A man of diverse talents and interests, Mick Foley cannot be pinned down.
The retired World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer has written 10 books, including the best-selling 1999 memoir “Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks,” which he wrote by hand and without aid of a ghost writer.
He is a big fan of ethereal singer-songwriter Tori Amos, and a longtime supporter of the anti-assault group RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), for which Amos once served as spokesperson.
Through speaking engagements at colleges, Foley honed his storytelling skills. He now travels with “Hardcore Legend: An Evening With Mick Foley,” a one-man show composed of stories from the wrestling world, plus a Q&A and meet and greet. On March 31, he will perform it at Sacramento’s Punch Line comedy club.
Twenty-five years on the wrestling circuit provided ample material, both triumphant and hairy. In 1994, Foley lost two-thirds of his ear in the ropes during a bout in Germany. He continued to wrestle for several more years.
Foley’s voice contains just enough gravel to suggest his decades as a road warrior – first on the wrestling tour, now the comedy-club circuit. (Having sustained several concussions in the ring, Foley retired for good in 2012, he said, on a neurologist’s orders. He has said that he plans to donate his brain to science).
Calling from a tour stop in Southern California, Foley is friendly and warm, as one might expect from a family man (he and his wife, Collette, have four children, the eldest of whom is 21) who loves to play Santa so much that he devoted an entire room in his Long Island home to the topic of Christmas.
Also: For a former professional wrestler, Foley is not much of a braggart.
Q: Your appearance at the Punch Line is not traditional stand-up. Can you give a sense of what the show will be like?
A: It is a one-man wrestling-centric storytelling show. … The meet and greet helps people who are on the fence to make a decision. It is hard to ask people to spend money on an unknown quantity like my show.
About 10 minutes in (to the show), people realize it is much better than they expected. I can actually look at the faces – especially the women who accompanied their husbands. It is this look of total relief.
Q: I read about the incident in which you lost much of your ear, but reports differ on what happened afterward. Did you get it reattached, or reconstructed? Also, is your hearing fine?
Q: With your ear … Oh!
A: (Laughs). I am kidding.
Q: I fell for it.
A: I lost two-thirds of it. They were not able to reattach it. There are a couple of extravagant operations that would allow them to do that, but it really hasn’t affected me much, (other than) my glasses look crooked.
Q: You and Kevin James wrestled on the same high school team on Long Island. Did you start out in pro wrestling because of the athletic aspect, or did you always want to entertain?
A: I had been athletic through my childhood. My dad was the athletic director of our high school and the entire district, so I was always attending events, whether it was women’s cross country or men’s football. I loved amateur wrestling. But when I look back, I realize I did like to entertain. I liked getting reactions, and (pro) wrestling just lends itself perfectly. The athletics and the theatrics combined. Now, I find that a lot of those same things I loved about wrestling, I am able to get from performing. And I can get them without losing my ear.
Q: Concussions have been in the news lately because San Francisco 49er Chris Borland retired at 24 because of concern about future brain injury. I understand you have agreed to participate in the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center’s work. How is your health now, related to the concussions?
A: I am doing a lot better than I was a few years ago, and I honestly think, talking to (former WWE wrestler and Sports Legacy Institute executive director) Chris Nowinski, who is the co-founder of the Boston center, that doing these shows has been really good for me.
I was really feeling the effects a few years ago, really feeling sluggish, and what a lot of people would describe as a muted, underwater type of feeling. Working on these shows gives me a chance to exercise my brain … thinking of new (approaches). There is material you want to get in, but every night, you are thinking of ways to make it better. You are reacting to responses, you are changing things up. You are using your memory as well, which is important.
Q: What’s in your Christmas room?
A: It is a combination of trinkets, little statues and plush figures and images of Christmas. Then there are some significant family photographs. It’s strange because there are no photographs in my entire house of me wrestling, but this room is filled with images of me as Santa. (Laughs). I have two specific ones that I can look at at all times – one with my daughter at Santa’s Village in New Hampshire, and one with my son when he was my elf – that bring back great memories.
Q: In terms of 1990s pro wrestling stars who are renaissance men, who is more multi-faceted, you or The Rock?
A: (Laughs). I have to lose that battle. I might have done more different things than the Rock, but he’s certainly done a few of them much better, and with much more compensation.
Q: What is it about Tori Amos’ music that you like so much?
A: Her voice reaches me. In particular the song “Winter” had lyrics in it that were touching to me. It seems to be an energy that she has. You cannot convince me that she did not transfer some type of energy when we met in 2008 (at San Diego Comic-Con). I am convinced that meeting changed me somehow.
Q: Does she have an inner light or something?
A: What John Coffey did to Delacroix’s mouse (in the film “The Green Mile”), Tori Amos did to me. He brought the mouse back to life. Tori Amos seemingly transformed some sort of energy with her hug. I started giving a lot of money away, and I dedicated a lot of time to helping people.
Call The Bee’s Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.
What: The retired wrestler tells stories from the ring in the one-man show “Hardcore Legend: An Evening With Mick Foley,” which includes a Q&A and meet and greet. (18 and older).
When: 8 p.m. March 31
Where: Punch Line Sacramento, 2100 Arden Way
Information: (916) 925-5500; www.punchlinesac.com