Downtown Phoenix taqueria PAZ Cantina is definitely a vibrant place, thanks to the kaleidoscopic array of art work and murals that dot its walls. Later this month, however, the Roosevelt Row eatery will become even more colorful (and a bit livelier to boot) when a crew of lucha libre wrestlers, burlesque artists, and even a few mermaids invade the joint.
An evening of astonishing stunts and sultry thrills will be on tap at Paz on Saturday, July 18, during Bomba Lucha!, a fringe culture fiesta that will mix burlesque performances, masked wrestlers, and Latin influences into a stylish and spectacular affair.
“It's going to be this hot, sexy show in the middle of summer,” says local burlesque artist Pyrrha Sutra, who’s organizing Bomba Lucha! “I don't know if Phoenix can handle it. It will be fun.”
And probably pretty eye-catching too, since Sutra says the event will feature four matches taking place in a ring set up in PAZ’s courtyard, as well as burlesque artists on an adjacent stage and even atop the restaurant’s rooftop, some “circusy stuff,” and music and dancing performances by Carlos Montufar of Flamenco Por La Vida and others.
Sutra promises that Bomba Lucha! will be filled with showstopping moments, including an homage to Salma Hayek’s tempestuous table dance from the 1995 cult movie From Dusk Till Dawn by local burlesque artist and contortionist Cleodora, complete with a giant snake and tequila being poured down her leg.
“What’s cool about Cleodora is that she can literally pour tequila down her leg, lick her leg, and put it around her neck,” Sutra says.
It's fair to say that the Bomba Lucha! mix of burlesque and body slams is something that’s never been featured at either PAZ or anywhere else in the Valley.
While lucha libre — a more spectacular variant of professional wrestling that was born in Mexico, largely features masked competitors, and is popular throughout Latin America —already takes place at venues locally, it’s the first time it's been paired with burlesque here in the Valley. (The paring of the two has proven popular in other cities, however, such as Lucha VaVOOM in L.A. or Detroit’s Ooh-La-La Lucha.)
Interestingly enough, lucha libre and burlesque were largely considered to be a part of fringe culture for years before the artsy and hipster crowds embraced both. Sutra says Bomba Lucha! came about during a conversation between herself and PAZ owner Michael Reyes about her hosting an event at the restaurant.
“I don't know how we got onto the subject, but he was telling me how much he loves lucha libre and how it's the ‘Mexican man's soap opera,’” Sutra says. “And I was like, ‘Dude, we should do a lucha libre variety show at PAZ.’”
"He just lit up and was into doing it," Sutra says.
She then reached out to the promoters of local wrestling promotion Lucha Libre Voz to supply the ring and enlist some wrestlers from around the southwest and Latin America for the event, including such luchadores as El Paso's Skybird and El Dragon, Mexico City's Mini Halcon, and El Salvador's Outrage.
And since the lucha libre style of wrestling emphasizes more high-flying moves than what’s seen in American promotions like WWE and TNA, there’s likely to be more spectacular looking manuevers being executed at the event. That may even include luchadores leaping from PAZ’s roof into the ring.
“These guys like to fly. They get pretty high up when doing their moves,” Sutra says. “They're all pretty badass.”
Sutra, Cleodora, and the other burlesque artists performing at the event might also don some wrestling masks.
"We're actually talking about doing a booty battle," she says. “We might have girls come out with masks on and basically shake it to the music and maybe grab people from the audience to participate and try to make it a game.”
Burlesque artists might even shake their moneymakers in between the ropes, as well.
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“We're actually talking about having some of the girls perform in the ring too,” Sutra says. “So they'll be on the stage, on the rooftop, and maybe in the ring. There's action going on everywhere.”
Bomba Lucha! takes place at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at PAZ Cantina. General admission is $15 and VIP service (including premium seating, a complimentary appetizer and alcoholic beverage, and signed poster) is $100.