LUCHA VA-VOOM a night of lucha libre, at the Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), tonight and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday, March 4-5), 9 pm. $30-$50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
www.luchavavoom.com liz fairbairn isn't used to shows just landing in her lap. But when she was sitting in an auditorium in Ensenada, Mexico, about five years ago, a luchadora - female wrestler - flew out of the ring and landed right on her. "Then the other one came out and began punching her while she was sitting in my lap. The second one grabbed the first one and then grabbed me and tried to haul me in the ring. Thousands of people were screaming in Spanish - I was the only gringa in a 500 mile radius - and I was practically peeing my pants."
Sure, it was a stunt, manufactured by Fairbairn's then boyfriend and now fiancé, a Mexican wrestler himself.
But it was enough to make her realize what a wild, no-holds-barred show this could be.
And Fairbairn's used to wild. She was manager of the heavy metal troupe Gwar for nearly a decade.
"I'm no neophyte to bizarre spectacles," she says on the phone from L.A. "But after seeing this, I thought, 'Wow, all my friends have got to see this. '"
Since Fairbairn's started bringing some of the top wrestlers and burlesque acts up north a year and a half ago, the Lucha Va-Voom show of lucha libre - no-rules wrestling involving masked wrestlers, bodacious erotic acts and comedians - has taken off in L.A., where it attracts a wide mix of seen-it-all spectators.
Madonna's film company, Maverick, regularly buys up about 60 ringside seats, and one of the company's bigwigs routinely gets up into the ring to join the fray.
"He got knocked down three times, until a security guard had to take him out," laughs Fairbairn. "He said he was just overcome and that he had to do it. Apparently, now he's training to be a lucha himself."
The show's following has also gone beyond the hipster crowd to tap into the Hispanic L.A. market.
"A lot of them are assimilated, educated professionals who wouldn't normally go to a lucha show because they'd be slightly embarrassed," says Fairbairn. "Their parents and grandparents probably went."
If you're thinking a lucha show is just WWF transplanted across the border, wake up and sip your cerveza.
Lucha has a revered history in recent Mexican culture, especially in films from the 50s and 60s, which are often compared to India's Bollywood flicks.
"You had wrestlers in laser suits and masks stopping at titty bars, fighting Nazis, evil doctors and Martians," says Fairbairn. "There's a serious tradition there. One famous lucha was buried in his mask."
And the female entertainers?
"The lucha girls are all natural," laughs Fairbairn.
"They're more vintage, more show-girly than mere strippers. They use feathers, glitter. They're on an equal footing, not just girls who come out holding cards."
Few of the wrestlers speak English, though. That's where the comic talent comes in. Blaine Capatch, the know-it- all host of TV's Beat The Geeks, and Patton Oswalt, one of the sidekicks from King Of Queens, bridge the gap between the action onstage and off.
"Their commentary is like a Mystery Science Theatre 2000 episode," says Fairbairn. "If there's any confusion at all, Blaine and Patton will joke about it.
"One night a famous lucha named Hijo del Santo came flying out of the ring, and Blaine's response was classic.
"'Look out, you industry cocksuckers, cuz here comes Santo. '"