Dawn Marie - Q&A
An interview by Mike Mooneyham
(conducted August 2000)
Dreams can come true. Just ask Dawnmarie Psaltis.
For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be an
entertainer, but friends and family kept telling her
she'd never do it.
"My folks wanted me to have a job, get married, have a
house with a white picket fence, a couple kids, do
what you're supposed to do."
Today Dawnmarie Psaltis is better known to millions of
wrestling fans as, simply, Dawn Marie. She's one of
the top valets in the business and
she's living her dream as an entertainer.
And what about the naysayers?
"My father's now my biggest fan," she says. "Anyone
who will listen he'll tell. Back then he thought I was
out of my mind. But everything
worked out. As long as you follow your heart, you'll
always go in the
right direction. Success isn't the amount of money you
make. If you wake up in the morning and do what you
love, that's success. I love my job. I love to
entertain regardless of the forum, whether it's in the
ring or on camera or on a stage. It doesn't matter."
The 30-year-old brown-haired beauty (she turned 30 on
Nov. 2) was a
Jersey girl who grew up watching the WWF and was a
"huge fan" of such
stars as Bob Backlund, Tony Atlas, Lou Albano and
Roddy Piper. She says
she was a mark then and admittedly is a mark now. She
simply loves the
So how did a girl who, at the age of 22 was the
director of an
international real estate firm with a posh office
overlooking St. Patrick's Cathedral, end up in a place
like, well, Extreme Championship Wrestling?
"I left all that because I really wanted to be an
says without even a tinge of regret. "It's something I
had always wanted to do, and I couldn't give it up."
The turning point, she says, came when she stumbled
upon a former
beau while working a second job.
"It's a funny story. I've been on my own since I was
17 so I always
had to support myself. I'd go to work during the day
and work at a bar at night a couple of times a week. I
ran into someone I had dated when I was around 17
years old. I remember going to a diner with him one
and asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He told me he
wanted to be a professional football player."
She didn't take him seriously.
"In the back of my head, I said, `Yeah, right, what
little boy doesn't
want to be a professional football player?' Just like
when I said I
wanted to be an entertainer, people said it would
never happen to me."
A later meeting with her friend produced a surprising
result - one
that would change her life forever.
"I ran into this guy and I hadn't seen him in years,
and asked him
what he was doing. He said he was playing professional
ball for the Chicago Bears. It changed my whole life.
Here he was, years later, doing exactly what he
wanted. He was doing what he loved to do. The only
difference was that he followed his dreams and I
didn't. It totally changed the rest of my life."
She quit her job a week later and set out to become an
family went nuts. They went crazy," she recalls.
Her career then took an unusual route. Some acting and
in New York led to a poster deal with a Florida
company that led to her
first foray into the wrestling business. She worked
with Devon Storm
(Chris Ford) now WCW's Crowbar - and Buddy Landell
in her initial ventures on the independent circuit,
and credits both with helping train and mold her
"I had these two incredibly talented men who were
willing to train me
and help me," says Dawn Marie, who worked the indies
for three years
before getting her first big break with ECW two years
ago. "I was just
very lucky that I fell into a group of people that
were very generous
and kind and willing to help me, which isn't always
the case. I was
Dawn Marie says her life - inside and outside the ring
- is great
right now. She's engaged to ECW performer Simon
Diamond (Pat Kenney) and the two are planning to get
married next year.
One of her toughest experiences in the wrestling
earlier this year when Lance Storm (Lance Evers), a
longtime friend and
ring associate, announced that he was leaving ECW for
a more lucrative
WCW contract. She says the decision to leave ECW also
difficult for Storm, and she realized that she wasn't
making it any
easier for him by begging him to stay.
Dawn Marie realizes that she, like Storm, could make
more money in one of the Big Two, but she also knows
that she's still
relatively new to the business and still in the
learning stages. She
also credits ECW boss Paul Heyman with giving her the
Dawn Marie, who has two years left on her ECW
contract, says she
realizes that she has a limited shelf life in the
She continues to work on her acting career, taking
classes during the week when she's home and looking to
direct her acting skills toward daytime or TV movies.
She says she'll never give up her fascination with
being an entertainer.
The following are excerpts from an interview Mike
Mooneyham conducted with Dawn Marie in July.
MM: How does the immediate future look in ECW, and how
look with USA?
DM: I don't care where we are. I just try to stay to
myself and mind
my own business. You can't predict anything. We might
not even wind up
there. I know I'm here for the next two years.
MM: Are you satisfied with your current position?
DM: Paul's been pretty good to me. I not making what
I'd be in WCW
with Lance or in the WWF, but it's a living. I'm not
still young in the business and have so much to learn.
MM: How did you break into the business?
DM: I used to do a lot of acting and modeling in New
York. I did this
poster deal with a poster company in Florida. I was a
fan. I watched in
the early '80s. This was in '94. I said to myself: I
can do that. That
would be great. I can create this character. I can be
like Miss Elizabeth, which shows you how totally
ignorant of the business I was. Comparing myself to
her was absolutely ridiculous. This promoter called
Cousin Luke called me. I was only kidding. He called
in a favor. I put my foot, my ankle and everything
else in my mouth this time. I went out there and
created this character. I absolutely loved it. It may
sound corny, but the moment I went through that
curtain it was the most unbelievable feeling. I just
knew. This is what I have to do.
MM: So you got involved on the indy circuit?
DW: I started looking for work on the independents. I
kind of got involved backward. I fell into it. Usually
you should be trained and have a background in
wrestling, and I didn't. I was lucky enough to meet up
with someone at that show who worked for another
independent who was looking for someone for Devon
Storm (Chris Ford). What a wonderful man. What an
incredible person - inside and outside the business. I
explained the situation to Chris. He helped me. I was
really lucky right from the beginning. Chris protected
me. He knew I wasn't there to try to find my new
husband. I loved it, but I didn't understand what I
was loving about it. I just knew I wanted to be there.
He was very patient with me, and we became really good
friends. We worked together for about four or five
months. I was really lucky in that I got to work with
tremendous talent in the business. I was so lucky. I
went from Devon Storm to Buddy Landell. I worked for
Buddy. There was a group of us who used to travel
everywhere. We used to do two or three shows a week
with this little group of people. I got huge amounts
of experience immediately. I managed Buddy Landell,
and he was just so generous with all of his knowledge.
He taught me how to act inside the locker room, how to
act outside the locker room. He was just so wonderful.
I later went to Lance Storm. He and Steve Corino used
to be tag-team partners. I managed them the last year
of my independent career. I had these two incredibly
talented men who were willing to train me and help me.
I worked for Maryland Championship Wrestling with
Corporal Punishment. I was just very lucky that I fell
into a group of people that were very generous and
kind and willing to help me, which isn't always the
case. I was blessed. I was on the indies for almost
three years. I'll be in ECW two years in August. I
still don't know what I want to do with my life when I
MM: How did you get involved with wrestling? Were you
a fan as a
DM: I was a fan in the early '80s. My father,
grandfather and uncle were huge fans of wrestling.
Being a girl I stopped watching, doing the
girlie thing. I didn't watch again until I got
involved. So I was completely blind to the business. I
was blessed because I literally fell into it by
accident. So I had to play catch-up. But I work very
hard now because I always felt it was disrespectful
because afterward I saw how many years people put into
it, and I didn't know. I just felt I had so much to
catch up to. Even now I feel I am totally a student of
the business. Even when I'm home I watch tapes and
shoot interviews because I feel I can never learn
enough to keep up. I go to the ring once a week and
train by my house. You've gotta try.
MM: What was your first exposure to the business?
DM: I grew up in New Jersey watching the WWF. I was a
huge fan of
Bob Backlund. Tony Atlas, Captain Lou (Albano) and
Roddy Piper. My
first match ever I worked with Tony Atlas and Jimmy
Snuka. I haven't
run into him since. He was very nice and very patient
with me that
night. I was so thrilled when they told me that I
would be working with him. I watched him in the early
'80s. I was so nervous. I've become great friends with
Jimmy Snuka. He was like a father to me on the
independents. He's a wonderful man. My favorite was
Piper. I want to meet him before he retires or I'm out
of the business. I totally want to meet him. We're all
marks. I'm a huge mark. That's why I'm here. But when
you stop being a fan you stop learning.
MM: Where did you attend college?
DM: I went to NYU Business School. It was a business
school that NYU
ran. I used to be a director of an international real
firm. I was 22. They took me right from school. I just
was not happy. I quit my job. They thought I was nuts.
I was right under the president of the company and had
a beautiful office overlooking St. Patrick's
Cathedral. It was gorgeous. I left because I always
wanted to be an entertainer.
MM: What was the reaction from your family when you
told them you were getting into the wrestling
DM: My family went nuts. They went crazy. They wanted
me to have a job, get married, have a house with a
white picket fence, a couple kids, do what you're
supposed to do. My father's now my biggest fan. Anyone
who will listen he'll tell. Back then he thought I was
out of my mind. But
every thing worked out. As long as you follow your
heart, you'll always go in the right direction.
Success isn't the amount of money you make. If you
wake up in the morning and do what you love, that's
success. I love my job. I love to entertain regardless
of the forum, whether it's in the ring or on camera or
on a stage. It doesn't matter.
MM: Have you and your fiancee made plans?
DM: We haven't set a date yet because things are so
chaotic. It's sort
of my fault, too, since I don't know if I want a huge
wedding or a small wedding. We live as if we're
married. Everything is together. It's as if we're
married, we just didn't formally get married. We get
along really, really well. What saves us is that we
were best of friends before. We were literally
inseparable for a good year and a half, and then we
started dating. So our relationship is exactly the
same as it was before. We just live together now. This
October will be two years (that they've been dating).
He just negotiated a contract for another couple of
years. Paul has plans for him now. He's been using him
a lot on TV every week.
MM: Ever think about working for WCW or the WWF?
DM: I'm completely happy with what I'm doing here.
It's not that I
would or wouldn't leave. When Lance left, WCW was
interested in me
also. They wanted the package. I have two more years
left on my contract here. I try to learn from other
people's mistakes rather than my own. You're only as
good as your word in this business, as well as
you're only as good as your last performance. They go
hand in hand. I have two more years here. Paul's good
to me. I have a lot to learn. I feel I need another
two years here to learn what I need to learn. Just to
have that comfort level and to completely understand
what's going on. I have a good idea. I think I'll have
more of a forum to learn here than if I went somewhere
else and just got thrown into the fire. I'm totally
confident in myself that if I were thrown into the
fire that I would do well, I but I know deep down
inside that I need to learn more and I wouldn't be 100
percent comfortable. I have to be true to my word.
I'll look at other options later.
MM: What kind of effect did Lance Storm's decision to
leave have on
DM: That was one of the hardest things I've ever had
to do in my career. My second hardest was working
recently for the first time. The second hardest thing
I've ever had to do was walk out of those curtains
with out him. I was doing a guest referee. I was
terrified to the point
where I called him on my cell phone as the music was
playing. As much as I absolutely love you, I hate you
right now. That's exactly what I said. He started
laughing. We were so close. I think that's why we had
such great chemistry, because we truly were such good
friends behind the scenes. If you saw one, you saw the
other. People who didn't know about Pat and I thought
that Lance and I were really together. When he first
started talking about leaving, I would tease him and
say, you can't leave. You're not allowed to leave. I'm
going to be wrapped around your ankle. I'm going to
drag you back. Then I realized I was putting a lot of
stress on him. But I was only joking. I only wanted
the best for him. And I saw as the weeks went by that
I was putting more stress on him because he was taking
me seriously. I pulled him to the side and said listen
Lance, whatever your decisions are, I'm your friend
first. I will support your decisions 150 percent.
Whatever you have to do I'll stand by you. Even now I
call him once or twice a week. It was very hard. I was
with him my entire professional career. So to walk out
there without him was really scary.
MM: What plans do they have for you in ECW?
DM: I would lie if I said I wasn't worried. I have no
idea. They don't know. I hope so. The more I'm off the
more nervous I get. I'm terrified. I just hope it's
someone who wants it as bad as I do. I would rather go
with someone who's brand new and no one knows about.
Even if I had to start with a fresh slate in opening
matches. I don't care. I would rather be with someone
who is hungry and wants it as just as much as I do.
MM: How about New Jack?
DM: I'm not diving off of any thing. These are old
bones, trust me. Who am I to judge. Everyone asks me
how can you walk around and do T&A all night. It's my
job. New Jack is a wonderful man. I just hope he gets
better real soon. He was one of the first few people
when I first came
here and probably the most welcoming to me. He has
always been very protective of me. He's been very good
MM: How is the atmosphere at ECW?
DM: It's a nice place. You definitely know where you
stand at all times. People can say what they want to
say about Paul. I only know how he treats me. He's
been a wonderful boss and even a better friend. Paul
just has this gift of seeing something in you and
pulling it out and giving you this confidence when you
think you can't do it. He makes you feel comfortable
that you're able to do this or that, and he also makes
you feel comfortable that if you screw up, it's OK.
That's a lot more comforting than knowing you can do
it - that knowing if you fall on your ass, he's not
going to fire you. It makes me go out there and want
to prove that he's right. I would never want to
disappoint him. He's gone way beyond the call of duty
as a friend. There was a time when I having some
personal problems and he was right there. I think if
an opportunity came from somewhere else and I really
wanted to go and felt it was something I needed to do,
I honestly think he would support it. For some people,
there's just nothing else you can do somewhere, and
you have to go some where else to rejuvenate your
MM: How did you get along with Tammy Sytch?
DM: I'm a big fan of Tammy. I really don't have
anything bad to say about Tammy. She was very good to
me when I first came here. I came in opposite Tammy.
She was very smart in high school and had a full
scholarship to go to college in Florida. She took a
ride with Chris,
her high school sweetheart, and he was going to drop
her off. But she decided to stay with him and go to
Smoky Mountain. Unless you're in the business, people
don't really understand the sacrifices you make in
your life. Tammy was very young, and she sacrificed a
lot. To make opposite against someone she had never
met and never heard of was a gift. And I can't ever
thank her enough. I don't know what's going on. You
hear a lot of things. I hear a lot of things about me
that aren't true. And I'm not saying that the things
they're saying about her are or aren't true, but I
know that as long as I worked with her, she never
allowed any personal problems to enter the ring, and
that's all that matters to me on a professional level.
It's sad when anyone ruins their lives or don't reach
their potential. But everyone has choices. We all have
the same choices in life. It's the choices you make
that make you the person you are. I have nothing bad
to say about her. She was always wonderful to me. She
was always patient with me. When I first came to ECW,
she would critique me, she would watch me, she would
follow me and she would help me. Obviously I'm going
to be a product of the people who helped me. She was a
huge influence on me in ECW. I can't fault the girl if
her problems are as bad as I've heard. I feel bad for
her. I've always offered my friendship no matter what.
I've never ever had a problem with me. She never was
caddy with me, she never was rude to me, she was
nothing but helpful to me. I've heard stories, but she
was never that way to me. I would think she would have
been that way to me being that we were rivals in the
ring. But she gave me her name, so I feel that when
she gave me her name she gave me everything she worked
for. So I can never thank her enough.
MM: How about Francine?
DM: We're kind of opposites right now, but I don't
really have a problem with anybody. I just stay to
myself and do my own thing. I just feel like you can't
expect everybody to be like you. Just accept everyone
for who they are. Everyone's not going to be like you
or thing the way you do. It's like chocolate and
vanilla ice cream. There are going to be some
personalities you like, and some you don't. But just
move on. That's what I try to do.
MM: How long do you plan on staying in the wrestling
DM: I'm very realistic, and being a woman in this
business, I don't have the amount of time the men do.
I probably have a good five years left, and then
they'll be throwing me out for the next new young
thing. It's the reality. I'm not jealous or envious,
that's just the life span of a woman in this business.
MM: Would you like to pursue a full-time acting career
at some point?
DM: Right now I'm working very hard on my acting
career. I take classes during the week when I'm home.
I'm working with an agent. I'm really trying to do
some daytime soap stuff. I would love to do daytime
soap when I'm home and wrestling on the weekend, so
when I'm through with
my wrestling career I have something to go to. I would
like to direct my acting career toward daytime or TV
movies, not trying to be a movie star or do huge
films. I definitely want to be an entertainer. If
you're an entertainer at heart, it's something you
have to do all the time. It's like an artist who needs
to paint on canvas to feel complete. I feel like an
entertainer needs to entertain in some form to feel
complete. It's something that's a part of you and you
can't change it. You're either born an entertainer or
you're not. I was born to be an entertainer and I love
to do it, and unless I'm doing it I'm not going to be
MM: What do you feel about the content of the shows?
DM: Some of it probably not, just because I know I'll
probably be a strict parent, because that's how I was
raised. I don't disagree with what's going on. I think
it's fine. This whole TV rating is a little
ridiculous. It's up to the parents to be in charge of
what their children watch.
MM: How about if you were a mother?
DM: I don't know. I'm not a mom. I don't disagree with
it because I'm doing it. I don't feel it's morally
incorrect. Everything evolves. Your regularly talk
shows went from Donahue to Rikki Lake. Is it bad? No,
but everything changes and everything evolves. You
just have to go with it. I try not to judge things or
judge people. If I were a parent, I might watch it
with them. Steve Corino brings his son around all the
time. What a wonderful little boy, and he's so smart.
Steve's a single dad. His son loves Triple H and X-Pac
and all those, but he knows not to say certain things.
He's not allowed to say it. He enjoys wrestling, so
why deprive him of that? I think that's a great
approach. It's up to the parent to teach kids
MM: What's your take on Ric Flair?
DM: No one can touch him. He's the greatest. I have
never met him. I
would love to meet him. I am the hugest fan. Pat used
to make robes
when he was younger. He idolized him. Oh my God. Both
of us. What's not
to say about him. Just listen to him talk. You can't
take your eyes off
the TV. He's such a charmer. Even if you don't watch
wrestling, you know who Ric Flair is. He just has such
a presence about him. He's the idol of everybody in
the business. He seems like a very good family man.
I've never heard anything bad about him. He is
wonderful. Just think of all the talent he's seen come
in and go out. It's amazing. You can't hold down
talent. I'm a huge Kurt Angle fan. I love Kurt Angle.
I think he's unbelievable.
MM: Which three wrestlers would you most like to meet?
DM: Ric Flair, Roddy Piper and Lou Albano.
MM: How are things at home?
DM: Pat and I really try hard to separate the
character from the real
person. When I' home, I'm Dawn. When I'm on the road,
I'm Dawn Marie.
That's why even now I still go to college. I take one
class a semester
during the week just because I love to read and I love
to learn. I like
to be somewhere where no one knows what I do and no
one cares. The kid next to me is talking to me simply
because it's Dawn sitting next to them. I really enjoy
that. I don't ever want to lose sight of who I am. Pat
and I have a better chance because we don't drink, we
don't do any drugs, we don't go out. We do a show and
come on back. Even at home we don't even drink wine
with our dinner. We're very against it. We're very
home-oriented. That's how we like to live. We're just
very simple. We live a very, very, very simple type of
life. We try to be very down-to-earth. When we're home
we don't even talk about wrestling. We have a rule:
now wrestling in the house. We don't discuss wrestling
or our job at home, unless something is upsetting us
and we need to talk about it. As much as I love it, I
don't want it to be my entire life. It consumes your
whole life because you have to go to the gym, design
your outfits, going to the ring. But when we're home,
we sit down at the table and eat dinner. We don't
drive nice cars, not because we can't, we just don't
like to. We're very simple people. I'm not into
expensive jewelry and that kind of lifestyle. I was
raised by my father, who was a zoologist. While most
little girls would go on vacation to the beach, my
father would take me to the mountains and the woods,
and we'd do hunting and camping. So I'm very earthy,
very much like a tomboy. Who would think that? I'm
very introverted in my own personal life. I'm not the
kind to have a lot of friends around me. I'm the
complete opposite of what you see in the ring. It's my
extroverted side. It's my inner demons. I lead a very
boring life. Both of us are into doing yard work.
We're building a house up in the Poconos. We're buying
this lot and building a small house in the middle of