Fine, it wasn’t brunch. But it was Sunday and the Quiksilver Pro was called off for the day and it was almost noon and don’t pancakes and a mimosa sound pretty good right now? SURFING Senior Photographer Steve Sherman and I waltz out of the ground floor of the Rainbow Place Apartments and instead of turning left — towards eggs and bacon, towards champagne and orange juice — we turn right. Towards the temporary base of the Mad Hueys.
It’s a modest abode in a lavish locale. Dulled blue awnings scantily shade an old and unembellished duplex that sits front and center at Snapper Rocks. The place is owned by Shaun and Dean Harrington’s Nana, who literally dropped off condoms there yesterday and joked about penis size (specifically, lack thereof) in the process. But Nana’s not here today. Today, it’s Hueys and friends. And instead of brunch, it’s beer and genuine conversation in a humble escape from that ambition-melting Gold Coast heat.
Bede Durbidge is there, telling stories of wild times in Fiji. Dean Morrison is there too, telling stories of even wilder times in Fiji. A finely curated selection of contemporary hip-hop hums through Grandma’s speakers from the organs of an iPhone that is occasionally interrupted by a text or a phone call — and that’s another person coming over. Everything feels very relaxed and very alive.
Sherm pulls Shaun and Dean aside and shoots a few portraits for an upcoming featuring in the magazine. The twin brothers are cooperative and engaged, yet there’s a tangible air of discomfort when they’re faced with the notion of limelight. Fame is nowhere to be found on their list of desires. A wave, a fish, a beer and a good time, however, are very high up on said list. Maybe a boat wouldn’t hurt either.
And that’s what brought us here.
The Mad Hueys, as I’m told, was conceived under the romantic veil of a fishing tournament. It was the name of their team, and the Hazzas decided to have a few t-shirts printed in the name of officialdom. Their close friends saw the tees and pleaded for them to print a few more, and so they ordered 50. That was a few years ago. The Mad Hueys is now a multi-million dollar company.
“All we wanted to do was buy a boat,” Dean tells me as we leave Nana’s place and walk across the street to the Rainbow Bay Surf Club. He talks me through the inadvertent prosperity of a drunken fishing team turned international enterprise, and the floaty business goal that they established along the way. I ask him about their licensing agreement in the states and he looks towards a non-Huey-associated friend, where he doesn’t find the answer. When ordering a drink at the bar, I inquire about the Huey’s lager that sits in surplus in a clear icebox on the counter. Dean says he’s not so sure who made it.
The story of the Mad Hueys is beginning to sound a lot like the story of teenage pyros who accidentally start a wildfire. What started as fun amongst friends spread at an uncontrollable rate. Except, instead of crisping trees and homes and dried brush, the Hueys only burn beers, boredom and sometimes, a hole in the consumer’s pocket. But it all started here. Humbly, with the crack and sizzle of that next cold lager and the inception of an earnest-to-God idea.
I no longer crave pancakes. —Brendan Buckley