Monday, September 6, 2010

Part 3...I SURVIVED THE GATHERING




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I SURVIVED THE GATHERING..PART 3



(hey guys while we're here, lets use this opportunity as a teachable moment as President Obama would say...so lets learn a little Spanish,  shall we,  for all my Spanish amigos..of which I have two.  

Yo sobreviv√≠ a la GATHERING...Segmento tres...cabron!!!  GRACIAS A DIOS!!!

translated means...I survived the GATHERING...part three...@#$%&*^!!!  Thank God!!! 

Below...excerpted from last blog...


Yeah, this day had been one of the most interesting of my life up to his point...but I don't know whether I was at a music/wrestling show or watching a rerun of Law and Order but what lay ahead scared the crap out of me. I still had to enter the gates of THE GATHERING and what lay ahead I had no idea but we already had reports of a singer attacked by the crowd, a stabbing and now, a strong arm robbery. But nobody said this was a church outing or a Boy Scout Jamboree. This was pure JuggaloVille and the night was just beginning. I still had a match to get to and I had no idea how that would turn out. One thing though....I had come a long way from Madison Square Garden and the Memphis Mid South Coliseum to a wild and crazy underground music festival in Cave In Rock, Illinois but to tell the truth, this was a helluva lot more exciting. I'll give it to the Juggalos..they damn sure ain't boring. As I looked at what was in front of me, a wild scene straight out of Halloween, Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Friday the 13th, I knew that this night wasn't over and I still had to make it til daylight. The surprises weren't over yet.




Before I get started,  thank to all of you who tried to speed the conclusion of this blog along including Corporal Robinson who was the booker for this BloodyMania show.   I know the blog is a bit late...but I have a reason.  I came down with some sort of late summer virus...that laid me up for several days.  I'm over it now and ready to go.  Yeah, I know..its an excuse but I had to have something. 

So as you've read above,  I made it all the way to the famous Gathering...in some God Forsaken corn field in Illinois...which turned out to be directly due south of nowhere and two left turns from Hell.   I had heard about this Gathering event for years and how wrestling was such a big part of it.   The rumors always were bigger than life.   I had always heard that working the GATHERING was akin to walking out amongst a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists who were intent on stoning you to death.  

So, years later,  here I am.  I find myself at this famed event which had been staged for the past 10 years and for the most part,  unheard of by MAINSTREAM America.  When an event is billed as an underground music festival,  you can be pretty well guaranteed that most Americans have never heard of it...except the ones that the ICP target...their fans...the Juggalos.   But that is the way it's designed.  I guess.

After being lost for most of the night,   and after leaving Cave in Rock, Illinois,  which I might add is not the tourist capital of the Midwest,  I found myself right smack in the middle of 25 some odd thousand Juggaloes.   After we entered the gates of the GATHERING property,  the limo drove about 5 miles an hour past literally hundreds of tents to get to where the BloodyMania wrestling outdoor stage was.  Let  me set the scene for you one more time.  Actually, let me tell you what I was feeling. 

This was all new to me.  If you've ever played football...and felt butterflies in your stomach before the first play,  I felt that way.  If you've ever had that first job interview and felt nervous,  I had that feeling.   If you've ever robbed a convenience store,  stole a car,  took a hostage,  led the police on a high speed chase through a city while you were on probation and had a kilo of coke in your back seat....well you know the feeling.  Damn, you can't help but feel a bit jumpy.  I kinda felt that way too. 

After 30 some odd years in the wrestling profession,  I can truthfully say that I was nervous as a whore in church.  Truthfully,  I can't say I've ever really asked a lady of ill repute how she felt in church but that's what I've been told.   That might be next on my list of THINGS TO DO LATER. 

AM I GOING TO MAKE IT OUT OF HERE IN ONE PIECE?


So let me say it now.  I didn't know what to expect.  Was this the den of inequity that I had heard so much about?  Would I even make it out of here in one piece?  What if the Juggs hated me as much as Tila Tequila?   Hell,  at least Tila flashed her breasts at them in an attempt to quieten them down.   I wouldn't even be able to do that.    



ABOVE:  Tila Tequila,  after her performance at the Gathering which apparently didn't meet with the Juggalo Seal of Approval. 

Seriously,  I  half expected to enter this Sodom and Gomorrah to see people chasing each other with hatchets and slingblades,  people bleeding all over the place and to actually witness people hanging from ropes or burning at the stake.   So to say I entered into all this with PREJUDICE,  I will readily admit I did.  And I don't think I'm all that different from millions of other people who would possible feel the same way.   I will admit to having prejudged the Juggaloes because prejudge is the root word of prejudice.

Hell, I'd never met a Juggalo before other than Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope themselves and they were great guys...but their fans scared the living crap out of me.  Since I had never really met a Juggalo before...other than ICP themselves,  I didn't know what they were about.  But after hearing so much about how crazy these Juggs are and how wild they were,  as we got closer in to the stage,   the feeling of uneasiness started to subside.   I know it was the fear of the unknown but whatever I was feeling on the way in, was now giving way to enjoying the adventure.  As we passed hundreds of little Juggaloes and topless Juggalettes,  I didn't see anybody bleeding nor anybody being chased with sharp instruments.  That made me feel a little better.  

It took us 10 minutes from weaving our way through makeshift pathways and through literally thousands of Juggalo fans who peered into our limo as we slowly rolled by but by now the activity was Buzzing.  These Juggaloes were out in FULL FORCE.  This was their Woodstock..this was their WrestleMania, Fourth of July, Christmas and New Years Day all rolled into one.   To an outsider like me,  it looked scary but to them,  it was one big hellacious party. 


Finally,  after something like 5 hours on the road,  with 4 of them being lost,  I saw the outside arena where the wrestling was being held.  By this time, it was 1:30AM in the morning...as the limo pulled up to a stop right behind the big concert stage that served as the entrance way to the ring.  Now I could get out and see what all this hubbub was about and out I went.   There were steps leading up to the concert stage...so I bounded out of the limo (well I didn't exactly bound out..I more or less creeped out) and up the steps I went.  I walked out on the stage where the sound and lighting technicians were gathered and looked out upon the crowd.

The arena was FULL!!!!   Packed.   Jammed.  I estimated the crowd at maybe 3.500 fans...maybe more, maybe less but considering it was 1:30AM in the morning,  seeing the arena full was a total surprise.  Since there were no chairs, people were standing shoulder to shoulder outside the barricades of the ring.  There was a match going on and I heard the crowd respond to one of the moves.  I thought to myself... hey,  this is not what I've heard about this bunch of wild ass heathens?   I'd heard they were wild, nihilistic bastards who just want to party and cause damage, throw rocks and just basically be destructive.   There were no things flying into the ring...there were no rocks, no half filled water bottles.   They were doing what wrestling fans should be doing when they were seeing a great performance.  Enjoying the show.  

The wrestlers had an area or a huge tent set up behind the stage which was being used as the dressing area for everybody.  When I walked into the tent...at probably 2AM,  I saw what might best be described as a living Hall of Fame display.   I said this was surreal, didn't I?  In a lot of ways,  this was almost like I was having a dream.  To be at an outside wrestling event at 2AM in the morning with people with painted faces,  driving up in a limo, dressing in a tent and seeing people I haven't seen in 20 years...if that's not a dream,  I don't know what is.  

Inside the tent,   let me run down the Hall of Fame list. 



PHOTO TO THE RIGHT:  ONE OF MY
EARLY HEROES...TERRY FUNK WHO
GRACIOUSLY ALLOWED ME TO
TAKE HIS PHOTO INSIDE THE
WRESTLER'S TENT
Terry Funk
"HackSaw' Jim Duggan
"Hands of Stone"  Ronnie Garvin
Booker T
The Ugandan Giant, Kamala
Buck Robley
Sid Vicious
Sabu
Balls Mahoney
Raven
Booker T
Tracy Smothers
Bull Pain
Brian Christopher
PG 13
Ian Rotten
Colt Cabana

All in all..over the period of the 4 DAY GATHERING,  ICP and Corporal Robinson had booked 95 wrestlers which I would think is a record of sorts.  Hell, if its not,  I don't know what is.   I've never been on a show with that number of performers before and I probably never will again.  But what will ICP come up with next year?   If they do anything close to what they did this year,  I would suggest they call the Guiness Book of World Records so they could document the event for posterity. 

 Then I saw something,  I never thought I'd see.

FACE TO FACE WITH A 7 FOOT TALL AMAZON!!!


WHERE IN THE HELL DID THIS GIRL COME FROM???

As I walked into the tent saying hello to all the guys I hadn't seen in years,  I came face to face with one of the largest HUMANS I've ever seen in my life.  Big doesn't describe this FEMALE.  She is HUGE.  I've met Andre and she is almost as big as he was.  I've also been around Ernie the Cat Ladd and she's bigger than what I remember him being.   This woman has to be the 2nd largest HUMAN BEING I've ever met. 


ABOVE:  To give you an indication of how big Isis is,  here she is pictured with Sabu. 


Her name was Isis the Amazon.  Quite naturally,  I started talking to her.  She was very friendly, down to earth and easy to talk to.   Her real name was Lindsay.  I found out a few things about her.  She played college basketball at the University of Virginia and had trained for wrestling in South Florida.   When I worked in TNA,  I had heard about a 7' foot woman training down around Miami and wanted to take a look at her but never got the chance.   At the GATHERING,  I made it a point to watch her match that night against Mickey Knuckles.  It takes a lot to impress me...but this girl IMPRESSED me.

PHOTO TO THE RIGHT:  Isis the Amazon and Wild Eyed Southern Boy,  Tracy Smothers following her match at the GATHERING.  Tracy is 6'1 and Isis towers over him.  She is one HUGE WOMAN.  

Her in ring work was smooth and precise and not at all like you would imagine a person, so big,  would be.  I expected clumsiness but she was very well coordinated.  I have to give credit to the ICP guys because they got her on the radar a lot quicker than WWE. 
Before I wrote this blog,  I contacted Isis and asked her for some confirmation of a few things so that I could accurately write about her here.  She politely declined to do any type of interview with me by replying that she could not conduct any interviews at this time.  WTF?  Hell,  I didn't want to conduct a criminal deposition with her but I figured it out all later when I read that she had signed a developmental contract with WWE.   They had told her not to do any interviews.  Now,  I understood why she couldn't do any.  Her new identity and name is Aloisia  and I congratulate her and wish her all the best. 

MY PREDICTION:  If WWE handles this AMAZON  correctly,  they will have a SUPERSTAR on their hands.  She will be an ATTRACTION much along the lines of Andre the Giant and she has all the tools to be super successful.  

THE DOPE BRIDGE ???
REAL OR FICTION???



Isn't that a picturesque view of a nice bridge?  

After I talked with the Amazon....I just sat around inside the tent with all the guys.  I saw HUGE bonfires in the distance...a lot of woop, woops coming from afar.   Then Jamie Dundee came into the tent and as I sat there talking to him,  I kept hearing the words DOPE BRIDGE.  I had never heard that phrase before.  DOPE BRIDGE?  WTF was that I thought?  Then somebody told me what it was. 

From what I heard,  there was a short wooden bridge on the property that spanned a small creek.  It was about 50 to 60 feet long and wide enough to drive a car over it but mostly it was used as a pedestrian crossing.  On this bridge,  according to the talk that I heard,  there were people who openly advertised illegal drugs with signs hanging around their necks.   Supposedly,  the signs read marijuana,  pain pills,  heroin,  coke,  aspirin,  Advil,  hemorrhoid medication...no they didn't have any hemorrhoid medication.  I think they must have run out of that early.    

If anybody wanted anything,  all they had to do was to meet on the bridge and they could find out where to go to get it.   Officially,   I have NOW SEEN AND DONE IT ALL.

When I first heard about the DOPE BRIDGE,  I thought Bullshit.   On a personal note,  let me say this.  All I did was hear about it.  I didn't see it nor did I visit the bridge.  Hell, I was feeling pretty lucky at this point to have made it as far as I did so I was not going to personally check out a bridge at 3AM in the morning.  I'll take your word for it, guys.   I cannot say with any certainty that it was real.    But I was told it was by several people.  But hey,  wrestlers have been known to embellish a story.  But hell, even if its not real...its one hell of a conversation point, isn't it???   

Wow.  What a night and it still wasn't over. 

Flashlight Wrestling??? 

After I saw and talked to the Amazon girl, it was 3AM.   The next show was to be at 4AM...and it was to be called Flashlight Wrestling.  I've never heard of a 4AM match before. Never. Hell, I'm not even in the bed at 4AM most days. But I was going to actually wrestle in a match where the arena is dark and the only light I would have would be supplied by fans with flashlights.   


Flashlight Wrestling started at 4:30AM.   So far,  this had been a 23 hour day for me.  I thought I should be tired but the adrenalin had been pumping for most of the day.  I was in the second match so I stood backstage and watched the first match which was the Hands of Stone,  Ronnie Garvin and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Ian Rotten and a partner that I cannot remember now.  But what surprised me was I couldn't believe how many people were there.  

My match started at straight up 5AM and when they played my music as I walked down the ramp headed to the ring,  there were about 700/800 Juggaloes in attendance.   I knew this was a 24 hour festival but to have 700 people show up...at 5 in the morning...I was STUNNED.   I've been on literally hundreds and hundreds of shows which didn't have anywhere close to that attendance...and at 8PM at night.

I set two records that night.  Since the match started at 5AM...it was the earliest I had ever wrestled and the latest.  Take your pick. 
I went to the ring and the arena was lit very well but as soon as the bell rang,  the ring went completely dark and the only light we had was supplied by the Juggaloes with flashlights.   Well,  if the Juggs were going to throw anything,  this was the time to do it.  I waited...nothing.  No rocks, no bottles,  no chairs, fetuses,  old copies of Wrestling Observer Newsletters...kitchen sinks.  

Nothing was thrown and I was surprised that the Juggs were so respectful to me.  After hearing so much about the Juggaloes and for them to be so respectful of the wrestlers was surprising to me.  I've wrestled in what they call 'dark matches'  before but never in a real dark match in the actual dark.  Seriously,  this whole 24 hour period had been an experience and it was one day of my life that I will never forget but I had accomplished what I set out to do...and that was to leave the GATHERING alive.  Its always been one of my priorities to live through the day so I could wake up the next one.  
  I HAD SURVIVED THE GATHERING!!! 

After my match,   I entered the tent,  grabbed my bag and said my goodbyes to the guys who were still there.  I threw my stuff into the limo...and off we went back through the hundreds of tents and hundreds of little Juggaloes that were just getting up to meet another wonderful day in JuggaloVille.  As we rolled out of this makeshift city,  the SUN was just popping its head over the horizon.

I can say that the day had been one of the most memorable of my entire wrestling career and I am glad I was invited.   If I'm invited back,  I would go again. 


YALL COME BACK NOW...YE HEAR!!!!

Even though I entered with a lot of dread and fear mixed with a preconceived notion of what I thought the Juggaloes or the ICP Nation were,  I left with an entirely different view of them.   In the world of pro wrestling,  its a world apart from what ordinary people see and even though I've been most everywhere,  THE GATHERING is a World apart from what I've ever seen.  I had never seen an event like the Gathering.   But...in the end,  the Juggs were very courteous to me were the  total the opposites of what I had heard they were.  Or hey...I'm Dirty Dutch.  Maybe the Juggs were 'scared' of me?   Who knows?

Hats off to Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope and Corporal Robinson for pulling off such a huge event and a successful event as well.   Thanks guys...lets do it again next year. 

I'm not a Juggalo...but I feel as though I'm an honorary one.  

Woop, woop!!!!


















  
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7 comments:

  1. Damn, just when you think you have seen it all...---Dutch Dog.

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  2. Another gem from Dirty!

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  3. Truthfully speaking, I always dig your commentary

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  4. Wow thanks for taking the time to write this up. From someone who has attended a couple gatherings you painted a great picture of what its like to find and spend some time there. Glad you had a positive time and thank you for coming. Reading your blog was almost like I got to make it instead of miss it can't thank you enough. BTW that virus just might of been the Gathering Funk! I've yet to go and not come back fighting something. J - Cottonwood, AZ

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  5. Definitely happy you enjoyed yourself man...even more so that you had most of your suspicions and prejudice dispelled. Yea we get a bad rep...but we can be fun as hell too so long as your not a d*ck. The wrestling is one of the best parts of the Gathering...and it's awesome you had one hell of a show man. Stop by next year, we can always use one more man in the ring!

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  6. great story, all 3 parts. thanks

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  7. Randy Elrod19/10/10 8:20 PM

    One hell of a story Dutch. Sounds like you had an experience that will stay with you for a while.

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