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The Godfather of Grappling

By Gene LeBell w/ Bob Calhoun

Hardcover: 295 pages
Publisher: Gene LeBell Enterprises (Jan. 17, 2005)

ISBN-10: 0967654351

The autobiography of martial arts master, pro wrestler and legendary Hollywood stunt man Gene LeBell. “Judo” Gene taught Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris how to break arms, fought in the first pro MMA match back in 1963 and even wrestled bears. Click here for more info


Public House

Edited by Alan Black & Luke James
Paperback: 174 pages
Publisher: Public House Press; Pap/Com edition (Nov. 2004)

ISBN-10: 0976118505

This anthology is a collection of authors who have done readings at San Francisco’s Edinburgh Castle pub over the years. Featuring a short story by Calhoun as well as works by Irvine Welsh, Mary Roach, Anthony Swofford, Po Bronson, Alan Black, and Jack Boulware.


The California Budget Crisis Guide to Arnold-Free Action Flicks
Open Salon Editor's Pick, July 17, 2009

Schwarzenegger Hears the Lamentation of my Salary
Open Salon Editor's Pick, July 14, 2009

Pro Wrestling's Grim Anniversary
Open Salon Editor's Pick, June 24, 2009

Kwai Chang Caine, RIP
Open Salon Editor's Pick, June 4, 2009

A Former Small-time Grappler’s view of “The Wrestler”
Open Salon Editor's Pick, Jan. 6, 2009

That florist sure has a familiar face
It's no wonder — he's acted in films and TV shows for decades.
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 30, 2006

Glenn Hughes: The Soul of Hard Rock
Bass Player, March, 2005

He can play honky-tonk just like anything
Dire Straits founder David Knopfler talks about his DIY solo career, Bush and Clear Channel's deals with the devil and why he hates "Sultans of Swing."
Salon.com, Nov 10, 2003

Ensign Crusher vs. the video-game Borg
Former "Star Trek" star Wil Wheaton was the main attraction on G4, the fast-rising video-game TV network. Until he quit, embroiling the network in a 21st century "Quiz Show" scandal.
Salon.com, May 8, 2003

Family viewing
Bob Crane's son Scotty is proud of his dad's reputation as a video horndog — in fact, he retails Pop's home porn on the Web. But
Paul Schrader's "Auto Focus," he insists, gets
it all wrong.

Salon.com, Oct 21, 2002

"Hardware Wars": The movie, the legend, the household appliances
An obscure Bay Area filmmaker launched an empire in 1977. No, not that one. Fluke Starbucker, Oggie Ben Doggie, Ham Salad and Princess Anne-Droid are back in a "special edition" of the original Lucas spoof.
Salon.com, May 21, 2002

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If you are an effete literary creationist, then I suggest that you read Bob Calhoun. His writing is the Big Bang! A storyteller who takes you on trips to the edge of the craziest universe. Like riding a comet. Buy this book now!Alan Black, Author of “Kick The Balls: An Offensive Suburban Oddessey”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been scribbling stories on whatever piece of paper I could lay my hands on. Before I could spell or read even, my tales were composed of a hieroglyph of my own devising, gleaned from the pages of the superhero comics that I begged my dad to buy me from the spinner rack at our local grocery store. My sagas were filled with gods, heroes, monsters, spacemen, mad scientists, cosmic swashbucklers and sharks. Yes, sharks — during that short gap of time between the release of “Jaws” and “Star Wars,” sharks were everywhere.

When I was old enough to read, I realized that Stan Lee and Forrest J. Ackerman had the coolest jobs of all time. Stan in the Marvel Comics (that always bore the “Stan Lee Presents” header on the first page) and Forry in “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine put their puns and personality on almost every page of their pulpy publications. As editors and publishers, they were the captains of twin empires of imagination, whose products were easily purchased at 7-11s along with Pop Rocks and Lick ‘M Aid. Because of them, I knew I had to be a writer.

In high school, some pals and I slapped together a Xeroxed ‘zine called “Obscuria,” which we ineptly tried to sell at punk rock shows. We covered the local Black Flag and Dead Kennedys shows but also wrote articles about strange television personalities such Doctor Gene Scott (a crazed UHF preacher who beat on mechanical monkeys with a stick) and conservative firebrand Wally George. All of that, when combined with our regular reports of poorly attended AWA pro wrestling cards at the Cow Palace, made for an odd mishmash to be sure.

But a detour happened on my way to being a writer. I became one of the gods, heroes or monsters (take your pick) that I’d previously created as a kid sitting cross-legged on my living room floor. In my mid-twenties, I started a band called Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society, where I played the part of a kung-fu comic book hustler. I later took that character into Incredibly Strange Wrestling, San Francisco’s punk rock/lucha libre spectacle. Instead of merely putting my passion plays down on paper, I programmed them in front of drunken audiences who pelted me with corn tortillas for my trouble. With ISW, I wrestled in the Fillmore and toured the US and Europe. But during the Bush years, my time in the subversive circus came to an end. It was back to being a writer.

Starting around 2001, I sold stories to Salon.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, “Filmfax” and whatever other magazine would take a pitch from me. I wrote about strange celebrity deaths (Bob Crane and George Reeves), the Zodiac Killer, martial arts masters, a short film spoof of “Star Wars” filmed in Pacifica in the 1970s and the flower guy by Union Square who had acted in movies since the 1950s. I interviewed rock gods like Lemmy, Ian Hill from Judas Priest, Roger Glover from Deep Purple and (still a relative demigod) Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. My choice of subject matter didn’t really change all that much from my high school punk zine days.

In 2003, I co-authored the autobiography of master grappler and Hollywood Stunt legend “Judo” Gene LeBell titled “The Godfather of Grappling.” Writing Gene’s story was a trial by fire that taught me how to put a book together. After that, I decided to turn my pen on myself and wrote my punk rock wrestling memoir, “Beer, Blood and Cornmeal,” which is at the printers even as I write this.

Right now I’m preparing to plug my new book while figuring out what the next project will be. There’s a point, however, where reason will go out the window during the latter process. Some crazy concept will take a hold of me and compel me to compose it before I’m even aware of what it really is. It always seems to shake out that way but I never stray too far from that kid struggling to scribble sci-fi comics with a #2 lead pencil and a piece of binder paper.

--Bob Calhoun
Daly City, California
March 4, 2008