August 11, 2006

Luchador Poetry, Paintings and Piledrivers in Balboa Park

By Michael Klam

In wrestling, as in life, you can be a rudo or a técnico… and sometimes both. A técnico is the good guy who plays by the rules, sort of like the shimmering, spur-jingling cowboy in the white hat.

And the rudo does not play fair. He can be the underhanded evildoer. He cheats and is both hated and loved for his devilish deeds: Try to imagine something like fellow luchadores, The Flea and Dr. Terrifico, employing the “Super Rudo Under the Cheek Sneak” move, which makes a POOT noise in your spine!

Lou Chalibre and Pocha Peña

Or imagine your boss making you work on your day off, while she goes to the beach to sip cocktails and bronze in the sun.

Each of us, according to Chicano political satirist and performance artist Victor Payan, could have within us, at any time, both rudo and técnico. And when you have elements of both, you are “crudo,” he says.

Payan and his creative co-conspirator, Pocha Peña (aka the Chicana writer/producer, Sandra Peña Sarmiento) will present RUDOS Y TECNICOS: AN AZTEC GOLD EXTRAVAGANZA on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Museum of the Living Artist, Balboa Park.

The seasoned veterans of the culture wars will pose the fundamental question, “Are you a rudo or a técnico?” says Payan.

The event is not just WWF-style wrestler buffoonery, however. It is a “vehicle for addressing issues,” says Pocha Peña. “We all have our luchas. We are constantly struggling for something. And there’s always a versus,” she says.

Some of the themes for the night will include: immigration, recovering lost histories, good science vs. bad science, community over corporation and gender identity.

The event will feature the spontaneous creation of paintings by luchadores in chromatic smackdowns, a battle between good and evil; video clips of interviews by Lou Chalibre, El Host Enmascarado, that could include everyone from Sergio Aragones of Mad Magazine fame, to infamous poet/performance artist Guillermo Gómez Peña, to actor Jack Black; a Lucha-Novela, in which audience members are enlisted to don masks and enact a scene, via cue cards, of an original luchador skit; and a lucha-related art exhibit.

The visual art for the night includes an A-list of Chicano artists: Alma López, Ricardo Duffy, Germs, Andi Brandenberg, Ricardo Islas and Chikle.

López is internationally recognized for her innovative digital images, which recontextualize cultural icons, bringing issues of race, gender and sexuality into relationship with transnationalist myths.

Jaime “Germs” Zacarias is the cover artist for the premiere print issue of Chicano Art Magazine. His paintings include a combination of pop culture, narrative imagery and graffiti art. His robot lucha-dores, scratchboard skulls and intergalactic bugs have been in galleries across the nation.

Islas is an artist who focuses on Mexican culture and the social concerns that confront Mexican people on a daily basis. His paintings attempt to capture a moment in time and reveal the struggles of the people he paints.

Infamous wrestler, Lou Chalibre, el Host Enmascarado, will MC the event. Chalibre is making his comeback since the scandal that rocked the wrestling world, which included the Blue Demon, an affair, and a love child named Blue Santo. “Like Elvis in ’68,” says Payan, “this is an exciting time for fans of Lou Chalibre who will be descending on the Museum of the Living Artist on the 16th.”

Chalibre’s “hybrid culture lucharrific extravaganza, which includes audience participation elements, paintings, mystery, surprise and humor through luchanovela and painter smackdowns,” takes place in the 10,000-square-foot Museum of the Living Artist at Balboa Park. The event includes live music and food, nachos, salsa, guacamole and some mariachi music throughout. Open to the public, audience members can participate or simply enjoy the show. Cost is $5.

Payan, Aztec Gold’s co-creator, is an award-winning writer, humorist and producer who works in the San Diego-Tijuana region. He is co-creator of the Keep on Crossin’ movement and is a frequent contributor to His writing has been published in The Independent, The OC Weekly, San Diego CityBeat, the San Diego Union-Tribune, El Aviso and the inaugural City Works Press anthology “Sunshine / Noir.” He has also written for the San Diego Latino Film Festival for the past 12 years. He has participated as a panelist at conferences in the U.S. and Mexico.

Pocha Peña, Aztec Gold’s partner in crime, is a writer/producer who recently penned an article about pop culture sensation Keep on Crossin’ — the celebrated artivist movement created by San Diego’s Perry Vasquez and Payan for Chicano Art Magazine. She will also present with Payan at the upcoming seminal lecture series Mental Menudo in Los Angeles.

“We have a very good collaborative relationship,” says Payan. We surprise each other with our inventiveness. It’s almost like improv. We riff off each other. When we can surprise each other or make ourselves laugh or think, then we’re on the right track,” he says.

Connect 3 with Ginger Placek, the brainchild and owner of 1/8 Fresh Clothing, will also be in the museum to show and discuss painting, photography and perhaps even Aztec jewelry. Placek’s Visual Graffiti collective is an eclectic mix of fashion, art and music.

Poetry & Art’s resident musician, Zuri Waters, will be present to fill any silences with saxophone rhythms.

As always, there will be open mic to follow the feature. Poetry & Art, the San Diego Art Institute’s quarterly museum series, gives artists an opportunity to express themselves in a variety of forms and styles. The free speech event reveals the diversity and importance of the region’s artists.

The audience will hear poetry and prose in dialogue with painting, photography, sculpture, music and dance. The features, in this case, the wrestlers and painters, serve not only as entertainment but also as inspiration for developing artists.

There will be a break between the Aztec Gold feature and the open mic, allowing plenty of time to talk to the performers, make new connections, new friends and perhaps purchase artwork.

So smack on your tights and get ready to rumble! Don your favorite luchador mask. (Or go casual!) Take your poems and paintings (or just your mind) to the museum on Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

You can step up to the mic, or sit back, enjoy the show and answer the question, once and for all: “Are you a rudo or a técnico?”

For more information in English or Spanish, call (619) 957-3264 or e-mail Or call Kerstin Robers (info in English) at the museum: (619) 236-0011. To learn more about the Aztec Gold phenomenon, visit

“Come to have fun,” says Payan. “Come to enjoy the experience. If you are a cultural luchador waiting to be born, this is the night for you.”

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