Gorgeous George - The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture
Hardcover: 304 pages
"I made up my mind after [meeting] Gorgeous George to make people angry at me... I saw fifteen thousand people comin' to see this man get beat. And his talking did it. I said this is a goooood idea!" - Muhammad Ali
"A mighty spirit. Crossing paths with Gorgeous George was... all the recognition and encouragement I would need for years to come." - Bob Dylan
"The fancy capes I wear onstage? That came from the rassler, Gorgeous George. After I saw him and the special flamboyance he added to his matches, that helped to creat the James Brown you see onstage." - James Brown, the late Godfather of Soul
"A vivid account of a unique pioneer, placing Gorgeous George right where he belong - with the showmen like P.T. Barnum and Muhammad Ali. The athletes of today who strut and showboat are all his sons and daugthers. John Capouya makes a strong case that Gorgeous George was also Genius George." - Jeremy Schap, bestselling author of Cinderella Man
"An excellent job of introducing the most inventive of sports' antiheroes to a new generation of readers." - Ishmael Reed, poet, critic, essayist, and novelist
Capouya (Real Men Do Yoga) affectionately chronicles the life of the infamous Gorgeous George Wagoner. Born in 1915, Wagoner learns the ropes as a grappling carny at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park near Houston. During a stint on the grunt-and-groan circuit in Oregon, the wrestler meets his future wife Betty Hanson, whose handiness with textiles and hair dye transforms the likable babyface into a gender-bending aristocrat of the ring, a heel whom crowds love to hate. His antics off the mat (Wagoner holds all his press conferences in local beauty shops where he has his tresses marcelled before matches) and on (George takes 10 minutes to fold and refold his robe between perfumings) whips jeering crowds into frenzies. The histrionic, inexpensively staged sport proved, between 1948 and 1955, to be a perfect fit for the new medium of television. Although some of his psychoanalysis feels gratuitous, Capouya vividly portrays the ins and outs of wrestling and his own struggle to maintain the Gorgeousness of a public life in his private life as well. (Sept.)
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In the postHulk Hogan/Andre the Giant world, pro rasslers from the days of grainy black-and-white TV may seem a boring lot. Not the redoubtable Gorgeous George (n George Wagner), with his elaborate, platinum blonddyed coiffure (held in place by gold-plated Georgie pins); pompous manner; and effete ways. Needless to say, his gaudy persona inflamed the sexually paranoid pro-wrestling audience of the 1940s and 50s, making George a huge (for the day) media star. Later bad-guy wrestlers like Brutus Beefcake owe much to Georges groundbreaking exploration of over-the-top flamboyance in the squared circle. Capouya tells Georges story in well-researched detail, showing how the creation of the Gorgeous persona was carefully planned and cultivated by George and wife Betty and stood in stark contrast to the personality of George Wagner. In many ways, Gorgeous George superficially resembled Liberace, but that resemblance ended immediately beneath the image. As a show-biz bio and, for those who subscribe to a loose definition of sport, a sports bio, too, this is great stuff, entertaining and well referenced. --Mike Tribby
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