Interview: Terrance Griep, one of the nine toughest gay guys in America


If there’s a more interesting guy than Terrance Griep, yours truly has yet to meet him. One day, I walked onto the set of MTN’s issues-oriented forum Spectator as a guest on the show and swiftly found myself becoming a fan of Griep, who co-hosts the show with Bill Boreas. I was first amused by Griep’s smart-ass wit, then became increasingly fascinated with just how broadly versed one person can be.

Griep is a writer with a weird assortment of credits—from DC Comics to Out, The Advocate, and Qminnesota to Star Trek Monthly to, well, you get the idea. He has scripted, directed, produced, and performed radio plays for upwards of twenty markets including San Diego, Toronto, and New York City. As an actor-athlete, he does educational and industrial voice-overs and rassles on the Midwest Pro Wrestling circuit as heel character, Tommy “the SpiderBaby” Saturday. (The International Gay Outdoors Organization named Terrance one of the Nine Toughest Gay Guys in America.) He’s also a freelance instructor, teaching interactive classes on acting and comic-book writing.

Versatility is good thing, but this fella goes straight to hell with himself: Griep even did a one-day stint as Minnesota Timberwolves mascot “Crunch.” MTN is hardly going to make broadcast or big-time cable network execs nervous, but its programming definitely jumps a notch on Mondays at 5PM on Channel 17, when Terrance Griep joins co-host Bill Borea for Spectator—especially when the opinionated, knowledgeable pair get the chance to square off and spar over this, that, or the other social or political issue. Tune in sometime, and get a load of Terrance Griep.

You’re a pro wrestler, a writer, and co-host of Spectator. Any more mix-and-match arrows in your quiver?
Most people find “out gay man” and “pro wrestler” the most incongruent aspects of my person. I think everybody is a bundle of contradictions, but mine—if they really are contradictions—are swathed in spandex and big talk, so they stand out. Other arrows, to use your term, include one-time NBA mascot, part-time voice actor, and retired Buddhist monk. One of those is a lie, but I’m not telling which.

“I’m a one-time NBA mascot, part-time voice actor, and retired Buddhist monk. One of those is a lie, but I’m not telling which.”

How’d you come to write for DC Comics?
There was no great “Shazam!” moment. It was a long process, mostly involving unsolicited letters and story ideas. I just pitched their editorial staff into submission and they gave me Scooby-Doo to play with over ten years ago. Since then, I’ve written Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern, among other superhero comics.

Yet you haven’t seen any of the superhero movies. You really hate going to the movies that much?
Nah. I’m just a classic workaholic who happens to love his workahol. I always have a writing assignment or a wrestling match that I’d rather perpetrate. I’ll say this: one thing at which superhero movies excel is cultivating a sense of wonder. I saw Terminator 2 in a theater, and, during an early scene, the two killer robots had each other by the shirt lapels and were shoving each other into a concrete wall, leaving killer-robot-shaped dents in their wake. The audience ooed and ahhed, and it occurred to me that inside a super-hero comic, that moment would seem fairly ordinary.

How’d you wind up becoming a wrestler?
God, it’s such a weird story. The shortest version is that I was interested networking on the local television scene in support of my writing career. The means to that end was working as a color commentator for a now-defunct wrestling promotion. That promotion did training, so I bartered some promotional writing for my tuition. Much to everyone’s surprise, once in the ring, I demonstrated a talent for cheesing off large groups of drunken white people, an absolute necessity for being a wrestling villain on the local scene.

“Once in the ring, I demonstrated a talent for cheesing off large groups of drunken white people, an absolute necessity for being a wrestling villain.”

Why on earth did you agree to co-host with Bill Borea?
The same reason I wiggle a loose tooth with my tongue, I suppose. Seriously, working on Spectator is a great avocation for a news junkie like myself. I think Bill and I make a good team. We work a little bit like a laser: he generates the light and I focus it. I must say that Richard Darud, the [show’s] producer, deserves a great deal of credit for whatever success the show enjoys. On camera or off, Richard can do it all. His greatest talent is checking out Craigslist while pretending to pay attention to the show. That’s rangy, my friend.

What issue do you like to get into most on the show?
I’m at my most passionate when I work the topic of third parties into the show. The Republican and the Democratic parties have utterly, utterly failed the American people and the founding fathers, offering their constituents no real choices. As I’ve said on the show, democracy should encompass more nuance than a professional wrestling match—that is, “We’re the good guys, and they’re the bad guys, so let’s kick their tails.” The only people served by the current system are lobbyists, sharpers, and profiteers. I hate that.

Anything new and exciting up next for you?
Not any one thing, really. I want people to check out Spectator, naturally. I wrestle nearly every weekend, usually one to three times. I hope people will check my writing out: it appears pretty regularly in Inside LA Magazine, Instinct Magazine, Lavender, and Scooby-Doo comics.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.