Dave Scotese — Don Eminizer is a freelance writer with twenty years of writing, editing and proofreading experience. His life has been adventurous all along, starting at the age of 18 in 1988, when he ran away from everything that he knew to join a pro-wrestling school in Orange, Connecticut. By the time he was 20, he had his own television show on an East Coast cable network, a national magazine column in Wrestling’s Main Event, and a syndicated weekly radio show in 81 markets on American Sports Radio Network. There has been no looking back since for Don. Currently, he mediates a writer’s workshop called Litmocracy, and writes freelance articles, columns, books, and films. Author of the book Midnight in America (2007), Don has completed his latest book Down for The Count, currently available on Amazon’s Kindle. In the following conversation, Don talks about his book and life, and responds to some interesting questions.
Dave Scotese: Don, I recently got sucked into reading your book Down for The Count. Once I started, I had to keep going. Why did you write the book?
Don Eminizer: I felt a need to get things off my chest. I grew tired of writing things to make a living. I know you have to learn your craft and you have to put in time and effort, and so I wrote and still write until my eyes bleed. Sometimes, you just have something that needs to be said, and I felt like what I’ve been through needed to be exorcised from me. Never liked tattoos; don’t have any; never will; so I removed that one from my soul.
Dave Scotese: Do you remember having a different character or outlook on life that you don’t think is represented in the book, perhaps because it starts when you’re 18?
Don Eminizer: Well, no. It’s all real. But it’s a capsule in time. The way I thought at 18 and the way I think now are different. In fact, they’re different because of what I experienced at 18, in this book. I have kids now. I’m grown. I’m different, for better or worse, but that’s who and what I was then. I don’t regret my character then, though I do regret my knowledge of the world, and perhaps how I acted sometimes in a naive, immature way. But we cannot grow if we don’t make mistakes.
Dave Scotese: From zero to 18, you grew, and that growth created this wrestler we meet in the book. Do you have plans to show that development from zero to 18?
Don Eminizer: Plans, no. Actualities, yes. I’ve already written a ton of stuff since then, and I’m working on writing what happened from then until now, and probably beyond, if there is a beyond. Everybody is different, and everybody wants different things. I want to leave those I love happy, and part of that is getting rid of demons that have taken root in my experiences. So I write.
Dave Scotese: Does Atom Smash, that is your pro-wrestler persona, ever come out nowadays?
Don Eminizer: No, he’s buried in a mothball-filled closet with the tights I wore then. His attitude, however, gets me into trouble all the time, because that part wasn’t an act. Funny thing. I was a babyface once and the crowd LOVED me. I got more fanclub crap and more correspondence and more mail from that one match, than I ever got from any other ten matches combined, and I hated it. Made me feel awkward. I loved people hating me, loved the boos and the biting and the cursing. There was something honest and liberating about it.
Dave Scotese: The book ends with the claim that the wresting career would continue downhill and off a cliff. When can we expect to read about that?
Don Eminizer: In the next book, Counted Out. My career actually took off after that, professionally speaking. I ran and hosted a TV show, got more bookings than ever; but it wasn’t the same, and after a while, I just quit. The human side of it beat the crap out of me because I took it personally, the backstabbing, the BS. I think a point in time came where I realized what I was doing and that it really wasn’t what I wanted. The wrestling was fun, awesome. Performing too. The people sucked. I guess I was becoming too skilled at sucking and it scared the hell out of me. So I quit. Started a band.
Dave Scotese: Your website, 99 burning, used to have a lot of writing of yours – just bits and pieces. 99 Burning was a band too, right? Where did you get the name?
Don Eminizer: From a story I created. I sold cars for a while. When you sell a car, in the business, they say it’s burning gas. So if you sell 7 cars in a month, you have 7 burning. I always thought it would be cool to sell your soul to the devil for that hundredth sale.
I did more than write on 99: made some killer rudimentary animations, interviewed Hunter S. Thompson before he died and his wife after, bands like Clutch and The Mars Volta. I wish I could do that and make a living at it, introduce people to new perspectives, new ideas, and new creative entities, authors, creators, thinkers. What is life for really? To get stuff, or to do stuff? Maybe it’s both. I don’t know. Today one takes the other, I suppose.
Dave Scotese: What makes you happier, getting stuff, or doing stuff? Or something else?
Don Eminizer: Both I guess, because one takes the other. But mainly doing stuff and sharing stuff. You have to have a house to share Christmas with your kids, a car to take them to the movies. I think living free would make me happiest, but I’m not sure that’s a possibility anymore.
Dave Scotese: That’s right, Litmocracy has published some stories and poems of yours that suggest a pretty rough childhood. Do you agree with Nietzsche that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Have you figured out which effect that rough childhood will have?
Don Eminizer: Well, there’s about 50 schools of thought on what effect my childhood will have on my life. 49 of them are wrong. I love my kids more than anything and they love me, and I never have or never will abuse them. I adore them; why the hell would I hurt them? So that’s mainly bosh. I have an addictive personality. I won’t blame that on my childhood though; blame is for the weak. But I can’t honestly dispute the claim that abuse leads to addiction, and I won’t lie, though I honestly think it has more to do with me.
There’s no suggestion in regards to my childhood. Forget the physical abuse. It was rough. At 7, I’d walk to the sub shop through Baltimore with a steak knife cuffed in my hand in case we might get attacked, a real possibility, alone with my older cousin. She was a year older than me. We’d play Pacman and pick up dinner, then walk home scared to death. She was raped when I was 10. I was on drugs by 12; LSD by 15. If my kids did this, I’d freak; my parents never knew or cared.
But history is full of worse and people survive and move on. As for Friederich, I used to buy that. I still believe in his will to power, but the stronger part, not so much. What grows to bear more fruit? A plant that’s ravaged by storms and starved with drought, or one that grows in a mild, nurturing climate. I think that Nietzsche suggested that weeds will grow and they can grow stronger, stronger than most plants in fact, but that doesn’t make them bear more fruit, and it doesn’t make them better for the environment. As for figuring out what effect that will have, I suppose I, and my work, are a testament to that effect. People will have to take what that effect was from there. I can only think for me. That’s a tough enough job as it is.
Dave Scotese: Some of the passages in Down for The Count make you out to be quite the jerk, and you offer good reasons for this in the book. But nearly everyone in my life doesn’t bother doing things when their only reason for doing them is that they want to. Little kids, not so much, but people grow up and it apparently makes them into idiots who avoid exercising the one pure capacity for joy that everyone has: the ability to do something simply because you want to. Do you agree?
Don Eminizer: Sure. We all want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. Over time, by parents, by school, by society, we’re trained to kill those urges. In some cases, that’s good; in some cases, it’s not so good. I didn’t offer reasons. I was a jerk. Still am, most likely. I simply explained what I was thinking and why I acted the way I did. People don’t have to agree with it. I don’t agree with some of it. That’s why I’ve grown and that’s why I’ve changed.
Dave Scotese: I don’t think it’s ever good. Foregoing the urge is good, but killing it is horrible.
Don Eminizer: That’s where maturity comes in. I don’t want to hurt anybody, so things that hurt people, that aren’t in self defense, I couldn’t and won’t do.
Dave Scotese: Have you kept in touch with any of the characters we meet in Down for The Count?
Don Eminizer: Charlie, Jimmy, Steve. Lost track of Earl and Bounty, and most of the rest. The others I don’t care so much about, famous or not, but I’ miss Bounty and Earl. They were good people, and you only get to meet so many good people in life.
Dave Scotese: The book is currently available only in electronic form, but you’ve got a project going to raise money for printing hard copies, right?
Don Eminizer: Yes a kickstarter project that is more than worthwhile. You asked me about stuff and such. I’d like this book to get out there because it should, and that would help.
Dave Scotese: I’ve heard that you’ve been instructed to deceive just about everyone you know by the feds – would you like to say anything publicly about that?
Don Eminizer: Yes. The feds are the worst kind of sheep, because they betray their own flock and kill the rams, the ones that will further their own cause. And like the KKK many years ago, they do it in the dark, with silent nooses, with gag orders and mandates. They neuter society to protect it from free speech and liberty. It’s human nature to fear those that seem different; but Christ was different; Muhammad was different. Heck, Kurt Cobaine and Thomas Jefferson were different. If we silence all the unique voices, the ones that have differing views, all we have is a fascist state.
Dave Scotese: So what do we do when it seems like the sword is mightier than the pen?
Don Eminizer: Smart people kill many in movie theaters and schools for reasons we’ll never understand, because we don’t try and understand why they’ve been pushed to the edge. We find a new pen. A better pen, because throughout history, no matter how biting, a pen has always done far less damage and far more good than a gun or a sword.
Dave Scotese: Thanks for your time, Don!
Don Eminizer: Yerp. Martin Luther printed the Bible on a press, in plain German and changed the world. We can do the same.