When people ask me which character I enjoyed writing for the most, the answer without even thinking is Dustin Rhodes as Goldust.
Wanting me to both write for and produce Goldust, Vince McMahon called me into his office to give me his vision of the character. When Vince first laid out the Goldust character to me, he really didn’t have much.
He said he wanted him to be “old Hollywood” and he had down the move where Goldust slid his hands from his waste to over his chest, took a DEEP breath in and said, “Goldust”. Man, you had to see Vince do that—it’s exactly as you are imagining right now.
To a writer or a producer, that really wasn’t much. Vince never had an actual explanation of who Goldust was, so that was something that I was just going to allow to happen organically.
At that time I certainly knew that Goldust wasn’t gay—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but I could also see that he was—yes—creepy, and also a great actor—which Dustin was. He HAD TO BE to play this part.
One of the first things I did was get a number of books with nothing but old movies lines in them. I would have Goldust recite the lines, followed by the movie and the year. So, this was the “old Hollywood” part.
Then, I combined his creepiness with his acting skills and fed him lines that could be taken as sexual innuendo. Without even planning on it, I can now clearly see that this character was playing off the homophobia of OTHERS.
Man, it was only a matter of time that Goldust got over HUGE. There was just never another character like him, perhaps even in the history of the business. Now, while I wrote all of his dialogue and produced him, I was only a very small part of the success of Goldust. The MAIN SUCCESS lied in the performer himself, Dustin.
Bro—Dustin was INCREDIBLE in this role. I swear to you, when he put on that make-up, slipped on the gold robe and platinum blonde wig, he transformed into Goldust. He became a whole other person.
With the literally hundreds of performers I worked with over the years—no one ever became their character like Dustin did.
Man, this was a great time for both of us. Dustin and “Goldust” were gaining so much momentum that he was even invited on the Conan O’Brien Show.
As a writer and producer, this was such a highlight of my career because Conan’s writer/producer actually let me write the entire segment between Conan and Dustin, which was an experience that I will always hold close to me.
Unfortunately, as they say—“All good things must come to an end”.
In writing this character, Goldust was indeed very “DEEP”. He was cerebral. It was ALL a mind game. Where I knew this character inside and out—every word he’d say, every thought, every action, every movement—to others all that went over their heads.
The company started getting complaints about the character from viewers, advertisers, even the network, believing WHOLE-HEARTEDLY that Goldust was indeed a “gay” character.
It was a different time back then, and the portrayal of a “gay”, “flamboyant”, wrestling character was not going to fly. So without warning—Vince pulled the plug on the character… literally KILLED IT. Man, I felt so bad for Dustin—the time he had put into perfecting this masterpiece—now all for nothing.
So where do you go from here? Believe it or not—and NO I couldn’t even make this up—in a moment of being absolutely lost, Dustin called me one day and offered to get BREAST IMPLANTS as a SHOOT if that would help the “watered down” version of Goldust.
At that point I realized that he wasn’t thinking straight, having his meal ticket taken, and ripped to shreds right in front of his face.
If I knew ANYTHING, I knew that the character had to at least stay BIZARRE. That’s when I came up with, “The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust.”
Man, I hated this and I knew Dustin did too. But, where else could we go? The original was SO OVER that he was irreplaceable. So, we gave it our best and our best didn’t work.
Goldust as “Baby New Year” was just one of many roles that the AFKAG would play over the rest of his existence, on this occasion just taking advantage of and utilizing the New Year. But hey, man, was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin kicking a grown man’s ass in a diaper really that bad? I say NO. As a matter of fact… it was quite entertaining.
So—NO, RD—I’m NOT giving you this one!!
Vince Russo is a wrestling booker, writer, and pundit best known for his work with WWE, WCW, and TNA. You can check out his podcasting network at RussosBrand.com or ChannelAttitude.com and are encouraged to support his Patreon.