Lovers and Fighters

Lucha Va Voom II: A night of sequins, tassels and luchadores

By Frank Ramirez
Published on LatinoLA: February 18, 2003

Lovers and Fighters

On the night before Valentine?s Day, while most of the city was scrambling to finalize their romantic plans for the following day, a large crowd of East-side hipsters, newly converted aficionados as well as seasoned veterans scream at the top of their lungs ?LU-char-AN! LU-char-AN! LU-char-AN!?

The crowd is so passionate in their request that you can barely notice the thick Anglo-accent that trails over the words. On that night, good portions of the audience were Caucasian but the Latino community was represented just as well.

The cheers continue, louder and louder, as well as the boos, louder and louder for those who deserve it. Thursday night was the night for lovers and fighters, for masked men fighting with honor and women in skimpy outfits. For high-flying acrobats and mat smacking maneuvers.

Thursday night was the night for LUCHA VA VOOM 2!

On the second installment of Lucha Va Voom, the festivities were trimmed down from its previous incarnation to fill the famous Mayan Theater with one glorious night of wrestling moves that even the regular Salsa dancers have never seen. ?It all started because I was trying to figure out a way for my friends to see the luchas without chartering a tour bus every weekend to go to Tijuana?, explained Liz Fairbarn, creator of Lucha Va Voom. ?I wanted them to witness first-hand what I was raving about.?

Fairbarn, a costume designer by day, consulted her friend Michelle Carr on how to go about making her passion for Lucha Libre a reality. Carr, who makes a living by producing the Velvet Hammer burlesque shows, became her partner and suggested the inclusion of the ladies of the Velvet Hammer as part of the program to help break up the violence.

?It made perfect sense to me. Lucha Libre and the burlesque show was the perfect marriage?, said Fairbarn. ?It reminded of the Lucha Libre movies of the 50?s and 60?s, which is what we are trying to accomplish with this event. To bring to life the Lucha Libre movies.?

And what a perfect marriage it has been. Hosted by Blaine Capatch of Comedy Central?s ?Beet the Geeks? and Patton Oswalt of ?The King of Queens?, this truly unique event held the audience on the edge of their seats especially when midget wrestlers were flying their way. Audience participation was as much a part of the evening as the matches. Dressed in their finest retro-40?s gear as well as Luchador masks, the audience let you know who their favorite wrestlers and dancers were as well as joined in on the occasional ?Culero? chant. But the Luchadores were the true stars of the evening.

Entering the ring to a perfectly selected songs, the matches were a powder keg of energy. Lasting only one round, between 10-15 minutes in length, superstar wrestlers ? both men and women ? with names like Medico Asisino Jr., Mascarita Sagrada, La Reina de la Selva, Blue Demon Jr. and La Parka fling their large muscled or flabby bodies across the ring without the help of wires.

Using the other wrestlers, ropes or anything else as springboards, they would flip, bend and wrap around their enemies in a split second. This was especially the case with the Midget Match where one diminutive wrestler flew from one end on the ring through the ropes and into crowd just to tackle an opponent who was trying to escape punishment. Each Luchador fighting for honor and fun, keeping the tradition alive.

But the Ladies of the Velvet Hammer Burlesca Show had their own moves up their sleeves ? or lack of. Supported by L.A.?s own DJ Prickle, who spun a mix of 60?s shag-adelic, Mambo and Rancheras and anything else she could get her hand on, broke up the evening just nicely.

The lovely ladies, all with pseudo-Latino names, conjured up a Latino Hollywood of years past. They shimmied and shacked, smiling from beat to beat. They sashayed their hips from side to side, all the while closer to ending up in their birthday suits. But it is all a tease - stopping before it gets to X-rated but not in time before the crowd is howling and imaging what they are missing.

In the end, after Fifi and Bibi Poubelle ? the mysterious twins dressed in sexy matching French Maid outfits that cleaned up after the wrestlers and dancers said their good-byes, you walk away dazed and happy. It was a grand scene to be at and a spectacle to be had. At times, it was difficult to say who was having more fun ? the audience or the performers.

Photo by Nicholle Weingart

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