Knost, Alex

Rubber-limbed longboarder, musician, and fashionista from Costa Mesa, California; mildly controversial leading figure in the DIY surf-hipster movement that emerged from Southern California in the early 2000s. Knost was born (1985) and raised in Costa Mesa, and began surfing with his father in Newport Beach at age ten. "Most kids my age were watching Taylor Steele vids," Knost said of  his early surfing influences. "I was watching the 1960s stuff my dad was into."

Knost starred in Thomas Campbell's 2004 film Sprout, which featured the teenaged regularfoot in glorious Indian Ocean surf handling old school longboards with a unique half-casual, half-frenetic style. "If Joel Tudor's noseriding is a Stradivarius in the hands of a master," marveled surf journalist Joel Patterson, "Alex's full-body attack is a Fender Stratocaster getting beaten against a Marshall stack."

Knost played gigs and recorded albums with semi-experimental Orange County bands (Japanese Motors, Tomorrow's Tulips), got into painting and showed up at southern California art shows, and became a frontman for urban-chic surfwear company RVCA. His flamboyant, retro-soul-meets-80s-glam approach to waveriding and fashion was irritating to some, who viewed his act as a shallow and contrived. When Knost called himself a "surf bum" in a 2012 SURFER interview, the magazine was quick to point out that "Alex fares a little better than many surf bums thanks to various brands, which are more than happy to leverage his coolness in the pursuit of selling T-shirts." (Surf writer Lewis Samuels was less kind: "Knost's public persona has surpassed his talent level by a wide margin.") Contrived or not, many others welcomed Knost as a tonic to the hyper-competitive too-serious world tour scene, and as such he became one of the more influential surfers of the 2010s.

A natural in front of the camera, Knost has starred in over a dozen surf videos and movies including Step Into Liquid (2003), One California Day (2007), and The Present (2009). In 2011, Knost won the Duct Tape Invitational in Santa Cruz, in a field that included many of the world's best longboarders.