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.

Trunks, Part One: Bulges

In the world of wrestling, let’s face it–one of the appeals, at least to me, is tight fitting trunks that leave little to the imagination. When I was a kid, watching pro wrestling was my porn because it was one of the few times I could see male bodies with bare chests and bare legs. The bodies, of course, weren’t always the best; male body consciousness didn’t begin until much later and didn’t cross over into professional wrestling until even later than that.

One of my earliest crushes was Bruno Sammartino.

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He was one of the hottest wrestlers of the period. Thickly muscled, hairy, and there was always a tantalizing bit of a bulge in his trunks. He was the ultimate daddy, frankly, even though I didn’t know what a daddy was at the time.

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And then, of course, there was Kevin Von Erich. Those legs! That lean muscled body! He was not built like any other wrestler, and he remained an obsession for me for years. And in those yellow trunks, again, there was a bulge.

Most wrestlers of the period didn’t have bulges in their trunks. I think this had something to do with what they wore under their trunks; modesty in the 1960’s and 1970’s world of professional wrestling was still a thing. Their trunks were also high-waisted (see above) so you couldn’t see what are now called “cum gutters” and they also didn’t highlight asses. The cheeks were completely covered, and again, the waistline was so high they sometimes made the ass look flat (or maybe the ass was flat; you never know). Pro wrestling was “family entertainment” and not supposed to be masturbatory fantasy material for gay men.

BGEast, however, which has always billed itself as being for gay men, has had some amazing bulges throughout its history.

Cruze, of course, was one of my earlier favorites. He was also pretty hung; and wasn’t afraid to strip down completely for the cameras.cruze

Jose was another one–a nasty heel, one of the nastiest to ever grace the mats and ring at BGEast, he was also hung like a horse and loved to show it off.

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Josh Goodman and myself were no slouches, either.

And then there’s Jobe “The Centerpiece” Zander.

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The next time I went in front of the cameras, it was Mr. Centerpiece himself I saw across the ring from me.

(to be continued)

Full Nelson

I always regretted not going into professional wrestling.

When I was a little boy, professional wrestling fascinated me. My parents never watched it, thought it was dumb, and would always change the channel when it was on. But sometimes, late at night after they and my sister had gone to bed, I would find a broadcast after the news, turn the sound down, and watch, completely fascinated. It–and boxing–were some of the few sports where male bodies weren’t completely clothed or padded up; so wrestling was one of the few places my nascent sexuality could satisfy its curiosity about the male body. Muscles, even when I was young, were an obsession; although body building wasn’t taken particularly seriously either and was seen as either ‘gay’ or the province of narcissists. It wasn’t until much later that male bodies were seen as things that could be sculpted into things of beauty in the gym, through diet and exercise; I joked the other day to one of my younger co-workers (oh, please, they’re all younger) that “nowadays with straight boys caring about their bodies and how they look, it’s made things so much more difficult. Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, you could tell someone was gay because they had a great body.”

Of course, part of the gay male body fetishizing was in part a reaction to HIV/AIDS and wasting syndrome; the idea that a worked out, muscular body meant you were healthy. Obviously, that wasn’t necessarily the case; but it was also a way to feel better about yourself, try to make yourself feel positive about yourself in a society and culture where being gay was still a taboo. (While we’ve made a great amount of progress since then, we haven’t come far enough.)

But professional wrestling was kind of like porn for me; when cable television began to get going in the 1980’s I always loved watching Georgia Championship Wrestling on Saturday and Sunday afternoons–Brad Armstrong was a particular favorite of mine, as were the Von Erich brothers–and I kind of wished, fantasized sometimes, that I could become a professional wrestler. I had no idea how one did that; and in those pre-Internet days, it wasn’t exactly easy to find out about training schools and so forth. I also wasn’t built big enough to be a professional wrestler, but it remained a fantasy of mine, and its homoeroticism became a fetish for me; it would be years before I realized that I was not the only gay men with a fetish for wrestling of all kinds, not just the professional kind.

I discovered gay wrestling videos in the early 1990’s, in the days when you had to send away for catalogues and the only way to hook up with other guys into wrestling was to join a list (the name of which I cannot remember) that was mailed out and updated periodically; you either called people or you wrote them letters and corresponded with them. How quaint, right? I met some guys who were into wrestling that way; but these were guys who’d actually wrestled collegiate/Olympic style in high school or college. I hadn’t–while I enjoyed going to wrestling meets as a teenager to see those great, hard-muscles bodies in those lycra, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination singlets, I was always terrified in high school that someone might figure out that I was actually gay and I didn’t trust myself to come in that close of contact with another boy and not get an erection. (Of course, I laugh at that fear now; with all the pictures of high school and collegiate wrestlers during matches with erections. But it was a definite fear when I was a teen…) So, without any actual training in collegiate-style wrestling I was never much of a match; and it really wasn’t any fun for either of us.

My first BGEast wrestling tape I ever owned was from the Fantasymen series; Fantasymen 5, to be exact: Jose v. Gino Ponti; Cruze v. Jake Tucker; Psycho Capone v. Jay Austin; and Psycho Capone v. Pete Reynolds. This was everything I’d been looking for for erotic stimulation–wrestling, and guys with amazing bodies. (My only complaint about professional wrestling back in the day was that the bodies weren’t all fantastic; I was a bit of a body fascist when it came to my fantasies, even though I wasn’t in my day-to-day life, when it came to hook-ups and so forth.) All of the matches were great, but for some reason the Cruze-Jake Tucker match hit all of my buttons. They both had great bodies, they both were wearing skimpy gear, and they were both incredibly handsome in the face. Tucker was playing up the cowboy angle, and his accented drawl and perfectly round ass…yeah, perfect: definitely fantasy men.

I recently rented the match again on the BGEast Arena; I hadn’t seen it in years–the videotape having since gone the way of the LP and the 45 record. It still holds up; there is chemistry between the two of a sort, and it’s still stimulating.

Standards of male beauty, at least for gay men, have remained static for some time; with slight variations–hairy vs not hairy, twink vs lean vs more thickly muscled–and the relationship to my own body has also varied. I am naturally very hairy, and always have been. My chest and abdomen are covered in hair, as are my legs and my butt, and as I’ve gotten older it’s started sprouting on my back and shoulders. Back in the day I used to shave it all off; again, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped. Every once in a while I’ll trim my torso hair down, to get an idea of my level of fitness; thick pelts tend to hide the muscles, so I will trim so I can see if my abs are still there or if I need to focus on diet/cardio some more.

Trimmed:

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Not so trimmed:

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Right now, I’m in need of trimming, which I will do later today to assess where I am at physically.

As I became more familiar with BGEast and its wrestlers, and as the Internet made it more possible and easier to connect with other guys into wrestling, I began to slowly dip into the world of private pro wrestling. I wasn’t in a position to travel much, and so it wasn’t easy to actually meet up with guys I’d talk to on-line…there are still guys on-line I’ve been talking to for years that I’ve never met and wrestled. But I also assumed that I had aged out of any chance to wrestle for BGEast. As my books began to get published and I started doing book tours–on a small scale–I was able to meet guys who were also into wrestling and have some matches. But I was still a novice, not only to wrestling but to connecting with guys on-line. My personals ads on wrestling websites never seemed to get me many matches–but I also didn’t have a space to wrestle in New Orleans at home, either.

And when I started chatting with Kid Leopard on-line after Hurricane Katrina–which was one of those life-altering events; when you lose almost everything you realize how tenuous and short life is, and why not try for things you want to do? One thing led to another, and in the spring of 2006 I flew to Fort Lauderdale to tape my first match for BGEast.

So my dream of being a professional wrestler, which had combined with the fantasy of taping for BGEast, was about to come true.