This is not going to be a chronology of Adrian Street, who sadly passed recently, this is a peek into his work, and much needed.
No One Played The Gimmick Like Him
Gorgeous George is thought to have been the progenitor, there were others who played the gimmick like Adrian Adonis when he became ‘Adorable’, that primping and preening pastel-colour wearing made wrestlers who played into wrestling fan prejudices because they felt those wrestlers challenged their sexuality.
It’s something we should deride, taking into account social mores, but never defending them. We are not in this situation now and yet we still absolutely are, we should always be vigilant.
Adrian Street absolutely did not conform to the social morés, which is not to say Gorgeous George or Adrian Adonis did either, but Street worked it differently.
There was nothing around gender or sexuality in his gimmick. For someone wearing feathers in his hair and pouting so strongly, that may sound odd.
But it wasn’t about that for Street. It was about flamboyance. Something out of the ordinary, something to break us out of black and white, gloom, torpor – even when he lip-locked with his opponents, and he won a title from Terry Taylor shortly after that move – it wasn’t about kissing another wrestler, it was about the freedom, the freedom to act the way he wanted, the freedom to skip, the freedom.
That’s why fans loved to hate him. He was free, he wasn’t tied down, and he behaved the way he liked; so many of those locked into the rat race would like to do that.
After all, one of his songs bore the lyrics ‘I’m in love with me’…
Backing It Up
It wouldn’t have worked if Street wasn’t a great wrestler and a legitimate tough guy.
He came up hard, in a Welsh coal-mining family, following a dream which allegedly his father didn’t smile on; perhaps this made him challenge his father with flamboyance. As he said, reported in SESCOOPS;
“It’s too dark down there. I was born for the spotlight.”
He started in UK wrestling rings and I wish I had seen his tandem with Bobby Barnes, The Hells Angels – rumour had it that when he heard disgraced former TV personality and occasional wrestler Jimmy Saville boasts before a match of his sexual exploits with underage girls, he legitimately beat him up in the match and pulled his hair out. As he told The Guardian;
‘I ripped his hair out of his head … I drop-kicked him so hard he landed on his head. I beat the crap out of him.’
And he went to America, no one really expecting him to make a success of it, this Brit wrestler who was smaller than many – he claimed he put feathers in his hair to look taller – but he did make a success.
His work in Europe and Mexico honed his skills, so when he landed in the Continental Championship Wrestling In 1985, feeding against Austin Idol, he was ready.
He also became the Florida Heavyweight Champ in 1983, Mid-South TV title in 1984 and the 6-time Northeastern Champ in Southwest Championship Wrestling. Not to mention his Wrestling Observer Best Gimmick award from 1986.
And yet, for all the skipping, pouting and pigtails, for all the before-match shenanigans with real-life wife Miss Linda, he could put the moves on you and beat you in a variety of ways.
His long-time theme song ‘Imagine What I Could Do To You’ had several meanings, fans could take whichever they want from it.
Whatever They Want To Take
Yes, that’s part of the appeal of Exotic Adrian Street, the crowd could love or love to hate him for a variety of reasons, his gimmick, his toughness or his absolute freedom to be who he wanted to be, who they couldn’t.
Street capitalised on wrestling too, as trainer (some of the time with the WWE), the WWE made a movie of his life and he sold wrestling gear too – Mick Foley’s Dude Love duds were made by Linda and Adrian.
Adrian Street: A One-Off?
Yes, I think so. He had a gimmick many others did and yet he used it unlike any others. He flew under so many radars, but he made a stir wherever he went.
Adrian was simply amazing.