On the basis of tantalizing but less-than-conclusive evidence, Chas Smith wondered aloud recently if New York surfer Balaram Stack was perchance romantically linked with former supermodel Christie Brinkley, and declared that, if it were true, the Stack-Brinkley unit would be "the best surfer + model/actress/singer connection of all time."
Oh, Charlie. Your wordplay is zing and intelligence and 90-proof funny. But your aggregated store of surfer-romance knowledge is the size of a tear cried by the ghost of Tommy Zahn, Malibu surf-god, and Marilyn Monroe paramour. A WQS pro of slightly-above-average looks maybe finds comfort with a 61-year-old swimsuit model and you deign that the most magnetic surfer-romance of all time?
Fetch my lectern and Kurt Vonnegut wig. Class is in session.
First things first. The kings of the surfer/glamour set—go ahead and define "glamour" in whatever combination of looks, fame, and money you like—were the Waikiki beachboys of the '30s, '40s and '50s. Except we know almost nothing about the specifics. Steamboat, Chick, Panama Dave and da res' of da fellas no kiss an' tell, eh? But half of Hollywood's leading ladies—and some number of leading men; let us be open-minded—sailed into Honolulu intending to view Diamond Head only from an open hotel room window while lovingly tied to the headboard with silk ropes by a dark-skinned Apollo who could surf circles around Tom Blake. Sexy, glamorous, and fully on the QT. That was the beachboy way.
Having said that, anonymous is boring. Let's name names. Let's make a list!
10. Richard Kenvin and Stephanie Seymour
Before the billionaire husband, and before Axl Rose sued her for domestic abuse, Stephanie Seymour was just another 19-year-old supermodel with a drinking problem, heading for rehab. As a 1988 In Fashion magazine cover story put it, "One of the good things to come out of AA [for Seymour] was a total surprise: romance. 'That's where I met my boyfriend,' she says, deep blue eyes sparkling. 'I fell completely in love the first moment I saw him.' The new man in her life, Richard Kenvin, 26, is a world-class surfer. Seymour pulls a picture of him out of her tote bag; he looks like a cross between Alexander Godunov and Don Johnson. 'I never liked blondes before,' she says, 'but he's different.’"
9. Shaun Tomson and Tracy Austin
The former world champ and the youngest-ever US Open-winner sparkled at the 1985 SURFER Poll. Tomson was described as "George Hamilton, Bruce Jenner and Prince Charles all rolled into one," and trust me, kids, that description meant something back then.
8. Brock Little and Kate Bosworth
Love's arrow found its mark on the set of Blue Crush, where Brock was hired to give surf lessons to the chaste 19-year-old starlet, and to basically be her Hawaiian chaperone, as he was regarded as the most responsible of the local-boy hired hands. Oops! Brock may have told me about the subsequent romance with Bosworth in confidence. Oops again!
7. Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece
Haters gonna hate, but on their good days, this Malibu power couple can bounce glamour rays off the rearview mirror on the International Space Station back to New York, Paris, and Tokyo.
6. Mike Diffenderfer and Raquel Welch
Technically, she was still Jo Raquel Tejada, and Diffenderfer was just a semi-preppy teenaged golfer. But didn't their La Jolla High School classmates step back in awe when these two started going steady! And on the dance floor after the game on Friday night? "We were the best dancers in all of La Jolla," Diff once told Steve Pezman, and if there wasn't a wink and a nudge between the two men, I will eat my woolen cap.
5. Pam Burridge and Damien Lovelock
Aussie pop-punkers The Celibate Rifles, with Damien Lovelock singing lead, were at their height of popularity in 1984. Rolling Stone called their new LP an "urban teen frenzy with lyricist Lovelock's adult fears erupting in a glowing atomic fireball of bazooka guitars and terminal volume." Pam Burridge, 18-year-old World Title contender and hardcore Sydney club-hopper, soon found herself backstage at a Rifles show, going shot for shot with the band, and next thing you know she and Lovelock are not only an item, but he's written her a song, "Summertime All Round the World," they've shot a video, and Pam's being called "the Malibu Madonna."
4. Kelly Slater and Pam Anderson
From Pam's Interview cover story, November, 1998:
I don't know how serious your relationship is with Kelly Slater. But considering how the media hounded you and Tommy [Lee], are you afraid of the same thing happening all over again?
It definitely put on a lot of pressure. And Kelly's the last person in the world I'd ever want to hurt or get harmed because of the pressures of my life. I love the way he lives his. I have a lot of respect for him.
But your worlds are so different.
Not really. Not in my personal life.
But is he aware how things can spin out of control?
Well, he's known me for a while. He didn't talk to me while I was married, but…
Oh, I didn't have any male friends while I was married!
Tommy was that jealous?
Tommy and I were with each other 24-7, and that was it. I told Kelly, "I'm really sorry about how it went; I feel really bad I didn't talk to you." And he says it's OK. And then I told him, "Now I don't want to leave you again." And he said I never did.
3. Duke Kahanamoku and Doris Duke
The world's richest woman. The world's best-looking man. The matching names, and the matching height—both were 6' 1". As with all beachboy-celebrity partnerships, this one was never supposed to go public. But Doris was rich enough and free-spirited enough to not give too big a fuck about what the rest of us thought, plus her relationship with Duke took place during WWII, when all bets—or a lot of bets, anyway—were off. Tragedy was a mainstay in Doris' life, and such was the case with Duke. Their love child died one day after birth.
2. Kaipo Guerrero and Madonna
Godhead fashion photographer Herb Ritts didn't much extend himself for his 1985 Rolling Stone shoot with Madonna. Book a suite at the Waikiki's Halekulani Hotel, round up some local boy-toy talent, and have them cavort around the hot young super-diva while "Into the Groove" rends the tropical skies. A few weeks later, Kaipo Guerrero, easily the best-looking high school senior in all of Honolulu, got the post-shoot call up and flew out for the Japan leg of Madonna's world tour.
1. Tommy Zahn and Marilyn Monroe
The story is even better than you imagined. Darrilyn Zanuck, teenaged daughter of Hollywood ur-mogul Darryl Zanuck, was gaga for blond surf-hunk Zahn, and with the toss of her pretty head got daddy to give Zahn a contract at Fox Studios. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Norma Jean Baker had just changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and had also signed with Fox. At the beach one afternoon, Monroe made eyes at Zahn, or vice-versa, and it was off to the races. "She was in prime condition," Zahn later wrote of Marilyn. "Tremendously fit. I used to take her surfing…She was good in the water, very robust." Jump ahead a few months. Monroe and Zahn are both abruptly and without explanation cut from their Fox contracts. Decades later, Monroe biographer Anthony Summers talked to Zahn. "Tommy believes that he was only hired [at Fox] in the first place because Zanuck wished to groom him for marriage to one of his daughters. The dalliance with Marilyn was noted and disapproved from on high, and both were fired. Zahn shipped out to Honolulu. Marilyn was adrift, professionally and emotionally." Riding waves and breaking hearts. Tommy Zahn—just another beautiful surf bastard.