“Grit & Glitter” is the weekly podcast dedicated to the power of women’s wrestling, hosted by Harley R. Pageot, Emily Fear, and their team of correspondents known as The Glitterati. “The Glitter Buzz” is a new regular feature here at Bell To Belles, where Harley interviews various wrestlers and wrestling media personalities around a different central theme each month. Your theme for June is…summer vacation.
Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. We never lacked for anything, and Christmas morning my parents always managed to still go overboard for my sisters and I, but the rest of the year we lived within our means. When summer vacation hit, friends of mine would go away on trips, or spend every weekend at the amusement park, but we were content to spend our days at the outdoor swimming pool shared by our apartment building and the building across the street. The one trip we would go on was a camping weekend at a provincial park.
My younger sisters and I would climb into the back seat of the station wagon with pillows tucked between us and the window. On the roof was our little travel hub, packed to the brim with sleeping bags and clothing, while the trunk was filled with the tent, hammock, pots and pans, a water jug, and an assortment of inflatable rafts, frisbees, and sandcastle toys. Before we left the city, my dad would pick me up a new Archie comic, or the latest issue of WWF Magazine to read on the way, and we’d hit the road.
These days, as soon as the hot weather rolls into Ontario, I feel that stirring inside of me. I’m like a wild animal. All I want is to kick off my shoes and run into the woods again. Hide under a tree, feel the sand between my toes, swim in a lake. If I had my way, I’d be outdoors from dawn to dusk. Summer vacation is when I feel the most alive.
Whether she’s in roving reporter mode investigating shenanigans at Camp Leapfrog, backstage for hard-hitting interviews in promotions like WWR+, or spilling the tea on her own YouTube show, “Wrestle Tea”, Sam Leterna is nothing if not consistent. Immaculately-dressed with a cool confidence and poised for days, she’s easily one of the biggest rising stars today among all of us crew members, here on spaceship Earth.
PAGEOT: You do a lot of interviews yourself, but do you get interviewed a lot?
SAM LETERNA: I do get some interview requests, but I tend to do them strategically around when Camp Leapfrog is coming out or to promote Leapfrog. I just don’t think that the spotlight needs to be on me necessarily for interviews, unless it’s for a higher purpose. But I do interviews, and I’ve had some good ones and I’ve had some bad ones. It’s cool to kind of be on the other end today with someone who I know has a reputation for being a good interviewer. It’s a pleasure.
The rare instance where I get asked to do an interview, I look forward to it. I go into the interview, I sit down, and I’m kind of in the back of my head thinking, “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got. I do this all the time. Let’s see what you bring to the table.”
Yeah, exactly! Different questions sometimes pique my interest like, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting that one. This is cool. You researched or you thought about what you wanted to ask me, or what you think fans want to have answered.” That’s how I try to think of my interviews as well.
My number one goal in any interview I do, the moment that gives me the biggest dopamine rush, is when I ask a question and their first statement in response is, “Oh, that’s a good question!”
Yes! I love that! And when someone like a wrestler, for example, identifies that you really do serve a function. When someone gives a good interview, it can really do a lot of things for both people. It’s a mutually-beneficial thing when done right.
What’s your favorite question you’ve been asked?
I only like this question because of the answers I give. I always give just about the same answers. “Who my favorite people to have interviewed have been?” I just have a very special, quirky connection with each in terms of interviews, so I like telling that story, I guess you could say.
You’re relatively new to being an interviewer because you were a wrestler, first and foremost. Was this a new idea? In your younger days, did you think of being an interviewer or a talk show host?
It was honestly never something that I thought would be feasible, either outside of wrestling or within wrestling. I had started training in 2015, and was very much married to the idea of being a wrestler. Unfortunately, due to injury and a couple other things, it just didn’t work out. I had to be real with myself and realize that I do still offer something, but what is that within the spectrum of wrestling? After having conversations with friends, particularly Masha Slamovich, who really gave me a kickass speech and motivated me, that’s when I started “Wrestle Tea”. My strong suit had always been talking and listening, and speaking articulately. I think my experience in college studying something that was highly research-based and academic, like Art History also lent me to being good at finding the finer details. Everything kind of fell into place really organically with broadcasting, even though I’ve only been doing it since last February/March.
I started “Grit & Glitter” really just as a hobby. I’m the kind of person who always has seven different hobbies on the go. I feel like, if I’m not accomplishing something, then it’s a wasted day. I’m an obsessive workaholic. So, it started off as just another hobby, but now it’s really taken the dominance. It’s all I think about all the time. I’m at work, at my day job, and I’m thinking, “What can we do this week? What can we do next week? Whatifwedidthiswhatifwe…” Is that the case with “Wrestle Tea” for you, or is it still just a fun thing on the side, and your main priority is commentary or working for different promotions?
“Wrestle Tea” is what, I guess, gave me my start, along with being given an opportunity by Chikara to be their segment host when there was no reason to hire me at that time. I would say, in terms of “Wrestle Tea”, I tend to find the most inspiration from online news and relevant current events. I feel like those things are what are most likely to make a wrestler want to not only do an interview, because it’s sometimes a pain, I get it, but also keep the audience involved. I am constantly brainstorming that, but those things tend to organically come about with me just being online, researching what’s going on, and talking to different wrestlers. Sometimes getting a little bit of tea, and then tapping into that and timing an interview to coincide with an event. I’m very business-minded in that sense. But, yeah, I do constantly think of ideas for “Wrestle Tea”. I’m actually thinking of coming out with some newer content that isn’t just interview-based. But, I like to put all my eggs in one basket, take my time, and really prepare for something that could be a potential pivot.
How did you get involved in Camp Leapfrog?
I was actually working on “Action Arcade” when Chikara was still open, and Kris Levin had been reffing there for a little bit. He found out that I helped Mike [Quackenbush] co-write the segments for “Action Arcade” that involved me, so he said, “Hey, I’d love to have another voice share my creative ideas, just bounce stuff off each other.” Essentially the brain child of Leapfrog is Kris, but Kris brought me on to come up with story ideas. Eventually that evolved into helping him produce, helping him direct, and really getting fully immersed in running a wrestling promotion somehow. *laughs*
Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid?
I never went to sleepaway camp, but I did go to summer camp until I was about 13/14. Legit, I’m not just saying this because we’re talking about Camp Leapfrog, but I had some of my best times and met some of my closest friends at summer camp. I remember playing dodgeball and being one of the best girls on the team, which I was always really proud of, and also having water balloon fights. Those are my fondest memories from summer camp.
If you were tasked to design uniforms for Camp Leapfrog, what would they look like?
Well! *laughs* Let’s see…for the girls I think I’d want something maybe skort or Girl Scout-based. Maybe a yellow with a green polo crop top. Some sneakers. Maybe a cute little snapback kind of deal. And then for the guys…hmm…that one’s tough. I think I’d have the guys in different kinds of yellow and green variations of tights and wrestling-related stuff.
Do you have a favorite summer camp movie or TV show?
Yes. I really, really like the movie Wet Hot American Summer. I’m just a really big fan of the writing, particularly. I would say that one. And then, I forget the name of it, but there used to be this Disney movie that was about summer camp. Ben Stiller, in his more formative years, played this crazy fitness freak who was the bad guy in the movie.
Yes! And I think…maybe not Chris Farley…but someone along those lines, a comedian of that time, was in it as well. That movie I remember from childhood. I enjoyed it.
Iced tea. Yay or nay?
Ooh. Okay so, for 25 years of my life, I never had iced tea unless it was bottled Snapple or something like that. And not very often. But I recently got into iced sweet tea, real sweet tea, when I lived in the Midwest, so I would say iced tea all the way if it’s sweet tea done right. Or I’m really into green tea iced with a little bit of honey.
I get the feeling, and I think New York and Canada are similar, that the iced tea we have here is sugarier, the canned and bottled stuff, whereas sweet tea is its own unique beast.
Sweet tea is iced tea if it were made in your grandma’s kitchen. Non-processed and manufactured. You just chill tea, add some honey or sugar, whatever you prefer, and then lemon, if you want it to taste more like a bottled or canned iced tea. Except it’s homemade. It’s great. Big fan.
This is a summer vacation-themed series. What’s your ideal summer vacation, other than hanging out at Camp Leapfrog?
Other than hanging out at Camp Leapfrog, which, I have to say, is one of the sickest places to film ever; anyone who’s been there live understands why. It’s just a beautiful property to film on and we have a pool. Oh my gosh. But, when I’m not chilling at Leapfrog over the summer, I’m a really big fan of taking mini-trips for sanity purposes, being that I live in New York City. I love going kayaking. Maybe a camping deal in Long Island or by the Delaware River. Anywhere I can put a little raft or boat or kayak down and have that time on the water. That’s where I’m at. Also, anywhere I can bring my dog, because we make our memories together.
I read this one Archie comic when I was a kid, and it stuck in my head so formatively that it’s still my vision of the perfect romantic date. He takes this girl, and it’s not Betty or Veronica, it’s this random girl, but he takes her on a canoe date. They canoe across this little river to a secluded island and they have a picnic. I’m clutching my chest like, “That’s goals.”
That is so goals! If I went on a date with a guy who did that for me, it would be over, yeah.
Well, I’ll caution you, it was Archie, so he forgot to tie up the canoe. It drifted away, they got stranded on the island, and then Reggie came by in his motorboat and stole his date. But up until then it was going pretty well.
Jeez. Well, I’m not the kind of gal to bail on a date, so I would not go off with Reggie. Moral of the story. Bam.
Are you the kind of gal to go out with an Archie?
You know, I think I could be. I’ve gone out with my share of quirky, more clumsy guys, for sure. I’m all about just having an organic connection, whoever that may be.
What do you have planned for this summer?
This summer I legitimately want to spend as much time as I possibly can doing two things: going to the beach doing these mini-vacations, and working as much as possible on the independent scene doing ring announcing, commentary, hosting, interviewing…literally anything. I still have a few dates open and I’m looking to really exponentiate my time and take advantage of this summer. There are so many shows going on, and I’m very grateful that I have a group of friends within the wrestling industry where we can all travel together. There are a lot of different options with that, even though I don’t have a car. I’m just going with the flow, enjoying life, working hard, and chasing opportunities. That’s where I’m at this summer.
The next Camp Leapfrog event is KillianVision, streaming live June 29 at 8 p.m. EST, exclusively on IWTV.
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