Under The Influence: Matt Wilkinson

posted by / Magazine / May 15, 2012

He wears themed wetsuits and rollerblades to heats. He plays dress-up and refers to himself in the third person as “Wilkdawg.” He sports numerous tattoos — on his ribs a letter “W” sits alongside an anchor. (Wanker.) The permanent ink is the result of spontaneity. It wasn’t contemplated. There are no deep connotations. It’s fun. Like his surfing, like his life.

From heats on demand, tweets and posts on his blog, out2brunch.com — Matt Wilkinson is an entertainer. The masses await his performances. Hail Mary rodeos, 10-point rides, naked Brazilians and coprophilia. You never know what Wilko will do. Singlet or not, he’s all about surprise. Because as competition reaches new levels of professionalism and performance, Wilko’s antics — and absence of abs — remind fans that “Hey, it’s surfing. It’s supposed to be fun.” And an increasing amount of coverage, ads and Facebook Likes suggest his strategy is working. Maybe surfers do need to lighten up…why so serious?
–Mark Rosenberg

UTI
Portrait By Steve Sherman

Wilko: Surfing needs characters. The actual act of surfing right now is anything but boring — it’s incredible — but sometimes surfers can come across as dull because once they reach a certain level of fame they hide from the public eye.

A lot of people who watch pro surfing would have fun with it if they were in the same position. I’m traveling around the world, surfing good waves and chicks hit me up just because of what I do. If I weren’t a pro surfer I’d be digging holes or laying tiles, so of course I’m making the most of it. People can relate to that.

I’ve definitely inherited an ability to talk story from my old man. He’s done nearly everything there is to do work-wise, and now he runs a removals business on the Central Coast of Australia. He’s one of those guys who’s just full of stories, and he’s always making people laugh. You can drive from Melbourne to the Gold Coast with him [20 hours] and he’ll tell you a million stories.

The first time I showed my mom the clip where I get shit on we were sitting around the table having breakfast. I pulled it up on my computer expecting the worst but she took it well. She even said she thought it was funny, but I’m pretty sure she just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. It was kinda weird.

There are a lot of people in the online world who hate my clips, but for every one dickhead there are 10 people who like what I’m doing. That’s fine by me. The haters are going to hate. It’s great having groms froth on what I’m doing. And then there are the chicks.

Having a sense of humor helps get girls. I’m not the best-looking bloke but I seem to do OK. Making girls laugh is the key to their heart, and having stickers on your board. That helps.

There are plenty of characters in surfing but a lot of them keep their guard up around the media. Either that or it just takes a while to get to know them. Guys like Sterling Spencer seem to be succeeding by having fun with what they’re doing, and Paul Fisher is amazing. He’s a larger-than-life dude. When he enters the room the vibe just changes.

Last year was massive for me. I re-signed with Rip Curl and they started pushing my profile more in the US. At first I was worried my sense of humor wouldn’t translate stateside, but it seems to be working. My signature boardies are selling well and everyone says they enjoy my clips. It makes me feel like I’m delivering.

Results aren’t everything in surfing. If you market yourself you can increase your value to the company. It’s fun too. I like entertaining people and I love having fans. It’s great having the tour to showcase your surfing but having a side project helps get people excited. I’m having so much fun and want to share that with people. It seems to make everyone happy, including me. Dollar dollar bills, y’all.

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