TSJ 101 Interviews: Ladybeard
Hello readers, it’s Wrestling News Department editor, your favorite chubby guy, Gregory Black. And today, I have the pleasure of presenting the first interview of 2019 for TSJ101Sports. In a year that promises to be full of great interviews and stories; this interview is one that will open some eyes, as well as likely make fans out of some readers. A music star, professional wrestler, and television host, I speak of none other than the one and only Ladybeard.
Now, I have to admit, this interview was more like a regular conversation than an interview; which, honestly, was great, as there wasn’t a stuffy atmosphere when we spoke. It was more like two people who were friends speaking than a reporter and their subject talking to each other. In short, it was a fun conversation.
Still an interview, nonetheless, but a fun one.
And in this interview, we spoke about a good number of things, from his wrestling career to his journey in the music scene, and even his foray into movies and television. From his humble beginnings in movies as a stunt man and solo music artist to the formation of “LadyBaby” and later on; his current musical act, “Deadlift Lolita” taking the world by storm one anime convention at a time.
We also spoke about current projects that he takes part in, as well. It was definitely a great time, and one that will be uploaded to our YouTube channel, TSJ 101 Sports TV very soon.
Stay tuned for that video.
But, for now, we have the interview here, transcribed from audio taken from the video. And while there are parts that were not added from the interview here, you can get the full version once the video is uploaded.
Enjoy, ladies and gentlemen…
GB: What was it that inspired the Ladybeard character and persona?
LB: (Chuckles) So, I’ve been crossdressing since I was 14. Yeah, it started out as a buddy was having a school uniform party, and so all my friends went wearing our school uniforms we wore every day. And I was like “it would be funny if I wore my big sister’s school dress”. So, I did that and I went, and of course, my friends are all 14-year-old boys and girls, and it was all hilarious. Um, from that point forward, I started occasionally cross-dressing to go to rock ‘n roll shows and what not.
GB: (Chuckling) Okay
LB: (continues) Yeah, so, I was a casual crossdresser for many years, and then I used to live in Hong Kong, where I continued my casual cross-dressing career. By the way, um, Ho Ho Lun, who was in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic last year was my first wrestling coach in Hong Kong.
(Side note: He might have confused the UK Tournament from last year, or 205Live for the CWC; which happened in 2016, which is very possible, considering the size of a good portion of the competitors in the tournament.)
GB: Oh, awesome.
LB: Yeah, my first match ever was against him, and then Jason New (Jason Lee); who was the other Chinese kid in the Cruiserweight Classic, I think my third ever match was against him. So, I know those guys from way back.
GB: Oh, that’s awesome.
LB: So yeah, when I crossdressed for the first time in Hong Kong, they have such a conservative society that everyone was like “OH MY GOD, you’re hilarious, you’re the funniest thing I’ve ever seen!” Everyone went insane, right? So, then when I started wrestling because it was in Hong Kong where I started my wrestling career; yeah, it was leading up to the first match and I needed an in-ring gimmick. Then, I said I’m going to wear a dress and call myself “Ladybeard“.
GB: Oh, that’s cool (I really said that’s awesome, but, eh, I don’t want repetition, hehe)
“And I was like “it would be funny if I wore my big sister’s school dress”. So, I did that and I went, and of course, my friends are all 14-year-old boys and girls, and it was all hilarious.”
LB: Yeah, thanks bro, yeah, it’s kind of hard to summarize because it was sort of like a 20-year long journey that ended up with me cross-dressing in the ring, right? So, that what led to its official birth. That’s how it came to be, and so, overnight, after my first match, overnight, I was the most popular wrestler in Hong Kong, at the time, no one else was doing interesting gimmicks. Everyone was like “I’m a wrestler!“, and that was the end of it, right?
LB: Okay, I came out in my dress and, you know? I lived in Hong Kong for three years already, so I knew what I had to do and say to make Chinese people laugh already, so, I did that. Yeah, so, that’s how things began.
“…it wasn’t really a place where I could adequately train for a market as developed as Japan. So, I went back to Australia and I trained with the guys in my hometown.”
GB: Alright, so I’m guessing your popularity in Hong Kong garnered enough attention that it went over to other regions, and caught the eye of promoters in other regions, right?
LB: No, actually, what happened was at the time, pro wrestling in Hong Kong was tiny, I think there were about a thousand people in the whole city who knew what pro wrestling was. So, we were doing these small shows and it was kind of like 100 people at a show sort-of-thing. But, within that tiny community, I was hands down, the most popular wrestler.
But then, from there, I came over to, because I also started doing my heavy metal shows over there; I came over to Japan, and I put together my own little tour and I did a tour of Japan. That went very well, and I said: “Alright, well, I’ll go to Japan.” So I kind of, um, went back to Australia for a year, and I trained in wrestling, because, like I said, the club in Hong Kong at the time, or the fed in Hong Kong at the time was pretty “ad hoc“.
“I started out in one of DDT’s subsidiary companies, called Union Pro Wrestling. So, Union has now shut its doors, unfortunately, but at the time; Union was a fed and a subsidiary of DDT and a lot of guys who were in DDT would also do shows for Union and whatnot”
LB: And like it’s, you sort of had to know what Hong Kong is like to be able to properly understand this; but, like, we lost our ring, and we didn’t have to real estate to get. Like, we didn’t have a place to put a new ring, so, after a while, training was ringless. It was just on mats and whatnot.
GB: (Chuckling) Yeah.
(Chuckled because I was in a similar kind of situation. Those who know me personally know what I mean.)
LB: So, it wasn’t really a place where I could adequately train for a market as developed as Japan. So, I went back to Australia and I trained with the guys in my hometown. Then, I shipped on over to Japan and it was my stuff in Japan that caught the eye of all the other markets.
GB: Ohh, okay, so, you went from Hong Kong back to Australia to train, then made it to Japan, so, what promotions did you work for once you made it to Japan?
LB: So, I mean, really the only promotion that was really keen on working with me was DDT.
GB: Ahhh, Dramatic Dream Team, I love that promotion.
(Fun Note: DDT has the HeavyMetalweight Championship, which, much like the WWE’s now retired Hardcore Title, had a 24/7 rule. It also has one of the most all-inclusive former champions lists, as the likes of Joey Ryan, Christopher Daniels, and MVP have held the title on one occasion or another. Also on that list of champions is a dog, a ladder and a blow-up doll *Yoshihiko*. No, that’s not a joke, I’m very serious.)
LB: (Chuckles) Yeah, oh, they’re hilarious, so that’s where I’ve been for the past three years or so. It’s pretty much “Mission Accomplished“, it’s awesome. Um, but I started out in one of DDT’s subsidiary companies, called Union Pro Wrestling. So, Union has now shut its doors, unfortunately, but at the time; Union was a fed and a subsidiary of DDT and a lot of guys who were in DDT would also do shows for Union and whatnot, and vice versa. DDT is very fascinating, actually, because there’s DDT and then there’s a bunch of sub-companies. But then, for DDT’s shows, they draw on wrestlers from all of those companies, right? So, it’s kind of an interesting model they’ve got. I guess it’s sort of like Raw and SmackDown, and NXT and all of that kind of stuff there.
“And he said “I think your gimmick is something our fans can really get behind, let me talk to people at the office for you” and stuff like that. Kenny was absolutely lovely, so, it was a combination of that referee, Dino kissing experience, and the push from Kenny that got me the meeting with DDT and eventually got me into Union.”
GB: And how they had FCW, OVW, and now they’re expanding with Evolve and all these other companies.
LB: That’s right, that’s right, yeah, so, I started out at Union, and that all went well, and then when Union folded, all the Union wrestlers had to go somewhere. So, they were like “alright, I guess..”, well, the guy who ran Union said “I think it makes the most sense for you to go to DDT”; because some of the wrestlers went to DDT, some of them freelanced, and some of them, what was the thing they did? Some of them joined one of the other DDT subsidiaries. For me, and who I was, it made the most sense for me to go to DDT.
So, I’ll tell you the story of how I started in Union, this was quite funny. I showed up in Japan as Ladybeard, and everything; and I tried to hustle up some work as Ladybeard, both as a wrestler and with my music stuff. So, DDT held this free outdoor event. This was in October of 2013. No, 2014, I’m sorry, 2014, and it was a free outdoor event, and I went to that, just as a punter (audience member), and they have this wrestler named Danshoku Dino. Do you know who he is?
GB: Oh, absolutely, I know who he is (starts laughing)
LB: (Chuckling)Yeah, so, the offensively stereotypical gay gimmick, right? And so, when Dino’s on his way to the ring, he kisses men in the audience, right? So, me and my buddy are standing against a wall in the back of the fan base, and Dino makes his entrance, and he’s kissing men. And he sees me, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a foreigner or because he just likes to look at me, but he made a beeline for me and grabbed me and kissed me, right? And so…
GB: (Laughing, because I have seen him do that during his entrance before)
“…with all the different stuff that I do, I work every day on something. But, it’s just a matter of, you know, we’ve got our various stuff that we do.”
LB: (continues, chuckling)… And so, of course when most of the fans, when Dino kisses them, they don’t know what to do and just flip. But, because I’m a wrestler, I did this huge sell, and I’m like “Oh my God, I’ve just been kissed by Dino!”, and all this kind of stuff, right? So then, he goes to the ring and he does his match, and it’s so hilarious. After the show, I was looking for people I could kind of hustle to and whatnot, we sort of failed in that department, me and my buddy.
Okay, so, we’re walking back to the train, and uh, the DDT referee walks past me, and of course, I recognize him from the ring, and he recognized me too. He walks past me on the escalator and said: “Hey, that was a great sell you did“, and I’m like “Yeah, I’m a wrestler, let me give you my demo“, so I gave him my DVD, which is awesome. So, things kinda went from there. At the same time, I also got help from Kenny Omega. That’s when Kenny was still in DDT and Kenny is like; Kenny is one of the most pleasant people in pro wrestling. Kenny is absolutely fantastic, I’d have all the time in the world for that man.
Speaking of Kenny Omega…
GB: It seems like it, because honestly, I’ve heard no real bad things about him from anyone, and I have friends who work in the business, and those who have shared locker rooms with him have said nothing but good things about him. So, I believe it when you say that.
LB: He’s absolutely lovely, so, he helped me out, as well, too; because I cold emailed him on Facebook, and sent him my videos and stuff. And he said, “I think your gimmick is something our fans can really get behind, let me talk to people at the office for you” and stuff like that. Kenny was absolutely lovely, so, it was a combination of that referee, Dino kissing experience, and the push from Kenny that got me the meeting with DDT and eventually got me into Union.
GB: That’s fantastic, honesty.
LB: Yeah, good times.
GB: So, how does your schedule usually look? I know you have your music career and you also have your wrestling career, so, how do you split up the time?
LB: Um, well it tends to be a case of just “whatever I’m doing today is the thing I’m doing today“. I don’t wrestle full-time for that reason. For the past three years, it’s been one match a month for my career in Japan; sometimes two or three, but, by no means, working every day as a wrestler. But, with all the different stuff that I do, I work every day on something. But, it’s just a matter of, you know, we’ve our various stuff that we do. Because, I do my music career, but I also do TV in Japan; like, I have a couple of weekly TV shows that I host.
GB: Ahhh, alright, alright
LB: Yeah, and then, I do stuff all over the world, as well. Like, I perform at conventions all over the world, so it’s like “whatever one books to do that day, is what I’m doing today” and um, just take it as it comes.
GB: Any plans on hitting New York Comic Con this year? Because I’m planning on going (finally).
LB: Ohh, dope, I would love to, I was actually at New York Comic Con in 2015, it was freaking crazy.
GB: It’s crazy because it always lands on my birthday, or around my birthday. It’s the greatest thing and the worst thing, because when I have the money to go to Comic-Con, it always lands on my birthday, either on the week of or the weekend of, and [typically] I’m stuck at work. So, this year, with the way my schedule is set up now, I’m planning on going.
LB: Great, good man!
GB: So, I’m definitely going.
LB: Enjoy, it’s a good time, I’d like to go back. Lemme see what we can organize for next year, WAIT, this year, it’s 2019.
Talking LadyBaby and Deadlift Lolita…
GB: (Chuckling) Yeah, so, you said it’s whatever happens at that particular time is that’s what you focus on, whether it’s the wrestling training, or whether it’s the music or working on the TV career. I know you were part of two bands out there in Japan. First, there was LadyBaby, and now, there’s Deadlift Lolita. How did the concept of LadyBaby come to be?
LB: Due to my solo activities, I was on the cover of a magazine in Japan at the end of 2014; And so, the CEO of a costume manufacturing company saw that magazine and said “Who the hell is that?! I wanna work with that guy!” So, he called us into the office and he said “I want to work with you“, and that was the extent of it.
There was no specific plan, it was just “I think you’re awesome and I want to work with you.” At the time, I thought he wanted to make a costume line of my bikinis or something like that. So, I’m like “alright, great” and he’s like “yeah, I’ll be in touch“. And like, a month later, he calls me and my manager back into the office and says “I’m going to put you in a pop group with these two little girls.” And I was like “alright, well, that was unexpected.”
LB: So then, that happened, and then I got unceremoniously discharged from that group and um; so then we found Reika (Saiki) and we went ahead and we formed Deadlift Lolita, and that’s where we’re at now.
How I found out about Ladybeard…
GB: That’s awesome, and it’s funny because one of my best friends; he was the reason I found out about you, and about LadyBaby. Because, we listen to all types of music, and we happen to have a lot of the same likes, oddly enough; and he was the one who introduced me to you, to your music and your wrestling. And, it’s funny, because here it is, years later, and I’m introducing him to Deadlift Lolita. So, it was like a trade-off, kind of like, here’s this awesome dude; with these two awesome bands, and we basically traded off.
LB: Thank you, man, I appreciate that.
GB: As someone who appreciates your music, I thank you.
On working on new projects…
LB: I’m grateful. Oh, while we’re here talking about my wrestling activities in Japan, I also want to tell you about this thing I’m now involved in, I’m now involved with this show in Japan called Makai, which is the most insane thing that anyone has ever seen. Tell you what, this is the future of Japanese contest, this thing. So Makai is this live wrestling theatre, live metal crossover show.
In which all the wrestlers, like, so it’s theatre, right? So there are characters and whatnot, and there’s a storyline; and so, all of the wrestlers are playing characters, we’re not doing our usual gimmicks. And, the basic storyline is there’s an alternate universe, called “the Makai realm“; in which the ghosts of dead samurai battle demons to maintain the balance of good and evil on Earth. It’s freaking insane, it’s like an anime come to life; we take the ropes off the ring and we all have weapons.
And people fight with magic and all types of crazy stuff. This show is so cool, it’s hard to describe to people, you sort of have to see it; but, this is kind of the thing regarding wrestling in Japan that I want to push from here on out. It’s so awesome, it’s so cool, so I’m trying to find a way to film it effectively to show it overseas.
Right now, we do the live show once a month in Japan, and it’s brutal, but we really; to me, I think it’s something western wrestling fans, and also western anime fans will just love. So, if we could find a way to film it properly and distribute it properly, that thing’s going to be huge. Mark my words, Ladybeard said it here first, you’re getting an exclusive here, my friend.
You heard it here!!
GB: Absolutely, and I, well, yeah, you heard it (read it, since the video will be uploaded later on) here on TSJ101Sports.com! So, with Reika, is it strictly just a music career, or have you two worked each other in the ring? Teamed up in the ring?
LB: Yeah, we work together in the ring, as well. So, uh, yeah, we tag up together. And the other thing that happens is we will be doing our music shows and constantly; unfavorable characters will take issue with us, and so they’ll come up on stage, and in the middle of our music show, they’ll decide to attack us in the middle of our show. And we’ll end up spilling off stage and ending up in a huge fight through the audience. We end up knocking them out or choking them out, and throwing them off the stage. Then, we go back to singing, so, that happens quite frequently. There’s some videos of that if that would interest you.
GB: Yeah (laughs), it would, I’m the type that if it involves wrestling, I have to see it.
About that one time in Spain…
LB: We had an experience in Spain at the start of last year, when we were attacked by an unfavorable character on stage and I went to moonsault him off the stage and basically; I botched it, smashed my head on the edge of the stage. Got cut open and bled everywhere.
GB: Ouch, what??
LB: Got taken to a Spanish hospital, which was hilarious. Because I got wheelchaired in, still in my dress, with my pigtails pinned behind my head, blood all over my face, make-up everywhere. There’s like, a waiting room full of Spanish grandmothers, staring at me in horror.
GB: Oh my god, I could imagine, trust me, I come from a Spanish household. so, I know (laughs)
LB: Really? That’s awesome!
GB: I’m Puerto Rican, so…
LB: Ahh, great, that’s awesome!
GB: So, I already know they’re saying their prayers, like “Santo…” (laughs, while doing to holy trinity gesture)
(Side note: Well, Santo was a great wrestler, who wouldn’t pray to him? Hehe)
LB: Ahhh, yeah, it was a good time. So, you speak Spanish, as well, that’s great!
GB: Well, I’m relearning, it’s a personal thing; something happened during my childhood, caused me to not speak it anymore, but, I made a promise to myself before my last birthday. Go back to PR, and learn my entire family history.
LB: Man, that’s excellent, I commend you on that, that’s a beautiful thing.
(This part of the conversation, as well as other parts that were left out, you will be able to hear on the video version of the interview, which will be uploaded later on. Stay tuned, follow us on Twitter for updates.)
GB: You’re a wrestler, a music artist, and I read somewhere that you’re also into stunt work?
LB: Before I was a wrestler, I was a stunt man, so, that’s what I was doing in Hong Kong.
GB: Oooh, okay.
LB: Yeah, I was working as a stunt man, and a voice actor in Hong Kong, at the time the Ladybeard inception happened. That’s when I discovered wrestling and whatnot.
GB: Any notable films that we can look out for?
LB: (Chuckles) Uh, yeah, there’s a few, but there’s one that you can find easily, because, of course, they have Chinese names, right? But, the one you can find easily is called “The Fortune Buddies“…
GB: “The Fortune Buddies“?
LB: “The Fortune Buddies“, I think that whole thing is on YouTube, so, put The Fortune Buddies on YouTube; and, this is why it’s convenient to find me. At exactly 30 minutes, I appear.
GB: (Chuckles) Okay!
LB: Yeah, exactly 30 minutes into the film, I appear, and also, it’s a pro wrestling movie, so, you can enjoy it all to yourself.
LB: Yeah, but, it’s a different me, at the time, I didn’t really understand bodybuilding properly; I was doing my first ever bulk, so, in that film, I’m just a huge fatty. I don’t have a beard, it’s ridiculous, it’s kind of my shameful origins.
GB: Oh my goodness, um, are there any other promotions you wish to work for in the future?
LB: I mean, if the E (WWE) comes knocking, I’ll listen to what they have to say. If the E says hi, I’ll listen. Um, at the moment, I’m really keen on Makai and I really wanna push Makai internationally, as much as I can. So, the more attention I can get for them, the happier I’ll be. What do you think of Impact right now?
They got John Morrison now, I like a lot of the workers they have at Impact.
While I am interested in Impact, but, I want to push Makai to the rest of the world.
GB: Do you have any plans on working out here in the US, other than Impact, or the WWE? Have you worked out here in the US?
LB: Well, I’ve done several anime shows, several anime conventions and like I said, there’s always a wrestling spot in the middle of my shows. And my own show, and by the way a week from now (which would be Saturday, January 12th, and Sunday, January 13th), Edmonton, Canada, Ladybeard at ANIMINI. So, I’ve been on stage several times in the US, but I haven’t done an actual wrestling show in the US. I would love to, to be honest, it’s kind of the American’s style is much more what I feel I understand, as opposed to the Japanese style. So, I mean, I would love to go over to the US, and work.
Talking Cali and Chikara…
GB: I think you’d enjoy the Cali scene, the northeast scene, and Cali, but the Cali scene is where it’s really happening.
LB: Yeah, Florida, that’s interesting, what promotions are out there?
GB: Well, there’s NXT, Impact used to be out there, and there are a few good promotions out there.
LB: Of course, I forgot that NXT was out there, because of the performance center. I’d like to get to California, I’d really like to get to Lucha Underground; like, I really like their product. I think it’s excellent. Is Chikara Pro still running?
GB: I believe so, in fact, yes, they are. (Brain-farted, of course they’re still running, they haven’t stopped) I haven’t heard anything recently (due to the rigorous schedule I have, I’m lucky to hear about promotions when I do), they host Pro Wrestling Day out here.
LB: Great, I would love to, Chikara is a great company, they do some hilarious stuff. I’d love to work with them. Any promotors or feds in the US interested in Ladybeard, Ladybeard@Ladybeard.com, send me an email. We’ll figure it out.
GB: Yeah (laughs)
LB: Good times.
It was a fun conversation to have, one that was full of plenty of laughs and good stories. You’ll be able to hear the full audio in the coming weeks on our exclusive YouTube channel. To follow Ladybeard, you can head to his website Ladybeard.com, follow him on Twitter at @Ladybeard_Japan, as well as follow his YouTube channel Ladybeard Official Channel JP.
I thank you for reading this interview and hope you enjoyed the read. Stay tuned to TSJ101Sports, as we have many more awesome things coming in the new year. This has been Gregory Black, and I wish you a good day, week, and year.
Main photo by Brian MacDuckston, via Flickr