They kicked hetero butt up and down the state of Chihuahua
September 4, 2014 1:52 AM   Subscribe

The Man Without a Mask, The New Yorker on Cassandro and the role of the exótico within lucha libre.
“It was Baby Sharon who encouraged me to step out of Mister Romano,” Armendáriz said. Baby Sharon was an exótico—a luchador who wrestles in drag. Exóticos have been around since the nineteen-forties. At first, they were dandies, a subset of rudos with capes and valets. They struck glamour-boy poses and threw flowers to the audience. As exóticos got swishier and more flirtatious, and started dressing in drag, the shtick became old-school limp-wristed gay caricature. Crowds loved to hate them, screaming “Maricón!” and “Joto!” (“Faggot!”). The exóticos made a delightful contrast with the super-masculine brutes they met in the ring. Popular exóticos insisted that it was all an act—in real life, they were straight. Baby Sharon was among the first, according to Armendáriz, to publicly say that, no, he was actually gay.

ESPN on exóticos:
A new generation of openly gay wrestlers reveled in the exótico's sexuality, coyly tweaking stereotypes to confront the audience with the idea that being gay could be something more than a stage joke. They also ushered the exótico out of villainy. Lucha libre's organizing principle is good vs. evil: técnico contra rudo. Técnicos are graceful, honorable and skilled wrestlers. Rudos win with brute strength and by cheating when the referee's back is turned. Where the early exóticos had been exclusively rudos, some of the new generation began to assume the role of técnico.
El Pas Times: El Paso-born openly gay, cross-dressing luchador has fought battles in and out of the arena
Cassandro doesn't feel that his sexuality has hampered his career, in which he became the first exótico to hold a title in one of Mexico's top wrestling promotions, the UWA World Lightweight Championship in 1992.

"Of course, I've had drinks thrown at me, people in the crowd wanting to take a shot at me, but that happens to all the luchadors, gay or not," he explains. "It's part of the show; you're there to be either loved or hated.

"But the reactions I get, even in Mexico, are mostly positive. I have fans of both sexes and all ages. Women will yell at me to come over and kiss their husbands, which I do. It's part of the craziness of the show."
NPR: In Macho Mexico's Lucha Libre, The 'Lady' Is Often The Champ

The last article is related to the release of Michael Ramos' documentary, Los Exòticos
posted by frimble (11 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic post! That New Yorker story is excellent. Armendáriz's courage is astounding.
posted by Quilford at 2:40 AM on September 4, 2014

The New Yorker also has a video interview with Cassandro / Armendáriz, as well as footage of his fights and fight prep
posted by Quilford at 2:54 AM on September 4, 2014

Great post - thanks!
posted by coleboptera at 3:27 AM on September 4, 2014

All hail Gorgeous George!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:54 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

frimble, thanks for posting the New Yorker article. I read this a few days ago despite my lack of interest in lucha libre, and was so glad I did. Really worth your time, folks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:54 AM on September 4, 2014

I had seen the NPR story but the others are new to me. Thanks for posting this! I know what my evening reading today will be now.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:53 AM on September 4, 2014

Fabulous post.
posted by glasseyes at 6:29 AM on September 4, 2014

Thanks for this. I don't watch enough lucha libre--it's a very different art form from most American-style pro wrestling, and I really dig it. The whole exòticos thing is really interesting--largely gay men playing effeminate characters who are, at least in Cassandro's case, still allowed to get over on the "regular" performers.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:41 AM on September 4, 2014

Man, that New Yorker piece is so sad.
“We’ve come a long way. But now I know that all my problems, all my addictions, come from my sexual orientation. All the rejection. Why do you think I’m alone?”

I didn’t think of him as alone. He was everybody’s favorite person. Did he not have relationships?

“I spent twelve years with a straight married lover,” he said. “From the age of eighteen to thirty. It was very damaging. There were five, ten, fifteen minutes of heaven in bed. Otherwise, he was bitching at me. He was a luchador. We both went to Mexico City. But only my career went up and up and up. He was with his wife, in Juárez.”
And then it gets into the murder rate in Juárez.
posted by psoas at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2014

I know this is a shallow response but OMG that shirt on the goateed guy with the devil horns in the New Yorker article! It reads, "si se puede," beneath a masked luchador sporting a top knot ponytail that gracefully drapes down his shoulder! I must have this shirt!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:14 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

May I plagiarize the post title to write Cormac McCarthy slash fiction?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:24 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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