It seems that there is a need for documentaries about professional skateboarders from years gone by. In the last few years, there have been more than a few on the likes of Duane Peters, “Gator” Rogowski, and Christian Hosoi. Usually, they center on the turmoil in the subject’s life and the and the ultimate careen towards rock bottom that most often ends in prison, death, or despair. Pray for Me is a little different.
As a skater in the ‘80s, I was aware of Jason Jessee but never really followed his exploits. I knew he was on Santa Cruz Skateboards and always had really cool-looking boards, but that was about it. It wasn’t until I saw him interviewed in Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator that I caught a glimpse of pure, insane genius.
The documentary begins with his childhood and an early obsession with motorbikes and guns. It’s a theme that follows Jason throughout his life. In interviews with his family, it becomes apparent where his hang ups and paranoia comes from. Hi Mom! It then moves into his skating career with a large number of the greatest skaters of all time saying over and over again how Jessee was the best. No one went higher and crazier and he was right on the cusp of being thrown into the limelight that was enjoyed by Hawk and Hosoi when he shattered his leg, more or less ending his pro run.
It then flows into the other facets of Jessee. During his skating years, he discovered Skrewdriver and Nazism, but quickly gave that up. Before long, he was the only white person in history to join the Hispanic car club The Dukes and later still, an idol in Japan for his lowrider chopper creations.
The filmmakers do a great job of letting the story tell itself through Jason and the people around him. Words can do little to describe who he is or what goes on in his mind. It was wise of them to let his actions speak for themselves.
You can’t help be feel sad for Jessee. There is just no way for him to enjoy the moderate success that he has or the praise he gets for almost everything that he does. His insecurities won’t allow him to. He just has to keep creating.
It also must be said that the film itself was made in the same manner that Jessee himself tends to operate. The co-directors had never made a film before, yet decided that Jason’s story must be told, so they just went for it. They re-mortgaged homes and businesses and dumped all kinds of personal money into it. I’m happy to report that it’s all worth it. Jason Jessee is the definition of a true tortured artist of our time and it’s time for the world to see it first hand. – Ty Stranglehold (Poopy Pants Productions, http://www.choppertown.com/jason-jessee-pray-for-me-full-movie-download/)