Here Lies Wally George

The story of the father of combat TV as told by female wrestlers, punk rockers and a furniture-throwing pacifist

George Kuc, Hot Seat regular and founder of Wally George Alumni group: Wally was kind of mellow at first. This was before his audience chanted, "Wally! Wally!" The audience actually used to clap for his guests instead of boo and hiss. Wally became more well-known, and he developed a combative personality with his guests, and he became more in touch with his audience.

Hot Seat changed forever when George invited Bonpane as a guest.

Bonpane: He called me—this had to be 1983—and asked if I could come on his program. It was right during Reagan's war in Grenada. In a phone conversation, he seemed just delightful. I was in the background listening to his interviewee just before me, a Mexican-American attorney, and Wally was just insulting him with racial slurs and so on, and I was quite irritated just hearing him operate. When it was my turn, I went to the interview, and he had a large group of young people in the audience, and just as he was getting started, I turned toward the audience and I said, "I hope you won't go and die as the enemy in a place like Grenada where you're not wanted."

Photo from the restaurant review that made Wally cry
Tenaya Hills
Photo from the restaurant review that made Wally cry

He got a little upset when I made that comment. He came over and assaulted me and battered me. He attacked me from behind. It was a little difficult for a long-standing boxer to not respond, but I thought that would be a terrible thing to do, so I looked at his desk, and I saw there was no one near it and that no one would be harmed, so I just flipped the desk over and walked out.

I came home and told my wife and two children how surprised I was, and within moments, we saw it on ABC, CBS, NBC—it was all over the country. I think that particular episode has been played 1,000 times across the country. I still see it. It's amazing how it made an impact on TV.

There was no staging, however. After the security men ushered me to my car, I went home, and the following morning, Wally called and said, "Blase, we have a terrific thing going here. We can do this all over the country." I said, "Wally, you're a charlatan, and there will be no further interviews, thank you."

After that, Hot Seat became a smash. George began booking provocative guests from pop culture.

The Poorman: I was terrified to go on [Hot Seat] because I saw the way his all-male audience just ate up the guests. I just thought, "Oh, my god, I'm going to get killed on this thing." . . . I knew there was one thing that could [appease] all those guys, and that would be to come out with hot girls in bikinis. That was my whole idea for making myself able to survive being on Wally's show.

Blade: The secretary at Channel 56 asked, "Would you like to be on Wally George's show?" and I said, "Isn't that that lunatic in Orange County?" and she said, "Yep, that's him." So I wiggled my rabbit ears to try to bring in Channel 56, and I watched the show, and I thought, "I could do this." My first memory was, "God, this guy's a lunatic"—and I don't mean to be mean, but [he was] not very intelligent. The person I was with at the time said, "Oh, my god, I can't believe you're going on that [show]," and I said, "Why are you worried? It's going to be fine." She thought I was going to get the shit kicked out of me.

Urungus: I had been hearing rumors about him. It was right as GWAR was starting to break out. We heard he was a potential adversary of GWAR, and we were even thinking about kidnapping him from his show and sacrificing him nightly on our tour.

Holland: We were fans of the show. . . . We saw the Hags on [Hot Seat], and he was great. [Front man Mark Dead] was kind of friends of ours, so we sent Wally George a record, and he called us right away and had us down. . . . A lot of guys would go on the show and make an ass of themselves, but really, for bands, we didn't have to talk too much, and I think he made us look cooler.

Kuc: The Offspring had one of the shortest segments in the history of Hot Seat.

Holland: I was getting ready to say something, but it didn't work out. I think we got just a couple of words in, but he knew how to interact with his audience and get the right reaction. It took a really long time to break [our] record [in pieces]. It wasn't wanting to break for him.

Blade: He'd say, "We've got that layabout, useless person Richard Blade coming out. He is just an abominable DJ and terrible influence to the young people. You advocate pot use with your songs that you play there . . . and all the sex use," and I'd say, "Like what?" He'd say, "Oh, you know the ones, like 'Johnny Are You Queer?' and songs like that, and it's disgusting!" I'd say, "Well, what kinds of songs do you like, Wally?" "Well, I like the '60s stuff," and I'd say, "Like what? Those psychedelic, acid-dropping Beatles?"

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