In For a Penny: It’s a Super Job

Charles Lewis III, working.

Pay no attention to the ninjas on stage.

Pay no attention to the ninjas on stage.

“They played at hearts as other children might play at ball; only, as it was really their two hearts that they flung to and fro, they had to be very, very handy to catch them, each time, without hurting them.”
– Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera

This past weekend had quite a few discussions of Greek Drama pop up on my social media timelines. Yes, they were mainly Olympians-related, with quite a few of our fellow writers either dedicating that time to writing their plays and/or holding developmental readings. But there were quite a few heated discussions about classical Greek plays such as Lysistrata and Medea. The topic of Shakespeare Troilus and Cressida even came up at one point. If you wanted to talk Greek drama, apparently this was the weekend for it.

For my part, I spent Saturday morning at the gates of Troy. I watched as some of the most creative technicians in the Bay Area theatre scene put the finishing touches on the metallic, rusty walls of the city (apparently this version Poseidon was a fan of steam punk). But the real highlight came when I saw the metallurgical effigy that was the Trojan Horse come to life as it moved back and forth on the massive stage of the War Memorial Opera House. My first-ever trip to the opera was in this very opera house in 1989 and my last time on its stage was two years ago as a supernumerary. Although most of my work with them requires me to stand around and do nothing (such as this day, when I was simply a lightwalker), “dull” isn’t the word I’d use to describe my experiences in opera.

For those who don’t know, a “lightwalker” is just a stand-in. They aren’t involved in the actual production, they just stand on stage during rehearsal so that the tech magicians can test the lighting. A “supernumerary” or “super” is the theatrical equivalent to a film extra: you’re meant to be seen, not heard; you get a finely-tailored costume, but not a single line. But when you’re seen it can be quite an experience. When I was a super for the SF Opera’s 2012 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, I was one of the puppeteers who operated the two-headed Technicolor dragon that appears at the top of the show. I had absolutely no puppeteering experience up to that point, but the director said I looked like I had strong shoulders. It took about eight or ten of us to operate that thing and I was one two guys up front. It was cumbersome and unwieldy, but we found a rhythm and the audience loved it, so I can cross that off my bucket list.

That's me second-from-the-right.

That’s me second-from-the-right.

I feel even more accomplished when I consider the fact that The Magic Flute represents everything I personally love and hate about opera. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a beautiful piece of music and a whimsical piece of theatre; but the story itself is problematic, especially in its latter half. That’s when it suddenly comes off as really sexist (the queen is suddenly made the villain seemingly for no other reason than being a queen) and doubles down on the first half’s uncomfortable racism (the sole Black character, often played in blackface, is an irredeemable thief who is whipped by his master and tries twiceto rape the lead damsel). Have I mentioned this opera considered kid-friendly?

But its grand theatrical elements are what I love about opera. It somehow seems apropos that opera be brought up a week after Allison and Anthony’s trip to the Hoodslam wrestling match was recounted. Opera and wrestling are quite a lot alike: they’re both considered separate elements from “regular” theatre; they’re both defined by their over-the-top style and larger-than-life characters; and they both showcase unique talent that takes years – if not decades – to refine, but that performers seemingly pull off with the greatest of ease. Hell, the only real difference between them is the dichotomy of their perceived audiences, with wrestling considered pandering to the unwashed masses and opera considered a flaunting of bourgeoisie excess. But both are unmistakably theatre and your appreciation for them grows once you’ve had the opportunity to take part.

Which is not to say that I wasn’t already appreciative of opera, quite the contrary. I became fascinated with opera in high school, when my love of Shakespeare led me to seek out operas, symphonies, and ballets based on his work. I remember watching PBS and admiring the flawless skill of divas like Maria Callas and Leontyne Price, but feeling unqualified to say how much I disliked something (I remember despising André Previn’s adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, but not knowing how to argue it if asked; thankfully, I was never asked). But my tastes began to refine the more I watched. Whenever someone bemoans funding for the arts or public television, tell them that it isn’t there just for you, it’s there for someone you’ve never even thought about.

It was that affinity for opera that led me to stumble upon an opportunity to be a super for the SF Opera. Having done a lot of film extra work, I was used to the idea of just standing around as the important people did their work. But once the stage managers and ADs start giving general directions to the crowd, it becomes apparent who can really take direction and who can’t. Those of us who can – or who just have good shoulders – wind up doing some of the more important non-speaking roles. This might mean wrangling a dragon, this might mean firing a loaded rifle on stage, or it might mean being a dancing zebra in a bacchanalian orgy.

It happens.

It happens.

None of this really prepares you for was awe-inspiring experience of stepping onto the War Memorial stage for the first time. No matter what you’ve seen from the audience, the sheer scale of that stage never really hits you until you’ve actually been on it. The stage itself is like an Olympic-sized field and looking out at the seats makes you think that they extend out forever. And during an actual show, the backstage is truly intimidating. I’ve been in the booth for countless black box theatre productions, but I was truly taken aback by the high-tech walls of lights, numbers, and monitors on either side of the opera stage. It looks more like the control panel of NASA Mission Control, and it’s carried out with the same level of military precision. Add to that the fact that you get your own desk and station, the colorful commentary by the world’s bawdiest co-stars, and the fact that you can gorge yourself on the free catering (which you shouldn’t, because you still have to fit into your costume) then why wouldn’t you want to be part of this?

And yet, the most memorable experience I’ve had working with the opera is one in which I was reminded why the only difference between opera and “regular” theatre is one of perception. I was a super for the 2012 production of Puccini’s Tosca, an opera I enjoy quite a lot. I was really excited because I had more to do than ever before. I was one of Scarpia’s guards, so I appeared in every scene – I intimidated the parishioners, I manhandled Cavaradossi, and I was part of the firing squad at the end. But what I remember most is different interpretations of the title role. Tosca was alternated between divas Angela Gheorgiu and Patricia Racette – both very nice people for world-renowned superstars. Gheorgiu’s casting was a major selling point and every night she got a huge applause on her first appearance alone. Given her powerful pipes, it’s not hard to see why. But Patricia Racette – whose voice is also pretty damn intimidating – always approached the character from the point-of-view of an actor. She wanted to know the motivation for each of her actions and worked to make each movement organic, rather than just scripted.

I remember watching her from backstage when we had the matinee for middle and high school students. It’s often hard to hear anything over the music and tech cues backstage, but I distinctly remember when Racette’s Tosca made the decision to kill Cavaradossi. She’s surprised when she finds the knife on the table, and when she hid it behind her back, I heard audible gasps from the audience. You could hear the tension rising as Cavaradossi made his way over to her. And when she began stabbing, there were the sort of cheers you only expect from hearing your country just won 50 gold medals.

Now THIS is kid-friendly.

Now THIS is kid-friendly.

It’s one of those moments when I had to take a step back and say “Okay, now I remember why I do theatre.”

And that’s what brings me back time and again. Not just as a super, lightwalker, or even an audience members. Not just for opera, SHN musicals, or even black box productions. Not even for experience, money, or points on my resume. I love doing theatre because I love being a part of something that can genuinely move you. And I love being a part of opera, even as just a super, because it represents everything it could (and should) be. It’s grand in its scope, yet capable of some incredibly intimate moments of truth. In a year when I’m not quite sure when I’ll ever actually be on stage again, spending this past Saturday watching a mechanical Trojan Horse reminded me of some of the best things this art form is capable of.

Plus, I might get to shoot a guy again. You never know.

The Napoleanic look is in this season.

The Napoleanic look is in this season.

Charles is curious as to what the public’s reaction will be to the Trojan Horse, especially coming on the heels of the whale in Moby Dick. To find out more about the SF Opera and volunteer for supernumerary work, visit their homepage at

Everything Is Already Something: Allison and Anthony Get Drunk and Go To HOODSLAM, PART 2

We’re trying a little experiment where two of our columnists are working together on the same story. Here’s Allison Page, bringing you part two today. Also, while posting this, I (Stuart) ate a Choco-Taco, and feel it’s very important that you know that.

When last we left our heroes, they had just realized that due to their lack of eating dinner, they had four drinks in a little over an hour…on an empty stomach. And the first match hadn’t even started yet.

9:15 PM:

Anthony: After the memorial for Butternuts, business picks up as the Hoodslam Band fires up and Broseph takes the stage and takes an audience already at 9.5 to 11 Million. They love this fuckin’ guy.

Allison: They’re not the only ones. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. And before you ask, no I don’t have a problem. Shut up. The opening of Hoodslam is always crazy, loud, and filled with chanting from the fans who also know the opening speech so well, they shout it along with Broseph.

Anthony: Broseph shares some words about his dear friend, Butternuts or “My LIttle Bronie”. All of the sudden he’s interrupted by the horrible man who killed butternuts last month, The “One-Eyed Dickless Monster” Brian Kendrick. (Last month, Before being killed, Butternuts bit off Kendricks penis and took out an eye, which if you compare to a lot of ancient Greek theatre it’s not that weird.) HOLY SHIT, IT’S PAUL LONDON. (They were a tag team together and former WWE Tag Team Champs, and they’re here.). Then, The Stoner Brothers (Another Tag Team, who in fact smoke a lot of weed in the ring.) come out to defend the honor of Butternuts, and they will square off in the Main Event Tonight! This is all completely logical and normal because Wrestling.

Anthony: Broseph takes his place at the announce table, he will provide commentary throughout the evening. In effect, he is the narrator of the story. First match is a Six-person tag team match (That’s two, three person tag teams.): We are just excited about everything right now. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the wrestlers in the match is our new best friend Zangeif, this guy is awesome, is he the good guy or the bad guy? I don’t care, I hope he wins. He doesn’t but that’s okay, because in wrestling, winning doesn’t matter, it’s how badass you looked.

Allison: I sort of remember this? Wow, am I losing things already?

Editors note: This is the point where we only tracked time for when we drank, not for the matches, so things might be off a bit.

9:37 PM

Anthony: Allison is pulling ahead of me with her next drink, she went to the bathroom and came back with another cocktail, maaaaan. Round 6, Whiskey and Ginger


Allison: Drinks are important. And that makes the bathroom also important. But when you have 1,000 people crammed into a room and you have managed to secure a spot right next to the ring, your best move is to befriend a dozen people around you, to form enough of a bond that they feel a sham loyalty to you and it’s understood that they should hold your spot. THIS WORKS REALLY FUCKING WELL.

Anthony: Around now(ish) a four-way match begins. (That means four wrestlers all fight at once.) The winner would become the Number-one contender For the “Golden Gig”, their version of a Championship. The combatants were Sub-Zero (Of Mortal Kombat Fame) appropriately escorted to the stage by Sindel (If you don’t get it, google it, if you do get it, you’re a nerd.), Ken (of Street Fighter fame), who was escorted by Cammy. (It’s important to note that Cammy and her Ass receive separate introductions, “Cammy’s Ass” chant’s are common.) The third competitor was named Juiced Lee, rounding out the group was “The Mexican Werewolf”, El Chupacabra. He was bad-ass. In the end, Sub-Zero got the win, with a mind blowing freeze move, which involved blue silly string, but I got the point. Peter lost his shit.

Allison: I think this was near the time that I spilled whiskey in the ring (yes, I was that close to it) and started laughing. I think I winked at somebody. It’s hard to say. I made Peter hold my phone. Ya know, because it’s soooo cumbersome.

9:51 PM (We’ll Assume)

Anthony: Screw you guys I’m getting another drink, I battle through the sea of humanity and eventually make my way back just in time for the next match. Anthony’s

round 6: Whiskey and Ginger Ale, because apparently we hate change.

Allison: Never mix, never worry! (Yes, that is a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf reference)

Anthony: Oh dang, it’s the Intergalactic Cyborg Death Match. Remember when we mention the guy with giant wrench hand? This is where that comes into play. His name is Techno Destructo, his opponent tonight is Doc Atrocity. I’m pretty sure that the folks who designed GWAR’s outfits made this one. It’s a glorious robot fight, it ends with Wrench-hand (Not his given wrestler name.) HAVING IT CUT OFF BY ANOTHER GUY WITH A CHAINSAW ROBOT HAND! DEAR LORD! THERE ARE SLIMEY CYBORG GUTS EVERYWHERE! It is at this point, the audience chants “This is Real”.

Allison: I am STILL grossed out about whatever that yellow gloppy stuff was. It landed 4 inches from my hand. Peter wiped it up with a towel that he found. I guess he found a towel.

10:10 PM

Anthony: We are officially drunk, Allison looks back at me and says “I CAN SEE TWO OF YOU!.” Man, we got drunk fast, the Metro makes cheap, stiff drinks people. God bless em all.

Allison: I don’t remember that and I don’t deny it.

10:12 PM

Anthony: In between matches, as he does throughout the show, Brody is circling around the ring with a bottle of whiskey, he pours shots into the mouths and cups of fans at ringside, he sees Allison, gives her a wink that can only say “I picked you up earlier, literally” and pours a shot into her mouth. She is now at drink 7.

Allison: Now this I DO remember. Because while I got 80% of the whiskey in my mouth, the other 20% ended up on my body like some terrible, unsatisfying version of Girls Gone Wild.

Anthony: The next match is high drama it was SUPPOSED to be Dark Sheik (AKA our other new best friend) VS Marty McFlux BUT out come The Butabi Brothers, “The Nights of the Roxbury” as they enter to “What is Love’’ it’s exactly what you think it is, friggin hilarious-awesome, I’M DRUNK NOW SO IM GONNA TALK IN CAPS AND INVENT NEW WORDS USING A HYPHEN. Last month The Dark Sheik predicted Anthony Butabi was gonna die in a month, and you just can’t go around saying that shit. So it is ON.

10:47 PM (Give or Take):

Anthony: Allison has round 8, I have dropped out, because at this point, it may harm me in a not funny way. Luckily, I’m pretty wasted, the atmosphere in the building is in fact 72% Marijuana smoke.

Allison: This is where I started shouting “WHERE’S ANTHONY? DID ANTHONY DIE? OH MY GOD WE KILLED ANTHONY!”

Anthony: I decide to go outside for a few minutes to breathe air, there’s a sweet spot in the outdoor smoking area where you can still see the show. This is where I hung for a while. And thank god I did, because the next match features Team GAME OVER, a team consisting of a man named “Pissed Off Nerdy Gamer” (Or PONG) and his partner,”Fucking Obese Nerdy Gamer” a very large man who eats and throws most of his food into the crowd, food like cottage cheese (Last month) , this month god only knows, but I’m happy to not be in the splash zone. Teaming up with Jesus Cruz, also known as “Super Barrio Brother”, they riled up the audience like classic old school wrestling heels (bad guys), they threw food. Thier opponents tonight, Cereal Man ( A Wrestler who wears a large cereal box on his head when entering the ring, and is actually really good.), “The Dark Noche” Bat Manuel, and (Drumroll) “Ultragirl” Brittany Wonder, Excitement abounds. I was still towards the back, so I have no idea if Allison started crying, I’ll assume she did.

Allison: I’m pretty sure he threw fucking NACHOS this time. Thankfully it’s harder to spread nachos around, so I think it was concentrated on one part of the audience. I did not get hit. Otherwise I don’t remember that match. It’s just nachos to me.

11:20 PM (ESQUE)

Anthony: I hate myself for aging, I used to be in the front row for everything, now I’m just an old bastard who needs to sit down for a moment. That and my balance is awesome right. Look at me, I used to be young and beautiful, I could do 6 shots and then cartwheels. OH DANG! I get my 55th wind as Ini Kamoze’s seminal classic “Here Comes The Hotstepper” begins to play. Because that means the Hoodslam Golden Gig Champion is coming out, that man is Drugz Bunny. He wears a rubber bunny nose and uses cocaine like Popeye uses spinach (Fake, one assumes, unless Hoodslam’s budget is insane.) Oh, and he’s an awesome wrestler. This match is a great time to point out this isn’t just all silliness, there is also some fantastic wrestling (If that’s your thing.) Drugz and Virgil Flynn III put on a rad match. I’m 26 sheets to the wind and in full-on Mark-Mode (Mark: Def; A big wrestling fan, traditionally not “in on the joke.”). I am the Bee Girl at the end of the Blind Melon Video ( For everyone under 30, just google it)

Allison: I think I started leaning pretty hard on the person next to me at this point. I don’t remember the match, which is too bad because I have teenage crushes on both Drugz and Virgil. Oh well. Next time.

11:45 PM (ISH)

Anthony: The crowd has thinned out a bit, so I make my way back to Allison and Peter. Peter is a saint because Allison is…jovial.


Anthony: What wrong with being jovial? I’m hecka jovial. I’m about to watch London and Kendrick, I’m in Wrestle-Nerd heaven. With one second of their entrance music the audience goes batshit for London and Kendrick’s opponent, “FROM STONER UNIVERSITY IN BLUNTSVILLE, SMOKELAHOMA”, the Heroes of Hoodslam, The Stoner Brothers. They bring an entourage of people with them, including a guy with a huge beard and their cheerleader, lady wrestler and my teenage crush, Missy Hyashit (Pronounced “High as Shit”). The match is action packed and then, Paul London in a classic heel move, reaches into his trunks and pulls out…his balls.

Allison: At first I thought they had to be fake, and then I realized…no. Those are balls. Those are totally balls.

Anthony: Like really, he then proceeds to wrestle the rest of the match with his balls out. Which I assume is a metaphor for how hard he works.

Allison: A couple of times, the balls tried to crawl back into the shorts – probably at the peak of testicular awareness – like they KNEW they weren’t supposed to be out…and then he would pull them back out again, convention be damned.

Anthony: Now the action has gone outside the ring onto that dirty, dirty floor. In order to help her team, Missy Hyashit (Pronounced High as Shit) gives her name a double meaning as she climbs to the top rope, AND HURLS HERSELF ONTO LONDON AND KENDRICK IN THE CROWD, SWEET BABY JESUS! There are hearts coming out of my head. Jump to me Missy I shall catch you, or I’ll have peter do it for me with his big dreamy arms. The drama continues in the ring when just when you think the Stoners will get the pin, London and Kendrick rob the coffin and use Butternuts corpse as a weapons, those MONSTERS! Kendrick uses a superkick with Butternut’s head on his boot and gets the pin. The villains run off into the night until next month, what a show. I’m all liquor and emotions.


12:12 AM

Anthony: headed home, Allison is significantly younger and drunker than me. We are starving, We beg Peter to take us somewhere where there are cheesy fries, we are starving Mogwai’s after midnight. But his willpower is too strong,

Allison: What Anthony doesn’t know is that after we dropped him off, I started demanding a crunch wrap supreme. So much so that we went through the Taco Bell drive thru, when we did this we heard “Welcome to Taco Bell…we’re closed.” which enraged me because STOP ANSWERING IF YOU’RE CLOSED. So I ended up eating 3 carrots Peter had in his fridge. Carrots as drunk food are extremely disappointing.

12:30 AM

Anthony: I got home, fried a bunch of stuff and made a bagel sandwich. It tasted like victory. This was such a ridiculously fun night. The show was awesome, The Metro was awesome and we met a lot of cool people. There’s really nothing like Hoodslam, it’s a church built on the rock of fun. The performers are there to have fun, the audience is there to do the same. I will be there next month, and if we’ve made any point here, it’s that you should be too.

Allison: There’s no denying it’s a theatrical experience. Even the wrestlers themselves say as much. In fact, when I approached one of the wrestlers pre-show, he said “I’d love to talk to you afterward about what you thought about our storyline.” Maybe if I’d had one less whiskey ginger, I could have made that happen.

This article is dedicated to the Memory of Butternuts

This article is dedicated to the Memory of Butternuts

Allison Page is a writer/actor/comedian who loves whiskey.
Anthony Miller is a theater-maker, wrestling fanatic, and tall man.

The Five: Allison and Anthony Get Drunk and Go To HOODSLAM- PART ONE

Today we’re crossing over THE FIVE and EVERYTHING IS ALREADY SOMETHING, as Anthony Miller explains below. Think of it like when characters from one TV show, guest star on another: wackiness ensues. Enjoy watching worlds collide, and let us know if you want more!

This week, we’re doing something a little different. Allison and I are eschewing our usual formats to periodically take you on theatergoing adventures, with liquor. For our inaugural article, we decided to head out to the Oakland Metro for the “Accidental Phenomenon” known as HOODSLAM. A Pro-wrestling show that makes itself unique by a self-awareness, performance art approach and a remarkable bond with their fans. There are also three bars inside the venue, an ideal location.
The following is an attempted oral history of the events of May 1st, 2015. They are based on notes, recorded interviews, and extremely hazy recollections.

6:45 PM

Anthony Miller: We roll up to the Oakland Metro fashionably late, because traffic.

Allison Page: And because I was being carefully packaged into a very tight dress, which was totally worth it, otherwise, why even go?

Anthony: We’d been rushing the whole time, with no time for pre-gaming, we arrive stone cold sober. We get in with no problems and are taken backstage, where a lot of dudes are changing. Everyone seems to be cool with it.

Allison: AND SOME LADIES. But most importantly, there was a man with a giant wrench for an arm back there. Peter runs off to find Broseph Joe Brody (Also known as AJ Kirsch), because there’s nothing my male friends take more delight in than humiliating me in the vicinity of muscular men. I start darting around trying to look like I’m doing something – and failing. Damn it. Bar’s not open yet. I disappear for a while and hide behind tables and chairs.

Anthony: I chat with Khan Abadi one of Hoodslam’s founders (Wrestling as The Dark Sheik), while he was changing, totally not awkward. He speaks about pro wrestling not as a sport but an art form:

“When it’s done correctly it’s an all-encompassing performance, the best wrestlers are the one who can improvise, have a character, connect with the crowd in the moment, while being athletically impressive” It’s definitely a performance. If anyone thinks it’s just guys hitting each other, they’re highly mistaken.”

“Wrestling tells a story just like anything tells a story, whether it’s a movie, or a tv show, a book, a song, a poem, whatever. It’s all the same thing, it’s characters taking you on a ride and putting you somewhere you weren’t…we’re putting these characters in motion and ideally we want you to see them as alive, full 3-D, real entities, if not real people.”

Talking to Khan isn’t like talking to a Football player about his sport, this feels like speaking to an artist who takes his work seriously. “It’s just the underlying feeling of wanting to be artistic, wanting to do what we want to do in way that is true to us and organic, we’re not trying to imitate anything or recreate anything.”

Allison: This is about the time I spotted Ultra Girl Brittany Wonder for the first time and fled the room because she’s my favorite and WHY ISN’T THE BAR OPEN YET?! GET YOUR DICKS IN A ROW. Okay, calm down.

Anthony: The birth of Hoodslam sounds more like an art movement than a wrestling show. One that came from Oakland’s DIY nature. “A lot of us have been wrestling for a lot of years and we’ve been doing it with companies…how do you wanna say it? We were working for companies that wanted to be WWE but with one millionth the budget, and WWE is great entertainment for those who like it but, it isn’t the highest of brow or the most challenging; it’s for a broad audience. We want to do things that are a little more challenging, a little more niche, maybe a lot more niche.”

He emphasizes that non wrestling fans can still love Hoodslam, and that’s the idea. “We don’t want just the wrestling audience, they’re already there, if they see us and like us, that’s great. We want to introduce us to new people, to show this is just another medium for Storytelling, another form of art…I’d consider us Performance Art.”

7:05 PM

Anthony: Perhaps the most important achievement of the night came early, we are in the presence of Hoodslam host, “Broseph” Joe Brody, he is a marble statue of a man and Allison loves him.

Allison: I think a did a cartoon wolf tongue thing. Also I think my face was purple. I was a purple-faced cartoon wolf but I had FABULOUS posture because my dress was so fucking tight.

Anthony: Peter arranges for Allison’s dream to come true.

Allison: What he said was “Can you please lift my friend up so we can just get a picture of you carrying her?” and then I squawked “YOU DON’T HAVE TO! YOU DON’T HAVE TO, REALLY!” while secretly mind-whispering “Do it. Do it now. Cradle me like bundle of fruit in the desert.”

Anthony: He picks her up with one arm and they take the picture. We never did get to ask any questions, but I think the photo says it all.


Allison: I had an actual out of body experience. He’s like a stack of bricks with a face. I mean that in the most positive way, believe me. He’s like if the Sistine Chapel was just a guy…in a tank top.

7:15 PM

Anthony: The bar in the venue isn’t open yet and we’re getting antsy. Talking to strangers sober is hard. There’s a guy walking around who looks like he’s not busy, and he’s definitely a wrestler, because he’s wearing his wrestler pants. As he walked by I stopped him, introduced ourselves and we started to chat. Usually wrestling by the name Alexis Darevko, tonight he goes by Zangeif.

He regails us with stories of times he almost threw up in ring. They involve cottage cheese, hot dogs and fake placenta. “Surprises happen, but usually not surprises that make me puke”.

Allison: I bring up that it’s terrifying to me that they jump out of the ring and fight on the ground — right there on the concrete floor in the audience. You don’t know what’s on the floor! It could be anything! It could be more cottage cheese and hot dogs! Alexis agrees: it’s truly disgusting and he wipes all the toxic possibilities off the bottom of his shoes later.

Anthony: Alexis gives a lot of credit to the fans for Hoodslam’s success. “The fans are really the biggest character in the show.” It’s true, the audience has a deep connection with the show, for many of them it’s the highlight of their month. Alexis adds; “For the Wrestlers too, it’s like Vacation.” Most of the Wrestlers in Hoodslam make their living (or at least try to) on the indie wrestling circuit. But Hoodslam is different. “It’s our way of saying ‘Hey, I don’t have to deal with usual bullshit politics of wrestling…and we have fun with our friends.” But Alexis can’t thank the fans enough, he shares stories about so many great interactions he had with them. It’s clear we picked an awesome guy to talk to.

Allison: PS he hates the term indie wrestling. You can tell the bar still isn’t open at this point, because I can actually remember him saying that.



7:45 PM

Anthony: Post interview, we ran into my friend Jeanine, she pulled us aside and gave us…our first drink. She hands us a chilled flask and says “Here you go, Ice Cold Fireball”. It was warming and delightful, and Allison’s hands stopped shaking. Just kidding (Not Really)

Allison: You’ll never know the truth.



7:48 PM

Anthony: CAN THE BAR FRIGGIN OPEN ALREADY? We can’t have drunken hijinks if we aren’t drunken. You know what happens when your blog has no drunken hijinks? No page hits. I see my friend Krystal, who is one of the bartenders there, so I run over and get an update. She says soon, when the lights go down,” That sounds like a long time. Since I’m there, I ask her what she thinks about the show. She replies: “I think Hoodslam is the most awesome, original event anyone can come to in the bay, probably the whole country. “

Allison: I spot Brittany again. I can’t bring myself to interview her, but I manage to go up and buy one of her “Turn Down for Butt” t-shirts (she’s known for attacking her opponents with her butt — an idea I can really get behind) then I sheepishly lumber off to put it in the car.

7:51 PM

Anthony: I go back to Peter and Allison by the front door and-HEY! That guy just got a beer! That means the bar is open, kind of — exact change only. That’ll do. We have our second drink, cheap shitty beer for me, cheap shitty Whiskey for Allison.

Allison: Go cheap or go home.


8:11 PM

Anthony: Game on, bars are open, round 3 is Whiskey and Ginger Ales.


8:15 PM

Anthony: We’re all ringside, the show won’t be starting for another 45 minutes, because if you want to start the show at nine, tell everyone 8. We got a few cool interviews but not enough. I tell Allison she should go outside and interview folks, she’s still hesitant, I cajole her, lead her to the door, psych her up and she’s off to interview wrestlers, I’m very proud, now back to drinking.

Allison: This is it. I have her in my sights: Ultra Girl Brittany Wonder. She’s laughing with some friends, it’s all I can do to keep myself from doing that weird sitcom thing where you wander up next to a group of laughing people and also start laughing, pretending you know what the fuck they’re talking about. Instead I tap her on the shoulder like a real person would. She’s happy to talk to me. She talks about the beginnings of Hoodslam. 5 minutes in I finally get around to asking if it’s cool if I record the conversation. Oops. She talks about how it feels like they’re a family.

Brittany: When we started out it was like 100 people, and then 200 people, 400 people, 600 people, 800 til now — we sell out. We have to turn like 400 people away at the door. It’s amazing, we’re one of the biggest wrestling companies in the United States and we started out just doing something that we love. All these companies are so serious. You can tell a lot of the guys just don’t wanna be there. And to be a pro wrestler you have to go through way too much bullshit to not have fun and to not want it. It was heartbreaking to see — but WE always had fun. A lot of us have known each other for 10+ years and we really do call ourselves a family.

This is where I started babbling a lot about how she’s really great. I’ll spare you most of that, but basically I geeked out about how the only other time I’ve been to Hoodslam, I saw Brittany fight Charlie Chaplin…who is invisible. So she’s just fighting no one. It was amazing.

Back to me being an okay interviewer: “What’s it like…I mean, there aren’t a lot of women in wrestling.”

Brittany: It was weird cuz, like, I trained with guys, my trainer was a male…so when people say ‘oh, intergender wrestling is wrong–

Allison: Wait, do people say that?

Brittany: All the time, dude, all the time.

Allison: Because, what, they feel like the men are just gonna overpower the women?

Brittany: Exactly. And then when it’s like ‘Oh man she’s kicking his ass!’ either they get really into it or they’re like ‘Oh that’s not believable.’ And it’s funny because…I mean, I’ve had women come to me in tears that have been in like abusive relationships and shit and they’re like ‘You are amazing. Thank you so much.’ and that’s the most amazing thing ever.

I’m going to interject with my own commentary here and say that when we got to this part of the conversation it felt very…sort of emotional. I mean, we’re both pretty tough chicks but that’s a really powerful thing to have happen — for someone to tell you that the thing you do or make — the art of your performance (because it IS an art) spoke to them when they were really dealing with something. That’s a big deal. I’ve seen lots of plays that didn’t do that for me. Here’s something I love about her in the ring, and love about Hoodslam: yes, she’s a woman, but there is nothing about how her opponents are responding to her, that ever makes you feel like the men don’t think of her as an equal. If it did feel that way…I probably wouldn’t have loved it so much. Okay, back to Brittany.

Brittany: I don’t understand people can’t see that stuff. It’s the underdog story. That’s why I’m so popular, I really am the ultimate underdog. I’m one of the smallest people on this roster, but I have a lot of heart.

Allison: A lot of the women here aren’t physically very large.”

Brittany: Yeah, but we’re a lot faster, we’re more flexible, we have different avenues. It doesn’t have to just be brute strength.

Then we hugged. That was a fucking great interview.

8:48 PM

Anthony: She’s back, Round 4. More whiskey and ginger ale.


8:52 PM

Anthony: The crowd is getting feisty; clouds of pot smoke pop up through the crowd all drifting upward and towards the ring. The crowd gather around three sides of the ring. Behind the ring is a stage with a coffin on it surrounded with flowers. There is a funeral tonight to honor a wrestler who died last month. That wrestlers name was Butternuts, and he was a large stuffed horse. The pre-show music is all songs about death and remembrance, and now they’re playing “Freebird”, that’s sound design people, that’s creating a mood.

9:05 PM

Anthony: The show begins with the funeral procession and a video plays with The Sundays cover of “Wild Horses” provides background. This is is the funniest shit ever, it’s smart and dumb all at once. Now the audience is chanting “This is Tragic (Clap Clap ClapClapClap)”. After the video tribute, three women dressed in black enter the ring and begin to sing a soulful rendition of “Pony” by Genuine. (Cause he was a stuffed horse, get it? ) They are almost like goth Libation Bearers. Also, these drinks are really strong.

Allison: Holy shit that Pony rendition was amazing.

Anthony: Oddly enough its not the first cover of “Pony” I’ve ever heard, obviously we’ve all underestimated the songs relevance. I should also note we will see all three of these women later in the night as wrestlers. Oh lord, hot lady wrestlers with tattoos, if you looked up “out of my league” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of them waving.

9:10 PM

Anthony: At some point we got a fifth drink, I’m not sure what happened, things are a little hard to remember. Although the place is absolutely packed, so going to the bar involves swimming through a dense sea of humanity, sweaty humanity. It’s not a forgettable experience. Then it occurs to us, we forgot to eat.

Allison: Uh ohhhhh…


Spoiler alert – Allison starts to get really forgetful, someone’s testicles come out to play, and a man’s giant wrench arm gets chopped off.

Anthony Miller is a theater-making wrestling enthusiast.
Allison Page has a big butt she is considering using to attack her opponents. She’s also a writer.

Extra special thanks to Peter Townley who took most if not all of these photos and moved Allison out of the way every time she was in the line of fire.

The Five: Following Up On Old Stories

Anthony R. Miller checks in by revisiting old articles.

Hey guys, so this week’s article started as just another 5 random thoughts. But then I realized the five thoughts weren’t random at all, they all were directly related to previous articles I had written. So today we take a look back at the ol’ back catalogue and see how things changed since then. Think of it as one of those episodes of Unsolved Mysteries where they say “hey remember that one mystery we couldn’t solve? We solved it.” So let’s look at a few follow ups to older articles, as usual, I have five.

Sometimes It Just Works

For my most devoted readers (I.e., my parents.) You will recall how excited I was to see Tartuffe at Berkeley Rep. Without writing a review; suffice it to say I loved the ever-loving crap out of it. A major reason for that being it was the opposite of what I expected. When I think of Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp, I immediately think of the modern-day Commedia Del Arte’ style, over the top comedy of A Doctor In Spite Of Himself and last season’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Instead, I got a dark-as-fuck interpretation that walked a line between silly and dark and perverse. I never knew if I was supposed to laugh or be horrified and I loved it. I loved that they made big fat daring choice and took it to the hilt. However, a strange phenomenon has been happening as I describe the show to people, about the time when I talk about the obvious influence that movement based methods such Biomechanics and Viewpoints had on the staging, I realize, I should have hated this show. The choice to take a usually funny, edgy comedy and take it in such an experimental, art school-esqe direction, the high art-ness of it all should have made me pull chairs out of the floor, but it didn’t. On this particular day, it totally rocked my socks. The point being, sometimes, in spite of everything, you just really like something. Sometimes, it just works for you, and hey, good for you for liking things.

A.J. Kirsch is Brilliant

In my first article for T-Pub, I made my love for Hoodslam pretty clear. My favorite thing about Oakland is not the Lake, Or Chicken and Waffles at the Merritt Bakery not even the Grand Lake Theatre (although it’s a real close second.) It’s Hoodslam, Indie Wrestling’s “Accidental Phenomenon” performing at the Oakland Metro Opera house the First Friday of every month. As I said, my love for this show is well documented, but I specifically want to talk about someone, who I think is one of the best, most brilliant performers in the Bay Area. There is one guy who is on stage for three hours straight, acts as host, commentator and wrestler and puts on a consistently masterful, energetic and fun performance every time. That guy, is A.J. Kirsch, also known as “Broseph Joe Brody” , a former contestant on WWE Tough Enough (And most recently Vh1’s Dating Naked). It’s not just the obscene amount of energy and intensity he puts into every aspect of his performance that makes him special. It’s the sheer amount of roles he plays. As host, he holds a capacity crowd in the palm of his hand; he leads them in chants, drives them into a frenzy with announcement of every wrestler, he stands from the turnbuckle, leaning over the crowd as he basks in sea of middle fingers as the audience chants “Fuck you, Bro”. He is their hero and villain all at once. Every wrestler has what is known as a “Gimmick”, it’s the core of your character, your costume, your entrance music, and your move set. Kirsch’s “Broseph” character is an obnoxious meathead who wears muscle tees with tacky phrases and carries a giant can of Axe body spray, in other words; he is everything the audience hates, a dirty douchebag bro. The audience loves to hate him, and hates to love him. Because of his humor, presence and natural charisma, he is the first ironic heel (Bad Guy), which makes him a Babyface (Good guy) for the smart-fan indie wrestling audience. This is a perfect example of Hoodslam’s Meta nature. Everyone is in on the joke. And Kirsch is their Ringleader.

Wrestlemania Was Probably the Coolest Thing to Ever Happen In San Jose

At some point last year, I made a list of theatrical events I was super excited for, Wrestlemania was one of them. At the time, wild horses could not have stopped me. Not only was it freakin’ Wrestlemania, but it was in my Hometown of San Jose (And Santa Clara, but whatever.). But the cruel realities of $250 Tickets, lame responsibilities and just poor planning led to me watching at home, luckily I have a pretty sweet TV. But the part I enjoyed the most was watching all of the events put on by the WWE that weren’t Wrestlemania. As a former resident of Downtown San Jose, it was crazy to see footage of Fan Access at the San Jose McHenry Convention Center, NXT did a show at SJSU Event Center, Some of my favorite wrestlers went to bars I used to hang out in. So many things that I was a huge fan of were all happening in my lame hometown. And it was all happening blocks away from my old apartment. It was the first time in forever I thought “Aw man, finally something super cool is happening in San Jose and I’m not there.” Wrestlemania was a huge success, which isn’t surprising; Downtown San Jose is designed for conventions. The word is San Jose and Santa Clara want the “Showcase of the Immortals” back sooner than later. Events in Downtown San Jose usually involve cars, concerts with very old bands or cover bands that play very old songs, or Christmas in the Park. So this was easily the coolest thing to ever happen in Downtown San Jose, so when it does come back, I won’t miss it this time, probably.

If Some Dude Doing An All-Pug Production of Hamlet is the Only Good Thing to Come From The Potato Salad Kickstarter, Then It Was Totally Worth It.

Oh the Potato Salad Kickstarter, remember that? The first Crowd-funding Meme, the joke that became a worldwide phenomenon, the Kickstarter Campaign that destroyed relationships, divided friends, and became either the funniest thing ever or proof the human race was doomed (Depending on your point of view.) But suffice it to say, Shit got real. At the time, there was a glut of theatrical crowdsourcing campaigns in the Bay, so I wrote two articles on it. It seemed every dream project, theater renovation, and fledgling theatre company with an ambitious new season, (Not to mention Reading Friggin Rainbow) needed your money. It got crazy, lots of folks didn’t make goal. People, who always made goal, didn’t make goal. And the fact people were more willing to give a dollar to be part of a ridiculous joke instead of ones theatrical endeavor created some very real tension. But a week later, the Facebook news Cycle had moved on and people were mad/outraged/excited about something else. But a lot of folks took the Potato Salad Kickstarter as a sign. A sign that said, you can do a campaign for any stupid idea you have, and people will reward you for how clever your stupid idea is. Enter Kevin Broccoli, an Actor from Providence, Rhode Island. Kevin saw the Potato Salad Kickstarter and said “Hey, I’ve got a stupid idea too!” and his campaign to stage Hamlet with a cast of Pugs was born. What started as joke became very real as the donations poured in; eventually he hit his goal of $5000 and will now stage the show. Think about that, $5000 for Pugs, on stage, dressed in Shakespearean Costumes. So for all the strife that kooky Potato Salad Kickstarter caused, it also begat a bunch of pugs in funny costumes, like a flower that rose from shit.


Quite Recently, I wrote about a few silly ideas for musicals (I kept the gems for myself). But what I did not anticipate was real life Broadway one-upping me. Recently it was announced the classic Bill Murray film Groundhog Day would be adapted into a Broadway musical. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not sure, but they better do a huge dance number to “Pennsylvania Polka”. Will the Groundhog have a number? The show is written by Tim Minchin and Danny Rubin who wrote the Musical Adaptation of Matilda. This would mean something if I saw Matilda, but it got nominated for a Tony, that still means something, right? (Right?) One day our entire childhoods will be re-created in musical form, hopefully all the actors will be pugs, pugs dressed as pro wrestlers.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Director and Producer. His new play “Christian Teen Dolphin-Sex Beach Party” will premiere at this years SFF Olympians Festival and his other new play “Sexy Vampire Academy” will get it’s first reading as part of “TERROR-RAMA 2:PROM NIGHT”, this October. Keep up with all of it at

The FIVE: Top 5 Other Places to See Theatre

Today, we’re excited to debut a new ongoing column by local theater director and box office professional, Anthony R. Miller. Every other Tuesday, alternating with Will, he’ll be presenting top five lists created to enlighten and enrich the theater minded crowd. Enjoy- and let us know what you think!

Recently a friend of mine asked via Facebook for a “Top Ten Influential and Necessary Theatre Companies in the Bay Area” List. I ran a bunch of possibilities in my head, started a few times and said “Eh fuck it”. When you attach terms like “influential” or “necessary”, it makes the list all the more daunting. I think of Rolling Stones’ Top 100 coffee table books that cost a hundred bucks, and for what? A full color three page spread on why Jimi Hendrix, something The Beatles did, or Nirvana is the greatest whatever of all time. When we have to take into account things like historical impact or cultural influence, every list starts to sound the same: kinda boring. I’d rather hear about your favorite company, your favorite band, your favorite theatrical experience, because that’s when you starting hearing about new stuff, cool stuff, different stuff. What haven’t I seen, but should? So, here are five Other Bay Area Theatre Companies you should check out.

HoodslamOakland, CA

Oh, sweet wonderful Hoodslam. Call it Heavy Metal Pro Wrestling, Punk Rock WWE, I call it exactly where I want to be on a Friday Night. Performing every First Friday of the month at the Metro Opera House in Oakland, Hoodslam is a fantastic time. I’ve long considered Pro-Wrestling Theatre at its base, there’s a good guy and a bad guy. The bad guy does something so horrible you want the good guy to win. Now with Hoodslam that good guy could very well be a guy with a Bugs Bunny mask pretending to pour cocaine all over his face while entering to “Here Comes the Hot Stepper”. At Hoodslam you can see the high flying Sub-Zero vs. chauvinist pig Sal Lundy. There is no pretention here, just a bunch of people having a good time drinking beer, gathered around a wrestling ring with a giant pot cloud hanging over it.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Albany, San Jose, Oakland

Yes really, the cult of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Bay has had a long relationship. At some point in time there has been an RHPS cast in SF, Berkeley, Oakland, Larkspur, Petaluma, Fremont, San Jose, San Leandro, Palo Alto, and Belmont. Berkeley is especially important; the long closed UC Theater was home to Indecent Exposure, once considered the best Rocky Horror cast in Northern California. When the UC closed, they split into two new casts, The Bawdy Caste, which made its home at the Camera Cinema in San Jose and Barely Legal who moved to the Parkway in Oakland. Since then, they moved around just about everywhere. For almost 20 years, these two casts have been donning fishnets, tossing toast and putting on a fun-ass show for disenfranchised youth, gamer dorks, and rich weirdoes (Yay rich weirdoes!), every Saturday night at midnight.

Solo Sundays San Francisco

For five years now Bruce Pachtman and Stagewerx have created an incredible incubator of one person shows. Their Solo workshop helps artists develop their shows into ten minute, thirty minute and full length productions. What’s most exciting about the work coming from Solo Sundays is the diversity of subjects. Every voice and cultural identity of San Francisco is represented on any given Sunday night. One of its most successful alumni, W. Kamau Bell used his one man show The W. Kamau Bell Curve as the template for his short-lived and controversial (Look up a debate with Lindy West and Jim Norton) show “Totally Biased” on FX.

Tourette’s Without Regrets Oakland

What started over ten years ago in a coffee shop in Vallejo has become the largest underground arts and variety show on the entire West Coast. On the first Thursday of every month you can see what is now an institution, there’s poetry, stand-up comedy, live music, burlesque dancers, fire eaters, interactive games with the audience (such as, ‘What’s down my pants?’), a rap battle, contortionists, clowns, EVERYTHING. Hosted by Jamie DeWolf, a crazy band of half-naked ladies, a dude dressed as a badger, and a sexy elf-man stage manager, Tourettes is more than an show, it is a cultural event. It is modern day vaudeville and live entertainment unlike anything you’ve ever seen or experienced.

The Lost ChurchSan Francisco

In 2011, Brett and Elizabeth Cline bought an installation art gallery formerly known as the Capp Street Project and turned it into a performance space. Re-naming it the Lost Church, it became a home for musicians, storytellers, and multimedia theater. The venue itself is rad; imagine having a beautiful little stage in your living room with seats for 60 of your friends. The term they like to use to describe the work done there is “Good for the Soul”.

The reason why they are number one on my list is that they need your help. Currently they have 5 days left to raise $40K on indie go-go, with just about 10K left. The money is going towards making their venue ADA compliant, an expensive and mandatory endeavor. If they don’t complete these incredibly expensive changes, the venue closes, and that would be a huge loss. Check out their IGG site and see what their plans are, then make a little (or huge) donation to help this venue stay alive.