Although many modern fans of professional wrestling often do not realize it, in terms of wrestling characters and their development, there is very little that has not already been tried at some point in sports entertainment history. Indeed, the gimmicks, angles, and characters that often seem so innovative and fresh to current fans of pro wrestling are, in many cases, simply 'forgotten' ideas from the past that are being rehashed in the modern age. Most informed observers will agree that, when it comes to pro wrestling, pretty much everything has been done at least once. However, with the lack of emphasis placed on wrestling history (by both the promoters and the fans), those superstars from yesteryear who had the talent, creativity and foresight to lay the groundwork for today's 'innovative' wrestling characters are often, unfortunately, overlooked and under credited. Certainly, this is would apply to the ground-breaking, highly controversial and thoroughly entertaining Exotic One, Adrian Street...
(Adrian and Linda Street in their garden)
Adrian Street's story is as intriguing to the serious wrestling fan as his name is oblivious to the average one. A man of smaller stature (in terms of professional wrestling) the prancing, kiss-blowing, prissy yet incredibly savage quasi transvestite never failed to get a big response from his audience. And, by developing this highly risqué', very controversial personna as early as the 1960's, the cross dressing, highly sexual character that Street created truly pushed the boundaries of Professional wrestling. Long before there were American characters such as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, Goldust and Marlena, Lenny & Lodi or Kwee Wee, there was our own "Exotic" Adrian Street (along with the provocatively attired Miss Linda who wrestlerd herself as Blackfoot Sue) blowing kisses to his manliest of ringside detractors, wearing makeup and womens clothing, and striving to push every hot button he possibly could in order to set himself apart and create controversy, all during some of the most conservative times in modern U.S. & European history.
( Adrian poses with his Father in the mines where his dad worked)
(Young Adrian with Tony Scarlo outside Dale-Martins office in the 1950's.)
Originating from Brynmawr in Brecknockshire, Wales and born on the 5th December 1940, the young Adrian always held an intertest in body building and was featured in many magazines before informing his strict disapproving mining Father ( see photo above), that he wanted to branch out as a Professional Wrestler, thus travelling to London in order to seek his fortune. Street began his career in wrestling back in 1957 on the 8th August,for several Independent Promotions , commencing against Geoff Moran,when he was just sixteen years old, having been trained by Chic Osmond and Mike Demitre, Working under the name Kid 'Tarzan' Jonathan as a tribute to his own hero the U.S. Star : Don Leo Jonathan.and billed as "The World's Youngest Wrestler," Nature boy Kid Tarzan slowly but surely made a name for himself throughout the British wrestling scene,gaining some much needed seasoning, before joining Dale-Martin Promotions in 1961 where he collected a few championships (such as the Welsh Welterweight title) along the way.
During the 1960's, Pro- wrestling in Britain thanks to television coverage, was thriving, not just surviving and it was not uncommon for dozens of different wrestling shows to take place in the many arenas on any given night throughout the country. However, unlike their counterparts in America, British wrestlers were notoriously understated in both their look and demeanor and, generally speaking, lacking in any type of the individuality or flamboyance one normally associates with pro wrestlers.
(Les Kellett puts the squeeze on Adrian)
(Adrian with Johnny Yearsley)
( Adrian headlocks Jim Breaks)
As his fame spread across Europe the handsome athlete was noticed for film work appearing in a starring role in 'The Canterbury Tales' and other productions, plus TV work.
Financially,like Bobby Barnes, he had also prospered, buying terrace houses in the Manchester area with spare cash earned from his Foreign Tours, but that was not enough for the ambitious Ada as he has always been affectionately known by his U.K. pals.
The young Street who, after a few years had seen action at home and on the Continent was chatting with 'Hells Angels' tag partner: 'Bad boy' Bobby Barnes one evening after a show where they were middle card wrestlers and realised that unless they developed a larger than life personna like their American counterparts, would never rise to main event billing due to lack of size.Adrian decided that he would combine the best of both genres and focus on developing a wrestling character that could wrestle with the best of Britain's no-nonsense technical masters, while appearing as charismatic and entertaining as Gorgeous George, Buddy Rogers or the other flamboyant American stars that he admired from afar. Using his 'real' name, Street transformed himself from an athletic and young, although rather ordinary, wrestler into something, well...quite different!
Initially, Street displayed his individuality through a platinum blond dye job and a colorful new wardrobe, which was more than enough to distinguish himself from his bland countrymen. Known as "Nature Boy" Adrian Street, he provoked such a negative response from the conservative, blue collar English crowds that it became progressively clear as to which way the former Kid Tarzan should take his new persona. To Street it was clear; the more he pushed the envelope, the more the crowd responded.
By acting as feminine, snobbish, and prissy as he could, and then backing it up with some very solid technical wrestling mixed with plenty of illegal tactics, Street elicited unprecedented crowd responses and was soon the talk of the European wrestling scene.
As the sixties flowed into the seventies, Street continued his winning (and controversial) ways, scoring championship after championship, including the European Tag Team title (w/"Beautiful" Bobby Barnes), the European Middleweight and European Light Heavyweight titles, and once he had bulked up enough, he wore the European Heavyweight title on five separate occasions. He also began using a female valet, the beautiful & dangerous Miss Linda,( born Linda Hawker) which was something that was unheard of at that time in England -- or in America, for that matter! After spending more than two decades literally rising from the very bottom to the very top of the European wrestling circuit, Street (pictured, wrestling Randy Savage) finally crossed the Atlantic for his invasion of the western hemisphere in 1981...
After a short run in Canada, Street headed south to Mexico, were he and Miss Linda enjoyed a great deal of success feuding with the likes of Mil Mascaras & Dos Caros as well as fellow Englishman "Gentleman" Chris Adams. Following his strong tour of Mexico, the trend-setting duo finally headed for America, landing in the LaBell's Los Angeles territory in 1982. Success and controversy once again followed Street, and the talented heel won both the Americas Heavyweight title and the Americas Tag Team championship during his stay in the southern California NWA promotion.
From there, Street & Linda traveled to Tennessee, where he was managed by a very young James E. Cornette and then, by 1983, he landed a spot with Eddie Graham's Florida-based NWA promotion, one of the crown jewels of the NWA's territorial structure. While in Florida, Street (who, by now, had taken his character's effeminate personality traits to the extreme) was, once again, very successful...both in terms of winning championships (he won the Florida Heavyweight title in 1983) and inspiring the fans' hatred! While in Florida, the pseudo-homosexual nature of Street's gimmick matched up perfectly against the areas bounty of 'no-frills' fan favorites, men such as Angelo "King Kong" Mosca, "Big, Bad" Bobby Duncum, Magnum T.A., Dusty Rhodes (whose son Dustin would later figure prominently in the story of "Exotic" Adrian) and many others.
However, Street's most noted feud in the States took place in Memphis during the mid-eighties, when he engaged in a long and violent war with "Macho Man" Randy Savage, just prior to Savage's debut with the World Wrestling Federation. Savage and Street battled throughout the CWA, with Miss Linda often becoming involved (at one point, Savage tried to deliver a Pile Driver on Street's valet) in their heated rivalry. Although he gave up a great deal of size to The Macho Man, that hurdle was something the crafty Street was used to overcoming, and those who remember their classic battles can attest to the fact that Savage was on the receiving end of a great deal of punishment from the 220-pound Street.
Following his run with Savage, Adrian engaged in another memorable feud with the equally flamboyant "Universal Heart Throb" Austin Idol (pictured). Idol and The Exotic One waged many bloody battles during this period, and their feud was was of the hottest on the southeastern circuit. It was while wrestling in the Pensicola territory that Street won the prestigous Southeastern Heavyweight title not once, but four different times.
While he never competed for the WWF (perhaps due more to his smaller stature than his outrageous gimmick) Street nevertheless enjoyed noteworthy, lengthy & successful tours of both Jim Crockett's popular NWA Mid Atlantic territory and Bill Watts' Mid-South promotion (just prior to it becoming the Universal Wrestling Federation) where he won the Mid-South TV title from Terry Taylor. Then, in 1986, the multi-talented Street (who appeared in notable films such as Quest for Fire, Rewind and The Canterbury Tales) signed a recording deal with Rhino Records, and was featured prominently (along with Roddy Piper, Lou Albano and a slew of eighties wrestlers) in Grunt: The Wrestling Movie.
The unique and controversial type of character that "Exotic" Adrian Street first developed back in the sixties made quite a comeback in the late nineties, with the arrival of Goldust (pictured) and, later, the team of Chuck and Billy in the WWF as well as The West Hollywood Blonds (particularly Lenny Lane) in WCW.
Perhaps "The Exotic One" himself best summed up his role when he was once quoted as saying, "Before I came to the States, no one was wearing face paint, no one was wearing spandex, and no one at that time was entering the ring with a lady valet. Nowadays, all of these things are commonplace in pro wrestling."
Adrian says that the pinnacle of his illustrious career came a few years ago when the Cauliflower Alley Club inducted him into the prestigious American Hall of Fame ,where his photo hangs next to Legendary film star and former wrestler : Kirk Douglas, and where he rteceived the accolade from his childhood hero : Don Leo Jonathan personally. Simultaneously, Ada chose this occasion to kneel and propose marriage to his long term partner: the beautiful Linda.
Another great high in his memory happened recently. He has always had a lifelong passion for 50's rock n roll, with Little Richard being his outright favourite singer. After wrestling a giog about a year ago, he was informed that Little Richard was in a froint row seat and wanted to meet him as he was one of his favourite wrestlers. The very proud Adrian then had drinks with his idol and spent a few hours chatting over both their careers.
(Adrian Linda and Son are allowed to sit on the bed where Elvis was born in Tupelo,as the security guard was a wrestling fan)
Away from the ring, the creative Adrian is a gifted artist and sculptor with many paintings of the native American culture to his credit. He also sculps bronze gladiator figures and together with Linda his lovely wife,runs a highly successful Business in Pensacola making wrestling costumes for the WWE and other stars such as Mick Foley, including the apparel worn by Mickey Rourke in the successful movie called 'The Wrestler' .Together with Linda they also ran a hugely successful gym called SkullKrushers until a hurricane ripped it down.
Nowadays they have rebuilt it as a fourplex which in the the U.K. means four maisonettes that are rented out as a pension.
Street also foraged into the Country music Industry by writing and singing many tongue in cheek ditties such as 'Transvestitie with a broken nose' all of which were recorded and can be heard on Youtube.com under his name.
He has two Sons : Adrian and Vince from his previous marriage, who live in the U.K. and are also both highly successful musicians.His eldest boy shown below has toured the States and the U.K. as Buddy Holly to whom he has a remarkable resemblance, in the long running musical 'Buddy'. The two boys also play together in a rock band.
Some years ago, he sadly contracted throat cancer which was ironic as he had never smoked and nearly died as a result, but thanks to his lifelong regime of good food and strict training programmes, recovered fully and now in his mid seventies,enjoys a fruitful life with Linda in their beautful log cabin home in Northern Florida on the sunny Gulf Coast,living next to childhood friend and fellow supo star : Tony Charles (The Tonypandy Terror) and where the lovebirds grow much of their own organic fruit and veg.
This photo of 'Rolling Stone' is actually a painting presently hanging in a New York Gallery, and was painted by former singer turned artist Bob Dylan.
Spare time is taken up by writing and Ada has had four successful publications all centred around his amazing career involving over 15000 bouts the last being in March this year at the tender age of 73.A fifth book entitled 'Imagine what I can do to you' has just completed and is available through our store and other outlets. As we write, the irrepressible Adrian is writinghis sixth book.
Currently, there is a play on his life touring the U.K. as a tribute to the success of this boy from Wales.The documentary 'So many ways to hurt you.' The life and times of Adrian Street, is now showing in Manchester see pics - It was made originally for a big film festival in Rio de Janeiro where it ran for about 8 months. From there it went to London's Hayward Gallery. Belgium - Philadelphia - New York - St Louis - Cardiff Wales - Venice Italy - its presently in Manchester England until January - see photos, It then goes to Nottingham - Coventry - Newcastle that we know of so far and it also travels to Japan next year. The young Lady in the photo is Lena Blair's Daughter.
The British Wrestlers Reunion is proud to induct this controversial and highly influential grappler who was, in so many ways, literally decades ahead of his time -- the one and only "Exotic" Adrian Street -- into the Hall of Fame.