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Meet Aleks Pevec of Lipsmack Surf in Malibu, Venice, Manhattan Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aleks Pevec.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Aleks. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although I’ve been a working actor on Broadway for the last decade, I currently live in Los Angeles, California. Outside of my professional career in stage, film, and television, my spiritual passion is spending time out on the ocean on my surfboard.

Surfing is my church. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve used surfing as a way to connect my body to nature and my soul to the world. Gliding across the belly of the ocean has always provided me with a deep sense of peace that I try to carry with me every moment of the day. Catching a twenty-second left revitalizes me. There is nothing like the feeling of holding nature’s hand, giving yourself over to the elements, and simultaneously moving as one.

I’ve struggled being an openly gay man out on the water. Whether people are okay with it or not, I always felt safer just keeping my identity private. A big reason for this is the fact that surfers sometimes give off the impression that they are part of an exclusive community. From the outside, it appears that only skilled experts belong on the board, and those who do not fit in due to factors as diverse as skill level, personality, gender, race, or sexual orientation should just watch from the sand. It scares me to have something that I love so much be ruined by a handful of people who brand any personal identity as wrong, or who impose a barrier to entry that turns interested surfers away before they even have the ability give surfing a shot.

The idea for Lipsmack Surf was born because I was passionate about bringing diverse communities together on the water. I wanted to create a safe place in the ocean where everybody could be themselves; to celebrate who they are and where they come from. Whether you are gay, straight, trans, gender fluid, a-gender, bigender, intersex, or gender variant you should be able to enjoy your time riding the waves, regardless of how you identify. Race, ethnicity, gender, skill level – no matter your background or personality, the ocean and the waves are for everyone.

I started Lipsmack Surf in February focusing on reaching out to allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community. I wanted to bring couples and friends together to experience new adventures and challenge themselves to broaden their horizons. I never anticipated that this venture would become an outlet for so many people during this unpredictable and frustrating moment in time. In addition to helping adults who were desperately seeking an escape from an increasingly stressful environment, it became an unanticipated blessing that kids were suddenly in need of distraction and entertainment as well. With summer camps mostly closed and schools still a big question mark, parents have been so grateful that surfing has provided an activity which keeps their kids stimulated, learning, and connected with the balance of nature during this challenging time.

The ocean has always been where I’ve gone to find peace, harmony, clarity, and equilibrium. Paddling out at sunrise feeds my soul. Riding long waves provides inspiration and hope that stays with me long after I wash the saltwater away. Words cannot express how honored and humbled I am to share this passion with others during this extraordinary time.

Right now, we have over 100 people in our little surf community. The business has been growing primarily by word of mouth. I’m looking forward to what the autumn season will bring, as more new surfers come out to try the waves and smack that lip.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Let me first say that I’ve been really lucky with this business because I have the support and love of my family, my partner, and close friends. Without them, this would all be a distant dream.

I think the biggest obstacle has been the unknown. Starting a business one month prior to a global pandemic and government shutdown had its fair share of complications. When the State closed the beaches at the start of the pandemic, I didn’t know what the future was going to hold. I didn’t know if people would feel safe in the water after those restrictions were lifted. I was trying to bring people together in a world where everyone was supposed to stay away from one another. I was trying to build a community that relies on trust and vulnerability at a time when fear and distance were not just personal protections, but government orders. Sometimes I’d just want to look straight into the camera like Fleabag and shrug my shoulders.

I knew the first step I needed to take was to ensure that people would feel safe. Sharks, deep water, crashing waves, all while being strapped to a 25 lbs wooden board – all of these became innocent apprehensions compared with the fear of standing six feet from a stranger behind a face mask during a global pandemic. In order to ease the tension and assuage people’s fears, I take safety precautions extremely seriously while simultaneously keeping the experience light and fun. It’s my belief that, in addition to hand sanitizer, contact tracing, and social distancing, human connection, laughter, and personal achievements are just as much the medicine we all need right now.

I wear a mask when I teach the basics on the sand and then I swim alongside students in the water at a safe distance. The boards and wetsuits are thoroughly sanitized after every surf lesson and I only take two people out at a time from the same group or family.

I started marketing the business by opening up an Instagram @lipsmacksurf and drawing the website name in the sand at local beaches at low tide: www.Lipsmacksurf.com. I knew I had to be proactive and creative since marching up to families or groups of friends on the beach to pass out business cards during a pandemic seemed in poor taste. I’ve been a working actor for most of my adult life so I have become accustomed to solving problems in creative and artistic ways.

In the end, this whole business model was set up for making surfing an accessible and supportive adventure for everyone. And what’s an adventure if everything goes exactly as planned.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Lipsmack Surf – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
We specialize in surf lessons for new beginners, kids, young adults, individuals, couples, friends, empty nesters, and grandparents. We are especially interested in spreading the love of surfing throughout the LGBTQ+ community, its allies, and people of all backgrounds who wouldn’t initially think they belong on a surfboard. If you’re somebody who thinks ‘oh, surfing could never be for me’….you’re our ideal client! Don’t think you can catch a wave? Let us prove you wrong.

I believe our strengths, as a business, come from a deep-rooted passion: above all else, surfing is supposed to be a blast. There is a saying in the surf community that the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun. I believe that is true for each and every single Lipsmack Surfer. The really cool thing about this job is that it gives me the same satisfaction watching someone stand up on their first wave as it does to catch the wave myself. I remember how invigorating and inspiring it felt to ride my first few waves. What a joy to share that love with people, especially during this time when we so desperately need motivation, healing, and connection.

I am proud to say that majority of the people who come out surfing with us end up buying their own boards. It’s amazing to receive text messages that show them back out on their own – a gift that keeps on giving. It’ll be a good day when we can all come together again on the beach for a laugh with delicious food to recount the memories of favorite times out on the water. It’s humbling to know that everyone started at the same place. That we were all “kooks” (beginner surfers) and “groms” (kid surfers) at some point in time. That we all, as a community, managed to channel this pandemic into a positive and productive new passion.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The summer is over and we are transitioning into autumn. It will be interesting to see how the business changes as the water get a little cooler. The nice thing about living in California is that we can surf all year round. Kids are going back to school and life is very slowly settling into a new normal. Things might not be perfect for a while, but for once it looks like we will be changing with the seasons… I think Virginia Woolf said it best. “For this moment, this one moment, we are together.”

I truly believe that everyone out there right now is trying to stay hopeful and resilient; that, in the face of extraordinary challenge and severe hardship, each of us individually is doing what we can to make the world just a little bit better. We are all, in a sense, sitting on that surfboard, alone on the outside, waiting for that perfect set wave to bring us home again and make us feel not just safe, but alive.

Pricing:

  • $150 for individual lessons. 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • $250 for couples or doubles. 2 hours
  • $150 per kid per hour. 1 hour-2 hours

Contact Info:

  • Website: Lipsmacksurf.com
  • Phone: 310.995.3479
  • Email: lipsmacksurf@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @lipsmacksurf


Image Credit:

Nicolette Lambright

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