Low-budget doc on skateboarder turned murderer

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Stoked: The Rise And Fall Of Gator


This is the story of Mark “Gator” Rogowski, the US pro-skateboarding champion who crashed and burned in the early ’90s, ultimately ending up in jail for murder at the age of 24. Just six years before, he was earning over $100,000 a year from tournaments and endorsements. But his celebrity faded with the advent of street skating (he was a star of the ramp), and his sanity swiftly followed. One minute he had a pop-star lifestyle?girls, parties, big house?the next he was a reclusive timebomb:drunken, lonely, unable to deal with the world. Then, in 1991, he raped and murdered Jessica Bergston, a friend of his ex-girlfriend.

We only hear a repentant Gator talking to director Helen Stickler on a crackly phone line from jail, but archive footage compensates, especially some arrogant TV interviews from the late ’80s (“I love getting arrested!”). The film is rough at the edges, and its storytelling is sometimes confused, but it is an entertaining slice of pop cultural history.