Saturday, July 23, 2011



By Dann Lennard

CHARLES HARRIS – aka Chris Colt (his best-known moniker), Paul Dupree, Chuck Dupree, Maurice Chevier, Chuck Harris, Jim Dillinger, American Dream Machine, Don Juan the Magnificent, The American Dream and Chris Von Colt – was born in Idaho in the mid-1940s.

In 2007’s The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Heels, authors Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson state the youngster moved to Oregon and got interested in wrestling. He entered the business at 18 in Massachusetts as “Magnificent” Maurice Chevier.

Openly gay in an era that frowned upon that lifestyle, Charles eventually hooked up with the older “Golden Boy” Ron Dupree and the couple soon formed a solid heel tag team known as the Hells Angels and, later, the Comancharos.

As blood-spilling, brawling, cheating bad guys – mainly working in Arizona – they held a ton of belts and feuded with top names like Cowboy Bob Ellis and Luis Martinez.

Local historian Dale Pierce told Wrestling Then And Now, “The Comancharos singlehandedly got wrestling kicked off Channel 5 in Phoenix when they figured they’d get a lot of heat by burning an American flag on TV. It got them heat all right and got them kicked off the air, but they sold out the arena that Friday.

Ron suffered a heart attack in the early 70s and became Paul’s manager. Oliver and Johnson state the younger team member renamed himself Chris Colt “in a nod to the title of his favourite gay men’s magazine”.

Ron died from a heart attack in 1975 doing ring announcing in Tacoma, Washington, aged 40.

Pierce maintains Ron’s death was the catalyst that caused Colt’s downward spiral into depression and drug abuse, but Oliver and Johnson disagree: “As a single, Colt continued to shine, in large part because of his willingness to defy the norms. He was one of the first wrestlers to adopt a rock’n’roll gimmick, painting his face and using Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare entrance music as part of “The Chris Colt Experience” in the mid-1970s.

He was a bumping machine as Johnny Valiant – who worked with him in Ontario in 1982 – attests: “He told me, ‘Johnny, you can’t give me enough bumps. I can take these bumps all night.’  I’d give him a lot of backdrops and bumps and slams and throw him over the top rope. He just told me to keep doing it to him, that he could take it all.”

Colt was open but low-key about his homosexuality among his co-workers. But there was nothing understated about his other vices.

Arizona worker Bill Anderson remembers Chris drinking a carton of beer and a bottle of Southern Comfort every day.

“He idolised Janis Joplin…and Joe Cocker,” he told Oliver and Johnson. “Those were his people. He lived every day like this could be his last. He would’ve been the happiest guy on Earth to choke on his vomit just like Janis did, because that’s the way he lived his life.”

Anderson recalled an incident in 1975 in Phoenix when Chris hallucinated during a cage match: “He’d taken some kind of junk. He got in the cage and thought he saw some giant spiders. It was just like he was envisioning giant spiders climbing in the cage at him. He was flipping out. He started a riot. I was swinging chairs to get out.”

Northwest wrestler Greg Lake said, “Chris was always high. He used to say, ‘I can’t work if I’m not high.’ One time he was sober and said, ‘Greg, I just can’t work right when I’m sober.’ He was just a crazy, wacko guy. But as crazy as he was, he was a nice guy.”

With so many personal issues, Colt never settled down and travelled the territories well into the mid-80s.

Pierce alleges a brief run in the UK was aborted due to his substance abuse. He was fired from a northwest promotion allegedly after his photo appeared in a local newspaper covering a gay rights parade.

The big bumps and hard living had caught up with him by 1986 when he hit Alabama as neo-Nazi “Chris Von Colt”. Wrestling expert Karl Stern recalls the once-talented worker was terrible by this stage.

He quit wrestling and wound up in hard-core gay porn by the late 80s. You can still find several of his titles for sale online including Sex Aggression: Jack Husky’s First Night At Chris Colt’s Wrestling Academy, Uncut 8-Inch Pro-Wrestler Jo and The Selection 1.

One fan recalls the X-rated actor as "hot".

Oliver and Johnson state Colt began contacting old friends in the early 90s, talked wistfully about wrestling, then disappeared once more, possibly settling in Seattle, Washington.

It’s believed he became a born-again Christian and died of AIDS in 1996.

What lives on is Colt’s legacy as an underrated worker.

“Chris Colt was probably the greatest wrestler that never made it,” said Lanny Poffo, his tag team partner in Detroit in 1976. “A lot of people don’t know who he was. He never ceased to amaze me with his imagination in the ring. He was an innovator. He was ahead of his time.”

Another tag team partner, Ed “Moondog” Moretti, added, “I can honestly say he was one of the greatest workers I’ve ever seen. I’d rank him right up there with Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson. Politics, paranoia and just Chris being Chris kept him from the big, big money. But they could not keep him from greatness.”

Here's a coupla YouTube links for ya. Firstly, it's Jackie and Roughhouse Fargo vs Colt & Bill Dundee in Memphis, c. 1975:

Secondly, here's Colt vs a young "Tommy" Zenk from Pacific Northwest. It appears to be mid-80s. Appropriately, the dude who posted it focused on the homoeroticism of it all:

‘Chris was bizarre. He was just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll 24/7, and that was him. But when he hit that ring, oh man, it was magic’ – Ed “Moondog” Moretti


Blogger Eric Baker said...

Chris Colt was an amazing talent. What little I have seen of his work convinces me that his admirers are not spouting hyperbole.

I've always wondered what it was he did in England that got him banned. From what I understand, he upstaged Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree) - but I've never heard the exact details.

Great post.

1:21 PM  

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