By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
I’ve got all three Malloy brothers in one place, which should qualify me for permanent membership at the Magic Castle considering the difficulty of herding these guys. Keith, the middle brother at 30 years old, has just returned from an excursion to Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands on behalf of Surf Aid. The mission involved traveling upriver to visit an indigenous tribe that still file their teeth into fine points and fashion loincloths from tree bark. The group brought doctors and dentists with them and tried to promote malaria awareness, still the biggest killer in places like the islands. Prior to that trip, Keith had spent most of the summer training for an epic coed paddleboard contest in Hawaii called the Molokai. He and his partner finished second. Meanwhile, Dan, who is 26, spent the better part of the last month traveling the country to promote artist and fellow Moonshine conspirator Thomas Campbell’s art-damaged surf film Sprout, in which he’s a featured player. He also managed to work in a couple of weeks of surfing in France. Chris, for his part, is just coming off an editing schedule for A Brokedown Melodythat would have given a speed freak pause.Keith poking his face out of the tube.
We’re at Keith’s house, where Dan also lives, sitting in the bright living room that overlooks the break north of Ventura where Chris and I surfed. A tree in the front yields edible bananas. The place is half home, half warehouse for a collection of gear that can outfit the boys for every kind of water adventure from towing into big waves to paddling 60 miles up the central coast — something Dan and Keith recently accomplished.
Individually, these boys are impressive — each one seemingly taller, more rugged and more handsome than the other (Dan was recently paid to model for Ralph Lauren). Together, they are formidable. As Scott Hulet, the editor of the incomparable Surfer’s Journal, told me, "If Hollywood, in its unquenchable hunt for schlock re-releases, ever spanks a Bonanza redo, these three would be a good place to start for the Cartwright brothers. They’re all too smart to bite on that, though."
Chris Malloy peppers any discussion of surfing with references to legends, like their neighbor, big-wave pioneer Pat Curren, and others like champion swimmer, surfboard innovator, photographer and philosopher Tom Blake. Or John Severson, the man who started Surfer magazine and was the original surfer-artist. These were men who knew their history, made their own boards, dove for their food, and approached their lives with a poet’s heart and a beatnik’s wanderlust.
"Those guys did everything. They did film, photography, writing, and Pat was just a legend. They were the kind of people I aspired to be like and to experience some of the things they did," Malloy says. "You know, when my time finally came and I got to surf these places that I had always dreamt of, and then came home and looked at this depiction of my experience [in articles and video], it wasn’t representative of anything I had experienced. I got sick to my stomach. They were product-driven and missing the experience. Surfing was becoming a commodity so fast. What was a cottage industry has become a billions-of-dollars business. It just wasn’t what I dreamed of being a part of."
Earlier, at the Moonshine Conspiracy’s headquarters in a renovated Victorian in downtown Ventura, where much of the staff (mostly family) lives and works, Chris drew up a schematic of the gladiator pit that is the North Shore’s famed Pipeline lineup. Pipeline is the serious surfers’ proving ground, and the pecking order goes from Pipe Rulers, right at the wave’s peak, and descends down the shoulder to the Mob, the Brazilians, the body boarders and, finally, the Japanese body boarders. Lately, there has been an influx of jujitsu enthusiasts among the Brazilians, and the local Hawaiians, who have long seen outsiders crowd their turf in hopes of catching some sponsor’s eye, are always ready to fight. The Malloys have all scrapped their way, literally, past the Mob and into the Rulers.All in the family: The Malloys (bottom from left): Dan, Keith, Mom Denise with Mary and dad Mike. Chris and wife Carla are on top.
When they are surfing, they approach the level of daunting — fearless and fearsome, not flashy but powerful, fast and seemingly in total command of their environment.
"There are a lot of guys out there who are fast, and a lot of guys out there who are powerful — they have to be — but we surf every day. If it’s 20 feet, we surf. If it’s 2 feet, we surf," says Chris Malloy. "By far, if there’s anything that’s significant about us, it’s that we surf every board in every condition, and there isn’t so much of that anymore, which is something they prided themselves on in the olden days. You use the ocean for what it is. It isn’t something we tried to develop on purpose; it’s just that, at age 32, I still surf every day."