School of Hard Cocks: The Johnny Cockstrong Story

From elderly women slinging pennies to adventurous 20-somethings looking to hit the jackpot, the vibrant surge of liquor and cash allures quite a motley crew to Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. Among them, on occasion, a clean-cut 32-year-old can be found sipping a Shock Top beer, orange garnish and all, in the center bar.

Despite his slender, lanky six-three, 180-pound frame, this man seamlessly meshes among those enjoying a combination of mid-afternoon boozing and NFL football, sporting Van Heusen jeans, ASICS sneakers, and a Super Mario Bros. t-shirt. He pays no mind to the game, as neither team are the New York Giants. 

Just a few weeks ago he, himself, was suiting up in a locker room. Muffled murmurs, too, bounced about like intoxicated conversation.

He sat upon a steel chair that had seen better days, sifting through the well-traveled duffel bag beside him. A uniform would surface, one article at a time.

First, two all-black boots were plopped upon the floor. A pair of knee, elbow pads and a roll of wrist tape followed, all neutral jet black. Bright green tights with two orange stripes and yellow trim emerged, folded with care, before a jock strap came crashing down like an emphatic statement. It featured an image of the owner's crazed face – teeth-baring, wide-eyed expression – laminated onto the crotch. A foot-long cape was sutured onto the back strap, which flowed atop his buttocks, whipping about as he ran.

This was the garb of a superhero. However, not of the run-of-the-mill comic book variety. This hero was seemingly the only one boasting indestructible, weaponized genitalia. This hero was Johnny Cockstrong.

And, much like “The Man of Steel” lays low as Clark Kent, “The Cock of Steel” is better known as Chris Frank. He is a wrestler. A professional wrestler. The kind with the spandex, suplexes, and larger-than-life showmanship. 
                       
As a character, Cockstrong is recognized as one of wrestling’s most obscure attractions, which has allowed Frank to stumble into many career-heightening opportunities. Most notably, Beyond Wrestling.

Beyond is currently recognized as Rhode Island’s top independent wrestling promotion, possessing a fan base that spans the globe. Drew Cordeiro, the owner and operator, began running this federation as a series of private shows in 2009 under an underground fight club aesthetic, selling footage of individual and packaged exhibition match-ups via the World Wide Web.

Many ridiculed the product, as it wasn’t understood how a wrestling organization could function efficiently without a live crowd or direct income from ticket sales. Yet, where critics saw flaws, many fans and competitors saw a ground-breaking concept that slowly gained traction via viral exposure. Cockstrong, as a Beyond original, grew alongside the project. 

Upon searching “Johnny Cockstrong” on YouTube, it became apparent that this character was truly a click magnet. On the first page of results alone, 18 of his matches added up to over 150,000 total views. His most popular match, a contest against Jarek 1:20 at the Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) Academy, has accumulated over 55,000 views and counting, which, statistically speaking, surpasses the online traffic that even some performers with current or former national television exposure can garner.         

Behind the viral sensation lies Chris Frank, the gent that wishes poker wasn’t so expensive. When he isn’t occupied by the occasional session of twenty-one or three card, Frank fancies hitting the taps.

He is no stranger to barhopping, even meeting his wife, Leticia, when she was bartending in New York’s Bowery Poetry Club. She, much like her husband, is a fun-lover that dabbles in improv comedy and satirical musical performance. They currently reside in the quaint town of Bethlehem, PA, merely five minutes from Sands Casino. Their son, Jace, just turned four years old on September 6.
 
Frank's in-ring alter ego was born in 2006, spawned from a desire to perform under a persona that had a little more pop, pizzazz. While throwing around outlandish ideas with a friend, they just so happened to strike gold with Johnny Cockstrong. The name was quite fitting, as Frank has had his genitals pierced on four separate occasions.

Step by step, the character took shape. Should Johnny be superhuman? Why not! Should he wear a cape and eye-catching attire? Most certainly! Should he use his dick as a weapon? Abso-fucking-lutely!
 
Cockstrong debuted on the independent scene that very same year at a promotion known as the Bodyslam Wrestling Organization (BWO). The crowd ate Johnny up, prompting the official adoption of this newfound, highly obscure alias.
 
 Unlike his creation, Frank has a rather average origin story.
 
He was born and raised in Inwood, NY, under the tutelage of his parents, Rich and Linda. Academically, Frank was able to flourish, enrolling in The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) as an Information Systems major in 2001.

A member of TCNJ’s 2005 graduating class, he is a proud recipient of a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. Frank currently finds himself stuck within the grind of a 9-to-5 as an IT technician, work that encompasses a demanding travel schedule.

Such a career acts as a built-in excuse to crack open a fresh Belgium or, occasionally, light summer ale. Summer Sam is named as a choice selection, despite the fact it's a difficult beer to find during its prime season.

“If it’s current, make it the current season,” said Frank. “[Summer Sam] is a great beer, but it's only available in the first two weeks of December.”

Frank, along with his vast experience in alcohol sampling and IT work, has spent over 13 years as an entertainer, wrestling for a variety of promoters. Counting off his fingers, Frank guesstimates that he has competed for about 12 organizations, traveling as far as Ohio to perform his craft.
 
Once considering himself to be a “Weekend Warrior,” Frank’s in-ring career is slowing down, as he, by choice, now only performs for Beyond actively, retirement possibly looming sooner rather than later.

“With my shoot job, I have to travel sometimes. I don’t make the effort to get books,” said Frank. “If I don’t wrestle for a month, that’s fine with me. I’m also 32, so…”
 
His journey began at the 2001 “Tough Enough” tryout held by Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW). Despite ripping the “Tough Enough” moniker straight from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), this competition certainly was no joke, as JAPW was, and still is, one of the most prestigious promotions in the Northeast.

“Two people won training for life with JAPW,” said Frank. “I was not one of them.”

The two recipients were Jay Lethal and Rain Man. Lethal utilized this opportunity to embark upon an illustrious career, which included performing on national television for Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling and capturing the Ring of Honor (ROH) World Heavyweight Championship. Rain Man also found some success on the independent circuit, before eventually fizzling out into obscurity.
 
Frank and his friends were approached post-tryout by Homicide, a well-known TNA and ROH talent, who personally invited the group to come better their craft at JAPW’s training academy. Frank took him up on the offer, frequenting the facility until it closed in 2002.
 
BWO would be his next stop, transferring alongside a few former JAPW students. The Bodyslam Wrestling Organization would also book Frank in his first professional wrestling match in late 2002. He competed under the ring name Chris Soloff, teaming up with Michael Adams to take on “Explosive” Eddie Thomas and “Chiller” Miles Thomas: The Rhode Island Elite versus Team Thomas.
 
Many wrestlers have horrendous experiences in regard to their first match, Frank being no exception. About a week before his debut, a swarm of sores developed within his mouth, which limited him to only ingesting water leading up to the contest.

“I took the first bump and nearly vomited,” said Frank. “I think I caught it in my throat.” 

Amid the barroom hustle and bustle, Frank elbowed his glass, spilling a healthy portion of its contents onto the hardwood counter.
“He did it,” said Frank, thumbing the man to his left.
                                   
Shenanigans and wrestling go together like peanut butter and jelly. The behind-the-scenes insanity these wrestlers encounter is truly unmatched. From a promoter that built a shrine dedicated to one of their under-aged performers to an agoraphobic booker that would send their mother to run shows, Frank has seen some shit.

At a random BWO show, a JAPW representative just so happened to be casually milling around backstage. He began offering, out of the blue, JAPW bookings to anybody that had the balls to be tased.

A few workers stepped up, a few workers were zapped.
 
Then along came Frank’s friend, a performer by the name of Rush Margera. He, too, stepped up, and he, too, was zapped. However, unlike the others, Margera collapsed on contact.     He had been tased in the worst spot of all: his penis.
 
Needless to say, Rush Margera was added to the JAPW roster shortly after.

“He had a PA, a Prince Albert,” said Frank. “I remember that.”

A sudden vibration shook the counter, drawing Frank’s gaze. The disturbance could be attributed to a text message from Leticia, a reminder that they were expecting guests. An orange garnish now straddled an empty glass, as an urgent hand extended. It was time for him to head home, to return to normalcy.

The clean-cut 32-year-old would leave many stories untold and many questions unanswered; yet, through scattered bookings and Youtube clips, the legend of Johnny Cockstrong lives on, as Chris Frank blends into a crowd of miniskirts and Hawaiian print.