Far ahead of his time , his influence continues to be felt within the professional wrestling industry, despite the lack of recognition by modern day fans.
“Exotic” Adrian Street
Stats: 5′ 8″ 220 lbs.
By Steve Slagle
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…
Street began his career in wrestling back in 1957, when he was just sixteen years old. Working under the name Kid Tarzan Jonathan and billed as “The World’s Youngest Wrestler,” Kid Tarzan slowly but surely made a name for himself throughout the British independent wrestling scene, gained some much needed seasoning, and collected a few championships (such as the Welsh Welterweight title) along the way.
During the 1960’s, pro wrestling in Britain (while still very much an ‘underground’ type of entertainment) was thriving, not just surviving and it was not uncommon for dozens of different wrestling shows to take place in bars, hotels, and small 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. The young Street (who, after a few years on the indy scene, had worked his way up to the major European promotions) 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!
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, 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 The Dynamite Kid) 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.
Encouraged by the negative response he’d received from the Florida crowds, the prissy Englishman’s next destination was that mecca of tolerance and free-thinking, the Lone Star State of Texas. With his huge collection of gowns & robes, a makeup kit that would make the guys from Poison envious, and his submissive female ‘slave’ all in tow, Street was — in terms of his size, look, and mannerisms — unlike anything the traditional Texas ‘rasslin’ fans had ever seen! In a nightly display of mutual antagonism, Street and his macho cowboy audiences fed off their disdain for each other, resulting in big (and angry) crowds wherever The Exotic One wrestled. Theatrics such as Miss Linda bending down on all-fours, allowing Street to step on her back to get up onto the ring apron, as well as his constant tweeking of the southwestern crowds’ conservative morality resulted in a memorable, and often very hostile, relationship between Street and the Texas wrestling fans.
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.”