The Six Pack: A Discussion with Author Brad Balukjian

Join us for an evening of fun and nostalgia with author Brad Balukjian as he discusses his new book, The Six Pack: On the Open Road in Search of WrestlemaniaFrom the bestselling author of The Wax Pack, comes another eye‑opening road trip adventure into a pocket of iconic pop culture—professional wrestling—starring the Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana, and many more larger‑than‑life characters of the WWF of the 1980s. 

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More About the Book: Brad’s story starts back around the first WrestleMania, when he was first pulled into the world of professional wrestling as a child of the ’80s, a six-year-old fascinated with the stars of the day, including the Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter, Tito Santana and, of course, Hulk Hogan. Somewhere between sport and theater, considered by many to be silly and lowbrow, it was for him an outlet that reflected strength and fearlessness.

In 2005, Brad Balukjian left his position as a magazine fact-checker to pursue a dream job: partner with his childhood hero, The Iron Sheik (whose real name was Khosrow Vaziri), to write his biography. Things quickly went south, culminating in the Sheik threatening Balukjian’s life. Now seventeen years later, Balukjian returns to the road in search of not only a reunion with the Sheik, but something much bigger: truth in a world built on illusion.

Balukjian seeks out six of the Sheik’s contemporaries, fellow witnesses to the World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) explosion in the mid-‘80s, to unearth their true identities. As Balukjian drives 12,525 miles around the country, we revisit the heady days when these avatars of strength, villainy, and heroism first found fame and see where their journeys took them. From working out with Tony Atlas (Tony White) to visiting Hulk Hogan’s (Terry Bollea) karaoke bar, we see where these men are now and how they have navigated the cliffs of fame.

The Six Pack combines the spirit of a fan with the rigor of an investigative reporter, tracking down former WWF employees, childhood friends, and mutually curious archivists. Wrestling is perceived as a subculture without a cultural home, somewhere between sport and theater—often dismissed as silly and low‑brow. But what makes this book so compelling is the humanity beneath each wrestler. The Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, and the rest of the cast were not characters in a comic book movie. They were real people, with families and feelings and bodies that could break. Most of them did, in fact, break; some have been repaired, but none of them will ever be the same.

More About the Author: Brad Balukjian, PhD has chosen two careers, journalist and scientist, which converge on pursuit of the truth. He has been published in Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and many others. His first book, The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife, hit #7 on the LA Times bestseller list and was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. He is a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, and he discovered 17 species of insects (green flash bugs) in Tahiti, one of which he named after Harrison Ford. He lives on the road, where he’s in an open relationship with his VCR.

 

Event date: 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
The Six Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Wrestlemania By Brad Balukjian Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780306831553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Hachette Books - April 2nd, 2024

From the bestselling author of The Wax Pack, comes another eye‑opening road trip adventure into a pocket of iconic pop culture—professional wrestling—starring the Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana, and many more larger‑than‑life characters of the WWF in the 1980s. 

"Perhaps one of the most truthful and enjoyable reads abo