His sentences — the few he utters to me — are short and stern, a far cry from the casually articulate way he chronicled the crazy side of pro surfing in Tracks and other mags for more than 20 years. In the background I can hear a woman talking loudly, which sounds like daytime TV but could be his mum, with whom he moved in early last year. The conversation is overshadowed, as usual, by my desperation to keep him on the line, earn his trust, and convince him to agree to a face-to-face meeting.
It was a sudden departure. After more than two decades of ubiquity — reporting pro surfing through magazines, videos, websites, a phone service and even, towards the end, as an official media liaison officer for the ASP — he was gone. That the surf media has never mentioned it is in itself scandalous. I began calling Sarge in November , leaving messages asking to meet.
I renewed it with more conviction three months later, and the immediate response from almost everyone was extreme wariness, if not resistance. I disagree. Despite the ban, Sarge retains a toehold in the sport through his presence on worldprosurfers.
One point needs to be made clear up front: Sarge was born with enormous psychological burdens. He is bipolar, alcoholic and at various times has been openly bisexual or gay, which, in some sections of the pro tour, especially in the s, was akin to leprosy in the 19th century. Not only that, he lost his dad when he was only Most of his close friends have, at one time or another, talked him out of committing suicide, usually in phone conversations that go on for hours. After a pause, he says:. Sarge had been sent there by Rip Curl to shoot Tom Curren. Accompanying them was journalist Adam Blakey, who was writing a feature for Transworld magazine.
It was the last day of the Drive-Thru trip, and that afternoon they had surfed eight-foot J-Bay for six hours.
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There were about 25 surfers at the restaurant that night, and Sarge was among them. There was a lot of table-hopping. Donavon was setting a high standard on the open mic with his hippie guitar tunes while the rest got stuck into drinking games. Adam, tired and drunk, snuck off at about 7. He went straight to sleep. Pat left a few hours later, and did likewise.
Afraid there might be some drunken pranks when the rest returned, he locked his door. The party from the restaurant, including Sarge, returned to the hostel.
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The drinking games had had their inevitable effect, and everyone was raucous. I was worried about him being a sleazy drunken pest rather than anything really sinister. He had said something really rank to me earlier in the night, about having his way with me. The comments had never affected their good friendship. Nudes and Benji eventually retired. Sarge told him to get a camera so the act could be recorded.
In one of those few conversations I had with Sarge, he said he was taking the wrong dosage of bipolar medication at the time, which, combined with the alcohol, might explain his indifference to being seen performing an unsolicited sex act. He told Nudes, who said the roommate had already told him about it. Adam was booked to fly to LA that morning, and drove to the airport in a distressed state.
For the next five years, he idolised Sarge for being the first to portray pro surfers as genuine sport stars. At 19, Adam became editor of Waves , where he regularly commissioned stories from Sarge. The two became good friends and colleagues. While waiting to check in, Sarge suddenly appeared behind him. Sarge asked if that would be enough to resolve the issue.
Pat, the leader of the group, was too shocked to deal with it. Besides, he had to ensure 14 people and loads of equipment made it to the airport the next morning. The next morning, while driving to the airport in a convoy of cars, the truth started to sink in. Everybody OK? It was really weird. We all had the same feeling. I never want to have that feeling again. Adam heard through the grapevine that Sarge had not accepted the ultimatum. Meanwhile, Sarge had rung Rip Curl chairman of marketing Neil Ridgway, his former editor at Tracks , who had originally hired him to go to South Africa.
In France, Robert was instructed by Rab to conduct an investigation, which he did immediately, interviewing over a dozen people, and wrapping it up within two weeks.
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Both Adam and Sarge were interviewed numerous times over the phone. Sarge co-operated fully with the investigation. During the investigation, two professional surfers approached Robert privately and separately, and arranged individual, confidential meetings. On condition of anonymity, they recalled previous sexual encounters with Sarge.
Both surfers were adults at the time of the incidents. They told Robert, however, that the memory of the incidents continued to disturb them. Robert asked Sarge about these prior incidents. However, in passing judgment on Sarge, Robert considered only the incident involving Adam. I have a completely clear conscience about what I did. At many beaches and resort destinations, especially in Europe and Australia, women are either formally or informally permitted to sunbathe topless.
However, societies tend to view breast exposure unfavorably, and subject it to stringent regulations or prohibitions, if its intent is perceived to be sexual arousal. The word "topless" usually refers to a woman who is naked above her waist or hips or, at least, whose breasts are exposed to public view, specifically including her areola and nipples.
It can describe a woman who appears, poses, or performs with at least her breasts exposed, such as a "topless model" or "topless dancer", or to an activity undertaken while not wearing a top, such as "topless sunbathing". It may indicate a designated location where one might expect to find women not wearing tops, such as a "topless beach" or "topless bar".
It can also be used to describe a garment that is specifically designed to reveal the breasts, such as the "topless swimsuit" also known as the monokini designed by Rudi Gernreich in the s. The word "topless" may carry sexual or exhibitionist connotations. Because of this, advocates of women's legal right to uncover their breasts wherever men may go bare-chested have adopted the alternative term " topfree ", which is not perceived to have these connotations. Barechestedness is the state of a man wearing no clothes above the waist, exposing the upper torso.
Bare male chests are generally considered acceptable at beaches, swimming pools and sunbathing areas. However, some stores and restaurants have a "no shirt, no service" rule to prevent barechested men from coming inside. While going barechested at outdoor activities may be acceptable, it is taboo at office workplaces, churches and other settings. In most societies, barechestedness is much more common than toplessness, as exposure of the male pectoral muscles is often considered to be far less taboo than of the female breasts, despite some considering them equally erogenous.
Male barechestedness is often due to practical reasons such as heat, or the ability to move the body without being restricted by an upper body garment.
In several sports it is encouraged or even obligatory to be barechested. Barechestedness may also be used as a display of power, or to draw attention to oneself, especially if the upper body muscles are well-developed. Attitudes towards toplessness have varied considerably across cultures and over time. The lack of clothing above the waist for both females and males was the norm in traditional cultures of North America, Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islands until the arrival of Christian missionaries, and it continues to be the norm in many indigenous cultures today.
The practice was also the norm in various Asian cultures before Muslim expansion in the 13th and 14th centuries.
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