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The Return of Incredibly Strange Wrestling 

Flying tortillas and choking chickens: Incredibly Strange Wrestling is San Francisco's craziest punk cabaret

Wednesday, Aug 15 2007
"Even next week, you're still gonna be pulling out tortilla bits from everywhere," a middle-aged punker with a silver ponytail and a handful of beer-sogged corn tortillas was warning his buddy last Sunday night. He was speaking about the perils of attending an Incredibly Strange Wrestling show. But it was already too late, as clumps of tortillas went flying from the vet's hand, sailing across a crowd and into a giant ring where a big dude called the Garbage Man had just dumped the Oi! Boy into a trash can. For a solid four hours that night, the DNA Lounge was a storm of corn product — for sale at the bar for the low, low cost of five tortillas for a buck — which rockers grabbed and dispersed at the wrestlers, at announcers Allan Bolte and organizer Audra Morse, at each other, and at bands like the Spits and the Revolts , the latter of which's singer took a particularly gnarly patch of the foodstuff right in the kisser. It's all par for the course for Incredibly Strange Wrestling, though, one of the most entertaining events of our local punk rock scene.

I first discovered this Strange extravaganza in the late '90s. The tag team wrestling and rock show is one of the most involved and insane performances around. For your entry fee you get performances by a couple of great punk bands (I seem to remember the Supersuckers taking residency there for a while); a wild cast of masked characters and entourages hell-bent on beer drinking, body slamming, and ref-bribing; and the chance to lob handfuls of nasty-smelling taco wrappers at a room full of equally fanatical strangers. But in the last couple of years, San Francisco hasn't seen much of characters like The Sheik of Physique and Macho Sasquatcho. After 10 years of rocking and wrestling around the world, including touring with Lollapalooza, Incredibly Strange Wrestling took a hiatus in the fall of 2005. The break was twofold: Morse needed to take time off to care for a sick family member, and she also needed space to work on ISW's premiere feature film, ¡El Presidente! The movie, which will debut in San Francisco this fall, is a slapstick story about tutu'd tackler El Homo Loco running for office. Morse wrote and co-directed the film in total DIY style. "We had about $20,000 to make a whole movie," she explains. "It's not perfect by any means, but it'll do for my first movie. My friend literally gave me a bootlegged copy of Final Cut and said, 'Let's go; write a script.' And I was like, 'I went to school for architecture and interior design, what the hell? What do I know about a script?'" A clip of the movie, available at Incredibly Strange Wrestling's Web site, offers a hilarious montage of snappy drag queens, sex-starved wrestlers, and plenty of screen time for a hungry hot dog of a man otherwise known as the Snackmaster.

Like everything Morse works on around town, ¡El Presidente! blends silly theatrics with plenty of punk rock. The woman who for years brought us the cheeky rock 'n' roll cabaret Stinky's Peep Show is also the booker for Thee Parkside and a band manager, among other gigs. "Stinky's and Wrestling came about from the same thing," says Morse. "I'm tired of going to see just a show. It's got to have something more." To that end, there are a couple of new items in Morse's datebook these days. She launched LAW — Ladies' Arm Wrestling — which tests female brawn while DJs spin butt-rock. (You can get those push-ups in now for the next battle Nov. 10.) And for those wanting more immediate athletics, Morse is starting a punk rock aerobics class at Thee Parkside on Wednesday, Aug. 22. Every Wednesday during happy hour, a tattooed instructor and a live DJ help punks sweat out all the Pabst they spent the weekend packing in. "I wanted to do it because all my friends now are either having babies or they're fitness crazy — even like the crusties," says Morse. "I'm like, 'What's going on?' If you want to come down and watch, you can, you just better be drinking. Otherwise, you have a good workout."

But of course, Morse's main event will always be Incredibly Strange Wrestling, which, sadly, touches down in San Francisco very rarely these days. The group is on a constant tour, and this past year alone it traveled to Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington and the Virgin Festival in Maryland. When ¡El Presidente! gets a Bay Area release this fall, expect another live round of rock-and-ring action in San Francisco, but otherwise you'll have to take your deranged matches as they arrive. Last weekend, that meant sacrificing a solid Sunday-night sleep to catch Barely Bonds administering "amino acids" to Chris Ben Wa Balls — who then strangled his wife, smothered his son, and had his brood carted off by Dr. Gorilla and the Monkey Medics. It meant hearing Swingin' Utters' side project the Revolts riling the crowd with melodic pop punk. And it meant tossing tortillas at the tag team of El Pollo Diablo and Macho Sasquatcho — my personal favorite of the bunch, particularly because watching the chicken get choked never loses its locker-room humor value. Punk rock should always be this raucous and comical, even if it does leave you with large bits of flatbread down your pants.

About The Author

Jennifer Maerz


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