Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Dante's InfernoI was there for the very first WRESTLEMANIA. Well, not there there, but I was in the massive pay-per-view audience that settled into back-breaking metal folding chairs at gymnasiums and auditoriums around the world to watch the birth of big-time, big-money wrestling.

It was in the years shortly after ROCKY 3 that pro wrestling took to the outrageous theatrics that now mark its weekly tv shows and "special" pay-per-view events that crop up more often than crabs on a $20 hooker.

Hulk Hogan won audiences over as "Thunderlips," the steroid-crazed (oh, did I say that!) clod that throttled Stallone as a crazed Mr. T looked on. (Hey, doesn't anyone else miss the crazy, really angry black version of Mr. T? The guy that participated in contests to determine "The World's Toughest Bouncer"? TV softened that nightmare of every white bread suburbanite to the point where he had a cereal, a cartoon show, and coloring books. Maybe Martin Lawrence should hire his pr firm.)

Anyway, it didn't take long for Vince McMahon to see the dollar signs printed on Hogan's pecs (I'm sure he was staring hard enough), and pretty soon the short, wrestler-like Bob Backlund was losing to the Iron Shiek so Hogan could trot out his "Real American" schtick till we all wanted to puke. Pretty soon, the days of Chief Jay Strongbow and Ivan Putski looked like a Golden Age compared to the likes of Mr. Wonderful and Rowdy Roddy Piper (who, at least, brought a bit of badly needed humor to the proceedings).

I'll admit that I got sucked into the whole WWF grind. Next thing I know I'm ordering KING OF THE RING, SUMMER SLAM, and each WRESTLEMANIA...till they started to deliver much less than promised. Sure enough, the outcomes were telegraphed weeks in advance as the WWF added show after show to their already thin line-up. I did get sucked back in a few years ago, especially with the ascent of The Undertaker. So, with the big guy scheduled to take on Brett Hart (whom I've never had any particular care for) tonight -- and Shawn Micahels as guest referee" I might add -- I'm debating if I should swallow my pride, plunk down my cash, and get sucked back in to the WWF machine.

I made a list of "Ten Things to Do Instead of Watching SUMMER SLAM," and they might help you get through your own test of wills...


1. Listen to the new MTX 7" over and over again: MTX, of course, means The Mr. T Experience, a suitable reference for this topic of the squared circle. Back on track after the dismal 'Our Bodies, Our Selves,' Dr. Frank and Co. have released an EP ('...And the Women That Love Them'), album ('Love is Dead'), and several reissues ('Night Shift at the Thrill Factory' and 'Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood') that all top the "Indispensible" checklist here at the Inferno. While gearing up for their new LP on August 26th, here's the single "...And I Will Be With You," a start-stop-driven piece of pop that starts off like a Big Country song and trashes three decades of rock and/or roll in its wake. And, I didn't even mention the phenomenal cover of "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" courtesy of Dr. Frank and some babe from the Muffs (an overrated chick band). Lookout Records, PO Box 11374, Berkely, CA 94712-2374

2. See Hitchcock's VERTIGO at the Byhum: This one only applies if you live in Pittsburgh, but you die-hards could always go out and do that rental thing the kids are so crazy about. You see, I grew up around Philly, so a repatory movie theater that changed flicks on a daily basis wasn't out of the ordinay...shit, we had a handful of them. Then I move to Pittsburgh. Hah! Good luck amigo. Thankfully, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has tapped Richard Rauh (who ran the 'Burgh's last rep film series) to schedule flicks at the Byhum Theater on 6th and Ft. Duquesne Blvd. VERTIGO (featuring the recently departed -- thank God! -- Jimmy Stewart and a sultry Kim Novak) plays August 3rd and 4th @ 7:30. The series takes a break until Friday when the pedophilic Woody Allen rolls into town with EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU, a musical with Alan Alda, Tim Roth, Julia Roberts, and Drew Barrymore. (There's a sentence I was sure I would never write!) Check in next Sunday for the complete August schedule and our commentary.

3. Cook dinner. This is probably one of my favorite Sunday night endeavors, and I can't wait until the weather cools off just a bit. There's nothing quite like a Lemon-Roasted Chicken with Sausage and Sage Stuffing that leaves my mouth watering all day and my fingers picking away at leftovers all week. Maybe I'll pick something fresh from our garden and consult The Hungover Gourmet for some culinary ideas...

4. Catch a rerun of THE SIMPSONS and KING OF THE HILL: I always tell people that they could take every network but FOX off the air and I wouldn't really care. Sure, I might miss DREW CAREY, but at least I'd have my 90210, MILLENIUM, and these two Sunday night classics (I won't even mention NFL football that concentrates on my beloved NFC). I'll readily admit that THE SIMPSONS hasn't been up to its usual standards in the last two seasons, although there have been some memorably classic episodes. KING OF THE HILL, on the other hand, proves that Mike Judge's BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD was no fluke (we never thought that in this household), and KOTH clocks in as the single best sit-com of the year...Bobby Rules! "Why is there skin on my baked potato!!!"

5. Play some NHL '97 on Sega Genesis: Sure, the tv commercials'll try and convince you that Sega Saturn is the superior system for enacting your bone-crunching, ass-kicking tendancies, but I beg to differ. In fact, I believe that NHL '96 and '97 are the cream of the crop when it comes to sports simulations (I better, since I doubt they'll make an NHL '98 for the dwindling market). Hell, there's nothing better than delivering a brain-crunching, helmet-high cross-check to the skull of some namby-pamby, sphincter-winking scoring machine that don't know the first thing about double minors (and believe me, my teams write the f'in book on double minors!).

6. Read some zines or start your own: Zines are getting plenty of news these days, but I'm sure that'll pass once the news media has something else to latch upon. Granted, Jim Goad (of ANSWER ME! fame) has a hardcover book out, but how many folks are gonna pick up something called REDNECK MANIFESTO before they realize it ain't no joke? I'd suggest picking up a copy of VEX, a mag that bills itself as "Movies & Whatever." VEX only comes out twice a year, but the wait is well worth the effort. Past issues have focused upon "OJ's Trash Cinema" and an "All Director's Issue" (both still available) that included everyone from Robert Wise to William Girdler. You can grab the new VEX, complete with the "A to Z Guide to Gorilla Filmmaking," a guide to the world of "The Zoophile Movie Underground," and a look at G. Gordon Liddy's Media Life by sending $4 to PO Box 319, Roselle, NJ 07203. If it's Sunday and you can't get your hands on an issue, visit their web site. Or, maybe you can start your own zine. It doesn't take any fancy computer or software. Hell, our first effort was done on a 128K Mac with a dot matrix printer...and that was 11 years ago! Today, there's a zine for most everything...maybe there isn't one for the thing you're an expert on...

7. Surf the Sickest Places on the Web: You'll be amazed at what can be found when you randomly search the web. Go to Yahoo! and stick in words that you think will never have any links. Start with stuff like "enema," "pregnant," or "trout." You'll be surprised what you find. (Adults ONLY, please!)

8. Clip Coupons: I went to the grocery store tonight and saved no less than 25% on my order. And we're not talking about cheap shit here, I'm talking about fresh pasta, scallions and light cream (for my Zuke Soup), and a bunch of veggies and cheese (free 'cause I filled out a survey). Your friends may scoff at this sort of anal retentive behavior, but I swear by the power of the coupon. If nothing less it gives me extra cash for beers.

9. Rent PRIVATE PARTS: Until AUSTIN POWERS comes out on video this is the funniest video release of the year. Luckily, Howard has kept the promotion of this more subdued than the theatrical release. Thank God! I don't think I could've taken another series of four-hour infomercials!

10. Have sex. Do I have to tell you people everything?

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