A Hulkamaniac’s Thoughts On The News Of A Hulk Hogan Sex Tape

October 10, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

I’ll never forget my first memory of Hulkamania running wild. I was probably about 7 years old. It was a Saturday night, back in the days before cable had been widely adopted. In those simpler times, the TV only got about 6 channels. One of those channels was NBC.

I can’t remember what we had been watching. Maybe it was the ABC Saturday night Disney movie of the week like Polyanna (come out and play Polyanna!) or some kind of Anne of Green Gables marathon, which I always took as one of few punishments for having sisters. Well, after whatever program we were watching finished, we flipped over to NBC. It just so happened that our fortuitous channel change was right around the time of the Hulkster appearing in the Saturday Night Main event TV program – something they did a few times per year that was as close to free Pay-Per-View in wrestling you could ever get in those times.

I don’t love wrestling as much as I used to. You could say that I never truly loved wrestling to begin with. I loved a wrestler: Hulk Hogan. I started to watch because of him. I stopped watching when he retired. I started to watch again when he came back and stopped watching when he retired again. There has always been a strong correlation.

It’s always difficult to articulate why you love something or someone. For me, I have to honestly say that of all the people I’ve ever fallen in love with, it pretty much happened right away. There was an early memory with each of these folks where something just clicked. What was it exactly? I don’t know. All I can really say is that there was an instant captivation. Perhaps the rest of my time following Hulk was an attempt to learn more about what it was I became so enamored with in the first place.

If I had to guess what it was about Hulk Hogan, I would say that he was a hero. In those simpler days, he was what you call a “good guy”. He cared about children. He stood up to bullies. He loved America. He talked about doing your training, saying your prayers and eating your vitamins. He was a role model for young kids desperate for someone to look up. He was a testament to the human will. If your heart was big enough, you could reach down, “Hulk up” and find that extra power to push through the pain in the face of defeat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUw3xg7IbAs

As we tuned in to the match, the Hulkster was losing pretty bad. The bad guy was pounding him. It was sure that he was about to lose. Now, was he really about to lose? Of course not! The whole thing was scripted. Did I know that? No. I only knew the bad guy was winning. I wanted the Hulkster to come back. I needed the Hulkster to come back. It wasn’t about one guy vs. another. It was about dark vs. light, hope vs. despair, injustice vs. justice, good vs. evil. This wasn’t about one match between two men. It was about the balance of the universe. Was it fake? No. It was as real as it can get. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Up to that point, I wasn’t so sure that the dragons could be overcome.

Like the Celtics, Punky Brewster, New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul, I could never get over my feelings toward the Hulkster. I watched with great interest whenever he came around. His act of looking like he was about to lose and then somehow pulling it out never got old. Each time, I took the same amount of delight. Like Andrew Peterson sang, it was a “window” into a different and better place – a glimpse of all the goodness getting through.

In maybe a twisted sense, I was like the boy who was afraid he loved Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia too much. The story goes like this:

It began when 9-year-old Laurence, an eager fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, confided to his mother that he was afraid that he loved Aslan the lion (the Christ figure in the series) more than he loved Jesus. Did that make him an idol worshipper? Philinda promptly wrote in care of the publisher and told Lewis of her son’s confusion. So concerned was the author when he learned of Laurence’s distress that the Kriegs had an answer in just 10 days.

‘Tell Laurence from me, with my love,’ Lewis wrote in a detailed letter, ‘ … [He] can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. … I don’t think he need be bothered at all. God knows all about the way a little boy’s imagination works (He made it, after all) … .’*

It wasn’t just Hulk Hogan that I loved. It was what he represented. To top it off, word on the street was that Hulk Hogan himself was a Christian. Hulk even said as much in his biography that came out in 2002. There was a chapter devoted to it his conversion. Still, there was something troubling about that book. The chapter about his faith was maybe the shortest in the entire book. On top of that, if those two pages that been ripped out of the biography, there was no other evidence to suggest in the rest of the book that he was a Christian. The perception I had of Hulk Hogan vs. the reality of who he really was was beginning to crack.

It was the same thing that happened with the Red Sox players I looked up, musicians I admired and every other person I idolized as a kid. I eventually realized that they weren’t perfect. Like learning that Kirby Puckett beat up women, in some cases I realized that not only were they not perfect, they much further away from perfection than I ever imagined.

There was something else I noticed from the Hulkster’s biography: he was absolutely hooked on the adrenaline that comes from the crowd. He had to be in the spotlight. He worshiped the applause of the fans. It wasn’t just that I needed the Hulkster, in a way the Hulkster also needed me.

Though disappointed, I wasn’t about to stop loving the Hulkster after these revelations. In a sense, I was learning to love him better. Now, I wasn’t just loving the image of the hero wrestler. I was learning to love a man in as much need of redemption as everyone else in this beautifully sad world.

The curtain was further peeled back as I watched the “Hogan Knows Best” series in the mid to late 2000s. In one show, he hinted at a divorce. At this point, though, I was getting smarter when it came to Hulk and TV. This time, I knew it was all an act. There was no way the Hulkster would get a divorce from his sweetheart. It was just another ratings ploy. Like wrestling, the show as staged. They were just playing up marital problems to create drama and draw in more viewers. Hulk loved his wife and she loved him. And yet, a year later the Hulkster was divorced.

I read Hulk’s second autobiography that came out in 2010. This one was a lot darker than the first. It talked about his son Nick’s car terrible car accident that left another boy paralyzed. He wrote about the failed marriage with Linda and how he lost a bunch of money and all sorts of other issues in his life. This was not Hulk the hero. This was Hulk the “I want to kill myself”.

By now, it was clear. Not only was Hulk not perfect, his life was absolutely falling apart at the seams. On top of it all, the man who loved being in the spotlight was starting to see his popularity wane. He wrestled as long as he could, but was no longer the main billing at the top of the card. Hulkamania, which once promised to live forever, was dying a slow and painful death. It reminded me of this quote from former cornerback Clayton Holmes at the beginning of Jeff Pearman’s book about the Dallas Cowboys:

After we won our first Super Bowl I was sitting at a bar and a guy offered to buy me a drink. I turned him down. Tony Dorsett tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Hey, young buck, you better take advantage of everything they’re trying to give you. Because they’ll forget about you one day.’ I was like, ‘C’mon, you’re T.D.!’ But now it’s been a while. Now I know what he meant. Even Cowboys fade away.

At some point, it seems like everyone would give anything for things to go back to how they once were. For Tony Dorsett, maybe it is dreams of being young and fast again. For Hulk Hogan, maybe it is the time he bodyslammed Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania 3. For me, maybe it was listening to “If You Go Away” while thinking of lost loves. For Adam, it was desperately wanting to get back inside the Garden of Eden and being met by an Angel with a drawn sword telling him the place he once knew and loved was off limits. I think it has to do with eternity being set in the heart of man. Each heart knows it was meant for more, something terrible happened and something is missing.

Eventually, I even read a book written by Hulk Hogan’s wife titled “Wrestling the Hulk” that came out in 2011 years after their divorce. I suppose my now morbid curiosity with the Hulkster was still not satisfied. It seemed inevitable that she would say in so many words the thing I was afraid to hear. Something like this: “Dear Mark, your hero Hulk Hogan is a bad man.” Still, Linda seemed to come to the same conclusions that I did. Hulk Hogan is not a bad man. He is a sinful man. I’m no theologian, but I think there’s a difference. And despite all the pain that his infidelity caused her, it was clear that she still really cared about him. While Hulk was perhaps longing for the years of adoration, I think Linda would have traded her riches for the days of her first love. She writes of one of the first times they met:

We got into my Corvette and I let him drive. It just seemed right. Hulk and I headed south along Freeway 101 with the wind blowing through our equally long golden blond hair. Freaky enough, the Rocky theme song “Eye of the Tiger” started playing on the radio! Wow, I thought. Ironic to the tenth power. Rocky music playing. Thunderlips behind the wheel.

At the end of the book, the 52-year old Linda described how she had found happiness in a relationship with a guy who was only 23. She tried to end up on a hopeful note, but it was just plain sad. The happy family I once knew from “Hogan Knows Best” was shattered. Nick had almost killed someone because of his recklessness. Brooke was losing her innocence in pursuit of a music career. Linda was running off with a 23 year old and Hulk was writing depressing books in what seemed to be an attempt to get back in the spotlight or make some money.

When I heard that Hulk Hogan was involved in a sex tape, I immediately felt awful for the guy. What a terrible invasion of privacy. Hadn’t he gone through enough? Then, as I was driving into work this morning the radio hosts were suggesting that this tape had been purposefully leaked. Their theory was that it wasn’t an accident. It was simply Hulk wanting to get in the spotlight and promote his work with TNA or to make some money. I wonder if they’re right. It that regard, it isn’t too difficult for me to believe that Hulk would do anything to feel as relevant as he used to.

Honestly, I don’t know what to believe. One thing seems certain, though: It is another chapter of brokenness in the life of a broken man living in a broken world. In that regard, I am no different than Hulk Hogan. If this were a race, I would no longer see the Hulkster ahead and me trying to catch up. I would see us running side by side – struggling and even limping toward the finish. Will I always be a Hulkamaniac at heart? Yes. Is Hulk Hogan still my hero? I’m not so sure. Do I still love Hulk Hogan? Without question. Does the Hulkster still need me? Yes. This time, though, perhaps not as much in my dreams as in my prayers.

*http://www.spu.edu/depts/uc/response/winter2k6/features/aslan.asp

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