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The Boys of Summer: Left to right: Bill Grace, Harry Mayo, Alex 'Pinky' Pedemonte and Bob Gillies are old-school members of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club who got shortboarded by Levi Strauss in the deal to get Paris Hilton into an SCSC T-shirt on the cover of 'Elle.' Considering Hilton's recent scandals, we're just amazed it stayed on.


Forget Paris

Fashion junkies may be lusting after the $23,500 (gasp) Dolce & Gabanna jacket that socialite Paris Hilton is modeling on the cover of this month's Elle, but members of the Santa Cruz Surfing Club--most of whom are now in their 80s and more into fleece than haute couture--are more interested in what Hilton's wearing under said jacket, and we're not talking 'bout underwear here.

See, as SCSC old-timers Harry Mayo, 81, Bill Grace, 82, Bob Gillies, 81, and Alex "Pinky" Pedemonte (who at 79 is the baby of the group) rightly point out, under all the coral and beads, Hilton is sporting one of their Santa Cruz Surfing Club T-shirts.

Well, actually it's a replica of the shirt that cost these guys a mere $4 back in the '30s but which will set you back a cool $110, now that it's part of the Levi Strauss Vintage 2004 collection.

Explaining how the shirt came to end up on the Elle cover and in the LS Vintage collection, Mayo says it all began over a year ago, when some fellow SCSCers were volunteering, as per usual, at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which occupies the lighthouse at West Cliff's Steamer Lane.

"Apparently, some girls came into the museum and then there was a big scream as if someone had got hurt," recalls Mayo, explaining that one of the girls had, in fact, just spotted the original SCSC T-shirt, which is housed in a glass case in the museum.

"She was excited because she worked for Levi Strauss and was searching for looks to include in the company's vintage collection, and here was this 1938 original, which just so happened to be printed on a Levi Strauss shirt."

But even though the guys think that it's nice to be recognized--and that Hilton looks way better in the shirt than any of them--they're a tad miffed that while Levi Strauss got its license to print replicas like the one Hilton is modeling, they're still waiting for their free replica, which, they claim, was an integral part of the deal that the screaming Levi Strauss girl negotiated with the museum--a deal that also included a sizable donation to the museum's redevelopment fund.

To date, all that these boys from the 'hood have seen is size small replica T-shirts, which fit Paris fine but which are a bit too teeny-weeny to do justice to their fine manly octogenarian physiques.

Still, Museum Association director Carolyn O'Donnell is confident that Levi Strauss will fulfill its promise, noting that the screaming girl who first spotted the original shirt got, er, "downsized" in the interim, which apparently led to LS sending most of its large and extra-large sizes to Europe, before it became aware that a free-T-shirt deal had ever been struck with SCSC's surviving members.

"If the guys were size small, they'd have all got theirs by now, but I'm certain they'll have them by spring," says O'Donnell, hastening to add that neither the SCSC nor the museum had any idea that the shirt would end up on the cover of Elle--and least of all embellishing Hilton's image, which as we all know took a major nosedive after the infamous video of her having sex with ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon popped up on the Internet.

Indeed, this month's Elle reads like it was written by the Hilton chain itself, since Paris is variously touted throughout its glossy pages as unstoppable, stylish, alluringly skinny, tantalizingly flat-chested, a vamp, the Stalkerazzi's It Girl and "a bona fide TV star with more online hits than Pamela Anderson."

Asked how he felt about the shirt being thus co-opted, Surfing Museum director Greg Moyce says, "It seemed calculated and was an interesting choice, given that Hilton's very wealthy and wants to become an actor. But it could have been worse. It could have been Tonya Harding."

Remember Flea and the SCSC

As it happens, Nüz hung out with the SCSC volunteers at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum on the very day that Darryl "Flea" Virostko won the fabled Mavericks Surf Contest for the third time in a row, the kind of big-wave moment that got these octogenarian surfers reminiscing about longboards, wet suits and club initiations--details Paris should have perhaps known before she donned the shirt.

"We built our own longboards in woodshop at Santa Cruz High. All those boards were hollow and leaked. We didn't have wet suits, or leashes, we just toughed it out," recalled Mayo, shaking his head at the sight of an O'Neill-suited surfer who was trotting past the Lighthouse, lightweight board under his arm, on his way to Steamer Lane. "We just sat on our boards, wrung out our shirts and put them back on. All we needed was a bathing suit and a board."

As for club initiation, members said that consisted of greasing, rather than waxing, the board--not a bad entry exam for a club whose members were subsequently scattered to the four winds when World War II came along. These days, the dozen survivors of the club's original 27 members can be found volunteering at the museum, which is noon-4pm every day, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, where they will happily sign postcards and T-shirts, featuring themselves as buff tough teenagers, as well as copies of the vintage designer T. For more information, call 831.420.6119.

Get Krumped

Meanwhile, instead of volunteering at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, Hilton was overheard at Sundance by Santa Cruz Film Fest director Jane O'Sullivan, asking, "Where's my VIP lounge?"

"It's quite surprising to recognize someone who's famous only for being famous. After I recognized her, I waited 20 seconds before telling my escort, who then said, 'And now you tell me!' But Paris wasn't petulant, as in where the f-- is my VIP lounge? But more like, Where is it? because that's where I belong," says Sullivan, who was attending a party for Krumped, a documentary by fashion photographer David LaChappelle, which Sullivan hopes to bring to this year's SC Film Fest in May.

Noting that LaChappelle is the photographer who took the Vanity Fair shot of Hilton flipping everyone off, Sullivan said Hilton appeared to have current beau Nick Carter on a tight but invisible leash. Sullivan said of Hilton, "She glowed, as if buffed and shined daily--and ready for public consumption."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the March 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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