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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.