Rowdy Roddy Piper has spent his career in professional wrestling as one of the baddest of the bad boys, but on the phone, he is a gentleman with an easy laugh. He is even apologetic for calling in late for an interview.
Piper will be the star at the Big Time Wrestling Father's Day Spectacular on June 21 at the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., in Chicopee. The first match begins at 6 p.m. and Piper will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Western Massachusetts is no new territory for the wrestling star, who said New England venues "are some of my favorite places -- even where they hate me."
Piper is the only professional wrestler who appeared at the first Wrestlemania and at the 25th event. He admitted that even though at age 55 he still wrestles, he wasn't happy with his performance at the recent Wrestlemania.
Having been inducted into five wrestling halls of fame, Piper explained he is at a point in his career where he is interested in "giving back to my fans." He said he has had a "wonderful life" with his wife of 27 years, two children and four grandchildren because of the support from wrestling fans.
He said he comes to wrestling shows today with "a whole lot of heart" for his fans and noted, "I've never cut off an autograph line."
At the Chicopee show, Piper will conduct his Piper's Pit interview show, his signature event that graced many WWF and WWE television shows in the 1980s and '90s. He said he came up with the idea for an interview segment - that would inevitably lead to some sort of mayhem - while sitting in a bar in St. Louis, Mo.
His first guest was wrestler Frank Williams and he admitted that the first time, "I didn't know what I was going to say."
"I thought [the interview show] would be fun," he added. The first Piper's Pit is on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW8-zP5WibU.
He even invited this reporter to join him in Piper's Pit, but warned him with a laugh to make a fast exit when the wrestlers show up.
Piper is also well known for his appearances outside of the ring. His starring role in the 1988 science fiction film "They Live" marked the "first time a wrestler starred in a major motion picture from a major studio."
He said that shooting that film was difficult, as he had to learn that "wrestling is explosive and acting is implosive."
He said his status as a professional wrestler meant that acceptance from the motion picture community was slow.
"It was difficult to adhere to the rules Hollywood imposes," Piper said.
"They Live" proved to be very successful and while Piper didn't develop into being in a mainstream action star, he has appeared in numerous television shows and movies since then. Two of his new movies, "Clear Lake" and "Fancypants," are currently being completed.
He said there is interest in a remake of "They Live" and John Carpenter, the film's director, contacted Piper to see if he would be interested in being involved.
"I'm really proud that I opened up the door for other people," Piper said.
Also appearing on June 21 will be New Big Time Wrestling Champion Justin Credible, Spike Dudley, Big Rick Fuller, Slyck Wagner Brown, the French Connection and many others.
Tickets are on sale now at www.chicopeewrestling.com, the Castle of Knights, the Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, 580 Meadow St., and at the door.
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