.
â€œI have to get on the ball and keep rolling with it.â€?
“Well, I was crushed when I didn’t get into Pepperdine. But then I thought, ‘This is the biggest blessing in disguise.’ I took one look at my mom and said, ‘I’m going to fashion school.’ And she was like, ‘Yes!’ I’ve always been into fashion. Since I was five years old, I’ve been buying and sewing clothes with her. Since it’s been my whole life, it was kind of natural.” Lewis blossomed at FiDM and finished in only three years. As a fashion school graduation present in 2008, her boyfriend at the time took her to Bali for a laidback, romantic getaway. While there, he asked her what she wanted to do now. “I’m going to start my swimwear line,” she responded with conviction. And so she has. Now, only a few short years later, she’s in the midst of blowing up and is having her best year ever. She’s in over 40 stores worldwide including key taste-making LA boutiques like Fred Segal, Planet Blue and Madison. Her fashionforward $200 to $300 suit sets are sported by a bevy of chic Hollywood A-listers like Kate Hudson, Eva Longoria, Pink and Malibu’s own Pamela Anderson. And she’s got distribution deals locked down in Hawaii, Australia and Japan, with Mexico and Europe coming onboard soon. Yet, even with all of these accomplishments under her belt, she’s most proud of where she’s headed next with two amazing new collections that are close to her heart.
â€œBubululu is very flirty, super sexy, a little innocent and a bit edgy at the same time. Very Malibu.â€?
“...at this point in my life, I’m ready to slow down and relax a bit.”
Dutch go-kart champ
Photos Ed Swart Archive
One, a specialty collection of Native American-inspired suits with intricate beading and bold, eye-catching colors like deep turquoise, aqua blue, bright red and yellow, has been a dream of hers for some time, inspired by her mom’s Native American tribal spirituality. Growing up, Lewis always had a dream catcher on-watch over her bed and the smell of mossy, herbaceous sage wafting through their Malibu home. As Lewis explains it, she’s been planning this dream line for years. “Actually, I researched a lot of different tribes and ended up doing some Shoshone Indian prints. But it also had to work within our brand. Bubululu is very flirty, super sexy, a little innocent and a bit edgy at the same time. Very Malibu. So, when you put it all together, there wasn’t one Native American tribe that stood out to me. Instead, I took influences from different tribal artwork all across America to put it all together.” As a counterpoint to the Native American-inspired line, the second collection is a more traditional floral line with stunning, sweet pastels punctuated by super-wild animal prints like leopard and peacock. Beyond her endless passion for fashion, Lewis has plans to settle down and start a family within the next five years. She wants to buy a house. Buy her parents another house. Slow down a bit and be comfortable with close family and friends around her. Live the dream. “Every since I was young, I’ve worked three jobs, put myself through school and it’s constantly been a bit of a struggle. And, at this point in my life, I’m ready to slow down and relax a bit.” bubululumalibu.com ~141~
Photos Ed Swart Archive
MTV phenom Christopher “Drama” Pfaff is skating his way into the stratosphere. Story and Photos by Michael Miller
t the tender age of 24, Christopher “Drama” Pfaff has become more than just his cousin Rob Dyrdek’s personal assistant and resident whipping boy. Following regular stints on MTV’s hit series “Rob & Big,” and now featuring in its well-received follow-up “The Fantasy Factory,” the Akron, Ohio native has become a bona fide star all on his own. And he’s on the rise. From his recent reality-TV success, Pfaff has catapulted himself into new creative avenues. He’s constantly working on crafting beats and producing music for his own “Causin’ Drama” label, to which he just signed Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly. He also launched his own clothing label, Young & Reckless, now in about 4,000 stores nationwide and worn by popculture tastemakers including Justin Bieber, Zack Efron, Kevin Durant and 50 Cent. Recently, WSTRNCV caught up with Pfaff at the Fantasy Factory in L.A. to find out what’s next for this skater, beat maker, and entrepreneur in the making.
â€œ...my life was literally dedicated to skateboarding.â€?
WSTRNCV: So how long did it take for you to get comfortable on camera? Christopher Pfaff: You know, it really did take a while to be honest. And that’s where my whole shy, standoffish personality on the show came from, and especially if you go back and watch old episodes of “Rob and Big.” I don’t know what to do. ’Cause I literally moved to L.A. from Ohio, and then it was two months after that that we started filming the pilot for “Rob and Big.” It took me a good year to even adjust to L.A. from Ohio. So it took a while. WSTRNCV: But that was the beauty of “Rob and Big.” CP: Absolutely. And now when I watch it, I’m not even mad at it. It’s really funny. WSTRNCV: It shows. It’s not “Laurel and Hardy.” But it’s an original comedy. CP: Yeah. And people still to this day come to me. Like, “How did you let them, you know, shave your head?” WSTRNCV: The funniest. CP: It’s hilarious. WSTRNCV: You were miserable. We felt bad for you ’cause I watched every show from the beginning. CP: Absolutely. And there’s still a lot of times, too, where they would like kind of hint to me, like, “Yo, we kind of want to do this, or something kind of ridiculous. Are you okay with it? Are you okay with just getting crazy?” And I’d get nervous. But, “Yeah. Let’s just do it.” And those are also some of the best memories of my life. Because being a 21-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio, who had never even had Vodka Red Bull until he moved to L.A. at 19, going on a party bus with all these people filming their shows for MTV for your 21st birthday, was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. So to me personally, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Shave my head. WSTRNCV: What was it like growing up in Akron, Ohio? CP: It was good. But it’s boring as hell. There’s nothing to do. I was a diehard skateboarder. So ever since age nine or maybe 10, my life was literally dedicated to skateboarding. Like I said, I didn’t hardly drink, didn’t have girlfriends…just skated every day. It’s one of those things, ever since about age 13, I knew that I wanted to move to L.A. the moment I graduated from high school. I just knew that’s where I wanted to go. But, at the same time, I felt like when all you know is Akron, Ohio, you don’t realize how boring it is. You just get used to it. ~141~
WSTRNCV: Who was your favorite skater back then? Who inspired you? CP: I was constantly changing. But I will say that, as weird as it is, I was mostly inspired by the rail skaters, the tight-jean wearing, gnarly, El Toro, rail, whatever. You know. When I was a kid, Rob always used to make fun of me for that because I used to wear tight jeans. I used to think I was a little stair-jumper. But I loved Andrew Reynolds, Jim Greco, and the whole shebang. That was my genre, a little bit more than the Timmy Lynch guys.
WSTRNCV: Cool. And so that’s when you moved out here to L.A.? CP: Yeah. Actually, I fell skating right after I graduated. The weekend after I graduated, we went to the grand opening of Rob’s Skate Plaza in Ohio. So my plan was to go there for the weekend, come back for two weeks and go to L.A. I had it all laid out. So I actually fell skateboarding at his grand opening — which is a funny story — slamming my head into the ground, brain bleeding, fractured skull and the whole thing. It took me two weeks to learn how to read again. I was in a coma for four days. The funny part of the story is, that the city came to Rob and said, “This is why we told you that kids have to wear helmets ’cause he fell so hard. No helmet.” They said, “This is why that kid got injured. And his parents are suing the city.” And Rob said, “But it’s actually my little cousin. So I know that his parents aren’t suing the city. You’re lying.” So now, because of me, they have signs at his skate plaza saying, “Helmets are strongly recommended.” So that set me back about three months, which actually ended up being a blessing as it was perfect timing as far as being on the show and all that. WSTRNCV: And you started out as Rob’s assistant? CP: Yeah, and that’s why I feel like the timing was just amazing. And who also helped me was my brother. I was supposed to move with my brother and work at his skate shop. He ended up getting his first girlfriend. So he didn’t want to leave. So he was just in love in Ohio. So I was like, “All right.” WSTRNCV: Oh really? CP: Yeah. My brother said, “I can’t move. I’m in love with my first girlfriend.” I said, “All right. I’m just going to go. Rob said you can stay with him for two months until you get an [apartment].” So I said, “All right. I’m going.” So I went and a week before I was supposed to move out of Rob’s house, his assistant called and had to quit because his girlfriend wouldn’t let him move from San Diego to work full-time for Rob. He came out of his room panicking, because they were about to start filming “Rob and Big” the next day. And he said, “Do you want to be my assistant?”
And I said, “I don’t even know what that means. But I’ll give it a shot.” Best education I’ve ever gotten in my life. WSTRNCV: That’s funny. So I saw that you started surfing on one of the episodes. CP: I literally stood up one time. WSTRNCV: You were ripping it, by the way. You had your style. I saw it on that wave. I was like “keep paddling…” CP: I didn’t though. WSTRNCV: You didn’t paddle into that wave? CP: No. They might have made it look like that. But they pushed me into it. Really, I have a whole new respect for surfing. It’s one of those things I didn’t know anything about until I got out here. I knew once I could stand, it would be similar to skating. But even with battling the ocean and slamming into the reef, I had a whole lotta fun. Crazy. WSTRNCV: To me, all of the episodes are so killer. So what’s your favorite episode? CP: Actually, I have a couple. As a comedy, I would say my favorite episode is when we dressed up like old men. That was hilarious. Personally, I had the time of my life. It was one of the few times when I’ve really been able to fully open up, joke around and be myself. We were having a blast. There was nothing better than the feeling of being an old man but still young inside ’cause you could do anything. Old men can get away with murder. WSTRNCV: And your voice changed, too. You went into the old folks’ home. It was so classic. CP: But you can say anything. It’s like, “You know what? He’s an old guy. What are we going to do?” WSTRNCV: Hilarious. CP: I would say another one of my favorites is definitely the Young and Reckless jump out of the building because it was one of the few shows that were about me. And I went first. So, for me, that was big since I got to prove myself. I was like, “Whatever.” I just jumped. It was absurd. Then, you get up there and look around, and you can see the skyline and all of Long Beach. “Ok great.”
Drama launches himself into the foam.
WSTRNCV: It must have changed your mind. CP: It really did. And then definitely another big one was the shark attack episode. That was probably the scariest moment of my life ’cause I’ve never been that far out of my comfort zone. I’ve never been scuba diving. I had no idea what we were doing. And everything about it screamed, “Don’t do this!” And I’ll never forget the feeling of swimming [away] from it, and seeing that there was still 30 sharks around this shipwreck. And just like that it hit me, “What are you doing? What is your life?” And then I paddled back to the surface. So yeah, those three are the biggest for me. WSTRNCV: Pretty amazing. So what’s your most embarrassing moment on the show? CP: It has to be shaving my head for my 21st birthday. I think that that was definitely the most embarrassing thing for me because we were walking through a casino at the Palms in Las Vegas surrounded by cameras and lights. What you don’t see is what the actual production looks like. So not only are you drawing attention to yourself in that way anyway, but I had on a suit jacket — I had to literally — the same way I did with the beer episode I was telling you about, I had to shut off any sort of pride, or anything that you have for yourself and just walk through. You have to turn your brave on. WSTRNCV: I remember. You looked shell-shocked. Are there any good stories that didn’t make the show? CP: The best one I have is, when Rob first got Meaty, they had this big dog cage sitting in the kitchen that Meaty would always hang out in. Long story short, I walked upstairs, my ignorant, little 19-year-old self. And Big Black was trying to squeeze into the dog cage. So they said, “Do you think you can fit in this thing?” I said, “Of course.” Big Black is almost fitting in it. I can fit it. So they’re like, “Well, go ahead and jump in.” I’m like, “I don’t know.” But, at the same time, there goes the funny button. We’re like, “Ok, it’s going to be funny.” “All right. Let me see what I can do.” So I squeeze in. The moment I put my feet in the cage, they slam the door and latch it. Big Black grabs me and brings me out to the edge of the pool. So I’m sticking out and I’m thinking, “No way,” ’cause they used to mess with me all the time. So I’m like, “No way. They wouldn’t do that.” ~146~
The key here is, I had my Blackberry in my pocket so they can’t throw me in. But, as I’m screaming, “No, my phone!” they just push me in. And I was screaming the whole way so I didn’t breathe. I didn’t think about it until after they pushed me in. I hit the bottom of the pool and instantly went into the gnarliest panic. Like, “You’re locked in a cage. So unless you’re either going to Houdini yourself out of here, you’re going to have a freak, weird death at the bottom of your cousin’s pool.” So I was kicking, trying to break the thing open and couldn’t do it. Finally, I thought, “Ok I’m going to have to take a breath. This is going to be an awkward death. But I have no air left.” And literally, right as I breathed in, Big Black jumped in and grabbed me. And the footage is the craziest thing, where just as the corner of the cage comes out of the pool, it’s my mouth right there, just happy to be alive. And it was one of the funniest things, running around, “Nice catch, we got one.” But obviously it didn’t air, ’cause it’s too easy for kids to recreate it. So that was one of the scariest, memorable, crazy, funny, everything all in one, that never made it into the show.
WSTRNCV: How did you get the nickname “Drama”? CP: It actually came from a phase that I think every kid goes through where you get your first screen name. And everyone is always like, CheetahChick143. Whatever. Mine was “Causin’ Drama.” At the time, I thought I was a little Akron rapper. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I listen to way too much hiphop. So “Causin’ Drama” was my handle. Nobody ever asked me about it in my life. One day, I sent Rob an email when I was about 16. And he just wrote back, “Causin’ Drama, are you serious?” And I was like, “What?” I mean, I’m 16. WSTRNCV: That’s cool. CP: So then, I was “Chris” to everybody. So what happened is, once again joking, I took all these photos with my hat on sideways, foil in my teeth, etc. That was my MySpace page. Right? And I put “Drama” for my MySpace page. So, when I was 18, I came out to L.A. And Rob printed out my MySpace photo and set them all on his kitchen table for two weeks prior to my move, and said to everyone. “Listen, my cousin, Drama’s moving out in two weeks. He’s an aspiring rapper. He’s been through a lot. Here’s his picture.” I was like, “What the fuck?” It’s been that way ever since. I think for the longest time, nobody knew my real name ’cause it was just “Drama. Drama. Drama.” Then he shot “Rob and Big,” and everyone already knew me as “Drama.”
“At the time, I thought I was a little Akron rapper. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I listen to way too much hip-hop.”
When I got here, everyone was like, “What’s up, Drama? What happened?” I was like, “What the fuck?” It’s been that way ever since. I think for the longest time, nobody knew my real name ’cause it was just “Drama. Drama. Drama.” Then he shot “Rob and Big,��� and everyone already knew me as “Drama.” WSTRNCV: Have you and Rob always been tight? CP: To be honest, no. Not really. I’m 24. He’s 36 or 37. There’s a huge age difference. He moved to L.A. when he was 18. So I just knew growing up that I had a pro-skater cousin. But I was really young so I didn’t really get it. It was just cool. Then, I would see him every Christmas or so and he’d bring us boards and stuff when I started skating. And, for the longest time, I would see him at Christmastime. And I was the nerdy little cousin. Every Christmas, I’d ask him to do the most absurd tricks. I joke with him now, “I can’t believe that you’d hang out with me because I put you through the annoying cousin business.” For the longest time, I didn’t really know him at all. And then, when I was 18 and ready to move out to L.A., he just decided to take a gamble on me. He said, “Why don’t you just come out to L.A. just because you’re my cousin?” And we ended up just really getting along. He’s really like a brother to me now. WSTRNCV: He loves his family. CP: Absolutely. That’s something I really learned from him. He really, by all means necessary, helps others. WSTRNCV: He’s genuine. And you are, too. You guys are coming from a good place. CP: That’s something I try to really, you know, carry on with. It’s a blessing. WSTRNCV: So how did the show come about? How did it get started? CP: It all came from…have you heard of the Gumball 3000? It’s a car rally. WSTRNCV: Yeah. ~150~
CP: Well, Rob came up with an idea to do these skits with Big Black for the DC Shoes video. His whole idea was, as you know, skaters get kicked out of everywhere by cops and security guards. It’s an everyday occurrence. So his thought was, “Well, I’m going to hire my own security guard that’s bigger than any of these security guards. And they’re going to tell the security guards, ‘No, I’m going to skate for a little bit.’” So that just goes all the way back to the same, absurd ideas he has now. So he did that for the DC video. After that, he and Big Black ended up just becoming really good friends. And he actually became a mini celebrity in the skate world. So DC just hired him to go on tour with all the skaters. And he was just kind of around. So they ended up going on the Gumball Rally through Europe. And they were just together in their car. It was just them being them. But the guy that was filming the DVD for Gumball, who’s now our executive producer, Ruben Fleischer, said, “Look. I don’t know what it is, but you guys have to do more with this. There’s something here that’s bigger than a race, bigger than the Gumball Rally DVD. There’s chemistry here.” WSTRNCV: It’s classic. CP: It is. I mean that dynamic is something magical, you know? And he saw that. So they took it to Jeff Tremaine, who they knew through the skate world and was also connected with MTV. It was a long process. From the first meeting to the first day of shooting, I think it took all in all close to two years. WSTRNCV: That’s awesome. So let’s get into your clothing company for a minute. What’s the inspiration behind [Young and Reckless]? CP: For the most part, the inspiration is really about me moving from Akron, Ohio, which is small-town America, to L.A. I’ve always been super picky about my clothing, what I wore, even in the dirty little skater days. I was very methodical about my dirt. So when I moved to L.A., that’s where I got hip to the whole streetwear culture. And what I love about streetwear is the way that they brand themselves. It’s so focused. So when a kid in Miami buys a Diamond shirt or The Hundreds shirt, he really feels like he’s a part of that crew. You know? Like they’re just so much more focused. Whereas, if you buy a Quicksilver shirt, you really don’t feel like you’re part of anything. The problem that I saw is, there’s nothing like that available in Akron or any other small town. So I wanted to create a brand that’s available to the mainstream. A kid could go to his local mall in Akron or in Minnesota and buy it. But, at the same time, it had that same cool factor, that same focus as these streetwear brands do. So that’s where the whole inspiration behind Young and Reckless came from. ~153~
WSTRNCV: What’s the response been so far? CP: It’s been amazing so far. One of my biggest things is really letting the world know that it’s not the way I market myself. It’s not just about me and I don’t want it to simply be the Drama merchandise brand. I want it to be about a bigger movement, more than what you wear if you’re a fan of me. And we’re finally getting to the point where we’re seeing the proper response. It’s getting bigger. It’s not just going off of the show, driven by what I do. WSTRNCV: That’s awesome. I’ve seen you grow on the show and there’s a huge following. This season’s “Fantasy Factory” premier is one of the most viewed MTV premiers. Tell me about that. CP: Yeah. It was awkward as can be. One thing about our show is we don’t usually shoot any reallife struggles, if you will. We’ve never really shot in a doctor’s office. Everything is made up. Like, it might be a little awkward to shave your head and walk through a casino in Vegas. But you’re doing it for a show so it’s funny. That was actually the only time that I’ve been really uncomfortable and in pain, sitting there, my teeth ground down. And they would come in to me, the director would come in, “Hey, we’re going to send Rob and Big Black in. They’re going to just check out your progress.” And I was like, “No, everyone leave for 15 minutes. Let me sit here and shake off this Novocain.” The drooling. The Novocain is giving me the shakes. It wasn’t funny. I don’t want camera crews in here. WSTRNCV: How many people viewed it? CP: It was right around two million. WSTRNCV: Did you ever imagine that you’d become a celebrity? Because when I watch the show, I see it. You are a celebrity. CP: It’s weird. What’s really strange is, 80 percent of the greetings that I get from my fans when I’m out and about are, “What’s up, [man dog]?” The other day, I was at the airport going to Orlando. And the security guard at the airport, at the X-ray machine was like, “Okay, come on through, man dog.” WSTRNCV: That’s hilarious. CP: But it was great. It’s fun. I love when you wrap for the day, and you come up with something on the fly, you just know that that one’s going to stick.
WSTRNCV: How was the season finale? CP: It was amazing both on-camera as well as off-camera. New Orleans is just absurd. We would all go out and meet up at night and throw beads off the balcony. I bought a Mardi Gras mask and took my camera out, and just went out in the streets to take photos. It’s another level. WSTRNCV: And what are your feelings about partying, drinking and drugs? CP: To be honest, I don’t really get that crazy. I don’t have time to go too hard. I go out occasionally and drink. I’m not really a drug guy. I can’t afford to. I think that luckily I was kind of shot directly into a very busy lifestyle. Even when I worked for Rob, it was every day, all day. And so, I never really had that phase of, “Let’s go off and waste a couple years,” and then realize that it’s gone. There’s so many kids my age I see that are stuck in that, and going down that road. If you only knew that you’re just wasting years. Eventually, you’re going to wake up at 25, and be like, “Okay, I need to start working.” Everyone has a moment of clarity. Like, “Okay, what am I doing? What’s my hustle? What’s my dream?” Why not start now as opposed to waiting three years, partying your face off, and then get it going? But my life is set up already. WSTRNCV: Absolutely. Very smart guy. So let me ask you about the Reckless Rangers. CP: It’s our street team, and right now, we have about 900 to 1,000 Reckless Rangers. They have their own section on our website. And we send them free T-shirts. We also made them dog tags that say “Reckless Ranger” on it. I feel like there are a lot of kids out there that want to be involved in something. And it’s important to me to do it properly. It’s just amazing how you make kids feel like they’re involved in what you’re doing, and they’ll do anything for you. So when kids send in their applications, we really look at them. We screen them. We make sure that they’re really into it. I don’t want to have 5,000 kids that don’t really care. I’d rather have 1,000 that are going to do what you want to at the drop of a dime. And I think it’s a huge tool for our marketing. We were just in Athens, Ohio, in the middle of nowhere at a benefit concert called “8 Fest.” This kid came running up to me, “Hey man, check this out.” He showed me his dog tag. So they really live it. It’s pretty amazing.
WSTRNCV: It seems like you guys admit you’re taking from Rob, but he always gives back. He incorporates the kids. And it’s really important to you guys. It’s like charity. CP: Absolutely. One of my biggest things, too, is once again, as a kid from Akron, Ohio, and knowing that side of life, and then coming to this side so quickly. I’ve been given a lot of blessings in my life, a lot of opportunity that I’ve turned into these things. But it’s really about trying to instill in as many kids as possible the fact that they can do it, too. You can be a part of something. You can truly have something special. I just feel like so many kids get lost for so long before they find out who they are. And they just feel like they can’t do it. They’re not a part of anything. And that, to me, is a huge part of it.
And, you even said that you’ve watched me grow up. I love that ’cause I feel like kids have seen me go from an assistant that was asking Rob for gas money at one point, until now. And there was no secret key to my success. I worked hard and did it, and you can do it, too. WSTRNCV: So how does the music crew fit into all of this? CP: Well, luckily for me, there are a lot of the same people that we deal with in clothing that we can also kind of cover. Music and clothing tend to overlap at times. For instance, we’re working with this kid, Machine Gun Kelly, who’s a rapper from Cleveland. And he’s involved with the clothing stuff, and we’re also going to work with him on the music side as well. ~157~
So there are a lot of things that overlap, which is great. And actually, I want to work it to where they overlap even more. And a lot of times when I will spend a whole day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., working on the clothing. And I’ll go eat for an hour, and then be in the studio from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. And then, do it again all the next day. So it’s not always perfect. But I have a passion for both equally so I’ll do whatever it takes. WSTRNCV: Who would be the artist you’d like most to work with? CP: I’d say Michael Jackson if he were still around just because he’s just an entirely different level. I know, as a producer, that he, even as an artist, did a lot of production, gave a lot of direction in production, which doesn’t happen much these days. WSTRNCV: Is there anything else in the future that you’re working on, working toward, or anything that you’d like to talk about? CP: In the near future, I’m just progressing everything that I’m doing. I’m really tying together, like I said, the music and the clothing a little bit more. I’d love to start my own label when they are really hand in hand. And we have a lot of big things coming up with Young and Reckless. We just did a huge deal with Monster Cable. So they’re going to do our headphones line. That’ll be mega for getting us into Best Buy and other big-box stores. Hopefully, I’d like to do another season of “Fantasy Factory.” And eventually, I’d love to do my own spinoff show of like, “Ok, here’s Drama trying to get out on his own.” And who knows what new opportunities will come along. WSTRNCV: So do you ever watch the episodes? CP: Yeah, we usually do a thing, actually now, where we get all the Young and Reckless team, all the employees, everyone, together and watch the episode. And every time somebody’s wearing a Young and Reckless shirt, we’ll take a shot. Just have a little celebration. It’s cool for building the team and the brand. And the show is obviously a massive part of that. So we like to celebrate it a bit. WSTRNCV: Sure. So it seems like there’s some genuine chemistry on the show. Is something romantic going on between you and Chanel, or Rob and Chanel? CP: Unfortunately no. I wish there was some big secrets or some gossip. But it’s really truly more of a little sister thing between us. We definitely mess with her. But it’s one of those things where you’re around a girl every day for a couple years, and if it doesn’t happen in the first month, then it’s not going to happen. ~158~
WSTRNCV: Absolutely. Well, she has eyes for you. And I could see one of you two guys marrying her in the future. CP: The whole rapping thing. I could never… WSTRNCV: She’s awesome. CP: I’d never date a rapper. I could never — even though I’m from Ohio, I’m Drama. I could never… WSTRNCV: That’s funny. CP: It’s too great. WSTRNCV: Drama. CP: There it is. mtv.com youngandreckless.com
“I was very methodical about my dirt.”
WSTRNCV checks out the Venice Pro / Am Skate Contest. By Imani Lanier Photos by Michael Miller
It was a beautiful spring Saturday afternoon on the west
side of Los Angeles. It was a perfect day for skateboards, bikinis and the cool Pacific Ocean air. After a 30-minute bike ride down the coastline, we arrived at the Venice Pool and Skatepark. Hosted by the National Skateboard Association and the Venice Surf and Skateboard Association, the Venice Amateur Skate Contest awarded almost $3,000 to skaters competing in three different categories: street course, transition and bowl. The crowd was live and Dogtown was representing in numbers with both new and old school skaters in attendance. Throughout the day, there was no shortage of talent at the park. Both guy and girl skaters, aging from 10 to 25, were there to rip up the concrete pool and the massive street course including hand rails, ledges and stairs — all the obstacles you’d see on any urban street. As I watched the 100-or-so skaters swirling the park, the vibe was so raw and real that it reminded me of the late ’80s and early ’90s when skateboarding was not considered a real sport. At that time, it was only for losers and outcasts. (I don’t mean this in a negative way because, even back then, it was such a positive thing for me to be involved in.) Just like artists throughout the entire history of civilization, society has always misunderstood anything new and creative, and beyond the realm of normal day-to-day existence. The contest was super exciting and all of the skaters represented hard! With style and grace, they blasted fiveto-10 feet out of the pool with the shimmering Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. With amazing technical skill, big airs, subtle grinds and impossible flips were made to look effortless as the crowd cheered and fellow skaters spanked the concrete with their board tails in mutual respect and admiration. Like a gathering of the tribes, everyone in attendance had a part in making this Saturday afternoon a fun and memorable day. It was a testament to the sport and the culture, and ultimately, personified what West Coast culture is all about. Peace.
Photo Ed Swart Archive
Photo Kiino Villand ~176~
Swart at Willow Springs Raceway, California, with his Chevron B19. ~178~
Photo Kiino Villand
Swart with his Shadow DN9 Formula One car at Laguna Seca. ~162~
Photo Sharon Swart
Photo Kiino Villand
Soul shaper Pohaku Stone crafts traditional Hawaiian surfboards the Old Way. By Liza Ryan Photos by Charisa Gum
Thomas Pohaku Stone more than epito-
mizes the soul of surfing—he liberates its spirit through his woodcraft. Sitting cross-legged on a plush green sofa in a Kona Brew Co. t-shirt and cargo pants, one would hardly guess that he spent years of his life not in the waves, but in a lecture hall. Former pro-windsurfer, traditional extreme sport enthusiast, lifeguard and professor, like the 14-plus-foot, mangowood Olo (boards ridden by Hawaiian royalty) behind him, Stone defies simple definitions and archetypes. Moments after rumbling up the gravel road to his home and workshop tucked into the side of the wild and abrupt Ko‘olau Mountains, it’s apparent that not only is he a legend, he’s a craftsman of the old kind. Like the stillfresh scars on his cheek, the words “sacrifice” and “tradition” mark our conversation as we discuss why, in an era of precisely shaped and tailored boards, he has decided to foreswear modernity and return to the finless, heavy and decidedly impractical wooden board. Pohaku (meaning “stone” in Hawaiian) Stone grew up poor during an epoch of Hawaiian history (the ’60s and ’70s) when indigenous Hawaiians were trying to figure out what it meant to be Hawaiian amongst a resurgence of “soul surfers” and resort developers. It was on that crowded stage that Stone received his first board.
“I wanted a board like everyone else’s, but we were poor so my dad went into the woods and cut me a board.” ~189~
“I wanted a board like everyone else’s, but we were poor so my dad went into the woods and cut me a board,” he says. “And I hated it. I 100 percent hated it!” He chuckles. “I took it to the beach but I wouldn’t ride. So my dad burned it.”
“Burned it!” I choke.
“Yeah, he chopped it up and burned it on the spot.”
“How old were you?” I ask, expecting a tale of teenage rebellion.
“Five,” he responds.
And therein lies the essence of this man with a self-echoing name. A phoenix, he left the wooden boards of his father as a young man opting for the prestige and renown that bedazzles the world of pro windsurfing. And only after years of success in the pro-circuit did he return and rise from those familial ashes. He says he heard the kahea kahiko, the old call. A call to return the craft of his kapuna (elders), to build boards the way they had been made for centuries, but which had been lost for decades. According to Stone, he has a responsibility as someone born and cultivated from island soil to serve the community and traditions of his people. This acute sense of duty and cultural tradition can be difficult to distinguish from all the bravado and conk blowing that seems to manifest when you talk about the “Old Way,” and indeed, at times, I feel like an invasive plant in his paradise. But Stone is not some type of self-proclaimed messiah of Hawaiian culture, nor is he a boar hunting/bumper sticker-toting secessionist (though I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a rifle or two on the property). As he puts it, “You are meant to carry on traditions and walk quietly. There is no reason to go and talk the talk, walking quietly is good, the more you talk the more trouble you bring to yourself.” But all of this only serves as the backdrop to his truly beautiful craft. Whereas most board shapers and glassers have fully tricked-out workshops and are outfitted like riot police (and take themselves just about as seriously), Stone looks like a veritable ray of sunshine with his Smithsonian-style tools. “Can you hear that?” he asks me as he drags his thumb lightly across the blade of one. “Most people look at the tool, but you have to hear it…” And despite the fact that they look like you could buy them at a flea market, his tools, all five of them, are the keys that open the cage of these spirit-filled boards. Walking around the open-air shop littered with hulking chunks of tree and well-used BBQs, you sense that there isn’t any part of the process that doesn’t
To craft a board the Old Way, he must go out and find the right tree, make a sacrifice to the gods and ancestors whack the tree down, and then cut the proper section from it. And then comes the moment that might make the pragmatist in each of us raise an eyebrow: Rather than succumbing to the publics demand for boards shaped like Queen Kapiolaniâ€™s or the Dukeâ€™s, he listens to the wood and releases the shape that he receives after taking the ancient â€˜awa (a tea-like drink made from kava root) and sketching its form as he lays his body on top of it. This moment, he says, is crucial to liberating the board that lies within. Each board is unique, and to replicate a board would go against the spirit of the craft. Begrudgingly, he tells me about others that make such boards, sending them off to shapers to be cut and finished to resemble those infamous boards. As a craftsman and a lifelong surfer, it grieves him that these imitations are marketed and sold as traditional boards.
Unfortunately, it isn’t only the pain over this misnomer that causes a shadow to darken his impossibly cheerful face. A man born to be in the ocean conquering epic waves, paddling island to island, and canoeing the length of the eight major Hawaiian islands, his tone drops as he talks of the friends and fellow surfers that he has seen use and abuse the sport that he so loves. He refers to greats, whom he has helped get re-sponsored after getting drug down by the overwhelming current of drugs and tour living. He believes that what is missing in surfing today is that connection with tradition, a unique bond between wave, board and rider. When asked where he would like to see surf culture in the next 5 to10 years, he replies that he is anxious to see it return to a sense of enjoyment, the pleasure of surfing rather than how much money you can make. He even goes so far as to suggest that money be taken away for the sport entirely. “It’s good to have a board or two,” he says, “But I don’t think young kids, eight years old, should be getting $50,000 a year.” But all is not lost in his eyes, nor does he see himself as the last and lonely relic of a time and a way gone by. There is a glimmer he references, the hope of another era — one in which surfers return to the waves, not out of dreams of grandeur or hot chicks, but because they truly, deeply, unequivocally love to ride.
“Most people look at the tool, but you have to hear it…”
But even legends need to make a living, and Stone, with his signature air of nonchalance punctuated by brutal honesty, notes that although he loved teaching the pay sucked and so he resigned his professorship. Judging by the tidy sum that Disney has now offered him (approximately $100,000) for two massive Olo boards that will soon stand guard at the new resort on Oâ€™ahu, it seems like the Old Way has taken as good of care of him as he has of it (he even offered to pass onto me some of the beer he receives from the generous people at Kona Brew Co.). And even though his masterpieces tower over us in height and possibly worth, looking very much like they should be hermetically sealed in some museum to be ogled by passers-by, Stone is firm on one thing: If he makes it, he rides it. And how do these boards ride? According to him, â€œlike a log.â€? A two-hundred pound log at that. hawaiibc.com/shaper.htm k38watersafety.com/forum
If he makes it, he rides it.
Classic Girl Photographer: Karl Rothenberger Make-up and hair: Monica Giselle Model: Mckenna at Ford LA Special thanks to Element / Eden
swimsuit by luli fama, shirt by j crew
vintage levis denim shorts, zooey woven top by element, swimsuit by roxy ~207~
Â zooey woven top by element
vintage levis denim shorts, brandy and melville tank
swimsuit by vix paula hermanny ~213~
abbott hooded sweater by element
swimsuit by b. swim
swimsuit by b. swim
swimsuit by b. swim
swimsuit by b. swim
swimsuit by b. swim
Always Sunny in L.A.
Creating the quintessential California beauty with fashion photographer Karl Rothenberger. By Blaine Ashley
liffs jutting over the Pacific Ocean were a welcome change of view from the snowy, dreary weather Karl Rothenberger left behind in New York City. Recently, the fashion photographer hit Los Angeles for a few weeks to scout locations, not to mention shoot for a few top clients like Ford Models and their bevy of long-gammed beauties. As usual, three weeks effortlessly turned into an extended five-week stay. “I tend to do that when I come to LA,” explains Rothenberger. “I could be outside for every shoot, where it’s 72 degrees and sunny.” Rothenberger has been tri-coastal for years, spending time between his home base of New York, hometown of Chicago and sunny LA. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have a steady stream of work in each city for some time now,” he said, and it’s no secret that the travel aspect of Rothenberger’s work holds a huge appeal for him, as well as any like-minded artist. But, art wasn’t Rothenberger’s sole motivation to achieve top photographer status. The lens and light master also didn’t want to be the starving kind of artist, and sought something that would marry the art world and entrepreneurship. “Photography takes all the elements of art, composition and color, and combined with my own business acumen, photography has become a creative outlet I can support myself on.” This particular beach shoot featured McKenna, a Las Vegas-based model that Rothenberger has shot a few times who flew out especially for this story. “Such a fun, cute personality coupled with her freckles and natural beauty made McKenna the perfect So-Cal beach girl in my book.” He’d also been to Point Dume in Malibu on a previous trip and found it breathtaking, so when WSTRNCV approached him to shoot this editorial, he knew he had the perfect combination. Leading up to the shoot, however, Rothenberger fought the elements and a serious cold. The day of the shoot, the rain had cleared but his sinuses hadn’t. Hyped up on Advil, with beautiful weather, location and model in tow, he braved his own illness and the results exceeded his expectations. “Maybe I need to be sick more often,” opined Rothenberger. “Both McKenna and I were thrilled with the end result.” Rothenberger’s life as a creative gypsy keeps it fresh. “Working in New York for the major part of my year brings about plenty of new and interesting experiences. There’s no predictability. A lot of my inspiration takes place while on foot. You never know what you’re gonna get in the city. That said, working in Los Angeles can also bring about the unexpected as it did with the natural elements, my cold and an interesting lunch encounter. “One of my favorite restaurants in New York is called Café Habana. It’s Cuban food with this crazy good corn. We passed one while on lunch break in Malibu and although I knew the two weren’t related, I insisted that that was lunch. Turns out, it was not at all like the New York Habana. I ordered tacos that apparently only came on corn tortillas. I asked for flour and the server said that they did in fact keep flour tortillas on hand for Cindy Crawford, who was a regular. So, thanks Cindy Crawford. And, thanks LA.” karlrothenberger.com ~221~
Ex-pro surfer and abstract artist Michael Torquato de Nicola connects through his canvases.
By Imani Lanier Photos by Michael Miller
Unlike most who wait for a pristine, early morning swell before paddling out
at Topanga, Michael Torquato de Nicola favors going out when conditions arenâ€™t ideal. That way, he gets his choice of waves and it cuts down on competition. But then, this lifelong surfer and artist has always felt more at ease sitting solo in the lineup than navigating the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life on land.
Like most surfers, he’s never lived far from the sea. Every since he was a little kid growing up in Orange County paddling out at the tender age of 12 at notable local breaks like San Onofre, Trestles and Salt Creek, de Nicola has fueled his dual passions of surfing and creating art. They’ve been a pure, potent way for him to express himself without speaking. It’s how he connects and communicates. “When I was a kid, I had lots of energy so I was always painting, drawing and crafting as well as surfing every day,” opines de Nicola, kicking back with his black lab Mango and peering out the living room of his cozy Pacific Palisades home at the endless ocean waves rolling in. “And, simultaneously, both of these interests have built over the years and intertwined. Nowadays, they’ve become one in the same where I wrap and paint all my surfboards. They’re all artwork. So, for me, it’s really been about trying to explore and learn as much about life as I can. And letting it flow out of me.”
â€œWhen I was a kid, I had lots of energy so I was always painting, drawing and crafting as well as surfing every day...â€?
“If I go out and give into it, the ocean will come alive and we’ll play. And, if we’re playing, then magic can happen and I’m inspired.”
Michael preparing for the Grand Final in 1989 at Las Caracas
As he recalls it, he and his dad learned to stand up at the same time, and many of his early surfing memories involve the father-son duo. “Once, we were driving down to San Onofre on a really crappy day and the waves were super small. On the way, I watched this guy riding a wave and I was like, ‘Stop the car.’ He was riding a longboard and just had this style and grace and I was mesmerized. ‘That’s brilliant. That’s beautiful. That guy’s radical.’ It was Nat Young and he was out doing his thing. And inherently, I was mesmerized and knew that that’s what I wanted. ‘He’s got style. He’s got flow. All right, that’s where I’m headed. I want to do that too.’” And so he did, committing himself to mastering surfing and spending the next few years developing his killer, fluid style. At 19 years old, after graduating from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, he joined the US surf team, and he eventually became the first pro surfer ever to graduate from college at the University of San Diego. Yet, even as he traveled around with talented US teammates like Rob Machado and racked up surf trophy after surf trophy, he always felt like a bit of an outsider. Perhaps it was because he was a few years older. Or perhaps he had a hard time relating. Whatever the reason, he felt he didn’t fit in, so he continued to find comfort and solace in his art.
USA National Team, Pan American Games, 1989 in Venezuela, Las Caracas ~230~
“I go around and find old broken boards, fix ’em up, paint ’em up, and the challenge is to make them functional and ride-able.”
Today is no exception. One look at his abstract expressionist artwork (channeling greats like Pollock and Rauschenberg), whether his chosen medium is cracked, broken surfboards, reclaimed-glass windowpanes, canvas, resin, wood, or simply paper, you can see that there’s an underlying structure to it. At the same time, there’s also a movement, a colorful, kinetic adaptation to the layered crescendo of furious brushstrokes. There’s an ebb and flow to his self-expression, just as there is in surfing. “There are two kinds of surfers,” he explains. “There’s the kind who’ll look at a wave and visualize what they want to do. It’s a blank canvas for their tricks. On the other hand, there’s the other kind who’ll read the wave and adapt to it. And so, I think that being progressive at different times means that I want to achieve both. I want to flow with it but I also aspire to be creative and do my own thing.”
For him, it’s all about having an open mind and going with the flow, wherever inspiration may lead. “If I go surfing and have any preconceived notions of what I wanted in the water or try too hard to make things happen, it doesn’t work. If I go out and give into it, the ocean will come alive and we’ll play. And, if we’re playing, then magic can happen and I’m inspired. So I liken my creative artistic process to that.” While he was surfing professionally and collaborating with top brands like Quiksilver, O’Neill and Spyder, de Nicola did plenty of traveling to exotic locales like Indonesia, Fiji, Samoa, The Galapagos, Iceland and Australia as well as throughout Europe. In addition to the amazing surf conditions, these nomadic trips have all influenced his artwork in the form of gathered sand, shells, and wood. But, more importantly, it’s influenced him as a person.
Various reclaimed surfboard canvases by Michael de Nicola
National Gaurd Security, Pan American Games, 1989 in Venezuela, Las Caracas Point
Michael with a little pre-final Amping session,Caracas Point.
“I’ve spent time exploring parts of the world like Indonesia and Fiji where few people have gone. And seeing the young, local kids and going into these poor areas, you might think, they don’t have much. But then, they’re all smiling and singing and they’re super-happy. Granted, they might not have the things that I have. But, on the flipside, it seems like they’ve tapped into something special that I don’t possess myself. Contentment. And it reminds me to realign my priorities and, hopefully, to ensure that I’m doing what I’m doing for the right reasons to reach others. I find these experiences substantial and grounding.” Along the way, de Nicola’s also done his part to give back to the sport he loves. Around 2000, he decided to stop competing. After a few years off to recover and rejuvenate himself, he started competing again and immediately started winning. He rediscovered the killer instinct and the confidence to win, but he realized that he wasn’t doing his truly best surfing. He was simply surfing within a pre-determined contest formula. He decided to change all that by creating a new format called the Red Bull 5x, a type of Skins Game for surfing. Five top surfers each dropped $5 into a hat. Then, they paddled out and surfed world-class, idyllic spots like Cabo, Mexico, Hawaii or Fiji. The hour-and-a-half-long “expression session” was taped. The pros then judged and scored themselves based on five categories: Mojo (Overall rhythm and wave selection), Boost (Best air), Torque (Best turn), Combo (Best linking of tricks) and Push (Progressive maneuver) . The winner took home the pool, a whopping $25. The whole “contest” was broadcast on NBC, Fox and Fuel TV.
He may be humble about his contribution to the progression of the sport, but he’s also very proud of his accomplishment. As he puts it, it changed the face of modern contest surfing for the better. “I simply created a platform for them to display what they’re truly capable of. And they were able to score themselves and we broadcast it so that kids watching it could say, ‘There’s my hero. That’s what he can do. That’s what he thinks is cool.’ So I really wanted to bypass all the bullshit and it wasn’t about money. It was about bragging rights. It was about a bro-down. It worked. The surfers loved it. And, most importantly, the skill level in competitions just went ‘Boom.’” More recently, he’s completed a documentary film called The Westsiders based on a reallife look inside a core group of Santa Cruz surfers and continued his work with Recycled Surfboard Program. He expounds: “I go around and find old broken boards, fix ’em up, paint ’em up, and the challenge is to make them functional and ride-able. I’ve discovered that I could find beat-up boards that were going to the dump and I make them functional and beautiful. Then, I’d ride them and strangely, people were suddenly offering me crazy amounts of money to buy this board or that board ’cause it looks like magic.”
Reclaimed window panes by Michael de Nicola
Redbull RB5X collage by Michael de Nicola
“You can’t duplicate a ride.You can’t duplicate a maneuver. It’s always going to be different. So you have to flow and adapt. Just like life.”
Magic indeed. No matter whether it’s a secret full moon surf session in Tahiti or creating a custom art installation series for a private client in Beverly Hills, the one constant in de Nicola’s life is change. Just like water. And, for the boy-turned-man who’s always lived near the flowing sea, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Yeah, that’s surfing,” he says. “No two waves are ever the same. You can’t duplicate a ride. You can’t duplicate a maneuver. It’s always going to be different. So you have to flow and adapt. Just like life.” iamtorquato.com
Mikala Jones, Pipeline This is a rare photo to get. Itâ€™s not very often that you can actually see through a wave at Pipeline and have a surfer riding on the wave at the same time. I love how you can see the amazing color through the tube. It gives the photo have more depth to it. This is another example of the breathtaking Hawaiian sunset.
Lensman Jeff Flindt braves monster waves to fire the perfect barrel shot. By Chris Galvin
It’s true. Jeff Flindt is living the dream. Over the past 15 years,
this professional surf photographer has constantly roamed the globe to idyllic, tropical locales across all continents and shot world-class surfers on the best waves in the world. As he describes it, he’s always in hot pursuit of the perfect surf photograph; from living on the North Shore of O’ahu during the winter season to spending weeks-at-a-time traversing picturesque South Pacific gems like Fiji, Tahiti and the Cook Islands. Along the way, his work has been featured in the glossy pages of surf and sports magazines including Surfing, Surfers Journal and ESPN. And, as you’d expect, he’s also collaborated with tons of major surf brands like Quiksilver, Hurley, Billabong, Volcom, Reef and Roxy among many others.
Malia Jones, Waikiki Best known for her modeling, Maliaâ€™s also an amazing surfer too. She surfs to help stay in shape and itâ€™s very relaxing for her. What I love about this photo is her swimsuit and her body language as she rides along this wave. It has serious style.
From the very beginning, it was only natural for Flindt to pick up a camera and start shooting. Growing up in Southern California, he studied photography in school so that when he was old enough, he could help out his dad in the family’s photo processing shop. Also, Flindt was close childhood friends with talented pro surfer and musician Donovan Frankenreiter. So, not only did he have a great canvas to work with at local surf spot Salt Creek, but he had a great early subject as well, in Frankenreiter. Beckoned by the hand of destiny, Flindt would eventually get his first big break. One day, surf photography legend Larry “Flame” Moore approached him while he was shooting at Salt Creek. Eventually, over time, “Flame” took Flindt under his wing and became his mentor. It was that fortuitous meeting that propelled this lensman adventurer to where he is today. WSTRNCV: How did you first get into surf photography? Jeff Flindt : I grew up about 30 minutes from the beach in Southern California. I would go to the beach every second I had. My friend Mike and I would take the bus a lot and then Mike got his license and that opened us up to go to any beach whenever we wanted. Sometimes I would go to the beach with Donovan Frankenreiter. His dad would drive us. This was when Donovan was in junior high and he was a very talented surfer at a young age. I remember Donovan would drive his dad’s truck to the beach at age 14 while his dad was sitting shotgun and we were sitting in the back of the bed. Donovan’s dad Marty was so cool. He knew it was 6 a.m. on Sunday morning and there were no cops out so he would let Donovan drive to the beach while he was way under age. It was so exciting. I also met Joe Grodzen later in high school and we would bodyboard a lot together at Salt Creek. Both those guys I grew up with became professional surfers and bodyboarders so I had a good relationship with them from the start. My father owned a couple of one-hour photo labs back in the ’90s when I was in high school. I started to study photography to learn how to use a camera and develop film so I could work for my dad when I turned 16. It was great because my dad was flexible with my schedule so I could go to the beach in the morning, and then go to school, and after school, I would have to work or I could go to the beach. I started to bring my camera to the beach to shoot Donovan or Joe and that’s how I started. WSTRNCV: Renowned surf photographer Larry “Flame” Moore was an early mentor. How did you two meet up? JF: One day, I was shooting at Salt Creek and he came up and asked me, “Who’s your crew?” He was pretty cool to me because I was so young and wasn’t really a threat. He also saw me hanging with Donovan so it was mutual. After shooting down at the beach for months, Flame would talk to me about photography while he was shooting Vinnie Delapina, Pat O’Connel, Donovan, Shea Lopez, Dino Andino and others. So that’s how I got started. It was probably about a year before Flame would publish any of my stuff. At the time, Surfing Magazine owned Bodyboarding Magazine so Joe Grodzen was able to help me get my photos in Bodyboarding as well. I would go into their office and see Flame in the Surfing area. Flame’s assistant Scott Winer was there too and ~249~
Taylor Knox, Off The Wall This would be an A+ photo if it was sunny, but it wasn’t so I’m going to give it an A-. I also wish I hadn’t cut off the tail of his board but I did get his whole back foot so I’m cool with it. I love the angle…how you can see out of the tube, in the barrel, his eyes, his shorts and board, his fingers…. His right hand is about six inches away from my lens.
he was also Bodyboarding’s Photo Editor. So I had my foot in the door at those magazines and I would just hang out whenever I could and learn as much as I could from Flame and Scott. I’d say that Flame got me hooked though. He was the master. He’s still one of the great masters of surf photography. WSTRNCV: You’ve been a professional surf photographer for many years now. How much has it changed since when you first started out? JF: It has changed dramatically because of digital. Digital has made it so easy to get a decent camera and shoot pictures. You don’t need to spend money on film or processing anymore so a lot of people are shooting now. Also technology evolves so quickly. Cameras are getting way better and the cost is going down in price for the resolution you can get. The lenses are about the same price or more expensive. Also, the Internet like this digital magazine you are reading right now has changed the publishing business. This digital magazine is free and it costs nothing to distribute it. Some of the content might cost money but it’s pretty inexpensive to make an online magazine. Today, the photography business is going the same way that the music business has gone. Sometimes, I wish we could go back to the good ol’ days of film and wait four hours to get the shots back. Shoot only 36 exposures. But I love digital though since it’s advanced my career so quickly. It allows me to have so many ways including my website, twitter account and facebook page to share my photos with all my friends instantly. Facebook is almost taking over the place of magazine and websites. Now, photographers like me don’t need permission from magazines or websites to publish our work. The surfers and photographers can post stuff up directly without an editor or anyone telling them what to do or say. People are creating amazing content. At the same time, there’s a lot of crap out there too. I think it’s called noise. WSTRNCV: Over the years, you’ve traveled to some amazing, exotic locales to shoot worldclass surfing. With all of these new surf-forecasting tools including the Internet and various technologies, there seems to be a new sense of adventure to visit never-before-seen and out-ofthe-way spots to shoot. Do you think that these advancements have changed the dynamics of surf photography? JF: Yes, it’s changed it a lot. The surf forecast websites are so accurate that people can find out where the waves are going to be good and big, and grab their digital camera and go shoot. It’s awesome. So the photographers that want a challenge or want to get different stuff have to travel a little farther to get away from the norm. Every year, photographers travel farther and farther to go beyond the normal stuff you see everyday on the Internet. Famous surf spots in California (like Mavericks, Huntington Beach, San Clemente, San Diego, etc.), Hawaii and the East Coast are so heavily photographed that we have to look outside the country for something fresh. But then, you go all the way to Australia and that’s heavily photographed too. Then, you try Tahiti ~251~
Monoa Drollet, Teahupo’o, Tahiti This shot/wave won the 2007 Billabong XXL Monster Tube Award. Teahupo’o is the most photogenic wave in the world. It’s just as awesome to photograph when it’s small as when it’s big.
Right: Andy Irons, Teahupo’o, Tahiti This was the day after the 2009 Finals. Everyone was packing up and leaving, and getting a morning session before flying out that night. It wasn’t Andy’s last session at Teahupo’o but it was one of the last free-surfs that I shot with him there. He paddled out, swung around and just caught this wave right off the bat. Probably 20 to 30 minutes later, it turned onshore and everyone got out of the water. But this wave was so good and Andy was so amped on it. Whenever I saw him afterwards, we would always talk about it. ~252~
but there are tons of people shooting there as well. If you try to go to Indonesia, there are about ten pro surf photographers living there so it’s very challenging to get different stuff nowadays. The market is super saturated with awesome surf photos. But I still love it. It’s inspiring and even though it makes my job harder, I still love seeing awesome images. WSTRNCV: Since you’re working so closely alongside the surfers you shoot, you must form a bond with many of them on your various trips as well as the North Shore season in O’ahu, Hawaii. Who are some of your favorite surfers to photograph and hangout with? JF: On the North Shore, everyone gathers during the wintertime. It’s like the Super Bowl of surfing. I have so many friends from all around the world that come to Hawaii. Some have stopped coming out but there are always new ones too.
We have such great sessions and it’s a great bonding experience when the waves are good all day and guys are consistently getting the rides of their lives. I love documenting those moments. It’s so rewarding to capture the wave of the winter, the largest tube or the longest tube. That’s how we bond with the waves and the ocean. I used to like hanging with the Malloy’s but they don’t come in the wintertime anymore. Now, I hang with good friends like Kohl Christensen, Mark Healey, Reef McIntosh and Aamion Goodwin among others. The list goes on and on. It’s great to party at the Oakley house, the Volcom house and Makua’s place. We have rad barbeques after a great day of surfing. It’s just an amazing place to hang out and shoot. ~253~
WSTRNCV: Personally, you were good friends with Andy Irons. Do you have any good travel stories or fond moments hanging out with him? JF: I did about three to four trips with Andy. We had some good sessions together but I wouldn’t say I was as close to him as others were. He had some friends that were practically his brothers. I wasn’t that close to him. I had a few bad surf trips with him too. We went to the Mentawai Islands (located off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia) and it rained the whole time and the waves were pretty small. So I got to see him when he wasn’t in the best of moods. Yet, we had a magical session at Teahupo’o (located on Tahiti’s southwest coast) one day after the final event. The waves were four to five feet high and hitting on the inside shelf. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was so glassy we could see the reflection of the mountains in the waves. That was probably our most memorable time together. I shot one of his best waves that session from the water and got a really good sequence. It felt so satisfying to document that moment, that feeling. Every time I look at those photos it brings me back to that moment with him. We were just both laughing out in the water and couldn’t believe how good it was and not too many people were out. It was so amazing to see him so happy. The last time I saw Andy was pretty special too. He had just won the 2010 Teahupo’o event and we were talking about our newborn baby boys. Andy was saying that our kids could play together in Hawaii over the winter and our wives could hang out together. That was the last time I spoke with him. WSTRNCV: Can you describe how you go about selecting a location and which riders you decide to go with? JF: It involves a lot of strategic planning beforehand. We have to calculate the swell size, swell direction, winds, tides, weather forecast as well as overall cost. Will it be worth it to fly halfway around the world for a few days of shooting? Then I have to figure out who is the best surfer for those conditions. And, I usually have a list of guys I like to travel with or guys that need photos for future articles. So ultimately, we follow the seasons. Many times, the surfers can’t go because they already have other plans or don’t have the budget to make it. As one guy backs out, I find the next surfer and so on. I might ask 10 guys before I find one to commit.
Josh Kerr, Tahiti I wanted to get Kerzy doing an air but wanted it to be something a little differentâ€”sort of a portrait, sort of an air. So, in Tahiti, I grabbed Kerr and took him to some clear water, tied some rocks to my shorts, sank down to the bottom and took this with my 35mm lens. I had him do a couple of air grabs underwater so his board is actually on the surface and his body is underwater.
Derek Dunfee, Puerto Escondido, Mexico On this trip, I didnâ€™t bring any of my land gear. I was trying to tweak my water housing in the water, trying to get different angles by holding my camera totally weird to do some unusual cropping with the fisheye lens. On this one, he passed by me and I kind of tweaked the camera and was able to get parts of the lip that we donâ€™t normally get with the fisheye. This is one of my favorite photos from Puerto Escondido.
I need to figure out if the surfer is a good match for Teahupo’o or a certain beach break. Some surfers have certain waves they ride better than others. As an example, if the waves are going to be small I won’t invite a big wave surfer and vice versa. If the trip is going to be a long mission then I don’t ask the high maintenance guys. Some guys prefer to go on easy trips. Some guys relish the long missions of no sleep and crashing on the ground. It’s “different strokes for different folks.” I’m pretty flexible. I just want to get the shot. WSTRNCV: What’s your favorite spot that you like to shoot the most? JF: I have two favorite spots. I love the North Shore of O’ahu in the North Pacific because it’s so consistent and there are always guys around to shoot. I love the whole seven-mile stretch. It’s great because everyone speaks English, the food is good, people drive on the right side of the road, they use U.S. currency, and the weather and wind are always warm. My other favorite spot is Teahupo’o, Tahiti in the South Pacific. Teahupo’o is probably the most photogenic wave in the world. It photographs beautiful when it’s one foot and it’s magical when it’s 50 foot. WSTRNCV: Do you have any good stories from a favorite surf trip that you’ve gone on? JF: The last 15 years has been my favorite surf trip. It’s hard to pick out just one trip that’s better than the others. Sometimes I have trips that are shitty for 10 days straight and then we have one magical day that stands out and makes it one of the most memorable trips ever. It only takes one good session to make you forget about all the bad days along the way. That’s how I see life. I try to remember the good days and let go of all the bad days. I have way too many stories…every trip has its own distinct good story. WSTRNCV: Have you gone on any surf trips and ended up hating it? JF: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I hated it. A lot of times, I look back on bad trips and realize that I learned something or experienced something valuable that I’d of never experienced if I didn’t go. There is one trip that stands out though. Here’s what happened. I went to Rarotonga (located in the Cook Islands) with Chris Won, Jeff Hubbard, Spencer Skipper and Lanson. I think that this trip was back in 1997. Anyway, we sailed out to the outer islands overnight, woke up in the morning and surfed. That afternoon, a weather system came in with rain
Aamion Goodwin, Keiki Beach Keiki Beach is an all sandy bottom break on the North Shore of Oâ€™ahu. Once every blue moon the waves can get really good. This day was one of those blue moon days.
Pat Oâ€™Connell, Osaka, Japan This shot was taken during a super typhoon that hit Japan. At the time, I was in Puerto Escondido watching the typhoon move across the Pacific and had to go chase it for this kind of wave. I flew from Puerto Escondido to Mexico City to LAX to Tokyo and finally, to Osaka in two days just to catch this swell. Itâ€™s all worth it when you get photos like this one.
Mick Fanning, Off The Wall This is one of my favorite flash photos Iâ€™ve ever taken. I like the way itâ€™s framed and how you can see all the color in the clouds. The sunsets in Hawaii are amazing for flash photos.
and 40-knot winds for four days straight. We got stuck out in this little sailboat for three days and finally, we decided to head back in the bad weather. We were seasick for four days straight and cooped up in this little sailboat. Chris lost his marbles and it wasn’t good. He was talking to himself. He was almost going crazy. That’s one trip I will always remember. I’ve had a couple of other trips where I got robbed at gunpoint in Mexico for my camera gear and I’ve seen people die. It all comes with the job. WSTRNCV: You also spend lots of time out in big surf working. What’s it like to be out at Pipeline or Teahupo’o with just a pair of fins and a camera? How do you train for that? JF: I do train quite a bit for swimming in big waves. But there’s a certain size I just won’t swim out in. I’m pretty comfortable when the waves are eight feet (i.e. 15 feet face) and under. Once it gets up over eight feet then that’s pretty dangerous. If it’s over 12 feet I’ll most likely stay on land or shoot more from the channel and be safe. It’s just not worth drowning. In order to train for those conditions, I swim in the pool doing laps with my fins and hold my breath underwater while swimming. It keeps my legs and lungs in shape. The best ways to train is free diving or just keep shooting in the water everyday in big waves. Unfortunately, since I live in Sweden, I don’t live near big waves. So I run on the treadmill at the gym to keep up my cardio. I also do Bikram yoga to keep limber for injuries and to stay in shape. It also helps calm me down when I get into stressful situations both in and out of the water. I’ve learned how to control my breathing and it helps expand my lungs to have more oxygen when I have to dive deep. Yoga also makes my body more flexible so when I slam on the bottom of the ocean I don’t break, I bend. As for my diet, it’s not perfect. But I make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. When I know I’m going to be in the water swimming for over four hours I’ll try to drink extra water before I go out. And I’ll also bring the triathlete goo packs out in the water with me for calories and energy. I stuff them into my wetsuit so I have something to eat. I’ve also found that raw coconut water is the best for rehydration. It’s better than any sports drink on the market.
Alek Parker, Galapagos Islands The surfers were pretty sketched out by the sea lions but our guide assured us that they werenâ€™t going to bite. This was set up while we were sightseeing but Iâ€™m comfortable showcasing it because it just brings home how lucky we are as surfers and what cool places surfing can take us.
Sebastian Steudtner, “Jaws”, Paia, Maui This is probably the biggest wave I’ve ever seen ridden. This one measured about 65-70 feet on the front of the wave. Sebastian used a jet ski tow-in to catch this wave.
Kieran Perrow, Off The Wall This shot is one that just worked out. Kieran catches a lot of really great waves at OTW. Sometimes, he’ll pull into closeouts and sometimes, he’ll get super, super deep. This happened to frame up nicely with Kieran pulling in, the water
Sion Milosky, Pipeline This is another great surfer we lost this year. Sion was one of the best big wave surfers of our time. He will always be remembered as a great person both in and out of the water.
WSTRNCV: Got any good stories about being out in the water while freaking out? JF: Sure, I remember shooting Teahupo’o from the boat when it was 15 to 20 feet. It was gigantic. The next day, I woke up and it was half the size so I decided to swim out because photos from the boat don’t look as good. I swam out and it was 8 to 10 feet and I was kind of playing it safe, not getting super deep in the zone. I was trying to feel it out a bit. I knew there were going to be some sets. So, as I got more comfortable, I swam a little deeper and then I heard people from the channel yelling and whistling outside. I could hear a jet ski motoring up the point. As I came over this wave, the next wave was some random bomb that was probably 12 to 15 feet high and Jaime O’Brien was being towed into it. Immediately, I froze up and didn’t know if I should swim in away from the wave or swim out and try to make it underneath. So I swam as fast as I could to get under it. It was enormous. As I swam, I was trying to tell myself to relax. RELAX. But this is what was going through my head: “What happens if I don’t make it under? Just relax. Am I going to hit the reef? Just relax. What if there’s an even bigger wave behind this one? Just relax.” And, I kind of panicked but just kept telling myself to relax, that it was the safest thing to do. Then I realized I was going to make it under the lip and Jaime was in the barrel. ~264~
Kalani Rob, Rocky Point I’ve included this one because it’s got some good depth to it. I love the people in the foreground leaving the beach and the swells in the background. Kalani’s such a great surfer. He is so photogenic in and out of the water.
I wanted to shoot the picture but the wave was so big and thick that it could suck me over if I didn’t swim through it. So I said, “Fuck it, I’m not going to shoot it,” and just swam through it. As I was swimming through, I was thinking “Oh shit, don’t pull me back,” and, “What if there’s another wave after this one? Try to save your energy and just relax.” But I couldn’t. Thankfully, when I came through the wave there wasn’t another one behind it so I swam straight back to the boat. I made up my mind that it was too big for me to shoot fisheye. I’ve had a couple of times when I realized that it was too big to shoot from the water. WSTRNCV: Currently, you live in Sweden. What’s it like being a surf photographer living abroad in Europe? JF: I live in Sweden because my wife’s Swedish. My wife wanted to live closer to her friends and family while I was on the road. We moved over here to start a family and have a better quality of life. I love the States and it’s a great place to live. But I think Sweden is a better place to raise a child. The health care system is very good, and it’s very safe. There isn’t as much pollution over here. Don’t get me wrong. I love the States and I would go back anytime. Just right now in our lives it’s a good time to be in Sweden. I still spend a lot of time going back and forth to California for work. ~265~
WSTRNCV: You and your wife just recently had a baby. Has that changed your approach to shooting photos in the water? Do you try to take less risk now? JF: It has definitely changed the way I travel. I haven’t been traveling as much because I want to be home with my son. I want to watch him grow up and change. Seems like Milo, my son changes every week. He’s growing like a weed. As for shooting from the water, I’ve always been cautious and don’t really push my limits that much. I try to find a fine line between getting the shot and getting worked. I don’t think that having a family has change the way I shoot but it’s definitely changed the way and how often I travel. WSTRNCV: Do you have any plans in the near future to shoot video? JF: Ah you had to ask...yes, I’d love to get my hands on the new Epic or Scarlet Red Cameras. I want to shoot them in the water and see what kind of still images I can pull from the files. It’s going to be amazing to shoot 60+ frames per second and shoot raw files. It’s going to change the industry. But I don’t think the surf industry will be able to support it right away because it’s a little expensive for surf budgets. I’d love to have a Scarlet. If anyone out there can hook me up with one, please let me know. WSTRNCV: What’s next? Are you working on anything right now? JF: Yes, I have been getting into wedding photography with a journalistic approach that I can apply to what I’ve learned over the past 13 years. I’m also working on an extreme sports photography application but it’s taking a little longer than expected because we are building it from scratch. jeffflindt.com twitter.com/#!/JeffFlindt
Jaime O’Brien, Tavarua, Fiji This was just another perfect six to eight foot day at Tavarua. The wind was good, the light was good and Jaime’s just so great at stalling in the barrel. And he’s got such a great style. With all those elements—the light, the wind, the waves—it just makes taking photographs that much more special.
Keone “Burger” Nazaki, Pipeline Over the years, Keone “Burger” Nazaki has grown up on the North Shore while paying his dues and proving himself. This is a great example of him paying his dues on the North Shore.
HOORSENBUHS IS THE NEW STANDARD IN LEISURE AND LUXURY. PHOTOS BY JOSH “little buddy” MADSON PRODUCED AND STYLED BY IMANI LANIER HAIR & MAKE UP: DIMA KIRILLOV MODEL: SHANNON LEWIS
Junkyard Dog (Article reprinted from “Jewels in the Junkyard” by Harold Pace, © automedia.com 2000-2011) Photos by Jacob Hooper
Hunting parts in salvage yards is part of the fun
of restoring or rebuilding older, classic cars. The thrill of finding that perfect part, the one the dealers have been out of since 1958, provides a sense of accomplishment that keeps your enthusiasm going on long projects. Itâ€™s kind of like an Easter egg hunt for adults. But before you grab your wrenches and go trophy hunting, there are some things you should know. The Hunt Although there are many types of salvage yards (the fancy term for junkyards), all share something in common: The responsibility for finding the correct part is up to you. If you go to a retail auto parts store and tell the counter person you need a generator for a 1958 Chevy, it is his (or her) responsibility to fish out the right box and slap it on the counter. If it turns out to be wrong part, you can take it back and get another. But, in the world of salvage yards, it gets a little more complicated. For starters, many salvage yards strip wrecked cars as soon as they arrive, filing the salvageable bits on shelves (or stacking them in huge piles) and crushing the hulls to make room for the next arrival. After awhile, it gets difficult to keep track of what components came out of which car. And since most auto manufacturers make countless changes during a model run, itâ€™s nearly impossible for salvage yard operators to keep up with them. For instance, if you tell the counter person you need an intake manifold and fuel injection system from a 1998 Camaro, the one they have on the shelf may be from the right year but the wrong model. Itâ€™s up to you to look over the part and make sure it is the right one before you hand over your cash.
Trading Places Before you leave home for a junkyard jaunt, make a list of everything you need, including part numbers and, if needed, photo prints or tracings of the required part. If you are replacing an existing part, take the old one with you both to check for fit, and to use as a trade-in. Many salvage yards expect a “core charge” if you don’t have an old part to trade in. They really don’t care about the quality of your trade in, so take the worst example you have. Everything gets even more complicated when you are buying parts to use in an engine swap or other conversion work. If you buy an engine, transmission, rear end or other part and it doesn’t fit, the problem is yours. Although some salvage yards do not accept returns at all (be sure to ask), others have a multi-tiered price structure. The least expensive price has a “no return” policy, while the next higher price allows you to exchange the part for another from their inventory. The highest price allows for cash refunds, usually with a small restocking fee. When you find a particularly rare part and the price is seriously good, save the money and go with no warranty. Even if the part turns out to be defective or not suitable for your project, it might make good trading material down the road. Before you agree to an exchange charge, check to make sure there are other units in the yard that you could exchange for. If you buy the only left-handed “whatzit” they have, you will not be able to exchange it should something go wrong. For those not doing a match-number restoration (where every part has to have the correct part number), you have some options for saving money. For instance, if you need a 351 Cleveland V-8 to go in your vintage Mustang, you will probably find few examples in salvage yards. Pony cars tend to be picked over quickly and many operators charge extra for engines from popular models. However, in the 1960s and 1970s many station wagons were fitted with the same heavy-duty V-8s as the sporty models, and these tend to stick around the yard longer and sell for less.
Research Before you go hunting, do your research. There are countless books on all popular models listing part numbers and interchangeability information for the running gear. Take a list of numbers with you in case the parts have already been removed from the car. The counter person will not know the ratio of the gears in any rear end or transmission, so you will need to know how to determine that from the part numbers. Also, never assume any assembly has its original parts inside. Even when you buy a differential that has a part code indicating a particular final drive ratio, be prepared for the possibility that it has been changed out by a previous owner. Without a return arrangement, you may have to sell it yourself and start over.
The Boys. left to right Steven Lippman, Lance Mountain, David Hackett, Christian Hosoi, Brad Bowmen, Pat Ngoho, Marc Hollander Photo: Reilley Lippman
epic day by Steven Lippman
It was the day of all days.
Last Friday, I got a call. The boys were all meeting for a skate session. Immediately, I dropped everything, grabbed my family, skateboard and camera, and headed over to the pool. (And no, I will not disclose its secret location). It was a session to remember. Itâ€™s been almost 30 years since we all skated together so this was a special moment that I was definitely not going to miss. Back in the late â€™70s, I grew up and skated contests with all these guys: Christian Hosoi, Lance Mountain, Dave Hackett, Brad Bowman, Pat Ngoho, Marc Hollander and Jay Adams. Together, we were on the scene at all times. Skateboarding helped shape the future of music and style. It also molded many of us into what we are today. Here are some photos from that epic day. Enjoy!
David Hackett front side ollie Photo Steven Lippman
Pat Ngoho styles out a front side grind Photo Steven Lippman
Lance Mountain pulls a classic Invert Photo Steven Lippman
Brad cutting Davidâ€™s hair as Lance blastâ€™s a front side for approval. Brad is also a amazing hair stylist we have worked together many time. Photo Steven Lippman
Brad Bowmen Invert Photo Steven Lippman
Christian Hosoi high above the lip with a back side air Photo Steven Lippman
Steven Lippman rips a front side air out of the pool. Photo Bill Sharp
Photos top to bottom: Christian Hosoi with his youngest son XXXXX, center top:Steven Lippmanâ€™s son Ryder doing what boys do best, center bottom:(Steven and Ryder) Daddy grooming Ryder for the future, bottom:Steven Lippmanâ€™s family; Daughter Reilley, Wife Ana and son Ryder.
Christian Hosoi grinds as the boys heckle from the deep end. Photo Steven Lippman ~319~
Jay Adams (Dog towns OG Z BOY) got there late as the sun went down and got a few runs in. Jay front side grind as grom dreams on. Photo Steven Lippman
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In skateboarding and surfing alike, there’s a basic maneuver called “dropping in.”
When a skater drops in, he (or she) stands on the deck of a pool, puts their back foot on the tail of the skateboard, and pushes it so that the back wheels just roll over the coping into a position similar to a tail stall. Then, they put their front
foot on the board, lean forward, and surge into the pool. As they ride into the pool, the skater uses their gravitational potential energy to gain initial velocity, allowing them to skate longer before exhausting themselves and thus to take more runs. Dropping in (and pumping) is an essential skill for anyone who wishes to skate a pool efficiently. But it’s also a very intimidating trick because it requires falling face down from a high place. It’s almost an unwritten law that when a skateboarder tries to drop in for the first time they fall flat on their back because they’re too afraid to lean all-the-way forward. A friend in Venice, California, who told me that she was inspired by the skaters in the park on this day, took these photos. While we were there, she noticed that you have to drop in if you ever want to enjoy the park. She realized
that those skaters who were too afraid to drop in simply sat on the sidelines wishing they could overcome their fear of falling flat on their faces! Then, she told me that something similar was going on in her own life, something that requires her to take the plunge no matter the outcome. Our day at the skate park
gave her the confidence to just got for it and drop in. I admire her for gaining perspective and love the fact that through skateboarding, she figured out what she needed to do. This is a lesson in life. If you donâ€™t ever drop in, you run the risk of getting nowhere fast. Instead, push yourself. And, through endless practice and determination, you may become the best at what you do. Itâ€™s possible. So, my simple message to you is to always drop in and never give up on your dreams. What follows is the greatest reward of all. Imani Lanier / Creative Director-Founder WSTRNCV Magazine Photos by Irene Pak