Reinventing: The Surf Girl

posted by / Magazine / April 24, 2012

Sam McIntosh and Derek Rielly of Stab Magazine discuss their barely legal and highly anticipated fashion shoots.

A few times a year, Stab, our favorite magazine from down under, does the surf world a huge favor. They get the world’s best surf girls naked. Or next to naked. Everyone’s doing it — from Steph to Sally to Monyca to Sage — because they’ve seen the results and the results are stunning. With Stab, you will look classy. Sexy. Sometimes even too sexy, as was the case with Steph Gilmore, whose photos have never been publicly seen.

What Stab has done is take a group of girls that we once looked at as tomboys and turned them into sex symbols. How did they do it? We asked Stab founder Sam McIntosh and editor Derek Rielly, and their answers, like their photos, tell all. —Taylor Paul

Monica
Monyca Byrne – Wickey. Photo: Richard Freeman

SURFING: When did the idea come about? Why hadn’t anyone done it before?

Derek Rielly: My dearest friend and co-founder of Stab, Sam McIntosh, is the architect of this adventure. It began with Stephanie Gilmore and the results, although never published due to Ms. Gilmore’s commercial affiliation with a religious organization, were remarkable. Suddenly, it was obvious! These new gals are hotter than fish grease! And, tote-ally hetero! Our proximity to half-a-dozen world-class fashion photographers meant we could straddle the right side of the line between class and crass.

Sam McIntosh: It seems strange now but four or five years ago, the thought of even dating a surf chick was so taboo. It was as if they couldn’t be perceived as sexy. When we showed our original photos of Steph to various pro surfers, they literally would not believe it was her. It almost feels like that first shoot shifted the headspace. Why hadn’t anyone done it before? There were shoots with pro surfer girls but not with a high-end team. Most were shot by surf photographers who are brilliant in their field but haven’t spent 10 or 20 years trying to make women look as hot as they possibly can. We used the identical teams to what would be on a Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar shoot. And, given that we owned the mag, we could invest in this area because we believed in it.

How many pro surfer girls have you shot?

DR: Let’s count! Stephanie Gilmore, Laura Enever, Sally Fitzgibbons, Carissa Moore, Erica Hosseini, Sage Erickson, Alana Blanchard, Bruna Schmitz, Monyca Byrne-Wickey and a cute-enough French gal called Maude Le Car. And, y’can probably count Andy and Lyndie and Jordy and Lyndall, who will appear in a month or so in Stab.

SM: We’ve had a few pull out on the day. Coco Ho was all booked in Hawaii in December. We were a little worried to shoot Hawaiian royalty but Bruce Irons was positive the Hos would be cool with such a shoot. So Bruce met with Mike Ho and rang through official approval. On the evening before the shoot, however, Coco’s manager lost her shit explaining that it wasn’t in her client’s best interest. We’d assembled a team from LA and Sydney but she would have no part in it. She would leave the shoots to herself. I’d seen a shoot she’d pulled together that afternoon on the beach at Off The Wall where she’d near-drowned a bunch of cute girls in lipstick and foundation. I remained silent.

Erica

Who’s the sexiest of them all?

DR: Ms. Erickson, God’s own map of subtle curves and heavenly fissures.

SM: Without the platitudes, each girl has brought something different. Usually their mothers. Which can be tough but we only want to make the girls look as good as they possibly can. It’s a common goal.

How do you convince these young girls to come and bare all? Or have they just been waiting for someone to ask all along?

DR: When we began, it was the ferocious, never-take-no-for-an-answer work of Mr. McIntosh who weathered all sorts of white-bread PR gals and shocked parents. I sat on the sidelines sniping, although this has since changed.

SM: The girls trust what we’re trying to do. I think.

How do you approach this differently than setting up a normal photo shoot?

DR: By employing the best in the fashion biz and laying on the smoke and mirrors.

SM: Trying to make the girls feel comfortable, getting the men off the set and preparing the girls’ ear lobes for the overuse of the words “darling, gorgeous, you’re a trooper, stunning, well done,” etc..

Mood music?

DR: Francoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot.

SM: We curate a playlist based on the talent.

Best story coming out of one of these shoots?

DR: The evaporation of the Stephanie Gilmore shots. How I wish we could show you! She’s never looked so good! Her peeps covered the 10 gees in costs to squash the shoot from appearing in print or online.

SM: In exactly seven months and 13 days, I believe Steph will give us the keys to the pixels. This is the most glamorous shoot we’ve done.

Anything else?

DR: It ain’t a crime to celebrate the beauty of a woman at her peak. And, remember, when shooting a gal, think: subtle makeup, natural light, shadow and leave the hokey lingerie at home.

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