By MIKE WYMAN – For Slam Wrestling
MONTREAL – Paragraph bookstore in Montreal specializes in English language volumes and, located steps away from the McGill University campus, their inventory trends towards those of an academic nature.
More than a few authors of renown have appeared within its walls over the years to promote their latest literary offerings. Posters adorning the walls bear the autographs of Yann Martel, John Ralston Saul, Michael Ondaatje and various minor members of the Richler clan.
Paragraph hosted a first-time author on Thursday evening. Local writer, Pierre Clermont, known professionally as Pat Patterson for well over a half-century, signed copies of his newly released autobiography, Accepted : How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, which traces his life to this point, from his childhood to his public coming-out in 2014.
Dozens of fans lined up while Patterson completed a television interview on the store’s upper floor. When the featured attraction appeared, wearing a cream-coloured, summer weight linen suit, tieless white shirt open at the collar and canvas espadrilles, each traded their bracelets for a few moments with the legendary wrestler as he signed their copies of his book.
Those who wanted a photo taken to preserve the moment (all of the people who turned out, it turned out) got one with a smiling and wisecracking Patterson making the time to listen to their memories, take dictation as to the inscription when the book was destined for another’s bookshelf and thoroughly enjoyed himself all the while.
“I must be good looking,” he quipped. “All the women are taking pictures of me.”
“If I keep smiling like this my face is going to freeze,” he said after another flash went off. “I’ll stay here all night. My hand might be sore by midnight”
“For you? No,” Patterson mock-growled at a friend who made his way to the front of the line. Former WWE star Sylvain Grenier was among those in attendance.
Veteran wrestling author (and SLAM! Wrestling contributor), Bertrand Hébert, who collaborated on Accepted was also on hand.”The first thing I ever told Pat Patterson when I started working with him on (on a series of pilots produced with the intention of bringing wrestling back to Quebec television screens) was how much I hated him as the Rêve du Québec. That character really got under my skin,” Hébert said.
Hébert learned from Patterson that the legendary heel was putting together his autobiography but was having difficulty finding someone to work with on the project.
“I said, as a joke, ‘I’m available.’ About a month later I got a call from him and he said ‘I’m going to put your name in the hat.’ I got a call a few months later to go to Stamford [to WWE headquarters] for an interview and seven months later, they gave me the job.”
“I’m 75 years old. It was time to do it,” Patterson replied to a query about the timing of the book.
“Life is not easy. There’s always hard times and good times but I went through it. I had a goal and I achieved that goal. I left Montreal with nothing, not speaking English but I was going to go where I wanted to go but I never dreamed that I’d go that far,” he said.
“When I look back I can’t believe all the places I’ve traveled to, all the places I’ve lived. It’s been a hell of a life, my friend, but there was something that was bothering me because according to a lot of people I’m not a normal person. You know what I mean?” Patterson continued, the question a rhetorical one.”In the business I never had any bad moments (resulting from his homosexuality). I was an entertainer so I had to do my job. Sometimes it was better than others but I never had any bad news about my work and the way I did it,” Patterson declared. “I just stayed the way I was. They said I was accepted.”
“The company wanted me to write a book,” the newly minted author said. “So I lived my life and I wrote the book. After the book was written they loved it and accepted me. They always did anyway.”
“But years ago accepted was this big,” Patterson said, his thumb and index finger an inch or so apart.
“And now it’s this big,” he concluded, his hands far enough apart that someone observing from a distance might think he was discussing a fish that got away.
What’s next? There’s the possibility of a French version of Accepted. “It depends on the interest. I know our French publisher was here. She talked to Pat and bought a book and she’s going to bring it up so maybe there’s a way to make a deal,” said Hébert. “I know Pat would love it for his family and friends who don’t speak English. And there are a lot of fans in Quebec who would like it too.”
MIKE WYMAN is a Montreal writer.