Marcus, Ben


Witty, eccentric surf writer and editor from northern California; Surfer magazine staffer from 1988-1998, and a prolific author of surf-themed books. Marcus was born (1960) in San Francisco, moved to Santa Clara Valley as a toddler, then headed west to Santa Cruz with his family at age 10, where he learned to surf. After high school, Marcus sold hot dogs out of a VW bus on Santa Cruz beaches, enrolled in and dropped out of several colleges, and embarked on surf trips to Europe and the South Pacific. In 1988, he submitted a travel article to Surfer, and within months the magazine hired him as an assistant editor.

In the next decade Marcus wrote over 100 articles for Surfer, most famously “Cold Sweat,” a 1992 piece introducing the fearsome big-wave break Maverick’s to the surf world ("Maverick's has an aura like Edward Scissorhands' mansion" Marcus wrote, "gray, gloomy, isolated, inherently evil.") and “Not Fade Away,” a 1997 memorial of drowned Hawaiian surfer Todd Chesser. In 1996, Marcus produced the first  Surfer Magazine Video Awards, an adjunct to the magazine’s annual Reader’s Poll Awards.

In 1998, dissatisfied with both his job and Orange County living, Marcus vented his frustration by punching Surfer advertising staffer Rick Irons after a fracas at the office copy machine. Marcus was banned from the magazine offices, and later resigned. “If I had to do it all over again,” Marcus said of his time spent at Surfer, “I’d have used my left on Irons.”

He then bounced around the West Coast, from the Bay Area, to Malibu, to Washington, all the while writing books about surfing and skateboarding, including Surfing and the Meaning of Life (2006), Extreme Surf (2008), The Surfing Handbook: Mastering the Waves for Beginning and Amateur Surfers (2010), The Skateboard: The Good, the Rad, and the Gnarly (2011), and Images of America: Malibu (2011).

Marcus is a regular contributor to the Surfer’s Journal. His work has appeared in Outside and the Los Angeles Times.