Page 576 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
P. 576

556                                     Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
               Olive-oil wrestling has few rules. Anything goes in the free-for-all
            of 500 men, oiled, sweating in the sun, identified only by silver studs
            spelling out their names on the back waist of their leathers. There is much
            man-to-man macho chivalry and little shame in losing a match that goes
            on for hours and sometimes days. The only real shame is when a hand-
            some young wrestler loses his leather breeches and is left standing oiled
            and naked in the sunswept field of brawling men. To him it’s shame. To
            a tourist it’s a prime Turkish Delight.


            Equally delightful is American gay wrestling. The Wrestling Club net-
            work now spans from California to Chicago to New York with the New
            York Wrestling Club somehow the most colorful because of its founding
            president and chief promoter, the dark-mustachioed John Handley, who,
            during an interview, will answer questions and lay out the NYWC future
            plans most fluidly, as he pretends to reach for his cup of coffee only to feint
            the disarmed interviewer into a half-nelson. No exaggeration. Handley is
            such a wrestling aficionado that an interviewer gets his best answers being
            drop-kicked across Handley’s NYWC wrestling mats. Meeting John is a
            bruise forever, and a joy, once you realize that for Liza life is a cabaret, and
            for John life is a basic body slam to the canvas.
               Handley describes his wrestling style as mean. His favorite holds are
            the body scissors, head scissors, and hammerlock. His Dewar’s Profile
            quote: “I wrestle because I like beating the shit out of guys.”
               No wonder the world is beating a path to this man’s door.


            The New York Wrestling Club was created to afford civilized men a
            chance to get down and grapple. Its newsletter, membership roster, and
            social events foster the network of matches between athletes, gay and even
            straight, for whom wrestling is a prime interest. “Whatever else happens
            between the two men,” Handley says, “is their business.”
               Handley twists my arm. “In urban life men need to rebuild primal
            physical encounters. Man to man,” he says. “Wrestling is one path. The
            most personal of all sports.” He pushes his knee into my groin. “We expect
            wrestlers to be sensitive human beings who will make an effort to perceive
            in a match all the levels of encounter a one-on-one grapple involves. Some
            guys wrestle okay in private, but are afraid to wrestle in a gym or bar.”
            He twists my arm tighter, for real. “Failure in a success-oriented society
            is hard to take.”

          ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
   571   572   573   574   575   576   577   578   579   580   581