We've got the fire, who's got the matches / Take a look around at the sea of masks

When I started my vlog, I knew if I wanted to get views, I'd need some sort of gimmick. My views are still low but I'd rather stick with what I have so far in terms of "gimmick" than just go to myself talking about writing. 

It's been a work in progress and honestly, it's been fun learning about vlogging without any sort of guidance. I'm using a Snowball Mic for the recording, my laptop's webcam for the video, and Filmora for the editing. YouTube's got it's own software and I might be doing that as part of NaNoWriMo, but i'm digressing. 

I'm not hiding anything with my masks. This is a business, after all, and I have to get my name out there. I picked masks because since I was a kid I was fascinated with wrestling and in a way, wrestling was a nice complement to the beginnings of my writing career.

I grew up in Mexico, and in Mexico, we have lucha libre, which is our varient of professional wrestling. 

And as a kid, I was fascinated by all the cool shit that the luchadores did. High-flying maneuvers, crazy-looking attacks, and the flamboyant storylines. Luchadores were and are characters that people play.  Of course, Mexicans, as is our nature...go all out when it comes to luchadores. They're masked at all times and who they are is kept as close-guarded a secret as possible. I know, for instance, there are images out there of El Santo, one of our most revered wrestlers, unmasked. I've refused on principle to Google them because it would shatter the mystique.

I had the masks of Pierrot, Mascara Sagrada, Octagon as a kid, and whenever I visited my family in a different part of Mexico or Jamaica, I'd tell them I wasn't who I was and I was Pierrot instead. Or Octagon. Or Mascara Sagrada. They still remind me of that when I see them and it's been 20 years. So, like I discussed on the video above, I was already investing myself into characters. Another thing about masks is that in a way, we all wear them. On last week's blog on the impostor syndrome I mentioned a TED talk about your body language shaping who you are. In a way, Dr. Cuddy is talking about becoming your masked self. I've always had crippling social anxiety when it comes to strangers. So what did I do when I got into college, I put on a journalist's mask and suddenly became that much more outgoing and extroverted because shyness doesn't make for successful journalists. When I left home for law school, I put on a different mask. One that allowed me to basically have a new shot at a create-a-character in a new city where no one but a select few knew about who I was. And the funny thing is, I've become so many characters over the years that my masked selves and my unmasked self are now one and the same. I am writer. I am poet. I am spoken word performer. I am tutor. I am [day job]. I am friend. I am lover. I am boyfriend. I am brother. I am fire. I am writer. I am writer. I am writer.

Masks, also, help me share a little bit about my culture. 

And in a pinch, I don't have to spend money on a costume.

And wrestling is super fun, y'all. Like, other than lucha libre, I was also briefly into American wrestling during the heyday of the Monday Night Wars. I fondly remember a friend visiting me in like fifth grade with a VHS recording of a recent Wrestlemania. I also lovingly followed the luchadores that made the jump from AAA or CMLL into the U.S. (Rey Mysterio Jr., Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, La Parka) and I remember being truly upset when Rey Mysterio Jr., was unmasked and then consequently being severely annoyed when he was allowed to put the mask back on because I took it as a truly blasphemous act. You just didn’t do that.

That was not the right way.

But childish things must come to an end. I started noticing the strings. The plotlines. The favorites. It wasn’t fun anymore. I think I left at a good time, too, right after the WCW/nWo balloon popped and the then-WWF gobbled them up. I felt...It was stupid. It wasn’t a real sport. Grown-ass men rolling around sweating and sometimes wearing masks.

The “Invasion” was all choreographed.

Who watches this shit? It was also hard to keep up with wrestling when I wasn’t able to see lucha libre on TV as frequently, and the channel that would air wrestling didn't show it anymore. And I found different things to geek out over in middle and high school, with not a single one of my classmates or friends being into wrestling. My friends and I, we played computer games and watched shitty movies and acted like teenagers without a thought to wrestling.

And I remained like that for close to eleven years.

Fast forward to the last couple of years and I entered into a new stage of my wrestling faith, and a stage where even the most casual reader can jump in to wrestling. See, I realized it's scripted, but so is [your favorite TV show]. Sometimes the writers fuck up. Sometimes the characters don’t make sense. Sometimes long-running plotlines end without a proper resolution. Like The Sopranos ended with Tony just be

 

Wrestling is a novela, a soap opera. restling is just like that, the difference is that it adds an entirely new dynamic: the athleticism of the performers. Emilia Clarke is great as Khaleesi, but she’s not going to be crushing anyone with a 450 splash anytime soon. And that to me, is the draw of sports that I don’t watch regularly.

Take hockey, a sport I know close to nothing about. My knowledge is limited to very passively rooting for the Chicago Blackhawks because my girlfriend is from the area. I think of how someone else can be 6’4”, 240-odd pounds and spin and skate around like he was poetry in motion, surrounded by other guys skating at high speeds and still managing to stay upright even when they run into each other. That’s impressive. I can’t take three steps on the ice without sliding into a very ungraceful and painful split.

So we go back to wrestling and it’s a lot like that.

Men and women of all sizes performing near-on superhuman feats of acrobatics.

Of strength:

Different men picking up and flinging around a seven-foot- tall, 440-pound Big Show

And resilience.

There are no strings. That’s a real life human being flung down 20 feet into the ground. A human being who CONTINUED TO WRESTLE MINUTES LATER.

See, there’s no player’s association. Contracts aren’t guaranteed. These people are putting their very literal life on the line every time they hit the ring for people’s entertainment and living paycheck. In this storyline, that’s the real tragedy.

I probably won’t ever be as into wrestling as I once was, but the appreciation is there, as is the hope that things might change for these athletes so that everyone can benefit.

To close, I'll leave y'all with this video. It's really made me think a lot about wrestling and it's a great watch!