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Interview: Cheyne Magnusson turns fun into a career

Cheyne, Teahupo'o © Brent Bielmann/Body Glove



The Surfersvillage Interview

Cheyne rolls his wealth of action sports knowledge into a paying gig

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 January, 2016 - According to Cheyne's mother Jill, "Cheyne could ride a skateboard before he could walk.” What happened in the years after he learned to walk went like this:  2000 Men's Hawaiian State Champ; heavy video and magazine presence; starring role in an embarrassing reality TV show (and what reality TV shows aren’t embarrassing?) and then a famous battle with China Air over $1,050 in board bag fees.

Yes, heaps happened in between and on the periphery, but we’ll get to that in the below interview. We do know this about Cheyne: He is obsessed with Vikings! He is Clay Marzo’s brother! He is Swedish skate royal Tony Magnusson’s son! And yes, he has currently found a solid groove utilizing his amazing knowledge of action sports culture for the Body Glove brand. 

Cheyne Magnusson © Mike Balzer/Body Glove


How would you describe what you do for work to a small, inattentive child?
I’m the guy who finds good surfers and tries to make them better.  In the water, out of the water, and in life. I also think of really cool ideas to make kids like you get interested in surfing and the surfing lifestyle. I go to surf destinations, trade shows, and really fun events all over the world!  

You’ve had a pro career, a TV career and now you’re doing marketing & team work with Body Glove. Pick the one best thing from each of these job titles.
The best part of my pro career is the travel experiences I’ve racked up.  At 31, I’ve seen almost every continent, surfed almost every ocean, and seen some of the most amazing places this planet has to offer.  To be able to do that through my teens and twenties is indescribable.  

The best part of my short-lived TV career would have to be the year or so after the show had aired.  I was in my mid-twenties and living in Southern California with another pro surfer.  That recipe made for some epic times.  

The best part of my new gig as team and marketing guy would have to be the team I get to work with.  Scott Daley, Greg Browning, Shelby Stanger, Scott Smith and the entire Meistrell family have provided an unbelievable work environment for a guy like me to grow and excel at transitioning into the industry.  I can’t thank them enough for the years of continued support!

On the scene for MTV's "Maui Fever"


How was Maui Fever? Should we put it in our Netflix que?
Haha.  Wow.  Now that’s a loaded question.  To be honest I hope it’s not available on Netflix!  I will answer this with some facts and personal feelings I have about Maui Fever.  After Maui Fever aired I got a lot of backlash from friends and local people on Maui.  That backlash included threats to myself and family, fights, and slanted news articles.  Maui Fever was originally supposed to be called Island Fever.  The title of the show had to change as Island Fever was already the title of a series of adult films. I opposed the change to Maui Fever knowing that could be detrimental to the Maui community.  To this day, I still have not seen two episodes.  

Once I realized this show was made for 16 year old girls in middle America, I stopped watching.  I pushed very hard for MTV to cast only people from Maui and not people who had lived there for less than a couple years.  The latter ended up being most of the cast.  That being said, making the show was a really cool experience.  The crew was awesome and the director was a really nice guy.  We had some rad stuff on footage like massive waterfall hikes, spearfishing, and some epic surf sessions to name a few.  

We had a lot of good times on MTV’s dime which was really fun as well.  Despite having all that killer content, none of that made it on to the show.  What came out was over-edited drama fueled reality garbage.  The silver lining for me is that I took some of the money I made and held a fundraiser for a concrete skatepark in Lahaina. Fast forward five years and we have a world class skatepark in the town I grew up in. I will forever be proud of that. So to answer your question specifically, if you are 16 and a girl, then yes que it up!

Cheyne, someplace warm © Mike Balzer/Body Glove


What are you currently doing that you’re really excited about?
Currently I’m really excited about the phase of life I’m in.  Getting to know what goes on “behind the scenes” of the whole industry has been eye opening and I’m excited to put the knowledge to good use!

Tell us what has been your biggest mistake?
Duh, Maui Fever!

What did you learn from that mistake?
Always know what you are signing up for.

Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment (punching frozen meat and then running up the stairs of the Capitol, music blaring).
This will probably surprise most. I would have to say winning the double up ping pong tournament alongside my Father. Transworld and Skullcandy teamed up and held an industry wide doubles tournament. We have always played pong at a high level since he hails from Sweden and pong is somewhat of a national sport there. I have never beat him but when we join forces its pretty awesome. We were one point away from defeat in the semis and clawed back to eventually take the whole enchilada. It was a great moment with my hero.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
Honestly I can’t imagine myself wanting to do anything else. I am obsessed with action sports and our culture. If I didn’t have surfing or skating I honestly don’t know where I would be. I view myself as a steward of the core and would like to be a part of continuing our heritage and guiding the youth. Whether the brand I’m at is selling shoes or wetsuits I just want to be an ambassador and advocate for surfing and surfers.  

Cheyne the grom doing a double air with his pro skater dad


OK, you get to drop into any five moments in history – surf or otherwise. Please name them and why.

1.  Sweden during the height of the Vikings - My Dad is from Sweden along with that half of my family. I was the first to be born outside of Sweden. I have always been fascinated with Viking culture and their history. They did many things that hadn’t been done before. I would love to meet some of history’s most famous pioneers.  

2.  1980’s during the H-Street era - My Dad was co-founder of H-Street skateboards which was a rider-owned and operated brand in the 80’s. They had one of the most influential teams in the history of skating. Including Danny Way, Matt Hensley, Tony Magnusson, Eric Koston, to name a few. I would love to go back to this time as an adult just to hang out with this legendary crew.

3.  Maui in the ‘70s - I would love to see the island I grew up on back in the day of single fins and no leashes. I always heard from the old timers about the days when the cave was 6-8 foot and there were five guys in the water. I even heard the road out there was dirt back then. I think it would be so cool to see a familiar place that is always so crowded how it was discovered. The contrast would be amazing.

4.  Maui in the ‘90s (again) - I had an awesome childhood. All we did was surf, skate and have fun. My brother Clay and I shared a room that overlooked our homebreak and when it was firing we could see the peak from our bedroom window. It was the most carefree time and I got to surf world-class waves with my best friends and family. I still think about those days all the time. Would like to take this moment to publicly thank my Mom for that experience!

5.  Learning airs on Vert with my Dad - This was really special to me. I was 10 years old and we had been skating the Encinitas YMCA all summer long. It was in the days of the 10’ blue vert bowl. My dad is and always has been my hero. He was a professional vert skater in the ‘80s so naturally I always wanted to do what he did. I had dropped in earlier that summer but had never tried an air. My Dad kept pushing me telling me I could do it. I was terrified. Eventually I just threw one up and decided to commit and I made it no problem. Easy as pie. I was addicted just like that. On that same day we started doing doubles runs and we got a photo of both of us doing an over under air. I don’t think I will ever have a photo more special to me.


Bryan Dickerson

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