WRESTLING MANAGER, INFLUENCER, FASHION WRITER - SOCAL VAL
"Can you believe a wrestling wedding didn't work out? I mean that's the shock of the century right there." SoCal Val, wrestling manager, influencer, co-host of GAW TV
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ABOUT SOCAL VAL:
SoCal Val, or Valerie Wyndham, is known for her hard work behind the scenes and in front of the cameras for professional wrestling. From manager, to valet, to ring girl, to interviewer and more, Val recalls how she loved to do it all, and look good while she was doing it. Val also remembers her love triangle and 'marriage' to Jay Lethal that went off the rails in the best way possible. Plus, check out Val's new YouTube show, Grown Ass Women TV, with her friends Lisa Marie and Mickie James. New episodes of GAW TV come out every Wednesday.
Jeff: SoCal Val. Thank you so much for taking time and talking with me on the show today. I'm so excited because of what we're going to get to a little bit later, but this entire new movement of grown-ass women. I'm so excited for you and your friends and your brand new show. And I'm excited that we're helping to caffeinate you guys too a little bit.
SoCal Val: You are, as if we needed more crazy energy, but you guys have supplied us. And I'm actually enjoying a beautiful Death Wish Coffee brew right now, which pairs beautifully with GAW TV.
Jeff: Yes, yes. Well, in honor of GAW TV, I know that we are in a time difference. I'm recording in upstate New York. You are in the United Kingdom, and it's a little bit later there. And I know you guys are getting ready to record a new episode as well. So in honor of Grown Ass Women, I made myself a grown-ass women drink.
SoCal Val: You did? And it's pink and cute. Adorable. This is my kind of show. Every single time we're on camera doing these shows, we had had different, amazing sponsors, but we always go for something to drink and sip while we're talking. So we're so grateful to you and Death Wish Coffee for-
Jeff: Excellent. Well, thank you so much. Well, as my listeners know, I'm normally a whiskey guy. But I'm currently out of whiskey, so I had in the house a little bit of a Bacardi Silver and a little bit of pink lemonade and a little bit of grenadine. And so I'm starting my afternoon off right. Just don't tell my boss.
SoCal Val: Yeah, it's 8:00 here, so it's cocktail hour for sure.
Jeff: Exactly, exactly. So I want to get into everything you do because I could list it all: announcer, ring girl, blogger, writer, fashionista, everything under the sun. And I want to talk about that, but I'm always curious about where it all starts. When you were a kid, were you really outgoing? Were you always someone who wanted to, for lack of a better term, be the center of attention?
SoCal Val: No. And it's weird, I was real shy I would say around seven. I remember being really shy. But my mom ran dance studios and my sisters were both singers, and we had a very entertainment-based kind of family. So performing was always something that we always did, in different genres. The wrestling thing was the weirdest thing because, out of my two sisters and I, I'm the girliest. I'm the most feminine. I'm not an athlete by any means. I bruise like a peach. I never wanted to wrestle, but I just loved the pomp and circumstance and the grandeur of wrestling and the soap opera aspect. So that's what really drew me to it. But even before wrestling, I figured I would probably do something like acting and modeling, which I have done quite a bit, but wrestling is all encompassing in that area. It is a lot of acting and modeling. And I wanted to be more on the diva side of things and the talkers rather than the actual physical wrestlers.
Jeff: Yeah. And so tell me, when did you first become aware of wrestling? When was your first foray into maybe watching it and being like, "Oh, this is something cool."?
SoCal Val: I think it was around '99 is when I started watching, because my sister and her friend were watching. And they loved The Rock and they loved Jericho, and they got really, really into it. But my sister that was watching, she grew up more like a tomboy. So for her to like something athletic was not that shocking, you know?
Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
SoCal Val: And I remember thinking, as passing by in the living room when they were watching it, I literally remember just rolling my eyes and saying, "Oh, this is for boys. This is so stupid. What is this?" And then I caught wind of the girls and I said, "Ooh, who's this one in the pink dress?" The Cat was walking down the Raw ramp. And then Stephanie McMahon who I thought, "Wow, she's this character." And she was so bratty, and I loved that there was sort of a love triangle. Eventually it was between Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie. And I just loved it. There was romance involved, but who's cheating on who? And it was more like, "Why are they fighting?," as opposed to just, "Oh, it's violence." Because I'm not a big violence fan. I'm not a fan of hardcore wrestling really. But when you show me storylines and you give me reasons to why you're fighting, then I'm like, "Oh, okay. Now I get it."
Jeff: Yeah, and you mentioned earlier too the whole diva aspect. That was the late '90s, mid to late '90s. That was the diva era of women wrestling. Women wrestling has changed magnitudes since then, but that was that era of wrestling. And speaking of Stephanie McMahon too, she not only was in the ring but was also management and also behind the scenes and doing a thousand different things, which is what you ended up actually doing.
SoCal Val: Bingo.
Jeff: When you started watching that, was that the watershed moment where you were like, "I kind of want to pursue this. I want to see if I can break into this."? You started breaking into wrestling as a manager. How did you go down that path?
SoCal Val: I certainly wanted to be Stephanie McMahon. I just wanted to be her, and I just loved everything about her. I loved her rich brat character and how she was fancy because she was a spoiled brat. And she always got her comeuppance, but she was just... But she was very strong character. She was a very strong grown-ass woman, as we should say and do a little branding there.
Jeff: [crosstalk 00:05:02].
SoCal Val: And when I got into managing, I was just going to shows. I had just moved to Southern California with my family. It's very long story, but I met a couple friends that were into wrestling and we started to go to local independent shows. I went to a lot of XPW, which was very hardcore. But it was still live wrestling, and I enjoyed seeing it live. And eventually a friend said, "She really wants to get into wrestling. She's really young, but maybe you could put her into the show." And a promoter let me manage on a show. I managed Scott Lost against Pinoy Boy, who eventually would turn into Puma. I think he's with WWE now. He's had so many different names. And it was in Southern California, in Anaheim actually. And, from that show on. I just kept trying to get on bigger and bigger shows.
SoCal Val: When I moved to Orlando eventually, I had tapes of my work. I had resumes. Because somebody asked me, "Well, how to Impact Wrestling get a hold of you?" And I said, "Well, I went to all the shows." And I literally remember going through Universal Studios security with my bag that had my resume and my tapes. And I just thought, "If I could just talk to someone and let them know that I want to be a part of the show and contribute to the show in a nice way." Because you never know what people are thinking. If you're a girl, especially who dresses up, and you're young, you think, "Is she here to date these guys? What is her fascination?" But I just really wanted to be involved in the show, and was very, very prepared when they eventually let me do production assistant, then ring girl for quite a long time, and then it just sort of snowballed from there.
Jeff: That's incredible. And yeah, probably what most people might know you from is what you mentioned, Impact War back in the day, TNA wrestling, and being a ring girl. But you really went out there and did so many different things. We would see you announcing on the internet for different shows, or we would see you backstage interviews, or we would see you as part of some of the storylines, just cropping up and doing things. Was that all from you? Or was that from management coming to you and being like, "Hey, we need you to fulfill this role."?
SoCal Val: A lot of it was me just trying to do anything but ring girl. I remember it was really important to me. It meant a lot that they had me do some backstage segments. So as the pay-per-view was going on, after someone was done with their match, they would go outside and we would record just right after they were done wrestling. And it was cool for me because it was improv. It wasn't like, "Hey Val, say this." They just said, 'Go talk to them." So I had to come up with the questions and come up with a storyline kind of a moment. And I remember doing that for awhile.
SoCal Val: And then management kept saying, "Well, you need to be back at ringside. You need to be ring girl," because I was helping with the clapping. And I never really agreed with that, that we kind of helped the crowd. It helps in some ways, but in other ways it's a little contrived. So I remember being very disappointed when they kept wanting me to just do ring girl. Because I knew I was getting skills in other areas like interviewing and making my own scripts and doing social media.
SoCal Val: Like you said, a lot of people, especially in the UK, which is interesting that I ended up here, they were like, "Oh yeah, we used to see you all the time on Challenge TV." Because I was always backstage doing these commercials and little segments, most of them that I wrote myself, for all of our international markets. But in the States, people were like, "Why is Val still there?" For a long time, people didn't understand what I did.
SoCal Val: And I was working my ass off, for lack of a better term. I really was. I remember Eric Bischoff said to me one day, he goes, "Either we don't pay you enough or you just like changing outfits a lot." And I said, "Well, both." But what he meant by that was he just saw me running frantically all the time, changing outfits for a different segment. I was recording something for a different day, so they needed to be different. And I wanted continuity with certain things. And, yeah, I was just always around. Very often, I was the last girl to leave. Almost every night actually, because I was there doing ring girl. And I was there early to do promos. So I worked really hard.
SoCal Val: And there's a lot of things that people will say about my long-standing Impact wrestling career. And they think, "Oh, it was just ring girl." But I really worked my ass off. Plus, then, I was lucky to sort of get some office gigs as well. I would be the liaison between our talent and the sponsors, and things like that. So to be talent plus office for awhile, I thought was really cool. And I was appreciative that they let me have that role and they trusted me with it. That was pretty neat, towards the end.
Jeff: It just goes to show, and we've talked about it so many times on this very show, that hard work pays off.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: If you want something, go out there and do it and work hard to do it, no matter what it is.
SoCal Val: Exactly.
Jeff: And you can always do more, you can always add more to it. And you're just such an inspiration and a testament to that.
SoCal Val: Oh, thanks.
Jeff: And I wanted to mention one of the things from wrestling that a lot of people might not know, but most people do nowadays... I mean when I grew up in the '80s of wrestling, and wrestling was real, when I was a kid wrestling was real.
SoCal Val: Oh yeah, yeah.
Jeff: Hulk Hogan almost died because Andre the Giant almost killed him. It was real. But, obviously, it's written and there's a lot of writing that goes into it. But you, doing a lot of these spots and the backstage stuff and even a lot of the things that you were creating, you, like you said, you created it. You wrote that.
SoCal Val: Yeah, me.
Jeff: Was that a process to be able to do something like that? Did you have to write it and then bring it to an editor and it get approved? Or were they basically just being like, "We trust you, and go with it."?
SoCal Val: Eventually. I mean I did have a few things approved, but all the scripts that I wrote I had to send them to Mike Weber, who was the VP of marketing. I work with him all the time. He's the COO of FITE TV. And he's always really known his stuff. He was with WCW. He was with WWF back in the day.
SoCal Val: And with him, I would send him these scripts to approve, but he trusted me so much that it was like, "Whatever you have, I'm sure it's good." I was actually just talking to Tommy Dreamer recently and I said, "Do you remember when we went on this celebrity golf tournament thing?" And I was asked to go and film Tommy Dreamer and a couple of the wrestlers and fill my own segments and edit them all together. And I said, "It was so fun doing stuff like that," because I was my own boss. I got to fill all the segments, come up with all these silly things we wanted to film and have a script for it and then edit it altogether. And now, that's what I do with GAW TV and a lot of other things, FITE TV as well. I do social media and I do a lot of editing.
SoCal Val: And it's, again, it's stuff that fans probably wouldn't understand that that's what I was doing. I think they thought I just showed up, someone filmed me, and I went home. And it was actually I was there with my little camera or editing everything together and writing these scripts for people and writing commercials and trying to learn other languages to say, "Thanks for watching," in French and Italian and things like that. And, yeah, I was very diligent about always having different skills rather than just being some model or even just a wrestler. Because the scary thing about that, I always say to wrestlers coming up, with wrestling especially, you can have an injury. So you don't know when your time is done. I talk with my friend Byron a lot. Byron Saxon was a wrestler but he's so good at commentary, and that's eventually where his career went. But he didn't think he was going to go into that field. But having skills in other areas is always going to help you, no matter what you do. You don't want to be one note.
Jeff: Definitely, definitely. And I mean you were part of TNA, or Impact, if we want to talk about what it is.
SoCal Val: I still say TNA all the time.
Jeff: I do too, I do too. But you were part of that. As you know, it was getting its legs in the wrestling of the world and then became the be all, end all. Everybody, every big name ever came over to TNA and was a part of that, which was a very exciting time. At the exact same time, you're not only working with this amazing talent but, like you said, behind the scenes you're learning all of these tools that now seem commonplace. When you were just starting out there and doing some of these things, social media was almost brand new, in respect of what it is now, right? So you were kind of learning that as you were going too, right?
SoCal Val: Yeah. I was learning social media and I was always a real computer nerd in the sense of I was in RPG, wrestling RPGs. We just talked to the editing, I was always making movie montages and I always was directing my own movies, and I was very into the ending process and graphics and things. And so I think it's funny because I used to be on the computer so much I literally had to wear one of those carpal tunnel gloves because I was always on my computer. But I was teaching myself and I was learning. Even now, I watch YouTube videos. If I don't know how to do something, I google it. I figure it out by myself. Happens all the time, almost every day, I'm learning. But I really enjoyed the computer work and the social media stuff was always important to me.
SoCal Val: And even before I debuted and had my first bout as a manager, I had a website. I had a friend of mine come over and I said, "We need to do a photo shoot." So we did it. That's my favorite thing ever. I've always taken some kind of selfie or whatever. So I had her come over and we did a SoCal Val photo shoot. And I wanted it to be very glam and very character-based, so I was coming out of a fancy car and I had the sunglasses, and I was very Stephanie McMahon, rich biatch-looking photo shoot. And I had a website, so it was like I was branding myself really, really early on.
SoCal Val: And I've always been really active on social media. Before I had a Patreon, I had an OnlyFans before that. Those platforms were even really a thing yet. I made something called SoCal Val's VIP room. And it was a thing for fans, just like a Patreon before it came out. It was a thing for certain loyal fans of mine that wanted to chat once a week or get exclusive photo shoots. So I think being a computer nerd, especially, really helped me pay off in that respect.
Jeff: So what I'm hearing is that you should have some sort of stock and Patreon and that whole idea-
SoCal Val: Basically.
Jeff: ... because you came up with the idea first.
SoCal Val: Basically.
Jeff: All right.
SoCal Val: Yeah. Glad you see it that way too. We'll tell my lawyer.
Jeff: Yeah, let's get our lawyers involved and we'll make this happen.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: Everything that you did, again, it's so inspiring because you're just, like you said, first in the door, last to leave, and trying to do as much as you can, and that you did a lot behind the scenes. There was some that you got to do in front of the scenes, which was great, like when you would do the backstage stuff. And some of the times, with any kind of wrestling, it just becomes pandemonium. And one of the most famous things probably that you were a part of was your wedding.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: But you and Jay Lethal, and unfortunately, spoiler alert, it got broken up by [crosstalk 00:14:33].
SoCal Val: Can you believe a wrestling wedding didn't work out? I mean that's the shock of the century right there.
Jeff: I mean and this, again, was the heyday. This was I believe almost pretty much right as it was changing to Impact or it was right on the heels of that. So everybody was involved. I mean you're in your beautiful wedding dress for this whole bit, and then turns into a fight. And Jake the Snake's snake is in the ring and George "The Animal" Steele is literally eating the ring. What is it like when that idea hits the floor? Are you part of that idea process? Because let me say, as someone who's watching that, it looks like, A, you guys are all having fun, obviously, because that's what wrestling is.
SoCal Val: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Jeff: But, B, it honestly looks like pandemonium. I know that there's work behind the scenes to make something like that happen, but that's the beauty of wrestling. It looks real. And it looks like that just was pandemonium. Were you part of that process from the beginning of coming up with that?
SoCal Val: I mean we kind of were trying to follow the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth storyline. So I was excited because I was like, "We have to have a wedding." And I'm hoping like, "Please let us do that." Because you have to remember too, my favorite storylines were very relationship-based. I loved Trisha and Lita arguing with Torrie and Stacy because they were after their men. And I loved the relationship, the triangle between Stephanie, Kurt Angle and Triple H. So when I got to be in my own love triangle, I was like, "This is literally that I couldn't have asked for anything better." They could have made me into any sort of character or asked me to do anything, and I would have done it, sure, but I just thought how funny is this that I get to be in a love storyline, love triangle. And the wedding itself was just amazing because it's girly and it's the most soap opera thing you can ever do in wrestling, which is my favorite aspect of it. And, until you just said it, I didn't remember certain things like, yeah, all the guests that we had-
Jeff: It's was crazy.
SoCal Val: ... and Kamala, and it was just pandemonium. And Jay Lethal and Sanjay, I still talked to them, they're such lovely guys. And we're all around the same age and we were having so much fun. And we were all really, really good friends, so it was just literally goofing off with your friends, except for in a wrestling ring with a crazy cream puff of a wedding dress on. It was the most fun ever.
Jeff: Oh god, again, it looked so much fun. But it's one of those, those magical moments in the wrestling lore that you can't, even as a fan that you know that there's this line between fake and real, your brain just goes, "What the hell is happening right now?"
SoCal Val: [crosstalk 00:16:51]. Exactly.
Jeff: Again, that's why it's such a fun industry. But let's switch gears and talk about a completely different industry, one that is very near and dear to your heart, fashion.
SoCal Val: Yes.
Jeff: You've written for fashion magazines. You've done blogs. You've done anything under the sun when it comes to that. And you are very outspoken about fashion. One of my favorite things about you is your term the art of overdressing. I love that. Can we talk a little bit about the ethos of that?
SoCal Val: Yes, please.
Jeff: Because I don't ,get to talk enough about the fashion industry on this podcast, because I don't talk to that many people in the industry.
SoCal Val: Yeah. That's so cool. And it's interesting because now, living in London, I just started about a year ago here really ingratiating myself into the fashion world. I was invited to London Fashion Week Mens, and then London Fashion Week was happening and I was just starting to get invited to shows and get in with the crowd. And that's what you have to do. It's like when I wanted to be in wrestling, like I said about coming to Impact wrestling tapings with my resume and my tapes, you have to make it happen for yourself and you just have to show up and meet the right people that are going to give you a chance. So I was really getting my feet wet with that, and then of course lockdown happened and I'm like, "Oh, dammit."
SoCal Val: But I've been trying to do my own fashion series. I just started a digital creator series where I'm interviewing mostly fashion bloggers. A lot of them are local to where I live in England, which is Milton Keynes, about half an hour north of London, because people in the States would have no idea where Milton Keynes is. Close to London. Yeah, and I'm just now meeting some people that are involved in that same industry and they love it just as much as me.
SoCal Val: But the overdressing thing, I've just always had the type of family that... It's my two sisters and my mom and I, so we're very girly. My mom's always been very polished and she always had her earrings on. And I remember distinctly when I was younger, she would do a very glamorous thing that I only see in Mad Men nowadays, where she'd answer the phone and take her big clip earring off. That's how big her earrings were. And I just thought she was very chic, still is.
SoCal Val: And I've always had a good intrinsic eye for fashion, I think. And nowadays, in all the influencing and the blogging and things like that, it's very easy to share what you're wearing on social media. And I used to kind of be made fun of, in the nicest of ways, by all the wrestlers for at 6:00 AM I would have on what I always call an airport outfit. And it's usually involving a beret and a nice scarf and ridiculous jewelry at 6:00 AM. And they're like, "What are you doing, Val?" Because, no offense, but a lot of the other girls would be in track pants and their hair in a bun. And I was like, "I don't know what barn you think you're in, but this is not how we dress in an airport. Sorry."
SoCal Val: And travel, especially, used to be very jet set, and it was a big deal to travel. People would dress up, and I have that love for vintage things. So the wrestlers would always kind of make fun of me and be like, "Why are you so dressed up all the time?" And I was like, "It makes me happy. That's what makes me want to get up in the morning is to put on this airport outfit and to feel like a character from some 1940s movie and I'm in my own world. And if you don't get it, that's okay. Then you don't understand the art of overdressing," as I called my blog.
Jeff: That's so amazing. So I got to ask then, from living in the UK now for some time, do you feel that there is a large difference between fashion over there then let's say Florida or California where you lived before?
SoCal Val: It certainly is. And it's funny, from state to state... Because a lot of people here, they can't grasp how vast America is. And it's kind of like, "Oh, that's American." It's like, "Yeah, but there's so many different accents, so many different ways of dressing." The best airport I've ever been to as far as dressing was in Washington, DC or somewhere around that area. And everyone's very corporate, so they have to dress up in a very polished way.
SoCal Val: Florida, unfortunately, is really not usually a very fashionable place. I used to work with Orlando Style Magazine, and there's some great fashion. Miami's great. But it's because it's so hot and everyone's so casual. And that's another reason I'm not into warmer months, because people just tend to throw on a pair of flip flops and whatever.
SoCal Val: London has a few different types of fashionable. My favorite would be the preppier old English, very classic looking, tweed jackets and scarves and old money looking, right? And then you've got Shoreditch and places where it's really punk rocker and very avant garde. There's a lot of great fashion houses that are in London.
SoCal Val: New York, very, very, very fashionable. There's different types of fashion there. You can be more grungy or you could be more preppy, but I just think it's so cool to see the people all around the world.
SoCal Val: And Europe, I go to Europe a lot, and just to see how they have this sort of effortless chic that you just can't duplicate. It's very interesting how French women, for example, are usually very chic. And it's cool to go to different places. I literally will just sit in a cafe and I people watch, and I watch all the outfits.
SoCal Val: Milan almost blew my mind.
Jeff: Oh, wow.
SoCal Val: There was a street that was a fashion area. I literally have chills thinking about it. It was the most fashionable place ever. And people just really cared about fashion. They were wearing just ridiculous stuff. Not fashion for function. I'm talking like I saw a girl in a turban, a velvet turban, and sequin cherry earrings-
SoCal Val: ... just sipping a coffee by herself, PS. I'm like, "I want her confidence. I want to be her." And I really appreciate people that put that extra effort into fashion, because it means something to me. It's how we live our lives. There's a quote from Devil Wears Prada where the guy says fashion is different than art, it's better than art because you lived your life in it and it's how you express yourself. And that's exactly how I see it as well.
Jeff: Yeah, and you just said something that's very poignant. Fashion is confidence. It really is.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: And it's hard for people who aren't into fashion to maybe grasp that. And it's also harder for people who might want to get into that to be confident enough to wear that kind of thing.
SoCal Val: Right.
Jeff: Do you feel, as you've explored this avenue of your career in fashion, that you've become more confident because of fashion?
SoCal Val: I want to answer politely. I think I've always kind of had that. Just being honest, but to wear wacky things and what people think are wa-... Even if you wear a hat, I try to tell people that are like, "Oh, I could never wear that," I'm like, "Why?" Think of that woman I just mentioned in Milan with the sequin cherry earrings by herself.
SoCal Val: That's what I thought was so cool about it. She probably knows that people that don't understand fashion are looking at her like, "What the hell is she wearing?" She doesn't care. So you have to really have confidence to get into fashion, wearing different things. Even wearing a hat in the airport, people will look at you, just a normal hat, or what I think is a normal hat anyway, who knows. But it's just one of those things. You have to have an unshakable confidence to wear some of the crazy stuff that I wear. And you really have to just love it. I love it more than I care about what that person thinks. You know what I mean? If I'm wearing something that's a little loud or a trench coat and a ridiculous beret, I'm having a ball. I'm in my own movie in my head, and I'm confident in that somehow.
Jeff: I think it has something to do with having thick skin as well, you know?
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: I mean you're putting yourself out there, whether you're on the street or you're on the internet, and you're like, "This is me. This is what I'm wearing.", And inevitably maybe not as much on the street but definitely on the internet, you're going to get people who are going to have either very positive or sometimes, unfortunately, very negative types of things. And you have to be able to have the thick skin to compartmentalize that and just basically just be confident that, "This is me, and who cares?," Right?
SoCal Val: Yeah, exactly. And I think that should overflow into every aspect of your life. And especially the more famous you are as an actor or whatever, there's a lot more trolls that will come out and say horrible things. But I follow a lot of bloggers that will say things like, "Oh, I just couldn't take the social media." I mean people get crazy with it and there's been death threats. There's a lot of crazy things that happen. But, for the most part, I'm talking about just comments that are rude about what they looked like, this and that.
SoCal Val: And I think to myself, I see these people tweeting about it all the time and they're always directly commenting on someone, saying something hateful. Once in a while, to call a troll out is kind of funny. But if you're constantly worried about it or talking about it, it's like you're letting them win, you're letting them run your life, and I don't understand that. I was never raised to care that much about what someone's opinion is. If you don't know them, you don't respect them, then who cares that they don't like what you're wearing. Are you happy in it? Does it make you happy? Cool. And that should be it. It should stop there.
Jeff: Yeah. Totally, Totally. You mentioned that you are a fan of vintage. Do you have a favorite vintage era of fashion?
SoCal Val: I do. I think if I were to travel back in any era, I think I would go to the 1940s. I just think that silhouette, that sort of very female-centric, womanly silhouette with the nipped.in waist and the bigger skirts and things. '40s and '50s, I would say are my favorite. I don't relate to certain eras in fashion. I love Downton Abbey. I love the 1920s. I love the Great Gatsby. But, truth be told, that dropped waistline and things were a little more masculine, that wasn't really for me. I'm more of a Mad Men kind of fan and little, ridiculous cloche hats.
SoCal Val: I'm watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which takes place in the '50s, I believe. And I can't get enough of her little matching gloves. Everything was very prim and proper and girly and rich color tones and things. And women were just allowed to be ridiculous with fashion. And I think that was very encouraged back then. Then, in the '70s, it became more like cool and relaxed and rock and roll, which is fun, in the Almost Famous sort of era. I was always go back to movies for me. And I like that, but I think just the femininity of the 1940s when you had furs and luxury.
Jeff: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It's like a lot of class and then also this danger to it as well.
SoCal Val: [inaudible 00:26:01], yeah.
Jeff: It's really good. And I do want to mention for anybody, and we'll say this at the end as well, but they should be following you on your social media because you post so much on social media and you've been doing this amazing series. You've been now speaking of vintage, which is now vintage, which is crazy, but you've been really throwing it back to an '80s glam in a lot of what you're doing, which is a lot of fun. And I'm sure that's another kind of fun era from a fashion perspective.q
SoCal Val: Oh, yeah. Everything was big. Big hair and ridiculous neons and things. And I did a photo shoot because I loved the show Glow.
Jeff: Glow, yeah.
SoCal Val: Actually, it was a custom photo shoot for my Patreon, yeah. I've done a couple vintage workout shoots where it's sweatbands. And Miss Elizabeth did a photo shoot in workout gear, the high-waisted leotards, because some people really love that. And this one was sort of an homage to GLOW wrestling, which I love, the sequins and the glitter and all that. But, yeah, that's the beauty of Patreon is it's given me a way to do photo shoots and create my own photo shoots. And I'm, again, the boss in that area, that I get to create what I want to create and I get to put my hair this way and wear this outfit, and fans seem to like it. And especially the sexier shoots of course are very popular because it's lingerie and bikini, and I love that. But it's kind of fun that I'm not modeling for anyone, I'm sort of doing it for myself.
Jeff: That's awesome. That's really awesome. And that's, again, what's a testament to you is you have forged your own path your entire career. And it's inspiring to hear how you still are passionate about everything that you want to do, which leads us into what you're doing now, GAW TV, Grown Ass Women. Can we talk about how, and I'm sure this answer is easy, but how did you first meet Lisa and Mickie?
SoCal Val: I met both of them in Impact wrestling. So I of course had watched them for years on WWE, and I was a fan of both of theirs. And instantly we became friends. Because if you talk to them for more than a second, you can just tell, they just have such personalities. They're so fun. They're super, super witty, and they're quick with the one-liners. And we're all similar in that way. But what's cool about Grown Ass Women is that we're all at different places in our lives. So I'm 34, I've now moved to London, somewhat newly married. And Mickie's the only mom in the group, so she has that insight, her being a mom. And she's in a country music environment, and she's pursuing that career as well as still being in wrestling.
SoCal Val: And then Lisa's retired from wrestling, getting back into the restaurant business. And we talk to her about a lot of different things, whether it's her restaurant business or it's her days in the fitness world. And these women are so accomplished, but they still are go getters. They're still doing a lot of different projects. And we're always hustling as we call it. We're hustlers. And we thought why not just have a slumber party that everyone can watch every Wednesday at 5:00 PM Eastern and invite all of our fans and friends to come see us and submit their questions.
SoCal Val: Mickey and I were talking about it first, then of course we got Lisa involved. And we were saying we have to make this very engaging and fun, first of all, and lighthearted, and we want to make it fan-centric. We want the fans to know that they are going to be part of the show too. We want them to submit video questions. And we do these photo challenges that they take part in as well, and then we put it on the show. And so we wanted to kind of give back to them in that way.
SoCal Val: Plus, we wanted to really appeal to our female audience. Because, at the end of the day, we're all girl's girls. It's obvious for me because I'm the one who's more of the fashion type of chick, but Mickie and Lisa are seen as these badass wrestlers. But, at the end of the day, they're just drinking wine in their pajamas like me and they have their own thoughts about career goals and relationships and all these different things. So we didn't want the show to be about wrestling. We wanted it to of course have fun stories from our wrestling past. We're going to have some of our wrestling friends on it. But it's really just a place for us to kind of chat and be silly. I mean Lisa was in a dinosaur outfit for the first episode. It's just one of those wacky shows that you never know what we're going to do, what we're going to say. I can't believe this is part of my job now is to be on the show and get to chat with these girls and actually make people smile, especially in a time like this, you know?
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. And I caught the first couple episodes. It really is like being a fly on the wall with the three of you.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: And really, I love the aspect that it pulls back the curtain. Because for people who might know any one of you, or all three of you, just from your careers in wrestling or just on social media, a lot of that was, as we talked about in the beginning, from a persona standpoint, you know?
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: Like if you are going to be part of the next big TNA event or WWE, or whatever, you're promoting that and you're in that persona. And that's a lot of what we've seen from all three of you. So to be able to pull that curtain back and just know, like you said, that you're just three girls who like to drink some wine and just talk.
SoCal Val: In pajamas, yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, and just talk.
SoCal Val: It's almost as if they've come back to our room after a signing or something, because that's literally what we're doing. We're in our pajamas, cracking up, maybe some pillow fights. Okay, maybe not really pillow fight, but drinking some wine and just gabbing about silly stuff that we saw or complaining about things, just being ourselves. And especially for Lisa and Mickie, because they're kind of seen as these untouchable, bad-ass babes, it's really fun to see them just goof off and be ridiculous. And it's not their characters were seeing.
SoCal Val: And of course we're all very much like our characters in some ways, but it's just Val, Lisa and Mickie just hanging out. And it's so cool that we can chat with the fans as well during every time it comes out on YouTube, when it goes live, we're there in the chatroom with you and we're literally just cracking up at the fans' reactions to us cracking up on the show. And it's so much nonsense. Mickie coined the term that it's very important nonsense. And it is all very important to us, but it's all fluff and it's silly, and it's just us at our giggliest I suppose.
Jeff: Well, like you said, it's needed in the state of the world and the state of the way things are. We need just pure entertainment, and you guys are providing it.
SoCal Val: Yeah. That's what we're here for, yeah.
Jeff: Exactly. And that kind of brings me into the theme of this show. We are all, as human beings, fueled by the same thing. We want to leave this world a little different before we inevitably, spoiler, are going to leave it for good. And you've been doing that through your entire career. You've been working hard no matter at what you do. And I just got to know what keeps you doing that? What fuels your passion to keep working hard and keep being SoCal Val to her fullest?
SoCal Val: I think there's sort of a... I don't know what's wrong with me, I should say. I need a therapy session. But, no, I just don't like being bored. I don't like routine and I don't like standing still. I want to always be doing something. I always want to be making money. I always want to be financially independent. I want to be the person that can look after herself. I literally went on vacation by myself for a few days to Madrid. And people were like, "Why?" And I said, "Well, why not? If I can afford it and go lay by the pool and go see some art and stuff like that in Madrid, why not do it?" I've always been very independent. Like I said, my mom was a single mom raising three girls by herself.
SoCal Val: That's kind of how I was raised, was to not depend on anybody but yourself. And I don't like staying still for too long. Even taking a bath, I always use that as an example. I feel so bored because I feel like I'm not getting anything accomplished in here. I'm not learning anything. I'm not a huge reader. [inaudible 00:33:04] love fiction. With all due respect, I understand that they like that genre of book, but I'm like, "I'm not learning anything." If I'm reading a book, I want to be able to learn something.
SoCal Val: If I'm reading a fashion magazine, I'm doing it as research and I'm trying to learn things. And I always want to be learning. I was also homeschooled, and it's a big part of it too. People are surprised to hear that. And I have just a real thirst for knowledge and for learning. Yeah, and again, I just don't like being bored, so I have to keep creating and keep myself entertained. My mom always said, as a kid, I was very good at keeping myself entertained, and I'm still doing it now. And I'm still playing dress up, if you think about it. I haven't changed a bit.
Jeff: Well, and I've said this before too, I think it's amazing that the three of you came together to create this thing called Grown Ass Women. But one of the most endearing qualities of your show is, at the end of the day, you're not really that grown ass. You guys are all still kids at heart.
SoCal Val: Yeah.
Jeff: For real, which really draws I think a lot of your audience to it as well.
SoCal Val: And we're like giggly teenagers. We liked the term grown-ass woman. It was something that Mickie came up with actually with a good friend of ours, Alicia Fox. And we're all navigating on how to become grown-ass women. We were joking when the show started like, "Are we there yet?" I think it was episode one or two, we we're like, "When did you feel like you were more like a grown-ass woman than you were before?" Because we talk about things like that. We talked about failed relationships and how we wish we could talk to our younger selves. So we're never going to be fully grown-ass women, but we're trying our damnedest, and that's sort of the show is about is to navigate through life and careers and marriages and whatever. And we're doing it our own special, wacky ways. And that's why it's fun to let people peer in on that.
Jeff: Yeah. And for someone who is so ingrained in what she does and so busy, you seem like you just know your path when you're on it. Where do you see GAW TV going? Where do you see the potential of this show?
SoCal Val: Did you just see how, literally, my whole posture changed?
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
SoCal Val: I got so excited. I'm like, "Okay, let's dive in." We have so many thoughts. And we're such travelers, so this lockdown to us, we're so bored. We're always on the road, you know?
SoCal Val: We always joke that we always sleep better in hotels because we're more used to hotels. And a hotel lobby is my favorite place to go because that's where I go put my laptop up and that's where I'm working, and that's just where I always am. Maybe at the bar. Who's judging? No one.
SoCal Val: Anyway, so we would love to take GAW TV on the road. We have friends in Vegas and New York, and places like that, where we'd love to maybe host a pool party and have the fans come. We'd love to tape live episodes of GAW in different places. We're always around during WrestleMania weekends, maybe we could do something there. So next year, or whenever this travel ban lifts, we are going to definitely figure out how to take GAW on the road and record on the road with each other so we're not in little Zoom boxes. We're actually there to record some stuff. We want to get merch signed when we're all together. We have a lot of plans for merchandise because we love kiss cards and 8x10s and T-shirts. We want to have the whole GAW brand become a thing that people want to represent.
SoCal Val: And, by the way, they've been so loyal already, but we're only on episode three tonight. So the loyalty and the love that we've felt is amazing. But we'd also love to do something where the fans can actually be in the room with us while we're recording and be a part of the show physically as well. And then have maybe our friends come on as guests. We see people like Jim Ross and Mick Foley doing these amazing spoken-word tours and doing these an evening with. Well, can you imagine an evening with Lisa, me, and Mickie on some wine and giggling and having maybe a friend come over and giggle with us? It would be the ultimate party. It's almost like a VIP room, but we've lifted the velvet rope and we're like, "Hey, come hang out with us." That's what we want it to feel like. And that's what we want everyone to feel like they're watching us tell stories from the road and cracking up. And, yeah, so far it's been great, but wouldn't it be amazing to see it live and in person?
Jeff: Yeah. GAW TV on the road would be absolutely amazing, especially in a place like Vegas or New York City.
SoCal Val: Like a party [crosstalk 00:36:53] or a cruise.
Jeff: Yeah. But I think, too, and I know this is something near and dear to your heart as well and it's something that... I miss travel as well, but another thing I miss is conventions. And I think that GAW TV at a panel or as an after-party for either a wrestling convention or even a comic convention or whatever, I think that would be a wonderful place for you guys to be as well.
SoCal Val: Totally. And we were talking about maybe putting something in place with For the Love of Wrestling because here in England... I mean since I moved over here, what I really do more of, or the most of, is convention. So I work with Showmasters and Monopoly Events, and I started just being a person that they would hire to be, "Hey, I'm Val and I'm here to sign autographs and meet people." And that was all well and good and that's fine, but I was like, "Let me get you"... How do I put it? I want them to get their money's worth. So I'm like, "Let me do more. Can I do some social media videos?" And that all spiraled into doing social media videos for the fans, Facebook lives during the convention, interviewing the fans. And then, now, what I do the most of is I don't usually even sign anymore. I actually am the one that hosts all of the celebrity Q&A panels. So to have the girls here when I did something like that, and to make it a whole GAW TV panel, I'm such a host anyway, I'm always in host mode.
SoCal Val: And to wrangle these two, and all of us giggling at the same time, it's hysterical. So to have some kind of convention presence, and Lisa loves Comic-Con, it just makes a lot of sense for us. Mickie does as well.
Jeff: Totally, yeah. I can't wait. I mean, I'm sure with the state of the world and everything that we're in, in 2020, that conventions are still dicey. I don't know if we're going to see very many, if any at all this year, but I know we'll see them again. And, oh man, I can't wait to go.
SoCal Val: Me too.
Jeff: And I can't wait to be in the audience for the GAW TV convention circuit.
SoCal Val: Oh, you got to. And you got to be at the pool parties and anything we do, you got to come with us.
Jeff: Yeah, I definitely will. So for my listeners and viewers out there, you are everywhere. What's the best way to follow your journey? Would it be social media? Would it be your website, your Patreon? Would be all of the above?
SoCal Val: I think it's social media, yeah. I mean social media, I have patreon.com/socalval, a lot of exclusives there. We just opened up, as in today, opened it up, patreon.com/gawtv. It's going to have bonus footage from the show and live chats with us and exclusive photos and videos and weekly updates from us. So Patreon's, of course, a great way to support us and to support me personally on my own Patreon. But I'm just a social media person. I love tweeting. I'm @SoCalValerie. Instagram's a big one for me, Official SoCal Val. I've got a store. I'm always posting, always doing silly Instagram stories and filters and funny things. So, yeah, I'm not hard to find, that's the good news.
Jeff: That is the good news. And I'll put all of that in the liner notes of the show as well.
SoCal Val: [inaudible 00:39:30].
Jeff: I can't thank you enough for taking time and talking with me. This was so much fun.
SoCal Val: You're so much fun. And I knew it would be fun because I said, "Any friend of Lisa's is a friend of mine." So you're now officially a friend of GAW as well, so we appreciate the support. And this was such a fun chat.
Jeff: Excellent. Well, I'll drink to that.
SoCal Val: We got to get you on the show. Yes, we'll drink more on the GAW show.
Jeff: I would love to be on the show.
SoCal Val: You'll have to do a virtual shot with us.
SoCal Val: [inaudible 00:39:56].
Jeff: Absolutely done. Well again, thank you so much.