I read that FUW got shut down by the state of Illinois, why did the state come after FUW?
At the time the State of Illinois was treating pro wrestling as a sanctioned athletic event. They wanted FUW to purchase a promoters license at a rough cost of $10,000 and have our referees go through training at another cost of around $1,000. The State went around to the venues we were playing and told them if they booked us they could be fined as well. We kept doing shows and just stopped promoting them on our website. That worked for a couple of shows until we got a cease and desist letter from the state. Around that time we were tipped off that Vince McMahon was actually fighting the state of Illinois because he had to pay money to the state every time he ran shows in Illinois. Illinois was going to drop the fees the first of the next year which was three months away so we stopped doing shows until the time had elapsed. Dre (co owner) and I had a couple of meetings with the state. We didn’t really talk about it with the rest of the federation but there was a time that I was more than a little concerned about our future and the consequences we may have faced.
I recently watched the documentary Disco Stu: I Will Survive, where a story line mirrored the situation with your legal troubles with the state. Looking back do you think it was a good idea? Also, that was a innovative story line playing off a real life situation. You were ahead of your time as a booker.
The idea for the story line seemed so natural and as you saw from the videos you watched was hugely over with the crowd. I loved that angle and was so happy to be a part of it and help create it. I have no regrets at all about doing it. It’s one of my favorite angles we ever ran and I think it really help step up our product.
FUW being an outlaw promotion do you think you had enemies and maybe one of them was a whistleblower to get your promotion shut down?
Good question. We had fairly concrete information that a fully licensed fed in Chicago turned us in. We were a bunch of “untrained armatures” which we basically were but due to our business model of wrestling at colleges or college bars and having our stories appealing to that audience we were attracting a few hundred a show at that time while they were lucky to get a 100 in a community center. We did things like having live commentary throughout the show that injected a lot of comedy. Basically we didn’t take ourselves seriously and that’s what made our product enjoyable to the college crowd. This fed was pissed off by that and turned us in.
At anytime did you run shows out of state?
No we ran most of our shows in Bloomington/Normal, IL. We did run a couple of shows in both Peoria, IL & Charleston IL.
Did you bring in any “big names” to pop the town you were in?
No, that wasn’t our model. We went after the colleges crowds who were more interested in our story lines and characters than our athletic ability. This was also a different time in “Indy Wrestling”. Now I can hop on Twitter and message a wrestler from my childhood and offer him money to come do a meet in greet as way to market my show. Back in 99 it wasn’t that easy. The accessibility just wasn’t there. We did have a good relationship with LWF in Chicago. They were like older brothers to us and if we ran into any issues they would give us advice and at times a few of them would come down and watch our shows.
In today’s indie circuit a majority of wrestlers have to work a day job while wrestling at night, was that the case for you or was FUW making a decent income to keep you away from a nine to five?
So I mentioned our business model earlier but in retrospect to this question I will revise the term business model. FUW didn’t exist for profit. Truth be told FUW lost way more money than it ever saw. We never ran it as a business for of like the opportunity more like building out a dream. We would use the money made to update our equipment. Once we stared making decent pay days we as a group rented a warehouse where our ring was set up and allowed people to train, sleep and hang out.
As a person who wrestled, managed, and book a territory which job was your favorite?
I loved booking and getting in the ring but I’m not a wrestler. I had my moments and as much as I wished I was a wrestler the facts are I was not a great worker. I got the character over which allowed the crowd to give me leeway in the ring. Working as a manager was great because I was able to get that high of being in front of the live crowd without the pressure of trying to be a better worker and allowed me to use my character to help get another guy over.
After FUW folded was there any ambition to join another any indie company or try your hands with the big two WWF(E) or WCW?
I mean I had dreams of being a manager and character but realistically I was never a wrestler.
If Disco Stu was still in the wrestling business today, other than WWE or TNA what company would Stu go after to get booked?
I could see myself as a manager in an Indy or even ROH. If I had an opportunity to get my character over I think I could do well in a managerial role.
Back in 2008 there was a 10 year reunion for FUW, any chance for a One Night Only show in the future?
I don’t think so. We no longer have a ring or any of our stage and lighting rigs. As what happens in time a lot of us have lost touch with each other for various reasons. I think it’s best to leave that time in the past.
What does the future hold for Disco Stu?
Well as you know my alter ego Lawrence is the host of a weekly 80’s podcast but as far as Disco Stu goes I think there is one last project out there for me to put that final bow on FUW. I think the story of what we did would be interesting to lots of people out there. I have worked on a couple of ideas recently so don’t be surprised in the next year or two if you see one last FUW project out there and as I already mentioned it won’t be a show.
I know that wrestling documentaries and tell all books are huge with fans, can we expect one of those in the near future? And tell me more about this podcast, if you will.
The thing about FUW is we recorded everything, and I mean everything. There is a lot of footage out there that I think something could be done with and I may have starting working on something but I am in no rush to finish something. If it comes together I would be very happy but mostly I’m just enjoying going back and reliving some of what we did. When I look at what this group of untrained misfits did from an outsiders perspective I am still a little amazed at what we accomplished. When you live through it you often don’t look at it from a high level perspective. Going through footage and answering these questions has really made me appreciate what each member of FUW accomplished during that time. I haven’t talked to some of the guys and girls for many years but if anyone of them called me tomorrow I would take that call and love reliving the old times and catching up on life.My podcast is called the Awesome 80’s podcast. We review, relive and explore 80’s movies, television and pop culture. My partner Carlson (longest reigning FUW champion) and I do this weekly and can be found on iTunes, YouTube and TheAwesome80s.com. Over the past 7 years we have had the opportunity to interview some of our favorite 80’s celebrities and meet our incredible fans. We do occasionally discuss wresting and team up with other podcasts like the Old School Wrestling Podcast and the Drunken Zombie Podcasting Network.
Lastly, I have a few names I want to throw at you. Whatever comes to mind…
Cocaine = Jesus.
16 year old girls.
Before you go is there anything you want to say to your fans?
I will always appreciate our fan base that for 5 years showed up monthly to watch us perform, follow our silly storylines and allowed a bunch of skinny and fat kids to live out there dreams.
For more information on Federation of United Wrestlers visit FUWwrestling.com