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Ric Drasin

Ric Drasin (born July 12, 1944) is an American artist, actor, stuntman, writer, personal trainer, former bodybuilder, and retired professional wrestler.[1] Drasin designed both the original Gold's Gym logo a cartoon sketch of a bald weightlifter and the World Gym gorilla logo.[2][3] Arnold Schwarzenegger was Drasin's weight training partner for four years at the original Gold's Gym in Venice, California.[2][4][5] Drasin wrestled professionally for 36 years (1965 2001) while also winning titles in amateur bodybuilding contests during his younger years. Drasin retired from the ring at age 57, but still remains active as a professional wrestling instructor. He is also a Specialist Reserve Officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, a spokesperson for Gold's Gym International and continues his work as an artist, actor, and writer.

Contents


Early life

Richard Alan Drasin was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, a city of agriculture and oil production.[6][7] His father and mother, Oscar (1911 1963) and Claire (1914 2010), owned and operated Drasin's Little Folks Shop, a children's furniture and clothing store.[8] Drasin has one sibling, an older sister, Stephanie (born 1936), nicknamed Stef. The family attended religious services at Temple Beth El.

Drasin's formal education began at Franklin Elementary School. While at Emerson Junior High School, as a joke he and two friends tried out for the cheerleading squad. They were selected.[9] He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1962 at age 18, then attended Bakersfield College for two years (1963 64), focusing on art.

Drasin's early enthusiasm for professional wrestling had been sparked by the televised matches that he and his family enjoyed watching together. While watching a show when he was 10 years old, he once grabbed his mother and applied a hammerlock. Not realizing he was applying so much pressure, he dislocated her shoulder, putting her in the hospital.[10]

When Drasin was 17, he was picked up for a curfew violation at Shakey's Pizza Parlor and taken to the Kern County Sheriff's Station. His classroom habit of doodling and sketching carried over to the Sheriff's Station, where it caught the eye of the Sheriff Howard Wines. Two days later, Sheriff Wines hired young Drasin to be the cartoonist, Jungle Rick, on the sheriff's TV show for kids, Deputy Howie. Drasin held that position for about a year, earning ten dollars a week.[11]

The Epics, from Bakersfield, California, performing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1960. Band members included Denny Phillips (rhythm guitar), Ric Drasin (lead guitar), Dick Cranston (drums), Tom Strongin (bongos), and Craig Wilson (bass guitar).
The Epics, from Bakersfield, California, performing at the Hollywood Bowl in 1960. Band members included Denny Phillips (rhythm guitar), Ric Drasin (lead guitar), Dick Cranston (drums), Tom Strongin (bongos), and Craig Wilson (bass guitar).

Drasin's interests in bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, and guitar playing began in junior high school. When Drasin was in high school, he formed a band known as The Epics. Drasin's band became so popular that they were featured at YMCA Day at the Hollywood Bowl in 1960.[12]

About three months later, The Epics competed in a Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Palladium, placing second out of about 200 bands. One of the prizes was a one-year recording contract with Capitol Records. Capitol Records changed the name of The Epics to The Hollywood Vines.

The Hollywood Vines recorded two cruising songs, "Cruisin " and "When Johnny Comes Slidin Home." The 45 rpm record (Capitol Records reference number 4511) was released in 1961. Although the record was a success, the band drifted apart as the members grew into adulthood.[13] Nevertheless, Cruisin has been heard as recently as August 13, 2006, on Ungawa radio in Antwerpen, Belgium. .[14] It was also part of the October 21, 2000, playlist on WFMU, an independent freeform radio station in the New York City area.[15] "Cruisin " may be heard even now, in mp3 format on disk jockey Jim Marshall's The Hound Website.[16]

Drasin enlisted in the Army Reserves for eight years and was inducted on his 18th birthday.[8] On active duty for approximately six months after enlistment and for two weeks each year thereafter, Drasin served as a clerk/typist and driver, achieving the rank of Sergeant. He was stationed at Fort Ord, California, and Fort Lewis, Washington.

When Drasin was 18, his father died during surgery for a heart condition.[17] Drasin and his father had very much enjoyed going to professional wrestling shows together and, unknown to his father, Drasin had decided he would someday become a professional wrestler.

Young adulthood

Drasin's work in the fitness industry began in 1962, when he taught classes in nutrition and exercise at the Bakersfield YMCA. Also in Bakersfield, he was an instructor at Babe's Gym (1963 64), then manager of Joseph's Gym (1965 67).[9][18]

Professional wrestlers who came to Bakersfield for wrestling shows fueled his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Following their advice, he drove to Los Angeles in 1965 and introduced himself to the management of the Grand Olympic Auditorium, a major site for professional boxing and wrestling. Because of Drasin's excellent physical condition, he was given the opportunity to prove that he could carry through with the rigorous training required by old school wrestling. Old school wrestlers were true wrestlers, who also learned the skills of ring presence, how to work the audience into a frenzy, and how to "work holds" (giving the appearance of inflicting and suffering excruciating pain).

Johnnie Mae Young and Ric Drasin (circa 1991)
Johnnie Mae Young and Ric Drasin (circa 1991)
Drasin was assigned to train with Johnnie Mae Young, a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) United States Women's Champion. Young, at 5 4 and 180 pounds, was known as one of the toughest wrestlers in the business.[19] Drasin, at 6 0 , 215 pounds, and 21 years younger, was the recipient of many bumps, bruises, rope and mat burns during his six-month training period. Each training session lasted two to three hours, and Drasin received thorough training in collegiate, professional, American- and Mexican-style wrestling. While in training, Drasin was a commuter, driving 216 miles round-trip between his home in Bakersfield and the Grand Olympic Auditorium four or five times a week.[20]

Drasin's first professional appearance was as Dick Alan, a baby face (good guy). The year was 1965, and his opponent was Buddy "Killer" Austin. Austin won the match.[21]

Drasin moved to Los Angeles County, California, in 1969 and has lived there ever since. He first lived in Torrance, California, for about a year and trained at Bill Pearl's Gym.[22] He then moved to Santa Monica, California, where he remained until 1978.

In addition to wrestling, from 1968-1970 Drasin also worked as a salesman, going from store to store, for Kellogg's Cereals. For about 18 months in the early 1970s, he was the vice president and art director for Micro Sign Products, a sign and plastic letter company located in Marina del Rey, California. He left the company when it relocated to Carson, California.[23][24]

Drasin started a mail order T-shirt business called Expressions in 1975, a venture he operated out of the bedroom of the apartment where he was living in Santa Monica. Expressions specialized in cartoon-like bodybuilding designs. Proficient at airbrush and silk screening, Drasin did all his own artwork. He advertised his products in various bodybuilding publications, and his business flourished.[25]

In 1975 Drasin also started a business called West Coast Wrestling Promotions. He faced great opposition from the National Wrestling Alliance, and Drasin ceased operations after a few shows.[26]

After moving to Santa Monica, he kept in shape for his professional wrestling matches with weight training at the world famous original Gold's Gym at 1006 Pacific Avenue in Venice, California.[27] Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had come to the United States in September 1968,[28] also trained at Gold's Gym. He and Drasin were training partners for four years (1970 1974).[29] Schwarzenegger's English was so poor at the time that he would sometimes have Drasin accompany him on dates. Drasin has said, "He wanted somebody to go along so he wouldn't feel awkward, so I'd go with him."[30][31]

Ric Drasin's commercial headshot (1976)
Ric Drasin's commercial headshot (1976)
In 1971, Schwarzenegger and Drasin had just completed a run on Venice Beach when they were approached by a man and woman from Habush Casting who asked them to audition for a television commercial. Both Schwarzenegger and Drasin were selected for the Heavy Chevy commercial, as were six other athletes. Among them were bodybuilders Charles Chuck Fautz and Jim Morris and strongman Steve Merjanian.[11] The commercial marked the beginning of Drasin's long, ongoing career in commercials, films, television, and print advertisements.

In 1972, he had his first film role, playing "George," a gym manager who is attacked by rats in the movie Ben.[11]

Drasin has personal favorites from his many appearances in front of the camera. Among them are the Heavy Chevy commercial, his 1981 television appearance as Chuck Wilde/Mr. Galaxy in the Mr. Galaxy episode of Charlie's Angels,[32] and his television role as a vicious criminal named Pipe in two episodes of The Shield: Pilot (2002) and Fire in the Hole (2004).[33][34]

Ironically, Drasin received no screen credit for one of his most visible roles, known variously as the Middle Hulk, Hulkette, or the Demi Hulk, in two episodes of the television series The Incredible Hulk. Drasin played the half-transformed Hulk in Prometheus: Part 1 (1980) and Prometheus: Part 2 (1980).[35] The fully transformed Hulk was played by Lou Ferrigno, a 6 5 bodybuilder who weighed 285 pounds.[29][36]

In 1978, Drasin played an Olympic weightlifter in the film Sextette, where he traded quips with the legendary Mae West in her final screen performance.[11][37]

Drasin frequently ate lunch with fellow bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger[38] and Ken Waller[39] at the now closed Zucky's Delicatessen Coffee Shop at 431 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California, an eatery favored by bodybuilders.[40][41] During lunch one day in 1973, Waller, the manager of the original Gold's Gym, mentioned the idea of creating a logo for Gold's Gym to use on T-shirts. Using a napkin for paper, Drasin drew a bald weightlifter holding a barbell, a design that soon was used on athletic wear that was sold around the world.[2][42][43]

In 1978, World Gym also asked him to design a logo, and he created the World Gym gorilla logo, still in use today.[44]

For about a decade, Drasin competed in and either won or placed in several bodybuilding contests. The Mr. Venice Beach contest, which he won in 1972,[45] was known for the high quality of contestants because of its proximity to Gold's Gym.

However, during that era bodybuilding was an expensive, time-consuming endeavor for most participants, with little hope of financial gain. So Drasin continued to put his muscles to serious work in the professional wrestling ring, while pursuing competitive bodybuilding as a sideline.[24] Drasin's career as a wrestler took him all over the United States, including Hawaii, and to Canada. Many of his bouts were televised.[46]

During that era, Dianabol and Primobolan Depot were two of the most popular steroids with bodybuilders. Drasin freely admits to taking steroids, as has Arnold Schwarzenegger, both reminding critics that steroids were legal during that era, requiring only a doctor's prescription.[47][48][49]

Middle years

Ric Drasin married Ilene Walit in 1975. Walit was employed as a production secretary at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) motion picture studio when they met at Venice Beach in 1970. In 1978, the Drasins moved to Van Nuys, California, where they had purchased a home.[50] They had two sons, Adam (born 1978) and Shane (born 1981).

When the marriage ended in divorce in 1983, the children remained with Drasin. He took his boys with him when he went to the gym, and they were at his side when he printed shirts in the garage for his T-shirt business, Expressions.[51] During this timeframe Drasin also continued to work as an actor, stuntman, professional wrestler, and freelance writer. He chose to close his T-shirt business in 1984 after his name was stolen and used on goods of inferior quality.[25]

In 1985, Drasin reorganized his old West Coast Wrestling Promotions into the American Wrestling Federation (AWF) and promoted wrestling shows in the Los Angeles and Bakersfield areas.[26] He taught his son Shane how to wrestle, and he wrestled as Shane '54 for the AWF from 1996 until 2001.[52] Although Drasin's son Adam did not wrestle professionally, he occasionally worked as a referee for the AWF.

During 1987 at Gold's Gym in Northridge, California, Drasin met Randi Susan Weber (born 1964). They married in 1989 and had a daughter, Samantha Paige, nicknamed Sami (born 1991).

Injuries

Ric Drasin as
Ric Drasin as "The Equalizer".
Drasin sustained many injuries over the years.
As a professional wrestler, Ric Drasin sustained many injuries. However, his three most serious injuries did not occur until 2000 and 2001, and the first and third of these injuries were unrelated to wrestling.[53]

In 2000, Drasin was working with a table saw in his garage and had an accident that amputated his middle, ring, and little fingers from his right hand. Drasin's son Shane obtained medical attention for him, and doctors were able to reattach his middle and ring fingers, but the tip and middle section of his little finger could not be saved. Drasin returned to the gym the next day, using the heel of his hand for some exercises and straps around his wrists for others. He has stated that he never took pain medication for this injury. Using a glove to protect his hand, Drasin soon returned to professional wrestling.

In 2001, Drasin sustained two other serious injuries, both to his legs. The first happened while wrestling in an AWF match against Cincinnati Red (Scott Davis) in Huntington Beach, California. Drasin did not realize he had been seriously injured and continued wrestling for seven more minutes, until the bout ended with Drasin the victor. Davis had fallen on Drasin's leg, bending Drasin's foot to his hip, which ruptured the quadriceps tendons in Drasin's right thigh.

Initially, the injury was misdiagnosed by a chiropractor, who thought the injury was less serious than it actually was. Four days later, Drasin fell at home, and his left leg sustained an identical injury. An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed his condition as ruptured quadriceps and informed Drasin that he needed immediate surgery on both legs or he would never walk again. Surgery left him in leg braces and a wheelchair for six weeks. Only one week into recovery, Drasin convinced his wife and daughter to drive him to his regular gym, Gold's Gym in North Hollywood. He trained his upper body from his wheelchair and then from a walker until the leg braces were removed.

After the leg braces were removed, he began training his legs again, but within 24 hours a staph infection blew out his right knee. Drasin got through the life-threatening ordeal with antibiotics and a drain that remained in place for eight weeks. Even this didn't keep him out of the gym, and he credits his workouts with speeding up the healing process. He was soon on a cane and only a year later was doing full leg workouts.

Current life

Ric Drasin in 2005 wearing a Gold's retro T-shirt bearing the design he had created on a napkin in 1973.
Ric Drasin in 2005 wearing a Gold's retro T-shirt bearing the design he had created on a napkin in 1973.
Drasin wrote a book and a script for a horror film while recovering from his injuries. His book, So, You Want to Be a Wrestling Promoter, written with Bruce Dwight Collins, was published in March 2004 by BookSurge, LLC.[54] His horror movie script features a standoff between wrestlers and vampires.[55]

He maintains his post-surgery weight at 220 pounds, still adhering to a modified high protein, low carbohydrate diet that has guided his food choices nearly all of his adult life.[56] He does not drink or smoke and still works out six days a week.

Drasin's interest in art now takes the form of Website and logo designs, animation, and tattoo artistry. Additionally, in 2002, Drasin invented the Security Kat, a handheld personal security device.[57]

In 2005, Gold's Gym International re-introduced Drasin's original logo as part of their retro line, and Drasin is currently designing new T-shirts for them. Drasin is now a spokesperson for Gold's Gym, speaking at conventions and appearing at special events at various Gold's Gyms. He is also a spokesperson for HeadBlade Razors.[2][58]

Through frequent participation in Internet radio broadcasts, forums, and message boards, Drasin shares the knowledge he has gained through his experience as a weight trainer and wrestler He has so often been asked for personal advice that in 2004 he launched his own advice column, "Tough and Tender: Feminine Eye from a Straight Guy."[59]

Guitar playing is again in the foreground, now a hobby used for creativity and relaxation. The loss of his right little finger has not affected his ability to play notes and chords. He purchased a Gretsch guitar in 2006 and plans to add a pedal steel guitar to his collection.

Drasin taught both of his sons how to play the guitar, and both Adam and Shane play in bands.[60][61][62] Drasin's daughter Sami is a professional photographer and is furthering her skills at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where she is studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts.[63]

In 2006 Drasin was approached by Richard Wenk, who had written the screenplay for the Bruce Willis film 16 Blocks. Wenk expressed an interest in taping a pilot for a reality television show based on Drasin's experience as a wrestling instructor. Drasin's successful work with wrestling students ranging from 20 to 59 years of age, some with health issues and learning disabilities, had caught Wenk's attention. The pilot, titled Tuff and Tender, was completed in March 2007. Much of it was videotaped in Drasin's back yard, where he has his own 16 foot by 16 foot wrestling ring.

An episode of The Kids are in Charge: Family Vacation was produced in his back yard in 2006. It featured a family of five from Denver, Colorado, who participated in Drasin's wrestling classes. The segment was first shown on the Travel Channel on June 21, 2007.[64]

On August 14, 2007, Drasin was filmed by Nine Network Australia for their prime time travel series, Getaway. One of Drasin's wrestling classes was featured, and he served as the show's guide for a tour of California's fabled Venice Beach. The episode aired in October 2007.[65]

In an episode of TV Land s popular TV Land: Myths and Legends, Drasin appeared in a segment that first aired on November 12, 2008. Drasin, who had twice appeared as the half transformed Hulk in The Incredible Hulk television series, provided information about the casting of Lou Ferrigno as The Hulk.[66]

In August 2008, Drasin received his badge from the Los Angeles Police Department identifying him as a Specialist Reserve Officer, a civilian volunteer who possesses special skills that benefit the police department.[67] As a Specialist Reserve Officer, Drasin goes to schools as a morale booster and to work with students on a variety of subjects, such as driving and traffic safety, nutrition, and wrestling.

The year 2009 was a busy one for Drasin. A couple of the highlights were a live remote appearance on Australia s popular Sunrise Weekend television show [68] and an interview by general assignments reporter Cary Berglund for a KNBC - Los Angeles television news feature titled Professor Turnbuckle Teaches Backyard Wrestling 101. [69] He also trained actress and television news correspondent Maria Menounos for her October 12, 2009, appearance on WWE Monday Night Raw as part of a charity awareness promotion.[70]

Also in 2009, Drasin s personal history and his knowledge of the indy wrestling circuit were topics of a front page article in the Daily News print edition on February 19.

Mario Solis, a Sports Reporter for NBC News, went to Drasin s wrestling school on January 28, 2010, to tape a news report that was broadcast multiple times. In addition to showing a class in progress, the segment reported on Drasin s popular Ric s Corner videos, which are nostalgic looks at the Golden Age of Bodybuilding and have gained a following on the Internet.[71] As the popularity of Ric s Corner continues to grow, Drasin himself is increasingly sought out for interviews.[72] [73] [74]

After 23 years of marriage, Ric and Randi Drasin are in the process of getting a divorce, with the divorce expected to become final in 2012. Randi Drasin, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and television production (1987) plus a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics (2009), will continue the business she has owned and operated since 1996, Randi's Fitness for Kids, an after-school enrichment program that is currently contracted by the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.[75][76][77]

In wrestling

  • Ring names and nicknames
    • As a face[78][79]
      • All American Boy
      • Dick Alan
      • Dick Allen
      • The Equalizer
      • Headlock Drasin
      • Mr. California
      • Mr. Everything
      • Ric Drasin
      • Rick Drasin
      • Rick "The Hulk" Drasin
      • Ricky Graham
    • As a heel
      • Dr. X (wearing mask)
      • The Equalizer (wearing mask)
      • The Mad Bomber (wearing mask)
      • The Stomper (wearing mask)

Championships and accomplishments

  • AWF
    • AWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • CCW
    • CCW Championship (1 time)
  • GCW
    • GCW Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • National Wrestling Alliance
    • Rookie of the Year (1965)

References

Further reading

  • Drasin, Ric with Bruce Dwight Collins. So You Want to Be a Wrestling Promoter? Charleston, SC: BookSurge LLC, 2003. ISBN 1-59109-949-8
  • Solotaroff, Paul. (2012, February). The Dawn of Huge: The Lords of Muscle Beach. Men's Journal. 21(1), pp. 58-65, 94.

External links






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