Happy New Year! Welcome to the first blogpost of 2013 – a post almost entirely dedicated to menswear! I’m talking this week with the Man about Town himself, Bret Hollywood.
Bret Hollywood is an American/British Television personality and MMA ring announcer. He has worked for most major MMA promotions across Europe and the Middle East including Cage Rage UK’s Ultimate Challenge, Cage Warriors, Cage Contender IFPA and others. He has hosted the Miss Great Britain Pageant, several charity events, was featured on the Sky Atlantic show “The Guest Wing” He is known for his flamboyant dress and his trademark catch phrase “It’s Go Time”. He has been seen on live and pre-recorded televised MMA events in more than 70 countries!
So, Hi Bret! How did you first get involved with Mixed Martial Arts in Britain?
I moved to the UK in 2007, and was married to my British wife Julia in 2008. Needless to say I didn’t have many friends coming here from the US. I have always had some form of martial arts in my life and on the way to work one day I noticed a sign that read “Unity Martial Arts” I thought to myself “hmmmm that would be a great place to meet some other like minded guys.” I looked them up on the Internet and found that they had Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. I called and spoke to the instructor who actually turned out to be world-class champion. We had a chat and before I knew it I went in to check it out. The day I got there, he was in the middle of an MMA session, and the guys in the room were all big hitters! They all held championship belts and had fought on some of the biggest shows in the UK. I got talking to one of them called Denniston about wrestling (which is where my background is) and he invited me to come to an afternoon sparring session. My very first ever MMA session was really more like a school yard beating! It was AWESOME!!! I’m still not sure if I’m game or stupid, especially at first! I would stand in front of anyone! That day I was absolutely killed! I broke my nose, got KO’d and learned why you should always keep your hands up! From there I was in!! Denniston and I became very close friends and before long I was managing him. Through him I made a lot of really good contacts into MMA. After a few months, I got my first invitation from a promoter. He asked to MC his upcoming show, KAYO MMA because of my American accent. That show was televised on The Active Channel and from there it just sort of took off! Before I knew it, I was getting calls from all over the country and have never looked back. I have now announced hundreds of shows all over the world and have been part of both live and prerecorded television broadcasts. I have hosted my own weekly television chat show, and even stepped into the cage myself and had a fight for the Katie Piper Foundation.
Have you had any unusual experiences when you’ve been MC/Ring Announcer /TV host or as an after dinner speaker?
Hmmmm. I suppose there have been quite a few “Unusual experiences” I can remember once when a fighter entered the cage and he was very excited to be there. It was his first fight. He began bouncing off the cage walls (you know, like a wrestler would do) and breathing really loud. The cameraman looked at me and began to giggle, and it started me giggling too. This poor guy was getting ready for the first fight of his life and we were all giggling. I then had to stare down the barrel of the camera and announce him and try not to laugh. I have had production guys telling me jokes in my ear when I was doing a live broadcast, less than accurate information and all sorts. At the end of the day I just try to be the most professional guy in the room and do my best.
You are known for your flamboyant clothing style, so,what has been your favourite outfit/jacket worn whilst hosting?
That’s a tough one! I have a gold sequin jacket that I had made for me by Sir Tom Baker. It is one of my favourites! I had it made for a show I was doing in Amman Jordan. I also have some gold Jeffery West boots to match. This was probably the first really amazing outfit I bought. It was a big deal for me because the show was in an exotic location and the promotion was gaining notoriety and I just knew that the crowd there would love the gold. I have others that I am really fond of as well. I have another sequin jacket from Tom in black, and a red lame’ jacket with skull lining (also Sir Tom Baker) A black DJ with a big diamante skull on the back… its hard to pick one that is my favourite. I also have boots to match them all!
What do you like doing best – MC, ring announcer,tv host or after dinner speaker?
I guess my favourite part of my job is the crowd interaction. If it’s a fight night, there is nothing like stepping into the cage at the beginning of the night, the lights down and the buzz in the air…I step into the middle of the cage, The spot light hits me, I say “Gooooooooooooooooooood Evening!” and the crowd responds! Then when it comes the main event of the evening, I announce the fight using my catch phrase, “Ladies and Gentlemen… IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT’S GO TIME!!!! And again, the crowd responds! I absolutely love it! After the shows there is always an opportunity to meet fans, take photos and just chat in general.If on the other hand I’m hosting a dinner event, the atmosphere is a bit different, and I like the intimacy of a smaller crowd and the opportunity to spend more time with the attendees. I love chatting to people I meet, and if they are fans, its even better. I know sometimes some people are a bit shy about talking to someone who may be in front of the camera or on TV, but I don’t ever want anyone to be shy about approaching me. I love chatting with fans!
What role would you like to try that you haven’t tried as yet?
I wish I could sing! I would love to be a singer! The trouble is I couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle on it !
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing ?
Seneca said “We live not according to reason, but according to fashion” I love that quote! I think clothes say a lot about a person. I tend to go for more in your face rock and roll stuff! I love to stand out (as if you couldn’t tell already) I get a lot of stuff custom made and have very few stores that I go to.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Yes, as you can tell, I am pretty particular about the things I wear. I tend to do most of my shopping on Jermyn Street in London. Favourbrook does fantastic velevet jackets and waistcoats; New and Lingwood also do great waistcoats and lots of amazing skull stuff. I tend to get most of my shirts from Duchamp, or Etro, I love Blaqua in Carnaby Street for cufflinks, I have an amazing vintage Cavalli suede jacket that I just love and John Varvatos does some cool stuff too but more casual! I tend to be impulsive about jewelry, whenever I see something I like I will buy it. I wear a lot of rings on my microphone hand, because I think it adds something to the close-ups for TV.I get most of my jackets made for me by Sir Tom Baker (no, not the Dr Who guy, the London bespoke tailor). Tom is one of the coolest guys I know, and he dresses the most rock and roll rock stars in the world! He has made suits for Robert Plant, Martin Gore from Depeche Mode, Keith Flint from the Prodigy, Alice Cooper, Dave Stewart, David Hasselhof and of course me, Hollywood! I love the whole process of getting something made for me. There is nothing like getting a bespoke suit handcrafted for you! I get all my shoes from Jeffery West. In fact, with the exception of trainers, they are all I wear in or out of the cage! I have about 30 pairs of shoes and boots from them. Again, their shoes and boots can be seen on all sorts of rock stars and TV personalities. Jeffery West designs shoes [that are] my style and I get a lot of attention because of them. In fact I wore a bright red pair to a live show once and there were so many comments that night on Twitter that they actually trended. I love it when stuff like that happens! From that night on, Jeffery West shoes have been one of my trademarks in the cage. I even have a fantastic pair of silver skull encrusted Jeffery West boots that were made for me by the fab Milly J Shoes. (In fact they now reside in the Northampton Shoe Museum)
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Why a new pair of Boots of course ! I saw a preview of a new pair that Jeffery West is releasing in their next collection and I cant wait! Other than that, I sometimes get an idea or a picture in my head of an outfit and then will go and try to get it made. I always have a head full of ideas so I’m never short of things on my wish list.
Boots or Shoes?
I always wear boots! In fact I even tweet a picture of my boots every day “the view from my desk”. Of course I do wear shoes when I have meetings or am delivering presentations in my day job (The corporate world isn’t quite ready for Hollywood) I just prefer boots and cannot find shoes that are as edgy as the boots I typically wear.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
You can find my fan page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodBret
And of course my website is http:// hollywoodmc.com
Thank you Bret and I hope you like some of the ideas I have highlighted! Don’t forget, ladies, keep in touch with the latest footwear and accessory bargains and styles by following the facebook group BOOTS SHOES ET AL – just press the icon.
Photo credits: Jeffery-West; Bret Freeman; Adam Hobden