LAS VEGAS – It would be unfair to give Mick Foley all the credit, but the former WWF champ and New York Times best-selling author is a big reason why the Cauliflower Alley Club decided to hold a book fair this year at its annual reunion.
Over 20 different pro wrestling-related authors are on hand to promote their wares, but it is just as important for the writers to mingle and talk with the wrestling stars of yesteryear on hand.
In fact, that’s the main reason that former AWA announcer Larry Nelson came down from Minnesota. Sure, he’s happy to sell a few copies of his book Stranglehold, but it’s much more fun to see some old friends. “That’s the main reason I’m here,” he said.
Nelson worked on his book for a year and a half, off and on, and found so much difficulty getting an agent to represent him that he ended up basically getting it published himself.
Valerie Boesch is thrilled to finally be able to sell her late husband’s book. Paul Boesch’s name is Houston wrestling, and before his death in 1989, he had collected his memoirs into a book. His widow, Valerie, put the story and the photos together and had it self-publisher, knowing that a publisher would have been difficult. “A publisher would have taken a lot out of it,” she said.
According to Valerie, who was married to Paul for eight years, the book Hey Boy! Where’d you get them ears? 55 Years in Pro Wrestling took 20 years to actually write, but it’s totally worth it, and born in the heart of her late husband. “It’s just like he’s sitting there talking to you.”
Geraldine McMillin wrote Wrestling With Life: The Wisdom And Wit of a Woman Wrestler about her grandmother-wrestler Mae Stein as a legacy to her family. “I wanted my children and my grand-children to hear her story,” McMillin said. The book is in a conversational style, and is full of family photos. “It was never a commercial venture,” she explained.
For McMillin, a treasure-trove of research was an old family scrapbook, along with the family’s oral history. But she’s not done working, and hopes to corner some of the respected historians on hand in Las Vegas for the convention to find out more about her grandmother and her husband, Lou Bartel (Young Sandow) who also wrestled in the 1920s.
Fritz von Goering and his wife Kay Gabor put out The Model and The Wrestler as a self-published venture in part to get back at the government and the animal-rights activists who have made their lives difficult. Goering knew that the story on its own wasn’t enough, so decided to talk about his life in wrestling in the 1950s, and Gabor talks about being a nightclub singer and an artist’s model. Goering hopes that his story will get picked up by a publisher, and the book polished better.
Irish wrestler Pat Barrett, who achieved much success in North America, including a run as WWWF tag champion with Dominic Denucci, wrote Everybody Down Here Hates Me back in 1990 as a quasi-autobiographical story, full of tales from the road. “It’s not for the squeamish,” he warned. “I thought there were a lot of funny stories … it’s a crazy business. You have to be a lunatic to do it.”
Barrett, who stopped wrestling in 1992, found it pretty easy to write the book. “It’s not difficult. You just tell the stories. The stories are all there.”
Royal Duncan, who put out the incredibly valuable Wrestling Title Histories book with Gary Will helped put the book fair together. He’s on the Cauliflower Alley Club’s board, and contacted many authors. As a favour to some who couldn’t make it to the fair, Duncan was selling their books as well at his table. “It’s a cornucopia of books,” the Peoria, Illinois-native said with a laugh.
Some of the others on hand are: Lou Thesz, selling his book Hooker; Ox Baker selling his cookbook; Gary Michael Cappetta, the former ring announcer, who is on a book tour for Bodyslam! Memoirs of a Wrestling Pitchman; Ted Lewin, famed children’s illustrator and writer of I Was A Teenage Professional Wrestler; David Hofstede, who did Slammin! and A Pictorial History of Wrestling for ECW Press in Toronto; B. Brian Blair, who is selling Smarten Up! Say It Right.