Sexo y Violencia: Lucha VaVOOM!

by | May 7, 2009 | POLITICS

It’s been a while since RVA has seen any action from our beloved Richmond Lucha Libre. They’ve been on hiatus since their last event in 2008, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled for a possible return to mayhem around Best Friends Day. Luckily for us, they’re not the only high-flying, death-defying, masked menaces wreaking havoc on American soil.


It’s been a while since RVA has seen any action from our beloved Richmond Lucha Libre. They’ve been on hiatus since their last event in 2008, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled for a possible return to mayhem around Best Friends Day. Luckily for us, they’re not the only high-flying, death-defying, masked menaces wreaking havoc on American soil.

For about six years the Los Angeles based Lucha VaVOOM! has been combining authentic masked lucha libre wrestling with sassy strip teasing and comedy. The results are truly unique, tongue-in-cheek events at beautiful historic theaters like the Fillmore and the Ventura Theater in California.

Male and female luchadores of all shapes and sizes duke it out in the ring, and the wrestlers are as authentic as they come. Many fly in from Mexico just for matches. Luchadores perform under fantastically creative identities like Cry Baby, Dirty Sanchez, and El Chupacabra, with tag teams like The Crazy Chickens, The Poubelle Twins and the Minis (and yes, they are exactly what you think.)

Their recent event at the historic Mayan Theater showcased the international debut of Mexican luchador, Blue Demon, Jr. The event also featured the flamboyant Exotico (a gay man who wrestles in drag) and Cassandro, a regular Lucha VaVOOM! character and 20+ year veteran who was trained by legendary luchador Rey Mysterio Sr.

Events also included burlesque shows featuring world famous dancers like Michelle L’Amour (Miss Exotic World 2005), Kitten DeVille (Miss Exotic World 2002 and Queen of the Quake), Karis the “hula-hooped wonder” and New York City’s infamous and award-winning Wau Wau Sisters.

Lucha VaVOOM have been featured in a variety of media outlets like NPR, Vanity Fair, and Time Magazine, and regularly host celebrity fans including David Arquette, Jack Black, and Nicholas Cage. The group was also recently nominated for an American Latino Award for “Favorite Live Performance/Staged Production.”

Co-creator/co-producers of Lucha VaVOOM, Rita D’Albert and Liz Fairbairn are no strangers to insane stage antics. D’Albert is also known as the burlesque sensation Ursulaina, and Fairborn once lived in Richmond and managed GWAR. It comes as no surprise then that what started out as traditional Mexican wrestling could become such a circus.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Fairbairn on Facebook and we dished about hunky luchadores, transsexuals, GWAR, burlesque and what keeps Lucha VaVOOM! going.


Photobucket

Liz Fairbairn: Hellooooo!!!

Lauren Vincelli: Hello! How are you Liz?

LF: I’m good. Happy to be talking to you.

LV: Me too! I used to help with Richmond Lucha Libre here in Richmond and I have admired your work with Lucha VaVOOM! for a while. What a great idea! How did you get started with that?

LF: I’ve been following Richmond Lucha Libre ‘cause it’s two subjects close to my heart. Where did you find Luchadores in Richmond?

LV: Well, I host a radio show here and I had them on my show. I was so fascinated by it so I asked if they needed help and they did so I started helping them with public relations. How did you get into lucha libre?

LF: I moved from Richmond to L.A. in 1997 to work in film and TV. I was sent on location in Mexico to work on a film about genetically enhanced baboons. Most of the stunt guys we’re wrestlers and they introduced me to Lucha Libre. Also I ended up in a 10 year relationship with one of them. I saw Lucha Libre for the first time in Ensenada Mexico and I fell in love! The Luchadoras (ladies) tried to drag me in the ring. I was terrified and smitten all at once.

LV: Who did you fall for?

LF: His name then was Gringo Loco and he was born and raised in Mexico City. I think he’s wrestling under another name now. In any case he helped to fast track me into the world of Lucha (much to his dismay). Besides the Film and TV stuff I was helping The Velvet Hammer Burlesque gals with their costumes. I started getting my L.A. hipster friends to go to Tijuana (about 2 hr drive from L.A.) to go see my (boyfriend) wrestle there before he got his visa. Everyone LOVED it and we ended up having to charter a bus.

LV: Wow.

LF: He got his visa and started wrestling on small Lucha shows here which are pretty much Hispanic family affairs in the outlying (and somewhat sketchy) areas of L.A. Not glamorous enough for my friends I guess.

LV: This was after you left Richmond, right?

LF: I grew up in Northern Cali but moved and moved to Richmond from San Francisco. I used to hate L.A. but now I love it!

LV: what changed?

LF: I think living in Richmond gave me perspective that I didn’t have. There’s always been rivalry between Southern and Northern California. A lot of the world views L.A. as having little or no culture and being full of vain self centered plastic surgery disasters but I live in a very different L.A. There is a very rich Latino culture here. Just for the record, I have also always been attracted to southern culture and (weather and stress aside) I loved Richmond. I could go on about living on the 300 block of Laurel St. and my crazy neighbors like Apple Butter and Dirt Woman (who is my friend on Facebook by the way).

LV: RVA Magazine tried to get Dirt Woman to run for mayor. She would be a good Exotica! Maybe…

LF: Oh my god. She could sooo rock some spandex! (Dave) Brockie once mud wrestled her at Twisters. Danyelle (Danielle Stampe) and I had to make a GIANT bikini! Picture that!

LV: I’d rather not! Tell me how you got mixed up with GWAR

LF: Oh geeze! I was booking a small club in San Fran called the Covered Wagon Saloon. I heard about them from Jello Biafra and MDC so I called up the Metro and asked if they had a number for them and they went and got Brockie across the street. We started talking a lot and I helped them book their first cross country tour to S.F. After booking another tour and them signing a record deal with a label in London, Brockie begged me to move to Richmond and manage them manage them full time. He is VERY persuasive. I told him I would come for 6 months tops and I ended up staying for 7 years.

LV: What did you learn from GWAR is 7 years? Anything that helped get Lucha VaVOOM! going?

LF: So much I couldn’t even tell you! I didn’t know squat about management when I first got there. Susan Silver, Soundgarden’s Manager was very kind and mentored me through the first few months. Oh yeah! After managing GWAR it made Lucha VaVOOM! seem simple! My partner, Rita (D’Albert), also has a long rock and roll history. We pride ourselves on that and tend to gravitate towards rockers whenever possible.

LV: Why did you leave GWAR?

LF: I left GWAR (in 1996) because I was exhausted and they made me cut off my only ever vacation : ) It was just time that’s all. I stayed in Richmond for another year after and worked at the Hole in the Wall.

LV: What do you think about GWAR now?

LF: I still stay in touch with Brockie and some of the former members but I haven’t seen them live for quite some time and I haven’t even heard any of they’re recent songs. It’s a nostalgia thing for me. I’ve moved on but I have fond memories and still love those guys.

LV: Where did you go next?

LF: My brother got me a job here working on a movie as a props assistant. I haven’t been back to Richmond since.

LV: How and when did Lucha VaVOOM! get started?

LF: Our first show was August of 2002 (I think) I was looking for a way to get all those people (and more) that went to Tijuana to see my boyfriend wrestle to see Lucha here in L.A. so I started talking to The Velvet Hammer gals and we decided to try mixing Burlesque with Lucha and the rest was history! We had Mil Mascaras and Hijo del Santo for our first show and we didn’t even know if we would sell any tickets. It took balls of steel but it all worked out in the end, right? I have to attribute the steel balls to working with GWAR. It takes balls to do that too!


Photobucket

LV: I bet. How did you meet Rita?

LF: She was co-producing the Velvet Hammer and performing. I did a lot of her costumes for that. She’s the Lovely Ursulina.

LF: What was the first show like?

LF: It was great! We really didn’t know how it would look so it kinda unfolded before my eyes. That still happens even now. We put the building blocks together but the performers surprise us all of the time. Especially the wrestlers…I LOVE lucha! Cassandro and The Lil’ Chicken jumped off the balcony at The Fillmore in S.F. last weekend. The crowd literally gasped. How often does that happen?

LV: Wow. I’ve seen some crazy moves like that. I love when the audience just goes silent right before they jump.

LF: There’s no comparison! Add amazing dancers and aerialist to that and BAM!

LV: Tell me about Cassandro. He is a very unique kind of luchadore known as an exotico- a male who wrestles in drag.

LF: Ha ha ha, I call Cassandro my wife. He’s my best friend even though he lives in El Paso, TX. He is one complicated Joto. He is one of the most talented wrestlers around which is why he has transcended the exotico label and is very well respected by all of the wrestlers. He is my main programmer for Lucha VaVOOM!and he and I put the card together. Most of the exoticos rely on gimmicks like kissing but aren’t really very good wrestlers.

LV: He is incredible!

LF: Yes indeed…and a handful to boot. But he is a true original.

LV: You know LOTS of wrestlers rely on gimmicks; sometimes the gimmicks are fun.

LF: True that, but the best ones rely on their skills as well. We try to keep a high degree of skill in Lucha VaVOOM! which is why we bear the expense of bringing top talent up from Mexico. Even if people don’t follow Lucha (90% of our audience) they can surely recognize physical talent.

LV: How do you and Cassandro decide who to pick?

LF: Rita, Cassandro and I mull over the “theme” of the show and we start throwing around ideas…we like to keep it fresh. For instance, for the Valentines show who’s better than Hector Garza right?

LV: Especially now that he has his hair back! Didn’t he get his head shaved in a match once?

LF: Probably a few times. That would never fly with Latin Lover.

LV: He reminds me of the cover of a romance novel. Ha ha.

LF: Hector is more macho. Are you still doing Lucha there?

LV: Unfortunately no. Richmond Lucha Libre is on hiatus. I’m hoping for their return though. And you know there is a growing burlesque scene here now.

LF: There is EVERYWHERE.

LV: We used to have some sexy escorts and dance numbers at RLL. The audience loved it. The audience is really nuts though. I remember them calling one of the heel’s escorts a tranny hooker
LF: Hahahaha! Tranny hooker! Love it! We have an actual tranny in the show Karis…he’s an amazing hula hooper and everyone is shocked when he takes his top off and no boobs.

LV: GET OUT! I thought that was a lady in the clips for sure!

LF: He soooo gorgeous he gets away with it.

LV: Dang! My friends and I were betting that it was the same hula hooper from the Justin Timberlake video. That is awesome!

LF: He might have don the Justin Timberlake vid. He’s the spokes model for Epilady in Europe. Love it! He’s also Mexican, born inTecate. I just about died the first time I heard him speak perfect Spanish.

LV: What a woman! Lucha VaVOOM was recently nominated for an American Latino Award for “Favorite Live Performance/Staged Production.” When you first started Lucha VaVOOM! was it widely accepted and attended by the Latino population there?

LF: We had to woo the Latinos at first and also gain the respect of the Lucha community. Now we’re popular even in Mexico thanks to Luchas2000 magazine and the wrestlers talking good stuff about us there.

LV: Do you ever have shows in Mexico?

LF: Cassandro is calling me…shenanigans with the Mini’s. Cassandro and the mini’s are flying in today and Blue Demon tomorrow. One of them told Cassandro they couldn’t pass immigration because he has a cold…he’s a big joker that one (Lil’ Chicken aka Mascarita Dorada from CMLL) He’s another AMAZING wrestler. He’s as good as Mistico in my opining and all wrapped up in a hot little midget body. He’s also a bull fighter and Aerialist.

LV: Do they have a chance to practice before the show?

LF: Well, Blue Demon and Cassandro are doing dance numbers this time. It was Demon’s idea cause he said his dad was injured one time and he went to NYC and did a cabaret show to pass the time. So we have him dancing with Carolina Cerasola of 40 Deuce fame, and Cassandro’s doing a big dance number with the Ungawa gals. Usually they fly in the morning of the show. They train and wrestle all of the time so no need for any kind of rehearsal. It’s the real deal with Lucha VaVOOM!

LV: Do they really wear their masks all the time?

LF: Well, whenever in public. Not at the airport. Demon is a real stickler as is Santo. Oh here’s a funny story. (Someone) was performing in Lucha VaVOOM! and she made out with Demon but none of us knew what he looked like under the mask, I asked my boyfriend and he said he looks like a chicken! His friends call him Pollo.

LV: Scandalous!

LF: She is the definition of scandalous! We were roomies for 4 years here in L.A.

LV: So do you have plans to take this on tour or anything like that?

LF: Oh yes! We’re now doing a regular circuit of Cali dates and we’ve been to Toronto, Chicago, Las Vegas and Amsterdam so far. It’s an expensive show to travel and unlike a band there’s no clear marketing plan for promoters to follow.

LV: What would you love to see happen for LVV in the future?

LF: We have been pitching a TV show an come closer every day to that, we’d also like to have a residency in Las Vegas like a way cooler Blue Man Group.

LV: That sounds perfect for you!

LF: Con suerte!

LV: Tell me about the addition of burlesque to LVV.

LF: Well my partner, Rita mainly handles the burlesque part of the show but I can tell you that she has a very discerning eye and we look for the cream of the crop and dancer/performers that also have other skills as well such as aerial, (and) hula hoop. We really pride ourselves on having the best.

LV: Is there anything else Richmond should know about you or Lucha VaVOOM!?

LF: Look out here we come!

LV: Ok. Thank you so much for taking time to do this. It was a pleasure chatting with you.

LF: Likewise! Hast Luego Chula.

Check out Lucha VaVOOM’s special brand of pandemonium at http://wwwluchavavoom.com



RVA Staff

RVA Staff

RVA culture rag since 2005. #RVA




more in politics

Art & Country: A Sunday Essay

Back in April, I had the great privilege of visiting the Louvre for the first time. The many works in that historic museum exceeded all my expectations and kept me enthralled for the all too short three hours I spent inside. As closing time approached, museum staff...

We want to raise awareness of the situation in Iran with a mural

ed. note: In light of fact checking this morning we have to retract the information presented on our platforms yesterday and clarify that Iran has NOT sentenced 15,000 protestors to the death penalty but the possibly remains they could in the future. We apologize for...

You Beto Work 2: A Bumble Love Letter to Beto O’Rourke

Fall calls for late nights and warm blankets, lost in the small glare of the light from my phone. Tired of endlessly swiping right on the same balding white guy named Jeff holding a spotted bass he is entirely too proud of. Tinder? Never. I’m far higher brow than...

Dissociative Gaze Into The Abyss: A Sunday Essay

Is the revival of the 2014 Tumblr girl how the internet copes with the end of the world?  The dissociative pout, also referred to as the dissociative gaze, was first coined by i-D Magazine in the 2022 article “The cult of the dissociative pout” by Rayne Fisher-Quann,...

Topics:

Pin It on Pinterest