Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Or so says former world champ Sunny Garcia after his performance on the Boarding House. Love it or hate it, the prime time summer reality show on the WB network — which profiled seven pro surfers during a seven-week stint on the North Shore last winter — generated a ton of response from surfers and non-surfers alike. “Geez, how focused is Holly Beck?” say some. “Danny Fuller’s sooooo cute,” say others. But more than any Boarding House resident, Sunny Garcia was the biggest (and buffest) point of debate. His three, now-public “slapping” incidents caused many to sound the anger management alarms, while others were quick to come to his defense. No matter where you sided, the only thing missing from all the hot air was a word from the man himself. As “Happa Haole” said on the WB website, “Peeps tink they seen one punk on TV should meet the current champ in person.” And since we can’t arrange that, we thought we’d do the next best thing. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the real Sunny Garica.SURFING Magazine: You were getting a lot of attention at the US Open. Were people congratulating you or cursing you?
SUNNY GARCIA: People were stoked on the show. Kids were coming up to me, telling me how they watched the show and how much they loved it. And I had quite a number of women tell me they were stoked to see a man sticking up for his wife. So, no one’s calling you out in person.
Nope. And you know what? For every nasty email I got, I’d get another one backing me up and saying they supported my actions. What were the nasty ones saying?
Oh, you know, people threatening my life. Guys saying that if I slapped them, they’d shoot me with their 45, that kind of thing. Just your typical computer geek stuff. I don’t see anybody’s names or addresses or anything. If they want to talk about it, I’m where anybody wants me to be.Did the negative feedback ever get to you?
I just learned to take the bad with the good. I couldn’t imagine what actors go through. I mean, I really feel for those people. I’m small time by any standards, and the amount of reaction I got was stupid. I just got a small little piece of what they get, and it was more than enough. It seemed like the Honolulu papers printed a lot of harsh criticism.
You’d think after dealing with the Hawaiian press for 20 years, they’d do a better job of getting both sides of the story. But it seemed to me like they went out of their way to find people to say shit. From what I read in the paper, people from the North Shore said I didn’t do a very good job of representing surfing. Well, to me the bottom line is that I represent Sunny Garcia. I don’t represent the North Shore, I don’t represent Hawaii. I’m proud to be Hawaiian and I’m proud to be from Hawaii. But to be honest, most of the people who live in Hawaii aren’t from there, so I wouldn’t want to represent them anyway. Besides, I know the local people back me up. And that’s enough for me.So, we’ve heard a lot about what other people think of the show. What do you think? Are you happy with the final product?
For the most part I was really happy. They did a good job at showing the behind the scenes, not just boring stuff we all know about. They went deeper and got into the parties, the politics, those kinds of things. From watching the show, the average person might say, Wow, I better stay away from Sunny if I’m on the North Shore.
With that, uh. . .you know. . .they didn’t show the whole story. But if you know who I am, it just kind of enhances the bad boy image that I have or whatever. But if you really know me, you know I’m a nice guy, always smiling, always happy. You just better not f–k with me or my family. Because I can go from happy to wanting to kill you in a matter of seconds. But I think everybody’s like that to some degree. You don’t just go out and beat people up for no reason. I guess they kind of made me look that way, but somebody’s gottta be the bad guy, and I guess that had to be me.