Hurricane Sandy left most of New York feeling trapped and eager to be freed from the devastation that hit our city. Fortunate as ever, I received a confirmation email from my agency telling me that I would be flying to Santa Cruz for my fourth Call It Spring campaign. As a native Californian and avid surfer I was overjoyed to hear this news, but as a New Yorker a sense of guilt fell over me.
Growing up surfing in Southern California I’d always heard stories of Steamer Lane, a legendary surf spot, known for churning out professional surfers left and right. As well travelled I’ve become as a model I don’t think I’ve ever geeked out as much over a destination.
To my delight our hotel was across the street from Steamer Lane, and the same crew that I did my first Call It Spring shoot with two years ago were all waiting for me.
I built my relationship with Call It Spring on the “no holding back” attitude. The campaigns never cease to amaze me, and they are one of the only clients I’ve had that I have my own language with. Inside jokes — at my expense — are common. Work should always be taken seriously but the team and I usually hit the grey areas when it comes to mixing work and pleasure. Five a.m. call times might be a prison sentence to most people but during our shoots, it means the day is going to be long and eventful.
The first day we started before the sun came up. After the “hellos,” “how are you’s?” and hugs and kisses we got straight to business. We had an amusement park rented for the morning and being that I’m most comfortable when told not act my age I did just that. Amusement parks are for our amusement right?
Sean Daly is the resident set designer and he always seems to have the right amount of goodies — skateboards, rope, fireworks, etc. I decided that being in California meant acting Californian. The first shot of the day began with me skateboarding through an empty amusement park. Then the team and I decided it would be a good idea to see what happens when you tape your shoes to a skateboard.
Long story short, it doesn’t work very well. After riding every ride about 15 times, I found out that not only do I have new found motion sickness, I’m also terrified of heights. You really learn about yourself when you’re attempting to smile and show off your shoes while 50 feet in the air. I don’t think those pictures are going to come out very well.
The next day on our Santa Cruz adventure, happened to be Election Day in America. We began early in the morning at the skatepark. Santa Cruz is known for its “locals only” approach to skating and surfing, so I found it a little bit stressful to skate through an empty skatepark, while our local production team tried to keep anyone else out. It didn’t stop us, however, from writing all over the skatepark in chalk and setting off smoke bombs for me to skate through. It’s hard to remember home when you get to fulfill your 10-year-old dreams in an empty skatepark.
As my nerves tightened about the future of my country, we arrived at our final location — a motel off the freeway. It was something out of a movie. Half-naked tattooed men sat around smoking cigars, and there were an array of smells that left you asking, “What happens here after dark?” We promptly set up shop, customizing the marquee to say “Call It Spring.” I sat on the upper level doing my seasonal interview, skated around some more with a dragon head on while Keith, the other male model, threw an oversized football balloon at my head. The sunset came with me lying across the Santa Cruz sign downtown, dirty, barefoot and tired, with my skateboard taped shoes in hand. Afterwards, we all went back to the hotel.
The wrap night consisted of a bonfire, pizza and telling stories of past photo shoots. The New York-based models received news of a delay due to another East Coast storm and we cheered as President Obama won his second term.
All in all, Santa Cruz was a much needed vacation and a definite instant memory.