Featured Post

Thank You, Axl Rotten (And R.I.P.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interview With Terri Runnels

Courtesy of Piledriver Online's Steve Ashfield:

Time to take a look back at the career of Terri Runnels in her own words, a career that saw her appear as Alexandra York in WCW and then as the cigar smoking Marlena in WCW and the time when Perry Saturn preferred a mop to her undeniable charms. The new online women’s wrestling mag ‘Fighting Females’ recently interviewed the former WWE Diva.

Initially you were working as a make-up artist for CNN which was under the same ownership as WCW, how did you end up in the wrestling business and what were your initial impressions of it when you debuted as ‘Alexandra York’?

Initially I worked for CNN however Ted Turner didn't own it when I started back in 1984...Jim Crockett owned the NWA and it wasn't until later that Ted Turner became involved and it became World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Ole Anderson and Tony Schiavone were the ones who approached me about becoming an on air character. They told me all about what they wanted her to be and do and I thought the name "Alexandra York" sounded "snotty" and perfect for the role. I agreed to do it and I guess the rest is history!

What were the personal highlights of your time in WCW?

Getting to know some of my dearest friends in the business and in life. Ray "Big Bossman" Traylor started just a bit after I did and we became best friends over the years. Ray and I traveled together for many years and when I tell you he knew more about me than my best girl friends...trust me he did!!!  You can't travel that many hours, that many days for that many years and not talk to someone. You also can't travel with someone that much if you don't trust and like them. Ray's wife was gracious enough to allow him to ride with me. We all became like family but trust me when I say that it is not like most women to allow their husband to travel with some "chic"!

I think Angie knew that Ray was safe and made good choices when he had me to "protect". Bottom line, I am indebted to her and the girls for letting their husband and dad be in my life the way he was. Ray was truly like my brother, father, friend and girlfriend. It sounds so funny to say girlfriend about Ray because he was such a "man's man". He was tender and kind to me though. It's also funny that I am giving this story to you concerning highlights of WCW when Ray and I did not become super close until WWE years. I guess I thought of it because that is when our friendship started.

How did the move to WWE come about and how did the company compare to WCW?

I had taken some time off after leaving CNN and WCW to have my daughter Dakota and I believe she was about a year a some months old when I was laying in our tanning bed and came up with the concept of Marlena. I thought WWE (WWF) needed some glamour because at the time there was only Sherri Martel and Sunny...neither of which would fall into the "glamorous" category. I thought that an old school Hollywood (director) would be the perfect match to Dustin's androgynous character. I had seen a Barbie doll that my sister had that was designed by Bob Mackie...I think it was called Sun Goddess or something like that...anyway, that was the visual image I had of what I wanted the character to look like.

I was given a list of names by WWE to choose from...I do not recall if the name Marlena was on the list or not...I think it was because I had really pushed the whole old Hollywood thing...anyway, I chose the name Marlena because of the actress Marlena Dietrich...she was one of the first women to wear pants and dress in a rather androgynous way and there was this incredible sexiness to her...it just fit! I loved the professionalism of WWF (WWE) more so in the beginning than I did WCW. WCW was run by a corporate giant and had a ton of money behind it...WWF (WWE) was run by a family and had so much passion and everything that was done was done with great care and concern for the product and the business! I still consider the company and many of the people who work there my family. I regularly speak with many of the people who are still there...both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. I just don't watch the product that much anymore.

You teamed up with Perry Saturn for a while, what was that like and did you ever imagine a situation where you had to tell your partner ‘It’s either me or the mop’?

Hee Hee! I loved working with Perry Saturn...he was great! He was another "big brother" to me in the business. I thought the mop gimmick was a bit kooky but whatever floats your boat as a writer!

You wore some pretty outrageous costumes during your time in WWE and had some strange storylines, which were your favourites and was there anything WWE asked you to do that you didn’t agree with?

I loved many of my Marlena dresses although I didn't enjoy having to always go for fittings at my dress makers. Those were hours I wish I could get back! I loved seeing other dresses and showing them to Maria (my dress maker) and having her find fabric and notions to create the dress in gold! There were many times that I had a matching dress made for Dakota. You should see some of these side by side now. It is so cute. One Mommy sized dress and one Little Princess sized dress. We always had matching purses made too! Cute...too cute! I should take photos of that sometime and post it to my MySpace or website. Which...by the way in case you were wondering so you don't get an imposter MySpace site or something...here is the genuine info on the two…


There were several storylines that I was not keen on...some I fought and they were changed some I fought and they weren't changed. Two things I fought that weren't changed were the whole "miscarriage" deal with D-Lo and the name for Jackie Moore and I...PMS! Gross...I just thought both in poor taste!

How do you think the Diva’s in WWE at present today compare to those during your time in the company?

I think they are beautiful and talented...but I think there are TOO MANY!!! Plain and simple, you can't have too much icing on the cake and to me the women are the icing...no one wants a cake with icing as high as the cake is!

Are we likely to see you in the wrestling business again?

You should know in this business...you NEVER say NEVER! Guys, thanks for the time and I wish you much success with your venture! Good luck and God Bless...Terri

You can read the full interview in ‘Fighting Females’ the new free online mag totally dedicated to women’s wrestling, all sixty pages of it. There you’ll find out what Terri thought of her feud with The Kat in WWE, the input she had to her Marlena character, whether she still smokes cigars and why she never wanted to train to be a professional wrestler.

Also in ‘Fighting Females’ you can read interviews with Mercedes Martinez, Wesna, Jetta, Eden Black, Amanda Storm, Team Blossom, Holly Hearse, Bubblez and Stephanie Scope plus ten pages of news and reviews and features on Ladysports.com and WSU. It can be seen at: http://www.piledriver-online.co.uk/ccount/click.php?id=18