Milwaukee Talks: Professional wrestler and model Candice Michelle
Depending on your pop culture perspective, you may know Milwaukee native Candice Michelle as a professional wrestler, Playboy model or the star of one-of-the-most talked about Super Bowl commercials in history.
Candice Michelle Beckman Ehrlich, who grew in Greendale, but left for Hollywood at age 18, has done a bunch of different things, but in 2005, her career really took off, thanks to a controversial Go Daddy commercial about a "wardrobe malfunction," and her subsequent debut in wrestling. In 2007, she was the WWE Woman's Champion, but her career ended in injury in in 2009.
Now a 39-year-old mother of three daughters, Michelle works with her husband, an L.A. chiropractor. She also planning on becoming a motivational speaker. But when wrestling came calling to give her a chance to fight one more match – to go out on her own terms – Michelle jumped at the opportunity. She'll wrestle on her home turf at Saturday night's House of Hardcore event in Waukesha.
We sat down with Michelle Thursday afternoon over brats – she says she misses the sausages in Milwaukee – at Vanguard. Joining us was Tommy Dreamer, a wrestler and promoter who made the easy call to entice Michelle back into the ring after almost eight years out of the business. Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee: How did you respond to Tommy's offer to wrestle again?
Candice Michelle: I just knew what he was going to say, and I knew it was the perfect timing. And it's just such a gift, really, what he's giving me. I didn't realize I had so many feelings still, because I've been grateful to have moved on after wrestling, which I feel is a really hard thing to do.
But I had a beautiful family. I've been a mom full time. It was just time for me to be me again, to find out who I was. So to have this opportunity, to be in my home town, to come back and wrestle and to face my fans, and face my fears and everything that happened …
You're crying right now. Are you ready for this?
I did training at Knox Pro Wrestling Academy, back in L.A. That first bump … woo! That sh*t hurts. You forget. And my body forgot. I trained for a month and a half there a couple times a week. I cried every time I was there. Whether it was because I was in pain or because I missed it, or because of facing those spirits.
Is this a one-time thing?
Final match, yeah.
I don't know a whole lot about wrestling after 1990 or so, but one thing I remember is that wrestling fans are incredibly passionate and have long memories. What do you think it will be like to see your fans again?
I have so many emotions for this weekend. You know, there's excitement to see people. There's fear. How you're going to be accepted, how you're going to perform.
Uh oh, you're crying again.
Tommy Dreamer: She'll cry no matter what.
Michelle: There's gratitude for being here and to be able to do this. My whole family's coming. There's so much love for the business, and respect for it. It's awesome. I'm excited to just lean into it, and give it my best.
Wrestling is far from the only thing on your resume. I assume probably most people's first exposure to you was the GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial, right? How did that happen?
They asked for an audition in L.A., and I was one of the last people to audition, via Skype. The producers were over in London, and they wanted to see me. They were like, "Here's the script, but just kind of be you. Do what you want." I kind of won them over with my personality. They called Bob Parsons of GoDaddy, the owner, and said, "Well, we just found your future ex-wife."
So I booked the job and actually, I booked WWE in the same month. I went from waitressing full-time to booking two of my biggest gigs in one month.
We rehearsed. We shot the commercial. And (GoDaddy) paid for two Super Bowl spots. It's like $5 million a spot or whatever. The first spot was this whole spoof on Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. So that happens, and the FCC got really upset and pulled the second one. By pulling it, it just created all this controversy. It's kind of the simplest thing, but I woke up the next morning, I had like 80 voicemails of people wanting to interview me. I'm like, "What did I do? I don't even know what happened here."
You didn't see that coming?
No. It's kind of one of those things like, people say, "You wait for your big break." I guess I just don't believe in your big break. I believe you work hard, and you get what you work for.
What were you doing before that?
I mean, I was doing auditioning and I had little spots on TV shows and magazines, and modeling, but waitressing paid the bills.
How old were you when you left Milwaukee?
I was 18. I worked was at a roller skater rink, Wisconsin Skate University. There was a modeling competition, and whoever won would get a contract to John Roberts Powers' modeling school. Long story short, I won that. Then I ended up deciding this is what I want to do for my life. I want to move out to L.A. I packed up my car, hugged my mom goodbye, and I drove to Hollywood.
And simultaneously, you were becoming a wrestler?
I grew up on wrestling. At that time I wasn't like, "Oh, I want to be a pro wrestler." I didn't even know you could train to do that. So it was really funny, because for me, it came full circle. I grew up watching it every Monday night with my stepdad, Ken. This is actually part of a little talk I give: I had a Hulk Hogan doll, instead of Barbie dolls.
I went to the shows. I remember high-fiving the Bushwhackers. And then I move to LA, and my agent calls me. He's like, "Hey Candice, you know, WWE's holding this first-ever Diva Search contest, and the winner will get $100,000 and a one-year contract." He's like, "Are you interested?"
It sounded a little weird to him. I'm thinking, "Heck yeah, I'm interested." I grew up watching this. I love it. I'm athletic. And it's being on TV. So it's the best of both worlds. I didn't win that contest, but then they offered me the three year contract from there.
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