Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Exotic Adrian Street

You know that Roland Barthes essay, The World of Wrestling, in Mythologies (1957) where he says: "the function of the wrestler is not to win - it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him"? Well, whenever poring over Barthes' Structuralist analysis of the grapple game I can't help but think of Adrian Street from Brynmawr.

During the '60s and '70s Street was one of the most hated wrestlers around. He would enter the ring wearing sequined costumes, carrying an ostrich fan (see pic). To limber up he did provocative pirouettes. The bleached-blond Welsh wrestler would then strut camply around the ring perimeter preening himself. Before the match started he would kiss his opponents. Sometimes he would even refer to them as "Gwendolyn". This would wind them - and the audience - up, something chronic.

Street was what Barthes would have called the "salaud" - the bastard, the character you are meant to hate within the drama. He was a kind of glam rock example of this. A hardcore female following swooned over his pretty boy features but the majority hated his guts. The Welshman wasn't at all bothered - he said they were just jealous of his good looks. Street described himself as not only the King of the Ring but also its Queen. He was billed as: Exotic Adrian Street.

Street was born and brought up in Brynmawr. As a teenager he developed a passion for physical culture and at 17 headed for the bright lights of London. At the beginning of his grappling career he realised that it wasn't enough just to be a good wrestler you had to get yourself noticed. And the best way to do this was to be a complete bastard. As well as adopting an ultra vain and effeminate persona he earned a reputation for being a bit dirty in the ring too.

Street's career soon prospered and he eventually went on to become a world champion. Outside of the ring in the realms of popular culture he also found modest success. For example he had roles in Pasolini's version of the Canterbury Tales (1972) and Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985). He has also released records including the single Breakin' Bones (1977).

These days Street lives in Florida where until recently he ran a wrestling school called Skull Krushers. Now he earns a living designing and selling wrestling gear. You can purchase memorabilia and find out more about Adrian and his exotic world at his official website. It's well worth a visit.