History of Surfing Blog


February 20, 2017


“Interview: Mickey Dora” ran in the September, 1969, issue of SURFER. Dora himself continued to write the occasional article for the surf press, but this was his final Q&A. All photos: Craig Stecyk.

 *  *  *

What part does surfing play in your life today?

When there’s surf, I’m totally committed; when there’s none, it doesn’t exist.

What are your opinions on the new group of younger surfers and their boards?

I sincerely wish them all the luck in the world. There just might come a time when they’ll need it.

Do you think that you have been slighted or played down by the media over the years?

It’s to be expected; the media is impersonal. They care little whether I live or die. So what? It’s irrelevant. I know what I stand for, and that’s all that’s important.

What is the most important thing to you?

Besides myself, the pursuit of happiness.

What is your general philosophy of life and survival today?

It’s really quite simple. Freedom from affectation and all affiliation. To expound upon the subject will only bring more ridicule upon myself.

How old are you now?

Hmm, now that’s a good question. Well, approximately one year younger than the world renowned aquanaut and international surfing master of ceremony Rick Grigg. Although I’m nine years older than Bunker Spreckels, the genetic space child, who represents the opposite end of the professional spectrum. Neither of the two can I comprehend or dare to understand. So you see the subject matter is as meaningless as the question.

Are you a religious person?

No, I don’t believe so. But I’m deeply concerned with the conceptive and preceptive mysteries of stigmata.

Why did you drop the name Chapin?

That is actually a personal family question, but I can tell you this much, Gard Chapin, a unique surfing frontiersman, either remembered or not, had a profound influence in my life. His untimely premeditated murder in Mexico can only be linked with his individualistic personality. For my own peace of mind I felt it would be safer to use my given name. However, I sometimes have misgivings on this decision.

Are you planning to get married?

Possibly in my ever-vague fantasies of idealism, yes. As a perverse realist, never in California.

Would you enter a contest for $1,000 or $2,000 prize money?

I ride for my pleasure only; no thanks.

Why do you think bombs were planted in your car?

Probably to blow me to bits.

Are you happy?

As long as there’s a Fourth and Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. I’m relatively happy.

What is your relationship with drugs?

It is possible to find pleasure in hallucinatory fantasies, I’m quite sure of it. But I’ve made my peace with reality. Either one, one way I or the other, is going to solve the I acute overpopulation problem.

You’ve followed surfing for years. Who have the greatest surfers been?

This redundant question always comes up. I don’t know, but I could have a real lot of personal satisfaction and enjoyment discussing in detail who I deeply regard to have been the worst. In the long haul, the apologists in the new genesis period are going to have to make these final decisions.

What changes have you witnessed during the course of your surfing career?

First of all, I have no “career.” I was here before, and I’ll be here after. As to the occurrences of change, I’ve observed a multitude. Briefly, I’ve seen the Dead Origins, Genesis, the Hours of Recession, and we are all soon to undergo the sport’s demise in the immediate future.dora_68_crstyck-4Could you clarify these various periods?

The Dead Origins consisted of the 250 plus redwoods and their wined-out “T” squarebuild grapplers, who fantasized themselves to be the magnates of an illusionary Polynesian culture. Bicep flexes, ukulele playing, tight trunks and body grease typified the period. I’ve only mentioned this era since it is frequently portrayed and glamorized as the birth of the sport, etc. Those guys weren’t concerned with the effective riding of waves, and people today should realize this. The Genesis days were a time of innovation, creation, birth and individuality. The Recession embodies the passage of time from the Genesis period’s end to the present. Essentially, mediocrity and rehashed mediocrity. To the unenlightened eye, things have constantly been progressing; however, close scrutiny reveals the modern world to be a mere illusion of opulence, grandeurs and good feelings. People currently are riding the calm before the storm, and have been lulled into such a false sense of security that they view current occurrences as if they possess some sort of solidified foundation. They are viewing illusions as truth. The Death is the fall of the above mentioned illusionary society, values and prosperity. It will also entail a general shattering of the weak.

Precisely when was this Genesis period, and what made it so important to the sport’s development?

It took place approximately from 1949-1954. This was the period of the only true innovation of design concepts and riding techniques the sport has ever endured. At this point a few beings rebelled against the World War II shellshocked casualties, redwoods, and embarked upon the direction surfing is still on. This departure from the redwoods was led primarily by Bob Simmons. Simmons’ short, lightweight, controlled flow concepts and water release contours set this period up. Simmons’ principles threatened the security of the redwood boys and caused him much ridicule. This scorn only drove Simmons and his adherents to greater heights and stages of development. Apparently, Simmons went too far in shaking up the status quo, since in 1954, Simmons drowned under mysterious and unlikely circumstances, ending the Genesis movement. Of this period, Mat Kivlin’s techniques, riding-wise, were the definite high point. Kivlin’s mellow style and intricate knowledge of wave positioning set him apart from the multitude, past and present. Many have been heavily influenced by the Kivlin technique, myself included; however, none will ever be able to come close to this genius of style. Kivlin retired from surfing immediately after the killing of Simmons, and surfing began a period of intense mediocrity, which has strung out to the near past. Recently, however, a renaissance trend has occurred, resulting from the present reaction against the stagnation of inhibiting designs and wave-riding methods. Unfortunately, this period is going to be cut short by the previously mentioned collapse of surfing. Fortunately, out of the ashes of death, the surviving individualists will start a future “Genesis” period which, hopefully, will get off on a better foot, due to their insight into the causes which fell society and the sport. However, restrictive conservatism may kill off these few survivors just as it once liquidated Simmons.

Exactly what do you mean by this demise of surfing?

Since November 22, 1963, a curse has fallen upon this country. It has affected us internationally, as well as on the home front. Since this tragic date, the mainland breaks have gradually worsened, and the ground swell has been relegated to the ranks of the unlikely. Cities burn, schools are sieged and overseas commitments increase. It’s only a matter of time before this upheaval shall reach endeavors such as surfing. Monetarily, the manufacturers, publishers, clothes companies, and cinematographers will all collapse, due to overextension, insufficient funds and knowledge, just retribution and nature’s cleansing. In short, the creeps who have worked the people over for years are going to fold. The only people to survive this fall will be the true independents, those who will have nothing to do with the upper echelon of this current illusionary prosperity. Any person who complies with the current ruling faction will only provoke his own downfall through corruption and association. People who play ball by reading publications such as this are dooming themselves to extinction.

Why do you feel this fall is going to occur in the near future?

The advent of “professionalism” to the sport will be the final blow. 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. The organizers will call the shots, collect the profits, while the wave rider does all the labor and receives little. Also, since surfing’s alliance with the decadent big business interests is designed only as a temporary damper to complete fiscal collapse, the completion of such a partnership will serve only to accelerate the art’s demise. A surfer should think carefully before selling his being to these “people,” since he’s signing his own death warrant as a personal entity.

What will you be doing when you’re 64?

If I’m to be so blessed. Probably, the odds are slight that I shall ever reach 64. If, however, any of you are so fortunate to survive the cataclysmic cave-in, I shall be more than glad to discuss it with you at that time.

Practically speaking, if any of this makes sense to someone, all my mail will be forwarded to my retreat in Madagascar, or Queensland. P.O. Box 25173, Los Angeles, California 90025. If you’re sincere, I shall be honored to assist in the rebuilding of the new Genesis. Period.
dora-1-barrett-2(Photo: Brad Barrett)

  • Tyler Dirden

    My hero 🙂

  • Craig Klein

    Post the “cataclysm chart”. It’s the best.

    • Matt Warshaw

      already had it loaded up!

  • Miki Dora

    Listen to the Prophet my children. It’s really quite simple. Freedom from affectation and all affiliation.

  • SteveShearer

    out of everything he did it was his oratory, written and spoken, that was truly great.

  • JSC

    What a load of complete rubbish.

    • longtom

      How so?

  • Nick Carroll

    “The organisers will take the profits…the wave rider does all the labor and receives little.” How ironic that in fact most of pro surfing’s history has involved the surfers tricking various rich companies, and people, out of their cash! I think Miki underestimated the skills of his descendants – and I’m not talking about their surfing skills.

    • freerider

      Dude–the Paul Speaker–Terry Harder scam has got to be the biggest of all time–30 some million a year–for a minimum of 3 years…

  • Johnny Bee

    So much eloquence! Where they talking or did he just write up the answers?

    • Matt Warshaw

      Pretty sure that Drew mailed Dora the Qs and Miki sent back answers.

      • Johnny Bee

        That’s what I thought as well, but some of the questions are related to previous answers… Maybe they exchanged several mails?

        • Matt Warshaw

          I’ll ask Drew, but yes, that makes sense. Some back-and-forth via US post. I’ve seen photos of Dora at the SURFER offices in I think it was ’69, and he sat for an interview with John Severson for Pacific Vibrarions, so also possible that Drew and Miki knocked it out then, and then maybe polished it by mail.

  • I feel fortunate that at a young age I was fortunate to surf Malibu in 1967 and witness the Master doing his thing on head high perfection and he owned the place rightfully so.

    His style in the water and on land just about says it all.

    Freedom you never lose it but if not careful you’ll end up and just give it away.

  • Barlow

    I remember a story someone wrote, about when the Beatles came to LA for a sold out concert and this surfer guy was standing there watching them arrive. He saw that Dora was behind the rope, when the Beatles’s limo pulled up to the building and all eyes were on them, Miki stepped out from behind the rope and opened the door for them, held it open, and then went in after them. How cool was that!!

    • Jimmy G.

      True story.

  • Pingback: mickey dora last interview surf prophet style | BOARD RAP()

  • freerider


  • freerider

    Umm–if you look at the graph–seems the 80s 90s early 2000s could have been the ‘Illusionary Prosperity Period’. Now with Quicksilver filing for chapter11 Bankruptsy, Billabong’s CEO going to jail for 7 years–Surfstich going under–the sellout of volcom–the ASP selling out–the new WSL and others struggling– etc. –etc.–Seems we could be entering the “Cataclysmic Period”.—“SO CLEAN YOURSELVES UP YOU CREEPS–SHAPE UP YOU PHONIES–Da Cat is giving you one more chance.” MSD

    • Matt Warshaw

      Ad quote! Well played . . .

      • freerider

        Yup–an Ad quote for a Da Cat model board. I think Surfer Mag. questioned whether to even run some of them at the time. Got to be some of the best of all time. Don’t think anybody else could have come close to pulling them off, especially the ‘Evolution’ one…… Still think the new breed of Yuppie–Nuevo–Soft Top–surfer–is still pretty clueless about a lot of Surfing’s roots. They’ve probably never even seen a pre 80s Surfer Magazine. Can’t know where your going–if you don’t know where you’ve been…Thanks (Matt) for keeping the History alive…..

        • freerider

          Gotta throw this one in too–Think Matt George summed up Miki pretty well at the end of Resin’s book. “Underneath it all–was just this guy–who loved to surf”……