The surfing iconoclast who became an icon, Miki Dora was the epitome of 1960s beach culture. His dark good looks were the envy of Malibu. His talent earned him trophies (which he disdained) and the nickname “Da Cat.” And in the end, when he didn't like the commercial direction of the sport he helped define, he turned his back on the beach, wandered the world, served time in jail, and, finally in 2002, suffering from pancreatic cancer returned to his father's house in Montecito, California to die at age 67. A Malibu graffiti that appeared during his years on the road sums up his role in the surfing imagination and still holds true: “Dora Lives.” Years in the making and compiled with the cooperation of Dora while he was alive and his family after his death, Dora Lives is the definitive record of the legend. Transcribed interviews with Dora and texts by former Surfer magazine editor Drew Kampion and writer C.R. Stecyk are combined with nearly 100 photos and stills from photographers, filmmakers, and Dora's personal albums.
The story starts out in Budapest, Hungary, where Miklos Dora was born in 1934, follows the child émigré to Hollywood High (except when the surf was up), and finds him at the center of the post-Gidget surf boom of the 60s. At that time, Dora stunt-doubled in a few films and competed when he felt like it, but mostly he embraced the hedonist milieu and burnished his antihero legend, culminating in a mid-wave mooning of the judges at the 1967 Malibu Invitational. Shortly after, he left for points (and point breaks) abroad in France, Indonesia, Australia and Madagascar until 2001, when he returned to the West Coast to die.
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Famed Malibu surfer Dora died in 2002 at age 67, in Montecito, Calif., but his legend lives on. Born in Budapest, Miklos Dora arrived in Los Angeles as an infant, became immersed in California beach culture, served an apprenticeship in surfboard construction and developed a reputation as a prankster. He entered the post-WWII Malibu surfing scene just as the new lightweight balsa boards were introduced and riding a wave became "the center of gravity of his very existence." Dora stood out as a charismatic local, cultivating a graceful, laid-back surfing style that earned him the nickname "Da Cat." After work as a stunt double in Gidget (1959), he acted in TV shows and early 1960s beach party movies. Rejecting competitive surfing (he once mooned the judges mid-wave), he left Malibu to travel the world and had a few run-ins with the law (for passing bad checks and using a stolen credit card). Writer Stecyk and former Surfer and Surfing editor Kampion capture Dora's mystique with fluid, evocative text illustrated with 60 color and 30 b&w photos, some from Dora's own albums. With quiet reverence, they pay tribute to a surfing iconoclast. (Nov.)
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