Jeanie Clarke, Steve Austin’s one-time valet and ex-wife, appeared on In Your Head Wrestling Radio to talk about her time in the world of professional wrestling and struggle with drug addiction. Highlights from this candid interview are as follows (See Lady Blossom Photos):
Her recollections of the day Gino Hernandez passed away
“Oh man, I was there when that happened…I saw Gino the very day he died. He and I lived next door to each other in the same condo in Dallas called Lovers Lane; we were neighbors…I saw him in the parking lot maybe the latter part of the afternoon. He’d just gone out and he bought this peach pie and I said “Oh that looks good”… and he said “Yeah, yeah; well pop over in the morning and have a slice.”…He was going out that night and early in the morning, very early, I saw his Porsche and I noticed it was parked like the wheels were sort of turned funny…The latter part of the day, he hadn’t come out of his condo, and I actually knocked on his door and I looked in the window and I saw the peach pie sitting on his table but I didn’t see him. I left, and then the latter part of the night I knew he hadn’t moved his car because of the way the wheels were. I thought, hmmm, I wonder if he’s OK, and I went back and knocked on his door again and again I thought well he’s in, he’s not gone out, and the peach pie is still on the table. I said to my friend Vicki, “Something’s wrong; Gino he’s not left his apartment, he doesn’t seem in his apartment, it’s just really strange.” Then he didn’t show up at his match that night, and I knew something was wrong…He died. I saw them bring his body out and everything; it was just awful. I had to live right next door to where he died; it was so heartbreakingly sad because he was just such a good character and so funny…When all this happened with Gino, Chris (Adams) was in England and I had to phone him and tell him Gino had died. It was just surreal really, it’s just so sad.”
Is it true that she came up with the nickname “Stone Cold” for Steve Austin?
“Yes, I did, over a cup of tea…Basically, the concept was Steve’s, because Steve and I were just sitting watching TV, flicking channels, and this show came on called “The Iceman” about a killer, a hit man type guy. Steve just said, “I want a character like that”, meaning someone cold, and he called Vince (McMahon) and he said this is the character he wanted. The office, they were just sending all these faxes of these temperature-based names like Fang McFrost…they were so hokey. I remember Brian Pillman and Steve in hysterics over these names, but none of them worked for Steve. One day he was just kind of pensive, a little bit worried-looking, and I just said, “Drink your tea before it gets stone cold” and I went, “There it is, Stone Cold.” He got a big smile on his face, and he liked it, so that’s how it started, over that cup of tea.”
Why things started to go with her marriage to Steve Austin, and her subsequent struggles with drug addiction
“Well, a lot of it was my fault…I got really comfortable in Atlanta, and I had a lot of friends, so when Steve was gone a lot I was always doing stuff and going out for dinner with my friends and shopping and taking the kids to McDonald’s or something and stuff. Then Steve picked out Boerne, Texas, which is quite rural, which is what Steve likes, and I didn’t have any friends. So when he went on the road, I was very lonely, and I developed really bad addiction problems, which I’m going to just be honest about. I started with pain killers and sleepers, and you know how it is. He had a lot of pressure on him then because he was now Stone Cold so he had lots of T-shirts to do, and it just wasn’t good for him or me because he was under a lot of pressure and I was out of it really taking too many pills.”
“I was in rehab for six months, a long time…I have been clean for two years…I can just say that addiction is a very crafty thing because you can start off just taking a little bit, and in the beginning you do feel good, and as the tolerance grows then you still have something a little bit stronger and then you snowball out of control, your whole life goes out of control, and that’s what happened to me.”
Did your experience with addiction give you a better understanding of why so many wrestlers fall into substance abuse problems?
“Yes, absolutely; muscle relaxers and that because you’re really sore, and then you don’t get much sleep because you might have a flight that leaves at 6 A.M. and you have to get up at 3 to get to the airport to be at the airport two hours before the flight. You don’t get out of the arena until Midnight sometimes, so you’re getting two or three hours sleep and then the only feasible thing you can think of is sleep on the plane, but it’s easier just to take something to go to sleep, and then something to bring you back up to go to the gym. It’s just a cycle with the schedule being really difficult.”
Do you have a good relationship with Steve Austin today?
“Yeah, I do. We’re very amicable…As a matter of fact, after I was in rehab for six months I called Steve up and I said you know, I can actually see my part in it now because when you’re using you think everything else is everybody else’s fault and you get really secretive about how much you’re taking…You have another side to you that you don’t want anyone to know about your addiction or how bad it’s getting, so I did say to him this was my part in it and he appreciated that…I talked to him a couple of months ago and he was glad I was still clean.”
Other topics discussed included:
* Who was her favorite person to work with in WCCW?
* How did she and Steve Austin end up in WCW?
* Who in WCW came up with the name “Lady Blossom” and how did she feel about it?
* Why wasn’t her character allowed to talk more in WCW?
* What was her favorite time or role in professional wrestling?