Wrestler, Actor, Doctor: A Look at Vision Quest’s Frank Jasper – By Al Fontes, TCW State Editor

FRANK JASPER plays the herculean wrestler Brian Shute – The popular scene where Shute carries the large telephone pole up and down the stadium bleacher stairs (Photo: Vision Quest – 1985).

Al Fontes – Editor

TCW Bear LogoLet’s go back in time to the year 1985 when the average cost of gasoline in the U.S. was only $1.09 a gallon and we saw the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Oh, how fun it was to play Super Mario Bros. for the first time. Along with Nintendo, the world also witnessed the birth of the Microsoft era with Windows 1.0 being released at many stores across the country. Pop singer Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in North America and the movie Back to the Future earned over $381 million worldwide becoming the highest-grossing film of 1985. Overshadowed by the marvels of new technology and the rise of many pop artists and Hollywood stars, a little known coming of age movie drama by the name of Vision Quest was released the same year, and unbeknownst to many, a timeless cult wrestling classic was born and frozen in time.

Now let us fast forward to the present year, 2017, who would have thought back in 1985 that Vision Quest would resonate with the vast wrestling community thirty-two years later. How can we forget the famous movie soundtrack song Lunatic Fringe? Perhaps the most popular song played at dual meets across America. The movie is based on an eighteen-year-old high school wrestler named Louden Swain (played by Mathew Modine). Truly the underdog, Louden embarks on a mission to drop two weight classes to take on his toughest opponent to date, Brian Shute (played by Frank Jasper), a herculean 3-time state champion from a rival high school who has yet to be beaten in his high school career. Against all odds, he makes the big weight cut, all while dealing with the typical teenage challenges of peer pressure, low self-esteem, coupled by the distractions of being in love with an older woman. In the end, he puts it all together and achieves his Vision Quest, a come from behind hip toss to a pin in the waning seconds of the third round to defeat the unbeatable Brian Shute.

Vision Quest has become a timeless cult classic. From my experiences, I can attest that many in my wrestling circle are able to relate to a character or two in this movie, myself included, but the one character that stands out and remains engraved in many of our psyche is that of Brian Shute, the massive wrestler who projects an intimidating, yet bigger than life character. One scene stands out among many taking place at a football stadium where Shute is climbing the steep bleacher stairs with a large telephone pole across the base of his shoulders while being approached by Louden and his teammate Kuch in a short but sweet meeting to make his intensions known that he plans to wrestle him. I can still hear the dialogue between Louden Swain and Brian Shute:

     “Hey, Shute…Shute.”

    “Yeah…Do I know you?”

    “Louden Swain Thompson High”

    “Do you think you’ll make the weight?”

    “I don’t know…hope so.”

    “I hope so, too.”

Even though Mathew Modine was the star of the movie, the individual that stands out in a lot of people’s minds was the Brian Shute character played by Frank Jasper. To this day, the scene where he carries the telephone pole up and down the bleacher stairs remains the topic of discussion among wrestling fans. Because he stood out in so many people’s minds, including mine, I was curious to see where life has taken him. Since playing the role of Brian Shute, Frank Jasper has accomplished a great deal.

Frank and Sanda Jasper have been in practice together since 1993. They opened Osani Holistic Health Care in January 1995 (Photo: courtesy of Frank Jasper).

Unlike actor Mathew Modine who played the character Louden Swain, Frank Jasper actually wrestled in high school. He started out at JV wrestling at 112 pounds and ended his senior year at 155. A graduate of Coeur d’Alene High School in the state of Idaho, Frank continued his education at Eastern Washington University where he earned a degree in Sports Medicine, which included pre-med studies, energy medicine and athletic training. He continued his education by earning a Masters degree in Oriental Medicine from Yo San University in Los Angeles, where he also did his internship. He holds both California State and National Certificates in Acupuncture, specializing in sports medicine. In addition, Frank is certified in Clinical Nutrition, Meridian Stress Assessment, Craniosacral Therapy, and Reflexology. Frank and his wife Sanda have been in practice together since 1993, and in 1995 they opened Osani Holistic Health Care in Pacific Palisades in Southern California.

Along with his practice, Frank holds a black belt in Aikido, is a Reiki Master (healing technique) and has studied and taught Qi Gong (a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training) for 25 plus years. In 2015, he attended the 30-year anniversary and showing of Vision Quest and has since attended many wrestling events and tournaments across the country, such as Beat the Streets USA at Times Square and more recently at the 2016 World Cup in Los Angeles.

I was privileged to meet Frank recently at another movies premiere “American Wrestler – The Wizard” in Los Angeles. After speaking with him that night, I had the opportunity to do an interview and Q&A to discuss his life after Vision Quest.

Frank Jasper with Al Fontes (TCW State Editor) at the Red Carpet premiere of the movie American Wrestler – The Wizard in Los Angeles (Photo: TCW)

Q&A with Vision Quest’s Frank Jasper

TCW: When you played the role of “Shute,” did you ever imagine that thirty-two years later you would be looked upon as an icon of the movie?

JASPER: No, that thought never crossed my mind back then. I just focused on the job at hand which was to project a battle tested completely dedicated wrestler’s intensity. And I would do whatever it took to make that happen.

TCW: In 2015, you attended the 30-year anniversary and showing of Vision Quest. What was that experience like?

Mathew Modine and Frank Jasper at Beat the Streets in Times Square (photo: Larry Slater)

JASPER: Very cool. I hadn’t seen the movie on a big screen since the original premier back in 85. My biggest concern was that it might not hold up. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I still enjoyed watching it. Yes, the 80’s music and hairdos date it, but the story of Louden Swain’s personal quest to find himself, and how he fits into the world, is timeless and still relevant in this day and age.

TCW: Since the 30-year anniversary of Vision Quest, you have attended several high-level wrestling functions, such as the World Cup and Beat the Streets in Times Square. Do you plan to have a greater presence in the sport of wrestling in the near to distant future?

JASPER: My goal is to promote wrestling and wrestling values at every event that I’m able to attend. My intention is to share what I have learned about training and nutrition to as many young wrestlers as possible, in the hope that I can help them avoid many of the costly mistakes that I made along the way.

TCW: It’s my understanding that you have launched a new T-shirt website where wrestling fans can select from two designs from the Vision Quest movie. One image features “Shute” climbing the bleachers with a large telephone pole across his shoulders. Please provide more detail. How can one purchase one of these T-shirts?

JASPER: Sanda (my wife) and I worked with a graphic artist to create these retro shirts that we sell on our website: http://www.shuteshirts.com

On the site you can not only purchase shirts, you can read about how I got the role of Brian Shute, see more pictures from the movie, read or listen to media interviews and get health and fitness tips.

TCW: I read an article that stated during the filming of Vision Quest, you had to cut weight from 215 to 190 lbs.? Considering you were bodybuilding at the time, how difficult was it to cut that much weight? 

JASPER: It was brutal, one of the toughest things I ever had to do. Cutting weight is never easy but with the added fact that I needed to drop 25lbs in two and half weeks made it even more challenging. But, as wrestlers know all to well, you do whatever it takes to get the job done.

TCW: Did you cut weight while competing in high school?

JASPER: Yes, I had to cut 3-5lbs from time to time to make weight for a match but most of the time I wrestled at my normal weight and was able to eat and drink into each match, which I preferred. Any time you deprive the body of either food or water you can no longer operate at optimal levels for any length of time. Strength and endurance are the first to go. And when the body is starved so is the mind. You don’t make quick and clear choices. Does this sound like the best way to prepare for match? No way, so why is this still being done?

TCW: Who were your role models? Who inspired you?

JASPER: My father was a great role model. He was a black belt in Judo. He worked hard, never missed a day of work in his life except when he broke his ankle skiing with us. He always made sure we (his family) were taken care of and he put our needs ahead of his own.

Also, Paramahansa Yogananda, Deng Ming-Dao, Bjorn Borg, Arnold Schwarzenegger each inspired me in different ways!

TCW: How has the sport of wrestling affected your life? What life lessons did you learn from the sport?

JASPER: It put me on my own “Vision Quest,” and the journey continues! I guess wrestling is not done with me yet. Much of what I have learned is both literal and metaphorical.

I have learned that if I am going to commit to something to give it my all and to learn from my mistakes. To never give up, fight thru adversity, and go with the force not against it. I know that consistent hard work pays dividends and I seek to improve every time a new challenge presents itself…oh yeah…don’t take yourself too seriously and never loose your sense of humor!

TCW: What led you to the path of practicing medicine?

JASPER: My love of martial arts was the beginning. Ancient martial artists were not only taught to fight they were also taught to heal. This notion of warrior/healer resonated with me.

TCW: Can you tell me more about you and your wife’s practice at Osani Holistic Health Care?

JASPER: Our focus is Health, Fitness and Longevity – we always look at patients holistically – physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. We use a multilayered and individualized approach with each patient and client.

TCW: What connections do you see between the medicine that you practice and the sport of wrestling or athletics in general?

JASPER: If you want to perform at optimum levels as an athlete then you have to support the body with specific nutrition in precise doses, proper hydration (pure clean structured water), and proper amounts of sleep to aid in healing, recovery and growth. By understanding the mind – body connection and addressing and supporting all of these areas you will be competing at your best.

TCW: If you were given the opportunity to have a rematch with Louden Swain, who would win?

JASPER: Of course, being a 3 time state champ, Brian Shute would use this as an opportunity to realize that nobody is undefeatable. He would review the match and identify his mistakes as well as analyze Louden’s vulnerabilities. Then he would double down on his preparations for the next encounter. So, the question wouldn’t be who would win the rematch, the question would be, would Louden even survive one period! Shute…out.

The USWF Gala hosted the toughest people on the planet including every wrestler’s toughest opponent – Shute from Vision Quest Movie aka Frank Jasper attended this event on June 15, 2017.

“Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy,” Dan Gable.