Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World

By Jonathan Gray; Cornel Sandvoss et al. | Go to book overview

12
From Smart Fan to Backyard Wrestler
Performance, Context, and Aesthetic Violence

Lawrence B. McBride and S. Elizabeth Bird


Prologue

I was backstage[. …] Stu burst in the doors after his match, his head
streaked with blood. No one could see where the wound was. After cleaning
him off, I realized that the wound was negligible—barely a half-centimeter
long[. …] Since he was appearing later in the show, we helped him dress it
with yards of gauze which were then decorated with theatrical blood[. …] I
found out later that Stu had bladed during the match, and that he had not
told anyone beforehand, except his opponent. He didn't even tell me about it
as I wiped the blood from his bald head. Another layer of deception was laid
down as an outrageous bandage soaked in fake blood was used to cover a
real cut. I began to realize that I lacked the heart to survive in a field in which
reality was so fragmented. There was much to wrestling that I still didn't
understand. (Lawrence B. McBride, Summer 2001, Bloomington, Illinois)


Introduction

The 1990s saw the proliferation of backyard wrestling federations, inspired by the showmanship of professional, televised wrestling, but operated locally and autonomously by young, mostly male wrestling fans performing on family property. Backyard wrestlers build their own rings, use trampolines as rings, or simply spray paint a square on the ground, where

-165-

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Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World
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