The fascination with heels stems from several sources: fascination with evil, the thrill of transgressing, the will to power, the attractiveness of men who know how to make things happen.
Growing up, before I was even aware of pro wrestling on TV, I was fascinated with villains. Usually they were more stylish and witty than their hero counterparts, more "European," often more "gay" (even when Hollywood would not overtly point up the bad guy's sexuality, his "otherness" and his rage against the "natural" order often pegged him as queer). Dr. No, Auric Goldfinger, and Ernst Blofeld. Vampira, the Leopard Woman, and Cruella de Vil. Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless and Count Manzeppi, and the parade of campy "special guest villains" on TV's Batman. More often than not, the villains of my childhood were intellectual, stylish, aristocratic, and in the company of fit attractive henchmen. Even if they were the scarred and stringy-haired bad guys in westerns, they often had better cheekbones and jawlines than the hero.
My attraction to Hollywood villains eventually transferred to the bad guys of pro wrestling. The style and the attitude were still important--some were brooding menaces (like Doug Brandon, above, at Can-Am, tormenting Paul Perris, Guy Bolton, and Andy Sutton), others were preening peacocks--but a large part of what turns me on about wrestling heels is the moves they use that no good guy would use--except, perhaps, in turning the tables on the bad guy. This is what I want to mull over today.
Eroticizing the fight. If one contestant is more likely to flaunt his own body or comment on the prettiness of his opponent, it's the heel. Heels don't always wear the skimpiest gear, but they are prone to. And heels aren't shy about holds that put their opponent's face up to their crotches or press their midsections in hard on the guy from behind--usually only vaguely homo-suggestive, sometimes overtly and leering. Even if they're just pushing the straight fans' homophobic buttons to generate heat, I have altogether different buttons than most fans, which generate a more interesting kind of heat.
Hairpulling. I've commented before that just the phrase "male catfight" triggers all kinds of sweet and lurid sensations in me. Hairpulling may not be the exclusive prerogative of heels, but nine out of ten times it's a heel who'll cave to the temptation to take some pretty boy by the flowing locks and swing him around by them. For me, this cheap move is even better when the heel too has longish hair, dangling to his shoulders in teasing ringlets, pungent with anti-frizz gloss and the promise of imminent payback.
Illegal use of the ropes. Pinning an opponent with one foot on the bottom rope for added weight. Straddling an opponent's legs on the top rope so that it grinds against the guy's groin ... and then jiggling the rope. Choking an opponent against a rope. Grabbing the rope to escape a submission hold (though not illegal, this escape is especially vile when the heel repeatedly refuses to honor the five-count rope break when the situation is reversed). Yep, all of these.
Fleeing. I'm not sure why I'm thrilled when a cowardly heel runs away from his stalwart and straight-arrow antagonist. It only works for me when the good guy makes the effort to pursue him. Partly I like the touch-and-go suspense of the chase. Partly I can admire the strategy of wearing an opponent out by keeping him running. But more than anything I like the moment when the good guy catches the bad guy and tosses him back into the ring for more of what he has coming to him.
Introducing "foreign objects." Of the various dastardly heel moves, this one is perhaps my least favorite. What I dislike about weapons in the ring is also what makes them so evil--they disrupt the purity of the wrestling match--mano a mano--even worse, they usually end the bout in a disqualification (I hate DQs ... and draws.). But I can relate to the "foreign object" gimmick better if the weapon switches hands in the confusion of combat and the bad guy gets hoisted on his own petard. (I sincerely do love the heels, but it's hard for me to resist my craving for justice.)
Pissing off the hoi polloi. Oh, the special chemistry between a talented heel and a pissed-off crowd! The heel's fuck-you attitude to the rest of the world is one of the things I like about him best. What's genius about it is that, so often, the heel is only speaking the truth. The crowd is overweight. The trucker hat and sweatpants are not "a look," much less a "fashion statement." The hometown is a dump. And most fans are wearisomely attached to their "herd mentality" and easily lured into responding exactly the way promoters intend them to--rather than gutsily throwing their support behind the vastly more ingenious (and scarily handsome) heel.