By 2009, when the shine of VH1's popular reality series "Hogan Knows Best" had worn off, it appeared as if star Nick Hogan, son of World Wrestling Federation icon Hulk Hogan, would follow in his bandanna-wearing father's footsteps and pursue a career in professional wrestling. Hogan had the name (though he was born Nick Bollea) and the teachers (he was getting trained by wrestlers Rikishi and Gangrel).
He kept dislocating his left shoulder, according to the 22-year-old Hogan. He said it happened so often that it would require surgery for him to go on. While most aspiring wrestlers would have worried about the months the procedure would keep them out of the ring, Hogan was more concerned with the months it would keep him away from the turntables because by that point, Hogan had fallen in love with DJing.
It began when his sister and "Hogan Knows Best" co-star Brooke Hogan — who found success as a pop singer — bought him turntables for Christmas. He said he paid a DJ $400 to teach him how to use the turntables, and would practice in his spare time. When it came time to choose between wrestling and DJing, he decided to "postpone" his wrestling career so he could give DJing a go full time, much to the relief of his dad.
Hogan was able to find steady DJ work from the very beginning. Whether they were ideal gigs — that's a different story.
"Being me was kind of a double-edged sword when it came to DJing," Hogan said over the phone from Los Angeles last week. "It's a blessing that I have a father whose last name is famous enough that people want to book me at a club. At the same time, the clubs that wanted to hire me weren't the best clubs for me to play at. It was a novelty for them, but it wasn't a novelty for me. The places I wanted to play wouldn't hire me because they didn't want to be associated with the novelty: 'Oh man, here's another celeb DJ.' A lot of club owners wouldn't give me the time of day a few years ago, but now they've seen (that) I stuck with it."
Hogan opened for "Jersey Shore" star Pauly D during his DJ set at a Los Angles club in April, and has booked a handful of Chicago-area appearances over the years, including Lion Head Pub in Lincoln Park in 2010, Vision nightclub River North and the now-closed Raven nightclub in Schaumburg in 2011. He will return to the latter city Friday to spin at John Barleycorn.
While Hogan has quietly reinvented himself as a DJ, Brooke has become a major on-air personality for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. She was set to get married to her father's nemesis, Bully Ray, as part of a storyline on last week's episode of "Impact Wrestling" on Spike TV, but saw her wedding interrupted, as is mandatory during wrestling weddings.
"Of all the people, the last person I would have bet money to end up in the wrestling business was Brooke," Hogan said. "It blows my mind. I'm so proud of her."
Hulk and ex-wife Linda Hogan have also been making headlines recently, mostly the unwanted kind. Hulk found himself part of a sex tape scandal in October, and Linda was recently charged with a DUI stemming from an arrest that also took place in October. In 2007, it was Nick who was in trouble with the law. He spent six months in jail due to charges stemming from a car crash that left a friend with brain damage. Nick, whose manager insisted he not be asked about his family's personal issues, said he stays away from what gets written about his family and is more interested in what gets written about his music.
"I try not to read a lot of the pop culture stuff and celeb bloggers," Hogan said. "But I do check out people's feedback when I put up new mixes and new songs on SoundCloud."
Some might wonder if Hogan ever regrets that his family opened up their lives to the cameras and starred in their own reality TV show (and the VH1 spinoff, "Brooke Knows Best"). After all, it's the main reason celebrity news shows and websites have taken such a big interest in the family's drama. But the youngest Hogan said he would do the show again and is grateful for the opportunities reality TV gave him.
"I don't think I've ever regretted appearing on reality TV, but there are moments where I wonder what life would have been like if I hadn't been on reality TV," Hogan said. "I've found myself in certain places – maybe where fortunate things happen – and have realized how blessed I am to be in that situation."
When: 10 p.m. Friday
Where: John Barleycorn, 1100 American Lane, Schaumburg
Tickets: $10, 847-619-5540 or johnbarleycorn.com