(Zarco Guerrero ) Please proceed to the back wall and listen as co-curator, Davison Koenig, gives us his perspective on la Lucha Libre.
(Davison Koenig) Not being a native to this area, coming from the east coast, there's not a whole lot of Mexican wrestling that I knew of growing up as a kid. It was definitely under the surface, shall we speak.
But, moving here, to southern Arizona, doing research for the mask exhibit, I was amazed to find what originally I thought was a subculture. But, realized that this is not even remotely a subculture. This is as mainstream as Elvis is to American pop culture. That these wrestlers are huge and they're more than just, you know, sports stars. They're really movie stars, and made movies, and just pop cultural icons that everyone grows up with—and not just taken for granted, but is a part of your life whether you're a kid or an adult and draws from a much larger demographic than wrestling in the United States. And you really can't even compare the two because they're just apples and oranges.
(Zarco Guerrero) An important part of Lucha Libre is wrestler's mask. Luchador Sol De Oriente explains the importance of the mask for the wrestler and for their fans.
(Sol de Oriente) We love the mask. We care the mask because if some wrestler take off the mask, maybe no more wrestling. Because the people, the people that go to want to see the Lucha Libre and in los arenas, they go to see some luchadores—El Santo y Yako, Místico many, many wrestlers in Mexico. And the people go to see him. And if you don't have mask, ooh, no, I don't like it that. I wanted the Santo. I wanted the Yako. Or, some luchadores .
(Zarco Guerrero)Luchadores often experience an alter ego when they are in costume performing for an audience. Tucson native luchador Cuervo shares his experience of this transformation.
(Cuervo) When I put on the mask, I'm not the same person anymore. I'm this character that I created for myself. And it's almost like an extension of my inner, you know, desires and stuff like that. It's just—it's just really something else how the mask can just change your whole perception on a lot of different things.
When I put on the mask, it's just kind of weird 'cuz my—it's almost like my thinking pattern changes and I'm not having the same thoughts anymore as I did when I was, you know, my regular self. You know, I have these, you know, deep thoughts, dark thoughts, you know, when I'm coming out there. You know, my walk changes. Everything changes about me. As soon as I take off the mask, I'm me again.
(Zarco Guerrero) A Nogales trainer and former luchador, when asked about asked about Lucha Libre responds proudly.
(Eddie Velarde in Spanish in the background and Interpreter speaking) The Lucha Libre is beautiful. One learns to make themselves better to always be in condition. Every luchador, one who wrestles, is a teacher. And one keeps learning and learning. You never stop learning. The learning is never finished.
(Zarco Guerrero with sound of wrestling match in background) The popularity of Lucha Libre continues to grow day by day. No longer solely a Mexican pastime. It is making its way into mainstream southwest American culture and becoming more and more familiar around the world.
Special Thanks to Gateway for their support of this project.
Many thanks also to the University of Arizona Disability Resources Center for transcribing the tour episodes.