December/ January 1971
volume 7, issue 6
We have two real tools as surfers. We have our boards and we have our wetsuits and that is that. Our boards are regularly glamorized. Phallic symbols of sexy water dominance. Seeing a surfboard, or feeling a surfboard under the arm, or waxing it up for the first time are all pleasures regularly given their due in print. Our boards are iconic.
But our wetsuits are not treated with the same sweet reverence. They are thick and black, usually, just slabs of rubber and neoprene. Our wetsuits tell us winter is here and so is the cold. They are not treated as sexy, but they used to be.
O’Neill had the awesome early-1970s sense to have an ideal early-1970s blonde take her top off. To stand nude, in all of her glory, and slowly zip up or maybe down, a slab of rubber. What could be hotter? Her body is desirable. Her nipples superimposed over a Hawaiian sunset vista. Her head looking down with a coy smile playing at her lips. O’Neill did not have to hide her nipples like we do today. Our apologies. It was the early 1970s and sex was in the air and decency standards were different. Rick Santorum was only beginning to wander around in a baby sweater vest. Nipples were free. As free as love.
And how amazing did it feel to zip up or maybe down a slab of rubber with this image in mind? When it was always summer on the inside? It felt amazing. It felt like a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo.
Wetsuits were sexy once. They were as iconic as boards and the winter felt like floaty, hypnotic awesome. I have a dream of someday going back to this time. This time before prudishness and fear. This time when “original” could be spelled “origional” and no one would care because everyone was having sex and both our boards and wetsuits were symbols of sex. I have a dream.