Masks, capes, secret identities – Mexican wrestling (aka Lucha Libre) has a lot in common with the superhero genre. But trying to be a superhero in real life has its own set of challenges. I visit two Lucha Libre matches in New York City and talk with wrestlers (aka luchadors) about the joy of being famous and anonymous at the same time. Photographer Lourdes Grobet reveals how she went behind-the-scenes with luchadors without exposing their identities, and professor Heather Levi reveals the unusual origin of the iconic Lucha Libre mask. Special thanks to Nueva Era Lucha Productions and The Bronx Wrestling Federation.
I talked with legendary audio drama producer Dirk Maggs for an episode about the history of radio dramas last year-- but a lot of great material ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. So I’m presenting a full version of our conversation, where we discuss how he brought major franchises like Batman, Alien and The X-Files to life with audio drama, and how he brought The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back to radio. He also reveals a few secrets of audio production on how to trick the brain into seeing what’s not there.
He’s undead. He’s shot lightening out of his hands. He’s thrown his enemies into coffins. He's one of the most popular pro-wrestlers of all time. But Mark Calaway’s character The Undertaker is also an anachronism from a different era of wrestling. Today WWE performers rely more on their real life personalities than invented personas, and yet The Undertaker has continued his supernatural reign in the ring for nearly three decades. Journalist Chad Dundas and professors Charles Westmoreland of Delta State and Christopher Stacey of LSU Alexandria put The Undertaker’s remarkable career in the context of “sports entertainment,” which often doesn’t get enough respect as sports or entertainment. Here's a link to the graphic novel Chad Dundas wrote about the origin of The Undertaker:
Hero Props vs. Fake Props
Imagine walking into your living room, and alongside your couch is a prop from one of your favorite childhood movies. Sure, it was costly but this is a piece of pop culture history, and it's right here in your home. Now imagine you found out that prop was a fake. I talk with prop collectors Tiana Armstrong of curator Jacob McMurray about the dark web of swindlers and forgers who prey on sci-fi fantasy fans.
Burlesque has merged with geek culture to form nerdlesque – where characters from Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and other fantasy franchises strip down to pasties and g-strings. Nerdlesque is also a form of storytelling, similar to fanfiction or cosplay in the way it encompasses a diverse range of fans, and re-imagines the power dynamics of the original stories. We talk with pioneering nerdlesque performers Fem Appeal and Nasty Canasta, and we get a back stage tour of with Russall Beattie, Lisa Toyer and Kael Murray. Needless to say, this episode contains adult content with adult language.