As mentioned in the last post, I was on vacation last week. The great thing about having a Kindle (or any e-book reader) is that I can immediately get new books and highlight things to comment on for this blog. This book is a very new release having come out only a week ago today. Patterson, born Pierre Cleremont in 1942, has led a very interesting life in the wrestling business. He’s very well-known for being gay, but what he should be known for is being perhaps the greatest booker/producer in the history of wrestling. The Royal Rumble speaks for itself, but he also held together the first WrestleMania main event, was in one of the greatest tag teams ever with Ray Stevens, and as Vince McMahon’s right hand man he was an advocate for smaller wrestlers like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. I recommend this book highly, so let’s peek at some highlights.
I still have no idea what a senior vice president does, but I know wrestling.
Damn right he does. Of course the whole “vice president” is so overused in companies. Where I work, “Assistant Vice President” is actually the next level I can aspire to, where I would join only like 1,000 other people.
I love the movie Wall Street. No, not the stupid Shia LeBoeuf vehicle, the original one. In the movie, everyone remembers Gecko’s “greed is good” speech to investors of Teldar paper. But he also remarks that the money-losing company employs 33 different Vice Presidents, all making over $200,000 per year (in the mid 80s!). By way of comparison, the wrestling operation of the WWF in the mid to late 80s was almost entirely run by Vince and Pat, and they only got some relief when J.J. Dillon (a conspicuous absence from this book) came aboard in 1989.
The first time I went, I told the priest I had masturbated. “Please don’t do that, my son; it’s a sin. As a penance, I want you to wash your hands with holy water,” he told me.
When you’re a Roman Catholic boy, it’s very weird going to confessionals.
(Today that property is probably worth millions.)
Patterson was pretty wistful about his first apartment in Boston, where he moved to pursue a wrestling career away from his home in Montreal. The apartment was at 72 Westland Ave. in the Back Bay/Fens area of the city still stands, the the listed rental price for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment is $2,660 per month. Given that Patterson was making $50 or less per night, I think the rent was much much more reasonable in the late 50s and early 60s.
Patterson did not speak English when he came to Boston, and he remarked on how much easier immigration was back then when he just had to give the name of the guy for whom he would be working.
There were even a few other wrestlers who were gay. I was lucky everyone liked me and I was accepted right away for who I was.
Wrestling and homosexuality has something of a mixed history, and I am probably not the right person to address it. Behind the scenes, most promoters employed a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” where they didn’t really care so long as the guy would make him money and accept as little as possible for payment. By contrast, many angles run over the years (early Goldust, Adrian Adonis, Johnny B. Badd’s early days) would feed a less enlightened view of gay people. But Patterson got along with most everyone, though he didn’t much care for Roy Shire, the San Francisco promoter. It seems that he didn’t much care for gay people, which seems fucking idiotic IN SAN FRANCISCO.
I was damn proud, and thankful to Vince, to have been able to repay Mad Dog a little for all he did for Louie and me by helping to get him inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
First, an introduction to Louie, the man who was Pat’s life partner for four decades until his death in 1998. Patterson is more comfortable even after coming out referring to Louie as his “friend” though Louie was a friend to just about everyone from Vince McMahon to Andre the Giant to wives of other wrestlers. Louie was a barber, a helluva chef, and someone who kept Patterson grounded as Pat says he would have gotten himself into big trouble without Louie in his life.
Mad Dog Vachon gave Patterson his start in the Montreal and they were tag team partners at one time. Vachon later joined the WWF in the summer of 1984 for a brief time when Patterson was firmly ensconced in the front office.
Back in the day, Bobby Heenan never wanted to play with us. He finally came out and used my old clubs. They were in bad shape; the grips were loose and Bobby kept complaining about them. Then out of nowhere, he sank a hole in one. He said that’s it, I can’t get any better, and stopped playing for the rest of the day. Bobby is the best.
I will never get tired of a few things in life: one of them is Andre the Giant drinking stories (those will come later) and another is hilarious Bobby Heenan stories. I play golf so rarely now that if I ever got a hole in one, I might retire on the spot. My father played golf for over 40 years and never got one so I understand how hard it is.
Aside: One time on a 152 yard par 3 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I hit the pin but no one in my group was looking because they were too busy loading up with beer from the beverage cart. Still pisses me off.
I’m a smoker, and before you start admonishing me, I know it’s a fucking bad habit. Vince keeps telling me that all the time.
Vince and Pat seem like such an odd couple with Vinny Mac being a total health nut and Patterson being a smoker completely averse to the gym, or at least he was during his career.
Fun fact: I started this blog in part to help me quit sneaking cigarettes, to give me a different focus. I’ve been tobacco free since last November.
Next time: The Ray Stevens stories begin and holy shit is that guy a character, Pat addresses the “gay jokes” that Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross used to make, and a look at his memorable WWF run of 1979-81.