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The Secret Life Of The Luchador

Very few outsiders have been given insight into the mysterious and edifying world of Mexican wrestling. In a rare interview with the legends and players who define this enigmatic sport, we unmask the hidden lives of the luchador.

  • Photography by: Katinka Herbert

There are no off days in this business.

Jake Alexander

The Gods That Walk Amongst Men

To capture the imaginations of hungry spectators is to be initiated into a pantheon of myths and legends. Part superhero and part idol, most of these demigods were born out of humble working-class beginnings and catapulted into stardom. Revered legends of the sport like Blue Demon, El Hijo Del Santo, and Dr. Wagner Jr had captured the cultural imagination of generations. It was not uncommon for images of Lucha Libre legends like Blue Demon to find their way onto tequila bottles and cereal packets, with millions of adoring fans captivated by images of their favourite icons. 

Jake Alexander was a wrestle-crazed American kid raised on a diet of Hulk Hogan, comic books, and Lucha Libre demonstrations that took place around the corner of the nearby Disneyland. Every Sunday, the 18-year-old would watch ringside as good battled evil in violence fueled mise-en-scenes of muscle and lycra. “I had real-life superheros right in front of me,” he recalls, “ the luchadores were larger than life”.  He would watch as technical fighters, or Tecnicos, with their complex application of formal technical styles, would take on the mischievous and underhanded rudos (the pantomime villains of the cast), in brawling, sweat-filled demonstrations of violence.

On the hallowed grounds of the wrestling arenas, the crowds would bay for justice, whipped into an evangelical fervour. “There’s something to be said to be able to take a crowd and get them so angry that they want to hurt you”, recalls Alexander, who would himself don the identity of a professional rudo. “I’ve had old ladies try to light me on fire. I also started a riot in South Central LA, it was something special.”

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