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

Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: Intersection at a Crossroads

Marissa Skudlarek voices what many of us are thinking.

The news about the massive cut-backs at Intersection for the Arts came out last Thursday. I had tickets to see the latest show at their resident theater company Campo Santo, Chasing Mehserle by Chinaka Hodge, for Friday night.

Before the news came out, I had been looking forward to the show with uncomplicated enthusiasm — I loved Hodge’s Mirrors in Every Corner, which Intersection produced four years ago, and Chasing Mehserle revisits the characters of Mirrors. After the news came out, my emotions became more tangled. Gratitude that I’d get to see one more show at Intersection before the organization changed forever. (Per press reports, Campo Santo will continue to exist, but will become an independent nonprofit organization.) Guilt that I hadn’t taken more advantage of Intersection’s programming — I hadn’t seen a play there since Halloween 2010, hadn’t visited their space since they moved from the Mission District to the Chronicle building downtown. The recognition that my feelings of guilt were slightly overblown — even if I’d patronized Intersection more, that wouldn’t have saved it.

There were sellout crowds on Friday night for Chasing Mehserle, and the audience was one of the youngest and most diverse I’ve ever seen in the Bay Area. It was all I could do not to buttonhole each one of these people and shout “How did you hear about this show? What brought you to the theater tonight? How could I get you to come see the theater that I make?”

After all, sometimes I can become cynical, and believe the doomsayers who tell you that young people don’t go to the theater anymore, it’s hopeless, we should just give up, we should become more like opera, we should realize that our core audience is old white rich folks. The audience that night proved me wrong — and proved right the counter-narrative that young people will go to the theater if it reflects their lives and their communities, presenting compelling stories that mainstream film and television don’t provide. (Chasing Mehserle is an artistic response to Johannes Mehserle’s shooting of Oscar Grant in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009. It’s deeply grounded in the Bay Area, and deeply aware that it’s a piece of theater rather than a movie or TV show.)

The diverse audience I saw at Chasing Mehserle should therefore have given me hope for the future of the theater — except that, having read the news the day before, I was left with a feeling of increased hopelessness. This enthusiasm, this diversity, these people who want to see stories that reflect them, this community interested in Chinaka Hodge’s growth and development as a playwright… it wasn’t enough to make a difference. It wasn’t enough to create a viable, fiscally healthy organization. So what will ever be enough?

The full story of how Intersection got into such dire financial straits has not yet been revealed, but it looks like it might fit in with the “tech money is ruining everything” narrative that’s becoming prominent in this city. It would be oddly fitting, too: a major theme of Chasing Mehserle is the gentrification of Oakland, and Chinaka Hodge just published an essay about gentrification in San Francisco magazine (a magazine whose web address is The ironies, they pile up).

At the end of Chasing Mehserle, the actors come forward and declare their real-life identities: “My name is… I was born on… And I’m still here.” Hodge is well aware of the difficulties faced by African-Americans in our society, and the cast members saying “I’m still here” is a powerful statement of survival in the face of forces like gentrification and racism. Survival itself is a form of heroism, Hodge seems to imply. Perhaps we should celebrate the fact that an arts organization like Intersection survived for nearly 50 years (an amazing record for any institution) rather than mourning its passing. But it’s hard not to be sad about its loss, and feel guilty that we have not done more to create the kind of culture we want. It’s hard not to wonder “How much longer will I still be here?”

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright and arts writer who plans to live in this city for as long as it’s physically possible. Find her online at or on Twitter @MarissaSkud.