Between the clink-and-twinkle crystal chandelier of Orlando’s fictitious art-istocracy and the fluid-stained, rope-lined mat that catches the painful crushes of America’s most obnoxious and fictitious pastime, there exists a reasonable gulf that ought never be breached. Or so you would think. Tonight, WrestleMania and art have collided in an unlikely and unlikable bit of syntax – WrestleManiArt, it’s called – and upon arrival at downtown’s CityArts Factory I can feel myself bypassing novel amusement and heading straight for the jugular of hate.
“Kick him when he’s down. He’s easier to reach,” a bloodstained ticker tape of raging wrestling quotes rolls behind my eyes. “I’d rather hurt a man than love a woman.”
I’m angry. I don’t like me when I’m angry.
Fortunately, the only known antidote to my unskilled alchemy with steroids and testosterone has just arrived in the form of a be-suited Scott Maxwell. Surely he’ll stick something in me that will make me feel less Benoit and more JonBenét.
“You know, underneath this suit I look like that,” Maxwell points at a nightmarish oil painting of a chesty headlocker. “I try to keep it under wraps.”
Done. We’re perusing tables of nonsensical rendition in columnar lockstep, hoping that by the guiding forces of our Wonder Twin powers we can ultimately prevail over Orlando’s swift descent into the aggro-marketing complex, wherein greasy-haired fruits of chromosomal abandon somehow shape-shift into answers for everything. Recycling? Wrestle. Homelessness? Wrestle more, and don’t forget to buy a shirt.
“I’d say this is about 30 pounds,” Maxwell grunts as he lifts a steel “sculpture” of a wrestling ring.
“It’s probably 70, considering your secretly hot body,” I spread my legs and fart a little.
Tonight’s big, malodorous idea is that art and wrestling aren’t really that different, which I suppose is true if you consider that both are effectively calculated ego strokes that defy reason. United Arts of Central Florida, and its princess Margot Knight, have swallowed the Kool-Aid in one caution-free gulp, and the mayor – himself a strong body-type candidate for a wrestling lifestyle – would probably marry the idea if he could, or at least have an affair with it. I feel like I missed a day at brainwashing camp.
Mixed-media guru Donna Dowless has chosen to greet the mixed-message conundrum – and me – with blessings of love that include tiny red glass hearts. Maxwell, who’s “already been blessed,” stands aside in wonderment as Dowless presses a heart into my hand and holds it.
“Is it going to make me pass out?” I Linda Blair. “I mean, will I bleed holy water out of each of my orifices and possibly conjugate the word ‘cunt’ into a verb?”
“We’ll just have to be prepared for that,” Dowless launches into a three-minute tongue-talking about how “different” and “appreciated” I am among the fairies, angels and bits of fluorescent dust that make up this peculiar civic head space. I’m not angry anymore, just at a hazy loss for words. Cunting. Cunted. To cunt.
The resulting blur swirls into a hellish symphony of overexposed sensations – an autographed red catsuit, a commissioner Sheehan, Terry Hummel and a thumb-wrestling toy, Jimmy Hart’s megaphone, a “drawing of my girlfriend Renee’s grandfather” by Jerry “The King” Lawler, and, of course, liquefied distillation of theme by perpetually available and appropriately named dance troupe Drip – all blocking my better judgment far more than the drips from the plastic cups of wine from Lakeridge Winery ever could. A Metromix cub reporter approaches my vortex with a tinge of fandom, to which I respond in photo-op form by arm-wrestling with Maxwell’s bionic bicep.
“To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man!” the ticker tape rolls past again. I’ve lost my mind. Fortunately, so has the rest of Orlando.
“I like your hair,” a man-minus-brain drawls from eye-left. “Is it natural?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I drip subtlety. “It’s bleached.”
“But, uh, usually bleach turns it yellow, and yours is perfectly white.”
“Hair,” I growl. “Dresser.”
Up on stage, Knight explains that the very existence of this event is proof that you can find art anywhere, John Saboor of the Central Florida Sports Commission gruffs, “I hope this isn’t the first time” that wrestling and art will combust in Orlando, and Mayor Dyer practically foams at the mouth while introducing Linda (Mrs. Vince) McMahon in a booming announcer’s voice. He went to Connecticut to make this happen, so deep is his wrasslin’ love.
“You should have worn a singlet,” I towel-slap him on his dismount.
“YOU SHOULD HAVE WORN A SINGLET!!!”
The crowd’s mouths gape like I just pissed on the pope. Dyer takes it in some kind of awkward/proud stride, though, as Maxwell’s face contorts with the nausea the mental image alone causes.
“Scott and I are going to wrestle on the stage for the final show,” I continue on my worthless baiting bit. “I’m going to be on bottom.”
It’s obviously time to make an exit, so I grab Maxwell’s arm and we head romantically toward the door. Commissioner “Rowdy” Robert Stuart follows like he might be paternally escorting us out.
“Oh, it’s OK,” I blink both eyes four times, signifying a pageant lie. “We’ve got a room.”
And I still have a little aggression that needs tending firstname.lastname@example.org