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San Diego Filmmaker Documents The Natural Wonders Of Black's Beach

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August 23, 2018 1:37 p.m.

San Diego Filmmaker Documents The Natural Wonders Of Black's Beach


Chris Boyd, producer and director, Black’s Beach

Related Story: San Diego Filmmaker Documents The Natural Wonders Of Black's Beach


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

It's difficult to get to with frequent riptides and rockslides. But in spite of and maybe because of its challenges black speech is a San Diego landmark and it's the subject of a new documentary airing tonight on PBS television. Here's a clip from the film.

There's no civilization. It's completely nature. And that is so right. Here in a different world like you're not surrounded by people or the city. It's just. The ocean cliffs on the other side. And you feel like see her at one with nature. That's really cool lacks speeches.

Two and a half mile long stretch located between Torrey Pines and Scripps Pier. And its unique characteristics have made it a favorite for surfers nudists and scientists for decades. Joining me is Chris Boyd producer and director of the new documentary Black Speech. Chris welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me around this time of year La Hoya and Mission Beach are crowded with visitors but you say lax beaches. Actually San Diego's most important beach.

Why. I think if you go and spend any amount of time there if you talk with anyone who loves it anyone who knows the history of it you start to understand that there's it's really the most unique physical physically it's the most unique beach we have in the city and then culturally there's just been more that's happened there over all the decades that people have been using it and I think that when you combine all the various factors there's just not another beach like in San Diego. And if you have a city like ours which is so defined by beaches I think that's all really important. It's not to say that there's not a number of great beaches in the city because we have so many. But you know blacks is really special.

Can you describe how blacks beach looks and feels that's different from other beaches along the San Diego coast.

Sure. Personally I think it looks different from any beach in California up until you get to probably the big sur area there might be a few spots in the Santa Barbara region that might have some similarities but there's nothing like the cliff. The cliff faces that are there and I think that's a really unique you know to have cliffs which are 150 200 feet high and where you can't really see any of the kind of hallmarks of civilization and to have it stretched as far as it does I think it it just it really does look like some people said in the film almost prehistoric or you know Land Before Time idea it really does look like that.

Where did it get its name.

Black's Beach was named for William Black senior known as Bill Black who was the original owner of what is now the La Jolla Farms neighborhood. It was his private beach yeah in a time before now. You know now we're in such an amazing beautiful time where no one can own beaches in California and it's one of the really special parts of our state. But this was a time yes where the beach was essentially his and it was. It was called colloquially black speech because it was Bill Black speech the one thing most locals know about black speech is that it's got a clothing optional element to it. How much is nudity part and parcel of what Blacks Beach is the way that it was described to me by the nudist who I was able to speak with. Was that considered one of the most important nude beaches in the entire world. And people do come from around the world in order to experience it when you're down there. I think that that's really borne out by just any one's anecdotal experience if you're down there on a summer day and it is hot out. I mean you might have you know hundreds of people there in a really free environment that you can't believe you're in the United States even and that almost pales in comparison to some of the photographs I was able to see of the 70s and some of the stories I was able to hear people who are at UCSD in the 70s. I mean this was like a Mardi Gras. Every weekend thousands of people naked running around on the beach back then. And it's not necessarily like that

anymore. It's probably more of a dedicated community. But I think that that energy still has carried over for sure.

Now Black is really important to surfers and colliders. What makes it so unique for those activities.

The glider portion which I didn't know anything about until I started working on the film. There is just a unique air flow pattern which the cliffs create so that when the glider port was started way back when you know in the 60s really these these people who love that sport discovered that this was a unique place for it and remain one of the new places for it and not only in the county but in our state for surfers in the surfing community blacks is by far the most famous or most important wave in San Diego in terms of a world class powerful break and it is associated with the top level surfers in our city. So what creates that is that there is this massive canyon right off the shore of blacks. And so as some of the oceanographers that I was able to interview for the film explain to me the canyon does what is called refraction. It refracts water that's coming from the west and it bounces wave energy off of the canyon walls and then up towards the beach.

So it's the depth of that canyon is unique in our coastline in San Diego. And so it's not a traditional beach break like so many beaches are. And it's not a point break like we have in other places. You know these are the major distinctions that surfers make amongst waves not only here but all over the world. So these unique circumstances make for this powerful wave and if you've ever been there on a winter's day with really heavy conditions it is a majorly powerful wave and it's really something that you can't see anywhere else in our county. And a lot of people don't because that means you're there at 6 a.m. on a cold December day or Janey her day or something. But for the hardcore surfing site in our city they are all there.

Chris I'm wondering now that you've spent so much time at Blacks Beach what's your personal relationship with the beach.

Well I had my first interest there just from a surfing standpoint. And then the more I and the surfers were the first people I spoke to about making this film and then from there the people that I met you know will Suter the peregrine falcon observer who spent years observing these endangered birds on the beach. The new disordered nature as they describe their own community you know who really have so much passion for this place that it's like it's unbelievable and to have this place away from everything is so special and unique as California only explodes year after year that I think that there's really there's no way to describe that unless you go down there and kind of experience it for yourself and for me now I get to think back to all these great times I had meeting different people who have all these different interests in it but at the same time I had to just enjoy that physicality of it because that'll never go away.

I've been speaking with Chris Boyd his producer and director of the new documentary Black Speech. It airs tonight at 8:00 on KPBS TV. And Chris thank you. Thanks so much.