Adrian Street – Pro Wrestling’s Renaissance Man

Adrian Street. According to the Webster’s Dictionary the definition of a Renaissance man is “a person who has wide interests and is expert in several areas” Often times referred to as universal man the term Renaissance man dates back to the 1400s in Renaissance Italy. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) whose talents ranged from art, science, music, invention, athletics, and writing is one of the most well-known and influential renaissance men.

Fashion Designer, Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Author, Trainer, and wrestling legend “The Exotic “Adrian Street, embodies what a modern Renaissance man truly is.  He was known for his flamboyant in-ring persona as he electrified audiences with his sensational in-ring wrestling ability. However, beyond Adrian’s eccentric appearance there was a courageous intellectual who was armed with muscle, makeup, and a creative genius’s mind.

Adrian grew up in a hard Welsh coal-mining family and at a young age had no choice but to be tough.

He enjoyed listening to 50s Rock N Roll Music and the many icons like Chuck Berry, and Little Richard.

During his teenage years he began bodybuilding which is probably what saved him from being a prisoner of the coal mines. At the age of 16 he began his pro wrestling career adopting the ring name “Kid Tarzan Jonathan”.  “I didn’t choose wrestling it chose me” said Street he later added “I hated school – hated being a kid – did not enjoy my childhood – that is why I am really enjoying my second childhood now.”

It’s safe to say wrestling not only saved his life but fueled his creativity.  He met his longtime valet and now wife Miss Linda at the “First Marine Aquarium Store” where she had sold him a collection of tropical salt water fish.

Adrian had a legendary career and broke down many barriers by pushing the envelope and challenging the norm. Between the years 1957-2014 Adrian had approximately 15,000 pro wrestling matches. He also had a short spell at the British NXT Training Center for WWE. He has authored Imagine What I Could Do to You, My Pink Gas Mask, Sadist in Sequins, So Many Ways to Hurt You, I only laugh When it Hurts , Violence is Golden, and Merchant of Menace are all available on Amazon. An Adrian Street action figure was produced

What inspired to you design custom gear for wrestlers?

Adrian Street: “What drew me to pro wrestling in the first place was the flamboyant costumes worn by the ‘American’ pro wrestlers I read about in the American magazines – I was very disappointed with the drab costumes worn by the British pro wrestlers so when I began my career I decided to emulate the American Stars who inspired me in the first place. “

How did you begin your music career, and what was it like cutting your first album?

Adrian Street: “I had been asked by singer/comedian Russ Abbott to make a record with him and his band – ‘The Black Abbots’ however, as we both had very busy schedules, we seemed to find it impossible to get together at the same time. It was when I tore my Achilles tendon in half.

In what I was told was a career-ending injury that I found I had plenty of time on my hands. Unfortunately, that coincided with Russ telling me that he had just sold the studio. Well, with nothing better to occupy my time, I contacted the new owners of the studio and decided to cut my own record anyway.

Now we had the problem of what I was going to sing. I didn’t want to cover any of the songs I really liked, but couldn’t think of anything original. The studio suggested a couple of songs written by a local singer/songwriter named Don Woods.

The first song was ‘I am only happy when I’m stoned’ – I could just imagine someone like Dean Martin grinding through it in one of his whisky-sodden stupors & I changed the words to ‘I’m only happy breaking’ Bones’ and altering the lyrics to a more appropriate theme.

I demanded to meet the author, Don Woods, and we hit it off from day one. He is just as silly as I am, and he had another song for me ‘A mighty big girl’. All that needed was some of the lyrics to be altered in order to make it more ‘WRESTLING’ orientated, and we had the flip side of my first single.

Don and I have worked together on every song we have written/performed ever since.

I wanted something bigger and louder to use as my ring entrance when I returned to wrestling. ‘IMAGINE WHAT I COULD DO TO YOU’ was born. On the flip side, I wanted a complete contrast – what could be better than a love song – TO MYSELF?  ‘I’m in love with me’ was the answer.

The day we recorded, I was still hopping about on crutches with a plaster cast on my leg from toes to upper thigh. The Surgeon had told me I might find it hard to walk properly again and that wrestling was completely out of the question.

If I don’t like what I am told to do – I WON’T DO IT. I only have one way to do anything MY WAY!!! When Linda and I were cast in ‘Grunt,’ the Wrestling Movie, 3 of my 4 songs were added to it – [that led to a record/video deal with Rhino Records, and radio plays on The Dr. DeMento Show.

After completing the Movie, I decided to write my own screenplay and also set about writing more songs for it to add to the 4 I already had – Jimmy Lee Maslin was a very good friend and intended producing my screenplay, and we were waiting for a date to begin.

Once again, we were permanently sidetracked by a heap of Jimmy Lee’s personal problems. Rather than let all my efforts go to waste.

I expanded my screenplay into my first book, ‘Shake Wrestle ‘n’ Roll’ – a pink cover and all printed on pink pages. Even though my movie wasn’t to be, I still had an album’s worth of new songs – Don came over to Florida, where I was living and wrestling at that time, and we completed the album ‘Shake Wrestle ‘n’ Roll’ in the WBB studio in Mobile Alabama as I was a good friend of ‘Hound Dawg’ the studios DJ.

The success of our first album inspired a second Don Woods came over again, and the record album ‘Naughty But its Nice’ was born.

I wrote most of the lyrics for that on my way to various wrestling venues. We had a record deal on both albums with ‘Rhino Records,’ but once again, they have just gone belly up but are still involved with Sean Borheman, who has gone private.

I have done a number of concerts ‘The Shake Wrestle ‘n’ Roll’ gig in The Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama, and run by Friend and promoter Linda Marx – various concerts in both Georgia and South Carolina. – I have since written a few more songs but as yet never got to record them.”

What was it like returning to Wales?

Adrian Street:  “I left Wales and the coalmines where I had worked from the age of 15 to go and live in London when I was 16 years old to pursue my dream of being a pro wrestler. I really never ever thought I would return – but never say never – we had the most beautiful home with a 4-acre garden full of tropical fruit and flowers.

Haunted by beautiful birds and butterflies – but a number of Hurricanes that tore the garden and house to pieces – that blew away the wrestling school ‘Skullkrushers’ that I was running – and I’m talking twilight zone – GONE – DISAPPEARED  WITHOUT A TRACE. It wasn’t a matter of if – it was when our home would follow our wrestling school and Exotic Costume business.

Now the real cincher – Linda and I love the beach, and there were dozens of beautiful beaches just a very short distance from where we lived – BUT – as much as we loved the beach, that love pales into insignificance compared with our love of Mountains – Florida has no mountains.

Wales has some of the most BEAUTIFUL Mountains in the World – Wales, here we come – our home in Cwmbran [Valley of the Crows] has the most spectacular view – from one side of our house, we have gorgeous views of the wooded hills rising higher and higher with ever-changing colors as the seasons change.

On the other side, our views include the town of Cwmbran, very far below us and in the distance. Everywhere you look, there are valleys – mountains – you can even see both ends of the Severn Bridge that connects Wales to England and right over the Bristol Channel into England itself.

November 5th, ‘Guy Fawkes night’ and New Year’s Eve, we sit and watch the fireworks displays all over parts of Wales, and also the English displays over the other side of the channel. WE LOVE WALES. “

I read that you were in the film “Quest for Fire” starring Ron Perlman. What was it like working on that set?

Adrian Street: “Yes, Quest for Fire was one of the movies I was in – I was actually involved with the movie for almost two years before we began filming – I worked with Penny Rose for the costumes of the ‘Wagabo Tribe’.

I worked with Chris Tucker [creator of the makeup for John Merrick in ‘The Elephant man’ – in fact, after seeing some of our sculptures, he offered both Linda and I a job working for him. I also worked at many of the big British studios on various projects, most namely modeling/moving/performing in all of the various Neanderthal tribes’ costumes.

Working of the live set was very hard – on location in Scotland, we were forever injuring our bare feet on rocks, thistles, and thorns while we cracked ice with our feet running through icy streams. I was chased and almost trampled by a herd of stampeding elephants dressed up as prehistoric Mammoths.

There are hundreds of stories connected with Quest for Fire’  if you want more, you’ll have to read the book. I also Starred in a BBC2 Movie, ‘A Drink out of the Bottle’ – Passolini’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ and of course ‘Grunt’, the Wrestling Movie, where Linda and I played ourselves. “

Your documentary “You  Maybe Pretty but I am beautiful” without getting too much into detail, can you please explain the process that was involved for that film?

Adrian Street: “‘You May be Pretty, but I am Beautiful’ was filmed and produced by Joann Randles on various locations in both Britain and the US. It was inspired by Jeremy Deller’s documentary on me, ‘SO MANY WAYS TO HURT YOU’‘YOU MAY BE PRETTY, BUT I AM BEAUTIFUL’ was made to draw attention to a feature movie she is planning to produce sometime in the future.

The WWE also made a documentary on me more recently. But the official – autographed documentary was entirely produced by myself and contains not only wrestling contests against some of the greats but also many of the best songs from both my record albums.

What is the best advice given to you?

Adrian Street: “The best advice given to me was by my favorite Uncle Fred – ‘Never give up’ – I also very much like a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte – ‘Never interrupt an enemy when they are making a mistake.”

Who are some of the people you looked up to, and why?

Adrian Street: “Don Leo Jonathan – I wrestled as ‘Kid Tarzan Jonathan’ the first 4 years of my wrestling career – he was also my Best Man at Linda and my Wedding, held in the Penthouse of the Rivera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas at the Cauliflower Alley Club 2005 where I was made an Honoree.

Nature Boy Buddy Rogers was also a great friend and inspiration. I wrestled as ‘Nature-Boy’ Adrian Street when I began wrestling for Britain’s Big time promoters in 1961. The Lightweight Wrestling Champion of The World George Kidd was also responsible for teaching me some very advanced shoot wrestling. George Kidd was the BEST technical wrestler I have ever wrestled or even seen in my entire life.”