Tom Cole paints an ugly picture of life in the World Wrestling Federation during the late Eighties and early Nineties.
As a minor, Cole said he was brought into the business by Mel Phillips, who targeted young boys from broken homes to work on the WWF's ring crew.
In an interview with Paul MacArthur, Cole talks for the first time in candid detail about his experiences with Phillips, Pat Patterson, Vince McMahon and Terry Garvin.
Cole tells how he became an overnight media sensation with his explosive story of sexual harassment of young boys by company officials.
It is a story that is equally disturbing and compelling and shows the dark underbelly of this business.
In this excerpt Cole explains how he became involved with the WWF and discusses the unusual behavior of Mel Phillips.
Copyright Notice: This interview is Copyright © 1999-2006 Wrestling Perspective and may not be quoted, reprinted or distributed without written permission from Wrestling Perspective publishers Paul MacArthur and David Skolnick.
Wrestling Perspective: Let's talk about your own experience with the WWF. How did you get involved with them at first?
Tom Cole: I got involved with them when I was 11 or 12 years old. I used to help clean up at a weightlifting gym and they had free tickets to a show and they gave them to me. It was a high school in Yonkers. That's where I met Mel Phillips. He was a ring announcer and head of the ring crew for the WWF at the time. He asked me if I would ever go to the County Center in White Plains, New York. I said, "No, I've never been there because I'm too young." He said, "Well, next month I'll come pick you up at your house. If you get your parents' permission, I'll take you to the show there." So he called the house and got my mother's permission and I went to the show and that's pretty much how it started.
Wrestling Perspective: At what point did you actually start working for them?
Tom Cole: I started working for them pretty much right away helping with the ring at local shows and getting paid $20, $30, especially at the Westchester County Center. I would sell programs for Arnold Skaaland's wife and I would help set up the ring and help take down the ring at night. That's how it pretty much started there. Then I'd go to Madison Square Garden and go for coffee and stuff for the wrestlers backstage. I never helped set up the ring there because it was a union building, but I did start taking jackets when I was 14. They had a guy there named Elliott, who worked for them for years at Madison Square Garden. They used to call him The Professor. I remember it was close to New Year's about 15 years ago I guess, Elliott showed up at Madison Square Garden and he was drunk and Vince McMahon said, "You've got to get someone out there to do the jackets." I used to always bring a suit jacket with me because I was waiting for my big break even when I was a kid. Vince McMahon looked at me and said, "You got a suit jacket or something you can wear?" I said, "Yeah." They sent me out to ringside to do jackets and that's how I started to do jackets every month at Madison Square Garden.
Wrestling Perspective: Time frame, when did you start out?
Tom Cole: I'd say about 1985. I can't be absolutely clear on years because it was so long ago.
Wrestling Perspective: You started working with them on the side.
Tom Cole: Local and New York area, but I started going on the road that summer; the summer of 1985. Mel would pick me up and other boys. This was when they used to run Nassau Coliseum usually on a Friday night and Baltimore on a Saturday and then Sunday would usually be an afternoon show at the Washington Capital Center. So it was Long Island to the Baltimore Arena to the Washington Capital Center. That's how it started with the weekend stint. Or it would be Madison Square Garden, then Philadelphia and then Boston. That's how they would run their shows a lot of times on the weekends when I'd be able to go.
Wrestling Perspective: Mel Phillips was usually the guy driving you around.
Tom Cole: Always or we'd fly. Sometimes there'd be Philly in the afternoon and you'd fly to Boston for the night show. I've done that several times when I was younger.
Wrestling Perspective: You were a teenager at the time.
Tom Cole: Yes.
Wrestling Perspective: There were several other teenagers at the time.
Tom Cole: Mel had a black book with names of kids from all over the country that he would call up if he would be in a specific town and he would ask these kids if they would want to go to the shows. You'd meet kids from every state. I'd go from New York to Philly and he'd have young kids waiting for him, boys, at the shows and he'd get in five, six, seven kids. They'd go to Boston and it would be the same thing and maybe one or two of those kids would come with us or they'd drive with us. It was the same motif he had with me. He'd call parents. They were always kids from broken homes. Once in a blue moon, you'd hear like a kid who came from a so-called stable environment. Mostly it was kids with a broken home with no father. Just a mother, drunk mother, alcoholic, drug addict, whatever. That's pretty much the type of kid that Mel was geared toward.
Wrestling Perspective: Did your family have any problems?
Tom Cole: My mother was an alcoholic and my father was never around. Mel was like a father-figure in a sense.
Wrestling Perspective: You fit the profile of the kid he was looking for.
Tom Cole: Absolutely.
Wrestling Perspective: Did you ever notice any suspicious behavior?
Tom Cole: When we were younger, he used to have a thing where he used to play with your feet. He would wrestle you for five seconds then he'd grab your toes and pull your shoes off and he'd start playing with your toes. Squeezing them and stuff. I was a small kid, maybe 100 pounds. I was real small when I was younger. He'd get your toes. I don't know, I didn't think anything sexual about it because he was playing with your feet. When you're a young kid, you're not thinking like...Now I look at it like, "Wow, that was a foot fetish." Several years later I realized, "There's something wrong here." I was watching a show and on the show they were talking about fetishes and some guy or woman were talking about foot fetishes. I'm thinking, "Wow, man, maybe Mel has a problem." Then I had a friend who I met through Mel, a kid named Chris, we started talking to one another about it saying how "it's really weird that Mel plays with kids' toes and stuff. That's not normal and I'm not going to let him do that no more, man. He better not try to touch my feet anymore." The next time he tried to get my feet, I started getting older. This was a couple of years after the first instances. I kicked him. You try to be like, "Na, man, I don't want to play that." That's how it stopped. He never tried anything else. I guess he knew. When you started getting older, he started calling less. Once that happened, he started calling less, but I still went to the shows at the Garden. I'd just show up. But he was like trying to get rid of you. He liked the younger kids who couldn't give him a problem about it or didn't realize that there was something wrong with it.
That's just a small excerpt of this explosive interview.
In Issue #78, Cole details the sexual advances Terry Garvin made towards him, his lawsuit, and explains why he returned to the WWF.
It is compelling read that will likely outrage you.
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