Lucha VaVOOM – Pin-Ups & Pin-Downs Valentine’s shows at the Mayan
LOS ANGELES, CA- It’s hard to imagine anything that captures the soul of Los Angeles better than Lucha VaVoom. Hosted in a venue that started life as a 1920s movie palace/recreation of a Mayan temple that then evolved into an adult film theater and now lives on as a nightclub, Lucha VaVOOM is a mix of burlesque, Mexican wrestling, and broad comedy. What could encapsulate LA more than this blend of sex and stereotyping with a streak of Mexican culture and fake everything, from the bleached hair to the slapstick narratives?
Pin-Ups & Pin-Downs, Valentine’s Day-themed shows, provided an antidote to the standard flowers-and-chocolate commercialization of the day. And for people celebrating the alternative Singles Awareness Day, an evening of watching sexy gents and ladies body slamming each other was way more fun than staying home solo with a bottle of wine.
The night began with an opening set from indie band Starcrawler juxtaposed with video showing the wrestlers and burlesque performers rolling up to the entrance of the theater in an array of cool cars. With an aesthetic of lady-Elvis-meets-Kate-Moss-meets-metal, the band brought a dose of glitter and a side of headbanging. Foreshadowing a highlight of the evening, lead singer Arrow de Wilde wrapped up her set by tossing herself into the audience as wrestling teams took over the stage. The commentary then alternated between Spanish-language announcing and co-host Drew Carey’s one-liners.
The Crazy Chickens, two “bad mother pluckers,” were easily my favorites of the wrestlers. While each team had its own theme song and over-the-top costuming, the Chickens took it to the next level. Their booty-scooting, choreography, and masks with beaks gave them an energy that was at once light-hearted and fierce. You couldn’t help but cheer for them to crush their enemies as they shook their rumps and dove into the audience to the sounds of chicken-themed music.
Wrestler Joey Ryan was another highlight, with his Burt Reynolds / Tom Selleck vibe and glorious cheesiness. His act was funny, embracing a goofy image with a side of villainy. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the use of little people in the act, as I felt the stereotyping may have been a bit excessive during that act. Overall, the show was at its best when it was at its most ridiculous, with choreography not unlike pairs figure skating. Except with chaps, g-strings, and violence.
Burlesque performers arrived with props ranging from a person-sized cake to a carousel horse. I had wondered what the pace of the show would be like and whether there would be a dip in energy as the scene shifted from the wrestlers to the burlesque acts, particularly since I’d never attended either type of performance before. The audience, however, loved both aspects of the show equally. There was none of the “and then everyone goes to the bathroom en masse” behavior you sometimes see at concerts. While Miss Miranda was a vision in red sparkles with a classy vibe, my favorite of the burlesque numbers was aerialist Veronica Yune. Her graceful flights through the air provided a sharp counterpoint to the wrestlers diving into the ring and crashing into the audience.
In many ways, the star of the evening was the costume department. LMFAO “Party Rock” vibes and a superhero flair joined forces with the Jessica Rabbit feel of the burlesque performers. Glitter and sequins were everywhere, sometimes in very, very small squares. Even the referee had a string of costume changes following his triumphant leaps into the audience.
While the whole premise of the show is built around sex and violence, Lucha VaVOOM was surprisingly tame. The rawest sections were the opening band and a raunchy kiss-cam moment up the balcony. Who knew that tag-team wrestling and endless “kick in the nuts” jokes could seem so… sweet?
It was easy to see that the event has a loyal following, and Lucha VaVOOM events sell out consistently. While I was clearly not the target market, I still enjoyed the show and am glad I attended after years of wanting to check it out. As an entry point for both professional wrestling and burlesque, Lucha VaVOOM hits a local sweet spot. Just remember to BYO shiny chicken mask.