This will surprise no one, but I begin today’s post with the premise that I like male bodies. A lot. I like them in a variety of incarnations, proportions, hues, and composition. There are certainly specific male bodies that I don’t like, but the collection of bodies that fall into the “like” category are varied.
Early in my exploration of the homoerotic wrestling universe (that sort of makes me feel like Captain Kirk), I found the Greenwood/Cooper produced video “Wrestle” in my enlightened “home video store” (wow, now I’m feeling old). I felt rather daring picking it up off the shelf and paying to rent the provocative VHS based on the promotional jacket.
The product description on the back reads, “Competition wrestlers, pitted against each other in combat, strain their tight, sinewy, well-muscled bodies and their indomitable wills to bring you an experience of unequaled beauty and force.” Uh, yeah. This was at a time when I was a lot more cautious about outing myself, but there was no way I wasn’t going to slap down $3 to study this work of art for every second of the 3 day rental. I’m pretty sure I skipped at least a couple of my graduate school classes to get every penny’s worth out of “Wrestle.” It was soft core, set in and beside Roman baths. The wrestlers were young and gorgeous. As I remember, the wrestling pairs started in posing straps or towels wrapped around their waists, but most of the action was entirely naked, presenting for anyone who appreciates the male body 6 spectacular specimens entirely unadorned and videographed in intimate, up close detail. The combat was highly stylized, severely restricted by tile mosaic floors. It came across to me like perfectly pitched performance art, presenting my deepest fantasies in fantastical and inciting beauty.
I strongly suspect that were I to set down with “Wrestle” again, I wouldn’t be nearly as awed as I was in those early days. My homoerotic wrestling library needs a new wing built onto my home these days, and the novelty that made me dizzy in soaking in “Wrestle” many years ago just isn’t as compelling for me today, in and of itself. Then I again, whether or not it’s the nostalgia talking, I think I may try to track it down again, if for no other reason than sometimes what I really, really want to watch is two beautiful, powerful, entirely naked male bodies locked in combat. And surprisingly, considering the size of my library, it isn’t always easy to find.
I think Naked Kombat comes closest to stoking that nostalgia I feel as I think about my experience of discovering “Wrestle.” When the NK pornboys finally rip each other’s gear off and go to town entirely naked, there’s a depth of intimacy and vulnerability that makes the physical combat that much more captivating as a spectator. Naked Kombat is hardcore, however, and the artistry and beauty so appropriately named in the product description of “Wrestle” take a back seat (or perhaps just tenuously being towed along in a trailer far behind) to the sex and fury. Not that I don’t get off on NK sex and fury frequently. But NK is a different breed than “Wrestle.”
Some homoerotic wrestling producers manage to capture the “beauty and force” that “Wrestle” managed, but steer clear of the daring genre of pitting their wrestlers against one another naked. Rock Hard Wrestling, Movimus, and Thunder’s Arena come to mind, playing on the relative innocence and innuendo of old school soft core like “Wrestle.” Thunder’s is playful and specializes in beautiful muscle, but their playfulness and tongue-in-cheek score low on the earnestness meter. RHW’s commitment to video production quality makes me think more of the earnestness of the camera angles in “Wrestle.” Both “Wrestle” director Kurthy and the production crew at RHW clearly have a commitment to artistically document the living sculpture that is beautiful male bodies grappling. But a full 20 years after “Wrestle” was produced, RHW does so with a more demure tack, letting the homoeroticism be conveyed primarily by the viewing eyes, and not stepping into the hetero-iconoclastic territory of full-on naked bodies.
Can-Am and BG East both feature naked wrestlers, and again, both get my engine running hot. However, neither of the big boys in the business tweak that nostalgia (or stroke the still valid sweet spot) that “Wrestle” did. Like NK, Can-Am tends to cast pornboys, and the naked chapter of the combat is too often all too briefly sandwiched between geared wrestling and the post-match fucking. Some of Can-Am’s Arena series featured the wrestlers in naked falls, but even as satisfying as it is, for example, watching Rusty Stevens and Aryx Quinn crushing one another nude, the surprisingly brief moment between combat and full throttle sexual content is simply a different animal than the hour or so of pure and simple naked wrestling in “Wrestle.”
BG East is always right in my wheelhouse for their earnestness, but theirs is an earnestness about the integrity of wrestling itself. “Wrestle” advertises as “competition wrestler pitted against each other in combat,” but BG East much more legitimately owns the current scene with regard to experienced, accomplished, enthusiastic wrestlers in their matches than just about anyone else producing (Cameron Matthews is making a strong play for that market lately, however). But I’m hard pressed to think of a BG East match that simply lets two “well-muscled bodies” wrestle naked for very long. In the new release, Gear Fetish 4, Skip Vance and Trey Dixon (current homoerotic wrestler of the month for this match) slowly trade for skimpier and skimpier gear until the last fall is fully naked. But that last fall lasts, what, 45 seconds? Not that I can blame the boys for being clearly driven to distraction by the full throttle fetish arousal they’d worked up to a lather by that point, but it’s not a “naked wrestling” product, in the sense I’m musing on today.
Nakedness does appear more frequently at Muscle Domination Wrestling lately, and there’s a particularly enticing teaser of Thunder’s Arena bodybuilder alums Mutant and Specimen appearing to be about to wrestle entirely naked in the ring in their upcoming season. MDW’s commitment to the narrative, though, along with a lower production quality than most of the producers today, makes me think that as surely as I will be pulling up a table to feast on naked bodybuilders grappling in Oil Hunks 4, it won’t quite tweak the “experience of unequaled beauty and force” that “Wrestle” did for me.
The more I muse, the more I think that I’m caught by nostalgia. It may have been less about Greenwood/Cooper’s “Wrestle” itself, or the 6 hot hunks who starred in it, or the setting or camera angles or lighting, than it was about me, 20 years ago, in a different time and place, with a different perspective, exploring something new and titillating and dangerous and novel. I’ll definitely have to find me a copy of “Wrestle” to sort this out. Then again, if I saw this DVD cover in a store today, I’d snap it up for 20 times the price I rented it 20 years ago.