Chyna’s autobiography is part of one of publishing’s more inexplicable trends: the sudden rush of pro-wrestling tell-all books. In the late 90s it seemed that everyone who stepped inside the WWF offices short of the pizza delivery guy was suddenly writing a book about it. The Rock published an autobiography…in 2000. Imagine that, writing your autobiography when you’re 27. It’s like if Steven Spielberg wrote his career retrospective after making Jaws in 1975.
As a general rule, wrestlers should not write tell-all books unless they’re about five years removed from the sport (and McMahon’s chequebook). Otherwise, you get weak, not-very-shocking accounts by people who promise to spill the beans and dish the dirt…but not all the beans, and not very much of the dirt. They’ve got to stay in the WWF/WWE’s good books because, hey, McMahon still might call and offer them another payday.
Chyna breaks the rule, with this book being written just one year after winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship, but it’s fairly interesting as these books go. We learn about her early life, beauty pageants, various odd jobs, how she got discovered, her quest to find breast implants that won’t rupture in the ring, and her shitty dad. If you want bitterness and bad-mouthing, there’s a lot of it here. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of a hundred bridges burning. Wrestlers are usually all too willing to sling mud at each other, just so long as they don’t insult the federation.
There’s lots of photos, and some stories contributed by Triple H and Mick Foley. Mostly the book hits all the expected spots for a sports tell-all book, and it’s (ghost)written well. This is coming from someone who’s not a super huge fan of pro wrestling. I follow it like I follow the UFC – that is, I only follow the freaks and the misfits. It’s a credit to this book that it remains accessible to someone like me, sitting in the cheap seats.
It has one big weakness, and it’s the same thing you could say about Dwayne Johnson’s book – it came too soon. Obviously there was a cash cow to milk, but what would this book have looked like if it was published 10 years later? It would cover the termination of her contract, her sex tape, her substance abuse problems, her adult entertainment career – a story or two there, no? But that’s getting a bit too sordid, and the book would end on a depressing note. It is difficult to sell a story about female empowerment when your latest industry accomplishment is a movie called Backdoor to Chyna.
But if you want to get picky, Chyna’s porn career officially started with Chyna Fitness in 2000, which has Chyna doing circuit training while the camera zooms in on her cleavage. Towards the end I became convinced that it was a porn video masquerading as a workout tape, and my view hasn’t changed since then. Seriously, if you have a market of muscle fetishists to exploit and you don’t want to look too obviously sleazy, what do you do? It’s like Japan’s “Soaplands”, where women oil you up and molest you, and the business skirts legal arbitration by claiming it’s a massage parlour.