The Real Mexican Wrestlers

Posted on August 24, 2006

Photographer Malcolm Venville reveals the secret life of Mexican wrestlers in his upcoming book of photography, Lucha Loco. We have seen Jack Black's comic portrayal of these wrestlers in Nacho Libre but the mexican wrestlers are very real and wear dramatic and unusual costumes. You can see some of the photographs on Venville's website.
Lucha Loco is the artistic result of Venville's quest to find and capture the essence of these masked gladiator-like showmen throughout many different trips to Mexico City in 2005. Venville says, "Lucha Loco represents something that is missing from life in the western world since the disappearance of the circus and vaudeville. There is poetry in its vibrant and expressive style that is lacking from wrestling."

As a child of profoundly deaf parents, Venville is fascinated with the unspoken language and still countenance of the luchadore mask. It is through Venville's tenacity and desire to observe this serious form of expression while revealing the humanity underneath that culminates in the stunning portraiture series Lucha Loco.

Detailed color photos introduce the figure, the name reveals the character, but the quote reveals the mind behind the mask -- ranging from the emotional -- Super Porky who says, "Here in Mexico us wrestlers work every single day. Sorry, do forgive the tears" -- to the humorous -- Coco Verde, "We don't mix the character from free wrestling with sex," -- to the simple -- Las Momias, "We're the mummies, here to serve the people."

In the introduction, Mexican poet, novelist, and literary critic Sandro Cohen, astute to the ironic imagery, observes that "El Solar, strangely, found it necessary to confess that he once wanted to be a lawyer, and in Mexico that still means fighting for the little guy. Real life didn't allow him to be an avenger for the downtrodden, but wrestling did."
Some of the photographs actually look even more ridiculous than Jack Black's costume in the film. Mexican wrestling is definitely a very expressive form of entertainment.