Bradley Steven Millstein III

Interview by Tucker McGrath
Photography by Nate Lawrence


Where are you from?
I was born in downtown Los Angeles. My mom was a full on fucking diva. I didn’t know anyone else driving around LA in a Cadillac with the top down and two French poodles hangin’ out the window.

What did your parents do?

So they were rich?
No, they were just doing all the Kerouac, James Dean shit that people did back then. It all started in LA, everything you can think of was blowing up. I was born to that phenomenon.

How did you start surfing?
When I was 12 I went to a mentally retarded school and I beat up all the little kids that were my age. They moved me from the little kids to the big kids. I started torturing animals and stuff, actually just rabbits. Somehow I went and got this rabbit and I took it to my room and kept smashing it and smashing it. I was crazy.

Then one day at the beach God came to me and said ‘do you want to be Jeffrey Dahmer? Because your IQ is like 185, you’ll never get caught. Or do you wanna be a surfer? Come into my ocean, nobody will bother you. You’ll be safe with me.’

I was a grungy surfer. Outcast. As a surfer people would not look at you. That’s what God had me do, get out of the world and not kill anybody. I would have been a great murderer for sure. I probably would’ve ate people. I was that mentally disturbed at 12 years old.

So surfing kept you from pursuing a career as an infamous killer?
You can say infamous I say that’s just ridding the world of mass society that rich people can’t deal with.


Describe a typical morning in Hawaii in the 70s.
Sherm, glue, and LSD. Group hallucinations where everyone’s seeing the same thing. Incredible.

Describe the scene on Kauai:
In 1976 I decided the revolution will be televised on Kauai so I’m gonna go there. I was living on Kauai, living under coconut trees eating coconuts. I was the coconut man! They had just shut down Taylor Camp- the biggest coolest underground hippie trip rainbow bridge. Guys were hanging out like monkeys in trees, they lived in treehouses. Just a crazy little world. All the hype was gone and a few little acid head surfers were left. Guys would show up with these 12-13 ft long guns. There were these crazy chargers out there. I got to see a lot of avenues of surfing I know a lot of people have never seen.

What was the Vietnam War era like?
They asked me to go and I said I will go. I don’t know why I should. I dunno who these guys are and you want me to go and kill them. I said I will raise my hand, I will step forward and go to Vietnam but I promise you, the first person I kill will be a white person, above a sergeant.
Then I was waiting to hear back and I went to Mexico on a surf trip. They sent me a college deferment. I didn’t even have a high school diploma and here I had a college deferment from the draft board.

Your hair is shorter now, are you still a hippie?
I like smoking cigarettes and throwing empty packs onto the dividers in the middle of the road here. My hippie days are over. I should be a nicer person to people though. I like everybody. I really love the world.

Why didn’t you come to Bali in the 70s?
Because I didn’t smuggle cocaine until 1983. I was living in Hawaii back then and I had all this money. I thought ‘hey I wanna follow in the footsteps of Gerry Lopez man, I’m going to Bali.’

You’re a goofyfooter, did you come here searching for lefts?
Well, I switchfoot. I can look like Lopez and stand going left. And then going right I can look like Rabbit Bartholomew. If it wasn’t cold I probably would’ve gone to South Africa to smoke their Durban Poison and surf Jeffreys Bay. I hate wetsuits.

What’s it been like watching Bali evolve?
I was here for the duration. I was prepped to know about change. When I was a little boy my little duck pond up in Venice at Marina del Ray was bulldozed over to make room for condos. When I came here I didn’t think that kind of progress could take over a culture like this. The outside influence to me is a very negative thing for everybody.

I wanted to be part of something and instead, I’m really embarrassed about it. I’m embarrassed to be a surfer.

What’s the best part about living in Bali?
Free parking, man.

What was the low point of your surfing life?
Boogie boarders were the worst thing that ever happened to my life. Made me use heroin. That Morey Boogie- Mr. Boogie man, whatever- Somebody should assassinate that guy I hate him. I’d buy him a hot dog and I’d say ‘I like you, guy, but you pulled my plug.’ I should have somebody to hate in this world so I hate him- and my mom’s French poodles.

Have you ever ridden a bodyboard before?
Yeah, two waves. I went out to Stone Zone and took off on a six-footer and broke my back almost. I left it in the water.

Describe how surfing’s evolved since you first put your toes in the wax:
Learning the drop, that was important. Then the next era was hanging ten, I was told that was the most important thing. Then tuberiding evolved. It was a long journey just trying to get tubes. Guys like Rizal, I watch him get more tubes in one day- mentionable tubes- than I got in my whole life.

So what’s next then?
Now my parents are gone. I think now I’m gonna try to be a homosexual like all the other surfers out there.

It’s not easy to be a surfer, a real surfer. I have this thing it’s called surfer-slash. You could be a surfer/bartender. You could be a surfer/doctor. Not a doctor/surfer because surfing takes such dedication. You wanna ride the rhythm of life, the flow and energy of the world, you wanna be part of that? Become a surfer. Slash.


Do you think it’s wrong to make money off surfing?
The Bible says it’s not right to take a cross and try to sell it and make money on it. Surfing and business- it doesn’t match. As a shaper what I do is more important than any other company in the industry. Going surfing, the reality of it is there’s no room for advertising.

Am I angry with these people who turned something that I loved upside down? Am I jealous? Am I envious? I dunno what I might be. I know I’m mentally disturbed.

What was G Land like in the early days?
The first time I went to G-Land I went with this guy Paul Kane who opened up a travel company. I went with him and his other friend and there were some huge days when we didn’t even go out because it was too big. They used to call Speedies the ‘Ambulance Section’. I said ‘what’s that mean? You go to the hospital if you surf this?’ He goes ‘Oh no it’s just when you pull in lights start spinning and whistles are blowing’.

What were you riding back in the day?
I got great surfboards from Jeff Ho, Pat Rawson, Dick Brewer, Eric Arakawa, Phil Becker. Oh, I can say this guy was my favorite, Michael Perry. He was a literary, he was a shaper. This guy made magic boards for me.

What is it with surfers and partying anyway?
These guys wanted to be cowboys. It was tough, you live your life on the road, you rob trains, drink out of cactuses. The six guns they didn’t want anymore, so the closest thing to cowboy boots was being a surfer. Surfers have a psychological problem probably, except maybe Rusty Preisendorfer.

I take it you’ve had addiction problems in the past?
I’m going through it every day. I’m going through it right now.

How did you get clean?
My son is eight years old. I love my kid so much he’s so beautiful but it doesn’t help me being here being who I am, trying to bring him up with no money. I’m gonna die. My wife, she’s from a cave. Caves are good shaping rooms, but all my stuff will be tossed out, nobody’s gonna want it.

You’re not checking out anytime soon, are you?
I could die today and be happy with that. Heroin is a great way to die but then everyone will say ‘ah he was just a junkie.’ So I gotta get more creative about my death.

Any plans for the afterlife?
I’ll be right here on the planet earth surfing the best waves in the world. I’m not going anywhere, I’m gonna be the meat that inherits the earth.