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"Gorgeous George leaves the words of one long-ago sports reporter ringing in your ears: “Oh, my, what a strut. If only this man had been born in the barnyard. What a rooster he would have made.”" --Dwight Garner, New York Times (read the entire New York Times review here)

"A compelling biography. The tension between George's excess and his era's reserve is one of many in his story, and those are what make Capouya's cultural anthropology so interesting." --Sarah Ball, Newsweek (read the entire Newswee review here)

"John Capouya entertainingly demonstrates in Gorgeous George that today's peacocks owe a debt of gratitude to a doughy Nebraskan who dominated pro wrestling more than half a century ago." --Stephen Cannella, Sports Illustrated (read the entire SI review here)

"A solid, entertaining book about a long-forgotten character and a peculiar slice of American history. B+" --Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly (read the entire Entertainment Weekly review here)

"Deftly chronicles the rise of this pure product of America and listens to the reverberation of his influence throughout popular culture." --William McKeen, St. Petersburg Times (read the entire St. Petersburg Times review here)

From the New York Post:NY Post chart of disciples
"You see the title of John Capouya's biography of Gorgeous George - which claims the flamboyant wrestler "created pop culture" - and you are struck by its audacity. A wrestler responsible for something that important? Impossible.

But as you go through the pages, you can't help but agree. For a whole generation of Americans in the 1940s and '50s, Gorgeous George (nee George Wagner) was the symbol of a changing country." --Eric Compton, New York Post (read the entire review)

"In the post–Hulk Hogan/Andre the Giant world, pro rasslers from the days of grainy black-and-white TV may seem a boring lot. Not the redoubtable Gorgeous George (né George Wagner), with his elaborate, platinum blond–dyed coiffure (held in place by gold-plated “Georgie pins”); pompous manner; and effete ways. Needless to say, his gaudy persona inflamed the sexually paranoid pro-wrestling audience of the 1940s and ’50s, making George a huge (for the day) media star. Later bad-guy wrestlers like Brutus Beefcake owe much to George’s groundbreaking exploration of over-the-top flamboyance in the “squared circle.” Capouya tells George’s story in well-researched detail, showing how the creation of the “Gorgeous” persona was carefully planned and cultivated by George and wife Betty and stood in stark contrast to the personality of George Wagner. In many ways, Gorgeous George superficially resembled Liberace, but that resemblance ended immediately beneath the image. As a show-biz bio and, for those who subscribe to a loose definition of sport, a sports bio, too, this is great stuff, entertaining and well referenced. — Mike Tribby, Booklist

"Capouya (Real Men Do Yoga) affectionately chronicles the life of the infamous “Gorgeous George” Wagner. Born in 1915, Wagner learns the ropes as a grappling carny at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park near Houston. During a stint on the “grunt-and-groan” circuit in Oregon, the wrestler meets his future wife Betty Hanson, whose handiness with textiles and hair dye transforms the likable “babyface” into a gender-bending aristocrat of the ring, a “heel” whom crowds love to hate. His antics off the mat (Wagoner holds all his press conferences in local beauty shops where he has his tresses “marcelled” before matches) and on (George takes 10 minutes to fold and refold his robe between perfumings) whips jeering crowds into frenzies. The histrionic, inexpensively staged sport proved, between 1948 and 1955, to be a perfect fit for the new medium of television. Although some of his psychoanalysis feels gratuitous, Capouya vividly portrays the ins and outs of wrestling and his own struggle to maintain the “Gorgeousness” of a public life in his private life as well." --Publishers Weekly

"In almost every way, George Wagner, who died in 1963, was an absurd figure as he strutted into the wrestling ring. Overweight, wearing pink satin and silver lamé, with ridiculous dyed-blond curls, "Gorgeous George" became an unlikely early TV star, probably because audiences were eager to see him beaten to a pulp. But, in Capouya's compulsively entertaining biography, George's garish creepiness ultimately triumphs by inspiring such real stars as James Brown, Bob Dylan, and Muhammad Ali to spice up their genuine talent with flamboyant outrageousness." --Penthouse


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