academic, arena mexico, art, Cultural Studies, culture, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Performance Art, Professional Wrestling, school, strength, training, travel, Washington, wrestling school

The Final Post Edition, or Goodbye For Now

Friends,

It is with some sadness, albeit zero trepidation, that this will serve as my final blog post. My reasons are few: mostly I have just become too busy to dedicate the time required to write at the level that I demand of myself. Although I have not talked about it here, I recently began picking up stunt work for commercials and film, which—in addition to regular lucha gigs, full time employment, and my 7-day training regimen—not only occupies more of my time, but also has forced me to broaden my focus from just lucha libre. Given this personal shift, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to dedicate the same rigor to thinking and writing about lucha libre that I was once capable of maintaining.

I started training as a luchador in 2011 during my senior year of college. During that same year I applied for the Watson Fellowship, which would have funded an entire year of studying lucha libre abroad in South America, Spain, and Japan. Unfortunately I was selected as an alternate awardee, Although disheartened, I was undeterred, and redirected my existential flightiness: I moved to Mexico City to immerse myself in lucha libre. The exodus was relatively brief: I quickly ran out of money and my lack of Spanish made employment opportunities scarce. Despite emptying my savings account, my experiences were invaluable, and the relationships I forged with locals and other luchadors during my tenure continue to this day.

Another byproduct of the trip was this blog, which I had originally intended to use as a diary to chronicle and share my experiences from the road. But now that I was no longer pursuing lofty goals within lucha libre’s mecca, what would be the scope of this blog? After returning to the States, the blog unintentionally became a smattering of cultural theory approaches to lucha libre—to mixed reactions from many readers who just wanted a “wrestling blog”—as well as observations about interpersonal relationships within the sport. Although the theoretical lens seems a bit far afield from professional wrestling, I am by no means the first person to give pro wrestling an academic treatment.

Despite the breadth of topics, my quarterly workouts (which were initially just filler posts) proved to be my most popular posts. I feel it’s safe to say that post-Mexico, I had no coherent vision for the blog and thus it never found a voice.

To that end it should be noted that I am not abandoning the blog on account of it not gaining monumental popularity: I knew quite well that the blog of a non-famous luchador would garner only a specialized, rather small audience (nevermind the fact that the blog was simultaneously academic in tone). Rather, this blog represents a particular chapter in my life that was rife with uncertainty, fear, and passion: uncertainty in the wake of moving to Mexico City to pursue the impossible; fear of said uncertainty; the unbridled passion for a sport. I was in an intense, naive, love affair with lucha libre, for which I flung myself into a personal exodus, into Mexico City, into the birthplace of lucha libre.

While I still love lucha libre, our relationship is now an established one; the maddening, lusty, honeymoon phrase has passed. And although my visions of performing in CMLL during my time in Mexico City did not come to be, I have not abandoned my passion for lucha libre nor the pursuit of excellence, and opportunities within the sport. In fact, I will achieve one of many lucha goals this August when I perform in Arena Naucalpan alongside three of my colleagues from Lucha Volcánica.

I am leaving behind this blog because of it’s significance from a specific period within my relationship with lucha libre, and by extension, a period within my life. I am instead shifting my focus to my future with lucha libre.

Put differently, I am moving on.

No, I am not moving on from lucha libre: when I started this blog I was pursuing, thinking, and dreaming about doing lucha libre. Now? Now I am simply too busy with the doing to be dreaming, a luxury that I was dreaming about back when I first started here.

And I like it that way.

With love,

Ave Rex

PS: You can still find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

Image source: http://www.vivelohoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/santoyblue1.jpg
academic, art, Cultural Studies, culture, lucha, lucha libre, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, Performance Art, school, school of lucha libre, training, wrestling school

It’s Complicated: Relationships In and Out of the Ring


Social complexity is at the very foundation of lucha libre, wherein partners and rivals, enemies and friends, are often one in the same. The fact that rudos and technicos may not actually hate each other is not revelatory. However the relationships between luchadors both in and out of the ring are significantly more complicated than many realize: the kinetic energy that ignites between two clashing luchadors is not only a mutual desire to create an exemplary show, but is also an overflow of tension from by the friendship/competition dynamic that is an innate quality of the sport.

Continue reading “It’s Complicated: Relationships In and Out of the Ring”

art, Cultural Studies, culture, gender, lucha, lucha libre, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, Performance Art

Duality and Identity: Some Notes

In theatre the principal goal of an actor is to perform as another person on a stage in such a way that becomes believable to the audience—to become another person via performance. Such is also common in movies and TV, of course.

Source: http://4playernetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/lucha.jpg
Above: acting.

However in lucha libre, such is always not the case. Despite external forces (promoters, advertisers, sponsors, audience expectations, etc.) some luchadors are merely themselves in the ring. However the vast majority of individuals are hardly charismatic enough to hold an audience’s attention, and therefore even those who choose not to perform a gimmick have to exaggerate something in the ring. Because no person is merely one-dimensional, we then might ask: what aspects of self does one perform on stage?

I, for example—and this is not uncommon—take a facet or two of my personality and magnify them for the stage. If you’ve ever listened to one of my interviews, it’s immediately obvious that my in-ring antics, yelling, and hypermachismo are hardly my modus operandi. Yet my performance as non-luchador, as myself in the world, would hardly make for interesting lucha libre. Thus I take the assumptions and expectations of the audience (male, luchador, champion, muscles, tattoos, and so on) and extrapolate to create a character that is believable within said parameters. Although I try to play with these expectations from time to time, I am keenly aware that should I make a complete break from hegemonic normativity, I will likely lose the interest of the audience. In short, being cognizant can make character creation a bit tricky.

As a luchador enmascarado, I am afforded the luxury of fading into anonymity after removing my mask. For me this separation of character and self is important.

For one lucha libre is a theatre of violence: it’s ontology is constructed of nothing but fierce conflict and the solvency of these battles depends upon its actors being able to destroy each other physically. Historically, of course, this is the realm of masculinity (for the particular challenges this presents to luchadoras—female luchadors—check out La Avispa’s blog) and therefore machismo is presupposed and expected by the audience. Although I am no pacifist, I have no intentions of becoming a person who quickly resorts to violence, and thus this separation provides both an outlet for energy that may have been diverted towards violent behavior. Further this creates distance between said behavior and myself outside of the ring, as I am only “Fénix” in the ring, and I am never “Fénix” outside of the context of lucha libre.

"ACTING."
Alter ego: a dramatization.

This distance is not an excuse for offensive behavior, however. Although some hacks might argue otherwise (e.g., at a wrestling show last year, I watched a white male “performer” use the phrase “beaners” in attempt to evoke heat from the predominantly Latino crowd), being in character does not absolve the performer from all responsibility for his or her actions in the ring. But this is not to say that the stage cannot be used to explore ideas or for social commentary, for theatre is nothing if it is not exploring some state of the human condition, whether abstract (e.g., existentialism in Samuel Beckett’s End Game) or social commentary (race relations/socioeconomic inequality in Suzan-Lori Parks’ In The Blood). For a modern example of this within professional wrestling, check out the feud between Border Patrol and Blue Demon Jr. Exóticos also have great capacity for criticism via satire and hyperbole, but more on that later.

Secondly, anonymity allows us luchadors to be in the world uninterrupted. While few luchadores in the USA have any fame resembling that of celebrities, I am comforted knowing that regardless of my popularity, I can fade into the crowd and go unrecognized.

Not all luchadores put this much forethought into crafting a persona, and admittedly many of these are a posteriori deductions from interrogating my own performances, which I have put in conversation with my personal values and understanding of lucha libre as performance art. More at a later date on how lucha libre can function as criticism, but for now check out performances by exótico Maximo, and—as previously stated—the ongoing conflict between Border Patrol and Blue Demon Jr.

art, Cultural Studies, culture, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, observations, performance, Performance Art, school, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Shows, South Park Seattle, travel, wrestling school

Búsqueda de Familia: The Semi-Personal Post

During my senior year of college, I applied for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which required–amongst other things–a lengthy personal statement. I later adapted large portions of this  statement into a short memoir that was published in Arches Magazine in 2012. Continue reading “Búsqueda de Familia: The Semi-Personal Post”

Image originally found at: http://yeshivadaze.wordpress.com/
culture, exercise, gender, masculinity, observations, performance, training

On Gay Men in Locker Rooms: A Knee-Jerk Reaction to (Not So) Subtle Homophobia

As you may well know by now, I tend to spend a bit of time at the gym, which often includes time in a locker room. It follows then, that I have had a plethora of interactions in the locker room as well. Locker rooms are a peculiar space, especially with respect to masculinity.  Continue reading “On Gay Men in Locker Rooms: A Knee-Jerk Reaction to (Not So) Subtle Homophobia”

academic, art, Cultural Studies, culture, lucha, lucha libre, observations, performance, Performance Art, Shows, streets

A Brief and Unnecessary Defense of Lucha Libre as Art – Part I

This blog has generally been dedicated to the sharing of various events in my life as a luchador, from shows and publicity events to fiestas. For those of you who have read the “about” section of this blog, you may well be aware that my intent was also to have a sort of cultural studies bend to this blog as well, which—prompted through some recent readings—I now feel prepared to begin undertaking. Continue reading “A Brief and Unnecessary Defense of Lucha Libre as Art – Part I”

culture, Desfile, lucha, lucha libre, mexico, streets, travel, Zócalo

Más: the Prison, the Party, the Poisoning, and the Parade

Yes, a prison.

Committed for performing ugly planchas.

No, this was not a gimmick match.

…just another day at the office

I actually wrestled in a Mexican federal prison. In front of resident prisoners. Against a resident prisoner.

How did this happen? Apparently funciónes de lucha libre are a regular occurrence in some non-maximum security prisons in D.F.—at least this one particular prison has a history of lucha events. Beyond the yards and yards of razor wire, and packs of strangely nondescript, free-roaming (guard?) dogs, the El Reclusorio Oriente Varonil features sports facilities, a theatre, and classrooms. Despite the setting, everyone we met was exceptionally nice, including every resident, and stone-faced, M16-equipped prison guard.

I witnessed two accidents, which are both the first from any event in which I have participated. One luchador separated his shoulder after landing a plancha incorrectly; another luchador accidentally split his head open, covering himself and all of his opponents in blood. Both of these accidents happened right before my match, which is—as one may have guessed—not at all nerve wracking. In the main event, I teamed up with a luchador dressed as Jack and one other luchador, against Sepulcro, Sepultura Jr., and Sepultura, the latter of whom is a resident of ROV.

On a very different note: the following weekend we descended upon a birthday party for the son of a fellow luchador.


Also featured: new gear!
My birthday parties were never this epic

The card featured a two-hour show, during which I teamed up with another luchador to face-off against Mimo Fantasia and Destino in the semifinals.

*rimshot*
“Have a seat.” Ha!

 

Struttin'
A little strutting after beating Destino with a stray shoe that I had found. But really.

For our efforts we were rewarded with an appreciative crowd, tequila, and tacos al pastor. The party had roughly 100 people, and although I have wrestled in front of much larger crowds, the level of audience interaction at this event was almost unparalleled. In part, this may have been because of the close proximity to the crowd, wherein audience members had to move when we took the fight outside of the ring. It also may have been due to the prevalence of tequila and mezcal at the event. In any case, good times were had by all.

Then came the day after…

Saddest week in Mexico. Ever.
Not pictured: utter despair.

Above? Antibiotics. The doctor I saw three days later blamed the tacos al pastor, but either way I ended up missing an entire week of life—let alone training—due to los tacos. At least it was not as bad as other cases I have heard of, and it afforded me the time to catch up on all the sleep that I have missed since high school.

Fortunately I had mostly recovered by the following Saturday for the Desfile Alebrijes parade!

To the right: paper maché monster!

We were invited to the annual parade, which features a procession of artists, musicians, and—most importantly—huge paper maché beasts. The Museo de Arte Popular hosts a display of the pieces for a month on both ends of the parade before facilitating the epic march through downtown.

Preparing to *march*

We were later tricked into briefly dancing to Gangnam Style in the street with a troupe of 15 year-olds. Fortunately no photos or videos have surfaced.

Until next week…

Saludos!

Authors note: cameras were not allowed in the federal prison, thus the first three photos have been borrowed from other websites and are not my intellectual property. Clicking the images will direct you to the respective original web pages of each image.