Los Angeles, California
By Mario Anzuoni
Cinqo de Mayo, Spanish for the fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla.
Living in Los Angeles, there are many ways this date is celebrated. One of them in particular attracted my attention this year. It was the Lucha VaVoom, a show of Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling and Burlesque performances at the Mayan theatre in Los Angeles.
I was very intrigued by the story. Although I didn’t know what to expect, I was excited to take a peek into the world of the “Luchadores” for one evening. The Luchadores are almost like super heroes of the ring; they wear costumes, they have alter ego names, and most importantly they wear masks to conceal their identity. I knew that besides capturing the fights I wanted to portray how they prepare mentally and get into the zone before their performances.
I had to be a fly on the wall, and most importantly be tactful to conceal their identity, just like you would with a super hero. My first stop was of course backstage. As I navigated through I noticed dancers, performers, and, in the most remote area, the locker room where the Luchadores were getting ready. The atmosphere was exciting, just what you would expect before a wrestling fight. They exercised, they stretched, they fixed their costumes, of course they were wearing their masks. Discretely I walked around and made some photos, and immediately and not surprisingly, I realized that despite the costumes and the masks, this was serious business to them. It should be when you leap 15 feet into the air to land on your adversary.
Before I knew it, it was showtime. The theater was sold out, the crowd was effervescent, the excitement was palpable in the joyous and festive audience, and it only got wilder when the announcer started screaming the names of the first Luchadores. As the crowd got louder and I positioned myself ringside, I could barely hear a security person warning me to watch out for the Luchadores flying out of the ring; the visuals and the athleticism exceeded my expectations, these guys, and gals, were leaping, flipping, flying in midair, and just as I was warned, they brought their fights off the ring, into the audience and back to the ring, providing me with the best photo of the night of one of the Luchadores fearlessly leaping into the crowd.