San O regular Danica Elbertse got turned on to surfing by her parents in her early teens. At first she resisted, then it obsessed her, now, age 25, it’s the center of her life. She rides mostly longboards, cross steps deftly, hangs ten with avian grace. She works as an actress, model, and designer. She and her boyfriend, George Trimm, have been working for several years on a genre-defying surf film called Forbidden Trim. Shot entirely on 8 and 16 mm, it follows a group of secret agent surfers chased across Utopia by fascist shock troopers. I’ve seen clips. It’s looking to be something fabulous. We caught up on a recent Friday via cell phone. She was at home in San Clemente, I was checking the surf at Malibu (knee-high and rising).
What facet of surfing are you most excited about?
I think the adventure side of it. Going to places that are untouched. Or even just going to San O and having that whole beach culture where everyone’s like your extended family. Definitely not the whole tour/competitive side. I find the whole high profile side of surfing to be obnoxious.
Who are your great inspirations in life?
Ooh, there’s so many! I love to look at Europe in the ‘20s and ‘40s ‘cause there was so much going on, whether it was the Dada artists, or whether it was fashion during the war and having to reinvent the resources they had available and then translate that into people’s lives. I mean now it doesn’t seem like a big deal, you put a pair of pants on and a T-shirt and it’s fine, but for a while fashion wasn’t accessible and it wasn’t always so accommodating.
Who are your favorite surfers?
I have a lot of favorite surfers. Obviously I like Joel Tudor and I like Tyler Warren. I like women surfers, like Belinda [Baggs] and Kassia [Meador]. And the older women like Margo Oberg and Rell Sunn and Lynn Boyer.
How’s your movie coming along?
We got the film back yesterday, we sat through a transfer and everything came out beautifully, which is a huge relief. We have about a month left to do sound design and final touches and then we’ll be showing it. We want to show it all over California and we want to tour it in Japan, Australia, and France. And maybe do a weird US tour where we show it in places like Texas and Florida.
You and your boyfriend have collaborated on stuff in the past?
Right before we started dating we did a music video for La Femme—that was the first project that we did together. And from there we did music videos, and if I had a modeling job he’d do the video stuff on it.
What a great way to be in love.
It’s great but it’s hard. ‘Cause we’re literally going to sleep talking about the movie, and the conversations aren’t always easy to have.
What’s interesting to you in the world of surf films?
I think for me it’s the lack of women-oriented films, and so that’s kind of where my head is going. I mean you obviously have people who are sponsored by a brand and they do a trip and they make a brand video. But even if you look back to the ‘60s, there are so few films that are all about women. And it’s really about women who are doing it regardless if they’re on the paycheck or if the company put them on a trip.
Is there a way for the two to work together? Can you reap the benefits of being sponsored but also keep the soul?
Totally. And making films isn’t cheap, so having that give-and-take can work. Like, for instance, I’ve done more commercial gigs that have paid my way into working on other, more personal projects. Getting paid to go surfing is great. And getting paid to surf doesn’t mean you’re not a soulful person. But the thing is that’s the only story right now for women—it’s only brand supported. So it would just be interesting to have it more rootsy.
The Dazzling Blue is a series of short pieces about things we do in boardshorts. It is written by Jamie Brisick. A Fulbright scholar and a lifelong surfer, Brisick has written several books about surf culture, including Have Board Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow and Becoming Westerly. He lives in NYC and rides a 5'10" Channel Islands Pod.