Terrance Griep, pro wrestler and writer, celebrated the 10th anniversary of Tommy “The SpiderBaby” in November, which is what he calls himself when he steps into the ring. Besides a tenth anniversary, SpiderBaby won a tenth championship, according to his press release. Griep, who is openly gay, said, “this victory represents a political statement.”
SpiderBaby is a classic bad guy (“heel” in professional parlance), who cheats when the referee’s back is turned and generally makes himself as unlikeable as possible, drawing hearty boos from the crowd.
“OUT Magazine,” he told the Twin Cities Daily Planet, “recognizes me as the first professional wrestler to come out nationally, but others have since I did.”
Terrance Griep sees his standing, especially his half of the Independent Wrestling International Tag Team Championship with Ian “The X-Man” Xavier, as more than being accepted as one of the guys. They won ten championship belts in as many years and he sees his presence, even as someone the fans love to hate, as a political statement. After all, he’s a champion over both homosexual and heterosexual peers.
“Yeah, that’s the, thrust of it,” he says. “I’m letting the world know that gay athletes can not just succeed in untraditional venues, but prevail, to paraphrase Faulkner.” He continues, “Coming out matters. You and I live in a nation where only fifteen of fifty states recognize marriage equality and where the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. People standing up and putting real faces on the LGBT community is a powerful tool in making real equality a reality.
Griep, who writes for, among other publications, D.C. Comics, has translated his color character from the wrestling stage to the magazine page as a feature for Heroic Publishing, Inc.
Last July, Heroic rolled out its special preview issue of Champions with a rendering of SpiderBaby on the cover, doing his typical thing, hemming the opponent up from behind in a choke-hold with fiendish glee. “In the Grip of the Sinister SpiderBaby” had an extra-added-attraction aspect to it as that opponent was good guy (baby face in the parlance), or rather a good gal, the wholly fictional G-Girl, wrestling in the name of justice, fair play and so on. It was a risky move for Heroic, considering how prickly the subject of men manhandling women is. Griep comments, “I was never concerned. To me, [it] merely represents a classic image which shows a super-heroine being threatened by a villain, a villain who just happens to be me.” Well, his alter ego, anyway.
Heroic Publishing, Inc. president Dennis Mallonee suggested it Griep, who readily took the project on, co-writing with Gaetano Petrigno. “The basic plot [is] SpiderBaby, my wrestling alter ego, meets the Sensational G-Girl in a charity wrestling match.” He fleshed it out with a you’ll-never-see-it-coming close that turns on a dime at the very last minute.
Terrance Griep, nothing like “SpiderBaby,” actually is a nice guy. Where the character would have ended our conversation with some sort of snarky remark, the man himself humbly said, “Thank you for acknowledging and taking the time. I appreciate it.”