JUICE MAGAZINE 13 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
INTERVIEW BY JAMES O’MAHONEY
INTRODUCTION BY JAMES O’MAHONEY
PHOTOS BY BRUCE WEBER, ART BREWER AND THE FLETCHER FAMILY ARCHIVES
A product of being born in the right place and right time, Dibi Fletcher grew up with most of the major players in the world of surf and skate. Dibi’s history and list of credits establish that she is ”beach culture” with a track record so varied that it scripts impossible. Her mold can’t be duplicated; there are too many historic facets that went into the making of this person. Forget a “how to” book. I am fortunate to have my 35-year pin in the “Watch Dibi kick some more ass club”, and she is just now shifting into second gear. She put the “Oh” in original whether in the sand, holding a sable brush, gripping a jackhammer, behind a desk, burning up the ballroom floor or just making heads roll. – JAMES O’MAHONEY“AT CHRISTMAS, FROM THE TIME I WAS A LITTLE KID, WE WENT TO HAWAII TO GO SURFING, AND IT JUST CONTINUED ON. I DON’T THINK ANYONE THOUGHT OF IT AS A CHOICE. THAT’S JUST WHAT WE DID.”
Hey, hang on. I have to kick Herbie out of the office.
Is that where he sleeps?
[Laughs.] Well, dear, we have desks facing each other so we can yell at each other back and forth, getting our point across.
Wasn’t that in a Cary Grant movie?
[Laughs.] That was a little more uptown, honey. This is more remedial. It’s Astrodeck.
[Laughs.] Are you ready? It’s meet the staff of “Juice” magazine day. How do you like being an editor for “Juice”?
I really enjoy it. It’s a chance for me to say things that I wouldn’t have the luxury or freedom to say in other magazines.
Well, we’re fortunate to have you and Herbie, members of surfing and skating’s royal family contributing. I know it’s greatly appreciated. Your family is three generations of surfing and skating artists. And all three generations are still doing it all. How is this possible?
Well, my dad did it because it was just his lifestyle. His father was a garmento, but my dad started doing printed goods so he could have customers that went to the beach. He picked that job so he could keep going surfing. Then Herbie and I got involved in surfing. Herbie was a surfer as a kid, and it was second nature to him. We never thought anything different. It’s just what we did. At Christmas, from the time I was a little kid, we went to Hawaii to go surfing, and it just continued on. I don’t think anyone thought of it as a choice. That’s just what the family did.
Let’s go to square one. Where were you born?
I was born in Los Angeles, CA.
[Laughs.] Come on, kid. I was born a hundred years ago, when they had covered wagons. When were you born?
[Laughs.] I was born before that, but after the Civil War.
Do you have a middle name?
It’s Charlton. My mom named me the frickin’ wackiest name – Deborah Charlton Zolar Ogle. But when Walter married my mom, they changed it. He dropped one of my middle names and my last name was changed to Hoffman. He was really a stand-up guy.
Right on. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the beach in San Clemente, at Pochee. It’s a little surf break. It was a great place to grow up. There were no freeways. There was a surf break right out in front of the house. Grubby lived right next door while he convalesced from having back surgery. Hobie started the Hobie Cat there. Phil Edwards used to come there and refine the design of da Cat. It was this surf enclave. John Severson would come there. All of these people that are now these iconic figures surf world congregated next door at the bachelor’s house, so I grew up with all of these people.
Wow. It’s sort of historic, huh?
In the context of the world now. When you go back and look at it, these guys were just family friends. I didn’t know. I was just a kid. Grubby was great. He used to get so fucked up on painkillers and alcohol that he’d shoot the sea gulls from his second story deck. He’d piss off the deck and stuff. That’s when Hobie had gotten involved with Grubby, who’d graduated with an engineering degree. That’s when Grubby really started to invent the process to blow the foam blanks. That was an interesting time with all of the innovation and stuff. All of the surf magazines were just starting. All the guys were friends. They were all surfers that wanted jobs where they could stay at the beach so they were creating jobs for themselves.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Yes, my sister is Joyce Hoffman. She was a four-time Women’s World Surfing Champion. She was a formula racecar driver and number two desert racer. I have a brother that works for my dad. I have a younger sister who was the second in the U.S. Cutting Championships. She was a cutting horse rider. Everyone was really obsessed at being great at something.
Your mom just had to sit back and applaud?
No, she had to drive. She had to take the kids to all the stuff. She was good. She was the first beach chick I knew.
[Laughs.] She put you in the water right off the bat? When did you first start surfing?
I started when I was really young. I got into tandem surfing, because I was a ballet dancer. I was in the Makaha contests and all that, but I’ll tell you something, I did not like it. You had no control. I just didn’t think it was so great. I was surfing with my dad’s friends’ heads between my legs. I thought, “If I’m going to have a guy’s head between my legs, at least I’m going to pick the guy.” I didn’t think tandem surfing was so great, so I got out. Then I started getting loaded and going to the surf contests and hanging out.
There you go. When did you start skateboarding?
We used to skateboard on Balboa Island. I started skateboarding when I was really young, when they still had steel wheels. We’d cut up roller skates and put them on boards. I grew up until I was eight on Balboa Island.
Neat place. Do you have any early heroes?
Well, I knew all of these surfers so well. I thought David Nuuhiwa’s surfing was so great when I was young. He was a style master. There were different surfers that I thought had such great style. I really wasn’t into competition surfing, even when I was a kid. My sister was competitive. It’s just a different type of surfing that’s done competitively than when you see people out soul surfing. Butch Van Artsdalen had great style.
Butch was killer.
There were some surfers that I grew up around that were style masters. It wasn’t so much the contest surfing. Contest surfing always seemed to be more of a jock thing.
You’re definitely a California kid, right?
[Laughs.] Born and bred.
When did you first go to Hawaii?
It was in the late ’50s. We went on a prop plane. My dad was a surf contest judge. My dad was a big wave rider, so we went there for Christmas vacations when I was 10 years old. That was in ’61. We started going there and it was really different then. We’d go over to the Makaha side and once in a while we’d go to the North Shore. There was only one house of surfers on the North Shore then.
Your dad Walter was a Waikiki beach boy and a competitor in the first Makaha Surf Championships. He’s a big player in surf history.
He won the Makaha Surf Championships in ’51 and ’52. Then he became a surf contest judge. He was a waterman. He was a diver. He was an all around water guy. He was the first white beach boy in Hawaii.
He’s old school. In fact, he still lives on Beach Road. He has a bachelor friend that lives next door to him, and they still play their ukuleles under the shack on the weekends. Someone took this video of them, and they’re all frickin’ deaf, and they play off-key. They looked at this video and said, “Who are those old guys?” It’s great. They still think of themselves as those young guys playing under the palapa. Is that the secret? Playing your ukulele under the palapa?
I’m looking at one right now. So who were your partners in the tandem contests?
Don Hansen and Bob Moore. I practiced with Hobie. Hansen was my partner that I went into the Makaha contests with.
How did you do?
We did good.
How old were you?
I was 12 and 13. When I turned 14, I said, “I’m out of here.”
You were tired of having their chin in your ass?
[Laughs.] Yeah, something like that. I was looking at dad going, “This isn’t a great idea.” He was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was like, “Look at your friend’s eyes. They’re leering at me, dad.” Do you get it now? He still didn’t get it. So I just said, “I’ve had enough.”
[Laughs.] While Joyce was world champ surfer, did that put a lot of pressure on you?
Do you mean is that when I started taking drugs? I don’t think so. I think I just took drugs. My sister and I were four years apart. She was the student body president. She was really competitive. I was just nothing like her. I don’t think it put pressure on me. We were so different. I never thought of doing what she did.
What about your brother?
My brother Tony is a couple of years younger. It was like he was in a different world. He was the only son. I was kind of the outsider. I just did my own thing. That’s when all the great drugs came around and everything.
What were your drugs of choice at that period?
Oh, boy. There was such great acid then. I smoked pot all the time and everything. You know. I was just like a regular kid.
When did you meet Herbie?
The first time I met him, I was 13. He thought I was too young and I thought he was too young.
When did the sparks start flying?
We started going out when I was 14 and he was 17. We’ve been going out since then. I think we’ve been married 38 years. We’ve been going out for 41 years.
When did you split for the Islands?
I ran away from home when I was 16. We went to Hawaii. It was great.
Did you get married there?
We waited a few years and then came back here and got married on the 30th of December. We have Christmas, New Years, birthday and anniversary all in one week.
Did you have a surfer’s wedding or Buddhist?
Well, everyone was kind of pissed. Nobody wanted us to get married. I think we had ten people at the wedding.
Where did you live in the Islands?
We lived all over, but we mostly ended up on the North Shore. My parents owned a house there, right at Pupukea. John Severson lived next door to us for a time. Lots of people came and went. It was idyllic for a young couple that surfed.
You started your first business with Grubby?
Yes. We owned a Clark Foam franchise. Grubby set us up in business hoping we would fail so he could grind my dad.
[Laughs.] When did the brotherhood show up?
Well, Herbie had started talking to them about how great Hawaii was. They had come over during the late ’60s when we were living on Maui. Herbie kind of brought them over. Then the DEA came and everything else. It got so hot that we went to the North Shore. Most of them haven’t had such a great ending.
Tell everybody what kind of club the brotherhood was.
Well, it was a bunch of ex-junkies, thieves and rip-off artists that took acid and found God. Now, how long that lasted was only a matter of time.
What is “Rainbow Bridge”?
“Rainbow Bridge” means the bridging of the consciousness into the astral plane. I just re-watched the movie “Rainbow Bridge” the other day and it’s so funky.
Were you in it?
I was there when they filmed it. Herbie was in it. Mike Hynson and Melinda, his wife, had gotten involved with Chuck, who they called “The Wizard”. He was a New York guy and I think he’d worked in The Factory with Andy Warhol. They got involved in doing this thing. “Rainbow Bridge” was kind of a self-promoting movie about the experience of following the guru. I think they kind of set themselves up to believe that’s who they were.
Jimi Hendrix was in it?
Yeah, Jimi Hendrix was in it. I think that was the big draw. When Hendrix went to Maui to play music, that was really terrific. That part of the experience was really great. And that’s when they started doing the Rainbow Surfboards. They were smuggling in them, and they showed Mike Hynson ripping the glass off the surfboards. When I interviewed him last winter in my warehouse, we have this Rainbow surfboard and he was knocking on it. He was like, “I wonder if this one of the ones that got away.” It was so funny.
What were they putting inside?
They had hash inside. That’s how they were smuggling it. When they ripped off the glass from the board, I guess the DEA saw that and got involved. They came and busted open all the Rainbow Surfboards. It was during the Mystic Arts time – you know, the big head shop in Laguna Beach. The Canyon was going off. There was lots of acid. And these guys started getting very vocal about what they were doing instead of just being quiet about it.
Where was Christian born?
Christian was born in Kahuku in 1970. We lived there for quite a while. Then Hawaii got really weird, so we split and went to Idaho to go skiing. Then we went back and forth from Idaho to Hawaii. When Christian started school we came here to San Clemente. I wanted him to go to school in California. I just thought it would be better. In hindsight, was it better? I don’t know.
Was this when Herbie opened the surf shop?
Yeah, that’s when Herbie opened the Herbie Fletcher Surf Shop right north of Hobie’s in Dana Point. He was doing the Thrill is Back Surfboards. He got involved with that for quite a while. He was really good at retail, but then he started up Astrodeck.
When did Nathan arrive?
Nathan is five years apart from Christian. He was always really sweet and very quiet. I read in a magazine the other day that he’s a recluse, and he really kind of is. He has this great adventuresome spirit but he likes his time alone. He’s really developed the four-fin surfboard and come into his own as a designer. It’s a combination of art and surf with the design aspect of it. I think he’s happy doing that, and that’s great. He’s a big wave rider, and he’s loving life.
I remember surfing with Nathan at Pochee when he was a kid and he had to wear a pink wetsuit.
He was so small, I figured if I could see him far out in the water then we’d have a chance to save him if he went down. The wetsuit would give him buoyancy and he could float to the top, and with it being pink, you could spot him. My uncle went over the falls once and was hit by someone’s board and it knocked him out. The only thing that saved him was his wetsuit. It brought him up to the top and he floated long enough for someone to save him. Nathan would surf such fuckin’ big surf, so I said, “Okay, Nathan. Here’s the deal. You can go surfing anywhere you want, but you have to wear a pink wetsuit.” He kind of looked at me and then said, “Okay.” I’ve saved a couple of them. It’s really great. He was small, so growing up to be a big wave rider the waves were always giant to him. As he grew and got bigger, he grew into it. Now he does all the tow-ins and surfs big giant surf.
Gnar. When did the boys start skating that ramp?
They started skating really young. They loved it. Herbie took them to the Big O. I think Herb really understood that surfing was evolving and going into the air. There wasn’t anyone else that was on that wavelength. Christian and Nathan spent so much time at the skate ramp. Herbie loved it. He took them skating all the time. They were doing aerials at the skate ramp and then doing aerials in the water. That aerial was the marriage between surf and skate.
Who did they skate with?
They skated with Jason Jessee a lot because he lived close. They skated with everybody. Herbie knew everybody. They had the opportunity to skate with Christian Hosoi. Christian and Christian Hosoi became really good friends. Christian used to go to his house all the time. The one thing Christian always said about Hosoi was that he was a really good teacher. Some people can do something but they don’t know how to teach someone else how to do it. Hosoi would teach him. He really had a knack for breaking something down and passing on the information. Christian skated with everybody. He always wanted to be considered a skater.
Did he ever get into any skate magazines?
He was the only surfer to be on the cover of “Thrasher”. It’s funny because he didn’t want anyone to know he was a surfer. He thought being a surfer was so lame.
That’s funny. Then he took his skate moves to the surf. I remember he called me from the Islands in the ’80s. He was ecstatic. He was like, “Jimmy, I can fly!” I said, “What?” He said, “When the trade winds blow down the wave, I can boost an air and actually fly.”
Christian was really the conduit for the marriage between surf and skate. And believe me, when the surf industry saw that, they wanted to get rid of him because it made their entire team and advertising program obsolete. Let’s make no mistake about this. The surf industry is about selling back-to-school. They didn’t look at Johnny Rotten and say, “Oh, this is a great idea.” They still wanted to sell what they thought of as that great pure surf idea. They really lost market share when they didn’t catch onto that train. They all ended up having to buy skate companies to get back in with the youth market. The youth market passed them by.
What did they call that aerial move?
Christian had 40 or 50 different aerials that he did. He was the first one to do a stalefish. I always thought of him as an abstract expressionist. The rest of the surfboard world was like the Royal Academy. When Christian came on the scene, he was throwing all of this stuff at it and they were like, “Oh my God, That’s not surf.” He would go, “Yes, it is.”
When he won the Trestles contest that was the biggest prize money to date for a surf contest. Then after that, Christian was sort of blackballed for doing all these airs and stuff. What happened?
It took years for it to be accepted, because I think people are afraid to change. Christian was the harbinger of this change, but it took another 15 years for it to go through the pipeline to where it was accepted. Finally, it became less scary because it wasn’t so new. At first, when the companies looked at it, they didn’t think it would check at retail. I’m in the same building as “Surfer” magazine and they said, “That isn’t surfing.” I said, “Well, what the fuck is it?”
[Laughs.] That’s unreal.
It’s just like the painters that had to start their own community because their stuff was not accepted in the standard of painting at the time. Any time change comes about it takes a long time for it to filter in and be accepted. Christian is his own worst enemy. If he’d kept his mouth shut, they might have accepted his surfing a lot quicker.
He’d write stuff on his surfboards and say stuff in magazines. That kind of stuff didn’t make him well loved, but the point is, he wouldn’t have been doing what he was doing if he didn’t have the kind of personality that he has. That’s that. In the end, it changed everything.
When did you get the house at Pipe?
We got the house at Pipeline in 1980. Herbie would go over there every year to the house we owned with Gerry Lopez. By the time the kids started getting older, I didn’t have to go all the time. If you’re a surfer, the North Shore is a great place to go. For me, I can handle it, but it gets really boring.
What were you doing while everyone was killing waves?
I went down to Kuilima. I’d run down to the Pipe house and back. It was miles and miles on the beach. I’d go and see everybody and say “hi” and then I’d split. I’d watch for a while. I still go sometimes. I don’t mind going and writing stuff. The faces change, but the conversation doesn’t. It’s about that wave and that board. It’s a great life for the guys.
It’s wave warrior time, right?
Yeah. I think it’s a terrific thing. It’s been great writing about them. I’m really interested in the different personalities and what they bring to it. I just watch it all evolve.
You used to party a lot. When did you slow down?
[Laughs.] When I was 28, I had one of those “Come to Jesus” moments. I’d been so fucked up, I just said, “Dibi, get a gun and shoot yourself or get over it.” That was it. I’d been up for a few days. I’d had enough. I threw the shit down the toilet and got a pair of running shoes and started running 20 miles a day. Then I spun into anorexia. I weighed 80 pounds. I was like, “I’m not drinking or getting loaded and now I have another problem?” So I went from out of control to full control. I’d run 20 miles and then count out seven raisins to eat. I was insane. It took a while to get through that and then a balance came along. I started focusing on painting and doing other things. It’s all about where you focus. I think you get trapped in the drug thing. Then you get trapped because you’ve created so much shit that you’re afraid to face the shit. It’s hard to come down. I see a lot of young guys getting loaded all the time. I see them create havoc. The reality is that coming down is one thing, but to be able to fix the havoc they’ve created in their personal lives is really tough. I think that scares them from coming down more than just the coming down.
When did you start to get serious about your art?
When my kids were really young, I built an art studio at my house so I could stay home with them. I really got into it. Then you have this big block of time when they’re in school. It allows you to address whatever you have an interest in if you have a passion to do it. I turned the front room into a giant art studio and I painted about seven hours a day, every day for about 15 years. It was really great.
Who were your influences?
It was interesting, because I did everything on my own. That’s how I learned how to write, too. I go through these things where I pick up something that I’m interested in and I follow it. I went through Renaissance painting. I did Old Masters painting. I went into modern art. Being self-taught you can take a direction and follow it anyway you want. Whatever was the next chapter would just come to you and all of a sudden you’re down a new road. I got into stone sculpture and I did that for about 10 years. Then I started shaping surfboards because that was a perfect mix between sculpting and painting. I did all the resin painting on the boards. It was kind of a marriage between color and form, incorporating both of the mediums. I really liked using resin. There was such a saturation of color, so that became very interesting. It just kind of evolved, like life itself.
I remember when you jumped from painting to rocks. You were working on some huge project.
I did this 8,000-pound sculpture. I was like, “Well, I might as well go big.” I did a couple of really big things. One was 8,000 pounds and one was 4,000 pounds. My mom has a bunch of acreage out in San Juan where she has a bunch of horses so I got myself a barn. I’d go out there with a skill saw and work all day. I thought I was showing my kids this great life lesson that even me, this lowly woman, could accomplish this great thing. They all looked at me like, “If you’re stupid enough to do it, that’s fine.”
[Laughs.] I thought I was showing them some great lesson that you could take on any task and do it just by pursuing it. The reality is that I guess I just showed myself, and that was good enough.
Right on. Did you ever play a musical instrument?
I tried playing the piano for a while and I really liked it, but I realized that it was going to take so much time. I already saw that I had the ability to paint and sculpt and write in a way that I could express myself. I just thought it would take so long to get the skills to express myself on a musical instrument. Every medium takes a great commitment in time. So I got really into ballroom dancing because I already had a lot of skill in dancing. That’s fun. That’s the way that I enjoy music the most.
Were you classically trained?
Yes, in ballet. Then I got heavy into ballroom dancing and became number two in the United States as a ballroom dancer in my age division. You take music and put in form.
What dance did you focus on?
I danced two different styles. I danced Latin and there are five dances in that and I danced standard and there are five dances in that. Standard is the tango, the waltz, the foxtrot, the Viennese waltz and the quickstep. Latin is cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive.
Who was your partner?
I danced with a professionally trained Russian. In the United States, men are made to feel they are gay if they dance, but in the Eastern European countries, they have Culture Palaces. The kids are taught to dance when they’re very young, so the great ballroom dancers come from Europe.
Do you have any videos of your competition days?
[Laughs.] Yeah. Herbie likes to put clips from that in different surf videos. It’s so wacky. You’re watching surf footage and then there I am dancing with this fuckin’ pink feather dress on. It’s so funny.
Can Herbie shake a leg?
Herbie is a great surfer, but he doesn’t want to dance. Ballroom dancing is like ballet. There are certain steps and a certain style. He’s not interested in learning that or doing that. He’s like, “I want to dance the way I want to dance.” I say, “That’s why I don’t dance with you.” We go out and dance for fun. It is what it is.
When you quit competing in dance who picked up the ball and is national champion now?
My mother. I took her dancing all over the United States. It was so much fun. She’s 80 and she still dances all the time. It’s a really terrific thing for her.
Then I got so into writing. Your life is just a piece of art in process. I don’t try to hang on to one thing and think, “This is so great.” I try to give myself the luxury to change as my surroundings change and to kind of flow into it. That’s when I fall into the greatest stuff.
Let’s go back to the three generations thing. Your dad just got back from a surf trip.
Yeah, he was in the Marshall Islands on one of the Indie trader boats. He was there for two or three weeks. The surf didn’t ever get really good, but he said the diving was absolutely phenomenal. He said he had a really great time and the food was fabulous. That’s always a big deal with him.
I saw you at ASR a few years ago and you had a group of Japanese fellows on their knees begging forgiveness. Does this happen a lot?
[Laughs.] It’s a Japanese thing. In Japan, they are avid fans of surfing and American culture. They’re the biggest surf market in the world. We’ve worked with them for many years. At first, they didn’t want to work with me because I’m a woman, but they’re very into money. Once they understand that you’re going to help them make money, they can get over the idea that you’re a woman. I like working with them. It’s usually honest and straightforward. I like that part a lot.
You’ve charged at everything you’ve ever done. Now you’ve landed a huge fish with the HBO gig.
I’m not at liberty to talk much about it, but I am working on a show called “John from Cincinnati”. It has a surf family in it. That’s how I got involved. I’m working with David Milch who was the creator of “Deadwood” and “NYPD Blues”. He’s been very terrific. They just filmed the pilot and it’s been picked up for a series. I hope that there’s a lot of success with it and that it will be good. It’s been an interesting project for me. It’s a very different world from what I’m used to. There is a lot of room for me to grow by working in this direction. We’ll, see how it goes.
Surfing is hot right now.
Herbie just got back from New York where Julian Schnabel took his surf photographs and blew them up to 20′ x 15′ and painted on them. The world right now is interested in surf. That’s the HBO deal. That’s Julian’s art. The world is reaching out for something that they feel is untainted. When they think of surf, they think of the beauty of it. They don’t realize the business is just another frickin’ business.
Do the directors understand what it’s all about?
They have their own opinions. They want to do it their way. I’m along for the ride. We’ll see what happens. I don’t have control. A lot of times people have a vision. Whether that vision is my vision, and it’s copasetic, is not always the case. We’ll just go do the road and see what happens.
So Herbie is not a director?
This is all yours, right?
Well, they picked up a story that I had done, and then they married another story to it and took off with it. I’m a consulting producer. I just watch it go on and hopefully the vision they have of surf will come out how surf really is. Like with everything, there’s a give and take. I try to be helpful and I try to give them advice. If they take it, they take it. If they don’t, they don’t. That’s life.
Okay, we’ll just keep everyone on edge until the next chapter.
Way before the X Games, Nathan was out jumping motorcycles and doing huge 150 foot airs, right?
Yep. Nathan stopped surfing. Being Christian’s brother was so difficult for him that he got into motocross. He could put on a helmet and have a sense of anonymity. He wasn’t completing with Christian or the taint that he had created with the things that he’d said. I think Nathan experienced a lot of things and it helped him grow up into feeling confident within himself. I think motocross is really great for him. He enjoyed putting the helmet on and crossing the finish line. These are the things in surfing that he couldn’t experience, because he was Christian’s brother or Herbie’s son. With motocross, he just was. It’s like you asked about my sister. I didn’t go into surfing, so I didn’t have to compete with her. That’s how Nathan dealt with it then he got into snowboarding and won that Quik Cup, which was a surf, skate, snow contest. He really pushed the envelope. When he went back to surfing, he was so much more together. He didn’t feel that he had to live up to anything about Christian. It wasn’t easy for Nathan being Christian’s brother.
Not at all.
Some people say, “Oh, that must be great.” Well, everyone has their own bag of shit that comes along with life and you just have to deal with it the best you can. Maybe anonymity allows Nathan to deal with it in private and not under some glare of public opinion. With Christian, it was different. It was tough. Having a surf shop and having Astrodeck made everyone feel that they could call us and tell us what Christian had done or what he was doing. In most people’s world, when your kid has problems, you’re allowed to go through those problems in the privacy of your own home. You’re not being called by people that are almost strangers and told things that are very difficult to take. And they’re not telling you to help you. They’re telling you to hurt you, and you have to stand there and take it. Then you are treated like you are being some party to it and you are somehow condoning it, when really it’s a terrible tragedy that happens in a family, and it’s very hard to deal with. A lot of these things, you’d rather go through in private, to be honest. I think that’s one of the reasons why Nathan went moto-cross racing, which was really great. He did unreal stuff.
You’ve always been active. How do you start your day to keep that Barbie shape?
I start out with yoga and pilates and then I go on a 26 mile bike ride every morning. And it isn’t about being in shape. It’s about being able to deal with the fuckin’ demons in my head. 26 miles takes the edge off so I can live another 20 hours without going insane.
No steak and lobster?
[Laughs.] No. I’ve moved up from seven raisins to a few lettuce leaves. It was a very mature adult choice. I’m a health food fanatic. The reality is that getting older is not for wimps. You have one body, so you better do the best job you can to take care of it. I want to do everything. I try to do a somersault every day. The reason I do is so I can.
In the early ’70s, you had one of the first personalized license plates in California on your 3.5 Coupe. What did it say?
[Laughs.] I don’t remember. Do you know?
“Awesome.” That was a major point, I thought.
[Laughs.] I forgot about that.
Tell me about Nathan’s mother’s day card.
[Laughs.] I have a whole series of them. I have one on my wall from Nathan that says, “Best Fuckin’ Mother in the World”. Christian always used to buy me cards from the liquor store so they were always kind of off-color. Nathan and Christian have really been great. It’s been very interesting watching their life experiences unfold. It’s been very much in public and I don’t think people realize the difficulties that does cause, but it’s been a great adventure for them to be allowed to do the things they have done.
Thanks so much for being on board with Juice. It’s really important to get this stuff documented and your story is such a huge part of the surf and skate history. I know this is only a small piece of your pie, but it was really good. Do you have any last words?
I really like working for Juice. It’s been really fun. I think it’s interesting. I’ve been thrown into a unique position in the surf world, and I’m so connected to it in so many ways. With Astrodeck we always had a surf team. I’ve had kids that are sponsored. I sponsor other surfers. It’s interesting the role this has all taken. I really think that people have so many misunderstandings about professional surfing and about what surfing can be and should be and what it is. Juice gives us a format to say things that in the surf world, you wouldn’t be able to. It’s so corporate driven in the other magazines. If you say anything they’re afraid of losing their advertising dollars and it shouldn’t be that way. You should be able to talk about things. You should be able to talk about what role sponsorship has in the big picture. I think a magazine like Juice is important because it gives people an opportunity to speak more openly without the fear of retribution. That fear can keeps things quiet. When things are quiet, things get off track. I really like being able to work with Juice. I think it’s a really good thing. I’m really happy to be included. It’s really nice, and I’m grateful.
You’re the queen.
I’m really stoked to work with Juice. It’s been really good. They asked me how I pick the people that I want to interview, and I just think about what people might find interesting. I liked interviewing all the photographers. They all had an interesting view on things. I like to interview the people that have been around a long time because they’ve seen all the changes. I also like interviewing the kids. I just spent a bunch of time with the Florence boys, little John-John, Nathan and Ivan. They got signed to do this HBO deal, too. They’re 14, 12 and 10. They look like my own kids. They’re fuckin’ chargers. It’s so fun to see them. They’re so fresh and they’re so new and they’re so excited. It’s great to see it starting all over again. I look at my dad and see where he’s come from and where he’s gone. You look at these kids that are just starting. And they’re so innocent. It’s just great to see it starting again.
[Laughs.] It will keep starting again, and we’ll just fade away into the abyss.
[Laughs.] We’ll slip into an abyss? That’s a great parting comment, Jimmy. That’s like when Christian told me he was going to have me cremated and then give me a swirlie. He said, “I’m just going to flush you down the toilet.” He said, “What a way for a housewife to go.” I said, “Fuckin’ Christian. That’s great.” Then he had this dog that he really loved and he had to put him to sleep. He decided he’d have him stuffed. So then he told me he was giving me an upgrade. He said, “When you die. I’m going to have you stuffed, and I’ll stand you next to my dog for eternity.” He said, “I’ll even change your jewelry every once in a while.” I was like, “You’re so demented.” I’ve probably been demoted back to the swirlie again. That’s how it goes.
[Laughs.] This interview was really good.
This was really fun, Jimmy. I read all the stuff in Juice magazine and I really like it because it’s got a more gritty vibe to it. It has a sense of truth in it. You sure don’t find that anywhere else. Alex, the Florence brothers’ mom, said to me, “Dibi, you’re like a mentor.” Maybe that’s what’s happening. When I was young, there wasn’t anyone that was willing to be a mentor. It was so new. People hadn’t lived like this, but now these kids are still listening to the same music we listened to. Maybe it’s an opportunity to offer some advice that won’t just be thrown away. The road was tough, the drugs, the alcohol and all that stuff. That’s one thing you want to help kids steer clear of. That’s the thing that catches you and doesn’t let you grow.
Well, we survived.
Yep. Jimmy, this has been really nice.
Thank you, Dib.
Thank you, honey. Give my best to the family.
DIBI FLETCHER INTERVIEWS
INTERVIEWS BY DIBI FLETCHER