Thursday, April 8, 2010
KRUSH Speaks!: Exclusive Interview
Krush caught my attention a few years ago in a match versus frequent antagonist Lucien (Underground Wrestling 9--now fittingly retitled OUCH). The minimalist Spartan setup of the bout, the hot, sweaty grunting, the total domination of one man over another, both in skintight ebony briefs, all these elements stopped me in my tracks and stood me to attention, if you catch my drift. The way Krush smashed his fair-haired foe with quick violent hip thrusts, more bludgeoning than dry-humping, struck me as brutal and erotic on an almost primordial level. It's something of a signature move for the big bruiser and one I and a lot of other guys would not mind at all getting caught in.
It was in late 2009, during a phone conversation in which he brainstormed with me over his imminent move to pro-style wrestling, that I first asked Krush whether he'd be interested in answering a few on-the-record questions for me and readers of this blog. He agreed on the spot, but busy schedules kept us apart for months upon months, especially since the man has been busy lately revamping the style and tone of his web site, Krushco, introducing a new pro-wrestling league to the lineup, and drafting new talent to his international roster. This morning we were able to sync at last, and he took a few questions from me as an opportunity to share his vision and ideas on the sport and passion of wrestling.
Joe: For starters, tell me a little about the history of KRUSHCO.
Krush: I used to take photos of myself in my old wrestling singlets and sell them on eBay, starting in 1999, when very few others were doing that. And they were selling for anywhere from $75 and up. In the summer of 2003 I took some photos of myself in a fairly new Adidas singlet and put it up for auction and was shocked when the winning bid was $350. I couldn't believe it since it wasn't a vintage singlet, but apparently people were responding to the photos, so I tried my luck again, and someone in Ireland was the high bidder on the next one at $374. Always the entrepreneur, I saw this as a business opportunity, and my partner at the time came up with the name. Initially we both ran the business together until I became the sole owner in 2004.
Joe: Were you interested in wrestling as a kid?
Krush: I've been wrestling for just about as long as I've been walking. I used to challenge other kids in the playground, and through high school and college I'd always corner some guy in the gym or, better yet, the wrestling room and force him onto the mat.
Joe: The pay-per-view videos on KRUSHCO focus on submission wrestling. Obviously that's an interest for you and a lot of the visitors at my blog Ringside too. What specifically about it appeals to you? The idea of dominating someone? The body contact? The chess-like intellectual challenge? The gear?
Krush: I like all of that and more. I like that a match continues even if you're on your back and that you can beat your opponent from down there, just when he thinks he's in a position of advantage. I love feeling sore all over after a good fight, I love the occasional black eyes and body bruises I get from grappling--they're like trophies I wear with pride. I get a kick out of the people on the street who don't quite know what to make of me when I'm all banged-up looking.
Joe: What about other forms of combat? Any other martial arts strike your fancy? Boxing, for instance?
Krush: I like to watch boxing, and I do mix some striking into my fights, but I could never see myself getting too heavily involved with boxing. It's just too brutal on the head, in my opinion, and I don't get the same kind of rush from that sort of fighting as I do with wrestling. I'd much rather squeeze the heck out of someone in a body scissor than knock them out with an underhook.
Joe: Yeah, I get you. As a fight fan, I prefer squeezing to punching too. Punching is good for a burst of energy, but nothing's quite as mesmerizing as a long, grueling leg hold on a guy. Even better when both guys are glimmering with sweat ... or oil. You've got a book on Turkish oil wrestling, which is incredibly erotic for a state-sanctioned traditional event ... but maybe that's just me thinking that way. I've heard that some Turks resent foreign visitors to Kirkpinar. Did you ever, as an American, feel less than welcome at these events?
Krush: I was fully credentialed by the Turkish Press Office and had support from the Turkish Consulate here in New York City, as well as a United Nations group.
Joe: Any advice to guys interested in setting up private bouts in basements, back yards, and spare rooms?
Krush: Well, if at all possible, pad the walls and any beams that might exist in the room--I strongly suggest investing in some real wrestling mats if you're serious about the sport, even the kind that rolls up or folds up and can be stored. Most guys throw some sheets on the floor or put a mattress down, and that can be fine, but it isn't the safest or most effective way to roll. I always advise people to get any furniture with sharp edges out of the way, whenever possible.
Joe: Any essential equipment or gear?
Krush: Every fighter should have at least one of my singlets. (Laughs.) Seriously, though, kneepads are always a good idea, but otherwise it's a matter of personal preference. Shorts, singlets, it's all good.
Joe: Any words of advice or caution for less experienced wrestlers?
Krush: There are tons of instructional videos in submission grappling out there, and even useful clips on YouTube that can help you learn the basics of positioning yourself, how to apply various submission holds, and escapes. You don't need to spend a ton of money on gear, but it does help to wear something you feel really comfortable in and something you think looks good on you. Beginners need to be especially careful since they don't always have a clear understanding of the damage that certain submission holds can cause--nor are they always in touch enough with their own body's threshold for pain and/or injury, so it's important to warm up and not go apeshit in the beginning, even though it's very tempting to.
Joe: What's your daily diet-and-exercise regimen like ... say, when you're in training?
Krush: I generally have a fairly simple diet--every morning I have some whole-grain cereal and some kind of berries for breakfast, or more often two or three eggs. Lean meat and salad for lunch, then a balanced dinner of six to twelve ounces of protein (usually chicken or fish), vegetables (lots of them, all kinds), and a whole-grain bread. Every Sunday I allow myself to eat whatever I want for dinner and a huge dessert.
Joe: What do you do special to prepare for a match?
Krush: Mentally or physically? I think the mental aspect of fighting is crucial--I remain completely focused on the moment, my body, and my opponent's body. I have 100% confidence that I will prevail at all times, even when I'm in a bad spot. What most people don't realize is that how you are during a wrestling match reflects how you are in the rest of your life--are you a sore loser, or can you deal with not "winning" every time?
Joe: Damn. I must be a real asshole then. (Laughs.) How do you meet the guys you wrestle in your videos?
Krush: I've met most of them at various martial arts schools and gyms around New York City. Sometimes a guy will see me wearing wrestling shoes, and that has a way of landing us on the mat eventually.
Joe: How do you feel about the fact that a lot of guys look at you and your models and the wrestling videos as sources of erotic stimulation?
Krush: I'm deeply flattered. We have both male and female fans that watch our videos.
Joe: Any explanation or theories on the connection between sexuality and aggressive acting-out?
Krush: I think we all have primal urges that can be approached negatively, that is, without thinking, because they're so intense and intoxicating. When we act without thinking, we hurt ourselves and other people, and that's no good. It's important to pause before acting on any impulse--aggressive, sexual, or otherwise. Wrestling provides a structured way to work through these urges, provided that we approach it sanely and safely.
Joe: Ever wrestle gay or bi guys?
Krush: Not to my knowledge, but it really doesn't come up, we just wrestle.
Joe: Hm. What do you like about wrestling?
Krush: I like that it forces you to focus and be completely present. It makes you deal with uncomfortable situations and have the strength and stamina to wait for them to pass. It's the absolute best thing, not just for your body, but for your entire life.
Joe: Excellent. What aspects of wrestling do you like least?
Krush: I don't like when guys make it too personal, or when they try and work out their ego problems through wrestling. I've encountered a lot of highly fragile and overly sensitive men who get into this sport to try and reinforce a shaky sense of manhood and masculinity, and it does nothing but cause them and their opponents lots of problems. Lots of unnecessary drama and an endless cycle of wavering between an inflated sense of confidence and an exaggerated sense of shame and failure are the result of such an involvement. I tell people to get themselves sorted out off the mat if they want to fully enjoy being on the mat.
Joe: Nice. Very anatta. Now I got to ask you something incredibly incredibly dumb ... it's just my nature: What's the best fight scene you've ever seen in a movie or TV show?
Krush: An episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk has a standing struggle with a young guy. I can't for the life of me remember much else about it. Also, another Star Trek in which Kirk and his opponent were bound together loosely (tied by their wrists) by a long strap, so there was no running away from the fight.
Joe: Yeah. I saw that too, though it's been over forty years since then for me. I can't remember much about it either. Though I do remember that, when I was a kid in the 1960s, there were a lot of TV shows where guys fought while tied or chained or handcuffed together, and even as a kid I was kinky enough to get a tingle out of it. One last question, Krush ... What do you see as the future of KRUSHCO?
Krush: I want to play around and have more fun with wrestling, and that's why I'm dabbling in pro these days, in addition to introducing a new masked wrestler with superhuman powers. I'll always be putting out the good old-fashioned hardcore submission fights, but I'm also going to nod to those fans of mine who also want more of the over-the-top stuff that I'd never considered doing. Until now.
[Photos supplied by Krushco and used with permission.]