On an otherwise uneventful Wednesday evening in Albany, New York, the man known to Ring of Honor fans as Dalton Castle is at home with his wife, constructing some kind of fortress out of Popsicle sticks while we chat over the phone.
Arts and crafts aren’t the kind of midweek activity you’d expect from indie wrestling’s most fabulous star – already famous for his glammy fashions and codependency on an entourage of Filipino twins known only as his “Boys.” Then again, Castle (real name: Brett Giehl) has made a career out of going against the grain: Even in a subculture that’s witnessed the likes of Gorgeous George and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis, something about Castle’s sexually fluid flamboyance is, by design, intended to test the limits of wrestling audiences’ open-mindedness. And somehow, it’s worked: Unlike his predecessors, Castle has been embraced by fans in both ROH and Chikara, where he wrestles as the similarly outsized alter ego Ashley Remington.
In a smattering of interviews, Castle has playfully balanced a kayfabe pose with more transparent insight into his background as a goofy athlete from western New York (Rochester, originally). And when he spoke to Rolling Stone, he stuck to that script, continually blurring the lines between the Castle persona and the man who created it. Here’s what pro wrestling’s “Party Peacock” revealed to us, in-between Popsicles.
Castle’s Childhood Crew Definitely Wasn’t Cool
“My close group didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs,” he says. “We stayed up too late, till we were obnoxiously overtired and everything was funny, and we entertained ourselves that way. It just so happens we found that what makes us laugh is what turned us into who we are today.”
Castle’s Success is Equal Parts Trial and Error
“Trial and error – and cosmic coincidence,” he corrects. “I’ve worked my ass off and trained real hard and tried different things. Some have worked, some have not. Being comfortable with who I am and understanding what I’m all about and presenting that has helped me perform more naturally. I was a wrestler in high school and college, and it was all about sport. Now it’s about making sure the fans are happy. Before it was about winning, now it’s about entertaining.”
Dalton is Brett, and Vice Versa
“I try to separate my personal life, but so much of me is the wrestler, so my lives kind of bleed together,” Castle explains. “I never try to do something in wrestling that I wouldn’t do as a regular human being, and that keeps me from being seen as a caricature that could be offensive or hacky. It’s a fine line, a very elaborate and absurd character, but for some reason, it’s working.”
If Castle Makes You Uncomfortable, You’re Too Old
“We live in an industry that’s evolving, and the world is evolving, too, ” he says. “If you are stubborn about seeing someone try something new, then you’re not gonna be comfortable with [the Castle gimmick].”
His Feud With Silas Young Was Pure Serendipity
“The pieces just kind of fell into place, and it happened so quickly,” Castle says of his war with Young over “the Boys.” “It’s the classic story of fighting for something that belongs to somebody else – in this case boys. As ridiculous as it sounds, when you see it on paper, that’s the story that makes the most sense: Two guys with mustaches – one terrible, the other really thick, but both with great heads of hair – both want these boys. And who doesn’t want boys?”
It Was Always ‘Boys’ or Bust
“When I started doing the Dalton Castle that you see today, the presentation of the use of the word ‘boys’ was everything to me,” Castle explains. “It was such a big part of the character, and I didn’t want to lose that. For some reason, that word’s so funny. It’s offensive and endearing at the same time. When you say to somebody, ‘Oh, that’s my boy,’ that makes me cringe. But when you say to somebody, ‘Oh, those are my boys, that makes me smile.'”
He’s Mourned the Boys With Celine Dion
“I haven’t talked to ’em in a while,” he laments. “I’ve just been staying up at night listening to ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion, tearing up constantly thinking about them. Sometimes I look out to the night sky and stare at the moon and wonder at that moment, ‘Are they looking at the moon?’ Or are they underneath a greasy car changing oil?’ Can you imagine the pain they’re in? They probably have filthy fingernails right now.”
Even Castle Can Get Insecure
“Every night, I go out there thinking, ‘Tonight’s the night they’re gonna get sick of my shit,'” Castle laughs. “And every night I go out there and they prove me wrong, which means either we’ve got the best fans in the world or they are just very patient.”
It’s a Family Affair
“[My wife Heather] has a huge part in it,” Castle acknowledges. “In fact, she is the one who sews all my trunks. I really struck gold with this one. We’ve been together before I started wrestling, and she’s humbled me every time I’ve gotten frustrated. She likes to bring me back down to earth, and she also likes to dress me up in sparkles.”
Castle’s Not Storming WWE Just Yet
“I’m very happy with Ring of Honor right now,” he assures. “I’m exactly where I belong right now. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m also not setting my sights on anything, ’cause I’m gonna do the best I can here, and I’m gonna love doing it.”