In Cocaine + Surfing: A Sordid History of Surfing’s Greatest Love Affair, author Chas Smith reveals the connection between surfing and one of the world’s most insidious illicit drugs. Surfing rode into the imaginations of a generation on the waves of the cultural shifts of the 1960s and ’70s. The culture quickly gained the image of tanned young men, spending their days on the beach and their nights partying. Early on, it was beer, joints, and girls, but then the surf market was born.
Just as quickly as surfing’s advent into popular culture became commonplace, the rise of the surfing attire and accessory market took hold. Soon it was a multi-million and even multi-billion dollar industry. With such high stakes, businesses couldn’t afford to allow a “bad boy” image ruin their investment (side note: try telling this to The Mad Hueys), so while the rebelliousness of the surfing culture was still there, it was highly tempered.
Such subversion, however, only served to push the parties into harder territories, where they met up with the illustrious devil’s dandruff; booger sugar; California Cornflakes; shout louder powder … cocaine.
Soon, it wasn’t just the pranks and bad behaviour that were being covered up, but overdoses, bar fights, and even murders. Cocaine + Surfing takes a look at how the surfing culture, with its positive, natural, beautiful people actually did, for a while, hide a sordid secret infected with addiction and violence.