San Diego Surf (1968) by Andy Warhol

Carl Ekstrom, photo by

[Film and the Arts]

Andy Warhol’s film

San Diego Surf (1968, unreleased)
and the La Jolla connection

At right: Carl Ekstrom talking in a Reviewer video interview at Richard Kenvin’s 50th birthday party about his Andy Warhol surfing film connection.

by Reviewer Rob

The 1960’s brought some fame to La Jolla when Tom Wolfe’s novel The Pumphouse Gang highlighted Windansea’s then youth-oriented surfing community. Andy Warhol, always ready to pick up on and commercialize pop trends, arrived in La Jolla the following year, 1968, to film his still unreleased movie San Diego Surf.

I recently spoke with avant garde surfboard maker Carl Ekstrom (pictured above-right in a photo from a video interview at Richard Kenvin’s fiftieth birthday party) who was directly involved in the movie in a small way, that of supplying Warhol with two custom surfboards.

“He was in San Diego making a movie on surfing,” Ekstrom said. “He told me it was on the lost art of surfing.”

“I didn’t go down to the filming… I went down to where he had all his camera equipment… It was right down by Marine Street… around the corner from Windansea,” said Ekstrom.

Warhol's handwriting as a logo on a modern Carl Ekstrom surfboardrd

There were several other prominent shapers in La Jolla at the time so I asked Ekstrom how he got the job to make the board for the film.

“I had a shop down on La Jolla Shores and he (Warhol) had some of the people with his group staying at a house down at La Jolla Shores… So he came into the shop and he was with Paul Morrissey and a couple of other guys and they needed a couple of boards for the movie they were making.”

What did Warhol look like?

“He had kind of a starburst thing, you know, hair, kind of a thing… and he was wearing kind of a Baby Jane shoes, patent leather, with day-glo socks… and the police were actually sitting outside watching the whole thing. They thought he was a strange character and didn’t know what he was all about,” Ekstrom says, smiling and almost laughing at the apparently still-fresh memory. “So he came in and bought both the boards for the movie and bought one to take back and put in his collection,” said Ekstrom. Shortly after this Warhol returned to NYC and he was shot by Valerie Solanas, Ekstrom said, and this may be why the film remained unfinished.

Copy of the original check issued to Carl Ekstrom by Andy Warhol

I had overheard someone say earlier in the evening that a surfboard Ekstrom built for Warhol was still in the collection housed at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. Being a fan of both art history and surfing culture, if I ever get out to the Warhol Museum I’ll visit the Ekstrom San Diego Surf surfboard exhibit if one exists and try to take some photos.

~Reviewer Rob

Some links:
warholstars 1, warholstars 2, imdb, Google Books

Leave a Reply