Shoot me for a dollar, but just give me one lookee at Ms Sage Michelle Erickson, 20 when these photos were taken, all the way from Ventura, California.
Photos by Richard Freeman Story by Derek Rielly Hair and make-up Daniele Piersons @Aim Agency
Sage is different from other gals. Different from other surfers. She wants a career at the highest level, but doesn’t want to be squeezing blood out of that stone when she’s 35. She ain’t into DRESSING HEAD TO TOE SURF, ain’t into the surf-all-day shtick (she sets her watch for one hour and forces herself to stay for the duration) and her greatest fear is looking like a crocodile handbag after a lifetime of being irradiated by the sun.
It was just two days after her 21st birthday that was celebrated on the beach at Copacabana, on the NSW Central Coast with her Australian boyfriend, that the young American lit up our lives for a second time. Stab likes her country gal accent (dropping the g’s on her ings, gettin’, lettin’, sittin’ etc), her marvelLous mood and the gifts bestowed upon her by Mother God.
STAB: First, describe your party, the uppers, the downers, the good times and the sad… SAGE: Oh, it was mellow. Just a bunch of mutual friends on the beach, surfing, gettin’ a suntan. But, y’know, Australians are kinda crazy, setting up on the beach with an esky filled with alcoholic beverages. Y’sure can’t do that at home. All of my American friends were pissed that I celebrated here and not in America where it’s such a big deal. My friends had me going in to Hollywood and partying. But, I would’ve disappointed them. I donít want to get on the alcohol bandwagon going into (Sage’s debut on the World Tour) next year.
Honey, even the worst hangover will be forgotten by February. I like to keep my side of the street clean.
How American! Tell me, you must’ve drunk a spritzer, at least! I had half-a-cup of Passion Pop and a UDL.
Ee-yew, you really were on the Central Coast! Why didn’t you step it up? Well, my boyfriend bought me a bottle of white wine but I didnít have a cup. I didnít want to drink out of the bottle. That’s rude.
When and how did the night close? I don’t stay up that late. I go to bed early, wake up early and fall asleep at a decent hour. We started at one on the afternoon and wrapped at six.
I realise I’m pushing a dead horse here but, to confirm, no velvet booths and lounge kissing at city nightclubs? Up here thereís only that seedy Woodport Inn. It smells bad and the patrons dress silly. Y’know, it’s the prettiest place and the waves are fun and it’s mellow here but if youíre wanting to go out I wouldnít recommend the Central Coast. Matt Wilko, who was going to Bondi, came down and tried to abduct us for the night, but we didnít want to ditch the friends. He was going to chauffer his creepy little bus with us in it.
Tell me about where you live when you’re not in your Copacabana love nest? I live right on C-Street, pretty much the main break in Ventura. It’s a right point break. A lot of longboarders go out so you don’t have to get rowdy in the pack to get waves. I’d rather surf somewhere not as good with less people.
Who else is in the crib? I live with my mom and grandma. That’s the coolest thing. She’s 74 and still drives me to LAX.
Are you rich, by the measure of having a spare 10-large to throw around if y’need? Not at all, but we’re doin’ just fine. We rent a place so itís not that expensive. But, I’m looking to buy a place with how low the market is. Foreclosures in California are ridiculous right now.
Yes, oh yes! Dance on the misfortune of the displaced. Yeah, well, my intentions would never be to capitalise on someoneís loss, but it’s a great opportunity for myself to make a good choice to better my future and financially get ahead.
What can a mill buy in CA? With how bad our US dollar is, you can take a mill and double it. Americaís the land of opportunity. Buy a giraffe, whatever!
And you lived on the North Shore during those pivotal years for a young woman, eight til 12. Yeah, before that I played soccer. But, on the North Shore thereís nothing else to do but go surfing and be in the ocean so, yeah, grabbed a board from my brother, paddled out at Inside Sunset, caught a wave on my stomach and tried to stand up. It was pathetic but I fell in love with it.
Tell me, white gal, about suddenly being thrown into the North Shore schooling system? It took a while to get used to not having to wear shoes to school. I wore flip-flops but a lot of people went barefooted. I sat next to Coco (Ho) on my first day. She said, I thought you were a boy, ’cause my name’s Sage. We ended up being best friends.
Why’d y’family leave? Being over there away from your extended family is a bit isolating. It’s the prettiest place in the world, but you can get cabin fever.
You’re a coffee nut, ain’t that true? I was born into a coffee shop, my mom had one, and it turned me into a full-blown addict. I would see all these early morning 5.30am coffee jonsers, but, y’know, everyone that drinks coffee is in a good mood and has good times.
Have you ever tried to dismiss it from your life? Oh, the headaches! I get bored sometimes and try and challenge myself and try and not drink it. Itís a psychological game. A couple of months ago I did four days. I didn’t feel any different. I just missed it.
Tell me about the Coffee Club runs on the North Shore. Last year, Jarrad (Howse, former pro surfer now O’Neill team manager) got me into the coffee club. Every day at 6.15, outside my door, honking for coffee, rain or shine, en route to Starbucks. I’m a new member.
Did you hear stories that curled your splendid golden hair? I throw my imaginary headphones on sometimes.
First rule of Coffee Club, y’keep secrets. You gotta keep secrets.
You’re certainly less consumed by pro surfing than others and your greatest wish, I’m told, is to keep your skin fresh and not grow a croc handbag. Well, ha ha, it’s a cliché but you see those older, weathered surfers and I definitely want to preserve my skin. I want to represent surfing in a beautiful way. It’s a sexy sport if you represent it right.
Describe your look. Like, pushin’ five-six. Kinda medium. No long legs. Dang it.