Posts Tagged ‘Superstar Billy Graham’

Right Place Right Time

July 13, 2014

Friday July 11th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

One of the few standout highlights of my childhood that has successfully stood the test of time is my extreme love of professional wrestling. It wasn’t so much the actual wrestling itself as the dynamic personalities and charisma of the wrestlers. I was fortunate to have seen some greats.

Wrestling was a regional attraction for much of the 20th century until Vince McMahon Jr. took over his father’s promotion on the east coast and graduated it to a national and then international stage. Like it or not – and none of the old school promoters did – McMahon changed the game.

The star attraction he used to build his empire was Hulk Hogan, and together they created a big splash not only in the wrestling world but in mainstream American culture of the ‘80s. Hogan is the only professional wrestler to date to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and that says a lot.

Hulk Hogan became a household name during that time, and Vince McMahon became wealthy beyond belief. Most casual fans of wrestling accept as fact that Hogan was the greatest of his era, but in fact he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. That’s the recipe for success.

Hogan’s wrestling abilities have never been stellar, but that doesn’t matter. His look combined with his persona and charisma were exactly what the public was buying at that time. He nailed it. It was just like the Colonel finding Elvis. That was another example of right place and right time.

For every Hogan or Elvis that hit pay dirt there are countless others that never find the winning combo and are destined to languish in either relative or total obscurity. One of those in wrestling was my childhood super hero and fellow Milwaukeean Reggie Lisowski – aka “The Crusher”.

The Crusher was the Midwest Hulk Hogan, even though Hogan got his first big push working for Verne Gagne’s AWA based out of Minneapolis. That was a major promotion in that era, and all kinds of great talent came through there – and through my little black and white television set.

Wrestling on TV then was basically a one hour commercial for live matches, and it worked. It got me to spend my money, and I loved every minute of it. The Crusher was my favorite, and the favorite of everyone else in Milwaukee. He was the original bad ass, way before Chuck Norris.

The Crusher was born on this day in 1926, and was nearing the end of his illustrious run just as Vince McMahon was starting his. Crusher and so many others that earned it never got to taste the mainstream adulation that Hogan and many that came after him did. That’s just luck of the draw.

The Crusher wasn’t born at the right time, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. It’s an unfair world, and some things are beyond our control. Another great that got screwed in that way was “Superstar” Billy Graham. I used to watch him as a kid, and he turned wrestling on its ear.

Vince McMahon Jr. admits that if he were in charge instead of his father that Superstar would have been Hulk Hogan ten years earlier. But he wasn’t. And now Superstar Graham lives alone in obscurity, wondering what could have – and should have – been. Life is what it is, and trying to figure it out only causes frustration. The Crusher and Superstar are still big stars in my book.

The Crusher flexing one of his '100 megaton biceps'. He was a classic, but never made the big money. What a shame.

The Crusher flexing one of his ‘100 megaton biceps’. He was THE attraction in wrestling when I was a kid. “How ’bout dat?”.

"Superstar" Billy Graham was ahead of his time, and even Vince McMahon admits it. Read Superstar's autobiography "Tangled Ropes". He was Hulk Hogan before Hulk Hogan.

“Superstar” Billy Graham was ahead of his time, and even Vince McMahon admits it. Read Superstar’s autobiography “Tangled Ropes”. He was Hulk Hogan way before Hulk Hogan, but never got paid like it.

Me And You Tube

July 17, 2013

Monday July 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   The advent of You Tube is simultaneously the all time greatest and absolute worst thing to ever happen to the entertainment business. I’m torn right down the middle, as on one hand I have used it often to obtain immense pleasure and information but on the other it’s destroying my business.

   If someone can sit comfortably in their underwear with a dirt cheap pizza in the privacy of their own trailer, hovel or igloo and watch every standup comic living or dead that has ever stepped on a stage – FOR FREE – how can I expect them to show up at one of my shows and buy a ticket?

   It’s pretty much an open and shut case for most people – especially since I’m on You Tube too. If anyone really wants to see me, they can dial me up online and see several of my videos shot in cities around North America. They can see most if not all my national and regional TV spots too.

   I know that’s no comparison to seeing a live show of almost any kind, but not everyone agrees. They’re fine with perusing as many acts as they can take in, and not having to leave home or pay out any cover charge or inflated drink and food prices. It’s the best entertainment deal in history.

   Personally, I love it and can’t get enough. I’m to the point of zero need for any kind of regular or cable television whatsoever. I will often wander in from a gig at midnight or close to it, and before I know it the sun is up and I’m nodding out at the keyboard. There’s a lot to see.

   Some of my favorite places to lose myself are vintage Parliament/Funkadelic concerts I haven’t seen, along with old school professional wrestling clips and interviews. I have my favorites of all time like Superstar Billy Graham, Bobby Heenan, Super Destroyer Mark II and many others that I can enjoy for hours at my leisure – and I do. It’s like I’m in charge of a giant electronic toy box.

   Depending on what my mood is, I’ll immerse myself in anything and everything from standup comedy clips of anyone from my friends to past masters to people I’ve worked with that are not living anymore. It’s fascinating, educational and never boring because I choose what I’ll watch.

   That’s a lot of economic horsepower to put in the hands of the public, and I’m not sure most of them realize it. They vote with their wallets, and if enough opt to stay at home times are going to get much tougher for live entertainers than they already are. We soon won’t be able to compete.

   All I can do is what I do, and it’s not going to go away any time soon. There will always be the core of those who enjoy and support live entertainment, but that number is going to take a major hit as time passes – at least in my opinion. Who needs to go out when everything is there online?

   I’m sure this same topic has popped up more than once with network TV people, and there are a lot of them justifiably worried about their jobs. Radio is the same. With podcasts diluting their product, they don’t have the customer numbers they once did either. It’s changing for everyone.

   I wish I knew what to do to position myself in a good spot to be ahead of the game, but I don’t. I’m more than a little concerned, but I’m not the only one. It’s adapt or die, and it’s happening at lightning speed. There’s no manual to follow as to how to succeed. It’s the Wild West all over.

   There needs to be a supply of stages live entertainers can practice the craft they’ve chosen, but if they can’t make a living the craft will eventually die. You Tube is great in many ways, but it’s a monster as far as eating material and nurturing new performers. Like it or not, it’s here to stay.

Dogging My Walks

February 3, 2010

Tuesday February 2nd, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

I have no comedy shows booked for this week, but that doesn’t mean I have a week off. Not by a long shot. I am up to my Adam’s apple in everything and anything that needs to be done and this is the time to kick it in the aspirations and get it going. Time for action.

I’m proud of myself for finally getting back into the walking mode. I took one lap in the Gurnee Mills Mall and thought my heart was going to explode. It’s amazing how difficult it is to get a groove going and build up a tolerance and then how easy it is to lose it again.

It seems like I’ve taken countless laps in that mall, and I have, but today it felt like none of them were in this lifetime and I am starting ALL over again. Maybe I am. Still, I know I need to do it so every day I get out there and make an effort is a positive. If I do have the final grabber and keel over, I won’t be angry. At least I was making an effort to exercise.

One day does not an effort make however. I need to do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. Then three more days will make a week. Then the next day is the start of a new one. Four weeks become a month, twelve months become a year, then it evolves into a lifetime. None of that can happen without the first day, and that was today.

I’ve had countless first days in the past. I’m not going to get too excited. The real key is being consistent for the rest of the year. January slipped by with little warning and I didn’t walk nearly as much as I need to. It’s cruel. Life goes fast, and I need to make time for the things like this that aren’t necessarily fun. But, heart bypass surgery seems even less fun.

I tied up a mess o’ loose ends today. I finally finished the book “Tangled Ropes”, about professional wrestler Superstar Billy Graham. That guy was a master showman but he had a huge price to pay by taking steroids and ruining his health. It was a fascinating book and I gained a lot of insight from re-reading it. Entertainment is a brutal business on all levels.

I’m also devouring the in depth CD interviews with the comedian masters I purchased from Larry Wilde. I’ve gone through all twelve of them at least once, and now I’ll listen a second time and glean the nuggets and make notes. They’re all packed with information a fellow performer can use, no matter what the level of expertise. I learned from each one.

I put a little dent in my email pile today and also made some phone calls I’ve fallen way behind on lately. I’m not going to catch up in one day, but at least I made some effort so it doesn’t hover over me like a thunder cloud. I’m doing what I can, and that’s all I can do.

Another thing that’s been bothering me is Uranus Factory Outlet. I needed to look over about 1000 fonts my web guy Mark sent me and pick one out to get started. I did pick one previously, but that one doesn’t show up well. The ‘U’ in Uranus looks just like a ‘V’. To really make this work, everything has to be very simple and easy to navigate. I’m trying to attract the masses with this, and for now I need to stay away from anything too confusing, complicated or hip. Inside jokes are cool, but I need this to be a hit with a mass audience.

Healthy Food For Thought

January 5, 2010

Monday January 4th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Inch by inch I’m starting to make progress on all my hopes and dreams for 2010. I have a lot on my plate, but I like it that way. I want to pack in as many fun things as I can in the time I have left on earth which could end tomorrow. Or not. I’m in a good space so far.

I want to keep better track of everything this year including records of money spent and what I spent it on, what I eat, where I work, who I hang out with, all of that. I think it will help me plan my life better, or at least allow me to look back and see where I screwed up.

One thing I really want to keep track of is what I’m reading, watching and listening to at any time. I have all kinds of books and audio programs and DVDs that are just rotting on the shelf gathering dust. I want to make use of as many of them as I can, but there are way too many to do that without a plan. I need to pick the ones I want in order and get started.

The first audio program I listened so far was Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think And Grow Rich”. That’s one of the all time greats in the field of self help and most other authors are just a derivative of Napoleon Hill. I hadn’t heard it in a while and it really sounded good.

My next program is one on time management from a guy named Brian Tracy. I always enjoy his programs, and he’s got quite a few of them. I need help with time management the most so that’s the one I chose. I’m almost through the whole twelve lesson program and one of the things he talks about is using down time wisely by listening to this stuff.

I totally agree. It’s so easy to waste time in the car and just sit there like a zombie and do nothing when it can be turned into a rolling education center. That stuff goes into the brain and blossoms. I admit I drift in and out sometimes, but more often than not I’m in.

Books are another thing I want to catalog this year. There are 52 weeks to fill and I’ve got WAY more than 52 books to read. I bet I have more than 365 so even if I read a book a day I’d still not get to them all. Reading one or two books a week is challenge enough.

The book I chose this week is the autobiography of professional wrestler Superstar Billy Graham called “Tangled Ropes”. I remember him very well from watching his interviews on TV as a kid and he was always bursting with charisma. That guy had ‘it’, and he was a trendsetter that paved the way for many others like Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura and more.

Unfortunately, often times the innovators in any field never get the true credit and have sad stories to tell. Superstar Graham was the first real steroid guy in wrestling and he paid the price for it later with health problems that almost killed him. It’s an amazing story and that’s why I chose it as my first book of the new year. I’d love to meet the guy someday.

Setting aside time to read and listen can’t help but improve anyone’s life. I’m making a sincere effort to be the best person I can be and that takes time and effort to do it the right way, but that’s the only way I want to do it. I’m starting the year off with solid decisions.