How to describe Mike Siordia in five or 6 words: charismatic, artistic, stylistic, insightful, smooth. Naw, that’s just too cliché. To quote one of my favorite movies of all time, The Stoned Age, “He’s just some dude.” Just some dude raised on an often forgotten stretch of beach in the southern most corner pocket of the Santa Monica Bay – the South Bay. A creature of his surroundings, oozing of a time period when Hermosa Beach housed five of the world’s biggest surfboard manufacturers, the Golden Age of the 60s, Siordia stands on ten toes to proclaim, “Yeah man, I’m from Hermosa Beach.”
I met up with Siordia for a morning surf near the Redondo Beach Pier, just south of where George Freeth caught some of the first waves in California in 1907. The surf was three to five feet with a lowering tide causing it to be a bit crunchy on the inside. “Now I know why all the old boys complain about spraining ankles,” Siordia said, “Man, I’m getting older now and riding into six inches of water sort of sucks.” On the lefts, Mike Purpus, who’s out almost everyday was screaming down the line, switching stances, and pulling roller coasters that a 63-year-old with two fake hips should not do.
After our surf, we cruised down to “Scotty’s on the Strand,” to get firing on the questions and some breakfast treats. This was a nice change of pace, as Siordia has taken a step back from fully embracing the “lifestyle.” Normally, eggs and beef hash, a few adult beverages from the Mermaid fit the cuisine.“Yeah, after my birthday and then St.Patty’s day the next day,” Siordia said, “I’m taking a little bit of a leave of absence.”
Before I could even pull the trigger on roasting and questioning the young Siordia, on the corner of my eye, I saw legendary South Bay shaper, Pat Ryan, aka “Gumby.” “Pat! Mr. Pat!” I yelled signaling him over to our table to possibly get some veteran insight and quotes. The reunion was at a perfect time, as Ryan was Siordia’s first board sponsor and ET Surf/Just Longboards had given him his first job as the token shoprat. “Ahhhh… you’re going to have to get back to me on that lad,” Ryan jokingly said, “I don’t trust him with that new slick back hairdo.” (Siordia has had long hair for most of his twenties.)
Born in Oakland, Siordia skipped Little League and Pop Warner football and crafted his competitive edge on the dirt track riding BMX. “This was in the heyday of “Rad,” he said, “as a kid, I just wanted to be Cru Jones.” Siordia moved to Hermosa Beach in the early nineties, where his father Big Mike, managed the Wayne Miyata Surf Factory on 6th and Valley, located in the old Greg Noll Surfboard Factory. “Hermosa Beach was so different then – before the influx of the east coast yupster,” Siordia said, “You could drive up on Pier Avenue, Shoreline Glassing was still pumping out beautiful boards, and John Joseph surfed and Mike Purpus didn’t.”
Fittingly, Hermosa Beach Pier is where Siordia first learned to surf. “All the old boys swear that the pier and the surrounding Avenues were these amazing spots and the proof is in a lot of Leroy Grannis and Steve Wilken’s shots, he said, “but then again a ten footer makes anything fun and it goes back to the theory that who really remembers all the bad surf days?”
His surfing started standing out in middle school, was affectionately was nicknamed “short stack,” by the local surf scene and punk rockers. But by the time Siordia was in high school at Mira Costa, the same breeding ground for Dewey Weber, Mike Purpus, Sparky Hudson, Dru Harrison, etc., he was a star on the surf team, as well as clothed completely in red being a member of the Dewey Weber Surf Team.“Yeah, I didn’t really part ways too well with Team Weber,” Siordia said,“When I first was on the team, I was squeaky clean, with short hair, who hadn’t really ever hit the nightlife. In the closing chapters of that team tenure, I really took it up a notch.”
At the last Weber Classic, Siordia made the finals as he did every year, even with a staph infection on the inside of his knee this size of a tennis ball. Between the closing horn being set-off and the award ceremony, Siordia hit “Turks” pretty hard and showed up a little “under the weather.” “Every year I’d surf that thing, even when people on the beach said I won,” Siordia said. “I’d end up 2nd or 3rd to a Doheny local.” While on stage receiving another 3rd place trophy and wearing a “Crème” T-shirt, Robin Kegel’s defunct brand, (Robin had an incident earlier in the day for setting up a “Crème” Demo down the beach with “hired help” from the local workers outside the Donut Shop in Capo Beach. Rangers were called in as he and his “amigos” were chased down the beach,” Siordia took the Hatchet Fin Trophy, and made a third appendage before tossing it into the sand.
After his days with Weber, Siordia would go on to ride for Bing Surfboards with Matt Calvani, Con Surfboards with Bruce Grant, another stint with Pat Ryan, Wegener Surfboards, Dan Cobly, and Becker Surf. For the last year or so, he’s been exclusively riding Tyler Hatzikian’s boards as a test pilot. “In the whole mix of things, I’ve always felt Tyler’s boards are superior and it’s something I’ve always dreamed of being a part of,” Siordia said. Siordia rounds off a stellar team of the newly found “Bat Division” with local teenage stand out, Josh Gilberts.
“It’s nice working with a local South Bay surfer,” Tyler of Tyler Surfboards said, “It’s a close relationship that’s works to advance traditional designs.”
The model of which he’s mostly associated it with, “The Double Stepdeck,” fits Siordia the best. “He has a very aggressive style of traditional surfing that hints at his contest upbringing,” Adam Davenport of Davenport Surfboards said, “Siordia is very versatile, but what sets him apart is his ability of pumping on the nose and utilizing the flex of the step of his double stepdeck to make the sections.”
Siordia’s goal as a surfer is to shed his contest surfing past. “This has been the hardest thing to overcome,” he said, “Now I just want to go out and do what feels all right and what the wave calls for… not just setting up for another noseride on the flats with a chick-kick ballerina pose for points.”
Recently, Siordia fell back into his contest ways and did a little damage in the local South Bay surf circuit. “Siordia sort of set up a little bit of a buzz in the local community,” said Andrew Sarnecki of Hippy Tree clothing, located in Torrance Beach, who provides Siordia with the latest in outdoor and aquatic wear. Sarnecki continued, “After five years of a contest hiatus he won the longboard division to earn the title of King of the South Bay while riding a Tyler point model and his competition on 2+1’s.”
He identifies his, “Uncle” Wayne Miyata as his favorite all time surfer (one of Siordia’s prize position is a prepubescent picture of him between Wayne and Rabbit Kekai). Miyata, an unsung influential surfer, had a surf style that Siordia emulated in the shore pound rights off the Hermosa Pier as a kid. And the young Siordia was with Miyata all the way to the end. “When Uncle Wayne was laying there in bed during his last days, he said to me, ‘Grab the cup, Mikey-boy,” Siordia said, “I went and grabbed the cup for Uncle Wayne, he sipped it and I asked him what it was…liquid Morphine.”
93.5 K-Day, a LA based old school hop-hop station is his go to for cruising around the South Bay especially in his 1962 Cadillac, fins and boat-tail fins protruding out into the sky. “It blazes out of my dilapidated speaker all day, every day,” Siordia said, “Just cruising in the American dream of 1962.”
You’ll now find Siordia living in a modest one bedroom apartment, with his beautiful girlfriend of eight years, Stephanie, caddy in the garage, situated just walking distance to the Tyler Factory. “I had enough of the riff-raff, the changing of times with some east coasters doing their ‘beach thing’ tearing down another historical building, and with the Mermaid closing – I had enough of Hermosa after being a resident for twenty years. But I still love her.. shoot she’s tatted on my forearm.” he said, “I traded Pier Avenue for the quiet town of El Segundo, locally deemed, Mayberry by the Sea.”
Principal photography by Kiyo Okada/Classic Waves USA.