By John Capouya
This is the first-ever biography of the mythical wrestler wonderful George, full of great never-before-told tales. George without delay motivated the likes of Muhammad Ali, who took his bragging and boasting from George; James Brown, who started to put on sequined capes onstage after seeing George on television; John Waters, whose movies featured the outrageous drag queen Divine as an homage to George; and too many wrestlers to count number. Amid those popular culture discoveries are firsthand debts of the professional wrestling online game from the Nineteen Thirties to the 1960s.
The excellent American male was once stoic, quiet, and dignified. yet for a tender couple suffering to make ends meet, within the desperation born of the lingering melancholy and wartime rationing, an concept was once hatched that modified the face of yankee pop culture, an concept so daring, so over-the-top and absurd, that it was once perfect. that concept reworked journeyman wrestler George Wagner from a dark-haired, clean-cut reliable man to a peroxide-blond braggart who blatantly cheated each likelihood he acquired. Crowds have been stunned—they had by no means obvious something like this before—and they got here from miles round to witness it for themselves.
Suddenly George—guided by way of Betty, his pistol of a wife—was a draw. together with his golden tresses grown lengthy and styled in a marcel, George went from good-looking to . . . good . . . gorgeous in a single day, the small, dank wrestling venues giving approach to significant arenas. as though the hair wasn't sufficient, his robes—unmanly issues of silk, lace, and chiffon in light pinks, sunny yellows, and wealthy mauves—were yet a prelude to the act: the regal front, the tailcoat-clad valet spraying the mat with body spray, the haughty appears and sneers for the "peasants" who paid to observe this outrageously prissy hulk prance round the ring. How they enjoyed to work out his excellent mane mussed up through his manly rivals. and the way they enjoyed that alluringly alliterative identify . . . beautiful George . . . the self-proclaimed Toast of the Coast, the feeling of the Nation!
All this used to be timed to the arriving of that new invention all people used to be speaking about—television. In its early days, expert wrestling and its larger-than-life characters ruled prime-time broadcasts—none extra so than wonderful George, who bought as many units as Uncle Miltie.
Fans got here in droves—to boo him, to stay him with hatpins, to ogle his robes, and to have fun in his comeuppance. He was once the fellow they enjoyed to hate, and his provocative, gender-bending act took him to the head of the leisure global. the USA may by no means be an analogous again.
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Extra info for Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture
The promoter gave George a number of cash for expenditures and fuel, and Drake and the others reached into their wallet besides. although they have been fewer, on stable nights he might nonetheless provide the lovers their money’s worthy. In 1961, on the very finish of his profession, he played back on the Aqua Theater, on eco-friendly Lake in Seattle. right here the hoop used to be surrounded by means of water, and a lifeguard or moment referee turned around the floating wrestling motion in a rowboat, with a concrete grandstand dealing with the motion on shore. just like the gun brought early in a secret that needs to burst off sooner or later, the legislation of drama demanded that the water come into play. It used to be a funky July night, and by the point the most occasion obtained began round nine-thirty, a dip used to be under beautiful, yet a deal was once a deal. while George, donning a billowing purple satin quantity festooned with crimson lace, used to be set to lose a fall to jumping Leo Garibaldi, he nonetheless had the athleticism—and the willingness—to promote Leo’s dropkick via hurling himself backward over the ropes and into the drink. while George hit the chilly, twelve-foot-deep lake water, the alarmed announcer shouted: “He can’t swim! ” (He may possibly. ) George nonetheless felt at domestic round the boys, and he hadn’t misplaced his humorousness. whilst George labored one other small city with Drake, this one in Tennessee, a number of the men at the card had heard that he was once fearful of snakes (he can have had a foul adventure with one again in Harrisburg’s Buffalo Bayou). After George’s major occasion used to be over and he’d showered and adjusted, one of many neighborhood employees provided him a cigar. while he opened the cigar field, the wrestler’s puppy garter snake raised its head. It was once only a tiny innocuous factor, yet George recoiled, leaping again into the steel lockers, yelling “God rattling! ” Then he needed to laugh—they’d received him. On one other evening Cherie substituted beer for fragrance within the spray gun and gave him a spritz within the ring, attempting to get him to react out of personality, and he favored that, too. yet a swerve an afternoon was once now not retaining the blues away. If she hadn’t identified it earlier than, Cherie quickly realized her husband was once “a full-blown alcoholic,” as she defined him. “He couldn’t keep watch over it—one drink and he’d be off to the races. ” Cherie notion George used alcohol to gasoline the outrageous habit his attractive character continually required. with out booze, she acknowledged, “he didn’t particularly have the nerve to do these issues. ” Betty by no means had a proof past what she observed as George’s primary lack of confidence; the explanations for his consuming by no means got here up among them, simply the implications. The forensics of alcoholism is usually very speculative, in particular at this sort of eliminate of time. It does run in households; besides the fact that, there’s no signal that drink used to be fascinated with George’s mother’s invalidism and demise. Poppa Wagner turns out to have lived a longevity that, notwithstanding now not continuously effortless, used to be easy via alcohol. He’d have a drink with Betty at the porch of the turkey ranch, yet one was once all he cared for. George was once immersed in an alcohol-soaked enterprise, the place consuming used to be inspired and regarded manly.