By Jamie Brisick

The Life Sentence of the Ex-Pro Surfer

The Dazzling Blackness

I’m thinking about Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas, who shot himself in the heart in 1954; I’m thinking about Pepê Lopes, who died in a hang gliding accident while trying to win a second world title in Japan in 1991; I’m thinking about Aryton Senna, the Formula One racer who died on lap seven of the San Marino Grand Prix in Italy in 1994. I am not thinking about death explicitly, but death hangs over all of this.


July 4, 2018

Art and Ape Coalesce Magnificently in W Magazine

It’s the year 2057 and from 1 million miles away Earth appears as a black-and-blue marble with wispy streaks of gray. From 10,000 feet, the Art House comes into view, a colossal concrete fortress complete with a miraculously green lawn, shimmering swimming pool the size of a small lake, and gleaming white patio that brings to mind the ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Center. The house sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, which is still as vibrantly blue today as it was 100 years ago. The surrounding area, though, looks like Aleppo circa 2016.



August 15, 2017

O Malibu

Malibu, you sucked on my finger, riveted me with your stories of handcuffs and hot chocolate, and left me lying face down in the sand.


July 29, 2017

Symphony Space, July 17

We are proud to be presenting Jamie Brisick, a prolific contributor to the culture of surfing, for an evening of surf literature, film, and photography.

Jamie Brisick has spent more than four decades deeply immersed in surfing, first as a professional surfer in the '80s and '90s, and since then as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. An author of several books, an editor of international surf magazines, and a Fulbright scholar, he is an astute observer of the culture. In conversation with Chris Gentile, founder of Pilgrim Surf + Supply, and through a selection of his photographs, Jamie will discuss his life in surfing, as well as show excerpts from a few of his favorite surf films, which include Jack McCoy's StormridersGreg Schell's Chasing the Lotus, and Alby Falzon's Morning of the Earth.

Jamie Brisick’s books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn's Transformation into Westerly WindinaRoman & Williams: Things We MadeWe Approach Our Martinis With Such High ExpectationsHave Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer's JournalThe New York Times, and The Guardian. He was the editor of Surfing magazine from 1998-2000, and is presently the global editor of Huck. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles.

For more information and tickets please click here

June 25, 2017


In 1999 I met Marie in the southwest of France. Tall, straight blond hair that cascaded down her back, rapturous blue eyes, mischievous big smile—she got a lot of attention from men, and I felt lucky to have hers. We were at the Seaside Bar in Hossegor, both of us in town for the Rip Curl Pro, an international surf contest. I was writing about it; she was doing marketing/P.R. for her employer, Oakley Europe.

Over drinks we talked about Magnum photographers, Brazilian writers, and the loutishness of the pro-surfing tribe. She told me she loved bullfighting, that she anxiously awaited the corrida de toros season (April-October) so she could spend weekends in Seville, where she wore flamenco dresses and occasionally danced on tables. “There’s this torero who trains for the corridas by going to the beach at night with his cape,” she said. “He pretends that the waves are bulls.”

Marie lived in Paris, in the 16th, on Rue Passy—“really bourgeois, but also really beautiful. Catherine Deneuve is my neighbor.” She wrote her number on a cocktail napkin. “If you’re in Paris any time soon, come visit.”

I was there three days later. We met at a sushi restaurant, had an excellent dinner and lots of sake, and went for a stroll. On the steps of the Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower presiding over us, we kissed for the first time. At her one-bedroom, minimalist apartment that smelled of roses and strong cheese, we had sex.


June 23, 2017

A Life in Surfing - Symphony Space, July 27

Jamie Brisick has spent more than four decades deeply immersed in surfing, first as a professional surfer in the '80s and '90s, and since then as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. An author of several books, an editor of international surf magazines, and a Fulbright scholar, he is an astute observer of the culture. In conversation with Chris Gentile, founder of Pilgrim Surf + Supply, and through a selection of his photographs, Jamie will discuss his life in surfing, as well as show excerpts from a few of his favorite surf films, which include Jack McCoy's StormridersGreg Schell's Chasing the Lotus, and Alby Falzon's Morning of the Earth.



"You've never read anything like BECOMING WESTERLY. Peter Drouyn is a character beyond the capacities of almost any novelist to imagine-and then he turns into someone else. Jamie Brisick traces the emergence of Westerly Windina with so much empathy, eloquence, and patience. His book is dazzling, devastating, funny, and surpassingly strange." - William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days

"BECOMING WESTERLY is much more than a book about a celebrated surfer who becomes a woman-in this case, a dude who becomes a diva. Brisick presents us with a case study of narcissism, of the pathology of celebrity, and a detailed look at the complex world of competitive surfing. It is a funny and painful book, too, and one I greatly enjoyed." - Paul Theroux, Mr. Bones: Twenty StoriesThe Last Train to Zona VerdeThe Great Railway Bazaar and Mosquito Coast

"Brisick shines a brilliant light on the fascinating Ms. Windina, at once damsel in distress and Superwoman. The surfing scenes are riveting-written with an excitement and an immediacy that only a lifelong wave rider can pull off." - James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

"From deep inside the barrel, Jamie Brisick recounts the tale of the waverider who revolutionized pro surfing with man-to-man heats and then became a woman - having thought of herself as Marilyn Monroe all along. With this compassionate, funny, and wrenching book, Brisick has taken his impressive body of work to a new level, establishing himself as a fine observer of life's currents, on land, sea, and inside the heart." - Deanne Stillman, Twentynine PalmsMustang, and Desert Reckoning

"Jamie Brisick tells the unlikely story of how Peter Drouyn, one of Australia's greatest surfers, morphed into the chanteuse Westerly Windina. At once candid autobiography, participatory anthropology, and cultural history, the tale of Drouyn's metamorphosis is told with compassion, humility, and authority. BECOMING WESTERLY is a remarkable book, proving once again that the truth is usually stranger than fiction." - Dr. Peter Maguire, Law and WarFacing Death in Cambodia and Thai Stick

"What happens after the endless summer? BECOMING WESTERLY is what happens. Jamie Brisick has given all readers one shaggy, tasty gift: not only the history of surfing, as seen from inside that raging, curling wave (quite an accomplishment in itself) but the more intimate struggle that comes from being alone with your aloneness. The transformation of Peter Drouyn-troubled narcissist, influential surfing genius-into wannabe starlet Westerly Windina is every bit as absorbing as it is frustrating, as charming as it is essential." - Charles Bock, New York Times bestseller Beautiful Children

"Whitman wrote, ‘I contain multitudes,' and he might have had this book in mind. BECOMING WESTERLY is the story of surfing great, Peter Drouyn, and his subsequent transformation, via a sex change operation, into aspiring diva Westerly Windina. But it's also a tale of the writer, Jamie Brisick, and his efforts to understand what-for lack of a more specific term-it all means. In the process, this engrossing narrative raises a series of questions rather more profound than you might expect: Who are we? Where do we begin? Where do we end? Is there such a thing as destiny? Are we riding the wave or a part of it? And as with the best books, in the end it's our own lives we examine." - Jim Krusoe, Parsifal

"BECOMING WESTERLY is a haunting and important book-a reminder of what it means to be human, flawed, and occasionally fabulous." - Karl Taro Greenfeld, Speed Tribes and The Subprimes

"What a wild and wonderful and fascinating journey our lives can be! BECOMING WESTERLY stands as beautiful evidence of this-gorgeous proof of the ever-unfolding transformations many of us undergo-and Jamie Brisick brings these changes to vivid and heart-rending life. A sometimes-brutal book, every page is marked with care, affection, friendship, and pure honesty. - William Lychack, The Architect of Flowers

"BECOMING WESTERLY examines a difficult life with clear-eyed compassion, a story that helps us better understand how we all can become authors of authentic lives." - Kem Nunn, Chance

"A strange, exhilarating, ultimately uplifting ride. Jamie Brisick is the perfect guide into the life of an amazing ninja-level surfer, provocateur, and diva." - Matt Warshaw, Encyclopedia of Surfing

"Westerly and Peter are two of the greatest characters to ever grace surfing, two titanic life stories, and with BECOMING WESTERLY Brisick has written incredible portraits of both. A story of the glory and terrible burden of ambition for greatness, and greatness unrecognized. Beautiful, sad, and full of hope." - Surfing World

"If Augusten Burroughs had surfed, he might have come up with something like this sharp, witty, poignant, heart-wrenching, ribald memoir-although Jamie Brisick brings a sweet and aching humanity all of his own. The life of a professional surfer is sometimes idealised as an Endless Summer of girls and parties. This is the real deal of the messy, confounding, intoxicating rollercoaster of growing up with a head full of dreams and the insecurities of being on show and constantly judged as a professional athlete while tripping about the planet trying to work out who you are. Brisick is honest, funny, masterful and never hits a dud note." - Tim Baker, author of OccyHigh SurfBustin' Down the DoorSurfari, and Australia's Century of Surf

"WRITTEN ON WATER is the closest you'll get to being a pro surfer on the contest circuit without actually being a pro surfer on the contest circuit. It's also as close as you'll ever get to being neck deep in the briny blue without getting your feet wet. Brisick's surf memoir is as languid and hypnotic as the sea itself; the pages roll by in perfect sets, and, like a good day at the beach, you won't want it to end." - Jason Crombie, Editor in Chief, Monster Children

"Brisick's the writerly equivalent of those surfers - those bastards possessed of effortless power and timing - that you can't turn away from watching (or in this case, reading...)." - Graeme Murdoch, Editor of White Horses

"A touching memoir about family, loss and a life spent in the waves. A child of the Southern California Dream, Jamie escapes into the fantasy world of professional surfing while his family is ripped from within by his beloved elder brother's drug addiction and eventual death. The tales of hope and heroism on tour are a surreal contrast to the frightening truths awaiting him at home. This book is a powerful and painful antidote to the Jeff Spicoli vision of the inarticulate doper-surfer, and to the equally inaccurate idea that surfers are somehow immune from normal human concerns." - Nick Carroll, author of TC

"Imagine Holden Caulfield went surfing. With charming candour and vivid prose Jamie Brisick takes the reader on a compelling ride through the fluoro-tinted, idealism of the ‘80s pro surfing scene and the suburban dystopia he had to escape to make it there. Insightful and funny, Written on Water strikes an engaging balance between a surfing subculture that has never been so evocatively traversed and the sometimes tragic struggles of a middle-class, Californian family." - Luke Kennedy, Editor of Tracks

June 9, 2017

Surf’s Way Up

As I climbed out of the bathtub-warm Indian Ocean and onto the deck of the motorboat, one man grabbed my surfboard, another handed me a bottle of chilled water, and a third doused me in a fresh-water shower then handed me a fluffy white towel. Before I’d finished drying off, a fourth man offered me a plate of sliced cold coconut. I felt a cross between a prizefighter in his corner and a Hollywood starlet between takes on a big-budget film.


February 22, 2017

And Then I See A Darkness

Thirty minutes and half a bottle of Pinot Noir into their first date he stood up, walked over to her side of the table, placed his hands on her shoulders, and whispered into her ear: “So here’s how it works. You’re trying to get DNA from my body over to your body. Blood, cum, saliva, hair, finger and toenails, a hacked off pinky—all fair game.”

[I’m unsure whether this story takes off in a Last Tango In Paris direction or whether she splashes her drink in his face, but I do see a later flashback scene where our male protagonist meets a cute ponytailed girl in kindergarten who invites him to play Hide and Seek. The Hide and Seek games carry on through elementary school, getting bigger and more elaborate, covering their entire suburban neighborhood. They never really talk. We see them climb over walls into random backyards, bury themselves under blue tarps in alleyways. The flashback ends with male protagonist at the breakfast table with Dad. Dad reads the paper. He furrows his brow, reads aloud: “How awful. A fifth grade girl from your school was run over by a car yesterday.”]

November 16, 2016

Surfing World

Thrilled to talk writing, surfing, elephant wrestling (always keep a stash of cayenne pepper in your back pocket) w friend and colleague Sean Doherty in the latest issue of Surfing World. @seano888 @surfingworld ��@markonorati Thanks fellas.

October 28, 2016

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