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“Iconic Wrestler Frank Goodish A.K.A. Bruiser Brody; Still Touching Lives After All These Years”

bruiser brody final

Frank Goodish, still touching lives to this day.

On a cool winter day about 5 years ago, I had to make a house call to Mr. S (no name for healthcare privacy).  Mr. S was in his late 60’s and he was not doing well.  He had just lost his wife.  He was getting ready to move back east to live with his daughter with the hopes his grandchildren could spark life into him.

As I sat in his home with his daughter, they got me a snack and I gave Mr. S a breathing treatment.  He was a small, frail Japanese man who was obviously in a lot of emotional pain to go along with his poor health.  He barely spoke.

I looked around the room to see if there was something I could talk to him about to try and cheer him up; an old salesman’s trick.  His bookshelf was filled with books mostly in Japanese, the country he grew up in.  About 25 years ago his company asked him to move to America to work for their San Francisco Bay Area branch and he agreed.

https://www.amazon.com/Brody-Triumph-Tragedy-Wrestlings-Rebel/dp/1550227602/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1502198043&sr=8-2&keywords=bruiser+brody

I looked and saw some wrestling magazines.  He saw that I was reading them and all of a sudden a wry smile came to Mr. S and he took the nebulizer out of his mouth and said, HUSS, HUSS!

I smiled and asked his daughter what the heck that meant and she said that her father was a big wrestling fan and that was Bruiser Brody’s famous yell when he entered the ring.  Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen were his favorite wrestlers.  He slowly began to open up and he began to talk about Bruiser and Stan’s amazing entrances and their great skill.  Wrestling in Japan in those days was very serious business and the respectful fans of the orient had an amazing passion for it.  He said that his family and friends often went to the matches together and he was very fond of those memories.

We sat and talked for a couple of hours.  I had to come back the next day so I went home and went on Youtube.  I looked at every video I could on Bruiser Brody and I ordered the book “Brody; The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel” on Amazon.  It was written by his wife Barbara, and Wrestling Promoter and friend Larry Matysik.  Once I saw Bruiser Brody’s first entrance in Japan, my mouth was wide open.  Here they were playing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and he’s swinging a chain over his head while fans and ring workers alike ran for their lives.  I thought, “my God this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”  I was a huge wrestling fan back in the day but I long since dumped it since it became the after school special type product of today.  I was not into sports entertainment; I liked wrestling.

(below is a great Facebook group honoring Bruiser Brody)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/181147161997110/

I stayed up for hours probably watching nearly 50 more videos on Frank Goodish, AKA Bruiser Brody.  The next day I went to Mr. S’s again and showed he and his daughter the Youtube videos, both in English and Japanese.  He was euphoric!  He wouldn’t stop talking saying that he was even at a few of the matches we watched.  I stayed for hours and listened to them laugh and have an amazing time reminiscing about the “intelligent monster” and the amazing fun their family had going to the matches.

When I left, Mr. S grabbed both of my hands and bowed saying he was so glad that I came by.  His daughter gave me some snacks to take home and thanked me as well.  I wished them well in their move and told them to get a hold of me if they needed anything.  That night I ate the snacks and drank Guinness watching Youtube videos of Frank doing leap frogs, drop kicks, and his classic move where standing still he would bring his leg straight up and smash his opponents face.  My jaw dropped.  I never saw anything like it.  To end it he jumped high in the air and busted his opponent with a knee.

The Myth of Bruiser Brody:

Frank Goodish was the greatest Independent Wrestler of all time and one of the greats period.  He was a spiritual, complicated man, and the stories of him are of legend.  From his physicality and his “stiff” or “strong style” form of wrestling, to him carrying cans of tuna and green beans on the road.  He was mostly loved by wrestlers and hated by promoters.  I heard many positive and sometimes negative things about him but I had to find the truth.

I first watched several matches with him and Stan Hansen.  It didn’t matter if the opponents were the Funk’s or whoever else, Stan and Frank ran through them like buzz saws.  There wasn’t a wasted movement and they were like a tidal wave.  They just kept coming.  After every tag team match their opponents looked like they were about ready to pass out from exhaustion, while Stan and Frank looked like they were out for a Sunday morning stroll.  These guys were like machines that never tired.  I always thought the Road Warriors or a younger Steiner Brothers were the best tag teams ever, but Stan and Bruiser Brody are the best in my mind.  I’ll bring them to the ring against anyone in history and smile while doing it.

I also heard negative stories about Frank.  I wanted to know the truth and let’s face it; other than politics, there is no arena with more lies and falsehoods than the wrestling business.  It seemed that few really knew the truth or wanted to know it for that matter.  I took about 6 months to devour anything on Bruiser Brody so I could answer these questions.

Steroids:

I’ve seen various online articles saying what a huge steroid user Bruiser Brody was, especially from younger wrestling fans and writers.  Well that is false.  Bruiser did use steroids for a short time in the late 70’s when they were NOT illegal and they didn’t know the long term ramifications of their use.  Well Frank found out quickly they made him very sick.

On a trip home from Japan Larry Matysik explains in his book that Frank crumpled and collapsed on the airplane saying that he thought he was dying.  The doctors didn’t have a definitive answer to his illness but Frank did.  He felt that steroids were destroying his body so he stopped cold turkey in 1979.  He never used steroids again and he was never that ill.  What’s funny is that in the book the promotional posters of his upcoming match was a photo of him recovering in the hospital.

The Lex Luger “no sell” incident:

Boy does Brody get destroyed online for this one.  At the time Lex Luger was still learning how to wrestle but he had that amazing physique that was becoming a big deal in the steroid era of the 80’s.  Not even 2 years into his career, he was given a steel cage match with Bruiser Brody.  It was hard for wrestlers to watch because Luger had the reputation for being pretty self-absorbed and some thought his push was not fair.

Bobby Heenan explained that Luger went up to Brody and started telling him how the match should be played out.  Several others have said that Bruiser told promoters that he was not going to put up with any of Luger’s bulls**t.  Heenan explained that Brody said nothing but it was obvious he was pretty upset.  He told Luger they would just call the match in the ring.  When he went into the ring Brody never “sold” (acted like he was hurt by punches) and the match was uncomfortable to watch as Brody did nothing.  Luger looked like he legitimately got scared and left the ring; quickly; and immediately left the arena.  This story has also been backed up in interviews and podcast’s by the referee of the match, Bill Alfonso.  When Bruiser said nothing about it, the media and fans said Bruiser was just being a selfish jerk.  The problem was though that Luger was terrible at selling; and that’s if he sold at all; and Bruiser did not tolerate anyone that was disrespectful to him or who didn’t sell to him.  To tell a legend like Frank how the match was going to go was extremely disrespectful in his mind.

Was Bruiser Selfish & Difficult to Work With?:

https://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=786&page=4&s=0

MANY wrestling fans go by rumors and do little research.  That’s why I hate going on some social media sites and articles that say Brody was a jerk and was selfish.  I looked up Brody’s matches (site seen above) during this career.  It doesn’t have all of his matches but most of them.  There is a pattern.  Bruiser lost only to people that were on his level.  He even lost to Brian Blair once when he was leaving a territory and no offense to Brian but does anyone think Brian could beat Brody?  Brody lost to the likes of Baba, Bruno Sammartino, Dick the Bruiser, Big John Stud, Paul Orndorff, Ted Dibiase,  & Abdullah the Butcher just to name a few.  They all have one thing in common; IT’S BELIEVABLE they could beat him.  Brody is a HUGE draw world-wide and if he’s losing all the time, you lose that big draw, especially in Japan!  How many times did Hulk Hogan lose?  Not many.  Why?  Because he had full control over his matches AND if he lost more often, it would kill his character.  Brody knew if he kept up his huge persona and didn’t lose, the fans kept coming.

Many said Frank was loved by wrestlers but hated by promoters. Jim Cornette once said that most promoters whose territories were doing good back in the day were millionaires, and they weren’t exactly givers.  In one story he told, after seeing Jerry Jarrett’s amazing mansion at a party, Memphis icon Jerry Lawler demanded more of a stake in the Memphis territory profits from him.  Cornette said, “the promoters usually took the sacks of money and threw it into the air.  What stuck to the ceiling was given to the boys and what came down was there’s.  And that was after their unique counting techniques”.

Bruiser knew what he was worth and he had power.  Everywhere he went he packed the houses and he made a ton of money for a lot of people.  He had power and of course he used it.  Few other wrestlers were as popular as he was or had the courage to stand up to promoters like he did.

It cracks me up that when corporations or companies wield that power, no one says a word.  If the little guy tries to wield some power though, they are selfish.  NFL teams rarely honor a players contract, many times cutting players before their contract runs out.  No one says a word.  If a player is playing fantastic and wants a raise though, fans tell the player to honor the contract and stop being greedy.  In wrestling, WWE is a billion dollar company who has corporate jets and helicopters and buses, but they still can’t “afford” to pay $800/month to give their wrestlers healthcare?

stan hansen frank goodish
Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody with another Championship win

I heard a few podcasts from wrestlers that ripped on Brody for being selfish by not losing matches or selling.  Are you kidding me?  I just watched matches where Rick Rude, Blackjack Mulligan, Abdullah the Butcher, The Funks and Von Erich’s and many others were kicking the crap out of Frank.  Problem is it’s easier to take in rumors than do some research.  Time also enhances these rumors.  Funny how after ripping on Brody they all would add, “but I knew when Brody was around we made a lot more money because he was such a huge draw”.  Steve Austin often clashed with WWE about the direction of his character.  Once he just went home.  No one today says he’s selfish. Frank was just way ahead of his time.

If Brody was so nasty to deal with, why were the promoters lined up to get him to come wrestle and why were wrestlers glad that he was around?  Because he made them more money!  Also, why did he get along with other promoters like Baba, Sam Muchnick and Larry Matysik?  The reason was that they were fair and professional and they paid him properly.

The stories of Frank’s kindness haven’t exactly hit the front pages either because he didn’t promote that part of himself.  That was just who he was.  Some celebs and athletes need cameras around any time they do anything nice, but not Frank.  He loved kids and they loved him, and he was very gracious to his fans.  He supported many wrestlers and taught them the ropes.  As long as you respected him and the business, and you sold for him when needed, you were cool.  Disrespect him or the business and it could get ugly quick.  There are stories in the Larry Matysik’s book where Frank helped out the underdog wrestler who he could help get over.  In some matches that he won, he also at times let the other wrestler beat the heck out of him to help get him over too.  He was far from an angel though.  He could bully you if you were on his bad side that is for sure.  Isn’t that attitude what most promoters have? Was he looking out for himself?  Sure he was.  I’m not naïve.  But, in reality he was so popular that if he was on top, everyone got paid.  Just like iconic names like Hogan, Flair and Andre, few wrestlers at the time could draw world wide like Frank could.

Jims Jamz:

Spring forward 2 years.  I saw the daughter of Mr. S at the Corte Madera, Ca Safeway.  We were both excited to see each other.  She sadly told me that her father had died recently and she was selling his house.  She saw that I was upset about that but she smiled and said don’t be sad at all.  “My father and our family appreciated you lighting a fire inside him.  He loved wrestling so much and he and his friends reconnected.  He watched so many matches on the internet and was so happy to regain memories that he cherished.  My children also helped so much.  His last two years were very happy.”

That night I was relieved and glad to hear Mr. S had some happy times and was out of pain.  I thought of him running to Bruiser with his wife and friends like kids as Brody entered the ring, and I laughed out loud.  Bruiser Brody was still making people smile and touching lives almost 30 years after he’s passed.  And for a new fan like me, I found out that Frank Goodish; one of the greatest wrestlers of all time; was also a great man in and out of the ring.    This is something that his wife Barbara and his son Geoff; along with loyal fans from around the world; have already known for a very long time. HUSS, HUSS!

“Chyna’s Last Video; In Death She Get’s The Respect She Always Deserved In Life”

chyna

Chyna’s last words on her Youtube video from Sunday was “Love Y’all and Peace.”  As is seen so many times; in death she sadly finally is getting the respect and appreciation that she always longed for in life.

Here is an update of “The Reconstruction of Chyna which will be out in 2017”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angra/the-reconstruction-of-chyna/posts/1511550

Yesterday when it was announced that WWE/WWF 45 year old legend Joanie “Chyna” Laurer died at her place in Redondo Beach from a possible prescription drug overdose, the collective heart of wrestling fans and present and former wrestlers was broken.  If there was ever a wrestler who fans felt so much love and sympathy for it was Chyna.

Let’s be real.  The lack of acknowledgement over the years from the WWE about Chyna’s career and not burying the hatchet was unacceptable.  I’m not stupid.  It wasn’t a coincidence that the first WWE voice that talked about her passing was Stephanie McMahon.

From doing a pedigree off of the top rope against Chris Jericho, to gorilla pressing wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero. Chyna was indeed the 9th Wonder of the World.

Chyna’s Big Break; How the N.W.O. Played a Role:

Chyna was trained by Killer Kowalski.  Luna Vachon; another wrestling great; tells the story of this big weight lifting woman.  “Here was this girl; cute as a button with strawberry blond hair; a weightlifters body and this squeaky little girls voice and you fell in love with her in a minute.  She was so adorable with her sweet personality.  I remember at times she got screwed out of her pay and I made sure she was paid what they said.  At times I even gave her some of my pay because they took advantage of her.  She was very naive.”

In 1996 Shawn Michaels and HHH saw her at a wrestling show and loved her immediately.  Vince McMahon originally did not want her involved in WWE.  He had always liked his women to be the Barbie doll types; (still does); big chests and pretty faces.  What changed McMahon’s mind though is their Monday night wars nemesis WCW.

WCW was fresh and exciting.  They were signing many of the stars from WWE and they were always edgy and fun the way WWE used to be.  One of their angles was to sign Chyna as the only female member of the newly formed N.W.O. which was taking the wrestling world by storm.  Killer Kowalski; who trained Chyna; stated that he went to Shane McMahon and told him about the plans that WCW had for Chyna and Shane then signed her.  Chyna originally had a verbal agreement with WCW but then went against it to go to the WWE.  The rest is history.

Changed The Wrestling World:

Chyna was unlike any female wrestler before or since.  At 5’ 10” 180 pounds, she was a physical specimen.  She was a weight lifter and a gym rat and her work outs rivaled many of the male stars of the day.  She didn’t have the smooth wrestling moves of a Madusa or Wendy Richter, or the amazing wrestling prowess of the Fabulous Moolah, but she did have a physical presence that had never been seen before or since.

She originally gained fame with Degeneration X as the body guard of HHH and Shawn Michaels.  She usually just sat back with her arms crossed looking intimidating, while DX did all of their classic bad boy stuff.  She would sometimes help them cheat in matches with her famous “low blow” so that they could win and DX became a fan favorite.

Many of the male wrestlers were very leery of letting a female get the best of them in matches thinking it would hurt or ruin their careers.  In 1999 however, Chyna became the first female entrant of the Royal Rumble by being chosen #30 to enter the match.  She was eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The Dark Side of Chyna: How She Changed:

It was obvious she would destroy the likes of Lita, Ivory and Trish Stratus (she beat Trish in 90 seconds) but this is wrestling.  Many said she refused to sell other wrestlers moves and that she became mean and seemed very insecure and troubled.

Here is the last video that Chyna ever did on April 17th from her Youtube page.  It’s obvious she is in a bad way and possibly under the influence of something.  It’s still unclear exactly when she died but this is a sad thing to watch.

Breaking Barriers by Wrestling Men as a Singles Competitor:

No offense to any female wrestler or wrestling fan of today, but I smile wide when fans try to tell me how awesome female wrestlers of the WWE are.  With all due respect they could not carry Chyna’s gym bag.

Chyna broke away from HHH in 1999 and became a singles competitor.  She became the first woman to ever qualify for the King of the Ring series, and amazingly was the first to be the #1 contender for the men’s WWE World Championship.

Her breakout feud that launched her as a fan favorite was with Jeff Jarrett.  Her first match with Intercontinental Champion Jarrett was at Unforgiven which Chyna lost.  Jarrett’s contract was up at WWE and he was moving on so he had to give up the belt.  Chyna has said in shoot interviews that Jarrett agreed to lose to her straight up if the WWE paid him $300,000.00 dollars.  The WWE agreed and Jarrett lost to Chyna at No Mercy.  She thus became the one and only female Intercontinental Champion in WWE history!

She wrestled many men, but her most vicious feud was with Chris Jericho.  In one segment Jericho went back stage and beat up Chyna splitting her head open with a hair dryer pounding it against her head when she was down.  Jericho was great at creating heat and putting people over and it worked.  WWE fans were even more passionate about her.

Chyna did beat Chris Jericho at Survivor Series with an amazing pedigree from the top rope cementing her as a true icon of the wrestling world.  I’m not the biggest Jericho fan but I give him tons of respect when he put Chyna over.  Jericho has also said some glowing things about Chyna.  “The only woman to ever knock me down.”

Mamacita & Latino Heat: 

This is probably people’s most fondest memories of Chyna.  Very few performers were as good as Eddie Guerrero and it was a match made in heaven.  Chyna became the on screen girlfriend of the latin bad boy who used his Latino Heat charm to steal her heart.  Behind that wry smile you knew Eddie was lying, cheating and stealing but he sucked you in every time.

It also showed fans a more feminine, vulnerable and softer side of Chyna that made people love her even more.  In one of the funniest scenes I remember, Eddie was found taking a shower with 2 other women on secret video.  Chyna was engaged to Eddie and she was crushed.  Eddie tried everything to win her back but it was a puppy that finally did it.  Their connection was very fun to watch and super entertaining.

Here is Eddie in a rare shoot interview talking about Chyna saying that it was fun to work with her but that at the end it was obvious she was in pain for things that had happened.

Her Abrupt Departure: 

Chyna went in depth about her painful breakup with HHH on podcasts and shoot interviews.  She said that she heard phone messages from Stephanie on Helmsley’s phone and found a love letter from her.  All the while everything was denied.  When the cat was out of the bag, she talked about the coldness and lack of remorse that Stephanie and HHH had.  “A simple sorry would have helped a lot”.  Vince McMahon told her to go home and that they would send a proposal for a new contract.  The fax came and it said she was no longer needed.  She never entered a WWE ring again.

After that she was a mess.  She lost her job, her finances went to pot and then she got into a relationship with HHH’s friend X-Pac who was chasing his own demons.  She turned to drugs and did porn movies and sometimes gave crazed interviews or Youtube videos.  She did a reality show and went on Howard Stern and the treatment people gave her was just criminal.  Instead of helping her or supporting her many used her for target practice.

Why Isn’t She in the Hall of Fame:

Here is another let’s be real moment.  The WWE Hall of Fame IS NOT a real hall of fame.  It is a made up award for people that are in good standing with WWE and who have made contributions to the company.  No offense to some of the recipients but it’s starting to be somewhat of a joke with some of the people that are in it.  Bruno Sammartino took forever to get in due to his negative comments about the company.  The rumors of Macho Man Randy Savage and Stephanie are said to be why he never got in why he was alive.  The great Rick Rude isn’t in and I’m sure him surprising WWE by showing up on television and signing with WCW on the same day he was shown on WWE television is the reason.  Scott Steiner trashes WWE any time he can so he’s never getting in.

HHH has said Chyna shouldn’t be in because he doesn’t want his kids to do a Google search on Chyna and see what she’s done.  Talk about insulting our intelligence.  Is he kidding?  Do a search on WWE wrestlers; male and female; and look at how many did porn or naked photos to make money.  How many sleazy story lines have their been in WWE; how many drug overdoses and wrestlers have been linked to drug scandals.

Vince McMahon has always wanted to do a storyline on incest.  He wanted one where he would be the father of Stephanie’s baby.  When she said no, Vince suggested Shane.  She again said no.  He once wanted an angle with Ken Shamrock doing an incest love affair with his “sister” Ryan Shamrock (who he was actually dating).  Ken said no way and magically his push ended.

http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/211209-backstage-update-vince-mcmahon-approves-incest-storyline

HHH himself cheated to get Stephanie and then lied about it.  And just try to find a wrestler over 35 who didn’t take steroids.  And while HHH and WWE is shining up their halo’s, they promoted WWE into soft porn by making huge deals with playboy for several years.  I’ve never heard ANYONE use HHH, or the McMahon’s in the same sentence that you use the word moral or ethics.

Will Chyna Get Into The HOF:

Yes; just like in anything, death erases barriers.  In my opinion in time all will be forgiven and this is now a time to save face and to look gracious.  “This went on too long and we need to forgive.”  Look for Chyna to get into the HOF and all of the people that had been blocking her getting into the HOF and trashing her in interviews will now have a chance to glowingly speak kindly of her.  It’s hard not to be cynical.

Bill Apter interviews Chyna in October of 2015:

 

Chyna really wanted to be inducted.  Three weeks ago she tweeted that she would like for one day to return to WWE so she could thank the fans that supported her so much.  “Without them I am nothing.”

Her Legacy:

Chyna and the Fabulous Moolah are the greatest wrestling talents in history for the female division.  NO ONE was ever as physically dominant as Chyna.

Her friends and fans will remember her for her kindness and her good heart.  In my limited interactions with her she was a sweet fun person.  I loved her interactions with her fans.  She loved them and they adored her.

The wrestling business usually leaves few survivors.  In this sexist men’s club, she blazed trails and gained the respect and adoration of millions.  She was a beacon for many women who weren’t 100 pound blond cheerleaders to be who they were and to be the best and that you can do anything a man can do without selling out.

At worst she was a sad tale of insecure out of control pain that couldn’t find peace while leaving a trail of wreckage behind her.  I think all of us could relate to Chyna even a little bit to the times when we are/were lost and felt in pain.

At her best she was the essence of sweetness and kindness and appreciation for whatever she got, making sure a positive and kind message followed her.

Chyna’s last words on her Youtube video from Sunday was “Love Y’all and Peace.”  I think I speak for every fan, writer, announcer and wrestler in saying to Chyna that we love you too.  Thank you so much for all you did for everyone. And lastly eternal, sweet peace to you too.

“Andy Kaufman: He Would Have Broken The Internet: From Wrestling to Hoaxes”

andy kaufman jerry lawler

Andy Kaufman was not a comedian.

When you ask a comedian what their goal is they will say to make people laugh. Andy Kaufman was different. His goal was to make himself laugh and to make you wonder if what he was doing was real or not. His goal was to watch people squirm in the realm of wonder.

Many people have said that Andy was a trail blazer for comedian’s, but I disagree. When it came to comedy, he saw the darkest and deepest path and took it.   No one then or since has ever followed him and taken that same path.

Andy once said he felt more like a song and dance man, but in reality he was so much more. From the beginning of his career you knew you were watching something unique. I’ve talked to a few people that saw Andy in clubs and the words they use to describe the shows are funny, uncomfortable, and thought provoking,

He stirred the pot and he wanted to mess with your mind by making you wonder if what you were seeing was reality or not. Life was a big prank to him and he would go to any lengths to make it seem real. Andy wanted to make himself laugh and to create a world where nothing was for sure. How many times did he do a routine where he was down and out with a hard luck story and when the crowd laughed he would smirk and say, “you shouldn’t be laughing because I’m being serious”. The crowd would then be quiet and you could feel how uncomfortable they were. Of course he wasn’t serious, and of course Andy loved it.

Some people felt disappointed when he did the television show Taxi, but he did that on the coaxing of his manager George Shapiro. Even though he hated sitcoms, it gave Andy the money and the fame to do what he wanted to do. In an interview with Tony Danza that is online, Danza said that Andy rarely came to the set during weekly rehearsals and that he stayed private. The cast of Taxi was a friendly environment and it brought an heir of animosity when Kaufman would just show up to the final reading, and then the day of tapings. What made the cast even more angry is that Andy never made a mistake.

Andy’s most famous antics to this day are still being debated. In one of his earliest appearances on David Letterman, he showed up saying he was financially strapped and needed help. David asked him what he was working on and Andy said nothing.   Letterman then asked about his bookings and Andy said he had none. He was unshaven and disheveled and had large amounts of mucous under his nose.   Letterman gave him tissue before Kaufman pleaded with the crowd to give him money to help him out. He walked out into the crowd and people started to give him money before security sent him away. Letterman wasn’t laughing.

The character Tony Clifton was pure genius. Andy created a character that was a lounge singer who was below the belt nasty with little to no talent.   In his contract, Andy actually had it written in that Tony was do to a handful of Taxi episodes. Clifton would show up each time to the Taxi set with a hooker on each arm, both being at least 6 feet tall. He then stated that the hookers would now be a part of the show.   Clifton was fired but he would not leave the set. The media; which Andy called; had a field day when Clifton was made to leave.

One of the all time epic storylines in wrestling history was the famous Andy Kaufman v.s. Jerry Lawler feud. Andy had spent months on Saturday Night Live wrestling women and began calling himself the inter gender champion.   Kaufman said that women were superior in cleaning, washing potatoes and carrots and scrubbing floors. People were incensed.  He also would get into the ring to teach the “redneck” people of Memphis, TN how to use soap and wash themselves.  The crowd went nuts!

Andy contacted Vince McMahon Sr. to see if he could get involved in the New York wrestling scene. Mr. McMahon Sr. was very sensitive to bringing anything fake into the wrestling world; the term sports entertainment hadn’t been invented yet; so he declined thinking it would ruin wrestling. Andy had a wrestling photographer friend in Bill Aptos, and he had Andy call Jerry Lawler in Memphis wrestling.

Lawler being a great showman knew this was a huge opportunity. He and Andy conspired to fool the world. Over time Lawler would coach a female wrestler to wrestle Andy. When Andy won, Lawler then challenged Andy.   In the famous first match Lawler did 2 pile drivers; a hold that powers your head into the mat; and Andy looked like he was dead but was only slightly hurt.

In a funny story, after the 2nd pile driver, Andy lay motionless on the mat. His partner in crime, writer and producer and sometimes Tony Clifton character Bob Zmuda, asked Andy if he was ok. Bob was actually the referee during the match. With the crowd roaring their approval, Andy quietly told Bob to call an ambulance. Bob then walked over to Lawler and told Jerry what Andy wanted to do. Lawler who is known for being frugal, said no way because it would cost $300. Zmuda walked over to check on Andy and told him what Lawler said. Andy whispered, “I’ll pay for it”. When Zmuda told him Andy would pay for it, Lawler said go get an ambulance.

Andy also did some very short lived television shows that were not overly supported by the networks due to his unpredictability. In one show Andy actually had the network mess up the vertical hold on the program.   This would make viewers at home think something was wrong with their tv’s.

Andy’s dream was to do a show at Carnegie Hall which he did in 1979. Saturday night live actually did a small story about it on their program that was very touching.

In a tender moment he brought out his “grandmother” who sat on the side of the stage to watch the show. She took a bow. At the end of the show his grandmother got up and clapped and then took off her mask. It was none other than his friend, fellow comedian Robin Williams.

Andy also had an elderly woman die on stage only to have him come back out as an Indian. He did a dance to revive her after the doctors pronounced her dead.  At the end of the show he wanted to thank the crowd and he had 24 busses take them out for milk and cookies and invited anyone who wanted to meet him to come to the Staten Island Ferry the next morning. He did some more bits and met his adoring fans.

Within six months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer, Andy Kaufman sadly died on May 16, 1984.   His friend Jerry Lawler was in attendance at his funeral fighting back tears. Even then, tabloids, fans and the media wondered if this wasn’t another huge hoax. He had talked about faking his own death for years, but unfortunately this was not a hoax.

He was before my time but he always fascinated me and I loved learning about him. And with so many nominally talented people being famous for sex tapes, being sleazy or vulgar; or for just being attractive; you wonder what a talented person like Andy would have done to the social media world of today.

Could you imagine all of the twitter discussions or the YouTube videos proving or disproving things he said or did?  With social media he would have reached millions in a blink of an eye in a way no comedian ever could.  He would have had the world scratching it’s head but laughing all the way.  And in true form, nothing would have been more pleasing to the great Andy Kaufman.