Exclusive: Evan Ginzburg
Joseph Bruen: Evan take us back to your childhood. What was it like being a young Evan Ginzburg?
Evan Ginzburg: I grew up on the tough streets of East Flatbush, Brooklyn in the 60s and 70s where I was the only white kid on the block in a turbulent and crime-ridden time. My Dad drove a taxi and never broke 25K in a year. I come from a blue collar family. Loved Kung-Fu flicks, Hammer Horror, American International films, Blaxploitation, R&B, WWWF, etc. Chronicled it all in my book Apartment 4B, Like in Brooklyn.
Joseph Bruen: At what point in life did you decide you wanted to work in the entertainment industry?
Evan Ginzburg: I left teaching kids in the NYC school system and having always loved wrestling, just kind of fell into wrestling working in virtually every capacity in the business short of actual wrestling- agent, publicist, play by play, occasional heel manager, etc. This led to my radio debut in 1991 and one thing ultimately leads to another if you have the perseverance to stick it out.
Joseph Bruen: Tell us about your relationship with Nicole Bass, how you first met and your thoughts on Nicole.
Evan Ginzburg: When you’re involved with pro wrestling you eventually meet everyone active in your geographic area and there was Nicole, literally larger than life with this incredible warmth and kind nature and we just hit it off and became good friends and we’ve been on the road off and on since.
Joseph Bruen: You have been a lifelong wrestling fan. Who were your favorites growing up as a kid? Who are some of your favorites today?
Evan Ginzburg: As a kid, Bruno, Strongbow, Monsoon, Valiant Brothers, SuperStar Graham who had more charisma than today’s entire RAW locker room, Stan Stasiak, the great Johnny Rodz, Nikolai, Kowalski, Albano, Blassie, Grand Wizard live in WWWF and Gordman & Goliath and John Tolos out of L.A. TV. My God did I ever love John Tolos. “How do you spell wrestling? T-O-L-O-S!” A normal sized guy, it’s a shame there’s not more footage of him today. What a magnificent heel and as great a talker as anyone. Saw him wrestle Bruno live at MSG. Loved Gordon Solie and Florida Championship Wrestling on TV, too. They were all larger than life, Marvel and DC Comics super heroes and villains come to life to a kid.
Joseph Bruen: Tell us about Legends TV and what it`s all about!
Evan Ginzburg: It’s in the tradition of Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan, Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett and Arsenio Hall, Evan Ginzburg’s Legends TV appears every Saturdaymorning 11AM-12:30PM on www.madhousetv.com for a worldwide Net audience and then archived 24/7 on You Tube and all social media. We have not only top show business names including million selling recording Artists like Martha Wash, but also the greatest independent musicians, actors, writers, comedians, artists, filmmakers, and even colorful pro wrestlers on our weekly spectaculars.
Joseph Bruen: Obviously you have a huge appreciation for music. Who are some of your all-time favorite music stars whether it be groups or solo acts?
Evan Ginzburg: My all-time favorites who I saw live were/are James Brown, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Sun Ra, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, Roger Troutmann & Zapp, The Spinners, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sonny Rollins, Bobby Rush, Chuck Brown, George Clinton & P-Funk, Larry Graham, Fela, Maxwell, Little Anthony, Stylistics, Blue Magic, Little Richard, Eddie Jefferson, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Prince, Rudy Ray Moore, Antibalas, I could go on forever.
Joseph Bruen: Who have some of your favorite guests on your show been over the years that stand out?
Evan Ginzburg: I’ve had world class million selling Artists such as Martha Wash (The Weather GirlsIt’s Raining Men, 2 Tons of Fun Just Us, C&C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat)
Coati Mundi (Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band Cherchez Le Femme, Kid Creole and the Coconuts)
Crown Heights Affair (Dancin)
Carol Douglas (Doctor’s Orders)
Carol Williams (Salsoul Records’ More)
Gary DeCarlo (Steam’s Nah Nah Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye)
Frank Jeckell of 1910 Fruitgum Company (Goody Goody Gumdrops, Simon Says, 1, 2, 3 Red Light)
Lenny Cocco of The Chimes (Once In A While)
Paul Cowsill of The Cowsills (Indian Lake)
The Ebonys They scored their first hit with "You're the Reason Why," a number ten R&B single in 1971. Their greatest song, "It's Forever," appeared in 1973.
Wardell Piper of First Choice
Van Fields’ Stylistics Revue
I don’t even want to start with the indie acts as I’d end up insulting someone by leaving them out but Edwin Vazquez who has worked with Paul Simon and Marc Anthony basically served as our house band when we started and Alpha Halvorsen regularly leads jam sessions for us now.
Joseph Bruen: What do you think of the current product of pro wrestling?
Evan Ginzburg: I think WWE mostly squanders one of the greatest talent bases in history while ROH and NJPW make you proud to be a wrestling- not sports entertainment- fan. I love going to local indies and showing support and they’re a great value for your entertainment dollar but always a mixed bag quality wise. Nakamura to me is the greatest all round package today- just tremendous. His match with AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom for NJPW was pro wrestling elevated to Art. Hopefully WWE won’t waste him.
Joseph Bruen: You were the Associate Producer of the movie THE WRESTLER starring Mickey Rourke. Tell us all about the movie, your involvement and any behind the scenes stories you may have.
Evan Ginzburg: I was basically “the wrestling guy” doing 5 or 6 casting calls with 150 wrestlers, bringing in Necro Butcher, ROH, Mickey’s stunt double, going over the wrestling content in the script in various stages to make sure they rang true, brought Darren Aronofsky and team to countless indie events prior for them to research the scene, etc. and acted with Mickey in the poignant convention scene. I’m standing on the set one day just hanging out with the screenwriter and Darren gets this smirk, calls me over and tells me to work the room and go up to Mickey and ask him for an autograph and a Polaroid. Mickey whispers in my ear, “Just improv it.” When Mickey asked me my name for the autograph I’m thinking and suddenly go, “Evan.” Amazingly, I’m playing myself in a fictional film. What a gift from Darren.
Joseph Bruen: How was it to work with Mickey Rourke?
Evan Ginzburg: I never saw him once say no to a fan for an autograph or picture. He couldn’t have been nicer to everyone involved and it wasn’t easy physically on him in his 50s to learn how to wrestle and he did get legit hurt. He had boxed professionally, was in great shape, so certainly had that advantage and a legit tough guy albeit a nice guy. He respected the wrestlers and the business, more so ironically than many folks actually in the business. Nothing but good things to say about him.
Joseph Bruen: You’re currently in post-production for the documentary titled 350 DAYS!! I have been looking forward to this wrestling documentary for quite some time now. What can you tell us about this project?
Evan Ginzburg: I’m a Producer on what will be the Gone With The Wind of wrestling documentaries having interviewed close to a 100 legends from Billy Graham and Greg Valentine on down who were on the road around 350 days a year, not seeing their kids grow up, not making weddings and birthday parties and sacrificing not only their bodies but struggling to keep families together as well. This is going to be something special I guarantee it.
Joseph Bruen: You’re also a producer on THUMP! The Untold Story of the Junk Yard Dog. What can you tell us about this documentary?
Evan Ginzburg: It chronicles his incredible rise from high school football star to worldwide superstar and early cross-over star to his death in a fatal car crash. We talk with many of the wrestlers, promoters, and family members including Bill Watts as they tell his riveting and amazing tale.
Joseph Bruen: What is your relationship with Johnny Valiant? You have worked with him many times. Tell us all about the WWE Hall of Famer!
Evan Ginzburg: We are longtime friends; I’ve booked and managed Johnny who has become an actor/comedian and is one of the legit funniest and entertaining folk on Planet Earth. His show, An Evening with Johnny Valiant is a must-see and available for your venues and private parties worldwide.
Joseph Bruen: Do you have any projects in the works beyond what we spoke about that you would like to touch on?
Evan Ginzburg: I’ll eventually finish a documentary I started on ageism in the music industry. I’m also a correspondent on Main Event Madness Radio every Wednesday night at 9:30PM ETat wrestling-news.net. If you need legendary talent for your events reach out to me. I also have old school merchandise at www.wrestlingthenandnow.com . I hope to do plenty of projects with Cutman Productions who are doing the JYD doc and my own books and films and TV in the years to come.
Joseph Bruen: How can fans follow you on the web/social media?
Evan Ginzburg: I’m pretty much everywhere from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter on down. My TV show is at www.madhousetv.com
Joseph Bruen: Tell us about your radio experience and any stories you may have.
Evan Ginzburg: I was on 50,000 Watt WBAI-FM 99.5 NYC (Pacifica Radio) for 16 years and had some of the best nights of my life with my late radio mentor Fred Geobold as he loved wrestling and the Arts, too, and showed that we could mix them all on an Arts show. He called pro wrestling the “Proletarian Performance Art” and he grew up on the AWA and loved The Bruiser and The Crusher. RIP to one of the most giving folk I’ve ever met. I’ll never forget interviewing Sherri Martell 4AM telling us she didn’t see her kid grow up and Eddie Guerrero breaking down on air shortly after the death of Art Barr. I then moved on to Legends Radio for an almost decade long run interviewing virtually everyone imaginable in not only wrestling but the Arts and have moved to TV the past 4 years.
Joseph Bruen: What advice do you have for someone looking to get in the entertainment industry?
Evan Ginzburg: Have a Plan B. Most folk will not get rich at this. Most won’t even make a living. Do it because you love it and hopefully the money will come later. And if it doesn’t, enjoy the ride anyway. If you have a day job you like or tolerate and can do what you love in the Arts and/or pro wrestling as well, you’re doing better than most. Create Art. You never know where it will take you. I’ve had childhood heroes I saw sell out Madison Square Garden call me friend and even sleep on my couch, and The Wrestler will be watched and enjoyed long after I’m gone. It’s been an amazing trip and it’s not over yet.