So, you stuck with that for about
a year and stayed out of wrestling?
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
Where did you pick up when you
started back wrestling?
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
there I was dealing with Pat
Patterson, Peter Maivia, Pepper
Some big names!
Yeah, they were great to learn
from. And I was full of questions all
In Shire’s territory, you were
Yes, I was only promoting out
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.
was the first place that I really
wrestled…Paul Orndorff and I teamed
was in there at the time also.
I went to Crockett’s territory. I
was a jabroni there!
Talent’ sounds better,
The first Mid-Atlantic card I
remember seeing you on was October 30,
1977…the main event there was Ric
Valentine beating Gene and Ole
Anderson for the NWA World Tag Team
Titles, and they injured Gene in the
wrestled Charlie Fulton to a draw in
the opener of that big card.
How do you remember that stuff,
? That’s amazing!
(laughs) I just collect old
newspaper promo ads and results!
You’re right, then, I was a
jabroni in Crockett’s territory in
’77 and ’78!
(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!
In ’77 when I was here, Richard
Blood was here…
Who later gained fame as Tito
Right…you had (Johnny) Weaver
and Paul Jones…
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
Yeah, you’re right for sure.
Then you were just known as
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
Crockett was one of my very first
times wrestling professionally…being
booked to wrestle.
And little did we know, that
you’d been in the business nearly a
decade before that…primarily as a
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
And that’s what I did. It’s
interesting as I sit here talking to
you, I almost relive it, you know?
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
(laughing) So, you enjoyed that
first stint in the Mid-Atlantic area?
I thought I was in the big-time!
And you were! The Mid-Atlantic
area was on fire then!
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.
Crockett was on fire when I was there
the first time. I thought I was in the
big-time for sure!
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?
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.
What stands out to you during your
1977-78 stint in Mid-Atlantic
Being surrounded by the talent
that was in there…like you were
saying. Night after night after night.
Why did you come into the
Mid-Atlantic area as a babyface in
1977? You had always been a heel
manager before that.
Because that’s what they
needed…that’s the only thing I can
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!
(laughs) Yeah…absolutely! But by
then, I had figured out how to do a
babyface role, so it worked okay.
tell you, Crockett’s territory was
an impressive territory. The guys that
were here were phenomenal.
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
That’s right, and then I went to
Why did you leave
Crockett Promotions later in 1978?
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.
Eddie Graham was still running the
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?
No slots were open here at that
time…slots that would have gotten
you out of preliminary matches.
That was pretty much it.
When you left the Mid-Atlantic
area and headed to Florida, did you
start to be booked higher up on cards?
Yes…things started coming
together. By then, the skills were
improving and the babyface thing was
good. The ’78-’81 time frame is a
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
also went back to Watts around that
time, And now, I’m up to mid-card.
Were you still a babyface?
Yeah, I was still a babyface. And
I was in some Main Events…really
semi-Main Events---for Watts.
Didn’t you go back down to
Georgia as well?
Yeah…I jumped back down to
Atlanta. That would have been about
was really huge…
Wrestling…TBS was really taking off.
I was sort of mixed in there in the
middle of the cards.
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!
Had to be!
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?
They were legends, without a
Yeah…legends of wrestling, for
sure. And I was right there with
them…taking in everything and
learning everything I could.
of the turning points of all of this
occurred in Florida…in Opaloca,
Florida. A partner of Eddie
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.’
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,
Garvin in the Mid-Atlantic area in
1977-78 was pretty much no frills!
I was babyface in the Carolinas,
and babyface for Watts, babyface in
Atlanta and babyface in Tampa…it was
all pretty ‘plain Jane’ stuff.
Good wrestling ability and good
skills, but that was about it. That
really burnt in my mind, because I
knew [Lester Welch] was right.
Obviously…you did something
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.
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.
decided I was going to make an 80s
version of Gorgeous George…and call
Now, it’s all coming into focus,
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.
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!
Very interesting! How did you come
up with your first valet?
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
at this time, there was really no ring
entrance music either…
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.’
What did Dusty say?
He looked at ‘em and said,
‘Okay…Lakeland, Florida, next
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
Henley song…‘Dirty Laundry.’ So,
I gave them 50 bucks to do that…now
I’m really broke!
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
Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin
was born! And everybody seemed to
really get into it from the start…it
really took off.
Absolutely, absolutely. This was
in 1983. This was the time that
von Erich and I were running together.
We were really good friends…very,
very close friends.
I did not realize that.
Yes. So, I created the gimmick,
and put it on Dusty’s desk and he
At least Dusty let you run with
Yeah…but that was the only thing
he ever let me go with…
I don’t doubt that…
After that, I was held down by him
for the rest of my career.
I’d love to hear you talk about
Dusty Rhodes for a little bit!
Oh my God…
I don’t want to get in a fight
with him at [the upcoming Fanfest in]
Fayetteville, you know?
(laughs) He’s not gonna be
there, is he?
(laughs) Naw, I don’t think he
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)
(laughs) David, I don’t really have anything nice
to say about Dusty…
You can certainly elaborate on
Jimmy. Especially when we get to your
1986-88 stint in Crockett.
really interesting how the Gorgeous
gimmick came into being!
That’s how my gimmick was
And that gimmick pretty much never
changed, though the valet changed over
That’s right…the girl changed.
And, of course, when you became
Jimmy, you went back to being a heel.
Yeah…then I really found my
niche. Because I found out that I was
really comfortable as a heel.
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!
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.
And you obviously enjoyed that
Oh yeah! As a babyface, you have
to be a good guy. The fans demand it.
So, as a babyface you’re
a heel, your canvas is blank…and you
can do whatever you want.
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!’
in the meantime, the valet that I had
was coming to my house in this limo
Graham had loaned me…old ass limo.
(laughs) But it was a limo…
Yeah, barely! But it was still a
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
How did you handle that with
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.’
mean, I understood where she was
coming from. I’d have been pretty
pissed if a good looking guy came and
picked her up…
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’.
(laughing) She was known as
Yes, but I’m serious
…she knew nothin’ about nothin’. I took her to Texas, and I
said, ‘I’ll teach you on the
we went to Texas…and Texas speaks
for itself. Holy sh*t!