Birdwell Blog

The year was 1967. The Doors, the Grateful Dead, and David Bowie had just released their self-titled debut albums; Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, was sweeping the box office; and the fledgling surf industry was taking shape in a way that repulsed one Miklos Sandor Dora, a.k.a. Miki Dora, a.k.a. “Da Cat,” a.k.a. “The Black Knight,” a.k.a. “the Fiasco Kid.”

Dora was Malibu’s brightest star—or darkest, pending your sensibility. He could dance, hula, and soul arch on a board with feline grace and Houdini prowess. He was witty and sardonic and prone to pulling pranks and scams—particularly in and around surf contests, which he regarded as a scourge to the purity of wave sliding. In one event he rode a twelve-foot tandem board in the final. In another he went up to collect his first place trophy and, in front of fans, judges, media, and fellow surfers, hurled it straight into the sand. His coup de grace came in the 1967 Malibu Invitational.

The sun was shining. The beach was packed with spectators. Photographers crouched behind long lenses. Judges sat high on a scaffold, clipboards in laps. The waves at First Point were bright and sparkling. Dora stroked into a shoulder-high wall. He hopped to feet and assumed his elegant stance. He didn’t trot to the nose, or stomp the tail, or do any of the “hotdogger” moves of the day. Instead, he dropped his shorts, flashed a big B.A. at the assembled contest believers on the shore. It was a powerful statement. The surf magazines had spent the last half-decade trying to convince the non-surfing masses that the sport had cleaned up its rowdy and renegade act. In a wave, in a pair of lily-white butt cheeks, Dora insisted otherwise.


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