“This was back in the heyday of skateboarding and we’d found this pool somewhere in the hills of Anaheim and there was a burned out house at the very top of this mountain. And there’s like fifty kids in the backyard, and I’m there, and Alva’s there, and Jay Adams, and all these kids sitting around the pool, and there’s about ten cars. And we’re skating and I notice there’s these really rare cactuses and I start eyeing them, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh man, I’m going to take those before we leave.’ So we’re skating and having this good time and all of a sudden some kid yells out, ‘Cooops!’ So we hear these sirens coming up this hill and all these kids are spreading out like ants, like with Raid spray, and I head right for the plants. And I’m stuffing plants into my skate bag while kids are being arrested. And I’m aware of this at the time, going, ‘This is the most absurd thing I could possibly be doing in my lifetime. I can’t leave this place without taking this rare plant ‘cause I know it’s going to be sabotaged because a bulldozer is going to knock this place down.’ So I took the plants, I avoided arrest, I got ‘em to my car, and I made it out of there.”
Stacy Peralta is an award-winning film director, former Z-Boy, and lifelong surfer. He’s also an avid collector of rare succulents and aloes. That this fetishistic hobby of his can be traced back to the days of empty pools and raffish Dogtowners seems either terribly ironic, or totally obvious. Southern California backyard pools were often surrounded by cactus and succulent gardens, and Stacy was always looking beyond the coping.
“Something about these plants struck my interest. I realize now what it is. They remind me of being underwater. When I look at them, I feel the ocean.”