- In 1963, Dormer and his friend, Lee Teacher, sculpted Hot Curl, a 400-pound concrete statue, and installed it on the rocks near the surf shack at La Jolla’s famed Windansea Beach in San Diego, California.
- The sculpture of a mop-haired, 6-foot tall, knobby-kneed surfer gazed out at the sea with a beer in his hand.
- The pot-bellied surf god quickly became a nationwide sensation appearing in SurfToons comics
and as a plastic model kit, selling hundreds of thousands of copies.
In 1964, Hot Curl became a movie star, appearing in Muscle Beach Party (1964), a cult classic starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles, and Morey Amsterdam, among others, and featuring the first film appearance of “Little” Stevie Wonder.
Well, lets read between the lines on this story; like any famous icon, it wasn’t all that easy for Hot Curl to get his claim to fame.
It first started with Hot Curl being threatened by the City of San Diego when they wanted it removed. They called it unappropriated for the community. You know the morality issue. Then they added, “It was built and installed without proper building permits,” – the typical excuse, bureaucrat BS.
Well, you can thank La Jollans, surfers, beach goers, Mac Meda and activists when they revolted, protested, and organized a “Save Hot Curl,” campaign. Remember, this was the start of the 1960s, a time of cultural change and protests.
The protest drew nation wide attention and was featured in surfing and underground publication and even the conservative San Diego Union questioned the city’s BS. Finally, the city caved in, made some stipulations (like adding a good concrete base etc) and Hot Curl was allow to flaunt his beer guzzling pot belly at Windansea.
Gee, thank guys!
Unfortunately, Hot Curl became the victim of vandals.
One morning WindanSeaers found Hot Curl laying on it side and the head torn off, which sparked outcry, and Mac Meda put out a contract to find the perpetrator(s).
Rumor were everywhere of who did the deplorable act. Surfers from the community of Clairemont and Pacific Beach were the prime suspects, since they were not welcome to surf at WindanSea, you know the, “Locals Only,” law of the beach. Then shortly later, it was finally destroyed by a large surf day.
For a long time, just the concrete base with a couple of bars of rebar was the only remembrance of the revered icon.
However, Mac Meda did not let it rest and was the first to flaunt a replica (believed to be from one of the movies) of the surfing icon. After that first parade flaunt, La Jolla Parade organizers banned their entry, then again outcry, and then the beach icon was reinstated for years during the Christmas Parade, which it continued for years to ride proud on floats that supported WindanSea Surf Club.
Later on Hot Curl became one of the icons of the “Kustom Kulture” and Lowbrow Art movement centered around the surf and hot-rod counter culture of early 60s California, alongside Rick Griffin’s Murphy character and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink.