The Man Who Can Do Everything

Is there anything Jason Ellis can’t do? The skateboarder/radio host/author/comedian/future chihuahua farmer sat down (briefly) to explain how he manages to do it all.

By Sarah Hyland
Photos by Jen Rosenstein
Digitech/Photo Assist: Josh Fogel
Photo Assist: Ryan Pavlovich
Jason Ellis Management: Breanna Webb

Hoonigans Crew:
Brian Scotto (Punch to Jason Ellis)
Vin Antra (Driver)
Kody Green (Driver)
Zac Mertens
Richard Burkhardt
Angelo Rosato
Josh Ohana
Jared Perry

Whether he’s standing on the lip of an enormous vert ramp or sitting across from Ozzy Osbourne ready to interview the rock legend, Jason Ellis always appears to be perfectly poised and ready to rock. But inside? Abject terror. Ellis has learned to use the fear to his advantage, relishing every time he’s able to vanquish that particular nemesis. And if we were to check the scorecard, it looks like he’s undefeated thus far. 

In between racing cars, shooting a flamethrower and getting punched in the face at our photoshoot, Ellis chatted with Sarah Hyland of the “Not Cool” podcast to walk us through his extraordinary life. 


Sarah Hyland: You’re known as a pro skateboarder, MMA fighter, motocrosser, podcaster, comedian, author… is there anything I’m missing?

Jason Ellis: I’d like to own a chihuahua farm. There’s also a lady who swims with tiger sharks, I want to swim with that lady and the tiger sharks. But that’s about it. 

SH: I’m glad you got that in there, I was going to leave it out.

JE: I’d like to be in a movie where The Rock kills me. That would be cool. 

SH: I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, and I’m going to start with skateboarding.

JE: Yeah, I did that. I still do that. Poorly [laughs].

SH: You’ll be hosting the X Games coming up with your buddy Tony Hawk..

JE: I am. And with Selema [Masekela]…

SH: Absolutely! You also have a podcast with Tony called “Hawk vs. Wolf,” how did that come about and did it change your friendship at all?

JE: No, it wouldn’t change our friendship, that’s why we did the show together. I love the show, I want it to be successful, and Tony wants to have a successful podcast. He’s obviously very successful at being a skateboarder, but he cares about the show and that’s why wanted to do it. He used to have a show on Sirius where he asked me to be his co-host. But then after 10, 15 years… a long time… he got dropped by them. A few years later, I got dropped by them. When they dropped me he called me and said, “Hey, man, you want to do a show together again?” I asked to drive down to meet him because I just wanted to see him face-to-face and say, “You’re not doing this to help me because I got fired from Sirius, right?” He’s like, “How dare you?! I’m doing this because I think we can do a good show.” Deal, let’s do it.

SH: What a great story, that’s awesome.

JE: And we did it in the same room where we used to do it 20 years ago. 

SH: So lots of history together.

JE: We do the show and then we skate. Or we skate and then we do the show. Most of the time we skate just the two of us… and I don’t know how much longer I can skateboard. He doesn’t know how much longer he can skateboard, so every time we skateboard we’re like, “This could be the last time we skateboard, I love you, man.” It’s emotional. A lot of the tricks we do, it could be the last time we ever do them for the rest of our lives. 

SH: Is that because skateboarding obviously takes a toll on your body?

JE: That, and we were really good! We’re still pretty good, but the things we want to do, if you do them wrong in your 50s, it’s just hard to stay alive. I don’t know how many times I can go to the hospital before I die. Just from broken bones… if I was going to break my arm, and then my leg, and then my arm for the next 20 years, I think I’d rather die. When you’re old and you break your arm, it sucks so much worse. 

SH: What’s something you’ve learned from skateboarding that you’ve been able to carry with you all of these years?

JE: The number one thing is that if you love something enough, you can do anything. If you’re passionate, nothing can stop you. I was not a natural athlete, I wasn’t a good skateboarder. I started skating with two twin brothers—one was a chubby kid and one was an obese kid—and they were both better than me for the first three years. I was bad. Because I loved it, I went every day and I couldn’t stop thinking about skateboarding. Then one day I learned something like 10 tricks in an hour. All of a sudden I was better than everybody, it was like I was touched by something… it was a freak thing. I wasn’t that good. And then I learned so many things in an hour. The owner of the skate shop came down and watched me the next day, then he sponsored me. All of a sudden I’m talking about getting an airfare and going to America. When I was a little kid there was no such thing as a pro skateboarder born in Australia. I was looking to become the first person to do that.

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SH: You’re known for big verts, were you ever terrified of them and how did you get past that?

JE: I’m terrified constantly. I’m in constant terror, but I’m also offended by that terror. I feel like the terror is trying to pick a fight with me or belittle me, and I don’t run from anything. I’ll take anything on. That’s what fills me up. I like when I’m terrified and then I beat it. Skateboarding has always scared me. With skating, the penalty really hurts, which reminds you how great it is when you pull it off. And then you just defeated that. I became obsessed with that idea—it was the same with comedy—if something scares me I just throw myself into it because if something scares me and I conquer it, it’s very satisfying. 

SH: So you like things that get you to the edge of death?

JE: My favorite thing in skateboarding was when I would do a really big air, and when you’re pretty good you go really high and you can tell if you’re going to land low or if you’re going to land close to the coping. If you land too close to the coping and your wheels clip, then you just headbutt the flat and you’re out. I’d usually wake up with a broken arm or something, it’s pretty bad. I’d sometimes be in a contest and be like, “Oh! It’s gonna be one of those!” And I’d get into a little ball, hear my wheels bonk on the coping and I’d somehow make it, then I would have this really dumb grin across the flat because I knew that I got away with one. 

SH: I’m glad you’re alive.

JE: Me too! I didn’t realize how much more fun I was going to have when I got older. 


SH: I’m going to switch gears a little. Obviously, you’re doing podcasting, you had a show on Sirius Radio, you have a couple of podcasts now. How did you find your legs as an interviewer?

JE: I used my honesty. I always start out my interviews by saying stuff about myself that you probably wouldn’t say to a stranger. The kind of stories where you don’t look good. I let my guard down and share a piece of me that I’m willing to risk their opinion about. Not all the time, but most of the time they see that and they want to engage with the conversation by also opening up. I don’t think I did that on purpose, I think I accidentally did it. I’ve always tried to be a people-pleaser, I’ve always tried to get attention and have people like me. And now it was my job where if you get this person to talk, people are going to be happy. And the person who is here is going to be happy. I put a lot of pressure on myself. It’s weird, I don’t rehearse, I don’t practice, I don’t run things through my head, I just stress the living shit out of myself up until the interview starts. I find that works, unfortunately [laughs]. 

SH: What a great tactic [laughs]. Do you have a favorite interview?

JE: The best interview I’ve ever done is probably not my favorite. I interviewed a Russian Special Olympian, she had no legs, her hands were pretty much gone, and she grew up in an orphanage. Just the hardest story a human being could have and now she’s an Olympian. I once again didn’t do any research on her, we just spoke and I tapped into her pain and I did an interview where I felt I did really good. Afterwards Tony texted me, which he never does, and said, “The interview you just did was amazing.” 

But the best interview to me was when we had Ozzy Osbourne on the show, and Ozzy likes me and thinks I’m funny! We started talking about the movie “Shutter Island,” Ozzy is kind of like me and I didn’t realize it, but I walked into “Shutter Island” late and didn’t realize what was going on. So we started talking about how that movie sucks and he’s like, “There are people dead, I don’t know if they’re dead, but all of a sudden they’re alive and he’s not real. Then all of a sudden he’s real, what’s going on?!” And I was like, “That’s what I was thinking!” Then we bro’d down and every time I saw him he would say hello to me. Ozzy Osbourne knows who I am! So that’s the greatest interview I ever did.

SH: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through interviewing others?

JE: That I’m fragile. I’ve found that out in other ways, too. It’s not what I realize about myself as much as what I realize about them. They’re the same as we are, they’re insecure. Even these kings, where everything they touch turns to gold, I’ve seen them pull back and go, “Ohh,” worried about the way they look. I’ve seen people who are feared, dangerous people, come in and they open up. There’s a nice person in there! Everybody’s full of shit. Tough people, all the rock gods… we’re all just terrified little children. 

SH: What was your first tattoo?

JE: Metallica. Hanky Panky did it in Amsterdam. He rolled up a newspaper and said, “If you move, I’m going to hit you with this.” I remember thinking, man, tattoos must really hurt! It was on the side of my leg and I didn’t even feel it. I must have a high pain threshold because it didn’t seem to bother me at all. 

SH: Do you have any weird stories about one of your tattoos?

JE: I got my butthole tattooed. I got a love heart, stick and poke, done by my ex wife. The bit where God sewed you up, getting a stick and poke there, that’s a sensation. I don’t recommend everybody try it. 


SH: Any tattoos you regret?

JE: I had some women, but I don’t regret it. That was a fun time. I’ve got names on me. My last wife, I don’t even think I’m going to take it off, it’s like, remember that. Don’t forget. Don’t marry anybody, you’re not very good at it. 

SH: Have any of your tattoos been wrecked by skating?

JE: Yeah. One time I fell on the mega ramp—where you’re going maybe 50 MPH—and I had a motocross jersey on, I hit my side really hard. Since I was going so fast when I hit, it ended up melting the motocross jersey into my arm. By the time I ripped off the jersey, the bit that melted in was in my arm, and I couldn’t get it out. It got all infected, but then I had a white spot. I also had my shins tattooed, I was skating out front of a skate park and I ollied up onto the sidewalk to do an ollie, I started to roll down the hill backwards and there was a pole that I didn’t see coming, and my shin hit this metal bracket welded on to the side of the pole and my leg went BANG. And I was stuck on the pole. My leg was stuck on the pole, like I had done a karate kick into the pole. I had to scream at people to come and take my leg off the bracket. And I didn’t have a cut, I just had a hole. The nurse had to use salad tossers to hold the skin on each side so the doctor could sew it. It was so bad. I have ugly legs [laughs]. 

SH: Where do you see your tattoo collection going from here? Are you done? Do you have spots you need to fill?

JE: I want to have one tattoo, so it’s not finished. I just need it all to be attached. And then when I get really old and my face is starting to come off, I’ll tattoo my face. I actually want to wear a gold mask like the guy from Flash Gordon. I want to wear that, with a robe and a hoodie so you can’t see how old I am. 

But probably everything will be tattooed before I die. 

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