For Women In Surfing, Equal Prize Money Represents Sea Change

Bianca Valenti walks in from the ocean after surfing waves at Mavericks on Dec. 4, 2015, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Women surfers competing at the sport’s highest level can now win as much prize money as their male counterparts, after a hard-won change in the rules of the World Surf League that took effect this month.

Pressure mounted on the World Surf League after

Bianca Valenti walks in from the ocean after surfing waves at Mavericks on Dec. 4, 2015, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

It’s a familiar story for women in surfing, and it’s why Valenti co-founded the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, which has been calling for equal prize money for years.

“There’s a long way to go but just getting this public support is so huge. I mean, it already feels like a huge weight is lifted,” she says, “and it feels really good not to have to fight because it’s a crappy thing to have to fight for.”

Valenti says the added financial support will be a game changer for women in surfing.

“What I’m so excited for is to see women’s surfing just skyrocket in terms of performances ‘cause that’s what gonna happen,” she says.

Equal prize money is a milestone for the sport, but the push for women’s equality in surfing goes back to before 29-year-old Valenti was even born.

Jericho Poppler is one of the pioneers of that movement, helping to start the Women’s International Surfing Association in 1975. Poppler has been competing in and winning surf championships for decades, and she says it used to be common for men to bully women off the waves.

“I had to show the guys that I could stand up and be just as tough and strong as they were,” she says. “I’d be out in the water, and guys take off in front of you and try to make you crash. I just didn’t let it phase me.”

Jericho Poppler has been competing in surf championships since the 1960s. But back then, she says, men would often bully women off the waves. (Chris Bentley/Here & Now)

Today, at 67 years old, Poppler is still surfing. She says the fight for women’s equality is tied in with another longstanding effort in professional surfing: the push to get the sport in the Olympics.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be the first to include surfing. Poppler says she remembers talking about getting surfing in the Olympics as far back as the 1960s.

“So we’re talking over 50 years ago,” she says, “and the sport has grown up and come a long way, the women have come a long way, and I’m proud of all that, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Between equal prize money for women and the Olympics, surfing is having a major moment, says surfer Diana Dehm, who runs the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, California.

“Fifty percent of the people that come in here are from outside of the U.S.,” she says. “It truly is a tribe of surfers. I would say that it’s getting more and more popular.”

Huntington Beach has a proud history of surfing that goes back generations to Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer who brought the sport to Southern California in the early 20th century.

That tradition continues today. Down at the Huntington Beach Pier, Peter Romaniuk is taking his 8-year-old son Petey and 12-year-old daughter Juliana to catch some waves. Both of them started surfing when they were two.

Peter Romaniuk takes his 8-year-old son Petey and 12-year-old daughter Juliana to Huntington Beach to catch some waves. Both of his kids have been surfing since they were two. (Chris Bentley/Here & Now)
Peter Romaniuk takes his 8-year-old son Petey and 12-year-old daughter Juliana to Huntington Beach to catch some waves. Both of his kids have been surfing since they were two. (Chris Bentley/Here & Now)

Juliana, who goes by Juju, has heard the news about equal pay, and she says it’s a good time to be a surfer, whatever your gender.

“They have equal pay now,” she says of women surfers. “Everyone’s a lot more stoked about it.”

She might be stoked because she plans to win some of that prize money someday as a professional surfer.

And so does her little brother. Petey and Juju are on the same page there, but they disagree on how exactly to describe what it feels like to ride a big wave.

“Yeah, I guess it’s like flying on water,” Juju says.

“No, it’s gliding on water,” Petey interjects. “It’s gliding on water, but it’s like you’re flying.”

The young surfers’ father, Peter, has been surfing in Southern California for 40 years, so he knows something about competing for waves. With surfing more popular than ever, his kids might face more competition than he did. But at least Juju and Petey will win equal prize money if they make it.

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Broadway's 'Lifespan Of A Fact' Tackles The Timely Question: What Is A Fact?

One of Broadway’s newest plays, “Lifespan of a Fact,” has audiences jumping up in their seats and cheering for — as well and against — characters as though the show were a basketball game.

Based on the 2012 book of the same name, the play follows the story of what happens when an essayist, played by Bobby Cannavale, pens what he thinks is one of his greatest stories, only to be met by the scrutiny of a zealous young fact checker, played by Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe’s character proceeds to write 90 pages of corrections, locking the characters in a battle over what defines a fact. The cast is rounded out by Cherry Jones, who plays the editor who must ultimately decide whether the essay can be published.

Fast moving and surprisingly funny, the show is, at its heart, a deadly serious argument play where the central question is, what is a fact?

Here & Now‘s Robin Young catches up with the cast of the show (@LifespanOfAFact).

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Kim Petras Goes Dark For Halloween With 'Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1'

Kim Petras’ Halloween mixtape, Turn Off The Light, Vol. 1, is out now.

Thom Kerr/Courtesy of the artist


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Thom Kerr/Courtesy of the artist

Kim Petras has built a reputation for Barbie doll imagery and bubble-gum pop sounds. So fans started to wonder what was going on when, about a month ago, the pop singer started posting strange images on on social media — creepy, dark self-portraits with dripping blood and blank eyes.

When the clock struck midnight on October 1, it all became clear. Petras dropped a surprise Halloween-themed mixtape called Turn Off the Light, Vol.1, featuring spooky sounds, macabre themes and a scene-stealing guest appearance from horror hostess Elvira.

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A longtime fan of horror movies and Halloween, Petras says she been itching to make a darker kind of pop record for years. “I think they can stand on their own,” Petras says of the songs on Turn Off the Light. “That’s important to me, as a fan of pop: I wanted them to be songs that you can listen to all year, but that fit into a Halloween-related context.” Hear more from her conversation with NPR’s Ari Shapiro at the audio link.

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Louis Cha, Who Wrote Beloved Chinese Martial Arts Novels As Jin Yong, Dies

Novelist Jin Yong — the pen name for writer and journalist Louis Cha — has died, triggering tributes and mourning from his fans. Here, a customer reads a book at a memorial section at a bookstore in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

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Millions of people are mourning Jin Yong — the pen name for novelist Louis Cha — after the giant of Chinese pop culture and literature died on Tuesday. Cha wrote epic stories that created an underpinning for the pageantry and fantasy of martial arts films.

Cha was 94. He died in Hong Kong, where he moved from mainland China in the 1940s to work as an author and journalist. In addition to his novels in the wuxia adventure genre, Cha co-founded the newspaper Ming Pao, which he led for decades. His work has been translated into numerous film, TV series, and stage productions.

Cha had suffered from liver cancer and dementia in his last years, the South China Morning Post reports.

Writing as Jin Yong, Cha has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien — but that sells him short, according to Eileen Chow, co-director of Duke University’s Story Lab project. To fully encapsulate his impact, she says, one should think of an author who combines Tolkien with George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman.

Would be remiss not to conclude w the Jin Yong 金庸 acrostic poem made of the 1st character in the title of each of his 14 works:

飛雪連天射白鹿 Whirling snow blankets the sky, I hunt white deer
笑書神俠倚碧鴛 Laughing as I write legends of chivalry and romance#everynightapoem pic.twitter.com/9d1CzI4jVr

— eileen chengyin chow (@chowleen) October 30, 2018

Spinning stories about fantastical adventures in ancient China, Cha combined action sequences with romance and emotional entanglements, giving ballast to the high-flying acrobatics of swordplay and combat.

In the world of Jianghu (literal translation: “rivers and lakes”) — the liminal sphere in which skilled knights and lethal princesses seek love and justice — Cha told complex stories that sometimes mirrored the complicated lives of Chinese who saw their society transform under Chairman Mao. Earlier this year, he acknowledged using political allegories to describe events of the Cultural Revolution, in an interview with The New Yorker.

In the process, Cha also gave readers a touchstone of the country’s cultural history, creating “a China of the mind,” Chow said. She added, “it would be hard to argue that there has been a more widely-read and more influential writer in Chinese in the modern era.”

Comparing Cha to Shakespeare, former Morning Post writer Oliver Chou told the newspaper, “No other Chinese authors would appeal so much to Chinese readers, regardless of dialects and political views. The late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, was said to have sent secret agents to get him a set of Cha’s novels in Hong Kong in the early 1980s.”

In one famous example of the hidden complexity found in Cha’s work, the first letters from the titles of his 14 martial arts novels create an acrostic couplet. According to a translation by Chow, it reads:

Whirling snow blankets the sky, I hunt white deer
Laughing as I write legends of chivalry and romance.

Novels penned by Jin Yong began appearing in serial form in 1955, with The Book and the Sword. In the years that followed, the stories often appeared in Cha’s own newspaper.

“He is best-known for his martial arts fiction series The Condor Trilogy,” NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai, adding that Cha’s books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.

The Condor Trilogy also features one of Cha’s most memorable characters: Huang Rong, who runs away from her family, poses as a beggar boy, learns the intricacies of deadly kung fu, and uses her intellect and guile to help her lover, Guo Jing, defeat his enemies. Her skills range from succulent cooking to mastery of the secret Dog Beating Staff fighting style.

The role has been played by many actresses — so many that Asia One held an online poll in 2017 to ask who had done it best.

Besides his writing, Cha was also known for his involvement in politics. He was part of the Hong Kong committee that monitored the territory’s transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997. Years earlier, he resigned from a separate committee to protest the deadly 1989 crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

“He was an advocate of democracy and freedom,” Schmitz says. “One of his most famous lines is: ‘Life is like a fight. Then, you leave quietly.’ “

To get a sense of the far reach of Cha’s influence, consider that his ardent fans include Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of retail giant Alibaba. As news of the author’s death spread, Ma — a former English teacher — posted photos of himself and Cha, along with a lengthy message on the social media site Weibo. In his post, Ma praised Cha for teaching lessons of bravery, dedication and integrity.

Without Cha, Ma said, there would be no Alibaba. He even borrowed his own nickname, Feng Qingyang, from a master swordsman in the 1967 novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. He encouraged Alibaba employees to choose their own characters from his works. And as Ming Pao reports, Ma named his own office and other parts of Alibaba’s headquarters after places in Cha’s stories.

After The Deer And The Cauldron was published (again, in serial form) in 1972, Cha stopped writing martial arts novels. And in the last decades of his life, the author faced one nagging problem: the constant demand from his legion of fans that he write more books for them to read.

“I’m getting old, and my imagination is not the same as it was in my younger days,” Cha told The New York Times in 1989.

The world may not have known the richness of Cha’s imagination, had he not been pressed into service as a serial novelist. As the Times noted in that profile, Cha was a young copy editor when he was asked to come on as a temp, simply because his newspaper’s fiction writer had resigned.

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Classic Covers, Fresh Finds: Our Favorite Latin Songs This Week

Natalie Sanchez’s jazzy cover of “Angel Baby” has a powerful new music video.


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This week, the five new songs on Alt.Latino‘s playlist represent a mix of tradition and experimentation. Nancy Sanchez’s jazzy rendition of “Angel Baby” has a new video, Gente De Zona reinterprets the Cuban music canon and Nicola Cruz keeps pushing South American rhythms to new spheres. Meanwhile, La Doña and Vicente García (with Juan Luis Guerra) have both released dance-friendly new singles.

This playlist is part of a weekly Spotify series of NPR Music’s favorite Latin songs. Catch our weekly thoughts and hot takes here on NPR.org.


Gente De Zona, "Las 40"

Gente De Zona, ‘Las 40’

Alexander Delgado’s voice has become the most recognizable in all of Cubaton, a subgenre of popular reggaeton artists coming out of Havana. You may not know Delgado’s name, but you surely know Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando” and the particular gravelly baritone of that echoed “ya no puedo más” in the chorus. As Gente De Zona, Delgado and Randy Malcom had been fusing traditional salsa, son and mambo with dembow for the better part of two decades before they broke through in America with the border-smashing “La Gozadera” in 2015.

En Letra de Otro is Gente De Zona’s first album since 2016’s Visualízate, and it’s a covers album — a bold choice for a band on the cusp of a lasting break in the U.S. What’s more, it covers classics across the Latin American musical canon, from Jose Feliciano’s “Después de Ti” to Luis Miguel’s “Cuando Calienta el Sol” to Vicente Fernández’s “El Rey” (lloraaaaar y lloraaaaar, etc.) to even “La Bamba.” (The album is a companion to a new HBO documentary about the band, perhaps the true hallmark of a Latin artist on the rise in the states.) My favorite track is Delgado’s interpretation of “Las 40,” a Rolando Laserie bolero beloved by Cuban abuelitos everywhere. Though it’s not the group’s first cover of a Cuban oldie, “Las 40” struck me for the way it still sounds modern amid all its traditional instrumentation. The song’s jazzed-up classical Cuban piano technique, when paired with Delgado’s voice, makes the song sound earthier and more current and of-the-people than ever. Not to mention the addition of that bomb mambo and soneo at the end. —Stefanie Fernández


Nancy Sanchez, "Angel Baby"

Nancy Sanchez, ‘Angel Baby’

Oldies have cast an eternal spell over large segments of the Chicano music-loving population — see above — and “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals (Rosalie Mendez Hamlin) is part of the foundation of that ’50s R&B canon.

After Hamlin died in 2017, L.A. vocalist Nancy Sanchez covered the track on her album American Novio. It’s a classic, arpeggio-driven ballad reinterpreted as more of a jazz ballad, reflecting Sanchez’s substantial talents as a singer in that genre. While many missed the cover when it came out, its new video — a slow-motion meditation on love without boundaries, acceptance of others and living life in the moment — is worth sharing today. When The Other seems to remain constantly under attack, it’s uplifting and inspiring to see people unafraid to be who they are.

The song and video represent a perfect mash-up of inspired song selection, flawless performance and clear-eyed cultural vision. —Felix Contreras


La Doña, ‘Nada Me Pertenece’

La Doña, "Nada Me Pertenece"

“Nada Me Pertenece” slides easily from childlike rhyming singalong to a dreamy beat that’s basically a skeleton of the big, noisy dembow drop that propels this playful existential examination of belonging. La Doña, a.k.a. Cecilia Peña-Govea, is from San Francisco and comes from a musical family. (She started gigging at age 7.) Her dedication to Latin folk music of all kinds is reflected in her day job as a music educator, both in public schools and at the prestigious SFJazz Center.

I’m hoping this is just a hint of the incredible music we can expect from this talented performer and educator. —Felix Contreras


Vicente García & Juan Luis Guerra, ‘Loma de Cayenas’

Vicente García & Juan Luis Guerra, "Loma de Cayenas,"

With the historical ouroboros that is the every-decade Latin boom in American music, it’s not surprising to see scores of breakout Latin artists covering and collaborating with their musical predecessors. García, a Dominican, won three Latin Grammys for his 2016 album A la Mar, and if it’s any testament to the enduring power of Juan Luis Guerra, the music video for the breezy merengue “Loma de Cayenas” has already notched more than a million views in just four days. Merengue is often deemed the simplest — if “simplest” is the right word — Latin genre, in terms of its fairly unchanging beat and the fact that it’s an easy dance to learn. Guerra and García make it seem less simple than reliable, honoring the genre’s West African roots with drums and lilting strings. —Stefanie Fernández


Nicola Cruz, ‘Siete’

Nicola Cruz, "Siete"

Ecuadorian musician Nicola Cruz can do no wrong in my book. He’s essentially an alchemist, mixing together sometimes disparate musical elements to create incredibly enjoyable soundscapes. Often, his tracks are exactly the sound I was looking for but didn’t know existed. “Siete” alternates between the sitar and flute for melody, working over a subtly pulsing, vaguely Andean beat.

As usual, a single song represents just the tip of the iceberg — or in this case, a magnificently crafted new album called Siku. I’m apparently not the only one who digs Cruz’s magic: His last album, Prender el Alma, is at 35 million streams. — Felix Contreras


This playlist is updated weekly.

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