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Rainey says life is the beach

Rainey says life is the beach


Ellis at work, 1970s. Courtesy of the Rainey Ellis Archives.

I can’t believe it will be two decades since one of my best friends, renowned photographer Rennie Ellis, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on our doorstep in Melbourne next week.

Rainey is 62 years old and in less than 30 years he has embarked on a life-defining friendship that should have come a long way.

In 1974 I was the editor-in-waiting of Tracks, a surf magazine based in Whale Beach, north of Sydney. I was going to be an editor, but our publisher forgot when he offered me the job, which he had earlier offered to the Californian author John Grissim, who just suddenly Appeared in The New York Times Magazine on a six-month job. Chair.

I was left to twiddle my thumbs or go surfing until a loud, jovial guy lumbered up the stairs and offered me a job promoting his new surf movie while on an East Coast tour. A few weeks later, after the last show in Melbourne was sold out, David “Mexican” Sumpter handed me $250 in cash and suggested that I take it to Easyrider Travel Service in Bali and send It was all given to photojournalist Rennie Ellis, a partner in the firm, in exchange for a month in Bali, as well as a motorbike and accommodation.

Ponytailed Ellis greets me in the middle of the messiest office I’ve ever seen, but he manages to get me on the departing Rip Curl staff trip, and we head back to the bar, laying the groundwork for a lasting friendship until his early age passed away.

Rainey was my hero for the eight years before I met him, when, as a surf-crazed teen, I would devour every surf magazine I could find. In 1966, Surfing World published The Surfer’s Odyssey, in which Rainey chronicled his adventures with Torquay surfing buddy Peter Troy – surfing in France’s newfound Basque country, Sleeping rough on the left bank and crewing a transatlantic yacht. Sailing, hitchhiking across America…it was the stuff of dreams for me, and when I had the chance to travel far, I modeled Rainey’s adventures, mixing surf, girls, and trouble.

Reynolds Mark Ellis was born in Brighton by the Bay, Melbourne in 1940, was educated at Brighton Grammar School and won a scholarship to the University of Melbourne, but in his personal and professional life , he never took the traditional path. He dabbled in advertising sales before buying his first camera in 1963 and traveling the world with Troy.

Peter was an avid surfer who eventually traveled to 140 countries and introduced surfing to several of them, while Ellis was a lifeguard and long-distance swimmer who never missed the annual Los Angeles En marina to bar swimming event. He was a great surfer, but what really drew him to his love of surfing was the romance of surf culture. In fact, romance is Rainey’s attraction to just about everything.

Wherever he traveled, you couldn’t get Rennie’s Melbourne style out there, and by the late 1960s he had earned a reputation as the city’s leading social figure, or, as he preferred to put it, he was ” Chronicler of Half the World” himself. When I met him in 1974, he had published a book about Kings Cross, Sydney’s notorious red-light district, caused controversy by exhibiting photos of prostitutes and strippers in the book, and opened a restaurant above a restaurant. photo gallery and founded Australia’s first stock photography agency.

While he rarely took photos of people surfing, Rainey would often see me at surfing competitions and photograph circuses on the beach. He loved Bells Beach, but the bikini craze when Stubbies Pro first took place in Burleigh Heads in 1977 took him by surprise and inspired him to publish an instant book of bronzed nudes called Life’s A Beach.

We started traveling together in the 1980s and working as a freelance team, which was always fun with very little work. In 1981, we made a short film called Pet Paradise, where we took a bunch of loft pets to Fiji, so much less can be said about it. We persuaded Playboy Australia to fund a feature called “A Thousand Dollars a Day in Europe” – which was a big change at the time – and then went on Lake Como, the Italian and French Riviera, and Paris Hanging around for weeks.

Rainey has considered himself my Balinese guide and guru since he sold me my first tour. We travel there a lot with the family – even had a little guidebook for the kids – and he eventually convinced me to lease the land together. We had a piece of land by the river in Umelas when it was an unspoiled village, but we always seemed too busy to oversee the construction of the cluster of shacks we envisioned, in those cowboy days, if you didn’t Build it and provide jobs and they’ll tear up your lease and sell it again.

Umelas is now full of expensive villas, and the river is disgusting, but when I drive through that part of the island, I often picture Rainey and I in our later years, sitting under some long-gone palm trees, taking Looking at the cold room, talking about stories. It wasn’t.

Rainey will travel halfway around the world to attend a party and wants you to do the same. In November 2000 we flew from Biarritz to Melbourne to celebrate Rennie’s 60th birthday and he flew to Melbourne in July 2001 to celebrate my 50th birthday. We were still living in France and were on holiday in Portugal when we got the phone call we didn’t want to hear and we jumped on a plane to Melbourne immediately for Rainey’s lavish farewell ceremony at Praslin Town Hall.

On the day of the funeral, poet/philosopher and cartoonist Michael Leunig published his tribute in Time magazine, here courtesy of the Ellis Archives.

I still miss that crazy, wonderful bastard every day.

The important Rainey Ellis Archive is now managed by the State Library of Victoria and Rainey’s long-term assistant and friend Manuela Folch.



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