Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

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An exhilarating and terrifying journey through youth-culture hell. Video maker Helen Stickler devoted six years to this swift and compact documentary, which uses the tale of Mark "Gator" Rogowski to chronicle the marketing of skateboard fashion in the 80s. Raised in a broken home in southern California, the teenage Rogowski astonished fans with his stylish moves on the vertical ramp and pocketed $20,000 a month as the flamboyant pitchman for Vision Skateboards. But the late-80s shift from vertical to street style (skating off curbs and railings, etc) left him out in the cold, and in 1991 he got 31 years to life for the rape and murder of a young woman. Stickler elicits some penetrating reflections from Rogowski's elite skating buddies, some of whom negotiated the shifting tides of cool by moving into the business side of the sport, and the skating footage, thrilling in its own right, is a grim visual reminder that no one can break the law of gravity. 80 min. Landmark's Century Centre.

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