Source Documents
dora : angry young man, 1963 

Mickey Dora : The Angry Young Man of Surfing, 1963.
Mickey Dora : The Angry Young Man of Surfing.
Surf Guide Interview, October, 1963.

In a wide-ranging interview, Dora recalls his early days, reflects on saturated Malibu, and discusses the making of Ride the Wild Surf (1964); unfortunately the transcription is incomplete.
Conrad Canha is Conrad Cunha.

Also see: Mickey Dora

Page 6

Rincon waves were just as good as good sixteen years ago as they are today.
There just weren't so many people to clutter up the place.
Matt Kilvin out in front of the break, on this "perfection" wave, looks surprisingly modern.
Its easy to see the results of his tremendous influence on style; just watch surfers like
Mickey Dora, or many of the others who were learning in the old days, and it"s obvious.
Compare this photograph, taken by Joe Quigg in 1947, with those supplementing this
month's feature story on Mickey Dora, if you're curious.

Conrad Canha, was actually one of the greatest hot-dogging
innovators in the development of surfing.

Here he performs brilliantly at Ala Moana.
This photograph gives a good idea of the manner in which
Ala Moana waves leap up when they hit the reef.

Note how much larger the wave appears immediately over Conrad's head.
Page 7

Mickey Dora is too strong a personality for many people to admire or approve of.
To say the least, he's controversial.
He's been around the sport for a long time- ever since the early fifties, and began with others who have since become famous in their own right.
He's a purist.
He loves the sport intelligently and lives his own life.
He's not locked-in.
Mickey has surfed more than half his twenty seven years and, perhaps, he has grown more with the sport than most . . . but in a slightly different direction.
At least this was the impression we re­tained after having interviewed the angry young man of surfing.

Mickey performs at Rincon.
Just a few inches from the nose, he trims his board and picks up speed to make the long wall ahead of him, and chances are-  knowing Rincon- he made the wave.

Mickey, how did it all begin; what was your early life like and what made you begin surfing; who were some of the others who were surfing then?
"When I was pretty young we went to to live in South America for a year or so- my father was in the import business there.
We moved back here, but I spent most of my early life locked in boarding schools.
That wouldn't have been so bad, but the counselors had all the fun and the kids did all the work.
We always lived e in town, but when my mother married Gard Chapin- who had a fairly big name of his own in his generation of surfing-  we used to hit the beaches during the summer and I began surfing.
But I was still sent to one private boarding school after another and I didn't have much freedom or time for surfing.
My step­father had strange ideas about raising kids and devised some pretty stiff dis­ciplinary programs for me.
Still, between schools, he would take me around to Malibu and some of the better spots.
It wasn't until 1950 that I got the first board of my own.

In 1954 several of us, including Rick Grigg, Greg Noll, and Bobby Patterson, began to take off for Windansea and San Onofre pretty regularly.
Simmons was working tor my step-father who had a honeycomb lamination company.
spent all his spare time there working on his "concaves'; he lived like a pig, but what a craftsman!
Kilvin was probably the top surfer.
After he went to the Is­lands he came back with a modified Hawaiian stance.
Every move Matt made was functional, there was a purpose to everything he did.
He made waves and was smooth- which is amazing tor a guy his height.
But I never learned from or imitated any one surfer's style.
In any sport, you copy to learn.
I'm guilty of it- we all are.
I picked up a lot about turning from Kivlin and I guess there were other influences.

When I went to school, damn near everything was organized.
Little league baseball, stoop-tag the three 'major' sports . . . everything was concocted
around the buddy system.
They never left you alone.
But with surfing I could go to the beach and not have to depend
on anybody.
I could take a wave and forget about it ... when I wasn't in school.
But don't get me wrong.
Living at the beach isn't the answer.
I like waves; the water is clean but I hate
Hollywood is a tremendous town.
I live here and I'm not saturated

Page 8

All photos accompanying this month's story of Mickey Dora are from his personal  collection and used with his permission.
Page   9

... I still get jazzed when there are waves.
Guys who live at the beach get waterlogged and their brains get sick.
It's just like living in a ski resort: if you're there, you ski your brains out.

In the old days before the Valley cow­boys and aircraft workers entrenched themselves at Malibu, it was uncrowded and you actually got tired doing the same thing on every wave.
So you took off in positions that were damned near impossible.
Now it's saturated.
If you want to get into the curl at Malibu, you might as well forget it.
Its a thing of the past.
But we used to get so bored that we improvised and developed things like 'el spontaneo'.
Bending over and putting our hands behind our legs, we'd look between our ankles with our tongues hanging out.
But when a cer­tain kind of wave came through from the south it'd catch you in a pocket, coming down so hard that you'd damned near bite your tongue off.
You don't do things like that anymore.
Malibu is like a bloodbath, the accident rate has climbed so high."

You've talked about "old" Malibu- how can you still surf there with two hundred guys in the water when in the old days ten surfers was a crowd?
"The crowds have added another di­mension for me.
I've merely repatterned my technique.
These guys take off in front of me and they're scared to death; they know I'm behind them, but they never know what I'll do next.
They run up and put their feet on the nose and I give them a little nudge in the tail-block.
They start to corkscrew.
It never fails.
I messerschmtdt them- I dog-fight them- I go behind and below them and they're so out of control, they simply crack up.
There was this one guy . . . I did this all the way across the point on the inside.
I never even touched him, but he dug a rail and took gas.
I found out later that he lost three teeth out of it.
But the worst part was that he had worn braces for four years and had only had them off for a week when he got it.
It used to be that when I went to Mali­bu, I'd never know what was going to happen- whether I'd get robbed, rolled, or what.
But now that the County has its foot in it, it's ditterent.
They used to have three or four punch-outs each day.
Now they have the aircraft workers, the Valley imbicites, and the guys trom Palm Springs.
And the world thinks it's better ott with the 'Payola'-inspired or­ganizations that have their hands in the beach concessions."

What do you think of the younger gen­eration of surfers?
"They're all sheep.
When I was in high-school, they were called 'pachukos' with their long hair and levi-jackets.
They still have their long hair, but they've traded their levi-jackets for sweatshirts.
They buy a board, take it to the beach for a year and they're a little setious about it . . That's not surfing!
A lot of these guys look good, eventually, but they're phonies.
They don't make waves.
Malibu is an ego-builder, sure, but these guys don't make it difficult.
They take off on the shoulder and come jamming left into the peak, trying to make a wave

Page 10

out of the shoulder.
A section comes over and they don't get through.
They don't cut back, they only go halfway.
Most of them can go only one direction, anyway.
They're frauds because they can only do one thing.
They're too specialized.
The guys who ride Malibu all the time are in trouble when they hit a shorebreack or go to Hawaii.
They do the same thing every tune and they're good at it.
If a guy goes over the same ski slope enough times, of course he'll have it wired.
It's a good way to get a name.
Get yourself a photographer, your picture m a few magazines, and you're known.
But, it's a lazy way of becoming famous.
Surfing contests are another cheap way of getting a name.
If you are good, you don't need to win phony contests to prove it.
These guys have sold themselves ... they couldn't make it any other way and I don't respect any of them.

Surfing is commercialized, but I don't ride anybody's boards.
I pay cash.
I get stale if I ride one board too long, so I have a quiver of boards and I ride a different one whenever I feet like it."

Mickey prepares to drop down and blast through a small Malibu section.
The surfing shots in this section clearly show the stylistic similarities between Mickey and Matt Kivlin, whom we see elsewhere in this issue.

Page 11
If you feel this way about commercialism what's your attitude toward the Hollywood pictures you been in recently?
I'm surfing in pictures because I like to work in them.
I've been in a dozen films so far, including 'King of the Mountain', with Marlon  Brando and Davvid Niven; 'Gidget'; "Gidget Goes Hawaiian'; 'Gidget Goes to Rome'; 'Surfing Wild';  Beach Party", and 'For Those Who Think Young'.
Believe it or not I've been discovered six times this year.
They give you this . .  'you're the greatest ... we'll make millions out of you ...'
They had these ideas and I figured they were right.

Mickey Dora sits back and relaxes on the set during the filming of "Beach Party."
Mickey (behind candle) and johnny Fain (facing camera at Mickey's left) played several parts in the movie.
Mickey also doubled for Robert Cummings in the surfing sequences.

On one picture we went to Hawaii and lived on the North Shore for two and a half months.

We did something that had never been done before.
Big-wave riding was filmed in 35mm.

They were good people- and really wanted to understand surfing ... to capture the atmosphere surrounding the many surfers who make the annual winter trip to the Islands to ride big waves.
I had faith.
I wanted to make this thing a success, not only for them but for me, also.
We had to leave for the Islands so fast that I didn't have time to collect equipment and all I could get when I arrived was a 10*4" hot curl board with a pointed tail and round bottom.
It weighed sixty five pounds!
I rode the beast at Sunset, the Pipeline, and Waimea.
It was murder.
When any group of people is together as much as we were, there's pressure.
After a couple of months, I began to get buggy' and the pressure began to tell.
They didn't know the difference between kona winds and offshore and I had to go through this surfboard talk with them.
On top of everything, they put me on a metra-cal diet because t had put on a little weight for the big surf.
I had to lose about twenty pounds in one month.
Well, as we all know, they had one of the biggest winters ever.
It scared hell out of me.
I couldn't sleep ... little things like their snoring began to bother me.
Luckily the kona winds blew about every other day and on those days I was able to sneak out into the bush and catch up on some sleep.
But then the tanks from the army base  would go raring past in the night and I couldn't tell if the surf was getting huge, or it was an just another invasion.
Then I got up one ..

Page X
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Surf Guide

October, 1963.
Special Hotdog Issue
Mickey Dora Interview : The Angry Young Man of Surfing.


Geoff Cater (2019) : Mickey Dora : Surf Guide Interview, October 1963.