Photo Credit: Nick Karp
In a DDT Divas exclusive interview, Sade chats with The New Classic, Billy Dixon. Dixon, a wrestler from Claremont Village Projects, South Bronx, New York City, New York, discusses his experience as a Black gay wrestler, wrestling in F1ght Club’s Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling Championship tournament, his love for writing and so much more!
Q: How long have you been wrestling?
A: It will be five years next summer, and it’s been a long weird, strange, great, sad, awesome ride.
Q: What motivated you to start wrestling?
A: I was really dissatisfied with my life. I was in college studying something I didn’t want to study. I didn’t want to be in college, so in the middle of one of my finals, like question #20, I just got up and gave it to my professor and dropped out. All in the same day. Then I looked up wrestling schools and the rest is history.
Q: Did you watch wrestling growing up? If so, who were some of your favorite wrestlers?
A: I watched wrestling growing up with my grandparents. My mom was sick as a kid and when she wasn’t sick she worked a lot, so I was with my grandparents a lot. My favorite wrestler growing up was Chyna. Number one with a bullet! I just thought she was so special and incredible. Before I retire from wrestling, I want to recreate her entrance with the pyro bazooka gun. As a kid, that shit blew my mind! It’s still cool to me and I’m 25.
Q: What are your ultimate wrestling goals?
A: If you would’ve asked me that a year ago, I would have been I want to get a contract or be a big star, I want to be really rich. A year later, my goals have really changed. Of course, I would love for wrestling to be my primary source of income to live a comfortable life. I mean, who wouldn’t? I really want to use wrestling to bridge the gap in both the gay community and the Black community, People of Color, but specifically Black people. I want to do a lot of outreach. They say we [wrestlers] put smiles on people’s faces. It’s a hollow statement, the intent isn’t pure. I want to use wrestling to make a fundamental change in my lifetime.
Q: What are your thoughts on the diversity of the wrestling fanbase?
A: I’m from the hood and I can only speak from my experience from being for there. Of course, Black people aren’t monolithic, so there are different experiences. But where I’m from. Dudes love wrestling, and they love guys like Bret Hart. They love Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, The Rock, Shawn Michaels. There is a market for it. I don’t know why the fanbase doesn’t get acknowledged or accounted for. It’s a little frustrating. But there is definitely a market for it within the Black community. Growing up there was community parades and festivals, and they used to have inflatable hammers with the wrestlers on them. I remember being a kid playing with my little Stone Cold Steve Austin hammer. Like I remember that visually, it was like blue and yellow or orange.
I really want to use wrestling to bridge the gap in both the gay community and the Black community, People of Color, but specifically Black people.Billy Dixon
Q: Why do you think wrestling companies overlook wrestling fans who live in urban areas?
A: I think racism, to put it sharply. It’s just racism. If you want to break it down after that then it’s thinking that we don’t have disposable income. That we are not worth investing into, and it’s not a good look to appeal to urban wrestling fans. But you know, we’ve been here. Dusty Rhodes is one of my favorite minds in wrestling and when you see how guys like the Junkyard Dog were booked and appealed to Black folks in the south and in low-income areas in the south, that was a way to tap into different markets. I remember listening to a Jim Cornette [I know you’re not allowed to like Jim Cornette these days] podcast on the road once and he talked about how Dusty said that ‘it’s better to have a house of Black and White people and you don’t have to worry about any kind of outtakes from integration. Because the Black people want Junkyard Dog to win, the White people want Junkyard Dog to win, and the racists want to see him lose. So you’re making money three different ways and it doesn’t matter because it’s a business.
I think that it’s the element that urban areas are dangerous. But yet, what I find incredibly interesting is your favorite White wrestlers, on both the independent and mainstream companies, love using them some African American Vernacular English (AAVE), love wearing them some graffiti, they love our culture, they love hood culture. But they don’t reach out to the people that live in those areas. I really would like my career to reverse that. You know, the hood raised me. Good, bad and ugly. It’s not all just murder and drugs and despair. There are a lot of beautiful things from the hood.
Q: What is your experience being an openly gay Black male wrestler?
A: It’s very unique.
I’m in a very unique position compared to other gay wrestlers. And I love them with all my heart, other gay wrestlers and other gay Black wrestlers. It’s rewarding because I’ve gotten to connect with other Black people and gay people and Black gay people and that’s a beautiful thing. The movers and shakers in wrestling, the majority are white straight men, may not particularly care to understand or just don’t understand how things are a little bit more complex. So it’s been difficult because I think people right now are looking for extreme. So either you’re masculine to the point you ‘pass’ with the straight wrestler or you’re feminine and there are a lot of physical attributes that help people clearly identify you as gay, to their understanding.
I think in my position, I’m directly in the middle of both masculine and feminine, an added layer also being Black. I think there is this expectation to present in one particular way. It’s like if you’re Black, and you’re gay and you’re a wrestler you are expected to be closeted even more so. If you are out, you are expected to present in a way that is highly feminine. Which there is nothing wrong with that, but that’s not necessarily who you are. It can present challenges in how you get over with some people in charge.
Q: What are your thoughts on the statement that people in the LGBTQ community don’t like pro-wrestling?
A: I think it’s true to an extent. I think for gay people they view wrestling as this overtly masculine barrier that they can’t enter to enjoy as a fan. But if you really think about it, wrestling is the most homoerotic thing in the world. Two grown men wearing little to nothing rubbing up on each other for 30 minutes. And we all sit there and go ‘owww’ and ‘ahhhh’. Like come on, you know what I mean. I think that wrestling fans, the majority of them, lean on the conservative side. Even if they are liberal, there more centrist in the way that they view certain things.
What’s also kind of disconcerting is that–ah fuck it–I’ll get the heat. A lot of gay voices in wrestling are doing a disservice to other gay people that might want to be interested in wrestling by adding sexual elements to their commentary. There are people who have web shows or podcasts and a lot of what they tweet about or post about is wanting to see wrestlers nude, thirst trapping over these straight men/straight identifying men. I think that also creates a barrier for gay fans. I there are a lot of reasons why if you take Larry or Mike, who is a gay person, or Darlene, who is a lesbian, may have the idea ‘ahh not for me’ because of the way it’s presented.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about #AwesomeBoiAutumn?
A: So Megan thee Stallion has Hot Girl Summer, and I’m not hating on that. But so what happens when it’s fall, it’s autumn! I just decided that I’m going to call my shows that I’m doing Awesome Boi Autumn. Because it’s like I’m a big Flava Flav fan, and I was watching Flava of Love. I was like ‘Yeah Boiii’ and then that’s how I came up with the name. I wish it was more creative but that’s what happened.
Q: You said you love Flava Flav? Are you a big Flava of Love fan?
A: I love Public Enemy! I love Flava Flav and Flava of Love! I used to watch it. My childhood was very unique because I was treated like an adult, like in the second grade. Truly, I had autonomy very early, and I could do what I want. I remember watching very adult shows like that as a kid with my family. It wasn’t a big deal.
Q: Besides wrestling what are some other things you are passionate about?
A: Of course, I’m passionate about the advancement and the equality for Black people and Queer people, in particular at this moment, stopping the epidemic of Black transgender women being murdered. It just seems like every day, I get on Twitter, someone else has tragically passed away. Locally, there are a lot of things I’m pushing for like trying to stop gentrification from affecting low-income people. That’s a lot of stuff I know people on social media don’t really care about.
But I outside of activism work, I’m really into screenwriting. That was one of the things I went to school for, and I’m really inspired by Lena Waithe and Issa Rae. Actually, when I was in high school, Natasha Rothwell on Insecure, she plays Kelli, was my drama teacher. So it’s a trip seeing somebody that was teaching me, literally a decade ago, having this amazing career. It’s very inspirational. I’m very proud of her.
I love writing and crafting stories. I did slam poetry. Any sort of writing, I love doing that. I like pen to paper. If I wasn’t a wrestler or if I got injured I would hope to get a job writing.
Very rarely do you find a Black promoter. Jonny X is such a good dude and his heart is in the right place. I think what I really respect about it was that everybody was just being them. Getting to be them in the most purest ways. There was no restriction.Billy Dixon
Q: You competed in the Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling Championship (PAWDWC), what was that like?
A: It was incredible. I can’t put into words–it was lowkey emotional. But I didn’t want to show it. Very rarely do you find a Black promoter. Jonny X is such a good dude and his heart is in the right place. I think what I really respect about it was that everybody was just being them. Getting to be them in the most purest ways. There was no restriction. You know sometimes as a Black performer, you have to tailor your performance, things about yourself, and things about your culture to predominantly White audiences. Let’s call it like it is! And every Black wrestler does that to some degree, some more than others. But it felt to me authentically Black and not have to think about will they get this reference. It was great to fight for something that can really make substantial change down the line.
The PAWDWC is not something that is going to change the industry overnight, it’s something that will take a while. And to be apart of the first steps of it is an honor and a privilege. The locker room there was great. My life is really interesting, too, because I’m at a lot of different intersections. I’m Afro-Latino, I’m gay. One of the cool things about it, I didn’t have any discomfort or any weirdness in the locker room. Everybody there was great and accommodating. A locker room like that can really help stop this narrative that Black folk are homophobic and unwilling to be with Queer people. It was just dope!
It was a great show. My pick to win is my girl, Trish Adora. That girl got heart. That girl took a beating from David Ali. She has the ‘IT’ factor. It wouldn’t be long before she is on TV poping and doing her thing. She’s really incredible.
Q: If you could make a list of your favorite wrestlers of all-time, but only include Wrestlers of Color and LGBTQ+ wrestlers, who would you put on your list?
- Aja Kong
- Bull Nakano
- Sasha Banks
- Ashton Starr
- Sonny Kiss
- Eddie Guerrero
- Ashley Vox
- Darius Carter
I like a lot of different kinds of wrestlers!
Q: If you could work with any wrestler dead or alive, who would you like you like to work with?
A: If you want me to wrestle, I would like to wrestle Lance Storm because I love his work. Lance Storm, Edge & Christian, or Jazz. I’m 5’11, 300 lbs, but Jazz would whoop my ass.
Q: What are some of your favorite moves to perform in-ring?
A: Oh wow, I’ve never been asked this before. This is going to sound weird, but I love a good drop toehold it’s one of my favorite moves because I’m old-schooled. I love a drop toehold. A lot of my moves I picked off of my favorites. I’m a big Lou Thesz fan. My finish is a Thesz Press. I’m a Mickie James fan, so that’s why I do the Thesz off the ropes. I remember watching her do that as a kid. I was like ‘oh, that’s so good!’ Then when I became a wrestler, I was like ‘oh, wow, the Thesz Press is actually a pinning combination and you can win a match using a Thesz Press, a lot of people don’t know that because they watched Stone Cold and he kind of ruined it for everyone.
I have a really good X-Factor. I did one to Effy once and it looked really good. It’s a great move to do and I do it really, really good. Also, do a Michinoku Driver called the ‘Wash Poppin’ Driver, where I tell the crowd, ‘when I say wash, you say poppin’, a call and response to get the crowd engaged in the match.
Q: What are some of your least favorite moves to perform in-ring?
A: It’s not a move but I just don’t like taking bumps. They suck. But I can’t complain. I don’t like taking bumps, but it is what it is. But at the same time in my career, I’ve taken a lot of crazy bumps. There is really nothing I wouldn’t take. I’m not a big fan of Piledrivers. Unless it’s someone like Jerry Lawler or someone I know they know what they are doing. I’m pretty fair game.
Q: Any last words?
A: I have a very special project that I’m working with people on. That is coming to the DC area. And it’s going to be really, really cool. Keep your eyes peeled, on Prime Time Wrestling in Spring of next year. We are working on a really cool project that they have let me be apart of the creative process and I can’t say much more. It’s going to be really cool.