Friday, May 20, 2011

On the High Camp of Joey Silvia



One of the most intriguing figures in local (North Carolina) pro wrestling is Joey Silvia, 5'8", 195#.  I have followed his career for I don't know how many years.  Quite a while ago, the early part of the last decade, local wrestling was broadcast on public access television, and back then I followed Silvia, as well as Xsiris, Ric Converse, the Mack brothers, and Brad Attitude, with rapt and lubricious attention.  Now I mainly have to settle for still photos online, along with the occasional (often inadequately lit and badly composed) video on YouTube, but I am no less drawn to the scene in ways that are hard to put into words.

Let it be known, I think Silvia is sexy--not just in spite of but in no small measure because of certain eccentricities in his performance style--a pronounced expressionism that would be right at home in a silent horror classic like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.  I'm not sure at what point I became aware of it.  In his early babyface days, Silvia was a blankly cheerful rookie, not strongly distinguishable from the garden-variety young handsome good guy in wrestling promotions everywhere, though even then there was a glassiness in his gaze that matched the shininess of his excessively baby-oiled skin.  

Over time, his character began to manifest darker elements, marked by sudden electroconvulsive flashes of fury.  He turned heel, but he has never been an ordinary heel.  For the past year, his mentorship of young Trevor Lee has hinted at abnormal and unsavory traits--not necessarily sexual, but definitely unwholesome.  At first I thought I was just imagining things--the knowledge that David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart had been shot in North Carolina no doubt had somewhat surrealistically colored my early impressions of the state.  But in time I came to see Silvia's over-the-top sense of wrestling drama as a form of performance art--sinister, clownish, eerie, edgy, baroque, and, yes, despite my usual preference for straight-edge wrestling, arousing. 

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