‘Cassandro, the Exotico!’ documents struggle with retirement

Director Marie Losier documents the fascinatingly different life of “fabulous” wrestler Saul Armendariz – aka Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” (Got all that?) Taking us along the five-year journey nearing the end of his career, we delve into the legacy of a unique, entertaining performer. (BKP: 3.5/5)

Review by Vice President and Managing Editor 

Documenting a genre of sport unlike anything else, Marie Losier’s Cassandro, the Exotico! puts Armendariz at the forefront. A champion of the Mexican cross-dressing wrestling scene, the openly gay fighter dresses in women’s clothing and back flips and kicks into other fighters in an action-packed drag showdown. With a years-long career of throwing punches in full-faced makeup and ladies’ Spandex, the aging fighter known as “Cassandro” has put in the time and effort to be the subject of this story. 

Cassandro, the Exotico! in the ring

Viewers get to know 47-year-old Armendariz, also known as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” as he details his long career of painful injuries, triumphant wins and battles with sobriety and addiction. By using 16mm film, Losier brings the viewer in with a unique visual style and invites them to stay as they learn about this man and his story of resilience. 

Not only can the LGBTQ community relate to his struggles with identity and choosing a path that not everyone can understand, but any viewer who has known struggle (which is every viewer). With Cassandro, the Exotico’s difficult journey of aches and pains is not without fun – his signature brand of humor along with flamboyant costumes and attitudes makes this documentary different than anything you have seen before. 

For audiences of retirement age who might not relate to the “show” of it all, they might relate to aging bodies, knowing when to call it quits and aching bones getting the better of them. (Here, we see Armendariz recovering from multiple knee operations and other broken limbs). Reflecting on childhood, too, is one of the documentary’s universal themes as it travels back to the wrestler’s hometown in El Paso where bullies inspired his yearning to fight back.

Director Losier is known for The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye – the story of artist Genesis P-Orridge and his lover, Lady Jaye who melded their identities through plastic surgery. Once again, she tells a story of a road less traveled, lives that don’t and shouldn’t look like anyone else’s. For anyone feeling alienated, Cassandro, the Exotico! just might encourage you to get in the ring. Or watch this documentary. Either way, it’ll be entertaining.

© Brigid K. Presecky (7/18/19) FF2 Media

Cassandro, the Exotico!

Photos: Cassandro, the Exotico!

Photo credits:  Tamara Films, Tu Vas Voir Productions, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC)

Q: Does Cassandro, the Exotico! pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?

Technically, no.

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