WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley made his living in what some consider a faux violent sport.
Of course, the wrestling injuries he sustained were real. His post-wrestling career has been spent writing bestsellers and grammatically correct tweets, and performing spoken word stand-up shows, like his recent engagement at the New Hope Cinema Grill: “I do appear at comedy venues, not so much [to tell] jokes as charming stories, usually funny. Sometimes they are quite touching.”
I met Foley at Ridgedale’s Fan HQ, where fans brought wrestling-related pieces of furniture to be autographed as you will see in my startribune.com/video.
Q: You write some really sweet tweets on Twitter to fans. You write them?
A: [Laughter] Thank you, sometimes they are sweet, sometimes they are silly. Sometimes they are self-promotional, but they are almost always grammatically correct. That’s important to me.
Q: You seem to wear a lot of Twins jerseys on TV. Are you a Twins fan?
A: I was given a Twins jersey when I took batting practice with the team the day before Summer Slam in 1999 and I found the Twins were neutral. I could wear that Twins jersey anywhere and not be hated; didn’t spark the kind of vitriol like a Yankees jersey might. So I like the Twins. They were the first team to give me a jersey and as much of a Yankees fan as I was growing up, I tend to side with the teams that give me free things. Go Twins, yeah.
Q: How many concussions do you think you’ve had?
A: Unfortunately, I had too many for me to count really.
Q: Have you been approached about donating your brain for study as many NFL players have?
A: I have been approached. These are some tough questions here. You see how quickly I did those autographs? We got through a few hundred people fairly quickly. Signing my name on that form to donate my brain took a long time. It’s a big step, but if other people can learn from what I’ve done, I’m willing to do it.
I believe as long as I can continue to say the words Boston Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy that my brain is still working OK.
Q: Which of your wrestling personas did you enjoy most?
A: People expect me to choose between Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love. I actually had the most fun when I was The Commissioner Mick Foley. I remember having the argument with Mr. [Vince] McMahon, that despite the fact he claimed he made me, I said my most popular character was me, Commissioner Mick Foley. It didn’t pay the best, but that was when I had the most fun.
Q: Which of your alter egos is a better kisser?
A: [Laughter] Dude, dude. Dude was a lady’s man. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually kissed as Mankind. I don’t think my wife was [ever like] ‘Do some Mankind for me tonight.’
Q: You must have an enormous tolerance for pain, given this lore about you fighting with a separated shoulder.
A: You’ve got to make sure we talk about that in past tense. I did have a tremendous tolerance for pain. Now, not so much. Almost anything [brings me to my knees now]. I’m a guy who used to be fairly fearless. Now, please don’t tell me I have to walk down a flight of steps. [Wrestling] was tough on the body, the knee joints, the back, and so stairs are difficult.
Q: How often does a wrestler have to reinvent himself or herself to sustain a career?
A: Oooooh. That’s a key. Not so much an overall reinventing as a constant tweaking. You have to stay one step ahead of the curve. Sometimes you guess wrong, but you’ve got to try.
Q: Did you ever use body odor as a strategy when you were wrestling?
A: Yes and no. Yes, as an amateur wrestler. No as a professional — never intentionally. There were times when I had worked hard in the ring and I would perspire heavily and occasionally I would forget to unzip the bag and dry it out in the days before Febreze. There were times when wrestling [against] me was unpleasant for that reason. Back when I was an amateur I remember specifically putting blue cheese under my armpits, trying to gain any advantage.
Q: Moving to a body part you don’t have, I heard Katia [Dragotis, of Fan HQ TV] ask about you now refusing to autograph women’s breasts?
A: Some would suggest that I have man boobs. What type of interview are you conducting here? Let me make it clear. I always drew a distinction between where the upper pectoral ended and the boob began. I would always go above that line, so officially I was an upper pectoral signer. The one day in question it was just so hot out there. The ladies were lathered in sun tan oil; Sharpies and Hawaiian Tropic don’t mix.
Q: From where did the idea for Mr. Socko come?
A: This was a case where Mr. McMahon was in a hospital hooked up to a heart monitor, respirator for a bruised ankle bone, ’cause that’s the way we do things at WWE. I was visiting him and just wanted to have a host of ridiculous gifts and the last thing I did was a sock puppet. I didn’t think I would need to use it, and the birthday party clown was clearly stealing the scene from me. I wouldn’t have that, so I went under the bed crawling on my stomach like one of the marines in the sand and came up with Mr. Socko. The rest is history.
Q: Name two members of the media you’d like to feature in an Elimination Cage.
A: [Laughter] If I name two I don’t like I’m giving them undue attention, so I’d rather not.
Q: Have you ever refused to wrestle anyone?
A: There was a time when one of my opponents was intoxicated. That’s bad, wouldn’t do it.
Q: Did you ever have a safe word you would use to let an opponent know you were really hurting?
A: Well, I was in wrestling, not pornography. [Laughter] I played pretty rough, I don’t think I needed a safe word. … But when I was doing adult films in the ’80s when money was tight, I’m not proud of it, but I did have a safe word just to make sure nothing got out of hand.
Q: That’s a joke, right?
A: This interview is over.
Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Buzz.”