Interviews

RJ Brewer Talks Lucha Libre, His Anti-Immigration Beliefs, Russell Pearce, and His "Mother," Governor Jan Brewer

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Do you enjoy being hated?
Nobody enjoys getting stuff thrown at them, but if they're booing I know I'm getting my message across. The louder they boo, the more I realize they understand who I am and what I stand for, so it's part of the job. For me to not get booed means they don't care. And that would be a bad thing because there's nothing worse than a wrestler, particularly someone like me, who's got a message and the crowd doesn't care.

What sorts of insults have fans used?
There's been signs toward my mother or about how I'm a son of a bitch or the typical "Yes we can" in Spanish [a.k.a. Si Se Puede]. And they tell me to leave in Spanish and chant "Mexico." I've become pretty fluent in all the Spanish curse words.

Have any Hispanics made death threats against you?
No threats, [but] obviously you get people who are pretty wound up. They'll throw beer or food or a Mexican flag in my face and just usually shout and jeer and that kind of stuff. But there's never anything too violent. I think, in the end, people know that wrestling is there to entertain, and regardless of what I say, there's obviously other stuff that's making them happy. So for the most part, I think people are coming to have fun and unwind, but it's a relevant topic that people aren't too happy about. So it might get a little more serious than normal, but so far I've been pretty safe.

Are fans at Celebrity Theatre going to be just as vocal on Sunday?
Probably. The reception I've gotten so far with fans consistently throwing stuff at me and being very loud and very pro-Mexico, and I don't expect anything different because the heart of the immigration issue is in Arizona and continues to be an issue that I think might be a little louder and a little more volatile. It's not going to be anything I'm not already used to, but I think it might be turned up a couple notches.

Have you been embraced by the anti-immigration or nativist crowd?
You get Facebook messages here and there, people saying that they support me. Actually, I was invited to be the guest speaker at a Russell Pearce fundraiser that they are doing and I can't make it because we will be in Texas wrestling.

Really?
Yeah, the fundraiser is in May and they asked me to come there but I can't. I might tell them something or write something for them to read off. You get occasional support here and there but for the most part [those] people don't watch and they're not fans, so the nativists are few and far between. It's cool to like the bad guy sometimes.

Do you still patrol the border?
Right now we're in the middle of a very busy tour so I haven't gone every weekend. I've got to have some alone time too. I'll pick that up again soon.

Professional wrestling has frequently pitted evil foreigners against heroic Americans. Is this a merely a reversal of that situation?
Yeah. Normally it's an American hero with a foreigner from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or maybe even a Russian. So the roles are reversed and it's the same, but never has it been this political. Never before been geared toward a topic that's so controversial. It's causing the uproar with how relevant the immigration issue is.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.