Eight years ago the following announcement appeared on the website of the Junior Professional Wrestling Association, Inc.
On May 29th, 2002, the JPWA Board of Directors decided to close the JPWA web site. The JPWA site has always been devoted simply to wrestling entertainment; unfortunately, some in the media are selectively choosing certain images and making incorrect generalizations and assumptions about our organization. Although we feel that we committed no wrongdoing of any kind, the Board felt that it was in the best interest of all parties involved to close the site. All prior orders for merchandise will be filled. The JPWA Board and wrestlers would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who has shown support to our organization through our existence, and especially to those who have expressed their support in the past month.
Last week Bruno (of Beefcakes of Wrestling) mentioned the controversy in his comment to one of my posts.  I vaguely recall the brouhaha--as I was one who visited the JPWA site on occasion and had even bought a few of JPWA’s tapes--but I was curious about the details, which I had either forgot or never known.

It’s hard to report this story without entering into some of the emotions it stirred among those who lived through it.  From my standpoint, the controversy looks like a tempest in a teapot, imaginations inflamed either by a where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire sort of reasoning or by an inability to distinguish eroticism from pornography--or erotic intent from erotic effect.

Rev. Glenn Michael Davidowich, of St Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church, started up the New Jersey organization in 1998, purportedly to raise funds to help a young paraplegic man in California.  When the controversy erupted several years later, serious questions were raised as to whether any of the donated money went to the young injured man.  The young man’s mother, for instance, claimed never to have heard of the JPWA, though a photograph of Glenn Michael and the young man together was published on the site.  Of course, the picture proves nothing in either support of or defense against a charge of fraud.

The strong emotions surrounding the controversy arose from altogether different photographs, also posted on the site.  These stirred questions of the fighters’ safety--they usually wore no gear except for Speedos.  However, qualified WWA wrestlers had trained the fighters, ranging in age from 14 to late twenties, for almost six months before the first tape went on sale.  Their swimwear was probably an economical substitute for the sort of gear worn by most pro wrestlers, whose age range includes a large number of teens and men in their early twenties.

The concern over safety strikes me as a smokescreen, however, escalation and exaggeration being the usual tactic of puritans and killjoys who decide (or, I should say, mimicking homophobes everywhere, “make the choice”) to get their panties in a twist and can’t stop themselves from shoving their noses into other people’s kinks.

But, there, see?  I’m taking sides and I shouldn’t.  I don’t know the details, so I’m only voicing my suspicions.  However, I base my suspicions on firsthand experience in fundamentalist circles and my knowledge of the petty hypocrisies that usually underlie the guilt that in turn fuels the meanness that surfaces in otherwise quiet and unassuming churchgoers whenever the specter of S E X raises its head.  Here I speak the truth as I see it.  But the fine points of the JPWA case remain vague to me.

The suspect pictures showed the young wrestlers in positions that looked sexual.  (See the evidence given to support this charge below.)  Hm.  I would now like to direct everybody’s attention to the banner at the top of the screen.  That picture was taken at an old-fashioned pro wrestling event years and years ago, not at Falcon Studios, not even at Naked Kombat.  Is my point clear?  This site would not even exist if it were not for the fact that a great many pictures of wrestlers and wrestling action look homoerotic--even when both men in the ring are steady tithers at church, married (to women), shooting out babies left and right, and possibly even boasting a strong homophobic streak to boot*.

Unless the young wrestlers issued complaints and charges of misconduct I never heard about, there doesn't appear to be much more than innuendo to suggest that Davidowich conducted himself in an inappropriate manner.  He might have been naive--even repressed sexually--but the pictures are just pictures of guys wrestling.  Sure, they are hot, but they are not much different from thousands of pictures of athletes in skimpy gear that turn some of us pervs on.  By the logic of the media in 2002, everybody involved in the training of Michael Phelps ought to be arrested and put on trial--whereas simply handcuffing the swimmer to my bed would be enough.

One blogger, sympathetic to the outraged parishioners, noted that the JPWA wrestlers sported “names like HardKore Kid, David Goliath, Sven, Latin Heat, and Bad Brad,” quipping “you could be excused for mistaking those monikers for porno star handles.”   Perhaps that blogger has yet to come across the pro wrestlers Johnny Cockstrong, Brutus Beefcake, SeXXXy Eddy, Rick Rude, and Cyrius Suk. Those names make “Sven” sound just sorta Nordic

I should add that I in no way endorse or condone child abuse, whether it be sexual abuse or the sort of abuse that tells a kid he might die and go to hell if he plays with his wee-wee too much.  But allegations of abuse need more than just insinuations that appeal to the public's sexophobia.  Perhaps all was not on the up and up at JPWA--even though the subsequent career of JPWA's "Johnny Heartbreaker," aka Romeo Roselli, would lend support to Davidowich's contention that JPWA was just training young men to be pro wrestlers--but the evidence in the public domain is insufficient to convince me that the media's and public's suspicions of abuse were warranted.

By the way, JPWA appears to have risen from its ashes this year.  Its relatively innocuous (though unarguably sensuous) videos are again available on VHS and DVD at its site.  

I wonder whether St Michael's is getting a taste of the profits.

* Case in point, one particularly tall and dashing young pro wrestler even advertises on his MySpace page that he is “86% homophobic” and that he will watch “any movie” except those “that are about gay people.”  But, then, these remarks might be meant as tongue in cheek.  Who knows?  Still, I wouldn't mind putting the guy in a headscissors.


  1. Here's the whole story...

  2. What could be more controversial than a Catholic priest starting up a video company featuring semi-naked teenage boys grappling on a mat? Everything about pro-wrestling is so homoerotic (from the costumes to holds to the flexing), and JPWA's product is no exception. I can see how some people were outraged by what they saw; quite a few of the photos and video clips on the original JPWA site were, whether deliberately or not, titillating: skimpy swimwear, visible bulges, crotch-grabbing, light bondage (clothespins on nipples), a loser's chest being slathered with shaving cream at the end of a match, wrestlers stripping each other's clothes off, and the list goes on. To me, JPWA was BG East-lite. It seemed like they wanted to peddle the "kinkier" side of pro-wrestling but with teens and young adults. But hey, that's just my opinion. (Keep up the great work, Joe.)

  3. Good points, Bruno. Guess I have lowered the bar of my expectations for priests, preachers, and the like, giving Davidowich too many points for openness (comparably) and not actually (as far as I know) diddling any underage wrestlers--an improvement over what I hear about the clergy over the media--and from my ex-Catholic pals.

    My point about homoeroticism is that much of it in sports, etc., is in the eye of the beholder. We see it because we are gay and kinky. But think of the thousands of straight homophobes who watch a man in tiny tights sitting on the face of another man in tiny tights, sweat streaming off their bodies, and don't put the same two and two together that we do.

    And speaking of "semi-naked teenage boys," churches have them hanging off crosses and penetrated by arrows all over the building--one of the few things I miss about church. In my opinion, the whole religion is like a starter kit for s and m.

    But you are right--I am probably being deliberately and provocatively naive about the JPWA case. I am such a reprobate it is a wonder I have any morals left--just kidding, I think.

  4. I do recall the flap and was certainly disappointed that JPWA shut down. I sort of see a somewhat reasonable objection to underage boys being erotically exploited. I 14-year-old kid probably is not qualified to give an informed consent. I have a few of their videos and have not seen anything blatant, but a lot that's delightfully suggestive. On the other hand, check out this:
    It's one of my favorites. Found it many months ago. I'm not sure about the ages of these kids. The one, though, I'm not sure if he's carrying a gun or is just glad to see his opponent. He's identified as Nature Boy Flavio and there are claims he was in BG East's Tennyson Series matches. I've not been able to confirm this at either BG East or BG Enterprise sites. But have seen him in a ring match, more conserbatively attired, beating up TNT Horrigan, seconded for the occasion by Raw Deal. For blatant back in the same era, remember DAK, which shut down very abruptly? Nudity, sex acts, hot young guys with huge not-so-hot older guy, terrible production values and not much wrestling skill. To top it off, there may have been some question as to models ages.

  5. Thank you, magusxxx, keith, and bruno for the comments. @magusxxx: I apologize for the delay in posting your comment--an oversight on my part.


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