The James Hydrick Story


You may have noticed this piece is now gone. But relax, because in its place, James Hydrick himself is speaking about those events, for the first time in over three decades, right here on this blog. So check out part I of James Hydrick Speaks.

You can still read the old article, in full, as part of my book Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal: The Burning Pants of Popular Culture.


As well as the Hydrick chapter, there’s a lot of similarly themed material, covering both fantastical martial artists (Count Dante, the World’s Deadliest Man; movie star super spies; Chi fighters), and publicly exposed psychics (Derek Acorah). There’s also a detailed look at the confusing, subjective truths of pro wrestling, with the method-acted madness of Brian Pillman and Hulk Hogan’s delusions. Plus, an investigation into the Bill Murray urban legends, and a ton more.

Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal on ($3.99)

Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal on Amazon UK (£2.99)

Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for Phones, Tablets, Mac and PC.

~ by Stuart on October 25, 2013.

16 Responses to “The James Hydrick Story”

  1. […] * Fifteen-Minute Messiah — The James Hydrick Story […]

  2. […] * Fifteen-Minute Messiah — The James Hydrick Story […]

  3. I lived w/ james alan hydrick in SLC for 8 months in the mid-80’s while writing a biog on him. i brought his brother and sister to town and interviewed the family on dozens of hours of tapes, and collected their background documents from growing up in the south. we traveled to chicago to Contemporary books and signed a contract for a book deal w/ my friend the president at the time Harvey Plotnik (sp), that i voluntarily cancelled and returned the advance. i worked out w/ james at hhis original dogo in SLC, & set up his initial exhibitions in SLC, and later traveled w/ him to LA for the james randi show. i stopped in at the LA country jail and interviewed the staff who remember him well for 4 years, 2 of those in solitary confinement for his own protection, as well as others.. james will remember me, steve keeley. wiki steve bo keeley

  4. You missed one big link to his downfall …his arrest in SLC

  5. I was on the jury for his trial in June 2013 in San Luis Obispo, CA. He was petitioning for release and the People (State of CA) was saying he had a mental disorder for which he refused all therapy. I hung the jury. I agreed with the State. Since the jury was hung, technically, it’s called a mistrial. The second trial is happening NOW. This is the second week.

    • Oh wow, thanks for letting me know. I never could find any information about how the first trial went, only pre-trial reports.

      I have a hard time imagining this trial will go any better for him.

  6. Someone should ask “sir”James hydrick what the cement to way too much sand ratio was in 1988 at the karate championships. In Long Beach, CA. I know cause I was there watching him and his groupies make them. Batch after batch until they almost crumbled when carried. He’s a real freak and fraud.

    • Ha, that’s amazing. Reminds me of the claims Frank Dux’s ex-buddy made, about his glass-breaking demonstrations being done with the sugar-glass that’d get smashed over cowboy’s heads in old films.

  7. I have always found this story to alternately fascinating and depressing, and would loved to have seen a film based on his life. I guess as long as he’s still around it won’t ever come to pass (if ever). He can’t be forgiven the child molesting he engaged in, but one wonders how this incredible showman and mimic might have turned out had he simply had a normal childhood?

  8. I’m certainly having flashbacks. Today I was listening to a movie review about James Randi and Googled him to see him on Carson w/ Uri Gellor. I was surprised to see James Hydrick on the “That’s My Line Show”. Growing up in Salt Lake I lived a couple houses down from a local radio DJ named Chris Corey. His wife had twin boys that played with my younger brother. They befriended James and he ended up staying with them and teaching a bunch of kids in the neighborhood his version of Gung Fu. I remember going to the Deseret Gym where he would kick the basketball rim and do the “psychic” tricks. I also remember when he first took possession of the studio in Sugarhouse and going up there to refinish the floors. I was there when the filmed “That’s Incredible”. After that I lost interest and didn’t hear anything more until his arrest for the stolen property. I seem to remember that his story was that he had no idea whatever it was was stolen. I think he was living in some apartment on 11th East in Sugarhouse, it may have been closer to the U. There was one time my dad showed me an article that he was up at the U of U hospital for something or another after he was in prison. He asked if I wanted to go see him (I think to show who he really was) so we did. I remember that we stopped and picked up a Hot Rod magazine because before his arrest he had a ’69 Camaro. From what I remember he was handcuffed to the bed and there were two guards in the room. I was never molested and don’t ever remember being made to feel uncomfortable. Learning today about the rest of his criminal history I wonder about the 2 neighbor twins.

  9. hello, i’m writing James Hydrick’s biography, which i began in about ’85 while living w/ him in SLC. pls see my early post up the string that begins ‘I lived w/ James Allan Hydrick…’

    if anyone has any personal first-hand anecdotes they’d like to share for the biography, pls email me no second hand items pls.

    i’m the consultant w/ the producer of an in-progress documentary on Hydrick (they shot 4 days of JH at Coalinga about 2 yrs ago), and will share your information with him, & he may want to interview you.

    i know lots about James early life that the public does not … from having lived w/ him, helped him start his first SLC dojo, traveled w/ him to ‘that’s incredible’, visited him in prison, know his siblings, interviewed his kin in the deep south, have all his childhood records through ’85, visited and worked sided-by-side w/ the catholic chaplin when James was incarcerated for appx 4 yrs in the LA county jail, and had just been paroled before i met him in SLC, 30 hours of audio interviews w/ him & his siblings/family/jail staff, etc.

    the biography i’m working on is w/ James’ blessing, and i’ve been interviewing him by phone every third day for the past few weeks. he wants it to be an ‘autobiography’ which it probably will be.

    pls contact me if you have any personal experiences or info to share. in return, i’m happy to answer specific questions for this blog about JH, but have decided for simplicity to respond via Mark Norris, who has posted here. so, Mark will funnel any questions you have to me that i may answer. Mark will begin posting, he says, some of my replies to his own questions immediately. thx.

    if you have personal first-hand experiences w/ James Hydrick to share for the biography, pls contact me directly at

    steve bo keeley (you may confirm me at wiki &

  10. […] may remember a previous piece by me entitled Fifteen-Minute Messiah, about the incredible, and sadly-forgotten story of James Hydrick, the page-flipping Kung Fu […]

  11. I feel much compassion for the man -he had so much potential, and a realy bad start in live… I think he has deserved a second chance. I just have the feeling something went wrong here. He tried… he did some wrong – but one has to consider that he never had a normal childhood himself.. and he has also done some good. And he was so talented in Magic and Kung Fu…. I hope he is alright and the Biogprahy and a Film will be made wich will be fair to him and his story.

    • I meet James in 1986 and we worked out for about a year one on one was sad to find out about him after his release from Walden in South Carolina. I did go to his sisters school in the valley near AIKEN after 1988 but never saw him only storys of what he was doing and or his wareabouts

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