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The 7 - Pro Wrestling - Billy & Chuck - "Seemingly gay team a big hit"
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Lap cheong
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#1 Posted on 30.8.02 0754.10
Reposted on: 30.8.09 0759.09
A very strange (but mostly positive) article about the former tag team champions :

Seemingly gay team a big hit

Thursday, August 29, 2002

By Jonathan Miller

Last December, professional wrestling fans watching “Raw,” World Wrestling Entertainment's cable show on TNN, became acquainted with a wrestler known as Chuck, who, according to the official Web site of the wrestling-match producer, “really likes his tag-team partner -- a lot.” His partner, Billy, is described on the same site as having “a spring in his step -- and a glimmer in his eye.”

In the ring, they are often accompanied by a mutton-chopped stylist named Rico, whose wrist used to be limp because -- so the story goes -- his hand was crushed during a match. On Valentine's Day, Billy and Chuck exchanged chocolates and hugs.

To those with only a passing acquaintance with professional wrestling, the appearance of Billy and Chuck -- along with their stylist -- might seem a desperate ploy to win ratings when net income for the wrestling producer is down 79 percent over this quarter last year and television ratings are down 20 percent.

What would wrestling's bloodthirsty fans love more after all than to watch “Stone Cold” Steve Austin clothesline two guys who like to rub each other with massage oil before a match?

But despite their in-the-ring carryings-on, Billy and Chuck are not out there to take the expected beating. They are being cultivated inside World Wrestling Entertainment to be true heroes or, in wrestling parlance, baby faces.

For almost five months this year, Billy and Chuck were tag-team champions, beating out two wrestlers known as Tazz and Spike Dudley for the title. “When the bell rings, we're all business,” said Chuck Palumbo, who is just plain Chuck in the ring. “We're big guys, and we're athletic guys.”

And the crowds have been responding, said Jayson Bernstein, a spokesman for the wrestling producer. The fans are the real gauge. If they hoot or cheer, he figures, the wrestlers must be doing something right. “I think they're still getting the reaction,” Bernstein said.

Kevin Dunn, the executive producer of World Wrestling Entertainment, predicted: “They'll definitely have a baby-face run. Guaranteed. It will be great television.”

Officials at the company are coy about the sexual orientation of Billy and Chuck, declining to call them gay or straight. As Dunn put it, Billy and Chuck “were created out of a need to have different characters.” It is up to the audience, he said, to interpret them.

Nevertheless, Vince Russo, a former writer for WWE who created story lines and scripts for other wrestlers, said that it should be fairly clear that the two characters were homosexuals.

Palumbo said that he and his partner, Monty Sopp, who plays Billy in the ring, are heterosexual in their nonwrestling lives.

As it turns out, characters of malleable masculinity have been part of professional wrestling since the late 1940s, when the otherwise-unremarkable George Wagner bleached his hair blond, donned a purple robe and began life as Gorgeous George. (He accused Liberace of imitating him.)

“Historically, the gay characters are thrown out there because it's easy for the audience to hate them,” said Dave Meltzer, editor of The Wrestling Observer, a newsletter based in Campbell, Calif.

But things may be changing, and Billy and Chuck are different, say writers and fans who have been following wrestling for years.

While characters like Exotic Adrian Street and Adorable Adrian Adonis romped around the ring in dresses, bows and makeup in the 1970s and '80s, Billy and Chuck appear in basic red hot pants and white robes. Most notable, however, gay groups, which protested three gay-seeming characters in the '90s, say they are not offended by Billy and Chuck's exploits. Scott Seomin, a spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said he believed that they were an improvement on their predecessors and thinks they have the “potential to be a good start.”

“They don't seem defamatory,” Seomin said. “I don't mind stereotypes. Stereotypes are based on truth and humor.”

Palumbo said that gay fans seem to respond to him. “I've been confronted by people on the street,” he said. “They seem to have that gay persona. They're happy to see character development like ours.”

Dunn believes that the time when WWE has a completely out-of-the-closet character is not far off. “I'm sure sooner or later we'll have that character,” he said. “If there was someone who was openly gay and wanted to make a crusade, he would be the perfect guy.”

Although there is no official gauge, gay men seem to be tuning in to professional wrestling, said Anderson Jones, a movie critic for E! Online and a wrestling fan. “Wrestling has been a gay fetish as long as there have been gay men on the planet,” he said, adding that he and other gay men have been catching “Smackdown!” on UPN and “Raw” on TNN for years to watch straight characters like the Rock and handsome, well-muscled men in small shorts. What's more, he believes mainstream wrestlers know they are treading the line between gay and straight.

“The smarter guys are already playing with that ambiguity,” he said.

It's been a rough few months for what was once the World Wrestling. Federation. In addition to the dismal quarterly earnings report and the drop in ratings, in May the company was forced to change its name from World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment after losing a legal battle with the World Wildlife Fund, which also uses the initials WWF.

Only a month later, Austin (who is Steve Williams, out of the ring), perhaps the most popular figure in wrestling of the last decade, was let go after failing to appear at several fights. Then on Aug. 13 he surrendered himself after a judge issued a warrant charging him with assault with bodily injury, stemming from a June incident with his wife. (He was freed after posting a $5,000 bond. He will be arraigned on Sept. 18.)

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), the WWE star who is nearing an Arnold Schwarzenegger level of fame since starring in “The Scorpion King” (worldwide gross, $156 million), was rushed back into the ring soon after Stone Cold's travails. But as Johnson's movie career takes off, it seems unlikely that
wrestling can rely on him.

In these desperate times, wrestling seems to be casting about for the next big thing. Right now, that big thing is a crew-cut, 300-pound farm boy named Brock Lesnar who won the NCAA heavyweight championship for wrestling in 2000. It's unclear, though, if he will enjoy the same success as his predecessors.

In the meantime, Billy and Chuck will continue to lead their ambiguous lives in the ring, which is just fine with their employers.

Just don't look for a major campaign to attract the gay fan.

“I guess, potentially, we could open up new doors,” Bernstein, the World Wrestling Entertainment spokesman, said. “But we're not going out there with our checklist.”
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#2 Posted on 30.8.02 0818.39
Reposted on: 30.8.09 0829.01
Any article that gets Billy's really name out in the mainstream press is great in my opinion. Monty Sopp. HA HA AHA HAA HAA AH HA!

I think it would be an interesting challenge to get a 'gay' team over as babyfaces, considering that have wrestlers act fey has always been a standard way to get boss and 'Faggot' chants from the crowds. They have to add a lot more to the characters to turn them.
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#3 Posted on 30.8.02 0839.23
Reposted on: 30.8.09 0841.36
Every time I read "Monty Sopp", I think, "Let's make a deal!"
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#4 Posted on 30.8.02 1156.06
Reposted on: 30.8.09 1159.07

    Originally posted by A-MOL
    Any article that gets Billy's really name out in the mainstream press is great in my opinion. Monty Sopp. HA HA AHA HAA HAA AH HA!

    I think it would be an interesting challenge to get a 'gay' team over as babyfaces, considering that have wrestlers act fey has always been a standard way to get boss and 'Faggot' chants from the crowds. They have to add a lot more to the characters to turn them.

The only reason Chuck & Billy were/are heels is because they cheat. People dug the insinuations and they could have been faces. The same for Lenny & Lodi back in WCW. Who didn't laugh when they walked in/out of a closet?
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#5 Posted on 30.8.02 1407.36
Reposted on: 30.8.09 1407.37

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#6 Posted on 30.8.02 1415.17
Reposted on: 30.8.09 1422.26
I think Rico should refer to Billy as "Monty" one day. That'd be an easy way to distance Rico from Billy and Chuck! It's going that direction anyways..! hah!
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