La Bulla Returns to Honor Lucha Libre

by Citlalith Pérez
Reprising the inaugural community-wide, multi-media homage to “Lucha Libre,” the Mexican wrestling sport characterized by larger than life characters, theatrical showmanship, acrobatic virtuosity and a perennial parade of masked wrestlers, Exodus Events is pleased to present the second annual edition of LA’s most authentic homage to the internationally popular tradition. (Photo courtesy: Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy)

Part sport and part made-for-TV entertainment, the classic Lucha Libre wrestling legacy—the unique cultural expression which originated in Mexico and went on to spawn the wildly successful World Wrestling Federation (now the publicly traded World Wrestling Entertainment) media juggernaut—has inspired a growing legion of fans even as it has stoked the imaginations of countless aficionados drawn to its pageantry, near comic book hero iconography and all-American fun.

The brain-child of artist Antonio Pelayo, founder of Exodus Events, “La Bulla” began as an effort to honor the creative artistry that defines the Lucha Libre pantheon of heroes and villains. For him and many others like him, the rotating cast of colorful masked combatants—who battle in the ring as mortals without the advantage of super-powers—represent the hopes and aspirations of regular people who struggle heroically day in and day out to claim their fair share of the American Dream.

“I grew up with Mil Mascaras and Blue Demon,” says Pelayo, La Bulla creator/producer and award-winning graphite artist who has worked as an illustrator at Disney Studios for over two decades. For him, as an immigrant born in Mexico and raised in the U.S., those two masked wrestlers were the embodiment of a will to survive and triumph against all odds in an adopted country built on dreams and the determination to succeed. “Last year we sold out,” Pelayo says. “We were actually surprised that so many people have the same appreciation for the spirit of Lucha Libre that we do.”

Many U.S.-born aficionados of the distinctly Mexican sport found their way there through horror movies, pulp novels, wrestling magazines and occasional trips to visit relatives outside of the states. Their fascination for the masked wrestlers, who are human representations of the universal struggle between good and evil, transcends time and place. Pelayo is part of a vast community of fans from across the spectrum of nationalities and ethnicities that share a passion for the sport and all of its playful, largely improvised drama, its understated humor and often timely commentary on current social concerns and even politics.
Culture Clash co-founder, writer and director Richard Montoya, who starred in Nacho Libre, co-hosts La Bulla,
Beyond its popularity, which has led to network and cable-network cartoons, television shows, graphic novels, live theater, local wrestling leagues, Lucha Libre, with its elaborate masks and dramatic, almost cinematographic visuals as well as storylines, has also inspired fine artists such as Pelayo himself and many others whose work will be exhibited at the Plaza de la Raza Boathouse Gallery this month as a major element of La Bulla—originally the name of a luchador (masked wrestler) Pelayo admired as a child and for whom he was nicknamed and now—the title of the Lucha Libre tribute he spearheads for the second consecutive year.

The art, music and live wrestling event will be held on April 30th at Plaza de la Raza, a community arts center which has operated in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood for over 40 years. The art exhibition, guest curated by internationally acclaimed graffiti artist and legendary Crewest Gallery founder Alejandro Poli AKA “Man One,” will feature Lucha Libre-themed works by 100 artists. This year, the “Lucha Libre experience,” as Pelayo describes it, will be hosted by model Yasmin Ferrada and filmmaker-playwright Richard Montoya, a founding member of the famed Culture Clash comedy troupe. (Photo courtesy:

La Bulla will also feature a performance by LA’s favorite cumbia-rock all-stars El Conjunto Nueva Ola, a band which has garnered a cult-following in record time and whose members often don Lucha Libre wrestling masks on stage. The La Bulla multi-media spectacular will also include, for the first time ever, a selection of film screenings organized by programming staff at the Hola Mexico Film Festival, which brings the best of Mexico’s contemporary independent cinema to Los Angeles yearly.

Tickets for La Bulla can be purchased online at Plaza de la Raza is located at 3540 N. Mission Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90031. For more information, call (626) 616-9545.


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