We all know Portland is a rocker’s town. We’ve heard it and we’ve read it over and over again. From Paul Revere and the Raiders to Elliot “Stick it to me” Smith, Portland is a rock ‘n’ roll town. We are also famous for rain, microbrews, the Jail Blazers, that guy who wrote Fight Club (you know, Chuck Pollynyucknyuck or whatever) and even, believe it or not, wrestling. In the ’60s and ’70s, Portland was the place to go if you wanted a career in the wrestling biz: everyone from Gorgeous George, Jesse “the Former Governor” Ventura, and PDX native Rowdy Roddy Piper cut their teeth right here in Portland as the KPTV cameras were rolling.
One of the most colorful of these rainy day wrestlers was a fellow who called himself “Beauregard.” He came on to the Portland wrestling scene, after learning the ropes in the Philippines as “Eric the Golden Boy.” While doing a stint in his native Hawaii, he came into the acquaintance of the National Wrestling Association champs Ripper Collins and Johnny Marand. They were the ones who felt that the “Golden Boy” moniker was too nice, and encouraged him to be more snotty and rude. They then rechristened him “Beauregard.”
In Portland, Beauregard took to the new character with finesse. His Kaufman-esque antics earned him the distinction of being the most hated wrestler in Portland; giving people rage-filled heart attacks, having his tires slashed by angry fans and was even being run out of town by angry redneck loggers with shotguns. He had to make a public apology on local television, for saying that he and his cohort “the Claw” were going to kill the Easter Bunny on Easter Eve.
One of his few admirers happened to be a teenage Greg Sage of future local rock legends the Wipers, who said of his first exposure to the great Beau: “…there was this guy in a pirate costume spewing some of the most brilliant insults to some unknown opponent. I immediately envisioned how cool it would be to be able to say these things to the bullies at my school…He was a comic genius that no one yet has come close to matching.”
Beauregard was not only a hated wrestler but also an aspiring musician. Six weeks later, while rehearsing with a friend’s band, Sage would meet Beauregard in person. Beau was so taken with the teen prodigy’s guitar style that he asked Sage to play on Beau’s solo album, which also featured future Wiper Dave Koupal. This was Sage’s first experience in a studio. Sage said of the experience, “When I made a suggestion of how to mic my amp he [the engineer] grabbed me by the collar and dragged me into the office to show me all his framed certificates and documents…Beauregard came in and politely said ‘If you lay your hands on my friend again, you will have to deal with me…Greg knows what he’s doing and that’s what I want.'”
This album was released in the early ’70s and has been a lost gem. Luckily for both rock fans and maybe even wrestling fans, it has just been re-issued by Jackpot Records and Sage’s own label, Zeno. The record itself may not be as mind-blowing as Sage’s Wiper stuff eight years later, but it is still a great listen. Beauregard’s voice isn’t the best, by any means, but it reminds me of Alice Cooper and is always soulful. I get the feeling that he knows it’s all in good fun, and it makes me want to see more of his stage persona. As for the guitar, 17-year old Sage is already a professional on his way to matching guitar wizards of yore.
Now if only they would reissue the Blazers’ “Ripcity Rhapsody.”