LUCHA LIBRE EXTREMA
The Lucha Libre Extrema series emerged from a growing interest I had in Mexican professional wrestling. I was soon drawn towards sub-genres of the sport such as Lucha Libre Exótica, involving androgynous and openly-gay wrestlers, and Lucha Extrema, an ultra-violent “hardcore” style. I was introduced to many figures within the world of Lucha Libre and began to cover the secretive, underground genre of Lucha Extrema. This semi-clandestine hardcore genre is prohibited in Mexico City because of how dangerous it is, but events still take place legally outside the capital, notably at a car wash-turned-arena in Tulancingo, the village where El Santo, Mexico’s most famous pro wrestler, was born. The participants receive professional training and are paid a little bit more because of the risks they take. They perform with a variety of weapons: chairs, thumbtacks, wire, and fluorescent lights, turning the ring into a war zone. Yet the community of luchadores “extremos” is closely knit and few outsiders have gained access.
For me Lucha Libre Extrema highlights the many contradictions in Mexican culture. Mexico has been a very violent place in recent years with gang wars, massacres, and the murder of students and journalists gaining widespread headlines. As such, I found it fascinating that people were drawn to the dangerous world of Lucha Libre Extrema. I turned my camera to the audience, especially the women and children present, in an attempt to understand why.