Chappell: So, you stuck with that for about a year and stayed out of wrestling?


Garvin: Stayed out of wrestling about a year, but I stayed in that business about three years. My in-laws continued to run it when I left, and then eventually we sold it. It was very successful.


Chappell: Where did you pick up when you started back wrestling?


Garvin: In ’74-’75, I guess I was out in California…Roy Shire’s operation out there. I hooked up with Terry out there, and we started promoting towns for Roy Shire…like Santa Rosa, Reno, Fresno---relatively small towns.


Out there I was dealing with Pat Patterson, Peter Maivia, Pepper Gomez, Ray Stevens…


Chappell: Some big names!


Garvin: Yeah, they were great to learn from. And I was full of questions all the time!


Chappell: In Shire’s territory, you were just promoting?


Garvin: Yes, I was only promoting out there.


From there, we’re getting into 1977 and I went to Memphis for a short period of time. My first daughter was born in Memphis, in August of ’77.


Memphis was the first place that I really wrestled…Paul Orndorff and I teamed up. Tommy Rich was in there at the time also.  


Then I went to Crockett’s territory. I was a jabroni there!


Chappell: (laughing) ‘Enhancement Talent’ sounds better, Jimmy!


Garvin: (laughs)


Chappell: The first Mid-Atlantic card I remember seeing you on was October 30, 1977…the main event there was Ric Flair and Greg Valentine beating Gene and Ole Anderson for the NWA World Tag Team Titles, and they injured Gene in the process. You wrestled Charlie Fulton to a draw in the opener of that big card.


Garvin: How do you remember that stuff, David ? That’s amazing!


Chappell: (laughs) I just collect old newspaper promo ads and results!


Garvin: You’re right, then, I was a jabroni in Crockett’s territory in ’77 and ’78!


Chappell: (laughing) Well, let’s leave it at you did quite a few opening bouts then! But, I tell you what, Crockett’s roster was stocked full of high caliber ‘jabroni’s,’ if that’s what you want to call them!


Garvin: In ’77 when I was here, Richard Blood was here…


Chappell: Who later gained fame as Tito Santana.


Garvin: Right…you had (Johnny) Weaver and Paul Jones…



Chappell: They were on top then, but the low and mid card guys were really strong when you were in the Mid-Atlantic area in that 1977-78 stint. I think the very young Tully Blanchard had just left, but you had Jerry Stubbs, the Oates brothers, Bryan St. John, Mr. X # 1 and # 2, Jay Youngblood, Cyclone Negro, Skip Young…just a lot of talent all through Crockett’s roster.


Garvin: Yeah, you’re right for sure.


Chappell: Then you were just known as Jim Garvin, not the flamboyant Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin we saw back in the area about eight years later. But even then in 1977-78, you displayed a lot of solid wrestling skills. And you hadn’t even been wrestling very much professionally at that time!


Garvin: Crockett was one of my very first times wrestling professionally…being booked to wrestle.


Chappell: And little did we know, that you’d been in the business nearly a decade before that…primarily as a manager!


Garvin: Yes, the Mid-Atlantic was the first place that I was really able to lace up my boots. I had built up all this knowledge over the past decade, and Crockett was the first place that I could try to put all those things into motion…


Chappell: Yes…


Garvin: And that’s what I did. It’s interesting as I sit here talking to you, I almost relive it, you know?


But that’s what I was doing. Everything I had gathered up over the years, I was trying to slowly put it together. I just wrestled and tried to take in everything. I remember sitting in the back of Johnny Weaver’s LTD…he was in there chewing tobacco and we’d be going up and down the roads! I was lovin’ life!


Chappell: (laughing) So, you enjoyed that first stint in the Mid-Atlantic area?


Garvin: I thought I was in the big-time!


Chappell: And you were! The Mid-Atlantic area was on fire then!


Garvin: Historically… Jim Crockett Promotions stood out from the rest---in my mind. Now, Roy Shire had a great territory because he had great talent…Patterson, Maivia and the list goes on.


But Crockett was on fire when I was there the first time. I thought I was in the big-time for sure!


Chappell: Even though when you came into Crockett the first time you hadn’t wrestled much, you had a wealth of experience in other areas of the business. Was there any thought of letting you spread your wings, and work beyond preliminary matches?


Garvin: No, not really. Because I didn’t think I was ready yet. I was still trying to put everything into action. Taking everything I had in my mind, and putting it onto the canvas.


Chappell: What stands out to you during your 1977-78 stint in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling?


Garvin: Being surrounded by the talent that was in there…like you were saying. Night after night after night.


Chappell: Why did you come into the Mid-Atlantic area as a babyface in 1977? You had always been a heel manager before that.


Garvin: Because that’s what they needed…that’s the only thing I can think of!


Chappell: I guess, in a way, it allowed you to expand your repertoire. You had never had to obey the rules before you came into the Mid-Atlantic area!


Garvin: (laughs) Yeah…absolutely! But by then, I had figured out how to do a babyface role, so it worked okay.


I tell you, Crockett’s territory was an impressive territory. The guys that were here were phenomenal.


Chappell: I guess you stayed in the Mid-Atlantic area about a year. I remember that as we got further into 1978, we didn’t see you in the area anymore.


Garvin: That’s right, and then I went to Florida.


Chappell: Why did you leave Jim Crockett Promotions later in 1978?


Garvin: Well, God-dog, back then, if you were here a year and weren’t gonna go any higher, and didn’t get off the bottom…you needed to go. You know, and leave the territory and go somewhere else. Of course, with my home being in Tampa, I had a chance to go down there.


Chappell: Eddie Graham was still running the show?


Garvin: Yeah, I had an opportunity to go down there and work. I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere here in the Carolinas. It wasn’t my time here, so why spin the wheels?


Chappell: No slots were open here at that time…slots that would have gotten you out of preliminary matches.


Garvin: That was pretty much it.


Chappell: When you left the Mid-Atlantic area and headed to Florida, did you start to be booked higher up on cards?


Garvin: Yes…things started coming together. By then, the skills were improving and the babyface thing was good. The ’78-’81 time frame is a little fuzzy, David, but I was together with Killer Karl Kox in Florida. Buddy Rogers and I were together there. Ray Stevens and I were together there as well. But I think those were spread out over different years.


I also went back to Watts around that time, And now, I’m up to mid-card.


Chappell: Were you still a babyface?


Garvin: Yeah, I was still a babyface. And I was in some Main Events…really semi-Main Events---for Watts.


Chappell: Didn’t you go back down to Georgia as well?


Garvin: Yeah…I jumped back down to Atlanta. That would have been about 1980. Tommy Rich was really huge…


Chappell: Right…


Garvin: Georgia Championship Wrestling…TBS was really taking off. I was sort of mixed in there in the middle of the cards.


This was generally around the time I was down in Tampa with Karl Kox, Stevens and Buddy Rogers. That was a really interesting time. Being with those three guys was so incredible!


Chappell: Had to be!


Garvin: Traveling with Ray Stevens was so incredible! Killer Karl Kox was so incredible! And when I was with those guys, I was pulled into Main Events in Tampa, you know?


Chappell: They were legends, without a doubt.


Garvin: Yeah…legends of wrestling, for sure. And I was right there with them…taking in everything and learning everything I could.


One of the turning points of all of this occurred in Florida…in Opaloca, Florida. A partner of Eddie Graham’s, Lester Welch, was watching me wrestle. He came out and said, ‘Jim, I’ve known you a long time and you have a great background and good basic wrestling skills. But people just aren’t gonna pay to see you unless you have a gimmick.’


Chappell: Yes…


Garvin: And that wore on me, David. I was thinkin’ about that, thinkin’ about that. And I finally said to myself, ‘You know…he’s right, he’s right.’


Chappell: Well…the Jim Garvin in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1977-78 was pretty much no frills!


Garvin: I was babyface in the Carolinas, and babyface for Watts, babyface in Atlanta and babyface in Tampa…it was all pretty ‘plain Jane’ stuff.


Chappell: True.


Garvin: Good wrestling ability and good skills, but that was about it. That really burnt in my mind, because I knew [Lester Welch] was right.


Chappell: Obviously…you did something about it!


Garvin: Hell yeah!


Chappell: (laughs)


Garvin: So…I really started thinking about it. Gorgeous George came into my head…I don’t know why the guy’s name came into my head.


But Gorgeous George had the valet that would spray the air. He would wear fancy robes to the ring, but when he took the robes off he could wrestle.


I decided I was going to make an 80s version of Gorgeous George…and call him Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin!


Chappell: Now, it’s all coming into focus, Jimmy!


Garvin: I decided to have sequined robes…but I didn’t have a lot of money. So, I went to this old tuxedo store, where they rented tuxedos. I got the old ones that were stained, because I could get them really cheap. And I got my mother in law to sew the sequins on them.


The gold sequined coat was the very first one…I still have it in my friggin’ attic! So that’s how I ended up with my sequined coats!


Chappell: Very interesting! How did you come up with your first valet?


Garvin: Eddie Graham knew this girl, and hooked her up with me…she was gonna spray the air with the aerosol. Unlike Gorgeous George’s valet…she sprayed the air with the big old-timey bug sprayer.


And at this time, there was really no ring entrance music either…


Chappell: That’s right…


Garvin: And there was really no spotlight action goin’ on either. So, what I did…I took the last money I had and took publicity photos of me and the girl. I took them into Dusty Rhodes’ office, and threw them on his desk and said, ‘Here’s my gimmick.’


Chappell: What did Dusty say?


Garvin: He looked at ‘em and said, ‘Okay…Lakeland, Florida, next week.’


So I ran over to Lakeland and talked to the building guy and the Union guys that ran the lights. They knew me…I said this is the way we’re gonna do it. When it’s time for me to come on, you lower the lights and turn on the spotlight and start playing this Don Henley song…‘Dirty Laundry.’ So, I gave them 50 bucks to do that…now I’m really broke!


Chappell: (laughs)


Garvin: So…in Lakeland, Florida the lights went down, the spotlight came on and the music started and the girl came out---and it was off to the races from there! There was no looking back…that’s what launched my career---it was that moment right there.


Chappell: Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin was born! And everybody seemed to really get into it from the start…it really took off.


Garvin: Absolutely, absolutely. This was in 1983. This was the time that David von Erich and I were running together. We were really good friends…very, very close friends.


Chappell: I did not realize that.


Garvin: Yes. So, I created the gimmick, and put it on Dusty’s desk and he said ‘okay.’


Chappell: At least Dusty let you run with it.


Garvin: Yeah…but that was the only thing he ever let me go with…


Chappell: I don’t doubt that…


Garvin: After that, I was held down by him for the rest of my career.


Chappell: I’d love to hear you talk about Dusty Rhodes for a little bit!


Garvin: Oh my God…


Chappell: (laughing)


Garvin: I don’t want to get in a fight with him at [the upcoming Fanfest in] Fayetteville, you know?


Chappell: (laughs) He’s not gonna be there, is he?


Garvin: (laughs) Naw, I don’t think he is…


Chappell: That’s a shame, remember that empty ring they had at the Fanfest in January? They could have put you two in that thing! (laughs)


Garvin: (laughs) David, I don’t really have anything nice to say about Dusty…


Chappell: You can certainly elaborate on those feelings, Jimmy. Especially when we get to your 1986-88 stint in Crockett.


It’s really interesting how the Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin gimmick came into being!


Garvin: That’s how my gimmick was hatched…right there!


Chappell: And that gimmick pretty much never changed, though the valet changed over time.


Garvin: That’s right…the girl changed.


Chappell: And, of course, when you became Gorgeous Jimmy, you went back to being a heel.

Garvin: Yeah…then I really found my niche. Because I found out that I was really comfortable as a heel.


I always thought that heels could be more creative. You have more creative power as a heel. A babyface, and this is my opinion, but a babyface has to do what the people want. That’s why he’s a babyface!


Chappell: No question…


Garvin: A heel…he can really do anything. If he does what they don’t want him to do---that’s even better! As a heel, nobody is telling you what you have to do. So, therefore, you can be more creative.


Chappell: And you obviously enjoyed that freedom!


Garvin: Oh yeah! As a babyface, you have to be a good guy. The fans demand it. So, as a babyface you’re restricted…you’re limited.


As a heel, your canvas is blank…and you can do whatever you want.


Chappell: That’s right.


Garvin: So, as I said, David (von Erich) and I were so close. He said, ‘Man, you gotta come to Texas.’ And I said, ‘Hell yeah!’ 


Now, in the meantime, the valet that I had was coming to my house in this limo that Mike Graham had loaned me…old ass limo.


Chappell: (laughs)


Garvin: (laughs) But it was a limo…


Chappell: Barely? (laughs)


Garvin: Yeah, barely! But it was still a limo!


But all of this was wearing on my relationship with my wife. And, you know, that was understandable. You know, this [valet] was a really good looking girl…and she was hot too. So, this wasn’t gettin’ over at home.



Chappell: How did you handle that with Patti?


Garvin: I said, ‘Okay honey, I’ll get rid of that valet…but I’ve gotta have a valet because of this gimmick I just found is gonna be incredible.’ And she said, ‘okay.’


I mean, I understood where she was coming from. I’d have been pretty pissed if a good looking guy came and picked her up…


Chappell: Sure…


Garvin: So, I got my cousin, Valerie…Valerie French. She was a good looking blonde. I called Valerie up and said, ‘I’ve got a job for you.’ She had no idea…she knew nothin’ about nothin’.


Chappell: (laughing) She was known as ‘Sunshine,’ right?


Garvin: Yes, but I’m serious David …she knew nothin’ about nothin’. I took her to Texas, and I said, ‘I’ll teach you on the way.’



And we went to Texas…and Texas speaks for itself. Holy sh*t!