Out! Here Comes The SpiderBaby...
Interview With Terrance Griep
Griep at a convention...
last few months, the Midwestern Indy scene has been getting
more and more notice. With the WWE and TNA scouting for more
new stars, and the emergence of several potential future champions,
the Mid-West looks to be on the verge of exploding.
Pro Wrestling has been getting a lot of press in particular,
specifically for the wrestler SpiderBaby. Terrance Griep plays
SpiderBaby, the first wrestler to be openly gay both behind
the scenes and to the audience. For comics fans, however,
Griep also has another dream job: he writes Scooby Doo for
has a feature on his wrestling career in the current Out Magazine
and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
J. Garcia: You're livin' the Fanboy dream by writing
comics and wrestling at the same time.
Griep: It's very, very hard work, but I'm deeply grateful
for and humbled by the opportunity.
Where do you see the intersection of these two worlds?
Well, I'm sure the heelish SpiderBaby would note the parallel
between the two fandoms as one of questionable hygienic skill,
but that's HIS opinion, not mine!
current WWE superstars almost uniformly mention that they
read super-hero comics as kids, and they fell in love with
pro wrestling for many of the same reasons: larger-than-life
characters telling the story of good versus evil.
another parallel between comics and wrestling is that both
are generally maligned by the outside world and, not coincidentally,
misunderstood. I think both have grown up tremendously in
the last twenty years.
my writing experience into each and every match which is,
after all, a story. I hope my strength as a wrestler is bringing
a sense of structure, pacing, and especially character between
Do you think that telling a story in the context of a match
is easier or harder than doing it in a series of panels?
I like the collaboration involved in both, but they're generally
hard to compare. I will tell you this, though: I've neither
bloodied my nose nor cracked a rib writing...but I've done
both while wrestling.
My Girlfriend's 4-year old loves your Scooby-Doo stuff.
Great; thanks for mentioning that. Please tell her I said,
I'm fond of the fact that the comic has managed to retain
the original feel but still feels fresh after 30 years. What
are the difficulties in writing a title based on such a major
part of our childhood mythos?
if I'm honest, I don't find writing Scooby at all difficult.
I just think about why I personally like the characters and
situations so much, then I build my stories around those likes.
It's easy for people to relate to how I relate to Scooby and
his pals. Oftentimes, we all relate in the same way.
work is featured in both "manga" editions.
words, I stop thinking of the characters as characters and
start thinking of them as childhood friends. The stories just
sort of flow from that point of reference.
You started out in wrestling doing commentary, which means
you had to be a student of the sport. When did you start watching?
Who influenced your style most, both in the ring and announcing?
I get asked this question often, and I answer it off-the-top-of-my-head-ish
every time. I'm sure some comic book fan's going to collate
my answers and call me out for breaking my own continuity.
watching as a five-year-old with my dad, who used me as his
own personal, prepubescent jobber. He wisely died in 1996,
sparing himself much painful karma.
I worship the Rock. I love the actual wrestling of William
Regal who makes ordinary holds extraordinary. Of late, I've
studied numerous old tapes and discovered or rediscovered
Jake Roberts, Eddie Gilbert, Bob Orton, Jr., Ray Stevens,
Nick Bockwinkel, Arn Anderson, Buddy Rogers, Billy Graham,
Pat Patterson, Art Barr, and Eddie Guerrero, to name only
Heenan, Piper, Cornette--another guy I worship--and especially
Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
In the history of wrestling, there have been many openly gay
wrestlers, Pat Patterson being the first to come to mind,
though none have ever come out to the fans.
I'm glad you've made that distinction. This story has sort
of outrun the reality. I'm certainly not claiming to be the
first gay man in wrestling, and I hold Mister Patterson and
the many others who've come before me in the highest esteem.
I'm gay; I'm out; and I'm a pro wrestler. That's all I personally
am laying claim to--nothing more, and nothing less.
Do you think the fanbase in general is ready to accept an
openly gay wrestler?
This sentiment has been expressed to me, in a dubious,
what're-you-nuts? kind of way, by some wrestlers. But here's
the truth: if they're ready, then there's really no point
in being out, is there?
Midwest Pro Wrestling's fans have really responded to my message:
that is, boo The SpiderBaby for what he does, not who he is.
And boo me they do!
What is the atmosphere in the dressing room?
It's cool. Each wrestler there understands that my one and
only priority is putting on a memorable show...just like his
How do you feel about characters like Exotic Adrian Street,
Adorable Adrian Adonis, Goldust, and the West Hollywood Blondes?
I find them generally disturbing, particularly the more modern
ones. It disturbs me to think that these are the first images
of tacitly, yet flamboyantly, gay men that many teen boys
-- pro wrestling's largest modern demographic -- will see.
And the reactions these characters garner from the fans certainly
don't leave me very optimistic about how these kids relate
to GLBT people. And I cringe to think what a gay teenager
who sees these characters must think and feel.
Do you see gay characters being more reasonably portrayed
in the wrestling world in the near future?
I hope so. Speaking generally, wrestling characters are more
complex today than they were twenty years ago, and I've no
reason to think gay characters will develop any differently.
I'm somewhat heartened that, last year, WWE fans turned Billy
and Chuck into de facto babyfaces...although it's important
to note that that turn hinged on treating homosexual love
as a joke, and a mean-spirited joke, at that.
plenty of room for improvement, and, hoping not too sound
too messianic here, I'm doing what I can to create it.
You've gotten far more press than any other indy worker I
can think of. What's next on your plate?
What else? Governor of Minnesota, jack!