Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Only Honest Sport

A few months back, Dann Lennard asked me, and a bunch of other Wrestling-type people the same 4 questions about their involvement in the sport. Originally planned as a feature for his zine BP Jr, it easily outgrew that, and in fact became a zine on its own.
"The Only Honest Sport" arrived in my p.o box the other day and I was overwhelmed by the talent questioned in its pages. the line-up is like a who's who of Australian and world wrestling, including Necro Butcher, Shelly Martinez, Mason Childs, Aurora, Ed Lock, the fabulous sebastian, Stacey Cornette, Jason "Hellraiser" Helton, Graham "Fozzy" Young, Krackerjack, Vixsin, Sexxxy Eddie, TNT, Kyle Semenoff, Sara Jay, Rohan Herbstreit, and many others.
I'm not actually sure where the zine is available from, but you could do a lot worse than tracking yourself down a copy ( try dropping Dann an email at danhelen@idx.com.au for further information ). It certainly comes with my highest recommendation.
For those of you who cannot find one, I will reprint my answers here for you, my internet chums...

1. Why are you involved in wrestling? What motivates you to do what you do?


When I was younger, I seriously thought for a time about joining the circus. The thing that finally convinced me that it was a stupid idea, was when a friend said to me " J, even carny folk don't really WANT to be carny folk."
Someone once told me, that if you actually WANT to be involved in wrestling, you probably have mental health issues.
To quote Bobby the Brain Heenan -" its a business you can't explain to anyone. They have to be in it. If you try to tell someone what the business is like, they'll never understand. Just think if I said to you that you were going to be a wrestler:
"well, what will I have to do?"
"You'll have to go where I send you."
"Will I have any days off?"
" No,no."
"Will I make a lot of money?"
"Probably not... And we'll want you to take these sharp pieces of razor and stick it in your face whenever we tell you to. And you're going to have to go out to the people and incite riots."
"Will I get any hospitalisation?"
"None at all, none at all."
"Will I get a car to drive?"
"No you'll have to drive your own car, pay your own gas."
"What about hotel rooms?"
"No. Stick nine of you in a room, I don't care."
"GET ME THE JOB. I WANT TO DO THIS!!"

Why would ANYONE do that?? Why do I do that?? I'm still sticking with the mental health issues.


2. On a personal level, what's the best thing about the wrestling business? What's the worst thing?

There is a certain level of camaraderie at the shows. A camaraderie beyond what you'd expect from a bunch of people who, in many cases, have little in common. It's like you're a freemason or something, part of some worldwide secret fraternity.
And somehow, you have not only ended up knowing the secret handshake, in doing so, you have elevated yourself above normal work-a-day joes out walking the streets.
Of course this theory of high-falooting secret societies ( akin to the Skull and Bones, or the Illuminati ) falls apart slightly when any killjoy accurately points out that all this familiarity and common ground, far from beginning with academia or priviliged upbringings, really stems from our joint carny backgrounds... sigh.
The best thing, is the money... unfortunately, that is also probably the worst thing.


3. Who in wrestling inspires you (a fellow worker, promoter, trainer, commentator, etc) and why?

Thomas Edison once said that " Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration ".
Thomas obviously never stepped foot in a wrestling locker room, because of the many I have been in, I would never call that smell anything at all genius-like or inspirational.

I'm always inspired by those guys that go that extra distance in ring. That always give 110% no matter what the crowd is like, no matter what the venue is like, no matter what their day has been like, and no matter what the pay-off is like.
I may be a snob, but I find that in life, the workers I am closest too, that I can really call a friend, tend to be these same guys.
But every worker that goes out there and performs, puts his or her body on the line nite after nite... no matter who they are, that always inspires me. Well, everyone except Great Khali... he's shit.
4. Give me a moment when you thought to yourself, "I am so glad I got involved with this sport."

I'll give you two. A personal and a professional.

Personal-
I was out with a girl, who had for some reason still alien to me now, had agreed to go out with me. She was not so much in a different league to me, as playing a different sport entirely. As such, there was some level of anticipation and dread as we walked towards the moderately priced restaurant we had chosen for dinner. Would it all go pear shaped, at what point would I spill my drink into my lap, and just how will the evening thru some strange twist of fate unknown to me yet ,become more akin to a Benny Hill sketch than a nite out with a gorgeous blonde personal trainer?
As we got nearer to the place, we both noticed that part of the street had been cordoned off, right before out destination. And true to fates strange sense of humour, a security guard came up and said " sorry, you can't go this way buddy." It dawned quickly on us both, that this meant we'd have to walk at least half a block in the other direction, to get maybe 3 doors from where we now stood, and this news was not sitting well with my erstwhile dinner companion.
At this point, the security guard piped up and said " Hey, you're that guy from the wrestling aren't you?", and i said " yeah i am".
"Look" he said, "come thru this way, just dont tell anyone okay?"
We walked thru and I felt slightly more important and contented with my place in the world... with this goddess who had somehow deemed me worthy of her attention for the evening. She looked at me, smiled sweetly and said " I'll bet you think you're well fucking famous now don't you?"... "yes i do" I said " yes i do."
Professional-
We were doing an opener for a show with MIW. "Mad Man" Manson was in town doing the show, and for the opening we thought it would be good if my broadcast partner, the fabulous sebastian and I came out posed, and unbeknownst to us, Manson would come behind us ( wrapped in his straight jacket and towering over the both of us ). As we hoped, the crowd reacted strongly... we preened, thinking the adulation was for us, only to then cower and scream like frightened girls as Manson screamed blood curdling screeches from right behind us. We ran in different directions around the ring to flee him, eventually running into each other keystone cop style as Manson rampaged thru the crowd and out the front door of the arena. It was a fairly entertaining opening for what I remember as a fairly flat show.
What I later heard tho, made this evening even more memorable.
In the hall next door to where we held the wrestling, they held AA meetings. So as these poor people, these poor alcoholics who struggled with DTs, with alcohol and narcotic abuse, with hallucinations and melancholia, with withdrawal symptoms and the general depression such things bring, and still valiantly try to put their lives back together... as they sat nearby, talking, coming to terms with their problems, suddenly they were greeted with a 6 foot 6 blonde, bearded Irishman in a straight jacket and tights, running past them screaming at the top of his lungs. Enough to drive anyone to drink.It made me proud to be a part of this great sport... and I still am.

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