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

The Burden of the Public Eye: A Performer’s Social Responsibility

Creative performance is my driving inspiration. As a professional luchador, I become a character through my performance: my very persona is created by the nuances and broader actions within the ring. Ave Rex then is the end product of that which I create: it is the individual words I choose and the consistency of my actions which give shape to my identity and breathe life into the performance. [1]

Continue reading “The Burden of the Public Eye: A Performer’s Social Responsibility”

"Ka-BOOM"
art, lucha, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, Performance Art

What’s in a Name, Anyway? The Story Behind My Name Change

As some of you may have noticed, there has been a marked change on my social media in that I recently decided to change my name. Continue reading “What’s in a Name, Anyway? The Story Behind My Name Change”

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.

interview, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Shows, training, travel, wrestling school

The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014

In the spirit of expected tradition, I spent some time over the past few days reflecting on 2013. However because I am not one to dwell on retrospective, I almost immediately shifted my thoughts to the coming year, as in the future lies only potentiality.

Continue reading “The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014″

escuela, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, performance, Performance Art, school of lucha libre, Seattle, South Park Seattle, wrestling school

Not the Name Your Parents Gave You

What’s in a name? My colleague and sister at Lucha Libre Volcánica speaks about the process of selecting a stage name.

"Jump Higher!"

Author’s note: With my two-year anniversary with Lucha Libre Volcánica upon me, I find myself thinking back on some of the more memorable experiences I’ve had there. This is the story of one such moment. Short of attending practice for the first time, or finally reaching my debut, it was probably the greatest defining moment in my lucha career. Its something you really can’t forget. Curious? Read on.

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diet, escuela, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, school, school of lucha libre, training

A Luchador’s Workout II: Increasing Intensity, Pushing Performance

The basic abilities required of professional wrestlers are somewhat narrow in scope. Such abilities, however, can only get one so far in lucha libre, and therefore it’s important–like most other sports–to augment one’s training in order to maximize abilities and minimize the risk of injury for both yourself and your opponent. Continue reading “A Luchador’s Workout II: Increasing Intensity, Pushing Performance”

We ordered 6 beers 1 hour before the show. Yep.
arena mexico, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Photograhy, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Shows

Back in the States: Photos and a Lucha Volcánica Anniversary Show

I’ve officially been back in the states for a week now, and despite traveling for a little over two weeks, it was actually a pretty quiet trip. I previously talked about the AAA tryouts in San Jose, and I spent the subsequent week in Austin before going to Mexico City for a little over a week. Continue reading “Back in the States: Photos and a Lucha Volcánica Anniversary Show”