The Original Gidget Describes Her Love Affair with Malibu and Surfers Who Lived There

Those were some really “bitchen” times.

Before her writer father immortalized her as “Gidget,” Kathy Kohner was a teenager living in Brentwood who made regular trips down to Malibu to admire the men living and surfing at the beach. In a recent story for LA Curbed, Kathy describes her early encounters with surfers like Terry-Michael “Tubsteak” Tracy and Mike Doyle, who sold her a first surfboard for 30 bucks.

“’It was a most alluring lifestyle, especially to a fifteen-year-old girl,’ she wrote decades later. ‘They were boys who lived on the beach… They all had nicknames… it seemed there wasn’t any other aspect of their lives except taking in the sun and sea, waxing down their boards, and paddling out looking for a great wave to catch.’”

“The persistent teenager began to shadow the surfers, desperate to learn to surf. To butter up the often-hungry guys, Kohner would bring them sandwiches, which she would often trade for a trip on their boards.

“After accepting one of her sandwiches, pioneering surfer Jerry Hurst said, ‘Thanks, Gidget,’ slang for ‘girl’ and ‘midget.’ With that throwaway nickname, Gidget was born, and Malibu would be forever changed.”

Read about Malibu’s history and how surfing and popular culture forever influenced its identity here.