Pezman, Steve


Beatific surf magazine publisher from San Clemente, California; publisher of Surfer from 1971 to 1991, and cofounder, along with wife Debbee Pezman, of the Surfer's Journal in 1992. Pezman was born (1941) in Los Angeles, California, the son of a juvenile probation officer father and an actress mother, and raised in Hollywood and Brentwood. He learned to surf in 1958 at age 16, not long after his family moved to Long Beach; in 1966 he began shaping boards, and was soon doing freelance work for Hobie Surfboards and Weber Surfboards; in 1967 he cofounded Creative Design Surfboards in Newport Beach.

Pezman's early surf articles were published by Petersen's Surfing in 1968; the following year he was hired by the magazine as an associate editor, and in mid-1970 he took the same title at Surfer. With a grand total of 11 months in the magazine field, Pezman was offered the publisher's job at Surfer after founder John Severson sold the magazine. Pezman helped Surfer maintain a gently counterculture editorial slant as the sport was "professionalized" in the '70s, then oversaw a period of enormous ad revenue growth in the late '80s, when issues for the first time topped 200 pages. He also served briefly as publisher for Powder and Skateboarder magazines, both issued by Surfer Publications. In 1980 he launched the Surf Report, a popular newsletter—and another Surfer title—that mapped out surf breaks around the world.

Pezman was 50 when he left Surfer in 1991; the following year he and his wife Debbee produced the first issue of the Surfer's Journal, a glossy high-end quarterly targeted for older surfers. In 1997, Pezman and videographer Ira Opper produced The Surfer's Journal: 50 Years of Surfing on Film, a 12-part Outdoor Life Network cable TV series produced by Opper Films; Great Waves, the follow-up series, came out in 1998, followed by 20th Century Surfers (2000) and Biographies (2001). Pezman and the Journal also published a series of coffee table books on top-drawer surf photographers, including LeRoy Grannis, Art Brewer, and Jeff Divine.

Regarded as one of the last purists in surf publishing, Pezman has editorialized against surfing becoming an Olympic event, and was the lone voice of nonchalance after the American team finished a lowly 10th in the 2000 World Surfing Games. "Who cares?" Pezman wrote in a letter to Surf News magazine. "Why is it so important for the States to field the world's dominant surf team? What does it prove except to further turn wave riding into pro football? Let's just pick up our trash and go surfing."

Pezman was featured in a 1995-aired PBS documentary Liquid Stage: The Lure of Surfing. In 2002, he was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame. He serves as a boardmember for both the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association and the Surfing Heritage Cultural Center.