Hoodslam invades Sacramento

When the kicks are real, so is the fear.

When the kicks are real, so is the fear.

Photo courtesy of Hoodslam

Check out the next Sacramento Hoodslam on Monday, August 21 at District 30, 1022 K Street. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

It’s a lot like burlesque for brutes. There are costumes and props and outlandish characters and audience members whistling and yelling. In the back of the room is a live band, but instead of dancers, there’s a wrestling ring and sleek, muscular athletes dressed as a mime, a zombie nurse and Ken from Street Fighter.

As the audience eggs them on, the wrestlers hurl themselves from the ring posts with seemingly reckless abandon. They narrowly avoid collision with the low-hanging disco ball before slamming into their opponents.

This is an evening with the underground wrestling association known as Hoodslam.

The “accidental phenomenon,” as the event describes itself, has gained fame in its hometown of Oakland since its inception in 2010. It began, like so many good things, in a neglected warehouse occupied by artists and soon ratcheted up into monthly performances at the Oakland Metro Operahouse, at times even selling out, organizers say. The spectacle has become a Bay Area favorite for its booze-addled brand of performance art paired with nostalgia, an outsider ethos and—oh yeah—wrestling. Now, Hoodslam is seeking to build an audience in Sacramento.

The third Sacramento show is lousy with raunchy overtones and is decidedly not family friendly, full of bad role models and the sort of characters born from a generation that’s rejected WWE’s wholesome good vs. evil narrative. The action consists of improvised theatrics mocked by Hoodslam’s own tagline, “This is real.” The athleticism on stage is, however, professional beyond a doubt with performers that are every bit the dueling athletes they portray.

A wrestler under the name of Drugs Bunny moves erratically around the ring in pinstripe trousers and a fedora topped with bunny ears, shoving his face in a bag full of “cocaine” to overpower his opponents. After his winning match, he stands at the bar, his body and hair covered in a fine dust of powdered sugar. Surveying the modest crowd, he recalls how Hoodslam’s first foray into Sacramento was slated to be held in a garage but was halted by the cops before it ever started.

“We were sitting around having a production meeting before the event, and the cops came in and shut it all down,” he says. There were drugs and alcohol and, you know, it was in a garage, the wrestler says. “It just felt illegal,” he concedes, shrugging off the incident’s false start.

Since then, Hoodslam has gained a little more traction. Future matches are planned to take place monthly at District 30 for the foreseeable future.

“We will be back the third Monday in August!” the host Broseph Joe Brody yells to the crowd. “Which Monday?” he asks. The drunken replies are split: A few spectators shout “First Monday!” while another suggests the fourth. “You guys aren’t even paying attention!” Brody cries, so he takes a new approach. “We’ll be back every month for at least one more month,” and the crowd unanimously shouts its approval.