Last night my friend Tony Shenton (founder of Hot Ash NY) braved the oncoming storm to share pizza and our backlog of wrestling/ultimate fighting tapes. I showed Tony the Tank Abbot compilation thornyc tivoed for me. I want to climb all over Tank but his narration of matches is somewhere between hilarious and excruciating. We didn’t make it all the way through. Tony popped in his latest Japanese wrestling tape that promised an “anal explosion” match. It turned out to be mostly a snooze fest, which is odd because previous tapes he’s gotten from the same source have been full of bizarre mayhem: exploding barbed wire matches, weird hard core challenges, lots of Terry Funk, etc. The only moment of interest in this was one set-up where a crew of heels dragged a sack into the ring, opening it to reveal a bound, pantsless salaryman with a ball gag, who they proceeded to scream abuse at and then piss on. After they left the ring, he ran through the arena to some back offices followed by cameras while loudly bawling. The “AE” match was iffy: we saw a set up where a babyface demonstrated what he was going to do to his opponent by shoving bottle rockets first into a mannequin’s butt and then into a winter melon. Of course, during the match the tables were turned: it was the face who got handcuffed onto a ringpost, had his pants ripped off and then had to endure his sneering nemesis placing the squib between his cheeks. The problem with this sort of gimmick is that you can’t simultaneously make it work and put it over: in order for everything to get properly situated he had to not squirm around at all or look like he was trying to get out of it. (I think that just sitting there while a guy stuffs explosives in your crack when you’ve just been pile-drivering him moments before can officially be called breaking character.) The eventual explosion was, unfortunately, underwhelming (and really, how many of us have been down that road before). The rest was viewed on fast forward. Then we switched over to one of my fave possessions: “Wrestling’s Country Boys” an 80’s vintage WWF tape showcasing Hillbilly Jim and his extended family: Uncle Elmer and Cousin Junior. Was this great wrestling? no. Was it superior softcore bearporn? Yes, and again YES. The highpoint for me is a match between Cousin Junior and Moondog Spot, with Jim and Elmer on the sidelines. Every time I watch it I keep hoping that this time they’ll just stop the match and commence the group grope. Finally Tony enticed me to put on Backyard Wrestling 5 – the craziest. Watching these tapes must be like what it was like to be in the original audience for Mondo Cane. They are both appalling and addictive. You get the image of thousands of teenage boys setting each other on fire, leaping off garages onto tables, smashing each other’s faces into boards covered with thumbtacks, stapling dollar bills to each other’s heads while listening to Insane Clown Posse. I said to Tony afterwards that I thought it was the male version of girls who are “cutters”. Some times you’ll see one juggalo who has a demented sense of humor, sometimes one seems like a genuine sociopath in training. Mostly you end up feeling that we are beyond thunderdome. The backyard stuff makes the WWF look bucolic and staid. It reminds me of they way people were genuinely scared of punk the first time around.
Through out all of this we were chomping on pizza ( sausage pepperoni and mushroom) and smoking cigars. Tony is contemplating moving to Jersey City. I think he feels completely frustrated with the way things have gone for Hot Ash lately. The city and state’s anti smoking laws have made it pretty much impossible to have cigar play parties in NYC without risking thousands of dollars in fines. And he also suffers from something I see in many organizers – the negative feedback loop of burnout. There is never enough support or momentum. And as the initiator becomes spread thinner and thinner, they see fewer and fewer rewards in continuing. It makes it very hard to know how to offer support or to move the situation forward. I think an official hiatus while he relocates might do him a world of good.
And that’s why my website isn’t any closer to being up.