Friday, August 1, 2003

'Surf Girls': Privacy small price for world-class beaches

By Hillard Grossman
Florida Today

They ate sea urchins in Samoa and octopus salad in Australia.

They lived in beach bungalows in Tahiti and surfed the curls in Hawaii.

April Grover and Heidi Drazich say they enjoyed being part of the reality in MTV's most recent venture, Surf Girls, although they still can't believe they're celebrities.

"It's strange when a lot of people start recognizing me," says the 20-year-old, sun-streaked blonde Drazich. "It's weird signing autographs, too. I don't see myself as a movie star or anything like that. I'm just a girl from Cocoa Beach."

"Yeah, I think I was more stoked about being able to travel and surf all the different waves around the world than just seeing myself on TV," says Grover, 21, a Melbourne, Fla., High graduate who now is studying fashion merchandising and promotion at the University of Hawaii.

Surf Girls, which just ended its season but replays throughout the week, attracted an average of 1.2 million viewers during its first two episodes, according to Nielsen Media Research in New York.

The MTV show featured 14 amateur surfers, who survived tryouts among 6,000 contestants. They traveled, trained and competed for a wild-card entry into a women's professional surfing event. Filming took place during a two-month span earlier this year in Australia, Tahiti, Samoa and Hawaii.

"They didn't tell us they were going to eliminate girls after each round until I was at the airport leaving for Australia," says Grover, who like Drazich qualified in Hawaii after an in Waikiki and a one-hour surfing session at Pupukea, on the North Shore of Oahu.

Drazich, a Cocoa Beach High graduate who attends Brevard Community College in Melbourne, has spent two years modeling for Roxy swimwear. But she was cautious about this gig.

"I wondered if I should go or not, because I didn't know what it would do to my career - negative or positive," she says. "I didn't trust MTV shows. Often, they try to portray kids differently."

Grover, a longboarder, posted the highest score in the first episode at Phillip Island, Australia, but Drazich still is a little upset because the show failed to include her best ride on her shortboard.

An entourage of 40 cameramen and directors followed the surfers during their every move.

"We were hooked up all the time, except when we went to the bathroom," Grover says. "Once, I ... told them to take my microphone off because I was going to take a shower. But as soon as they took it off, I ran down the hall as fast as I could and got to a phone.

"It was an invasion of privacy," she says of the show, "but it was all worth it."

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