Eddie Martin's doco may be a look at skateboarding's most notorious brothers, but it’s also a window into success, destruction, loss and redemption
Tas Pappas has had his highs and lows, and in the most extreme sense possible. At the height of his career, he was the highest: the number one Vert skateboarder in the world – alongside his brother Ben, at number two – with talent so ruthless not even Tony Hawke could rival. At his lowest, he was also the highest: off his face on a concoction of drugs that saw him not only fall down the slippery slope of fame but off the skate ramp completely. And all of the blood, sweat and tears – even that of which spilled over the deaths of Ben and his then-girlfriend Lynette – is splayed across the screen for our viewing in what’s looking to be one of this year’s biggest critical successes, All This Mayhem. The documentary, directed by Eddie Martin of Jisoe (2005) and Lionel (2008) fame, may be a look at skateboarding most notorious brothers, but it’s also a window into success, destruction, loss and redemption.
We headed over to Uncle Rocco’s Barbershop in Port Melbourne to chat to the very subject of the doco while he's getting a cut. (Yes, it’s an actual barbershop, but with the added bonus of a skate bowl.)
Tas, the doco’s been receiving a lot of attention. What’s it like to be in the limelight once again?
I’m just feeling blessed that it’s been so accepted, and people are just going bonkers over it. I’m just thankful to get our side of the story out there, and hopefully my kids in America can one day see it. It might shed some light on my brother and Lynette – that it was the drugs that did it.
Director Eddie Martin approached you about the documentary while you were still in prison. What convinced you to go through with it?
Well, it was a work-in-progress to build the trust, because I suffer from mental illness and the big problem I have is trust, especially after everything that had happened. But it was in the contracts – he said I could see the cuts and anything I didn’t like wouldn’t go in. I just didn’t want it sensationalised; I wanted it just to be exactly how it happened and you know, for it to be a cautionary tale, not just sensationalised crap that promotes shit.
How do you feel about the documentary? Do you think Eddie Martin did your story justice?
I couldn’t be happier. I mean, it rips my heart out every time I see my kids or my brother going gaunt and then dying. It brings me to tears but I’m just glad that it’s done and I hope that some people can get something from it.
The relationship between you and skateboarding is a complicated, and somewhat bittersweet one. How do you feel about it now, after everything?
Well, there’s two relationships. There’s one with you and your board – actually riding your board – and then there’s the skate scene. Anywhere where there’s a lot of money and fame, egos are gonna be flying and people are gonna do what they gotta do to try and hold onto what they got. I never dug the business side too much, but you know, I’ll never stop loving riding my skateboard.
As you said, your story is a cautionary tale. Perhaps even a little bit of a Faustian bargain? So, if you had to do it all over again – would you?
In the perfect world, I’d play it smart. Read my bible and try to do the right thing, you know. But if I was young again – I’d do it again (laughs). It’s that simple. You’re retarded when you’re young. So, if you made me young again, I’d be retarded again. I’m still retarded, I just know exactly what not to be now, that’s all.
All This Mayhem is out on DVD and Digital HD September 10