First wave of Ghetto Juice rolls on out

Ghetto Juice cover.

The U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach may be better known for launching the careers of up and coming surfers, but for surf industry veterans Skip Snead and Joe McElroy the tournament served as the perfect backdrop Friday for debuting their new magazine.

Snead and his team handed out inaugural copies of Ghetto Juice, a free Newport Beach-based mag at the tourney, and he couldn’t have been happier with the reception they got.

“The initial response has been overwhelming,” he said. “They’re blown away.”

If the magazine’s title sounds familiar, that’s because the name isn’t new to the Newport area. In 1992, Snead, the former editor of Surfing Magazine, decided he would chronicle the lives of surfers in Newport Beach with a free, black-and-white publication. He called the magazine Ghetto Juice.

The ghetto in the title has nothing to do with poverty.

“A ghetto is an area where like-minded people live,” said Snead.

“Juice” is slang for “waves.”

Ghetto Juice’s first incarnation only lasted a few months because Snead quickly received job offers, first from Beach Happy Magazine (now Bliss), and a few months later from Surfing magazine.

Seventeen years later, Snead partnered up with McElroy, the former art director for Surfer magazine, to bring his first editorial gig back to life. Surfers themselves, the idea came up a few months ago when Snead and McElroy ran into each other at the beach.

“We were just hanging out at the beach, and he mentioned bringing back Ghetto Juice,” McElroy said. “Then he said he might want someone to help him out.”

The magazine’s black-and-white look of the 1990s is no more. The first cover of the new Ghetto Juice, designed by McElroy, is hot pink, with a surfer pictured in the center, tearing up the waves.

“We wanted to take it further and not just be black and white,” McElroy said. “I wanted to polish it up.”

A look at the first pages and it’s easy to tell that the mag is written by surfers for surfers. Surfer lingo is sprawled across the pages: “uber,” “gnarly,” “dude,” and of course, “juiced.”

Snead and McElroy have one goal in mind.

“We want to be the voice of Orange County surfing,” Snead said.

Although many surfers are now hitting the Internet instead of local shops, Snead and McElroy hope that surf culture will make its way back to its roots.

“There hasn’t been a good, free surf mag in like …10 years,” Snead said. “We want people to go to surf shops and not rely on the computer so much for their content. It’s a return to the old way.”

“TK” Brimer, owner of the Frog House in Newport Beach, the second-oldest surf shop in Orange County, was one of the first shops to get a copy of the magazine.

“I enjoy the fact that someone is reporting on our local coastal experiences and not just the worldwide,” Brimer said. “It allows them to be a little rawer, more edgy, and close to the nerve with their opinions.”

Nick Skawinski, a surfer and buyer for Surfside Sports in Costa Mesa, was impressed by the first issue, especially since he saw some familiar faces.

“Three of our team-riders made it in the magazine, so that’s pretty cool,” Skawinski said.

No stranger to surfing literature himself, he thought Ghetto Juice might be creating a new niche in surf editorial.

“It’s completely different than any of the other mags … Transworld, Surfer and Surfing, which are all glossies,” he said. “It’s brand new and fresh. The whole vibe is about Newport, which is interesting.”

Although Snead and McElroy found their roots in Newport Beach, they want the magazine to appeal to all surfers in Orange County.

“Surfers from all over the world come here, and we want their stories,” said Snead. “And people from here go all over the world, and we want to hear their stories too.”

Copies of Ghetto Juice will be distributed at the U.S. Open on Saturday and Sunday. Plus, surf shops throughout Orange County will carry the mag as well, such as Jack’s, Frog House, Surfside and Pure Glass Surfboards.