By day, Andrew Gorzalski is an executive producer at Purple Onion, a film and commercial production company in Milwaukee that has helped bring Chris Smith's "American Movie" and "The Pool," as well as Wu-Tang Clan reunion documentary "Rock The Bells" and others to international audiences.
He's got a positive passion for film, but as it turns out, movies aren't the only form of entertainment he's got his hands in.
Gorzalski's latest local project, the Mondo Lucha Variety Show -- at Turner Hall Ballroom at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27 -- draws inspiration from performance art's strange, seedy past with enough retro kitsch to fill a historic ballroom. It takes the art of Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling, the sass of burlesque and the curious intrigue of carnival freak shows and throws them into a blender to create a nonsensical, yet totally mesmerizing experience.
"We kind of envisioned it like watching the 'Donny & Marie Show' on acid," says Gorzalski, who teamed up with Jay Gilkay (of Evel fame, for all you old-school punks) to bring us this "back-alley, trashy, south-of-the-border version of Cirque du Soleil."
Like all vintage and contemporary pro-wresting events, the evening follows a loose agenda that pulses back and forth between the matches and various other scripted vignettes. But unlike the predictable conventions of modern day WWF, Mondo Lucha takes you back to the speakeasy days of Betty Page pinups and vaudevillian variety.
House band The Uptown Savages sets the scene for the three-hour extravaganza during which masked Mexican wrestlers toss and tussle in the center ring of Turner Ballroom.
This is not your average night out in Milwaukee. The way Gorzalski sees it, "you can go to a rock show and see a guy smash a guitar, or you see someone in the same room as you standing on the top rope do a 450-degree back flip down onto somebody with a cold Pabst in your hand."
The choice is yours. But we haven't even told you about the sideshows yet.
Milwaukee's Alley Cat Revue troupe, St. Louis's Gravity Plays Favorites and the legendary "derriere beyond compare," Lola Van Ella, take turns with taunting and teasing burlesque. The Riverwest-based Deadman's Carnival, a revivalist throwback circus gang, performs some seriously disturbing stunts -- one guy puts a dog cone around his neck, fills it with a gallon of milk and a box of cereal and has to eat his way out before he drowns, we hear.
This is the kind of see-it-to-believe-it stuff that usually comes pre-packaged and dumbed down for general audiences, but give it a little hometown flavor, a little audience participation and a special appearance from the Brewcity Bruisers Roller Derby, and you've got Milwaukee's Mondo Lucha Variety show.
Gorzalski says if all goes well he'd like to plan two a year, but we recommend you check this on out, just in case. Tickets are $18.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”