UCW-Wrestling's Johnny Deep is a beautiful young man who looks disturbingly twelve. He is, I have no doubt, of legal age. He probably looks younger to me because of my advanced years. Despite his cherubic appearance, he is an aggressive wrestler, even somewhat sadistic at times. In UCW's recently released video [#298] he wrestles Axel, co-owner of UCW, who looks like he could be Johnny's slightly older (but at least post-pubescent) brother.
This is Johnny and Axel's third time facing each other on the UCW mats. Their first match together was introduced as a holiday special, an Easter egg hunt--odder and creepier in my recollection of it than in the initial viewing. The second match was an oil match, a rarity at UCW, ostensibly in response to a suggestion made by Johnny's girlfriend. This third match starts off with the boys in hoodies and baggy shorts but soon stripping them off because "it's getting a little hot in here," then, a little before the match's halfway point, stripping down to jockstraps.
Axel is teaching Johnny how to defend himself on the mat. In the process, Axel and Johnny both turn, perhaps unavoidably, aggressive and bully-like. After an initial lockup and armbar, in which Axel holds nothing back, Axel says to his fresh-faced trainee, "If your arm hurts, do something about it." Johnny does ... and the match advances with escalating speed and intensity. Elbow smashes give way to choking. ("Going to sleep yet?" Johnny inquires raspily, momentarily possessed by the spirit of "Macho Man" Randy Savage.) Choking gives way to nipple twisting. Nipple twisting gives way to gut pounding. Body slams, chin locks, snapmares, Boston crabs, camel clutches, headscissors, and, of course, crotch clawing are quick to follow. Axel encouragingly croaks, "Good job," when Johnny responds to instruction and kicks shit out of the instructor (that is, Axel himself). The bout ends neatly with a three-count pinfall. All in all, it is, for me, an unexpectedly effective blend of "tough" and "cute."
Watching this match I'm reminded of a picture that's floating around Tumblr and Facebook. It contains three photographs, set in an evolutionary sequence, of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Pumping Iron days, then Mark Wahlberg in his Calvin Klein Underwear days, and last Justin Bieber, shirtless. The caption says, "Something Terribly Wrong Is Happening." I get the joke. For fifteen years or so, we've been in the Age of the Twink, from boy bands to Bieber. The world has moved far away from the Steve Reeves machismo of my youth, a progress I'm frankly ambivalent about. All our superheroes of the 21st century are driven by angst, even Superman, for Christ's sake--but at least the new Superman has a smokin' bod.
Johnny and Axel have slim, fit bodies that I find achingly lovely. Their beauty stirs respectful admiration mixed with an impulse to protect them from harm and unhappiness. But let me be clear: the effect of Axel's and Johnny's physiques is not entirely "platonic." It would be more "appropriate" if it were. To be candid, I find my attraction to these smooth slim boys somewhat distressing. The attraction is perplexingly erotic, perplexing because neither fits my usual "type."
More often than not, I'm attracted to men in their thirties, with hairy forearms and five-o'clock shadows. I have been since I was at least thirteen (when I discovered Robert Conrad in The Wild Wild West, dubbed in Japanese, because my father, thus my family, was stationed overseas at the time). I still tend to be drawn to thirty-somethings, even though I'm now twice-thirty. Ordinarily when I'm attracted to younger boys, they are strapping, husky, mannish boys. But that type is no longer easy to find. Today we have trim, well-put-together guys like Axel and Johnny, or depilated gym bunnies who wouldn't be caught dead without at least $100 of product on their faces and scalps, or sloppy and typically mopey slouches. I oversimplify, of course. We still have all types. But the prevalent image of masculinity is changing. And for somebody my age, the change can seem pretty alarming.
That said, young guys are growing up more conscious about health and fitness than previous generations of American males. That's a good change. As a kid I liked bodybuilders and even bought fitness magazines, but it never occurred to me to build my own physique. Instead, I treated the magazine photos like paper dolls, not dressing them in cutout clothes, but imagining them wrestling each other. I was built naturally strong, though bumbling, tall, with a propensity for building muscle without trying, a propensity I lost a few decades back. Among my regrets, and I don't have many, are my failure to become proficient in any language but my native one and my neglect of my athletic development.
So while I'm not driven to leap on Axel and Johnny and pound myself into them, I do like and admire what I see: fit young guys comfortable with their bodies, determined to improve their skills, enthusiastic in testing themselves and each other. And in the end, as they tug at each other's jockstraps and twist each other's limbs, it occurs to me that, yeah, maybe it is getting a little hot in here.