Thrasher magazine in the early 1980s was absolute comedy in their pathetic attempt to include representation of women skateboarders. The problem was that the editors appeared to believe that the existence of women skaters was for their own pleasure and amusement, and the skaters they ended up featuring weren’t even given a last name. The write-ups are mortifying!
It began in the January 1984 issue when Thrasher announced that they were doing a “Betty Hunt.” It starts out quite promising with a photo of “Sara” from somewhere in the province of Alberta, Canada ripping on a ramp.
But then things get weird and incredibly unappealing. The editors shared that, “We’re sick and tired of hearing you people whine about there not being enough women between our pages… Unfortunately, most young women don’t oblige too kindly to our ‘dirty-minded’ heavy breathing, slob staff photographers shoving a lens in their faces and clicking away, more often than not without film. So we’re instigating a BETTY HUNT… Looks count as much as originality” (49).
I’m frightened just reading this almost forty years later!
The complaints were valid because from November 1981 until March 1984 there was not a single photo of a woman skateboarding in Thrasher, with the last photo being Debbie McAdoo at the Ramp Ranch (October 1981).
And then it begins… In April 1984 in the “Trash” section we’re introduced to “Wendi” from Houston, Texas. The absurd write-up goes, “Her blonde hair and green eyes go with her red Powell/Peralta stick and pink high top tennies. Rumor has it that this fifteen year old beauty can wail on lead guitar in a R ‘n R band and shreds the surf at Surfside Beach.” Notice how her profile photo vastly dominates the skateboarding photo?
A few stealthy photos of April Hoffman and Michelle Sanderson, while competing in freestyle, sneak into Thrasher for their June and July issues (you have to search for them… website bios to follow), but there’s no commentary or mention of them in the results listings.
And then, in August 1984, on the “Somethin’ Else” page (always the last page) there’s a so-called “Female Fanatic” who is reported on and it’s a slight improvement since the skateboarding photos are dominant. The editors include two photos of “Lori” who lives somewhere near Columbus or Cincinnati, Ohio and skates every day. Thrasher wrote, “We hope to see more photos of Lori and other hot girl skaters in the future.” A cringe-worthy statement, but not exactly surprising.
The next image to appear is October 1985 (yep, over a year later), and it’s of Leslie Ann Miller in Thrasher’s article on “Butt Shots,” and is simply too insulting and annoying to share.
The “Betty of the Month” concept did not fly because what self-respecting female skateboarder would want to put themselves up to that kind of toxic scrutiny? Only the very brave. All I have to say is Thank God for Bonnie Blouin. Her “Skater’s Edge” articles from October 1987 – 1989 were the one redeeming aspect of Thrasher in the late 1980s!
So, I’m also declaring a “Betty Hunt” and if anyone actually knows Sara from Alberta, Wendi from Texas, Lori from Ohio, or Leslie Ann Miller, I would love to know their skateboarding story.