From the time I was 10, in 1965, Big Time Wrestling was the center of my life, especially the TV show on Saturday mornings — which I never missed, since there was no way to record it. Getting to the live shows in Detroit, though, was only a rare treat, and I might get tickets for my birthday or as a Christmas present.
Around 1967, a new tag team was arrived in the territory: Paul and Ronnie Dupree, The California Hells Angels! My friend and I were properly awed. Chris and Ron wore the Angels colors, had bleached blond hair, and were definitely bad guys. But gosh did they have their fans, and I was living proof of that. They beat up Rocky Johnson and Ben Justice just to prove how tough they were.
Getting to Cobo Hall to see them in action became paramount. Luckily, I was able to hook up with a school friend who figured out that if I could get a ride to his house, we could simply catch the downtown bus to Detroit. The Angels were on fire and often headlined all over the Big Time Wrestling circuit. But then they split and were doing singles matches. And then just like that, they were gone. I didn’t have a Dave Meltzer sheet to fill me in on all the details. Maybe the two guys just weren’t getting along. Paul Dupree became Chris Colt, and Ronnie Dupree just disappeared.
The years went by quickly. When I was about 16, I bowled in a junior classic league. To show off, I brought along some wrestling photos and one fellow from another team showed immediate interest. “Do you have any of Chris Colt?” he asked. I sure did, and he was elated. “I know this guy very, very well,” he stated. And then he winked. I thought nothing of it. On the ride home, my friends were kidding me. “Did you know Bruce (not his real name) was gay?” Ah, no, I didn’t know that. Well, I was learning something new every day.
In the mid-1970s, I finished up with college and was working as The Sheik‘s in-house photographer. I also worked for CREEM magazine out of Birmingham, Michigan. Eddie Farhat Jr., son of The Sheik, was a big rock fan, and he loved looking at my music pictures. We were standing in the hallway looking at the latest shots when who should pass by but Chris Colt! He didn’t know me then but we had some time to catch up. Because the Farhats practically owned Cobo and were so well known, Colt, Farhat, and I were getting into concerts through the backstage entrance, since the doormen and security crews all knew who we were.
Colt was determined to meet his idol: Joe Cocker. Since he was living in Toledo, Colt was overjoyed when he learned that Joe Cocker would be coming to the Toledo Sports Arena. We made plans for me and a buddy to meet Colt at his Toledo residence and drive to the Arena.
The big day came and my buddy, Bob, and I made it down to Toledo in the early evening to “have a few drinks” before the concert. We made it fairly easily and much to my surprise Colt lived right off Monroe Street in Toledo. (They’ve cleaned it up now, but back in the day that street was where one went to score anything … if you catch my drift.) I probably should have been very afraid, but I wasn’t. Bob was a solid 6-foot and a former football player, and I worked out; in short, we were both young and indestructible.
We knocked on the door of Colt’s apartment and I could smell right away that somebody liked his medicine. We both got big hugs and then Colt introduced us to his roommates — a couple of go-go girls who worked right down the street. I declined any medicine but did accept a beer. I had to stay somewhat sober since I was expected to get many photos of Joe Cocker and especially one of Colt with Cocker. My memory of that apartment is dim. It was not well lit and the smoke was thick. I made small talk to one of the girls. She was dancing to pay her way through college, as I recall.
It was time to go. The Sports Arena was not far away but Colt wanted to get there early enough to get the pictures he wanted. We walked to the back entrance. a guard opened the door and gestured us right in. Colt was holding a full bottle of whiskey. It wasn’t Jim Beam but I imagine it was easily 100 proof — remember, this was a long time ago! Nobody grabbed Colt’s whiskey and nobody checked my cameras for a bomb or whatever.
Bob split to search for beer and check out the chicks. I stuck with Colt, who was going to get his picture with Joe Cocker or die trying. He walked around and made a few inquiries. Somehow we walked into the dressing room and Colt walked right up to Joe Cocker as if he was an old friend. He offered him some of his whiskey but that was declined. I could tell that Cocker was already wasted but I wasn’t there to see him sing, so what difference did it make? Colt and Cocker took a seat on the bench and I shot away. I got at least one great picture. And at that moment security arrived. I was politely told to leave. I did. Colt was maybe not so politely told to leave. But he did anyway.
We stood in the hallway and Colt just beamed. Damn he was happy. “Did you get it, did you get it?” he kept asking. I assured him that I did.
It was about ten minutes to showtime. Brownsville Station had just finished their warmup set. Colt said, “follow me.” We did. He somehow got his hands on three wooden chairs and went directly to the front of the stage where he set them up. Nobody said a word. I was amazed at my friend’s strange and magical powers.
The concert started. A backup band began singing and three black girls started dancing in time. Then out staggered the almighty Joe Cocker. There was a roar from the crowd. Colt was absolutely right in front of him and several times offered him a swig of the mysterious bottle of booze but it was always wisely declined. Cocker staggered around and I suppose the backup band was used to it all because they just kept on playing and the girls kept on dancing. This went on for three songs or so, usually with Cocker propping himself up with the microphone stand.
Then suddenly, Cocker leaned over and puked all over me. He laughed. Colt laughed. I did not laugh. I told Bob, “I’ll be right back,” and ran off to find a men’s room. I took my time and drank a beer and ate a hot dog. Finally I made it back to my seat and found that it commandeered by some buxom blonde. Colt saw me, and just like that, plopped the blonde on his lap. I decided I had enough pictures for the night and didn’t want to risk getting my equipment drenched any further.
The concert finally ended, and I dimly recall two of the backup singers helping Cocker walk off the stage. Colt announced that, “We were going to a party.” I asked him if I could take a rain check, “because I wanted to get my pictures developed as soon possible.” He understood and said he would ride with one of the girls. I’m sure he wound up having a fine time. Bob laughed his ass of all the way home.
The next Cobo wrestling show rolled around and I had all the Cocker pictures printed and ready for Colt. He was delighted and acted like a little boy in Toyland. Eddie Farhat asked to see them too. He wanted to use one for the Big Time Wrestling program. So I had to promise to make extras. Chris asked if he could borrow the negatives so he could get T-shirts made. Like an idiot I told him I would bring them to Cobo for the next show. I never saw those negatives again.
A few months later, Bob and I were at the Toledo apartment of Randy “Macho Man” Savage. This time, there were no funny smells, no booze, and no go-go girls. Randy’s brother, Lanny, had written a booklet titled “Dirty Fighter’s Bible: How to Defend Yourself in a Cowardly Manner.” Bob agreed to act as the Detroit agent for selling the books. (In case you were wondering, sales went okay until The Sheik realized what was going on; Savage had not cleared it with the boss first, which was a definite no no.)
Our business concluded at Randy’s apartment, he ordered a pizza. Beers came out.
Bob and I started sharing the Cocker concert story from the Sports Arena. We all laughed. Then Randy said, “Hey you guys know Chris is gay, don’t you?” Bob said yes. I said nothing because I was flabbergasted. All the clues might have been there but I never looked at them. I didn’t care. I said as much. Randy finished with, “Well, just remember that. He’s still the same person you knew before I told you this.”
CHRIS COLT PHOTO GALLERY