academic, Cultural Studies, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, podcast, Professional Wrestling, school of lucha libre, strength, training

Why I Haven’t Been Writing: A Explanation for Both You and Me

For those of you who follow my adventures, you’ve probably noticed a distinct descrease in posts over the past few months, something that I would like now to address.

For me there seems to be a inverse causal relationship between doing and thought: the more I’m doing something, the less time I have to think about it abstractly. Conversely the less I’m doing a thing (e.g., when I first started Rex N Effect), the more time I may spend exploring it intellectually. Beginning back in January, Lucha Volcánica has had monthly shows in Seattle. We have scaled back our training regimen from daily, to 3-hour sessions on Saturday & Sunday. This schedule affords me more time to focus on weight training and conditioning, as well as to train for stunt work. However the increased frequency of shows also means that I’ve been spending more time preparing for shows than I have previously, which in turn, seemingly leaves me less time to ponder the sport in which I am participating.

While I never set a particular scope for Rex N Effect, I did pride myself on writing a non-wrestling wrestling blog of sorts. Further, I never wanted this blog to merely a newsletter of my activities, but now that my activity level within the sport has increased, it may mean that I will need to take a different approach to how I share on Rex N Effect. Although I still intend to explore lucha libre through writing, I will likely be diversifying how the exploration occurs, including more photos, videos, and perhaps (maybe) the resurrection of the mythical podcast.

Exciting things have been happening: I recently won my first mask vs. mask match, and Lucha Volcánica hosted a training seminar featuring the legendary Negro Navarro, both of which I intend to talk about at a later date. Today however, is another training day

Cultural Studies, lucha libre, party

Who Will Protect the Piñatas? White Savior Syndrome Strikes Again

I recently had the pleasure and honor of being a guest judge at the 2015 Annual Piñata Bash in Seattle, Washington. A day or two preceding the event, a random individual posted on the Bash’s event page on Facebook, asking if we were partnering with any Latino organizations, and (not so) subtly accused the Bash of co-opting Mexican culture. Initially I was only put off by the condescending—yet blissfully ignorant—tone of the post. However through 30 seconds of Facebook stalking, I was instead offended by the fact that the perpetrator was white. And by “white,” I don’t mean just physically white in appearance, I mean clearly in no way a Latina. Chicana. Mexicana. Hispanic. Whatever nomenclature you prefer.

Which of course, brings me to the focus of this discussion: white people, please stop trying to tell us how to conduct our culture.

Before you assault me with angsty retorts in the comments section (I’m looking at you, recent liberal arts graduates), let me clarify two things: I’m not saying that you ought not to align yourselves with historically oppressed peoples, as we love and appreciate your support; I am *also* not trying to speak on behalf of oppressed peoples everywhere. What I *am* saying, is that not everything which vaguely resembles a thing that you understand as a tenet of a specific culture is a potential battleground against cultural appropriation.

Let’s take the case in question: the Piñata Bash is, in fact, organized by a group of white individuals. Never mind the fact that less than a minute of research would have revealed that the event was being sponsored by Lucha Libre Volcánica, which is owned by a Mexican and is an exhibition of a Mexican folk art. The point of contention for this person seems to be the central theme itself: the piñata.

This is one place where her critique breaks down: another minute (I know! So much time…) of research yields that the piñata may originate in China well before it ever became a Spanish tradition. For those of you who are unaware, China is not in fact, in Mexico. Further, Spain (if you’re following, happened to have adopted the Chinese tradition) was an imperialist occupier of Mexico. Essentially this means that the piñata is at least two-steps removed from Mexico—Spain’s cultural imperialism notwithstanding, of course. This is where I encounter a second problem with the critique: at what point do we judge something as cultural appropriation?

Had the Bash utilized reductive Mexican stereotypes of poncho-wearing, brown-skinned Mexicans in sombreros, I would have had nothing to do with the event. However, the event consisted of people building piñatas of any theme, none of which were in any way reductive or in any way demeaning towards Mexicans (such themes include one piñata titled “The Patriarchy”). If anything, the Bash was a celebration of the piñata in and of itself as an an idea: a demarcation of cause for celebration.

But beyond assaulting papier mâché (spelling and accents courtesy of the internet) with a stick, this misguided inquiry provoked further questioning about how authenticity and culture are policed. Where would such a conception of cultural currency put a luchador like me: a half-Mexican adoptee who was raised functionally lacking of any relationship to Mexican culture? What about my white colleagues in the sport, who are sometimes better performers than their Mexican counterparts? What about my friend La Avispa, who is white but speaks way better Spanish than I do? Do her language skills have more cultural currency than my skin tone and Mexican blood? Does it matter that she’s a white woman performing within an arena that is traditionally occupied by Mexican men? Sex and gender aside, how ought we to go about quantifying one’s ethnicity, and at what point does one lose the “cultural privilege” of being “ethnic?” Did I even technically qualify as a “supervisory Mexican” for the Bash? Did she know that I am adopted, and that’s why she insisted that we partner with a local Latino non-profit to “legitimize” the event?

I am the byproduct of a Mexican immigrant father and a white (mostly German, with a hint of French, and tidbits of Native American) mother; I was later adopted as an infant by a white family. During the course of my life I’ve been told by several (usually white) adults that I should “connect with my culture.” As a child I was completely unclear as to what that meant, short of learning Spanish or eating exclusively Mexican food. As I have become an adult, I am not any less confused as to what it means to “connect with my culture”: I am unclear as to where culture ends and begins. Regardless of my “connection” (or lack thereof) to Mexican culture, I grew up as a person of color. The quality of being Mexican is always already thrust upon me by a culture that identifies white as normative, and thus my “authentic” Mexicanness is largely irrelevant to my life experiences as a brown male. Regarding the Bash, this particular individual was out of her depth in the attempt to level a critique about the event. And although frustrating, I found myself asking more questions about cultural appropriation and who has the right to officiate public events involving (not white) culture. While I do not have the answer, I know for damned sure it was not this particular person.

lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, travel

Roadmap for 2015: Back to Mexico, Lucha de Sound, & Beyond.

Happy New Year! 2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year for lucha, starting off with another trip to Mexico! This trip will undoubtedly be not much different from previous trips, in that it will include several viewings of lucha libre and lots of training. However an entire team will accompany me this time around, including a pair of luchadores and three film professionals.

Catchphrase: "Arrrrgghhllle."
Above: Loco. Not pictured: body hair.

In tow I will have my friends Greengo Loco and Cazador del Alma. Greengo Loco is still a fairly new, albeit promising, luchador who has been training with Lucha Volcánica for around 8 months. He made his (somewhat premature, although successful) debut against Trueno Verde at the Radio Variedades’ 17th Anniversary show this past August. Cazador del Alma started his career with a yearlong tenure in American Pro before switching to train under Vaquero Fantasma, with whom he has now been training as a luchador for over four years. I have been acquainted with Cazador since before I started training at Lucha Volcánica; he was one of two other students at my premier lucha training session. Although Cazador and I have performed on the same card (hell, even in the same match!) we’ve never had the occasion to face each other in the ring, something that we’re hoping to reconcile soon—perhaps even while in Mexico. My profe José is attempting to get us booked at Arena Naucalpan; I’ll share info when I know more.

Woot.
With Cazador del Alma in late 2014.

In addition to my luchador homies, I’ll be dragging along the trio of lucha-documentarians who have been following me around and collecting footage over the past year. You can check out some of the things they’ve captured in the recent Lucha Volcánica promo video. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information to share on the documentary right now, but they’ve captured a (figurative) ton of footage so it has to be good, right?

In late 2014 I neglected to share details regarding a trip to perform in (a rather disastrous match in) Sacramento for Lucha Azteca. While my partner (who happened to be Cazador del Alma) and I both agreed that the match was garbage, I did learn one thing: there are always opportunities to perform. One of my biggest complaints about living in Washington as a luchador is that there are scant few opportunities to perform. Spending time in California made me realize that I must continue to strive to find opportunities to perform and train everywhere, not unlike like my pursuit when I began this blog. That being said—following Lucha de Sound, of course—I intend to not only return to Mexico a second time, but to also spend more time training with Vaquero Fantasma in San Jose, in addition to other trainers in California.

In accordance with a trip to Mexico, wherein I will be doing lots of training (and hopefully at least one show), I am spending the next month intensively conditioning to prepare. Because I regularly share my training regimens here, I’ll post a more in-depth workout update soon. In short I added more, heavier sets, and 4 days of interval cardio.

Finally, moving forward I have decided to diversify the content of this blog. Historically I have shared my thoughts and analyses surrounding various aspects of lucha libre, mostly dwelling in the realm of theory. While I intend to continue to do so, I will also be sharing more videos, sound recordings, and increase my focus on photoblogging. In part this decision is to refocus on the original intent of this blog, which was to chronicle my adventures in the ring. Additionally I hope the decision will make blog-writing less daunting: while I love writing, it is exhausting to regularly research and write such dense posts in addition to a full-time job and several hours of training per week. Fans of my analyses, don’t fret: I will continue to write such posts, but the void in between such posts will be filled by perhaps less intellectually challenging posts.

 

But I promise no cat videos.

...color me surprised.
art, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, performance, Performance Art, school, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Washington

All Politics Is Local – Freeing Lucha Libre in Washington State

As some of you may have noticed on Facebook, both myself and Lucha Volcánica recently expressed support for Washington State HB 2573, which would help to lower the initial costs to host a lucha libre show—for that matter any type of professional wrestling show—in Washington State.

I am in no way a deregulation mongerer, but the rigor of the State’s requirements is as such that opening and maintaining a professional wrestling promotion—both financially and logistically—is nearly impossible. Based upon the requirements, here’s a rough breakdown of expenses a wrestling promotion incurs for a single event:

  • A promoter’s license: $500
  • 6% of the gross receipts paid for admission must be paid to the state
  • …plus $1 per ticket sold
  • Protective guardrail around the ring: $100-$170
  • An ambulance plus 2 EMTs must be onsite for the entirety of the event (usually 2-3 hours): $110 per hour, plus a minimum charge of one hour of drive time.
  • “Adequate” (definition unclear) security staffing, but clearly this could create additional costs.

This of course, is all before the promoter pays any space rental fee, and pays her performers, the emcee, ring announcers, DJs, and so on.

Additionally when a promoter intends to have an event, he or she is required to have an inspection by a state licensed inspector. The DOL site lists only three inspectors: two of whom have expired licenses and one of whom is “pending documentation.” The latter of which illustrates that even if a promoter wants to eat all of the costs to have an event, odds are she would have trouble doing so legally by the State by the sheer inaccessibility of an inspector.

It’s also worth noting that each individual wrestler must be licensed. This Combative Sports License must be renewed and paid for annually by the performer, and requires:

  • a physical examination
  • an STD blood panel
  • a urine test
  • a $25 fee to the state

In my experience, the full cost of this exam is roughly $150-$200 to the performer.

A priori these costs alone appear crippling to a small company. This is perhaps best illustrated by the Washington Department of Licensing’s numbers. Of the 27 promoters licenses for the state, only 2—WWE and TNA—are active. Similarly only two Pacific Northwest announces are licensed, with the remaining 10 or so licenses belonging to WWE announcers. Further, of the 200 viewable wrestling licenses listed, the only active licensed belong to WWE wrestlers°. This lacking diversity within the licensure illustrates a system that prevents small companies from flourishing, or pushes them underground often forcing performers to wrestle in less than ideal conditions. In either case the State is not benefitting financially, and the potential for a lucha libre or pro wrestling scene—and all of the business therein—is being squandered. The net gain for performers, local business, and the State alike ultimately lies in changing the current regulations, which are proving to keep lucha libre and pro wrestling in a perpetual chokehold.

News footage: Seattle-area performers talk about problems with Washington State’s regulation of wrestling.

° Only A-D portions of the alphabet are viewable on the DOL website.

Sources:
Licensing statistics: WA State Department of Licensing: http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/athletics/prowrestler.html

EMT & Ambulance Pricing Quote: American Medical Response: http://www.amr.net/Locations/Operations/Washington/Tacoma—-Pierce-County.aspx

Guardrail rental quote: National Barricade Co. 6518 Ravenna Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

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″

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”

Woot woot!
lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, performance, photography, school of lucha libre, Shows, South Park Seattle, training, Uncategorized

The Post-Championship Post (And Chasing AAA Dreams)

At Lucha Libre in the Park on Saturday August 17th 2013, I completed one of the goals that I had set for myself when I first started lucha libre: to become the Pacific Northwest Lucha Libre Champion. Continue reading “The Post-Championship Post (And Chasing AAA Dreams)”