exhibition
of
suffering,
spectacle
of
defeat

 

“The public is completely uninterested in knowing whether the contest is rigged or not, and rightly so; it abandons itself to the primary virtue of the spectacle, which is to abolish all motives and all consequences: what matters is not what it thinks, but what it sees.”

Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957)

Here at American Ethnography we likes us some Mexican wrestling – a little bit of guys in tights doing topes and planchas: We think masks are cool, El Santo rules, and lucha libre is a goddamned triumph!

There are always those, of course, who have to go ahead and call glorious spectacles like this kitschy, but we say kitschy schmitschy: Culture doesn't get much better, and if you don’t agree, you should maybe check out the stuff we have for you in this issue:

 

For her book, The world of lucha libre, anthropologist Heather Levi trained as a wrestler in Mexico City – apprenticing with a retired luchador – and gained a unique insider’s perspective of the sport. She also observed live events and interviewed wrestlers, referees, officials, promoters, and reporters, and gathered her insights in a beautiful work of ethnography. We’re stoked that Duke University Press has allowed us to present our readers with an excerpt from Levi’s book.

 

Browsing through some American wrestling magazines from the 1970’s we stumbled upon the make-believe world of apartment wrestling (below). This treasure chest of exploitation poetry – soft-core erotica cast in the world of athletics – was the invention of wrestling magazine publisher Stanley Weston, writer Dan Shocket and photographer Theo Ehret. We have put together a celebration of their work, and called it with the fury of primitive savages fighting for their gods.

Blue Demon ante si mismo

Photo: Lourdes Grobet

 

Many of photographer Lourdes Grobet’s amazing images from the Mexican wrestling scene are collected in Espectacular de lucha libre (published by Trilce Ediciones). Read our review of Grobet’s book here (presented along with a couple of our favorite images of Blue Demon and Santo).

We also have some of Patricio Crooker’s beautiful images from the Bolivian Lucha Libre scene. Yes, that's right … Bolivian Lucha Libre!

 

Apartment wrestling feature in Sports Review Wrestling

Sports review wrestling 1976

 
  • American Ethnography Quasimonthly is published by the Intercontinental Institute for Awesome Anthropology and Ethnographic Excellence
  • © 2010, 2011, 2012