Objects of Fascination

Ethan Slade vs Leo Luckett, Catalog 8 - Muscle Boys Clash! (MuscleBoy Wrestling)

With each new MuscleBoy catalog, I see three or four videos that capture my imagination even before I've seen the matches. In Catalog 8, Slade vs Luckett is one of four (at least) that do the trick for me. The catalog description doesn't promise so much wrestling as a string of ritualized punishments in which Ethan and Leo take turns being the punisher and the punished. The video is set in a wrestling ring, but the guys are less interested in athletic competition than each other's body and the intricate web of nerves that lie beneath the surface. For 32 minutes, I'm hypnotized by the young men's obsession with how much pain their bodies can endure. (It's a bit like a Yukio Mishima short story about the beauty, narcissism, and assorted cruelties of young men.) I'm fascinated.

Leo and Ethan alike have plenty of qualities that fascinate. Their beauty is not other-worldly. It's definitely of this world - the material world of tattoos, warm skin, department-store scents, stiff nipples, clingy spandex, the sour-salt of another man's mouth. Nor is the action the sort of interplay I associate with some of MBW's other matches, what I think of as "romantic wrestling." This is less romance than eroticism of a specific sort - curiosity about the similarities and differences in bodies and the body's relative tolerance for pain and susceptibility to arousal. Each is, I think, as fascinated with his own body as with the other's - the exact split between pleasure and pain - and their overlap. The hair-pulling and gripping of crotches test how far they - we - can exert control over another body. The ropes and turnbuckles are instruments upon which to splay the other man's body, the dissecting pans for their exploration. The moves - Boston crab, body slam, schoolboy pin, bulldog - are sequences in a ritual, not part of a sustained fight narrative.

I cannot distinguish a winner and a loser here, heel or babyface, and I don't mind that. There is aggression but it follows a different pattern than competition. It's more like Ethan and Leo are each other's science experiment. In the end they taste each other and spill themselves upon each other, instead of planting a foot on the other's chest as if declaring victory or conquest. There is a kiss, but no championship.

"True beauty is something that attacks, overpowers, robs, and finally destroys." - Yukio Mishima

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