On Saturday, Nov. 11, a army of blithe arcane enthusiasts gathers about the aloft angry arena at Park Gym in SOMA to attestant the aboriginal anytime North American Lucha Libro, or Fight of the Book: bristles masked LGBTQ writers of color, bristles minutes, one publishing contract.
A comedy on lucha libre, Lucha Libro is like a angry bout — alone with words. There are no arena girls or referees, but the writers’ angry masks, irised costumes, and bright monikers — like Witch Pussy for Satan Child and OG Get Free — accomplish the autograph antagonism feel like a Mexican, soap opera-esque angry spectacle. The writers, whose identities are kept secret, accept bristles account on date to address a adventure or composition that will win over the judges: bounded authors and academics Carolina di Robertis, Faith Adiele, and Truong Tran.
Unlike a approved angry bout area luchadores balmy up by jumping aback and alternating and throwing punches in the air, one masked biographer in galaxy tights dances salsa ringside; addition in a zebra-print leotard straddles a assemblage of fifty batter weights and gathers her thoughts. A third saunters in, captivation a Frapuccino; a fourth skips into the gym in a gold cape. The fifth biographer sits in the audience, accounting into a baby computer. A buzz on the attic counts bottomward from three minutes.
Lucha Libro was created in Peru as a admonishment to that country’s publishing industry, which, due to a apathetic economy, places the banking accountability of press a book on the author. Lucha Libro, Bay Area edition, was put calm by LGBTQ promotional accouterments RADAR productions, the bookstore Booksmith, and anomalous arcane journal Foglifter Press. Following the advance of its Peruvian counterpart, it addresses North American publishing problems like elitism, uniformity, and publishers’ penchants for safe bets.
Juliana Delgado Lopera, administrator of RADAR, addresses the army from the ring: “In Lucha Libro, you don’t charge an education, you don’t charge a bio. Your assignment is all that is valuable.”
The admirers sits on folding chairs, re-purposed ab benches, plyometric boxes, or anon on the floor. All around, there are vinyl puffs of red and dejected battle gloves, monkey bars, buckets of chalk, and weightlifting machinery. In the far end of the room, pyramids of kettlebells bifold in the floor-to-ceiling mirror.
Spectators, writers, and board akin absorb the abutting bisected hour in bristles circuit of tension, wherein one masked biographer sits at a laptop, confronted with the bare folio and the blinking cursor, which — no burden — is projected alive on the opposing wall. A hushed admirers keeps their eyes alert to the bank as the words arise one by one.
Fabulist La Lucifer Colorada is a attenuate but baleful opponent, sure-fingered and slippery. “Your aftermost advocate act was to accomplish suicide. You said, ‘A man is aggravating to annihilate me so I will annihilate myself first.’ You approved bristles times.” Afresh arise the abrupt moves: “When you jump into in a blooming lake, la llorona swims alongside you and whispers, ‘Not yet.’” Other characters who arise at baleful junctions accommodate Sylvia Plath, Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo.
It seems like the bout is over afore it started, but afresh Rio de Vergas (whose adage is “Here to bang homophobia in the face! And eat all the flan!”) makes an entrance, his sequined cape aflutter and his sneakers aflame neon as he twirls against the admirers and into the ring. He has us bedlam in seconds: “This is the adventure of how I became Rio de Vergas, which agency River of C-cks if you were wondering.”
Each adversary has their own angry style. While OG Get Free is assertive and deliberate, Luna Guerrera de los Rios writes with bent ambition and with such beastly force, the tablecloth beneath the laptop agitation with anniversary keystroke. (Naturally, that tablecloth is sequined and bright purple.) Witch Pussy for Satan Child freezes, asks to activate again, tries to agitate it all out. “F– ‘em up!” addition yells in the audience.
The board advise by the floor-to-ceiling mirror for a few minutes, afresh advertise the winner: “For queering content,” Carolina di Robertis, columnist of The Invisible Mountain, says into the mic, “for affection of gender, form, the use of active and accurate accent in means that advance accessible in vistas of ability and vision, in aggregate acerbity with beauty, in speaking accuracy to power, we’ve chosen… La! Lucifer! Colorada!”
There is no championship belt for La Lucifer Colorada to authority up, but there is an addition to the Foglifter editors cat-and-mouse nearby. I ask La Lucifer Colorada (her absolute name is Vianney Casas) if she accepted to win. “No!” she exclaims. She tells me she woke up at 8am and conceptualized the acceptable story. Casas brand to use surrealism to allocution about the things she’s activity through. “In the acceptable piece, I congenital women, and I included Van Gogh, too, who committed suicide. I am a being who has abasement and I capital to use these women and Van Gogh to affect me to accumulate going.”
Casas is a contempo displace to the Bay and is accessory academy for writing. “I accept a brace collections, so I’m activity to accord those account to see what ability be best to publish,” she says.
Carolina di Robertis thinks Lucha Libro is an abundantly able affair to do in the Bay Area’s arcane community. “As an author, I’ve appear four books with alleged Big-Five houses in New York, and I apperceive how adamantine it is, you know, for myself as a anomalous Latin American woman to breach in and to break in. When your articulation is societally marginalized in any way, it is a struggle.”
Spaces that centermost anomalous bodies of blush and competitions that aftereffect in advertisement are capital for today’s arcane world, she adds. “In the above houses in New York, article like 95 percent of editors are white, and abounding of them are straight. That can aftereffect in a gatekeeping that doesn’t let in important and avant-garde choir like the ones we heard today.”
Lucha Libro was put on by RADAR Productions. Find added advice here. And watch out for Vianney Casas’ chapbook abutting summer!
The Spine is a annual column. Catch us aback actuality in two weeks!
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