Like the itinerant theatre troupes that caravanned across the old world, or the traveling carnivals that are in professional wrestling's DNA, pro wrestlers spend a lot of time on the road. Living semi-indefinitely on tour is part of the romance and heartbreak of being a pro wrestler, and it's the focus of a new documentary, 350 Days, which will screen as a special single-evening event on Thursday, July 12, in theaters nationwide including the AMC Elmwood Palace 20 and the Regal Covington Stadium 14.
The title refers to how much a year a full-time wrestler spends traveling. The film's producer, Darren Antola, describes the documentary's concept: “What if the 1980s legends of the professional wrestling business told the tales of what it was like to live a sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle 350 days a year on the road and the toll it took on them?”
350 Days boasts interviews with a who's-who of '80s pro wrestling, including hall-of-famer champions like Bret Hart, Wendi Richter, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and "Superstar" Billy Graham, all speaking candidly about their time on the non-stop circuit of towns and arenas — on one hand, the camaraderie and wild times; on the other, the toll that the hard-partying grind of a journeyman wrestler takes on relationships, family life and the wrestler's health.
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Even in the preview, the candor about taboo subjects like drug use is a little startling. According to director/producer Fulvio Cecere, "I had to make sure [the wrestlers] knew I had no agenda other than telling their stories ... I did my research, so they knew I was serious and that I could understand what they were talking about. And I think that shines through. They were so open ... Nothing was off the table. They knew this was for posterity."
This independent documentary, filmed over five years, includes some of the final interviews ever conducted with now-deceased icons like George "The Animal" Steele and Ox Baker. It was a labor of love for those involved, Cecere says, "We drove all over the country. We shot in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Nevada and California and it all involved driving by car... It was almost our version of life on the road."
The July 12 screenings, which are at 7 p.m., will include a special interview with hall-of-fame manager J.J. Dillon. You can find more information and buy tickets at www.fathomevents.com/350days.