GREG ESCALANTE: "The Munsters’ coach! We all grew up with it, and now we can see it in person during this exhibition. George Barris was a Hollywood car-creating master, creating the icons we all loved from the Bat Mobile to the Monster T to the Cargoyle and so many more."

RICK RAWLINS, OWNER OF THE SURFITE, WHO RESTORED THE VEHICLE TO PRISTINE CONDITION WITH THE GUIDANCE OF ED ROTH: "When I was a kid, my dad’s shop was around the corner from Ed Roth’s, so I’d go every once in a while to see him. I built the model, the little Revell model kit of [the Surfite], and I was fascinated by it. It was my favorite one I ever built. . . . So I was up at a body shop in Las Vegas, looking for a little Bugatti, and on the wall of the shop, this surfboard was hanging—and I ask, 'Hey, what’s the deal with that surfboard—is it for sale?' . . . And they say, 'Ahh, it goes with some kind of crazy car.' . . . [Pause] Ding, ding, ding, ding! . . . It was great. It was meant to be—I’d asked around for many years: 'Oh, who ended up with the Surfite?' . . . [Roth] wasn’t real interested in the past; he didn’t really want to spend a lot of time [talking] about the past. He was always thinking about the next thing he was going to build. But he really did appreciate the fact that we brought the Surfite back to what it was."

*     *     *

Surfite by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, 1964, custom hot rod
John Gilhooley
Surfite by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, 1964, custom hot rod
Rat Fink and friends
John Gilhooley
Rat Fink and friends

Location Info


Huntington Beach Art Center

538 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Huntington Beach



VIDEO: Greg Escalante, C.R. Stecyk and Paul Frank Discuss 'Kustom Kulture II' Art Show

SLIDESHOW: 'Kustom Kulture II' is the Return of Rods, Rags & Rat Finks

"Kustom Kulture II" at the Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1650; Open Tues.-Thurs., noon-8 p.m.; Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., noon-5 p.m. Opening reception Sat., 7-9 p.m. Through Aug. 31. Free.

"[C.R. Stecyk III] pretty much knows everything," Escalante says. Escalante's smiling as he says it, but you get the feeling he's not really joking.

Celebrated artist, journalist, archivist and Juxtapoz co-founder Stecyk, 63, seems as though he's a pretty serious guy with a gruff exterior—but once you get him started on, well, everything, his eyes brighten and he exudes knowledge, spouting facts and history and information . . . all before breakfast. Stecyk famously founded Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions in Santa Monica, meticulously documenting the tale of the Z-Boys in a series of articles for SkateBoarder Magazine, spreading the gospel of the Zephyr team throughout youth culture and beyond. He is also an artist in residence for Hurley's open-studio program.

OC WEEKLY: Was there an effort to keep "Kustom Kulture II" in Orange County?

C.R. STECYK III: The Orange County component—Ed Roth lived in La Mirada, and this is where he settled the surfboard and the Surfite. If you look at this show and you look at the Surfite, there's a couple of conclusions you can draw in regards to Orange County in specificity. It's a fiberglass vehicle, and it's built largely with surf-related technology. Ed used to bodysurf at the Huntington Beach Pier when he was growing up, and he told me a number of stories about Huntington, and he was aware of Gordon Duane, who was Gordie of Gordie's Surfboards from there. Gordie was the principal surfboard builder in Orange County in that period. Ed built an all-terrain vehicle out of progressive material such as fiberglass, and the idea was that it would be a dedicated sport vehicle for surfing and you would haul your surfboard and you could drive anywhere.

He proceeded to build the vehicle and drive it through the surf and onto the sand in Beach Blanket Bingo, and everybody goes, "Okay, that was brilliant, eccentric behavior—how interesting." But if you look at the market now, there's a whole class of all-terrain sports vehicles . . . and having a car with significant ground clearance that was lightweight and got good mileage and stuff is basically the template for what everybody else is building now. It's absolutely a brilliant, visionary breakthrough.

But Ed's fascination with surfing at the pier in Huntington where he observed it—and getting Gordie to shape the board, which is indeed the board that is in the car today—is pretty interesting. You can see that LIFE Magazine, you can see that Hollywood studios, all those people embraced [the Surfite] immediately because it was such an effective proposition. Very beguiling—Ed had a particular genius. Here's a guy who went up against all the automotive manufacturers in the world . . .

Was it considered art at the time?

Well, I always thought it was a form of art. I don't think the mainstream necessarily did. Perhaps the "Kustom Kulture" show on some level identified and made some statements, or you know, put the hypothesis out there that a lot of this could be art or at the very least culture. . . . I think art and culture are particularly synonymous. In the fine-art world, though, it was heresy to present such things.

I think Orange County is probably in a lot of ways more progressive in presenting youth culture than most places. And I think Huntington Beach is the epicenter of a lot of it. There's aspects of post-World War II development in the U.S. that you see in Orange County. LA was industrialized earlier and had a center, and it spread out. . . . You know, it made a lot of sense for Orange County to flourish. . . . I'd challenge you to name me another public, civic-owned gallery that is promoting a show of this magnitude and this orientation any place in the world. There aren't any people that are doing it I can think of. It's a very advanced proposition.

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