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DEADLINE REPORT

Hang with a gang that never grows up

With half pipes and beer bongs, bikinis and stilettos, last weekend's Action Sports Retailer Trade Show in San Diego was an affront to adulthood. Two young reporters check it out.

September 09, 2003|Katie Flynn; Steven Barrie-Anthony | Special to The Times

By Katie Flynn:

Hit on parade: "This is an interesting show, considering a lot of people here are drunk," says a model for American Apparel, oozing out of a tank and terrycloth shorts the size of a wash rag. "Everybody gets hit on, no matter what they are wearing."

Extreme prejudice: Upstairs from the action, a rep for the marketing firm Board-Trac tells sporting-goods industry pros that, although retailers say they feel the economic pinch, "extreme" sports are robust, even growing.

Really, that hot? Inside the Rusty booth, retailers watch surfboard shaper Rusty Preisendorfer draw a custom board on the computer screen. Mike Schillmoeller, vice president of marketing, surveys the scene. "Surf is as hot as it can be," he says.

Boogie nights: Not hot but warming up is in-line skating, according to skate maker Salomon's Dean Kaese. "Night skating" groups are big in Santa Monica and Long Beach, he says.

On the prowl: At quitting time, the smell of pot drifts through the convention center. Workers merge from their booths into the aisles. Jordon Coilett, owner of a skate shop in Albany, Ore., says he had a good day on the floor. "I don't know about these models, though."

"Well," adds his wife, Miriam, as surfers stream by, "at least all the drunken guys like them." By now, it's not only the oglers who are intoxicated. Some models teeter on their stilettos.

*

By Steven Barrie-Anthony:

Thread's dead: The flow of people coagulates outside the Rip Curl booth. The doorwoman bars anyone without an appointment. Word is that the company's Code STL process has spawned a new era of board shorts that will allow surfing without chafing. Inside, gaping at four backlit pairs, surfers ooh and ahh at the dawning of said era. With electro-welded joints, "they are the world's first 100% seamless board shorts," explains Rip Curl marketing director Adam Sharp. "The needle and thread are dead."

Tat takeout: At surf-skate clothier Sessions, muscled bodies wait in line to get another tattoo. It's free, so why not? "Last year we got booted, but this year ... we're legit," says Drew Holderman as the tattoo artist nearby mops blood off a shoulder, revealing a blue and black star.

Hard-headed: Despite a proclaimed breakthrough in helmet technology, the Pro-Tec booth is nearly empty.

"This is the first helmet that's multi-impact, certified and actually comfortable," says Jono Siegel, sales coordinator. But how many young skaters have the brains to shield their noggins? At the show's nearby skateboarding "street" course, no one wears protection.

Lip lock: Naked, blue-haired Model 103 stares blankly, her firetruck-red lips locked in an O that hovers between ecstatic and obscene.

"She's very good at selling hats," says Jordan Beck of BigSmile Mannequins.

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