Sunday, October 10, 2010

Darkness and Light

On Friday, Kevin Douglas, billed "The Modern Day Hero," faced Mr. Right, accompanied to the ring by his ambivalently gendered pal Sinsational Sal.  This was in San Antonio for the Texas Wrestling Association.  The match was to determine who gets to move up to the semi-finals, and Douglas in red briefs gave Right in black tights  a right good thrashing that night and walked away the winner.

In one of the most flamboyant gimmicks I have come across, "19-year-old" Hispanic wrestler/manager Sal, the self-proclaimed "Queen of the Night," barely seen at ringside in these shots, models his persona half on Dr. Frankenfurter and half on the late great Sherri Martel and presides over a coalition known as The Sinful Society.  According to every indication, Sal is a gay man in the real world, and the Society includes, in addition to the slim but studly Mr. Right, ghetto-fabulous characters named Gabe "The Babe," MADNESS, Dragon X, and the 6th Street Sinners (6th Street is the notorious home of over a 100 bars and nightclubs, straight and gay, in nearby Austin).

In stark contrast, stocky and sexy Douglas is a straight-edge born-again bible believer, who sometimes dons a cape to fight the forces of evil and whose biggest indulgence appears to be overworking himself at the gym.  One has to sit back and wonder how all this plays out in Texas, even in the relatively open and socially liberal environment of San Antonio.  My own feelings are exasperatingly mixed.  I am reminded of my self-loathing youth in fundamentalist churches and schools, Christ-haunted and feverishly self-destructive, and I worry about the impact of such glittery stereotypes and glib phony heroism ... but then there is the drama too--which the high contrast caps of this match convey--of light versus darkness, sanctity versus sin, and hero versus coward, which, even though I don't believe any of it for a second, still reverberates as "good theater" in my bones.  I cannot begin to tell you how Mr. Right's agonized groans at the hands of upright Kevin cause my nads to flutter. 

And so here's my terrible secret.  My fucked-up youth has left a residue, faint though it is, in my present, reasonably balanced maturity.  The upshot is that I am thrilled by this sort of carnival atmosphere that celebrates (even while punishing) the showy, the sinful, and the decadent almost as much because it flips the bird at GLAAD and the delicate sensibilities of my tasteful gay brothers as because it offends Focus on the Family and the smug bible-thumpers of my teen years.   Don't even bother telling me--I know already how dark, sick, tacky, and loathsome my heart must be.  But I like to think that, as distasteful as such shows are, they bring the holy and the profane together for an evening of chuckles and goosebumps, and in some infinitesimal way they (perhaps) are healing, too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us, Joe, and thank you YouTube for giving us the chance to watch these small, independent companies. Look at the size of the audience in this dingy-looking auditorium. It looks like about 20 people showed up to watch this match. These young guys work so hard at training and competing and they deserve to be seen by more people.



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