To call Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy a sight to be seen would not be incorrect. It would, however, be completely inadequate. The documentary, which chronicles the struggles, the strife, and the skateboarding success of Skatopia founder Brewce Martin, is really more of an experience.
Located in Appalachian Ohio, Skatopia is a not so much a theme park — although good times abound — but rather very much a collaborative effort for a common goal: to recognize skateboarding as a form of freedom. Under the instruction of “Papa Brewce,” Skatopia devotees and newcomers rally around year after year to add to the park, whether it is the construction of a new skateboarding arena or the preparation for the park’s annual party du jour, known as the “Balzout Bowl Bash” in the film.
Albeit wild, raunchy, and, at times, ridiculous, the atmosphere at Skatopia is nevertheless friendly and familial. According to director-producer Laurie House, Martin views his park as a “refuge for outcasts,” a refuge built by volunteers “caroused with the brilliant techniques of a cult leader.”
Martin himself embraces his role, deeming it his job to keep “all the cult-ees in line.” Some of the cult-ees in question were born knowing nothing but Skatopia. When he was only 20, Martin was a single father, raising his son — Brandon Hellskull Martin (now an adult) — by himself. Of the experience, Brewce says, “He kept me out of prison…he gave me a purpose.” In the film, Brewce is temporarily involved with his girlfriend, Halo Whitelight, and their daughter, Amity.
Also his family, of course, are the Skatopia volunteers. On hand to assist with the event-planning, one volunteer — many of whom wear t-shirts adorned with “Skatopia Jihad” — deems the Skatopia set-up the “Mecca for skateboarding.” Another praises Brewce’s reciprocity: “Helping Brewce is like helping yourself — dude lets you skate, party 24/7, 365.”
Party indeed they do. Come the Bash, inhibitions are nonexistent. With fireworks, strippers, live music and dancing, and plenty of profanity and plenty of drinking, the Bash attracts countless people. Brewce calls the partying an opportunity to “live like a rogue scumbag drenched in beer and mud.”
In spite of the annual party, Brewce ascertains that Skatopia is in no means party central, but rather is a “place where freedom rules.” House echoes that credo, saying that Skatopia is representative of Brewce’s “passionate nature.” Having encountered trouble with the law during his life (including a brief 60-day stint in prison during the film), Brewce “is not perfect,” says House.
Nevertheless, House dubs Brewce as a hero of sorts. “There is a certain glory in following your instincts. This film is showing the glory.”
Brewce is not one to let others affect him, however. “I know what makes me happy and makes me want to live,” he said. “It never fails to amaze me how people can see things completely opposite of how I see them.”
Of his Skatopia success and of his lifestyle, people are quick to judge. “It may be repugnant to mainstream society,” said House.
Again unfazed, Brewce is proud of his “monument to skateboarding,” which could equally be dubbed a monument to Brewce. “It’s about teaching people lessons and living,” Brewce says. “I plan on passing it on to people that I love,” which, somewhat knowing Brewce, is a lot of people.
Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy will be showing one last time on Friday, February 12 at 9:30 p.m. in Victoria Hall.