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Lucha VaVOOM @ The Mayan, 2/12/08
Walking away from the Mayan Theater on Tuesday night, dazed, my ears still ringing and images of brightly-colored wrestling unitards still flashing before my eyes, I was transported back through time and space to a little strip club in Montana called Shotgun Willie’s, on a hot night last August.
I was sitting on the stage, handcuffed to the pole by a naked young blonde woman for what's called a "hostage dance." Out of the blue she began batting me in the face with her large, perfect, pendulous breasts. The sensation was so overwhelming I wasn’t sure what to feel. They were amazingly soft and bouncy, yet a little cool and damp. It was so much of a good thing in such an unexpected way, and so fast and furious, that it was impossible for me to digest on the spot.
That was the only thing that I have ever experienced that came close to Lucha VaVOOM.
Lucha is centered around everyone’s two favorite things: sexo y violencia. Lucha is Spanish for fight, and Lucha Libre, which means free fight, is professional Mexican wrestling where the fighters wear masks and perform high-flying aerial stunts. VaVOOM is for the burlesque dancers.
“Lucha VaVOOM is full contact fun,” says producer Rita D’Albert. “It's entertainment without ironic distance from it's subject.”
Outside the theater before the show began was a crowd of the usual suspects. A Derby Girl handing out promo material for her next dance with death, rockabilly chicks scattered here and there, and young men in tight jeans that only came halfway up their asses.
A Spanish version of "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction" blasted through the club once I set foot inside. Billows of smoke poured towards the as-yet-unoccupied wresting ring positioned front and center, with a square stage jutting out. The walls of the Mayan are fashioned to resemble ancient carvings, which to my untrained eye resemble totem poles.
Red light flooded the whole club, and the ring, with a bright blue floor and the words “Lucha VaVOOM!” slapped across it, was decorated with red balloons and light projections of pink hearts to carry the evening’s Valentine’s Day theme, “Love is in the Air.”
The club was getting packed and people’s excitement was palpable. It was like we were in the 1950's and we were a bunch of squealing pigtailed girlies waiting for Elvis to come out and thrust his manhood in our general direction. Five big screen TV’s hung above the crowd and set the mood with old black and white movies, complete with cackling villains sporting devilishly thin moustaches and seductive dames sweeping across the screen trailing long pieces of silky fabric.
Suddenly the lights went down and out onto the stage walked a tiny, skinny man (although not the tiniest we would see that evening) named Blaine Capatch, wearing a tightly fitting tuxedo and wire-rim glasses. Flanked at that moment by the burlesque-dancin’, acrobatics-doin’ sister act Las Poubelles (The Poubelle Twins) wearing naughty nurse outfits, Capatch introduced himself as the comedy relief and host for the evening.
And the festivities took off.
From the moment it began it was a Tom Waits song come to life. Dancers Moana Santana and Ursulina walked onstage dressed as the Queen of Hearts and the Queen of Clubs, looking like they had been plucked straight out of some sort of X-rated Alice in Wonderland. They angrily stripped off each other’s capes and bustiers in a mock fight, then danced a tango before being descended upon by two men and a full-figured woman called the Kissing Bandits. After lip-raping the dancers, the two burly men flung them over their shoulder like sacks of potatoes with tits and lumbered off stage.
Before the stage had time to be wiped down of the sweat and glisten left behind by the dancers, the wrestling ring was stormed by fighters Dirty Sanchez, wearing a curly wig over his privates to resemble pubes, Lil’ Cholo, who hit the ring sweating, and Los Calaveras, dressed in bright blue onesies with skeletons emblazoned across the front. Each wrestling match was between a tag team, which was odd to me, having grown up in the era of Hulk Hogan when tag teaming was rare and special.
Dirty Sanchez and Lil’ Cholo took on Los Calaveras with gusto. I realized around this time that the audience, like the performers, was not fucking around. People were up from their chairs, screaming, cheering, booing…and it was only the first match. And these weren’t out-of-towners, some crazy Midwesterners visiting for the weekend with their extra 200 pounds of flesh and their extra extra large tubs of buttered popcorn. These were Hollywood types, squeaky clean men with gelled hair and crisp striped button-down shirts left untucked, just so, from their pressed Diesel jeans. Standing up unabashedly and showing real joy.
Dirty Sanchez, as you may well imagine, took glee in making the most of his moniker. At the end of the match, after losing to Los Calaveras, Sanchez took out a towel and wiped his ass, then tried to shove it in the face of one of his opponents. Unfortunately success was not his, and instead, his partner Lil’ Cholo had his face slammed into the shitty cheek of Sanchez whence the poop rag came.
I promise I won’t go through every single act, but some simply must be told about in detail. Following the defeat of Dirty Sanchez and Lil’ Cholo, a man came out on stage with a pogo stick. This man was wearing a poncho, chaps, jeans, sunglasses, a hat, and several shirts, and by the end of the song, this man was wearing nothing but the tiniest thong ever made. This thong was not revealed until the removal of two other thongs first, and this man, Rocky Roulette, did his entire striptease while bouncing on that pogo stick. And as far as we know, he still has his nuts to tell about it.
The acts went on, and on, and on until I felt as though I had been pummeled by a pair of double D’s until I didn’t know which way was up. D’Albert is well aware of the effect the shows have on audiences. “We alternate a dancer, then a wrestling match (with comedic commentary over the wrestling), back and forth, and there are always surprise elements thrown in,” she says. “Our goal is for the audience to barely assimilate what is happening on stage before we throw something else at them.”
Between acts, Capatch would holler out into the room, “LUCHA!!!” and the audience would yell back, “VA-VOOOOOOM!!!!” Never have I seen such genuinely enthused Angelenos. “The Lucha audience [is] so into the show and so supportive,” says dancer Lux LaCroix, whose act was “a tribute to the ladies who seek love for financial gain.”
“It's impossible not to be swept up in the excitement,” she added.
Las Poubelles made another appearance, in which they trounced opponents Dr. Horowitz and Paramedico Jr. in the ring. Later, the Crazy Chickens took on Joey Ryan and the Human Tornado. Joey Ryan looked like a wrestling version of The Dude, and he poured so much baby oil down his pink Hawaiian print undies that his junk must have been rolling around in there and having it’s own little oiled up wrestling match.
The highlight of the dancers for the evening was a toss-up between Lola La Cereza, with a hot sexy bullfighter act, in which she presented her nearly naked body as severely and with as much solemnity as any stern-faced torero, and Karis, the gender-bending hula hooper. Karis began his (or her, I’m not sure which Karis prefers) performance dressed in a gown with stripper heels and massive fans covering his chest. By the end, he had revealed his lack of breasts, no doubt made many hetero men in the audience deeply question their sexual identity, and was hooping around his head, shoulder, and even his foot.
Towards the finale, there were so many people onstage fighting that I had a hard time getting down all of their names. All I know is this: there were two girls, two midgets, a dude in purple underwear, and a man in black leggings with XO written across his ass. I’m not sure who won, or if there was a winner…except for me. And here’s why…
The very last act of the night was called Sashay Gigante, and it was a bunch of men of all ages (ALL ages) who stripped down to thongs, then thrusted and gyrated into the air. The men then Sashayed their way around the audience, humping people left and right, male and female. And folks, the very last thing that happened to me before I left that theater was getting humped, Sashay-style, by none other than Kato Kalin.
A very, very fitting end to the night.
Photos by Anti/LAist