Erin 'Worm' Ashley

I'm beginning to notice a pattern... I can't seem to remember how I met a lot, if not all, of the more interesting people I know. The internet? Probably. Through a friend-of-a-friend? Perhaps. Maybe at the mall? Uh, nope. However it is, er, was, I am happy it happened. An example is Erin Ashley. I know that my friend Alex Swanson - a mid-length shredding, photo taking, life saving, Newport resident - was somehow involved. But for the life of me, I can't remember how. What I do know, however, is that as soon as Erin (a.k.a. Worm) and I became friends, my cell phone was never silent - so long as she knew I was in Southern California. "What's it look like?" Was a common question. Erin, knowing that Chris and I were parked at Camp Pendleton for the better part of two months filming The Peelgrimage, took full advantage of this fact, checking surf conditions whenever she could. Now I'm not saying she abused our burgeoning friendship - shit, I would have done the same damn thing - I'm simply saying she was eager for information. And I was a resource. As the weeks past, something became increasingly clear. Worm is down. Always. A quick note on a Monday morning would result in a two hour session at Church. Another message mid-week would lead to a short excursion further south. Pipes perhaps? Or howsabout the morning we met at Malibu, inadvertently. All of this to say, Worm is always looking for waves, and her style, grace, and skill are evidence of her persistent and passionate pursuit. Follow the link and read our interview with WORM!


When did you start surfing?

I didn't really start surfing until I got into college. Anything before that was just the sort of dabbling that anyone who has ever lived by the sea has ventured.

Tell us about your first time...

That seems a bit personal, doesn't it?

Where do you find inspiration?

I have a friend Ashlee who is an MMA fighter in the UFC. It's great to see how passionate she is about what she does and all the things she needs to do to keep that dream alive. It's a rare thing now-a-days for people to follow their dreams. It's hard in a world where it seems like everyone is telling you to do the reasonable thing and concede to certain things. Seeing people like Ashlee pushing forward is super inspiring. I saw Devon Howard do one of the most amazing drop knee turns on a '66 G&S Bobby Brown. It was this beautiful and insanely powerful drop knee that he had no business doing on a wave that was so small. Right after it happened, Kai Ellis-Flint turns to make sure that I witnessed it. Just seeing people push things harder or trying new things is inspiring.

How did you get the nickname 'Worm'?

It's from the movie Friday. There is a character played by Faizon Love called Big Worm. He rocks curlers throughout the movie. I have naturally curly hair so people started calling me 'Big Perm,' 'Big Worm' and then it got shortened to just 'Worm.'

Of all the boards you've surfed thus far, which one is your favorite and why?

I recently had a 9'3" Yellow Double step-deck made by Dano that worked insanely well. It worked on everything from two-foot beach breaks to eight-foot barreling reefs, and you could be on the nose for all of it. That said, I'm riding a 9'5" Dead Kooks 2-Step model and it's shaping up to be a real banger. The board has speed and can turn like no other.

Tell us something we don't know...

Hmmm. I love musicals and have a massive knowledge of cartoons.

Which superhero and/or comic book character do you think you resemble the most?

Jeff (my husband) says I should go with Rogue since my hair is a reddish brown and I've had a natural white streak in the front of it since I was about 16.

Other than the ocean, what interests you?

I love reading books. I am mostly into things about religion, the Civil War or String Theory. I've also been trying to intersperse classic literature and poetry into the mix. But if anyone has great book recommendations, let me know; I'm always down for a good read. I've been really into Abstract Expressionists, such as Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell and going to MOCA or LACMA to see their works in real life.

What have you been listening to lately?

Mariachi el Bronx - It combines all these elements that I've grown up around. It's the sort of music you listen to when you work in restaurants, or hear the car next to you blast it from their stereo on a hot summer day whilst stuck in traffic on the '10.'

Against Me - They came out with an album last year called Transgender Dystoria Blus that is one of the most heartfelt Punk Rock things I have ever heard in my life. If you can listen to 'Black Me Out' and not feel like going out and being your own person, then you're a robot.

Touche Amore - I believe they fit under the label 'Post Hardcore.' The sound has this forward driving momentum that keeps pushing and pushing and only lets you relax just enough to catch your breath before jamming into fifth gear. Somehow they manage to pair that with meaningful heartfelt lyrics that make you want to scream and believe in every word. Their albums just keep getting better and better.

Alabama Shakes - Geez! If you haven't heard of them by now, get it going! They have that sound that can cool you off on a sweltering sweat-drenched New Orleans summer day.

If you were going to take us out for tacos, where would we go?

There is a place in Boyle Heights called Guisados. Its one of the few places in LA that I'll drive out of my way to eat at, and it's a must-go before heading over to Chavez Ravine. The home-style braises with freshly made tortillas, and the mushrooms with salsa verde and queso fresco are epic! Oh, and the quesadilla made with queso panela is the thing dreams are made of. Also, during baseball season the horchata comes in Dodger blue, so it really can't be beat. Best tacos in Los Angeles for sure!

What's next for Worm?

I'm a huge family person. I'm really lucky in life and got stuck with a rad family that I love being around. My sister, Bridget, and her Le Fred just came up to Noosa to hang out with me whilst I was in Australia. My brother just got married, and with his marriage came a couple of really rad kids, Alex and Jack. So getting to hang out with and know them better is definitely on the docket. I'm just trying to soak in how lucky I've been thus far and continue to be stoked with whatever comes my way.

Photos courtesy of Alex Swanson.

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