Masked luchadores can fly

Revenge was the goal, and the good guys had won, the bad guys had lost…we thought it was all over. When suddenly, for the second time of the night, a masked wrestler was thrown at us and another swan dived into us off the ropes. But that’s almost the end of the story.

It started at ten to nine this hazy Sunday morning, when Jose woke me up with a phone call, told me to get my chanclas on because we were going to the farmer’s market. I was still asleep (having had a heavy night of cider, Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen the night before), so I did.

The Hollywood farmer’s market is one of my favourite places, but today it passed in a kind of blur. I got some coffee from Angel, that helped, but I still apparently walked right past Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not that I’m exactly sure what he looks like, apart from being the one without the long hair. You know, that one. So we walked around, Bev and Jose bought vegetables while I smelled them and feasted on samples, and then we came home, and I went back to bed.

I got up again, did some work, played around for a bit, and then headed to the Cuban Music Festival in Echo Park…I love the Cuban Music Festival.

The music is superb of course, just what I love on a Sunday, as is the dancing. I also love the mix of people, and Cuban words rolling vowel-less and without their final syllables all around me. The old guys in their guayaberas and white linen pants, their straw hats, their clack of dominos. The sound of congas. Everyone smiling. The smell of platanos fritos and black beans and garlic chicken. Jose and I bought puros; we added to the fragrant smoke of cigars rising in benediction to the sky.

And then Ryan called, said there was lucha on in South East L.A., now. So we headed back to Jose’s to pick up Bev and the car and headed out. The ring is in a converted warehouse, with folding chairs set up around it three rows deep. There are industrial lights hanging above the ring, and chandeliers around the outside, the paint is peeling and there are mirrors along two walls. Tecate and nachos and tortas are all $2, the place is full of families, generations mixed up and getting rowdy. Here is one of the first luchadores, Pinky, howling a war cry amidst the crowd. And yes, his shirt does say that tough guys wear pink.

So lucha libre…it is pure show. Every match is between los tecnicos (good guys) and los rudos (bad guys), one against one, two against two…and tonight? We even had three against three. Not everyone wears a mask, but IF you wear a mask, it is the greatest humiliation possible to have it taken off, and you must try to preserve your anonymity. That happened twice tonight. The other great humiliation is to have your hair cut off, saw that happen in TJ. There is sometimes one ref, sometimes two. The ref is sometimes neutral, sometimes corrupt. And almost everyone in the audience is for the good guys, though of course, they don’t always win. Here’s one of the signs made by the kids in front of me on the back of the program

1,000,000 % TECHNICOS!!! 0% rudos. Yeah!!!! 00000% rudos, really!

You can’t get better than that sign. And you can see the devastation under the chairs from the first time we had to clear out when the wrestlers came flying over the ropes.

Tonight there were no midgets, but there was the out and out gay wrestler who kissed his opponents and bewildered them with his charisma. Sadly, said charisma in the form of grinding, kissing and playful spanks was carried out at speed and therefore impossible to capture in the terrible lighting, but I did try…

The costumes were phenomenal…

This one was Cali something (I actually and irresponsibly didn’t grab a program…I grabbed tecate instead, which would explain it), pure shiny vinyl, and the state of California in gold with a pair of sunglasses. Behind him is Mecanico, he came out in the full mechanic’s jumpsuit which you can see there hanging, and an improbably large wrench, which did come into play during the match.

And a more traditional costume, but snakeskin is always a hit with me (the pose is almost always the same…)

But the winner for the evening, both in costume and loony toons inspired theme song:

White Pork. I couldn’t make this up, reality often shames the power of my imagination. And of course, apart from the wrestling and show and political and social statements of it all, it’s kids like White Pork’s number one fan that make the evening so amazing, which is why I enjoyed this evening far more than I did Lucha Va Voom at the Mayan.

And then the revenge match was on, three on three. The audience was outraged by los rudos and there was a lot of back and forth. This is a very participatory sport and I have a lot more to say about that but it’s getting late, but it’s always nice to be able to shake your fists and scream anything you like at the bad guys without any consequences.

And the match was crazy and the ref was corrupt and it all looked grim, and then there was a bit of a fight off to our right and then there was an EARTHQUAKE! For a split second I thought the really tremendously fat luchador had done something crazy behind our backs, but I quickly realized (my splendid intellect hard at work) that no one could make a concrete floor jolt like that. Everyone around confirmed that of course, but the fight continued…

And finally against all odds the good guys had won, the bad guys had lost…we thought it was all over. When suddenly, for the second time of the night, a masked wrestler was thrown at us and another swan dived into us off the ropes.

You can see Jose scrambling to get out of the way. Those chairs were recently occupied by Ryan, Erica, Bev, and myself. All very exciting. And the good guys won the match, and the post match as well, but there was a lot of shit talking at the end…the rudos told everyone in the audience that they were too poor to come back next Sunday, everyone insulted everyone else’s family but specifically one guy’s recently deceased father…well. It was a cliff hanger.

So we left, and nachos not having been quite enough for dinner, we stopped at the taco truck…

And now I’m home writing this blog, it’s hitting 1 am and next door they have been drinking since I got home, aye-ayeing and listening to ranchera, and now they are very likely about to fight. Some beer bottles just went flying. We’ll see, hopefully they’ll all just go sleep it off. Which is what I am going to do.


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