Elaine Walker in an interview with Mitch.
Anthony (Mitch) Mitchell is a big man in the fannish community (with time spent in the wrestling community also) I recently sent him some questions about his more interesting fannish activities.
Elaine: Why did you decide to do the first of the Mitch? anthologies?
Mitch: The idea for the first of the Mitch? anthologies started at AussieCon in 1999. I was sitting in a rather dull book launch, also it was the last of a few launches I had been to at the convention and some of those had been friends or acquaintances. I was joking that all my friends have had book launches, I want a book launch too (think Veruca Salt)
My friends all reminded me that I needed a book to have a book launch and that I would need to write one. This didn’t sit well with me and I thought real hard about how I could have a book launch and not have to write a book. After many discussions and drinks with friends we stumbled on the idea of an anthology book that other people could write and I could put my name on the cover, then I could have my book launch. Huzzah!
I had an idea for the format as I had bought the Cathy Cupitt produced The Rhizome Factor and that seemed doable and at a reasonable cost. I wanted short stories, originally I wanted 1 page stories, but the submissions didn’t happen that way but I didn’t care in the end, I was amazed that I got any at all.
Elaine: Why three Mitch? anthologies?
Mitch: There are actually 4 anthologies, I released the 4th volume in 2005.
No real reason for 4, I wasn’t planning on doing a 2nd volume, it was meant to be a joke, all I wanted was the book launch, the book was not that important but the quality of work and the people who submitted was so much better than a joke and it turned out to be a half decent product.
The launch was a success, everyone involved seemed to like it and seemed to enjoy the process so there was drunken discussions held over the next few days and it was decided with support from the contributors that we were going to do it again.
We did 3 volumes in a row and it was fun but the momentum was waning, there was plenty of new and good product out there and the financial burden had started to take its toll. It was fun while it lasted but it had run its course…until an off the cuff comment on an email list I am on a few years later prompted people saying that that sounded like a title to a new Mitch? collection. With not much prodding at all really, we did it again. It was fun to do but it wasn’t the success the previous volumes had been. It was a nice way to go but and 4 anthologies is a pretty good effort I think.
Elaine: Why did you want to be Fan Guest at SwanCon 2000?
Mitch: Why not?
Also, like the wanting a book launch because all my friends are having book launches, likewise, all my friends were or had been guests at SwanCon and I was feeling left out so jokingly while flirting with the SwanCon 2000 chair in 1998 I mentioned that all my friends have been guests and I haven’t, maybe she could do something about it… Shockingly, she did, and I wasn’t fan guest either, that was Ian Nichols that year, they invented a position for me and that was Gratuitous interstate fan guest which I have the honour of being the only one in SwanCon history, so like the book launch it was all a bit of a joke and not to be taken too seriously.
Elaine: Tell us about wrestling….
Mitch: What do you want to know?
I was a fan of wrestling in the mid 80s as a kid and grew out of it as most people do, then in the early to mid 90s thanks to a friend of mine was re-introduced to the current wrestling scene. It seemed so much better than what I grew up on and I became a bit of an addict, mainlining years of wrestling in a few short months thanks to the many local video libraries I had to join to complete my viewing experience.
After a while I discovered the local Melbourne wrestling scene which I loved going to, it was pure panto with good guys and bad guys and most importantly, they sold booze there which made the nights so much better. After attending the shows for a while I got to know some of the wrestlers and I suggested to them that I might be interested to maybe learning how to wrestle. They gave me their support and led me to the tutelage of one George ‘the hit-man’ Julio who had a gym and training ring in a shed in his back yard.
I trained with George for over a year before I ever set foot in a ring in front of an audience which was in fact a royal rumble in a street festival in Fairfield in front of a chicken shop. For a first match I did OK but discovered that I definitely didn’t quite have the fitness yet to do it properly. Even after a year, all the training really couldn’t prepare you for the real thing.
I went on to wrestle for a further 4-5 years on and off in various capacities in more rumbles, singles and tag matches, I was even a bodyguard for awhile, all as both a good guy and a bad guy.
As time was going on, I wasn’t getting any younger, the scene was in a bit of a lull and there were plenty of younger, better guys coming through the ranks so I thought I had done all I could with wrestling and managed to work through relatively injury free and that it might be a good time to bow, happy and uninjured.
To be continued…