DVD Reviews

The Man Who Souled The World

Steve Rocco is the skateboard industry’s equivalent of Marmite. Either you love him or you hate him, but there will only ever be one Steve Rocco.

Single-handedly, this bright entrepreneur flipped the script on our culture, broke every rule in the book and then re-wrote it much to the horror and surprise of the then governing bodies. The man who souled the world follows Steve’s story from his earliest days as a used car salesman to multi-millionaire CEO of one of skateboarding’s most recognizable companies, passing through the many hijinks and odd characters involved along the way.

Essentially, Steve Rocco saw an opportunity and ran with it, but the risk of failure and animosity from peers was paramount. Basically, up until the mid 80’s, skateboarding was a wholesome sport run by 5 intelligent business men that reaped the fortunes of excited youth. However, their equation forgot to include the actual people that were out there sweating and bleeding for their profit- the pros. Steve suffered the fickle hand of fate when Vision head honcho Brad Dorfman slammed the door in his face and sent him packing. Being the opportunist, and possible madman, that he is, Steve took this brutal rejection and used it as motivation for revenge. Not just on Dorfman (N.B. Mark Gonzales launched the brand Blind under Rocco’s wing as a direct response to his previous sponsor Vision), but bigger fish such as the elusive George Powell of infamous Powell Peralta fame. Steve’s enemies did not take lightly to an amateur entrepreneur shaking up the ranks of professional skateboarding, so ad campaigns and boardroom meetings targeted Steve and his riders to shoot them down and remove them from the premises.

The genius of Steve was to take the general guidelines these moguls had built their industry, and profit, on, and broke each and every one of them. Rocco also spotted the new trends that skateboarding evolved to, notably the rise of street skating and it’s pioneers to the forefront. Steve grabbed several of the most influential skaters out there, notably Mike Vallely, Rodney Mullen, Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupas and Jason Lee, and launched a fleet of new and exciting companies. Led by the flagship World Industries were Blind, 101, Menace and Prime. This documentary explains the entire story behind one man and his mission to change the skateboard industry forever. But, it also sheds light on the darker moments and eventual downfall of a dictator by his own followers. All the key players are interviewed and consulted.

The man who souled the world is essential viewing if you want to understand why skaters who grew up during the Rocco years are often skeptical and weary of how today’s industry twists and turns. It is very doubtful that there will be another Steve Rocco at the helm of our industry, but somehow you know that he is still pulling strings and influencing things from a far away lair, sort of like an James Bond villain. And everybody loves the bad guy. Just for note, after enjoying the great Big Brother documentary, Ben Powell video reviews, unseen skate footage and more in the bonus section of this DVD, I suggest you re-watch The man who souled the world with Steve Rocco giving commentary. Listening to the man comment and speak freely of his peers is a real treat.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis