Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators (2023) s01e04 Episode Script

Sex, Drugs & Merchandise

[action figure narrator]
From American Gladiators
- come official action figures.
- [crowd cheering]
[boy in ad] Here comes Turbo.
[action figure narrator]
Laser, Gemini, Nitro.
- All your favorites, all in your face.
- [epic music playing]
Let's do it.
Oh my gosh. I mean,
they made a figurine? Like, a doll?
We have so much memorabilia.
[upbeat music playing]
Keychains, macaroni and cheese boxes.
Our faces are on these toys,
on these posters, on these toothpicks,
on these lunch pails, on Slurpee cups.
I'd see people walking out
with Gemini posters, Gemini that
A water bottle, taffy,
an umbrella.
[Danny in '90s] I think the great thing
about being an action figure is,
no matter what happens to you,
no matter what track your life takes,
that you'll forever be
not immortalized but plasticized.
[Jim] And after a while,
we started to get together with each other
and thought,
"I'm not getting anything from it."
Like, financially, we're making zero.
Zero dollars.
[theme music playing]
[Joust commentator]
Zap going with that backhand at
[TV host] You may have missed
a very interesting phenomenon,
the TV series American Gladiators.
Now syndicated in 95% of America
and some 20 foreign countries,
American Gladiators
is an industry unto itself.
What do people,
I'm talking about lots of people,
what do they like about this show?
[upbeat '90s music playing]
Set me free ♪
[crowd cheering]
[Jim] As a Gladiator,
we thought we were prime time.
We thought we were it.
That's Mom's new boyfriend.
Hey, I know you from American Gladiators.
You're Pyro!
[chuckles] Only on weekends.
[Julie] Because Gladiators was becoming
kind of a pop culture phenomenon,
we had other shows who were interested
in using some element of Gladiators
on their shows.
[indistinct shouting]
[timer rings]
No, it's a belly dancer,
but you got $1,600, that's right!
[Ray Comb] American Gladiator men
against the women.
Tell me something
men do better than women do.
Nothing, but [laughs]
[Julie] Family Matters
did a whole episode.
[Steve Urkel grunts]
[audience laughing]
He he still loves me. [grunts]
If you were a grown man and had to
wear this, would you be upset?
- [Richard Dawson] I would be. I think so.
- Heck yeah. All I wanna say.
It's funny. Just when you start
to think you're famous,
life, I've found, has always
found a way to humble me.
Excuse me.
[thunder crashing]
[Danny] My agent lined me up this movie,
Death Becomes Her with Meryl Streep.
They had a premiere,
and my buddy, Olden Polynice,
who played
for the Pistons and the Clippers
I wanted someone famous with me,
so it looks like I was famous.
I come on the screen
on that scene with Meryl,
and they cut my line.
And then Olden, in front of this crowd
of celebrities, looks over at me and says,
"Yo, Nitro, aren't you gonna
say anything in this movie?"
- [audience laughing]
- So, uh, do you like gladiating?
Oh yeah, I love it.
It's physical, it's fun.
Every once in a while,
you get to meet someone very special.
Oh, Nitro.
[audience laughing]
You know,
we did this episode of Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen DeGeneres, famous Ellen
from the talk show. She had a sitcom.
Fettuccine ai funghi.
Thank you.
And you had the turkey.
[audience laughing]
And right away, we've got a little crush.
You know, Nitro and Ellen.
Dan and I, we were very excited
when we got that show.
What was so cool about The Ellen Show is,
they made the show about her
trying out for the American Gladiators.
So it was all about us.
Saw that skinny-looking bookworm
you were dating.
Ellen? I liked her.
You did not. You were only dating her
to make me jealous.
- No, I really think that I like
- Nitro.
Let me do the thinking.
You just sit there and look pretty.
[audience laughing]
Well, well, well, Nitro.
[audience laughing]
I had to kiss Dan. Kiss Nitro.
Oh my goodness. I had to laugh.
But it was so funny
because the truth was
you had two gay women,
who are not out yet,
fighting over a straight guy.
I was like, "How about we rewrite it,
and I get to make out with Ellen instead?"
That'd be such a better script.
You call yourself a Gladiator?
You wouldn't last a day in Ancient Rome.
[audience laughing]
[commentator on Ellen]
Don't believe this. What an upset!
[audience laughs]
[Lori] So, after The Ellen Show,
we basically got called in for
a Gladiator meeting, a mandatory meeting,
and we noticed that Johnny was there,
a lot of the executive producers
were there.
We had no idea what the meeting was for.
And I remember sitting in the room,
and they were like,
"All right, here's our next adventure.
We're going on tour."
[upbeat synth music playing]
[Danny] The idea of the Gladiator tour was
for the Gladiators to go across America
and face that town's best athletes
one-on-one for one night
in front of 15,000 rabid fans.
Everybody was so excited
about going on tour.
They could've gave us rat poison,
and we'd have went. Are you kidding me?
[David] Johnny Ferraro
was quite interesting
because he was an Elvis look-alike.
He explained to me
about this show that he created,
and he said,
"This'll make it a great arena show."
I would take crazy things,
crazy ideas, and I would do it.
They said, "Wow, if we can get this guy
to produce a live tour, how great."
"He did The Monkees. He does Ringo Starr.
He does Dirty Dancing."
"He took a movie,
made it into a live tour."
"He's the perfect guy."
So I made a deal with them
basically with the knowledge
that I had of a rock and roll tour.
[Michael] They had all of the Gladiators
come to my house at the time.
David Fishof came in.
He said, "Here's what we wanna do."
"We wanna take you guys on tour.
Here's what you're gonna get."
"You're gonna get five-star treatment,
you're gonna stay in the nicest hotels,
you're going to have time to work out,
we're gonna provide food for you."
"There will be a per diem
that you'll be getting, plus your money."
[Danny] On the tour, we were getting
about five grand a week.
Now, you times that by 50 weeks,
and we were finally making a little dough.
[Julie] The tour happened between seasons.
It was great national publicity.
We can always use more of that.
No one had ever done
anything like this before.
Oh my God, this is gonna be amazing.
It's gonna be
like we're little rock stars.
[audience cheering]
[David] Prior to starting the tour,
I had planned 120 shows.
I went out and watched the TV show,
and I saw all the props and everything.
Little did I realize that to build this,
according to my production guy,
it was gonna be an eight-truck tour.
An eight-truck tour
in the rock and roll business
is The Rolling Stones.
Before you start the show,
your costs for setting up a show
based on eight trucks is a killer.
I got a cart for us. [laughs]
[camerawoman] We're getting real lazy now.
Normally, I would get a corporate sponsor,
and the corporate sponsor would come in
and give me half a million,
a million dollars to put their name on it.
I could not find a sponsor.
There was so much talk of steroids,
so sponsors were scared.
My show was gonna open
in about two months. No sponsor.
I-I was freaking out.
[tense music playing]
[David] I got a phone call
asking me if I would appear
on a sports wrap-up show,
and, you know, I said,
"I'll do the show on one condition."
"That you ask me
about my American Gladiators live tour."
The next morning, my phone rings.
"Hi. I'm so-and-so from Seven-Eleven."
"We'd love to talk to you
about the American Gladiators."
[trumpet fanfare playing]
[live tour narrator] Let the games begin.
Now, Seven-Eleven presents
the American Gladiators Live Tour.
Saturday, October 19th
in Madison Square Garden.
Sunday, October 20th at Nassau Coliseum.
Your favorite American Gladiators,
Ice, Gemini, Laser, Gold, Blaze, Nitro,
Thunder, and more,
in America's most exciting game.
[Raye] We're wondering if you've ever seen
the American Gladiators.
- I have.
- You have?
Oh, she has.
- I've seen it on TV, not live.
- [Raye] You haven't seen it live.
Are you gonna see it live?
- Hopefully soon.
- Hopefully soon? Going tonight?
[Lori and Raye] Tonight!
[Michael] Madison Square Garden.
Maybe 150 cameras in front of us.
They got a table set up there
and us to announce the tour.
I couldn't believe it.
Madison Square Garden.
They're announcing the tour.
Now I'm really saying,
I'm from Yakima, Washington.
[chuckles emotionally]
And I said, "Damn."
[Raye] Madison Square Garden
was ridiculous.
[upbeat synth music playing]
[Danny] There were probably
200 cameras there,
and we had all been on TV,
and we'd all done press.
So we felt like we were pretty good.
At least, I felt I was pretty good at it.
And I remember
after being in an interview for a while,
uh, someone asked me a question,
and I just said something really stupid,
I said, "Girls, I'm gonna be
on the road a long time."
You know?
"Send me your knickers." [laughing]
Mm-hmm. Sure. I'm out of here, man.
[cameraman laughing]
Shit is too thick.
[cameraman laughing]
[David] I went to the Gladiators,
said, "We're gonna time
for you to get media training."
So that when they're asked questions,
you know how to deflect,
because that was the era of steroids,
and that was the era
of the World Wrestling Federation.
They weren't admitting
that they would do steroids,
and Seven-Eleven didn't want them
to say that either.
[man] Dan Clark.
[Danny] One of the oddly weird things
that I was worried about on the tour
when it started,
was, you know, I was taking 'roids,
and I couldn't figure out
how many syringes I needed
to take on the road
for, you know, 90 90 nine months.
And I did the math, I take one
so that's 90 syringes I gotta bring.
[David] The training teacher
said to them, "Now, listen."
"We're gonna set you up with interviews."
"This is how you get the name Seven-Eleven
in all your interviews."
"And when they ask you,
'Do you take steroids?'
or, 'What do you think of steroids?',
your answer should be,
'Tickets for Madison Square Garden
go on sale September 18.'"
[camerawoman] Okay, here we go.
I'm going around the corner.
- I'm not sure if we can go in here.
- [camerawoman] Let's knock and see.
[camerawoman hums suspenseful tune]
- [Lori] Are you guys dressed?
- [camerawoman] Uh-oh.
[trainer] No cameras in the training room.
No press in the training room.
[trainer 2] Let's do it.
- Check the female locker room.
- Okay.
What do you think
of the American Gladiators?
What's up?
We don't wanna talk to you.
And now, I guess
we're going into the auditorium.
Come on. Come on inside first.
Look how many people we have so far.
[camerawoman chuckles]
It's gonna be a packed house, guys.
Oh, the contenders' locker room.
- [indistinct conversations]
- [camerawoman] Look.
[camerawoman] Some more.
And look, some more over here,
and they're coming out from everywhere.
[upbeat synth music playing]
[reporter] The show held
open tryouts tonight.
More than 600 people went head-to-head
to determine who is tough enough
to compete against Nitro, Gemini,
and the rest of the Gladiators.
When I would promote my rock tours,
what I did was,
I'd hold a press conference,
and then tickets would go on sale.
But I said, "This is a great opportunity
to do the tryouts in every city."
If you wanted to try out
for this live show,
you had to go into a Seven-Eleven store,
and you had to enter the sweepstakes,
and we would invite
all the media to come see it,
invite people to come watch the tryouts
two months before tickets go on sale.
[auditionees grunting]
[reporter] Men have to do
55 fingertip push-ups.
Women 35 military-style.
It's one of four competitions
the contestant must win.
There's the 40-yard dash
and the Suicide Ladder.
[interviewer 1] We're gonna joust and
What do you think my chances are here?
Since you've never been
on a platform that's ten feet high
and you've never had a jousting stick.
- Have you had one lately?
- Not lately.
[Raye] Well, then I'd say,
you don't have a chance in hell.
[Raye and interviewer 1 chuckle]
I cannot tell you, every arena,
we would get two to four thousand people
trying out
for the American Gladiators Live Tour.
On the tour, I don't think
the contenders actually got paid,
but it was their chance to go up
against the Gladiators
in all these giant arenas across America.
And that was a win enough
for a lot of people.
[audience cheering]
That was a big deal.
Big deal because we were selling out
all the stadiums.
[thrilling music playing]
- Do it again.
- [fans chanting] We want Ice! We want Ice!
[children screaming] Ice!
[Lori] Walking into Madison Square Garden,
and all the lights hit you,
and the auditorium was full,
and you just hear the roar of the people.
And that's when you go,
"Holy shit. We're kind of famous."
["Gonna Make You Sweat"
by C+C Music Factory playing]
[Michael] I'm telling you,
some of those arenas were just jam-packed
and I couldn't believe it
how big the show got.
We did it in Florida
where MC Hammer was there the first night.
He had about 6,000 people in there.
The next night we were in there,
we had 16,000 people in there.
Give me the music ♪
Everybody dance now ♪
[Dick] Every place they went was sold out,
there were T-shirts
being signed, hats, et cetera.
Everybody dance now ♪
[Michael] We would go
to the high-end places.
Like, we went to Chicago Stadium.
We went there the night
after Michael Jordan played a game.
The place was sold out for us.
Afterwards, they took us
up to Michael Jordan's restaurant.
All the Gladiators meet Michael Jordan.
He said,
"Hey, congratulations on you guys."
"Keep doing it well."
"Good job, great."
And that was it. That's all he got to say,
but I got to see him.
Everybody dance now ♪
[Jim] It felt like I was back in college.
What are we doing tonight?
We're gonna get fucked up!
Competing every night, drinking,
and the stuff that we did was just
It was crazy.
And we were all young
and single and having fun and
[Danny] We had groupies, we had sex,
we had drugs, we had rock and roll,
and we were coming to a town
to kick the shit out of you.
["Gonna Make You Sweat" continues]
Most fun I had in my entire life.
But what a lot of people didn't see was,
we competed every night,
seven nights a week, all over the country.
Soon as one show was over,
we would take a shower,
and get on that tour bus,
and travel to the next city.
That next city could be one hour away,
could be ten hours away.
So we were on that bus trying to sleep.
Training every day.
And injury after injury.
Every night, we were getting so beat up,
we finally said, "We need some help here."
"We need to bring in some fresh Gladiators
to take over some of these events
and give us a break."
[Michael] None of this
was thought out beforehand.
No one at Samuel Goldwyn Company,
no one thought to have three,
four reserve Gladiators ready to go.
The show went on.
[David] I'd get a call from the road
that this one's down and that one's down,
and we need more Gladiators.
So, I told my assistant
to go to a local gym
when she was on the road
and find some of these people.
And let's put them in outfits.
And let's give 'em a name.
- [audience cheering]
- A little stretching here.
[upbeat rock music playing]
[Steve] I got hired as an alternate
on American Gladiators,
and when a Gladiator went down with
an injury, I came in and replaced him.
And that night in the arena,
the announcer said,
- "And let's welcome Tower!"
- [audience cheering]
[David] And you saw 10,000 kids
screaming and yelling,
and there were the excitement,
and the music.
And, you know, no one knew who he was,
but we made him a star.
[audience cheering]
Becoming a new Gladiator,
my first show ever, the fans accepted me
just as well as they accepted Nitro,
Laser, and Gemini at the time.
Jim and I, we are in Upstate New York,
and we went shopping one afternoon,
we had to hide in a dressing room
because people were following us,
and just like, "We want your autograph."
[laughs] It just it was just a wild time.
[Shirley] I came in as an alternate,
and then joined the live tour
under the name Athena.
Halfway through the tour, we're on the bus
and they casually looked at me and said,
"Do you really like that name Athena?"
I said, "No, no, not at all."
I can't remember how to spell it.
When you start signing, you know,
20, 30, 40, 50 autographs at a time,
I'd start spelling it wrong,
and so they said,
"Well, let's change your name."
"Didn't you ever have any names as a kid
or, you know, nicknames or anything?"
And I said, "Just Sky."
And everyone said,
"That's great, that's it."
Between cities,
my uniform changed
from saying Athena to Sky.
[upbeat music playing]
[David] We did sell 6,000 tickets
in Maine,
and the next city, we sold 8,000 tickets.
But in order to break even
for the promoters,
we still had the eight trucks,
and the cost of the eight trucks,
and then the Gladiators wanted to be fed,
and they didn't want to eat
the normal rock and roll food.
[Sha-Ri] You have to feed bodybuilders.
They eat four to five times a day,
every two to three hours.
It's more like a football team.
And I don't think
They thought it was entertainment,
like a circus.
They didn't take into account
that these people needed to be catered to.
[Steve] One thing Laser and I did,
we packed this big duffel bag
with all of our cooking utensils,
our hot plates, and we were determined
we're gonna cook our food,
our good clean food, in our hotel room.
And that lasted probably
about halfway through the tour,
to the point where it just was like, ugh.
Got to be a pain in the butt.
So, we just asked for better quality food.
Look what I get to eat.
I get to eat butter,
and I get to eat chocolate.
[camerawoman laughing]
[Raye] Michael Horton.
Don't bother him when he's eating.
- Stop.
- [Raye] He's like a bear.
And if the food is bad, David Fishof
came in and was very cold about it.
"Hey, you're on tour."
"This is the food we have for you.
There is no other food."
I mean, the place we stayed in,
one place in Georgia,
this was a bad motel.
We had a few of those in some places
where this was
the only place you could stay.
[camerawoman] And these
are your American Gladiators.
That's a new one, her name's Jenn.
[Lori] The tour was anything
that you wanted to make it.
Oh, wait, let's get that on film!
[Lori] Everything rolled into one.
But the story wasn't necessarily about
when we were competing against contenders.
The story was on the bus.
[upbeat music playing]
[Jim] Think of 120-city tour on a bus.
Big bus.
We were like little kids.
I mean, we were all living together
in this tour bus,
and we had parties on that bus,
there were striptease contests
on that bus,
there was groupies following us,
girls flashing.
I think then it made sense
that we've hit the big time.
It's the new uniform.
[Lori, present day]
You'd show up at six in the evening,
eat dinner, do the show for two hours,
get on the bus,
and then we'd usually
travel to the next city
for three to four hours on the bus.
[camerawoman] Where are we?
- Ridgepoint?
- [camerawoman] Chicago.
- Chicago.
- [camerawoman] Yeah.
[Lori] So, when you climbed on that bus
and if you weren't in the party mode,
and you wanted to go in the back,
and chill out, and watch TV?
Nine times out of ten,
that was not gonna happen.
[man on bus] Oh, look at that! Whoo!
Sha-Ri, why don't you show us
how you handle Sarge's shit?
- [Gladiators on bus laughing]
- [upbeat music playing]
I was a loner on this tour because,
you know, I was engaged at that time.
So, yeah. But the party animals,
they were partying.
On the tour bus, in my bunk,
with my earphones on. It's kinda soothing.
There was the commotion
that would be going on in the aisles,
and grabbing at each other.
Okay, what they doing. But I just
[camerawoman] Don't stop the tour.
- Care for another drink, Sha-Ri?
- Hell yeah.
Yeah, she's been drinking.
Shut up, Sha-Ri, no more.
No, I'm not giving you no more.
- All right? That's enough.
- Yeah, all right.
The bus dancing and singing, and
We'd just do crazy things.
There was just a lot of camaraderie.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
- Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
[Steve] Thank God
there was no social media around
and cell phones and cameras
because we did crazy, wild stuff.
I learned
how to deep-throat a Corona bottle.
[camerawoman] Good, Raye. I'm glad
we've learned something on this tour.
- Why don't you show us?
- [camerawoman] Go, baby, go.
Go, go, go, go!
- Go! Drink!
- All right, Raye, you've got this!
- What are you doing to my beer?
- Raye, deep-throat this.
- The whole bottle? I don't think so.
- Go on. Show us.
[Michael] Shoot a little foam
Hey! Shoot a little foam out.
[Gladiators on bus laughing]
- [Michael] Oh yeah.
- Put the head way back, girl.
[Gladiators on bus cheering]
What do you want?
Take your pants down.
[camerawoman] There, pull your pants down.
What'd you say? [laughs]
I would get reports every night
from my tour managers,
and it was crazy what was going on.
[camerawoman] Whoo, baby!
Look at that body, shit!
[Gladiators speaking indistinctly]
Stop it now. I'm shy.
He said he never saw such crazy sex.
We get a lot of this on the tour.
- Stand in front of me.
- No!
Stand in front of me.
[people in room laughing]
[David] They're drinking
You know,
rock stars don't behave like this.
[Raye] Look, come here. Tit.
I was asked
by at least six of the other Gladiators
to have a little affair on the tour.
I'm getting this on camera.
- You want my pants?
- Yeah.
Honestly, more women asked me
to be their girlfriend on the tour.
[camerawoman] Oh shit. You
And we would have,
like, a hot body contest.
It was like, "Okay, Laser,
let's see your moves."
Then it was my turn to pretend
I was a Chippendale.
Then the girls would do something.
It was the best time
we had on American Gladiators.
- [Lori] Mr. Faithful, every city woman
- [man laughing] Mister Faithful.
[camerawoman] We wanna know how many women
you've actually had in every city.
If you had a woman in every city
on this tour or every
Hey, no. You're the king.
- That's all I wanna say. You're the king.
- [camerawoman] No, no, no.
- You're getting away from the question.
- All I wanna say is you're the king.
No, you're getting away from the question.
How many women you had on the trip?
Whatever I had is dull
in comparison to you, I'm sure.
[camerawoman] Oh, fuck you.
[Danny] I remember we were in Chicago,
and there was this girl.
All the guys saw her before.
And we, like, being the dumb,
young, 25-year-old guys we were,
we said, "I can get a date with her.
I'll bet you dinner."
They're all laying bets.
And I was just kinda
I didn't know this at first.
But they were laying bets
on who was gonna get this girl,
Nitro or myself.
[Danny] And Ice was like,
"You guys are such morons."
"You guys don't bet, you know,
on who can take a girl out
or who can connect with a girl.
You guys are losers."
I remember she did this "losers,"
and she walked away.
[Steve] At this particular show,
there was a hot contestant.
Every one of us worked it with her.
We said we were gonna be up
at Shooters in Milwaukee, come on up,
it's just a short drive.
She goes, "I'll be there."
And we were like, "Yeah, yeah!"
We finally, we make it up there,
and this girl doesn't show up.
And we're like, "Oh gosh, gosh,
I can't believe that she didn't show up."
[Lori] The next morning comes round.
We're getting ready to get on the bus,
and I know everybody goes in the lobby,
and everybody waits in the lobby. Right?
I had to do this. Just to just get 'em.
I waited until the last minute.
Because who came down
that lobby on my arm? It was that girl.
[Danny] And she's like, "Losers."
And she took the prize home that night.
I did not steal Nitro's girl.
You know why I didn't steal her?
'Cause he never had her
in the first place.
- [camerawoman] Yeah!
- Yes.
[audience cheering]
Do you really get this shit?
Because you're, like, two feet from me.
[Lori, present day] Being gay
on the American Gladiators,
in the '90s, it was taboo.
We weren't supposed to talk about it.
So you ready to cut this?
We're tired of playing.
[chuckles softly]
I remember Johnny Ferraro, our creator,
he basically told me.
He pulled me aside and said,
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't bring
your girlfriend on set."
"That's not the image we wanna have."
[introspective music playing]
And if you saw the glare in my eye,
looking at this man
when he said that to me,
I think that's probably the, the first
mm that I felt, you know,
"How dare you?"
And I looked at him and walked away.
On set with the other Gladiators,
everybody was cool with it.
They helped me through the time
of the entire show, to be honest with you.
So when we would
go to parties and everything,
and it wasn't so much production
and all that, we were all able to bring
I know I was able to bring my girlfriend,
and they loved her.
Being gay, um, being anything,
like, there was no judgement.
No racial, nothing amongst the Gladiators.
The stuff we got basically
was from the outside.
Or higher-ups maybe.
[Sha-Ri] We didn't think nothing of it.
It wasn't as it is now.
It was just,
"Okay," you know, "Yeah, yeah."
And she was comfortable with it,
so there wasn't even any issues.
I thought Ice was very good
at speaking the truth,
no matter what the situation was, um
and I like to see that in people.
I just love that Ice.
[cameraman] Ice, what are you doing?
I have ice between my legs.
She kicked me between the legs, man.
She's lying. She's been
with every woman, in every city.
- [Lori laughing]
- Whoo! Sorry!
[people in room laughing]
I'm delirious.
I got hit in the head three times today.
[Lori laughs]
[Raye, present day] The thing people
don't understand, when we did the tours,
it's not like the show.
Going from city to city on tour,
we're going against people
who are fresh that wanna kick our asses.
I would get up on The Joust six times.
If you're gonna go up against me,
the first person on The Joust,
I'm gonna knock you off.
Second one, no problem. Third one
eh, it's getting iffy.
Now the fifth, sixth person,
I'm exhausted.
So they're gonna win.
I thought I thought that was horrible.
I thought it was not fair.
We always, in a certain city, would have
to go somewhere for an appearance.
People got so beat up and so tired
that they didn't wanna do that.
[Shirley] There were so many days
that we'd do an event and run offstage
and have to bury our elbows
and arms and hands in ice buckets.
Just full-on ice.
Where you'd just freeze 'em
because you would lose
actual feeling in your arms.
I would stand there and use
use this hand to pick this hand up
to try to sign an autograph.
Our trainer would have, um,
a Gatorade bucket full of ice and water.
And I would get in it.
Up to here. I don't know if anybody knows
how icing hurts and burns.
Try sticking half your body in it.
The nerves were so swollen in my arms
because so many of the events all required
arm strength and upper-body strength.
[audience cheering]
I've had bilateral elbow relocation
on the nerve on both my elbows,
my wrist, my head, my pectoral
was torn right off the bone.
I've torn my hamstring.
I became physically addicted
to opiates and pain medicine,
where I could not get off of 'em.
[Raye] I got into sports
mostly to stay away
from the house that I was in.
My parents were musicians,
so there was
a lot of drinking and and drug use.
I hate to say that,
but that's what it was.
I just did every sport that I could
to get out of that situation.
It led me into bodybuilding.
One of our Gladiator girls,
her boyfriend introduced us to a thing,
a substance called Nubain.
It's huge in the, uh, bodybuilding world.
It's like a synthetic morphine.
Just a little shot
[grunts] in the shoulder.
Α little insulin needle. Oh! Oh
You can function on it.
It doesn't make you tired.
You're not lethargic
like regular painkillers.
And the problem is, like, I got addicted.
Six years I was on that.
I walked myself into a rehab center
because, instead of just
a little shot here, you start
veins, veins.
And you can't get off.
[TV host] 5'9", 175 pounds.
The raging Storm.
[thrilling music playing]
We were performing at
the Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut,
which is funny
'cause that's where I'm from.
I was going out a bit more because
people knew I was from Connecticut,
so you exert more.
I was playing Powerball,
and I went to body-slam a girl,
and my leg was up. But at the same time,
Ice was going to deflect a contender,
and she went and ran into my leg.
So not only it's kinda my weight,
but the one I have in my arms
and then the momentum of her,
ended up snapping completely my ACL.
After about two weeks, maybe three,
they said, no, I can't do anymore.
And they kicked me off the tour.
That was how everything kinda
ended for me as a Gladiator.
Not only a Gladiator but an athlete.
[somber music playing]
[Debbie] My life was never the same.
[Danny] When Storm went down on tour,
like, this light bulb went off
in our head.
We just lost one of our brothers,
one of our sisters-in-arms.
And she was gone, just like that.
That made us realize that
that could happen to any of us.
We'd just be gone,
and on top of that, you don't get paid.
[somber music continues]
[Michael] That was the reality check
you had to give yourself.
We had a bunch of egos
who weren't very mature.
And the tour almost killed us.
I mean, basically, coming off the tour,
if you didn't get hurt, you were lucky.
This is the mellow part of the tour,
the very end.
- Everybody's calming down.
- This is our happiest moments right now.
We just got done with the show,
and we're fucking drinking beer.
[cameraman] Yeah.
[David] We had done 120 shows.
But the cost of the show was too high.
[Danny] In all the big cities,
we did pretty well.
But when it came to the smaller cities,
we didn't get more
than three or four thousand people, max.
And I think that's why
it made it difficult
for the tour to survive financially.
[audience cheering]
The deal, it just didn't make sense.
It was a bad deal. So I said, "I'm out."
They continued doing shows.
And Johnny would find another sucker.
[Lori] We came off the tour,
I wanna say it was like February, March.
If you were injured,
you had to really nurse that injury
because we were going
right back into filming in June.
And you had to be 100%.
There was no mercy when it came to
the American Gladiators television show.
- [camerawoman] Attagirl. That's my buddy.
- My buddy. My other half.
- Give me my fivers.
- [camerawoman] We got it. We made it.
[Raye] We made it. Now I need more money.
- [Gladiators laughing and cheering]
- [upbeat music playing]
Coming off that tour, we actually realized
how big the show had become.
[audience cheering]
[Lori] How big we had become.
Think you've heard everything
about Bill Clinton? Guess again.
Turns out, the president-elect
and his daughter Chelsea
like to tune in American Gladiators.
[funky synth music playing]
I have met so many celebrities.
Arnold is the only person
that I felt starstruck with.
And one day he was on the set,
Arnold pulled up in a red Porsche.
- [engine revs]
- [tires squeal]
- [cartoon Gladiators gasp]
- [Erika] Convertible.
With his cigar going.
And he had that huge smile.
He just made my knees go weak. [laughs]
[Jim] Kevin Costner, of all people,
came by the set,
introduced himself
to the whole cast and crew,
and what a cool guy he was.
[Raye] I had Gene Simmons lick my leg
in an elevator in Vegas.
That was insane.
I feel this tap on my shoulder.
I look up, and it's Steve Martin.
He says, "I'm a big fan of yours.
I love the show."
[Steve] I was asked to cohost Extra TV
with Pamela Anderson
for a Celebrity Surf event,
and it was so amazing.
I'm from a small town in Wisconsin,
so fame, popularity,
I mean, this was all new to me.
I booked a national commercial.
[Top-Gun narrator] Top-Gun.
Nature's ultimate sexual health formula.
Your celebrity host
for this exciting program will be
Tower of Power on the popular
nationally syndicated television program,
American Gladiators.
Yeah, I mean, I've had
a few too many cocktails one time,
and Top-Gun, I think,
is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
[upbeat rock music playing]
I ended up having a real nice friendship
with Dennis Rodman and his entourage.
Dennis was always like,
kind of sounds crazy,
like a big brother to me.
Whenever they were in town,
his entourage and the girl working for me
would put together parties at my house.
Dennis is a freak.
He likes to drink a lot.
A lot.
One night, he's driving
on the other side of Sunset Boulevard,
going up the wrong way
to the Roxbury, against traffic.
- [cars honking]
- Nobody I mean, thank God we're alive.
Another thing.
I had a GSX-R 1100.
[engine revving]
[Raye] And Dennis,
he's kind of a Harley guy,
but he wanted to try my crotch rocket.
Well, you know what he did?
He ran it into a wall.
- [tires screeching]
- [cartoon Rodman grunting]
[Raye] I mean,
I should be probably dead by now
if I were still
to hang out with that crew.
[action figure narrator]
All the excitement, it's all yours.
[boy in ad] You had it, Nitro.
[action figure narrator] With official
American Gladiators action figures
- You are the Gladiator.
- [thrilling music playing on ad]
I wish I was built like that. [laughing]
I was like, "Wow, they did me up there."
But in the beginning, it was really cool
to have something like that.
You're thinking, "Oh my gosh."
"They made a figurine? Like, a doll?"
Right, Gemini.
I like the muscle tone on him.
It's good, it's good.
That should be me
holding these pugil sticks, right?
I was more proficient
than he was, so [laughing]
It's funny 'cause as I hold this,
I do remember putting this little toy
in my hand the first time they came out,
and my first thought, and I'm sure
all the Gladiators' thought was,
"Wow, they're so small."
[Danny] "Why is he only four inches?"
Am I right? "G.I. Joe's hanging 12.
Why am I only four inches?"
And then we were kinda bummed
because all the girls
looked exactly the same.
This exact same haircut.
I don't even think
they changed the uniform.
I mean, come on, really?
Give us our own doll
if they're gonna give us a doll.
But to be honest with you,
it's still pretty fucking cool.
[Joust narrator] Now, more action
from American Gladiators. The Joust event!
En garde!
[Joust narrator]
Comes out hard and fast.
[thrilling music playing]
[Michael] The merchandise was ridiculous.
We were on Halloween costumes,
macaroni and cheese boxes,
dietary supplement line.
The kids are going crazy.
Mattel has made action figures,
Nintendo has made the game,
the sneakers, everything.
Merchandising madness.
[interviewer 2] Are you guys making
any money? You doing okay?
- We get by.
- [Lori] You like to help us?
[Michael] If we were gonna
negotiate merchandise,
we should've done it at the beginning,
but then we didn't know
how big it was gonna get.
[Jim] We just thought,
what's fair is fair.
Why don't you do the industry standard,
and given us one or two points
off the top of merchandising?
All of us will be taken care of,
and we're all happy.
But that never happened.
We're making zero. Zero dollars.
The merchandising was not significant.
It just wasn't.
So, what they were seeing in person
may have been a stadium here and there,
but in terms of national merchandising,
there really wasn't much.
On merchandising, which was potentially
hundreds of millions of dollars,
the show kept us in the dark.
We had no idea how much they were making.
All we knew was that they signed
a multimillion-dollar deal with Mattel.
And there was merchandise everywhere.
[Lori] We were just like,
"They're totally taking advantage of us."
We were the most underpaid
television show on the air.
I remember getting paid $500 a show.
And everybody was thinking,
"Oh my God, you're on TV, you're famous,
you're making so much money."
No. I think I had paid my bills that year,
and that was about it.
[Jim] With injuries, being on the show,
our dedication of being athletes,
training day in, and day out,
it really started to turn our stomach
as far as Gladiators thinking,
"Hey, come on, just be fair.
We worked hard for these figures."
So now you start thinking,
"I should be getting more money."
And rightly so.
[audience cheering]
[Julie] I understood
the feelings of the Gladiators.
I felt bad that they weren't getting
more money and more recognition for it.
But, you know, they signed the deals
that they signed.
[David] When the Gladiators
wanted more money,
I think the producers, they thought,
"Listen, when Mickey Mouse wants a raise,
I put another schmuck in the costume."
We signed the worst contract ever.
It was a contract for perpetuity.
Meaning forever. We never got a raise.
We never would get
a piece of merchandising.
Those contracts, they're illegal today.
And I think we're the reason why.
[Raye] I loved doing the show.
I loved the people I worked with.
But when it came to production,
we were treated pretty much
We were expendable.
And we felt that.
When I was pregnant
on Gladiators with my daughter,
the biggest problem was the timing.
Our show was always like a revolving door,
and at any moment, you can
[whistles] "See ya."
And somebody will fill
those shoes so fast.
So, I didn't let them know
that I was pregnant,
and I was doing all of the events
with a baby inside of me.
My kid, we laugh about it now
because she was literally in my belly
while I was climbing the wall
or smacking the crap out of people.
I don't think that was thing to do,
but she turned out perfect, so
[Dick] The whole concept
of the Gladiators from day one
is that it was a team of Gladiators,
and just like any NFL team,
you have people come and go
throughout the team's era.
I always thought that you had to have
a constant evolution of the Gladiators
just because of all the wear and tear.
[Lori] They always thought from day one,
"The show is the star,"
not, "The Gladiators are the star."
The show.
I'm sorry, I completely disagree.
We didn't watch Friends
for "the show Friends."
We watch Friends to watch Rachel,
and Ross, and Monica,
we watched the characters.
The show kinda started
to fragment in terms of how we felt,
and how Samuel Goldwyn felt as a company.
[intriguing music playing]
The way you approach these people
who've been doing it forever,
Samuel Goldwyn,
you better come with a business sense
of how to ask for that money.
You just can't demand.
I think it was Nitro and Gemini
who called a meeting.
We decided to get
all the most popular Gladiators together.
The people whose faces were
on the merchandise and posters.
And we said,
"Listen, we need merchandising rights."
"This is only fair, you guys.
And if we hold out, we can do this."
[Danny] And we would approach
Samuel Goldwyn as a whole.
We had 'em over the barrel.
[Jim] It was a few days
before the filming of the fourth season
was gonna start to take place,
and they had, uh, asked
if we wanted to band with them.
And I, at the time, had a family.
I had two young kids,
and I had to put a roof over my head,
and I was saving every dollar I could
to purchase a home.
And I decided not to go with them.
I just let them deal with things, right?
I didn't agree with that.
I heard about what was going on,
but to be quite honest with you,
I was just thrilled to have a gig.
This was my livelihood at this point.
[intriguing music continues]
[Danny] Our agent kept
pushing, pushing, pushing for the meeting,
but Goldwyn wouldn't take the meeting.
And it got all the way down
to the night before shooting.
And our rep said, "Hey, look, it's Ice,
it's Zap, it's Gemini, it's Nitro."
"These are the people
who aren't coming to work tomorrow
if you don't meet with me."
So they have
a late-night meeting with Sam.
And we were sure
that Goldwyn would do the right thing.
We are the Gladiators.
We built this show on our back.
And then we get a call from our agent,
and he said, "Uh, I talked to Sam,
and I don't have good news."
I'm like, "What?"
And he said, "I'm gonna quote Sam."
"My dad didn't renegotiate, neither do I."
"Come to work, or you're fired."
"Come to work, or you're fired"?
And sure enough,
holy shit, they fired us.
[theme music playing]
[fire sizzling]
[upbeat music playing]
[crowd cheering]
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