Jon Wayne Freeman has achieved a strange kind of surfy fame. When I call him for this interview, he tells me that things are extremely hectic at the moment, but not because he’s boarding a red eye to chase an XXL swell to the other side of the globe, or because he’s in the middle of a pre-‘CT season tune up with a high-end personal trainer. No, Freeman is busy negotiating a ceasefire between his Nerf-gun-wielding children, and only if he can lock in a truce soon will he be able to sneak out for an afternoon surf session. If he does, he won’t be threading tropical dream tubes in front of RED cameras—he’ll be dodging closeouts and urban runoff at the pedestrian beach breaks near his San Diego home. If he can do that twice a week between family time and EMT shifts, hey, that’s a win.
Any of this sound familiar? Freeman’s surf life, probably like yours, is pretty average. But that’s just fine, it’s not his air revo that caught our attention anyway. Like many of you, we first saw Freeman on Instagram. For some time, he’s been posting videos of himself playing different characters, poking fun at all aspects of surf culture, giving our often overly-serious world a dose of comedic medicine. Over-involved surf dad pushing his kid to go pro? Freeman nails it. Silicon Valley tech bro getting a little too comfortable in the lineups of Santa Cruz? Yep, “Tech Surf” kills. Hell, he even plays a convincingly-gritty, fictional fourth Malloy brother, Jonas, who once “killed a man with my bare hands” and has no interest in getting together with Dan, Chris and Keith for Christmas.
Freeman does not have the best cutback in the game, but he just might be the funniest surfer around. That’s why we recently asked him if he wanted to host a new comedy surf series: the totally-earnestly-titled “Ultra-Core Surf Hour with Jon Wayne Freeman”, which premieres on our YouTube channel on Wednesday, January 8. What’s the show about, you ask? Well, it’s about nothing, and everything—and surfing. I’ll let Jon explain.
So what gives you the credibility to host this surf series? Are you an elite or formerly elite surfer?
I consider myself an elite-level surfer if you’re looking at 40-year-old men in North County San Diego who surf twice a week between the North and South jetties. If you’re looking at that group of people, specifically, then yes, I am absolutely an elite surfer in that context.
Why is the perspective of an unsponsored industry outsider important in surfing today?
Because we’re actual surfers. We’re adults with jobs and kids. We love surfing. But I can’t relate to some superhuman pro with a personal trainer who lifts and has a diet and gets to travel the world. I can’t relate to a board review by a guy who shreds—because I suck. I want to see normal people doing this stuff. I love goofiness in surfing. I love the old …Lost videos. I love weirdness, not all the perfectly polished dream edits of guys getting barreled in Tahiti and Indo. Surfing shouldn’t be so serious. I’m not into the seriousness. I’m not into the personal trainers. But with that said, if this show takes off, I do plan on getting abs. I think it’s mostly just a few diet changes that will get me there. Brad Pitt in “Fight Club”—that’s the goal. Just thin everything out, you know?
Totally. So the show is called “The Ultra-Core Surf Hour”, which frankly sounds pretty intimidating. Are you allowed to watch it if you don’t claim the rank of “Enforcer” or higher at a particular local break?
That’s a great question. I’m gonna say that I’ll make an exception this time. For the first season, yes, anyone can watch. But it’s a one-time deal. Don’t get too comfortable. If we go deeper and do a second season, it’s going to be locals only—no exceptions. But some people might become more core over the course of the first season, you know? I consider myself a coach, a spiritual guide to help people along this journey of surfing. If I can in any way use my knowledge and my spiritual awareness to help others, I’m more than happy to do it, because that’s what God put me here for.
What can people expect from this series? What do the episodes consist of and will it change people’s perspective on surfing?
The series is about a smart, sexy, middle-aged man who achieves his dream of escaping his family to have fun hanging out with pro surfers and going on adventures. As far as the people watching are concerned, I anticipate that this will trigger a tremendous amount of spiritual growth among the tribe. People can also expect to experience advancements in personal style—head movement, shoulder movement and the like. I think that front-footed and back-footed are going to disappear completely after people see this and everyone is just going to be able to do both at once.
Some people are saying that you’re the savior of surfing, the second coming of Bodhi from the 1991 version of “Point Break”, not the remake. What would you say to them?
First and foremost, I say that surfing is the source. We all know that. And I’m definitely spreading vibes to people, and they’re picking up on them. It’s my energy, my awareness of this industry. I think it’s just gonna take off and lives will be changed. I wouldn’t compare myself to the Christ…but who knows? We do walk together. I don’t know how else to put it.
What has been the highlight of this whole experience for you? Is it the waves you’ve found? The people you’ve met along the way? The adventures?
Being away from my small children and my wife has definitely been the highlight. Just to get that space, to taste freedom again—even if just for a moment—has been very cathartic and healing. For a Freeman like myself, that’s everything. I’m a natural-born wanderer, a drifter, if you will—just like late 2000s Rob Machado. There are actually many parallels between Rob and myself, which I’ll expand on later. But more than anything I’m a man, I’m a cowboy, I’m a loose cannon and I’m a wild child—and I’m not going to apologize for it. If my wife reads this, that’s fine. It’s probably for the best, because this is who I am.