Regina Henry 12/12/06 7:15 p.m.
Twelve Twelve Oh six.
That’s the date, Ms. Henry.
I’m going to set this right here and you can speak at a normal conversational level.
Isn’t the ocean gonna drown it out?
Oh. I didn’t even...lets see. I’ll just play back the.
Okay that’s better. Sorry. Regina Henry 12/12/06 7:40 pm
Ms. Henry there are conflicting reports on your age. Guinness book has you listed as eighty-seven years old.
My heart’s not in this.
You are the inventor of, I guess that’s what you’d call it, or creator or ah... innovator, of the resurrection, could you tell us a little about it?
My heart’s just not in it.
Could I just get you to confirm your age?
Ms. Henry, there are people who believe that you are the sole innovator of what are now called “extreme sports.”
You know, skydiving with a snowboard things like that, a lot of the stunts popularized by the mountain dew commercials?
You see a television here? *
It is something to see Regina Henry emerge from the ocean, her white hair plastered to the sides of her tanned face, ascending rapidly on the crest of a wave, barefoot with no board.
Henry, who turns eighty eight in the spring spends close to four hours a day practicing this feat which has come to be known as the resurrection.
“It was no accident .” says Henry. “I believed it was possible to do it and I tried it. It was not the result of falling off my board or nearly drowning or something like that, like I’ve heard people say. I did not undertake the stunt to save my life. It was deliberate. I believed it was possible and it was. That it is not possible for other people doesn’t mean a thing.”
Henry pauses and leans down, to pick a long thin branch out of the fire, burning within a circle of stones beside the eight by ten foot house in which she lives. Henry’s small place is one of a handful of shanties on the beach at Lascate Mi Morir. She lights a cigarette with the tip of the spindly branch and tosses it back into the pile, inhales deeply and smiles.
Henry has been living on the pacific island of Morir, a protectorate of CitiBank, for 40 years. Except for visits from documetarians and journalists she receives no company.
The two story house is built from plywood and tin, there are no panes in the windows, which Henry covers in the evening with a sheet of plastic, that rolls down from the ceiling. The house is half the size of the palm tree that rises straight from the sand near its north side.
Henry’s bedroom is on the lower floor, and contains just three pieces of furniture, a bed, a chair, and a table she also has a crank radio and a clock. There is no sign of a surf board. This woman, who was known for years, to the laborers, militia and tourists of Lascate Mi Morir as only, “the surfer,” has no board.
Her bed appears to built from things that have washed up on the shore. The head board is comprises a few short wide planks with pieces of pottery glued to them.
The top floor of Henry’s small house is unlit. Stacked against the walls are several paintings by the pre-surrealist Charles Larson. Henry was married to Larson until his death in 1975. When I ask if she is worried the paintings might become damaged or be stolen she shrugs. “What difference does it make?”
Henry will not talk about Larson or his work. “People can call him what they want,” she said. “I don’t really care. He’s dead now anyway and these things,” she points to the paintings, “don’t capture what you think they do. They don’t say a thing about him” Larson’s work has been called a marriage of Maxfield Parish and Heronymous Bosch. He creates a kind of luminescent darkness in his works, which are inhabited by suspicious and lazy looking creatures, anatomical illustration, fires, insects and what he called “non-existent heroes, exhaulted nobodies.”
Henry shows no interest whatsoever in the works. Tomorrow she will surf for four or five hours. “Get some sleep,” she says. “Or you won’t be able to use your so-called mind.”
This is the first of a series of interviews with Regina Henry-- expatriate, the oldest living surfer and inventor of extreme sports. The reclusive Henry is also the widow of surrealist painter Charles Larson. Reporter Cara Hoffman spent a month with Henry last spring. Alternative Press is fortunate to obtain this interview, as Henry has never spoken publicly about her life. Walking on Water: Conversations with Regina Henry By Cara Hoffman
“That the resurrection was possible for me indicated that it was possible, period. I became disinterested in anything other than perfecting the resurrection tired of them who think its a trick specific to me, who believed it was a thing unobtainable.They got no faith.” --Regina Henry, April 4, 2004