Jock Serong's Short History of Wax

24 Jul 2014 9 Share

Jock Serong

Senior Writer

Illustration by Nanda Ormond

Illustration by Nanda Ormond

It melts deep into the carpets of your car. It attracts sand like a magnet and rubs your kneecaps bald. It’s frequently bitten by toddlers, used as a de facto air freshener and given away for free as an incentive to bigger purchases. It’s the weapon of choice for windscreen messages: This is not your wave. Locals only. Beat it kooks!

A simple blend of paraffin and beeswax, scents and colours, with a dash of petroleum jelly to soften, surf wax arrived in Australia almost by stealth, sold by old-school service stations like Ampol and Esso. A semi-secret accoutrement for sunburnt dropkicks.

In 1972, Santa Barbara surfshop owner Fred Hertzog III [“Mr. Zog”] pulled off a cultural coup. He took a necessary and boring product and added a vital ingredient: smut. Sex Wax t-shirts were immediately banned in many schools, giving the brand outlaw cred.

Innuendo is not the exclusive domain of Mr. Zog – it seems to have evolved into an industry standard: Sticky Johnson, Far King, Mrs. Palmer’s Five Daughters, Mighty Mounds, Mothers Milk [shaped like a breast and nipple], Vyagra... the list is endless. In 1982, this very magazine ran a full-page ad for coconut-scented Waxx On that featured two freckly nude boobs and two blocks of Waxx On. The tagline? A Lovely Pair of Coconuts.

SEE ALSO: Jock Serong's Short History Of Rock Offs

References to surf wax in popular culture are always cringe-worthy, and the manufacturers with their sniggering ways probably fed the fire. Among thousands of references, a couple of favourites: Mad Wax (1987) – RCJ using a wok and ladle to make wax, with lots of retorts and beakers looking suspiciously like a speed lab, magically transported to Aussie Pipe with a Gangajang soundtrack. Or this little gem from everyone’s favourite phoney surf flick, Point Break (1991) in which Gary Busey and Keanu Reeves get all sleuthy about a block of wax:

Pappas opens his desk drawer, takes something out and throws it to Johnny. A pastel blue hockey puck wrapped in cellophane. A block of Mr. Zog’s sex wax.

Utah: Sex wax? You’re not into kinky shit, are you Angelo?

Pappas: Surfers use it on their boards, they rub sand into it for traction.

Around the time videotapes threatened to destroy cinemas, Astrodeck appeared on the horizon and threatened to wipe out wax. Herbie Fletcher put his new product under the back and front feet of pro surfers. But like a shifting military border struggle, the warring parties eventually settled on a compromise: adhesive grip won the south, and wax held the north. There’s no sense in this. There’s no sense in anything where wax is concerned.

For an entertaining look at how to apply wax to your board see clip below...

Want more of the most up-to-date Aussie surf-news? Follow us on Facebook:

How-To Wax a Surfboard With Eli from EyeHandy on Vimeo.

Tags: jock serong , nanda ormond , surfing world (create Alert from these tags)

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