Written by Camryn Privette
Photos by Mark Nelson and Sarah Northrop
What do you get when you mix a college student, a Halloween store, an unfortunate lack of samurai costumes, and a good sense of humor? The Autzen Stadium student section’s infamous “Blond Jesus,” of course.
It all began like every other normal Friday in Eugene—an invitation to a costume party. Jacob Beeson looked for inspiration and remembered a close friend owned a real samurai sword. “He had the samurai sword, and I just needed to find a samurai costume, but we went to a Spirit Halloween and there wasn’t a samurai costume,” Beeson says.
Luckily, a Jesus costume was in stock, and Beeson decided to give his peers a good laugh and wear it for the night.
That same weekend Beeson decided to take it to the next level by wearing his Jesus attire to the Ducks football game versus Utah in 2017. Hoping his parents might spot him on TV, Beeson got way more attention than he ever anticipated. “People really loved it, so I thought maybe I’ll do this again and maybe this might be a thing. So, I did it again and people loved it, so I’ve just continued to do it ever since,” Beeson says.
As a Christian, Beeson sees dressing up as Jesus and his own personal faith as two separate things. In no way is he trying to promote his religion; Beeson simply says that he “likes to think God has a sense of humor.”
Since that Utah game, Beeson enjoys campus-wide recognition. He says that it has even gone as far as “having instances when people stop me when I’m eating or someone stopped to take a picture of me when I’m eating.” While Beeson is well-known as the Blond Jesus in the student section, does anyone really know the person under the costume?
Beeson said that “moving to Eugene was a huge shift to me. Especially the campus.” A lifelong resident of Klamath Falls, Beeson grew up in a tight-knit community “where everyone knew each other. You didn’t have to be super unique or anything. It was just like, ‘Oh yeah–we all know who that is.’”
His unfamiliar new home of Eugene, however, was another story.
“Is it different? Living in a bigger city? Not a whole lot of people know what you do and people don’t really care,” he says. While being recognized on campus as Blond Jesus simulated that sense of a smaller community to a certain extent, Beeson says that he feels like nobody really knows the real him.
“They know what I am per se, but they don’t know me when I take the costume off. That was something in Klamath where people knew your personality. Here there are a lot of people that knew me and I didn’t know them,” Beeson says.
As time went on Beeson attended more games and the fame of Blond Jesus grew. However, Beeson says he no longer cares about “getting on jumbotrons and whatnot.” It might be some student’s fantasy to appear on the Autzen jumbotron, but for Beeson the only true dream is to be seen in a big-screen film.
“When I was five my dad took me to a Hollywood video and decided he would show me Star Wars for the first time. I picked Return of the Jedi. The scene of Yoda dying was the exact moment where I was like ‘that’s what I want to do with my life,’” he says.
While he is most interested in narrative films, Beeson said he “at least wants to try to make every single genre of film. I’m not super-invested in any sort of genre. It’s just whatever story I can think of or that really excites me.” With a few film projects under his belt, Beeson intends to dedicate himself fully to filmmaking.
Beeson says that he has learned a lot from the UO and his days as Blond Jesus, the most important lesson he’s walked away with is “being independent and having closer-knit relationships.”
Being Blond Jesus gave him a face on campus, but Beeson plans on leaving those days behind after graduation next year in 2021. Beeson says, “I would only continue it if I became famous as a filmmaker, and it was more of this as a notable like alumni from our school. But after college, it’s done.”