Warped speed ahead for grapplers

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The Vans Warped Tour pitches its circus tent in town this weekend to the tune of Ripley's Believe It or Not, featuring all things strange, bizarre and unexpected. Loaded with off-the-wall activities and players -- paint-ball competitions, graffiti art, daredevil motorcross, death-defying skateboarding, insane BMX gravity-haters, Satan girls, Bubba boys, leather-clad and fishnet-loving overweight dominatrixes -- the 2001 edition of the tour (www.warpedtour.com) promises to be a feast of the exceedingly odd and tasteless for the expected throngs of geek-hungry hooligans. But few, if any, Warped Tour entries are as twisted as that offered by the Incredibly Strange Wrestling troupe, which combines Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) with punk's reckless abandon.

ISW sports such anti-Greco-Roman ringers as El Homo Loco, Chupe Suave, Macho Sasquatcho and, the crème de la crème of old-school-style wrestling, El Pollo Diablo. Masked and costumed, these homo-bestial thugs can't wait to squawk, grunt and cluck in the ring for your voyeuristic pleasure. But they won't be the only ones getting into the act. For a little audience participation, there will be flatulent Mexican food vendors waiting to supply you with as many tacos and burritos as you can hurl at the freaks. As ISW impresario Audra Morse points out, that's all part of the mayhem.

"People just need to throw things at the wrestlers," Morse says. "And tortillas sure hurt less than bottles."

That's what the promoter says, but what about the wrestlers' feelings? You'd be hard-pressed to find out, because many of these characters don't talk -- they just make some kind of animal noise. In the Devil Chicken's case, he only clucks. When I asked for an interview, I was told I'd need someone who could "easily interpret El Pollo Diablo's cluckings." As for Macho Sasquatcho, he just does Big Foot imitations. Seems the chicks really dig them: They've brought "getting your freak on" to a whole new level.

Soundtracked by the sounds of Warped's lineup of hardcore punk-rawk, spank-master hip-hop, and teen-age, white-boy rap-metal, ISW should prove to be the un-P.C. belle of the sun-drenched ball. Staged battles pit homosexual against feathered/furry beast, door-knocking Scientologist against pig-tailed Viking Lord and an animal-rights activist against a Ku Klux Klan wizard. Even P.T. Barnum, Aleister Crowley and Kid Rock would be impressed by this bacchanalian theater of the absurd.

Visitors also can get a taste of the latest in gaming technology via "The Playstation 2 Challenge" or the latest and greatest in extreme-sports demonstrations. (I know, after watching Jackass, it all seems so ... safe.) And for those looking for a little color, Latin graffiti artist Man One will be flexing his "live aerosol" muscle, creating a site-specific mural that'll surely open eyes to the artistic nature of this street-level expression.

But the Warped Tour experience is not all fun and games. For those looking for a more cerebral experience, the well-rounded tour boasts a 400-square-foot "DiY-Fest" tent touting guest speakers, hip-hop MCs, poets and underground-movie screenings -- all in celebration of independent expression.

And what about Warped Tour's musical aspirations? Despite the once-again underwhelming bill, there are several notables hitting the stage at the daylong fest: rapper/industry thorn Kool Keith, a re-energized Jimmy Eat World, comeback kids 311, all-star upstarts Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, smooth criminals Alien Ant Farm, hot-at-the-moment Sum 41, Florida's own Less Than Jake and original spooky kids The Misfits (sans Danzig).

As usual, local representation will be in full effect. Area favorites Slack Season, MT Minds, Fullerton and Unfisted are scheduled to hit smaller stages throughout the day of youthful exhibitionism.

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