Independence Day

I typically take the time around the 4th of July to point out my lack of patriotism. But this year feels different. I know that I’m not the only one who feels a little more like a proud American this 4th of July. Such a major, seismic shift on marriage equality certainly doesn’t protect everyone’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, of course. LGBT Americans can legally be fired, denied housing, harrassed by both public and private authorities in a whole lot of places in this country still. But access to marriage is pretty cool.

Adam Battle from Can-Am’s Power Match 6-Pack

I’ve been fascinated to watch the strong and conflicting opinions the SCOTUS decision has sparked among my friends and colleagues, who, generally speaking, tend to pitch their tents in the same political camp. Straight people shamed for flying the rainbow flag. White gays shamed for celebrating marriage while people of color and trans folks are continuing to get fucked up and gunned down. Marriage advocates shamed for distracting us all from other problems like poverty and racism and gun violence and sexism.

Brad Rochelle from BG East’s Fantasymen 20.

I’ve got my own opinions, of course, but I have to say that I can’t help but be pleased that we’re talking a little more openly about a lot of things that ought to be complicated and unsettled. I confess a little thrill that bigots are feeling compelled to have to state their bigotry and try to rationalize it as something else, rather than just silently assuming that they’re the moral majority. And I really like that a lot of people I know who have long assumed that we all think alike are realizing that one particular decision or policy or issue that we all may endorse to some extent doesn’t erase the rich diversity of who we are, what we value, where our priorities lie, and how we think.

Brendan Byers from BG East’s Florida Fights 1

It’s not uncommon in homoerotic wrestling to see American flag wrestling trunks. This gear typically signals that the wearer is a babyface hero, handsome, virile, and virtuous. And in the homoerotic wrestling matches I watch, those guys get their stars and stripes clad asses handed to them 9 times out of 10. Not always, I know, but most of the time.

BG East's Military Muscle 2
BG East’s Military Muscle 2

The hunks in American flag trunks most often embody a naivete, a simple minded faith in things like hard work, strength, and sincerity to tip the scales of wrestling competition and justice their way. Their virginal earnestness is saccharine sweet, a glossy glaze over the realities of the homoerotic wrestling ring where things aren’t always (or even often) fair. Their wide-eyed, muscle bulging innocence seems to make them blind to a world where cheating, unsportsmanlike behavior, and ferocious mercilessness more often than not spank the ass of righteous, rule-abiding reverence for an honest battle of strength and skill.

BG East’s Ringwars 5

I don’t know if this trope still plays the same way in mainstream pro wrestling (because I haven’t watched mainstream pro wrestling in forever), but I think it’s a particularly engaging narrative for homoerotic wrestling audiences. We know that survival often goes not to the fittest, but the most cunning. We know that when the rules are stacked against you, sometimes the most appropriate response is to fuck the rules. We know that often our most important assets in the battle against those who revile and oppress us behind a veneer or virtue and righteous indignation is to turn the repulsion right back around on them, to throw what they despise most in their faces, to metaphorically grab them by the balls until their self-righteous, “hard earned” privilege and power melts into weeping, impotent, contemptible helplessness.

BG East’s Wrestlefest 3

Because more often than not, it isn’t their righteousness that has propelled them forward in good fortune. It isn’t their hard work. They haven’t just wanted success more, as if their will power is superior to those who haven’t prospered and been rewarded as much. It’s just those fucking rules that have made the difference, that have been slowly (sometimes quickly) tipping the scales their way from the moment they were born, that have advantaged them not because they earned it or deserved it, but just because they were born into families with a particular hue and history, because they effortlessly found their affections drawn in the socially acceptable direction, because they had that silver spoon in their mouths all along. So, many of us with an eye for homoerotic wrestling have learned that it’s those fucking rules that are the problem, and watching a homoerotic wrestling heel fuck the rules and humiliate a stars and stripes clad goldenboy is deep down satisfying.

BG East’s The Contract 8

I’m sure there’s much more to the American flag jobber narrative than that, but what I’m left wondering this year is whether my new found investment in my citizenship, riding this wave of judicial victory and the turning tide of public opinion, may make me, and perhaps you, a little less cynical about the American flag. I’m sure it won’t happen anytime soon, but is there a place in homoerotic wrestling iconography somewhere down the road for a sneering, contemptuous, irrepressible heel decked out in stars and stripes? Might finding myself embracing a little patriotric pride for being welcomed a little more into the fold of mainstream America shift my tastes for enjoying the sight of the American flag, strapped to the ass of an classically hot pretty boy, trampled and trashed for the poor excuse for institutional oppression it has so long seemed to me to represent? May I want to see an American patriot savvy and sly, queer and cunning, as vicious and vile as necessary to pound… who?… into tantalizingly sexy mincemeat?

BG East’s Austin Cooper Wrestler Spotlight 2

In some ways I hope so.

BG East’s Backyard Brawls 6

In many ways, I hope not.

BG East’s Boston to Austin 2
BG’s Badboys 1
BG East’s Lon Dumont Wrestler Spotlight

Texas Beef

I’m not the sort of histrionic character that runs around pointing fingers and calling people liars. But I’ve got my finger pointed decisively at the boys at BG East at this very moment, and I’m calling them liars, because there’s just no way in God’s green earth that Duncan Thomas from Boston to Austin 2 measured in at 5’8″ and 162 pounds. They’ve listed his opponent, Jay Grady, at a much more likely 5’10” and 180 pounds, and seeing these two boys face-off illustrates the undeniable fact that Thomas was notably taller (not by a little) and almost certainly heavier (100% of it hard, striated, sliced to shreds muscle).

I remember seeing this match hit the website as a new release 9 years ago. Picking up my recent theme of the relative allure of “pretty,” I readily admit that it was Duncan’s tanned, toned classically gorgeous body and pretty-boy handsome face that caught my eye. Anachronistically, I’d say he’s got a distinctly Henry Cavill look about him. I don’t remember, however, why I didn’t snap up Boston to Austin 2 that very moment. Perhaps I was paralyzed by the devastating beauty in Fantasymen 22, which was released at the same time (damn, that is one stunning collection of muscle men!). In any case, Duncan Thomas made a big impression, but I didn’t actually see him in action…

…until BGE posted his match as a video-on-demand in the Arena last week. I was like a cat watching a piece of string being dangled before my eyes. I was mesmerized, helpless to stop myself. I clicked “buy,” and then hunkered down to compare what I imagined this match to be with the reality.

I was delighted to discover that Duncan is no delicate pretty boy poser. He’s pretty, sure. But somehow, I couldn’t imagine calling him “pretty” to his face. As soon as he opens his mouth and that deep base voice with a rope-’em ‘n tag-’em Texas twang comes snarling out, “pretty” just falls off the table. He’s a cocky, supremely confident, strutting son-of-a-bitch from the Lone Star state with the swagger to suggest that all those eye-catching muscles serve some purpose other than being adored. When Jay walks in and Duncan flips into a rock solid handstand Capoeira-style strike pose, the message is crystal clear: this is not some go-go boy just yanked off the dance floor.

Duncan physically dominates in a way that drives home my point that someone’s measuring tape and scale were badly mis-calibrated when they sized him up at 5’8″ and 160 pounds. No doubt about it, Jay is a hot little scrapper who seems to genuinely delight in the prospect of turning this into a hunk bash. But Duncan throws his weight around and muscles the high-n-tight brawler into one compromised position after another. Nine times out ten, Duncan simply snaps his massive arms around Jay’s head and parades him around the mat, threatening to snap body parts off at will. In fact, for his flashy start, I’m a little disappointed to see no more creative fare from the tanned adonis. I get the impression of a martial artist just barely restraining himself from landing a roundhouse kick to his opponent’s face, so perhaps it’s the format of the mat battle that makes Duncan appear a little less than innovative throughout most of the match.

But the final fall in the best of 5 finally shows what all those highly coordinated, heavily trained muscles can offer. Systematically picking apart his opponent, Duncan unleashes slams, scissors and a final, decisive choke that reminds me, once again, that I wouldn’t dare call this hunk “pretty” to his face.

But what makes this match completely worth being the impulse purchase it was, is Duncan’s smart-ass mouth. I’m not a fan of overly misogynistic themes in my wrestling, but there’s something deeply arousing when Duncan looks like he’s about to rip Jay’s head off, and he snarls, “I can break your neck, or you can slap out like the little girl you are.” In that deep-chested Texas drawl, Duncan’s threat is completely believable, as illustrated by the fact that Jay almost instantly gasps out a desperate submission, proving Duncan’s point. With some hot verbal taunting that brings to my mind the opening salvo by Rusty Stevens upon facing off with Mitch Colby, Duncan paces around Jay after the submission, explaining, “I’ll give you some time for some beauty sleep. You need it.” If that line came from some muscle jobber, it would be such an eye-rolling cliche’. From this aggressive, confident Southern stud, though, it’s fantastic psychological domination. He can kick Jay’s military ass, humiliate him by questioning his masculinity, and then remind him that Duncan is heads and tails more beautiful to look at, to boot. Holy hell!

Best line of the match, hands down, has to be when they’re about to lock up after another submission, and Duncan spits out, “You wrestle like my sister…. that bitch!” Again, you have to superimpose a deep Texas drawl on this text, and then sit back and delight in the take-no-prisoners, smarter than your average bear banter that rolls off of Duncan’s tongue like a seasoned pro. In the end, Duncan kicks Jay when he’s down, and then tops him off with an inverted reverse bearhug into a skull rattling piledriver, delivering a COMPLETELY gratuitous splash while Jay is still clutching his throbbing skull defenselessly.

And see, I’ve made it to the end of this post without even mentioning his stunningly sculpted legs, fantastically asymmetrical pec development (an archer?), and his gorgeously shapely athletic ass and slice of Texas beef hanging from his crotch filling those unbelievably tight trunks to capacity! That’s got to prove it: this Texas one-hit-wonder is absolutely not just about “the pretty.”

P.S. If one of the BG East boys gets sent to my house to beat my ass for calling them liars, can I put in a request for it to be Denny Cartier? In his white trunks with blue piping? With his overnight bag?