Episode 37: Lucha Libre: Performance, activism and politics

In this episode we discuss lucha libre, the popular Mexican form of professional wrestling. We are joined by Peatónito, an activist for pedestrians in Mexico City, who uses the persona of a wrestler to create spectacle as activism on the streets, such as jumping in front of cars. We also speak with Heather Levi, an assistant professor of Anthropology at Temple University, who researches professional wrestlers and professional wrestling in Mexico City. We ask: how is lucha a practice of staging contradictions? How does it comment on the political life of the audience, to bring them along to support a “super-hero” type persona? How have politics, performativity, lucha, etc. merged into each other? And also, how can the luchadores personas help to bring attention to, and increase affect and participation around, social issues outside of the arena?

More About Our Guests:

Heather Levi, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Temple
The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity
“Don’t Leave Us in the Hands of Criminals: The Contested Cultural Politics of Lucha Libre.”

Peatónito (Twitter)
Peatónito’s appearance in NYC!

Here are some more of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Noted Luchadores/activists:
El Santo (images of El Santo Fotonovelas)
Blue Demon
Super Barrio (Super Barrio in LA!)
Ecologista Universal

Peatónito’s inspiration, Antanas Mockus
Also read Mockus’ NYT Op-Ed on The Art of Changing a City
And check out a more extensive documentary here

Love and Rockets comics

A very LA take on Lucha – Lucha VaVoom

Henry’s writing on American wrestling

Additional Reading:
The Revenge of Hatpin Mary: Women, Professional Wrestling and Fan Culture in the 1950s
Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling

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