Stab Magazine | Before Professionalism: Cocaine, LSD, Firearms And Jail Time With Charlie Manson

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Before Professionalism: Cocaine, LSD, Firearms And Jail Time With Charlie Manson

Stories of surfing’s outlaw predecessors. 

style // May 17, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

“The advent of ‘professionalism’ to the sport will be the final blow,” said Miki Dora in a 1969 interview with Surfer Magazine. “Professionalism will be completely destructive of any control an individual has over the sport at present. These few Wall Street flesh merchants desire to unify surfing only to extract the wealth. Under this ‘professional’ regime, the wave rider will be forced into being totally subservient to the few in control in order to survive.”

Given how commodified and sterile the sport of surfing has become in recent years, the late, great Miki Dora nailed it. Dora’s surfing is much more than a just stylish pair of trunks and a new pro model.

“A surfer should think carefully before selling his being to these ‘people,’ since he’s signing his own death warrant as a personal entity,” continued Miki.

Thankfully, throughout surfing’s history, there has been no shortage of souls willing to buck the system for the sake of riding a few waves. The following is a quick survey of four of our favourite hustles, scams and swindles from the days before surfing was a sport and the outlaw element was inescapable:

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Before multi-million dollar homes held residence on the hills of Laguna Beach, the Brotherhood held acid parties.

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love
The ’60s was a cosmic time for wave-riding and few places in the world embodied the ethos of tune in, turn on and drop out more than Laguna Beach. Following the Summer of Love in ’67, a guy named John Grigg founded what would come to be known as “the brotherhood.” Surfing and mysticism were part of the trip, but so was smuggling and dealing drugs. Endless Summer star Mike Hynson was an earlier convert, dropping acid with Grigg for the first time while the movie was still in theatres.

“One day, I walked into this warehouse with Johnny and saw 50 tonnes of pot,” Hynson says. “I wasn’t supposed to see it, but I was there. I remember thinking, ‘It’s not going to get any better than this, and it’s not going to get any worse.’” 

The Brotherhood ran a shop in town called the Mystic Art World (largely bankrolled by Hynson’s hash smuggling and undoubtedly selling as much contraband out the back door as love beads out the front). Selling Orange Sunshine LSD, the group soon became one of the largest acid networks in the United States. Rainbow Surfboards become the vehicles of choice. Psychedelic guru Timothy Leary famously came to soak in the vibes. Everybody was feeling groovy until about ’69 when the cops caught up to them. Arrests were made, Leary went on the lamb to Afghanistan, and by the mid-70s most of the Brotherhood had been disbanded. 

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Peter’s method of packing cocaine in hollowed-out surfboards has been repeated well into the 21st century. 

18 Months in a New Caledonia Jail
The discovery of every epic surf spot has a backstory, but maybe none are as dramatic and made-for-Hollywood as Peter McCabe’s early days in Indo. Hailing from Newcastle, tutored by Sam Egan (Luke’s dad), he was one of the early pioneers to explore Bali. Uluwatu and Padang Padang were virtual gardens of Eden at the time. Then came Java. Falling in with Jeff Chitty and Mike Boyum, together they pioneered G-Land, literally showing Gerry Lopez how it was done. But no ride is free. The crew had been smuggling contraband to fund their fun.

In 1984, McCabe, Boyum and Chitty were all busted in Noumea, New Caledonia trying to smuggle half a kilo of Bolivian coke into Australia. Putting his skills as a shaper to good use, McCabe had made a hollowed out surfboard fins to stash the drugs. McCabe ended up serving 18 months for the offence.

“I did it, I got caught, and I did my time,” he recently told the Newcastle Herald.

Today he’s on the straight and narrow, once again living in Newcastle and shaping boards under his own label. He still sneaks off to Indo for a couple weeks every year.

 

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In the late 60’s Charles Manson was a struggling musician, who occasionally played alongside the Beach Boys. They even recorded a 10 track demo that never saw the light of day. The relationship ceased when Manson threatened Dennis Wilson with a bullet.

 

Dora’s Epic Kick-Out
For the duration of the ‘60s, Miki Dora was surfing dark foil to the beach blanket nonsense. Detesting the system that created him, he also knew full well how to manipulate it. At his core he was one hell of a hustler.

In 1973, a warrant was issued for Dora stemming from credit card and fraud charges. He promptly fled the country. Bouncing around between Europe, South American and South Africa, the law finally caught up with him in 1981. He was arrested in France, where he spent three months in jail. After that stint, he returned back to the States where he faced charges in California and Colorado. He spent the majority of ’82 in lockup. 

In the official Dora biography, All For A Few Perfect Waves, Peter Day remembers, “Miki said that one day, while sitting in his cell, ‘I heard this voice from a cell down the hall. I knew that it was Charlie Manson, so I yelled out to him, ‘Hey Charlie! Is that you?’ And Charlie went, ‘Miki. Surfer Boy. Is that you?’”

“Miki said Charles Manson knew him through partying with Dennis Wilson, from the Beach Boys,” adds Alain Gardinier. “Manson was like a king in jail and suddenly Miki was a star, and it was really inconvenient for him.”

https://player.vimeo.com/video/47761087

“Carvin” Marvin And His Weapons Charges
Marvin Foster was a hard-scrabble, hard-charging guy from the North Shore who’s talents were tragically intertwined with his inability to escape “the life.” In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s he pushed the limits as hard, if not harder than anyone. He was the 1981 Rookie of the Year and an invitee to the Eddie. He was going left at Waimea when Mark Healey was still and itch in his daddy’s pants.

No matter where surfing took him, there was always a dark side. In ’89 he was arrested when police found a sawed-off shotgun and loaded handgun in his car. The gun was found to have been taken in a burglary. It’s unknown if Foster was the culprit. 

Foster went to the pen in ’93 and somebody at Quiksilver thought it would be a good marketing ploy to run an ad featuring him. Entitled “Message from Marvin Foster, Halawa State Prison,” the ad noted, “Prison’s too crowded for newcomers and it ain’t easy to do time.”

In ’94 he skipped parole and shortly thereafter ended up on Hawaii’s 10 Most Wanted poster. He was finally arrested in Haleiwa in ’97, served his time and was released. Tragically, Foster took his own life in 2010. 

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