Cal Porter has a new calling card--and he carries it in a pack of gum. The 77-year-old is seen hanging 10 at Malibu’s world famous Paradise Cove as one of 11 amateur surfers gracing the trading cards inside packages of a locally manufactured chewing gum.
“At my age, I am very honored to be on a surfing card,” says Porter, who hopped on his first board in 1929, when he was 5 years old. The idea of pairing surfers and gum struck David Anderson as he was cruising along Pacific Coast Highway. Malibu was bathed by a low-hanging sun and the sky looked like a tropical rum drink. If there is a Malibu Rum, he thought, why not a Malibu Gum?
“It was one of those things where you think, ‘Oh, yeah, that’ll never happen,’” says his wife, actress Heather Langenkamp-Anderson. But the idea kept resurfacing. When their 10-year-old son, Atticus, came home with a make-your-own-chewing gum kit, the couple decided to get serious. They invested their savings, spent six months in research and development and launched the Malibu Gum Factory.
In February, 30,000 packs of first-edition Malibu Gum hit the shelves in surf shops from Scituate, Mass., to Bodega Bay, Calif. For a $1.99, you get 24 Chiclets-style pieces of all-natural peppermint-flavored gum, a single collectible trading card and water safety tips. Of the first surfers featured, some are friends of the Andersons, some were strangers approached at the beach, but all donated their images in exchange for a case of gum and a stack of their personal trading cards.
Langenkamp-Anderson and her husband, an Academy Award-winning special effects makeup artist, live and surf in Malibu, so it was natural that they wanted to celebrate the surf culture and its small-town heroes, a tie-in, of sorts, Langenkamp-Anderson says, to “the good old days of surfing, when people pulled their station wagons onto the beach and had hootenannies.”
“The response was great,” says Malibu native Dino Haynes, who appears on Volume 1, card No. 3. “Everybody loved it. I even had kids come up and ask me to sign them like I was a celebrity. I really like that it just started out with the local people who are recognized here in Malibu.”
“I think it’s cool to be on a card,” says Carla Rowland (Volume 1, card No. 8). So cool, in fact, that she asked the Andersons to hire her, which they did. As a local champion surfer, she’s well connected with the beach community. She is responsible for scouting many of the surfers for the cards in the next series. An ad was also placed in LongBoard magazine asking surfers to send photos. The company has received responses from as far away as Australia and Costa Rica.
“What’s great is that all these people are such regular people,” Langenkamp-Anderson says. Malibu Gum doesn’t discriminate by looks or talent. Unlike pro-sport trading cards, Malibu Gum cards are graced by the likes of “Dan,” foreman of a jewelry company; “Jimbo” the first-grader, and an assortment of professional beach bums. Langenkamp-Anderson admits that she’d love to have the occasional big name to shuffle in the deck. “I can’t wait to get my first celebrity surfer,” she says. “Someone like Tom Hanks, who I know surfs, or Chris Isaak. But I need to get the nerve to call them up.”
The Andersons did look into enlisting professional surfers, who seemed to be up for it, but the couple wasn’t keen on navigating the shark-infested waters of agents and managers. So for the time being, they are sticking with amateurs.
That doesn’t stop Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School student James Page, 9, from hoping. “I want a Kelly Slater card,” he says of the professional surfer and “Baywatch” actor. James has been collecting Malibu Gum cards since they came out. “I know almost everyone who’s on the cards now. One of them lives right down the street. I think it’s cool.”
Langenkamp-Anderson, who had a starring role in the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” slasher in the early ‘80s, likes the idea of helping people get their 15 minutes of fame. “I know how many people want to feel famous,” she says. She admits there is a certain kick to getting a little notoriety. “I’ve been able to experience that firsthand, and I feel like maybe I can let some other people experience it this way.”
Malibu Gum, which has a Web site at www.malibugum.com, has already had its first face lift. The new card series, due in stores in January, features 44 new surfers and will be packaged in Mylar zip-lock bags instead of the not-so-environmentally friendly snap-close plastic boxes. A new tutti-frutti nectar flavor is set to be introduced soon. The Andersons also hope to expand the series by creating skateboard and snowboard cards.
“As much as I adore doing this, I don’t really consider myself a gum magnate,” says Langenkamp-Anderson, who continues to act. She says the couple’s goal is to raise funds for environmental causes.
To that end, they donate 10 cents from each sale to nonprofit organizations that support conservation and preservation of the environment. While they have already donated $2,500 worth of gum to a Heal the Bay fund-raiser, the first monetary contribution will be made in February after Malibu Gum surfers vote on their top three favorite charities.
“Helping Malibu take a stand, becoming really active in cleaning up Malibu Lagoon and the beach is something that I think will add a lot to our city,” Langenkamp-Anderson says.