Ain’t No Sunshine

When I was in high school, I read an essay by Mark Twain, from his collection Life on the Mississippi, in which he talked about how much he loved the Mississippi River when he was a kid and how his love for the river indelibly marked and changed and influenced his life, so much so that he couldn’t imagine doing anything other than being a riverboat captain when he grew up. And he did…learning how to read the signs of the river so he could pilot his boat safely, but in doing so, the river changed for him. It was no longer a big mystery; now he saw it as shoals and currents and sandbars and hazards for the boat. I’ve always, whenever I’ve chased down one of my dreams/fantasies, remembered that essay with a tinge of sadness, because I know exactly what he meant and how it feels.

Take Cole Cassidy as an example.

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I first encountered Cole Cassidy when I got the tape Ringwars 11. In it, Cole took on a young man who went by the name “Tarzan” Tyler Reece. Reece had a mop of long hair—very lord of the jungle—and he wore basically a wrestling trunks version of a loincloth. It was a terrific look, frankly, and not one I would usually go for. I’d bought the video (back in the day of videotapes) primarily for the Tommy Tara/Marco Guerra fight, but as I watched my way through the video—it took me a while to get past Match 2—Cole v. Tarzan.

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I originally got drawn into the match because of lithe, sexily lean Tyler—but it didn’t take long before Cole caught my attention—and kept it.

It’s not that hard to see why, is it? That fucking vascularity. Those veins are not only prominent, but enormous. A body builder doing a competition would envy that vascularity.

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I’ve often been accused of being a body fascist, which I’ve always taken with a degree of amusement. Yes, I appreciate the male form, and yes, I appreciate the male form that is in excellent shape—but it’s more of an aesthetic appreciation. I like all kinds of bodies—which is in no small degree influenced by my lifelong enjoyment of professional wrestling. Are John Cena and Randy Orton fucking gods walking the earth as men? Yes—but I also find the traditional pro-wrestler body, as evidenced by my lifelong attraction to some other, less body beautiful type wrestlers—Bob Orton, Ivan Koloff, etc. There’s a certain something that some guys have that I’m drawn to, and a lot of it has to do with how much they enjoy wrestling.

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Watching Cole in the ring against young Reese, he had that something I am drawn to—call it charisma, call it whatever you want to call it—he had it. It was also clear that he was enjoying himself; he was having a good time even when Reece had the upper hand and was punishing him. And looking at the two of them, it was clear who was filling the role of heel and who was the face; it was the classic wrestling trope–older, nasty heel taking on fresh-faced energetic youngster (apparently fresh out of the jungle), and it was a terrific, amazing match.

I began actively seeking out and ordering Cole’s matches; I became, as I said, a huge fan. It seemed that around the time Cole made his video debut was one of those transitional times at BGEast; when a new stable of stars was rising and the previous stable was giving way to the them. Cole was definitely in the mold of the BGEast heels I’d loved watching–Mikey Vee, Joe Mazetti, Cruz, Jose, the Bodywrecker–and it was fun watching him take pretty boys apart, piece by piece–and even taking on some of the previous generation’s heels in some terrific battles.

So, naturally, when I was invited to work in front of the cameras, and was asked whom I wanted to get in the ring with, without hesitation I replied, Cole Cassidy.

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Again, the definition on that body; the shape of the pecs perfection, the huge shoulder caps and biceps, the bulging veins on the massive quads, the hard and tight muscular ass.

That match has yet to see the light of day, but the “vault” matches somehow always seem to make their way out to the viewing public, so perhaps someday it will.

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Oh, that sexy sneer! I also don’t, usually, care for facial hair that much…but Cole’s just added to the nasty heel look he carried off so well.

But over the course of my first taping weekend–I don’t recall if it was before or after we got in the ring together for our match–Cole and I became friends. I don’t remember which night it was, but one of the nights that weekend we wound up being the last two people awake in the compound, and when I came back out to the living room he was watching The West Wing on television; a marathon on Bravo, I think it was. The West Wing was, and remains, one of my favorite television shows of all time, so soon we were talking about the show, politics, and bonding. We’ve seen each other a few times since then–taping weekends, business trips to the city where he lives–and while we have fallen out of touch somewhat over the years, I do still think of him fondly as a friend.

And I also learned the same lesson Twain discussed in his essay: now that I saw Cole as a person and as a friend, I no longer saw him as the heel of my dreams. Sure, he is still sexy as hell, and fantastic in whatever wrestling environment he appears in….but I no longer see him through an erotic, sexual lens; even thinking about that makes me feel uncomfortable. Now that I think of him as a friend, he is no longer an object of desire.

Which always gave me pause when thinking about potential opponents for before-the-camera work. Meeting and working with another wrestler, getting to know them as a person, completely changes the fantasy aspect, makes it almost impossible to  maintain–and kind of a squirmy discomfort. This also, it turns out, happened with other BGEast wrestlers I had fantasies about, were objects of lust; once I actually met them–whether we actually worked together or not–I could never quite seem them in the same way again.

Make a friend, lose the fantasy.

So while I do have some regrets about some of the guys I never worked with, in some cases I’m kind of glad we didn’t; I was able to preserve my fantasies that way.

Okay, den!

Hmmm. Kayden Keller.

As someone who was a long-time fan of BGEast before going to work for them, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes, one of the things I’ve always found interesting is generational change of wrestling talent; the kind of thing that can be described as, for example, “waves” (as one would call it in publishing) or “ages” (comic books: Golden Age, Silver Age, etc.). I was in the same wave with Alexi Adamov and Mitch Colby and Jobe Zander and Rafe Sanchez, to merely name a few; we came after the Josh Goodman/Cole Cassidy/Kieran Dunn/Aryx Quinn/Justin Pierce wave. There is sometimes crossover between waves, and it is difficult sometimes to classify which wave of new wrestlers someone belongs to, since the videos aren’t released in order of filming and sometimes, as is the case with my own match with Mitch Colby, are held back in the vaults for years. This makes the only way to do it by release; the only people who can truly define each wave are the Boss and everyone in the office, since they know when the wrestler first worked and when the matches were taped.

I’m always interested to see the new talent; to see how they match up against the wrestlers of the past and those who are still active but have been around for awhile. I am always curious which ones will be more at home on mats or in the gazebo or in the ring; which ones look best in which kind of gear, and which ones will go how far with nudity and eroticism and so forth. I often wonder where they came from, what they do in their day to day life, what drew them to wrestling on camera for the erotic enjoyment of fans whose names and faces they will never know. (The release of my match with Powergunz recently has made me philosophize about all of this.)

I’ve not really thought much about when the most recent wave debuted, and they’ve probably been around longer than I am thinking…but included in this wave (in my mind) were Ty Alexander, Drake Marcos, Colton Haynes and numerous others…and a young heel with gorgeous eyes who took the ring name Kayden Keller.

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That is my favorite portrait shot of young Kayden; those are also my all-time favorite trunks I ever wore for the cameras myself–and I still am pissed at myself for not stealing them. Remember this?

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Kayden even has the kind of facial hair I find most attractive.

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Great smile, too. I also like that he doesn’t remove his body hair. Granted, he’s also not a yeti like I can be if I don’t at least trim on occasion, but I do like some body hair.

And that devilish smile! The twinkle in his eyes as he looks at the camera! Like he knows what he’s about to do to his foe and relishes it.

One has to love a heel who loves what he does.

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Probably the only regrets I have about BGEast and my time there was missing certain wrestlers I would have liked to have worked with because, of course, they were before my time or after.

Methinks Kayden and I would have had a great time in the ring together.

And it would have been a classic.

Oh Daddy

Powergunz.

It’s all there in the name, really. Big powerful strong arms. A sexy black pelt of fur on his torso and his legs. Thickly muscled legs.

Yeah, daddy.

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I mean, seriously. How fucking hot is he? He’s like the definition of what I call a hot daddy.

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I mean, woof.

The erotic aspects of wrestling have always been apparent to me, even as a callow youth unsure what the stirrings in his loins whenever he came across a professional wrestling broadcast actually meant; I didn’t understand the appeal of wrestling to me other than that somehow it was hard-wired into a gay sexuality that I wasn’t completely aware of–but those stirrings of lust and desire activated by seeing men like Bruno Sammartino or Mr. Olympia in the ring with their sweaty hairy muscles and high-waisted trunks as they punished their opponents and were punished in turn eventually, as puberty arrived, began to make more sense to me.

I have often been accused, throughout my adult life as an out gay man and as an out gay wrestler, of being a body fascist, of only being interested in men with lean muscular bodies. Nothing could be further than the truth, because the bears always reminded me of the professional wrestlers of my youth–and that is both sexy and arousing to me. And Powergunz has that look, you know, of the brutal heels of the 70’s–not ripped and defined, but thickly muscled and hairy and the facial hair and…you get the idea.

I’m a fan.

And I wasn’t in such bad shape myself, either, when the Boss finally scheduled the match I’d been wanting for so long.

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I like wearing white; I’ve also always thought it was kind of hot when heels wore gear in colors other than your standard heel fare. This is the only time I ever wore all white for the cameras; there was another match where I wore white squares with blue stripes on the sides–that’s the only unreleased match of mine left, I believe–but neither one of us was really in standard heel gear…which made it all the more fun, you know?

But what a fucking brute. Brute strength, animal magnetism, and the kind of charisma that makes my dick pay attention. I wanted to wrestle him, but more than anything else I wanted to feel out bodies against each other as we fought for control.

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Yeah, it’s a bit frustrating to be pinned down by someone bigger and stronger than you are, even if it’s hot.

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And I got some shots of my own in, as you can see.

What was even more fun is both of us pushed the other to extremes–kind of getting off on being slammed around or punched or forearm smashed.

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I think we both like to give and receive pain.

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Oh, yeah, it was a fucking great time.

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And there’s nothing like a bearhug from a big strong motherfucker, is there?

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That was a lot of fun, seriously.

Taking a Beating

If you want to be a pro wrestler, you have to be able to take a beating. You have to be able to take a certain amount of pain, and it helps if, as I am, you are flexible. The more flexible you are, the more pain you can take and the more punishing holds you can survive.

If you can’t handle any of that, you have business getting in the ring. Because even the biggest, the strongest, the most skilled and bloodthirsty heel will have to take some pain at some point. You’re cruising along, having your own way with your opponent, and then the next thing you know you make a mistake and WHAM! You’re going to be on the receiving end for a while.

And if it’s a skilled dude who knows what he’s doing, you might not get back in control of the match.

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Jobe put me through the ringer.

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And I have to respect how much he enjoyed it.

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I mean, he really put me through it. He worked over my abs, my back, my neck, my head, and even my legs.

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And like me, he sweats a lot. There were sweat puddles all over the ring.

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But….you’ve always got to be on your guard, and never get overconfident–or things will flip back the other way.

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(to be continued)