The Sensual Heel

Myron Reed vs Curt Stallion, Supercard - 10 February 2017 (Pro Wrestling Freedom)

As a kid I was drawn to movie villains - from Auric Goldfinger to Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless. Well before puberty, I was not ignorant of the fact that they were often characterized (to the extent that censors would allow) as sexually perverse. The perversion was hinted at in the villains' sense of high style and love of beauty (aestheticism being an apparent threat to Hollywood at the time) but also in their privileged use of space. Villains were allowed to be uncommonly familiar with members of their own sex. I think of the skinny tyrants running their fingertips across the heaving chests of musclemen in bondage. I think of the daringness of crime lords pressing their noses right up against the honest cops'.

In this match from February, Curt Stallion, not gay-identified as far as I can tell, likes to get up close when he's hurting stalwart young Myron Reed. The intimacy with which he punishes and humiliates the brave babyface is in contrast to Reed's preference for flashy high kicks that require only a millisecond of body contact. Similarly, Hollywood villains of old preferred stilettos and garrotes, which require close proximity, while the heroes usually used guns or rocket launchers to destroy bad guys at a distance. Stallion employs vicious and showy assaults that bring his body in contact with Reed's, and I love it, so apparently does the live audience. I think their chants of "Please come back" show their appreciation for Stallion's meticulous manhandling of the highflying stud.

The erotic frisson that I draw from such manhandling derives, as I've said in previous posts, from the heel's close attention to his opponent's body, if not to his welfare. The clinical coldness of this attention is what gets me. It's easy enough to just roll over somebody you despise, but to take the time to linger over it, to soak in the fact of one's own brutality and another person's debasement and gloat on it, is the difference between drone-bombing your enemy from another continent and, like the Bronze-Age Greeks, standing naked before you enemy, sensing the visceral exhilaration of witnessing his downfall close up.

At the end of the match the adversaries reconcile (sort of) with a sportsmanlike show of respect, followed immediately, however, by a dastardly and unprovoked attack that sets the stage for a future match. Up to the end, though, the two worlds are sharply delineated - Stallion's grinding vs Reed's kicks, Stallion's longhaired wild-man theatrics vs Reed's clean-cut and technical efficiency. Notice, for instance, how Stallion at times slows down an assault for maximum effect. We see this same dichotomy in underground wrestling in superstar heels as diverse as Kid Vicious and Quinn Harper, whose refusal to respect boundaries applies no less to bodies than to the rules of the game.

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  1. Whoa-- very nice find, and thanks for the insights and great points you made about the touchy-feely villains vs hands-off heroes. I've always thought that contrast in tactics but didn't know how to say it in words like you've done. One aspect I noticed in your animations, that you didn't happen to mention, is Stallion's usage of those big, black boots as surrogates for his fists or arms, kicking, scraping and lace-grinding that rough leather all over his victim's face, the boots adding a rougher texture to his body contact play.


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