I read before going to the spectacle that is Lucha VaVoom that I was going to be in store for masked wrestlers, burlesque dancing, and little people. But nothing could have prepared me for the pure derangement and entertainment value I was about to witness as I settled into a front-row spot in the audience. Team Gay versus Team Mexico? Girls with stigmata emblazoned with glitter on their palms? The Dirty Sanchez and his balls? By the end of the night, I was still shaking confetti out of my hair and wiping puke off my boots...
The stage of the Fillmore was transformed when I walked in Sunday night. A boxing ring was nestled on the stage where I've usually seen bands perform, with risers and platforms extending from it for what I could only guess would host the dancers. People adorned in sequined capes and colorful masks were scattered throughout the crowd, drinking up a storm and already getting rowdy at 8:30 on God's day. Oh, man.
As the lights dimmed, a guy dressed in a mariachi suit and holding a huge guitar cut-out came out on stage, rocking on his larger-than-life instrument before revealing a pogo stick attached to the back of it, getting on it, and then performing the most bizarre strip tease ever while still bouncing on the pogo. His finale, after stripping down to his skivvies, was pulling a drawstring on a pouch located centrally on his wang, and a tangle of confetti burst from his crotch as his "finish." I gaped in awe and confusion as the bachelorette party next to me clapped enthusiastically. Shit dude, this show was gonna be awesome.
Comedian Blaine Capatch took the stage briefly to explain the rules and layout of the show before retiring to the balcony with another comic to provide commentary. The night would consist of four matches of tag team duos going head to head with one another, with the burlesque punctuating the matches in between. "Lots of sex...and violence...and not much else tonight," quipped Capatch as the announcer took his place in the ring. This guy, fitted in a sharp red suit, spoke nothing but Spanish and had the same "Goaaaaaaaaaal!" voice as a soccer announcer. In each match, one pair would be dubbed the "tÃ©cnicos," the "good" guys with the flair of extensive and complicated wrestling moves, while the "rudos" were the villainized guys who would be incessantly boo'ed. My question is, how can you hate a character so much? The answer is that it's totally possible. Illegal moves garned a "Hey! FUCK YOU" even out of my own mouth, and some tactics caused me to clutch my chest in horror and close my legs in sympathy pains for the wrestlers. And I'm a girl.
"If you timed your drugs just right, the show should be getting really interesting right now," one of the commentators said as the Dirty Sanchez, El Presidente, and others filed on stage for the first match. Instantly, the wrestlers began slapping the crap out of one another, flying off the ropes, and agitating the referee, who was more interested in doing anything not related to refereeing. I thought I was getting adjusted to the idea of guys pummeling each other on stage and assumed the fight would be straightforward, when the Dirty Sanchez then pulled down his pants to shove his butt in another fighter's face, who was down on the floor. Immediately I put my hand over my eyes, but couldn't resist peeking in between my fingers. It only got worse as the Dirty Sanchez then shoved his crotch in the other guy's nose, then wiped his butt with a cloth to push in someone's mouth. This was so disturbing...and amazing...and the crowd only ate it up the more the antics got disorderly, screaming "Fuck him up, fuck him up!" and cheering when a guy named Disco Noche pinned a dude and then danced a move straight out of Saturday Night Fever.
The night only got weirder as the matches became more bizarre - two wrestlers outfitted in green Spandex and Day of the Dead masks using their wooden guitars to go up against a football player and the Devil, and then being launched into the audience in a hiccup moment before coming back victorious; the end three-way match of Team USA vs. Team Mexico vs. Team Gay, and drag queens using their brawn and kisses to win the title belt. But it was the Chickens and the Whales that was my favorite brawl of the show: two wiry guys with feathers down their arms and masks emerging out of the backstage cloaks to do the oddest chicken dance I have ever seen - on the floor, thrashing up and down on their butts while flapping their 'wings,' and scuttling around so much that I was having a seizure on their behalf. The ominous Whales then entered the ring, but it wasn't just any marine mammal: it was Shamu, to be specific. "SHAMU" was emblazoned on the side of these guys' pants from top to bottom, and shiny whale stickers were placed on their temples. And just as I was accepting what I was seeing, two little people dressed each as said Chicken and Shamu bolted through the crowd and rocketed onto stage, the announcer crying out "Mini Chicken! Mini Shamu!," to the raucous audience's yells. I gaped for the second time that night, and almost as if he knew, announcer Capatch said, "I just want to remind you all what you're seeing is actually real." And had I known in ten minutes Mini Chicken was going to jump from the Fillmore's balcony area onto Mini Shamu in a 11th-hour move, I would have requested my photo pass six months in advance to capture such a fine moment such as that. You haven't seen anything until you watch a little person do this chicken dance with a headdress affixed to his cranium. Trust me.
But it wasn't just about the wrestlers that night; the dancers also proved that sex and violence do really go well together. Nipple tassles, Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" song, and plenty of boob also made appearances throughout the night as the burlesque performers helmed the audience's attention in between fights. We got belly dancing, disco-infused popping, go-go majorettes, and an incredible hula hoop routine that involved a six-foot-in-radius hoop, phenomenal abdomen and arm flexing, and a gender rile-up at the end, as you realized the woman who was simultaneously stripping while grinding the hoop was actually a man. Religion also made a sight as two Catholic school girls started out classmates and ended up lovers while performing that Night Ranger song with stigmata splashed on their hands with glitter and introducing a crucifix while hoisting each other up in routine by only their feet. Excuse me?
The thing is, while the whole spectacle is one part freak show, the other part is, I think, celebration of the human body. All of the wrestlers and dancers had these unbelievable bodies, agile and toned to not only throw other people out of the ring and flip them over, but to also do acrobatics that require them to hoist themselves up in these impossible poses. It takes immense strength and discipline to even attempt once, and this crew was doing it night after night for this West Coast tour. For that alone, to revel in the greatness of such an epic proportion, it is worth coming out to see Lucha VaVoom - if not to steer clear of the ladies puking from their mixed drinks in front of you, at least to boo on that Mini Shamu. Asshole.