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View Count: 91 |  Publish Date: October 21, 2013
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A little raunch doesn't throw Hoodslam fans

Backstage, away from the din of spectators cheers, a slender man in slacks and a fedora puts on bunny ears, a whiskered nose and a poufy tail. He then grabs a large plastic bag filled with white powder and - for safety - straps on knee pads and elbow pads.
Im a 1920s gang member addicted to coke, who is a rabbit, says Kevin Johnson of his alter ego, Drugz Bunny.
Nearby, a huddled throng of tattooed tough guys (and a few very tough girls) transforms into a bizarre cast of characters, including El Chupacabra, the Stoner Brothers, and a number of ninja types from the early 90s videogames Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II.
It is 9 p.m. on a Friday night at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, and these are performers suiting up for Hoodslam, a monthly 21-and-over entertainment phenomenon that is part wrestling show, part carnival act and all comedy.
This nights performance is titled The Battle Royale of Supremacy, a characteristically redundant superlative intended to mock the rhetoric of mainstream pro wrestling.
We arent trying to be pro wrestling. We are performance art, says Hoodslams founder, Sam Khandaghabadi, a.k.a. Dark Sheik. This is a show and we treat it as such. The audience appreciates being in on the joke.
With its self-referential comedy and healthy dose of obscenity, Hoodslam marks a notable departure from contemporary professional wrestling, which is dominated by World Wrestling Entertainment. Unlike WWE, Hoodslam shows are directed at an adult audience, and they do not attempt to sustain the illusion that the fighting is real.
Though there are a few other meta-wrestling companies around the country - most notably Chikara on the East Coast - Hoodslam is unique in the extent of its departure from the mainstream, and the extent of its absurdity.Part of the show
At the Oakland Metro Operahouse, there are no seats. The audience of about 800 surrounds the ring in the dimly lit, brick-walled building, at arms length from both the wrestlers and a fully stocked bar in the back of the room.
The stage lights switch on to illuminate the pierced faces of heavy metal-type fans, but there are also plenty of those you wouldnt expect to see at a wrestling show: middle-aged parents, clean-cut voyeurs and about as many women as men. Most people seem to be roughly 30.
Smoke of various fragrances rises into plumes above the empty ring. Spectators hold signs replete with four-letter words and start chanting, F- the fans! - one of Hoodslams ironic slogans - while banging on the platform with fiendish zeal.
Soon the resident metal band will fill the room with electric noise, and a parade of freaks and oversized geeks will enter the ring in succession, settling scores with over-the-top comedic theatricality.
The show is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. Later on in the evening, for instance, a man in skin-tight checkerboard overalls and an executioners mask will jump into the ring, wielding a dildo as a weapon. Hoodslam is the breath of fresh air that pro wrestling as an art form needs now more than ever, says A.J. Kirsch, a Hoodslam wrestler and commentator whose onstage persona is Broseph Joe Brody, a deodorant-spraying, tank-top-toting composite image of every douchebag I ever had to deal with when I was a bouncer, Kirsch says.
Typical wrestling is insulting to the audiences intelligence, says Kevin Gill, the other commentator. Unlike WWE, we market to people who are adults, who grew up on wrestling.
For the uninitiated, a brief history lesson is in order.Slickly scripted
Professional wrestling, unlike amateur Greco-Roman wrestling, is a show. Storylines and outcomes are written ahead of time by bookers, and performers adopt fictional personae and engage in onstage rivalries culminating in choreographed blows and body slams. In the 1990s, during the attitude era of the WWF (now WWE), wrestlers antics were raunchy, clever and varied; the target demographic was late teens to adults.
Around the new millennium, however, the show became more child-oriented. WWE now had a near-monopoly on televised pro wrestling, and after becoming a publicly traded company, made the switch to family-friendly programming by cutting out the sexual innuendo and swearing, and directing the writing toward 8- to 14-year-olds, Kirsch says.
WWE is still in the midst of what Kirsch calls the PG generation, with no small hint of disdain in his voice.
If you were a fan of movies, and all of a sudden all that was out there was Disney, it would suck, Kirsch says.
Enter Sam Khandaghabadi, who founded Hoodslam in Oakland in 2010 to combat the frustration he felt with the state of wrestling. I started Hoodslam because I felt many of us were losing our passion for wrestling, he said. There needed to be a place where we could enjoy ourselves and have creative freedom.
At the show on Friday night, a referee in a tuxedo enters the ring with a microphone. The action is about to begin.
This is Hoodslam! he yells into the mike, before introducing Judge Johnny Legend, an elderly man with a gray beard reaching past his navel. With his tinted sunglasses and sparkling cardigan, Legend looks like a cross between Willie Nelson and Prince, and he proceeds to mumble a number of disgusting things. It isnt clear whether there is a point to his presence, but its just this kind of unpredictable and offensive absurdity that keeps fans coming back to the show. After Legends theatrics, Broseph Joe Brody, wearing a tank top that leaves his huge muscles exposed, begins fighting Super Tiger in the ring.
Brody and Tiger trade blows, appealing to the audience with raised-arm bravado after every small victory, while the other languishes on the floor.
Finally, Brody has Tiger pinned for two taps, but before finishing him off, goes backstage to get a GoPro video camera to strap to his head - a textbook bro maneuver - and then climbs to the top of the ring, ready to fly on top of Tiger.
This is Broseph Joe Brody, who hails from Mount Brolympus, jokes Gill, the other commentator. Some of his tanning oil might come off from this move.These are pros
Despite the major role of comedy in the show, the wrestlers are highly trained professionals performing potentially dangerous moves. The athleticism on display, unlike the jokes, is nothing to scoff at.
Brody flies from the rings to land on top of Tiger, shouting, This is real! - another of Hoodslams slogans - to massive cheers.
For many fans, the show is real. Its obviously not literally real, Kirsch said. But its real in a different sense, because were making fans feel, as adults, the way they felt when they were kids watching Hulk Hogan.
Here you dont get the watered-down version, says audience member Matt Ready. I was always into wrestling as a kid, and this is way better than anything on TV now.
One woman, Brie Butler, stands right by the ring, cheering loudly. I dont even like wrestling, but this is the s-, Butler says as the maniacal Doc Atrocity comes out wearing terrifying makeup and a purple and green lab coat, followed by Zombie Gorilla.
Ive been kicked in the head. Ive had wrestlers land on top of me. Here fans are part of the show, she says.
Next up in the ring is Anthony Butabi (Will Ferrells idiotic party-boy character from the cult-classic film A Night at the Roxbury), who enters with a mane of hair, wearing spandex booty shorts and a sparkly jacket.
He fights an intense match with Ultra-Girl, one of the shows few female wrestlers, eventually prevailing by landing right on her head (or at least it looked like that). As he celebrates, pumping his fist in the air, Butabis theme song, What Is Love ... Baby Dont Hurt Me, blasts from the speakers. From Juilliard
During the intermission, the lights dim as Fabienne Delacroix, a.k.a. D-Faust, slowly strips. Delacroix, a Juilliard-educated dancer who gave up her dancing career to join Hoodslam, is performing the sexy halftime shows while she trains to be a wrestler. With a huge Hoodslam tattoo on one of her legs, she jiggles her backside faster and faster, reaching a booty-shaking crescendo before jumping in the air and landing in full splits.
The crowd goes wild, and Kirsch, a natural showman, adds to the excitement by running around the ring, pouring Jack Daniels into the gaping mouths of thirsty fans.
The second half of the night sees the Street Fighter II vs. Mortal Kombat match, a perennial classic (My inner child is going crazy right now, Gill announces), followed by a manic performance by the ostensibly coked-up crowd favorite, Drugz Bunny, who throws packets of powdered sugar into the audience.The comeback
Every time Drugz is close to defeat at the hands of his nemesis, a mobster in a purple zoot suit with a fat cigar, he rallies by throwing a handful of powder into his face.
Jumping around the ring and striking fiendishly, the lithe, amped-up rabbit is a force to be reckoned with.
Drugz ends up winning the entire show that night. By doing so he earned the right to organize the next performance, which he called, naturally, Hoodslam: F- the Fans IV: In Drugz We Trust.
Hoodslam: 8:30 p.m. first Friday of every month. 21 and older. $10. Oakland Metro Operahouse 630 Third St., Oakland. www.birdswillfall.com.
Dana Edwards is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: dedwards@sfchronicle.com

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 art   audience   era   ever   fan   fans   Kirsch   land   ring   show   wrestler   Wrestling   Oakland Metro Operahouse   Broseph Joe Brody   Hoodslam 
Time: 2:11  |  News Code: 335009  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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