Soprano Sue's Sightings
 

An Interview with Johnny Valiant

Carmine Lupertazzi (Tony Lip) is the present leader of the New York Mafia. Carmine didn't stay in this position with out its inherent risks of bodily harm.  In a creative Fairy tale, the New York and New Jersey crime families live in peace and harmony with out any risks, but as we know this is a made for television drama.  Johnny ValiantCarmine surrounds himself with what is commonly known as bodyguards, who insure his safety.    The choices for this position are simple, strength, silence and devoted loyalty. What could be a better choice than Johnny Valiant, the two time WWWF Tag Team Champion.    Mr. Valiant is one of the elder statesmen of the wrestling field.    He was managed by Captain Lou Albano and also managed Hulk Hogan's career.   Having wrestled for 5 decades, he has been trained by Bruno Sammartino, Al "Fabulous Kangaroo" Costello and The Original Sheik.   With his brother Jimmy he has held the WWWF tag team championship for a record 14 months, and in sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1974-75 as one half of the Valiant Brothers managed by Lou Albano.

Johnny Valiant has wrestled as recently as two weeks ago and recently has gone on the road again with his hit show "An Evening with Johnny Valiant". Johnny Valiant is the perfect choice for defending Carmine's honor.

I recently had a chance to ask Mr. Valiant a few questions.

At one point in your wrestling career, you were managed by Captain Lou Albano did he ever encourage you to try being in a music video, as Lou Albano appeared with Cindy Lauper?    Also, wasn’t it more like, you managing Lou Albano to keep him from being too outrageous?

I was in that video.    He was very funny, he was distractingly funny, too funny for wrestling he was very inspirational to me.

If you could be in a music video, what artist would you want to appear with?

LL Cool Jay

You do stand up. In season 4 episode 1, was it difficult to be sitting down? 

They treated me pretty good on the set.

When did you go public with your stand up routines and vaudeville acts?  

Probably about ten years ago. I started in Huntington, Long Island. A fellow named Richie Minervini gave me my start.  

Did this come first or did wrestling?

I’ve been a pro wrestling since 1967. I wrestled Jimmy Superfly Snuka 2 weeks ago.   I didn’t have have any foreign objects so I used my little blue metro card to raked his eyes, swiped his eyes with it.

In your show An evening with “Johnny Valiant” what part of it do you find the most fun?

The most fun is when you talk about Andre the Giant. One time, while we were sharing a hotel room, he started walking around naked in the hotel. Naked giants in NYC attract attention in the city. Andre was 7 foot 4 inches and almost 500 pounds.

You’ve spend a good deal of your career traveling to different cities and venues all over the world.     What city did you find to be the most interesting? 

I like San Francisco, Alcatraz is special. A night, it is eerry looking. I lived in Hayward for a while.

Share with us what inspired you to go into Vaudeville?

I’ve been an entertainer 30 plus years wrestling, it’s a live performance and it is a natural. It’s a reflection of my life

What is your favorite food served by Premiere Catering on the set of The Sopranos.   

Everything. Their breads are fabulous, fresh tomatoes off the vine. Everything is great if it comes from them.

How did you get the role on the Sopranos? 

I got a call a few days ahead of shooting and asked if I’m available, I had a certain type of look they are after. I am built.  

Interacting acting with your fans during your show must be rewarding, what were the most unusual places you’ve been asked a question?

It was difficult when we were eating and got interrupted during a meal.

What was your big break?

As a wrestler starting out, Bruno Sammartino moved near me and I took an opportunity to knock on his door and introduced myself to him. It changed my life and I would never have gotten into wrestling if I hadn’t done this. It lead to main events in Madison Square Garden.

At one point in time you were the manager of Hulk Hogan, having seen him personally perform, what motivational techniques did you use to enhance his performance?

By watching me interview about him, he was very entertained by me. He watched how I ranted and raved as I got into character, I feel that the process of watching my interviews talking about him, being a quiet type of guy and caused him to do the same

You’ve acted in 100’s of films, how did you get into acting? Did you have a mentor?

No mentor. I have ambition I’ve never gotten any part because I was a wrestler, it hasn’t had any impact as of yet.

How old were you when you first got into wrestling?

Probably about 19 or 20. Started setting up the rings and referring. The Original Sheik started me out in Michigan when I was about 19 years old.

What do you think about the new grass roots style of wrestling that kids are doing in their backyards and video tapping with their parent’s video recorders?   Is this a positive way to break into the industry?

Parents are to blame. Parents have warped sense of what is proper. With the parents approval, they can do what something that can be crippling for life, if these kids don’t have the proper training. The consequences of this stuff are immature. It’s like child abuse to encourage children to do this without supervision and proper training.

Wrestling is the ultimate example of improv acting, how do you think your wrestling background has helped you with your acting career?

Not at all, only that I am comfortable in front of a camera. I enjoy being in front of crowd.  I’m not used to being front of a crowd without saying anything. I’m even used to people throwing stuff at me.

Being part of a tag team with your brother Jimmy, did that make you more committed as a team, rather than a team of 2 strangers?

Sure. I knew his moves and he moves and he knew mine. I knew his strengths and would compensate for his weaknesses and visa versa. It was all done in good taste in the name of entertainment.

What kind of audience do you think “An evening with Johnny Valiant” is likely to attract?

A mixed audience, curiosity seekers non-wrestling fans. Some fans that want to see me get pinned and give up.    Just so they watch and listen

What made you start doing stand up?

Necessity. I always admired different old time comedians. Jonathan Winters, Don Rickles, Jerry Lewis.   Jack E Leonard, especially, they all effected me.

I thank you for you interest and kindness.

 A brief bio:

Place of birth:  Pittsburg PA

Birthday: 11-25-1946

Favorite music: Johnny Mathis and Barbara Streisand, and Frank Sinatra

Unusual employment you’ve held in past: Store Detective at Saks 5th Avenue, Pittsburg

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