Confession time: I'm in my dirty 30s and I've never been in a real fight.
Sure, I've gotten into a few scuffles as a kid, mostly of the schoolyard variety. But those didn't amount to much beyond pushing and posturing. Even when I was in a backyard wrestling federation in sixth grade, our matches weren't more than just a bunch of pre-teen kids mimicking Randy "Macho Man" Savage.
I'd always wondered if I could hang in a full-on donnybrook or would end up flat on my ass. So when the industrial music misfits of Sadisco* announced they were holding another of their annual Fight Club parties (featuring dustups between willing participants, a la the novel and movie of the same name) I decided to give it a go.
It wasn't because of any sort of machismo bullshit where I needed to test my mettle as a man. Although I'm 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds -- and have been told I've got a somewhat imposing presence -- I'm a rather laidback cat (or as my colleague Niki D'Andrea aptly described me a few years back, "a soft-spoken smartass, often passive to the point of frustration.")
This was more of a heady, almost Zen-like pursuit I was engaging in, the spirit of which is (somewhat) embodied by the above quote. Much like Fight Club itself, this wasn't about fighting, but rather an examination of self.
Even so, I was still kinda shitting a brick at the thought of getting beatdown in public.
For those unfamiliar with Sadisco* (short for Sadistic Disco), it's a countercultural collective of DJs who used to present surreal dance parties every month, each with a specific pop-cultural them (ranging from Timothy Leary or the Manson Family to David Lynch or even armageddon). Cacophonous industrial music and mass amounts of madcap behavior were common at each party (which now occur biannually), but by far their most raucous event was the yearly Fight Club Sadisco* at local punk bar Jugheads.
I'd seen some pretty gnarly shit happen at previous editions of FCS*, including broken bones, participants being taken away in an ambulance, and a fair amount of blood getting spilled. But it would be worth the risk.
After arriving and signing a waiver provided by Sadisco*, one of the promoters (dressed as Tyler Durden, natch) said I could either find a willing participant or be matched up against someone of his choosing.
"We've got some guys here who are practicing for MMA if you want to fight them," the faux Durden explained.
Fuck that. I wasn't down with becoming a sparring partner for some local
Tony Tito Ortiz-in-training. Call me a coward, but being on the business end of a gogoplata, Kimura lock, or any other submission hold wasn't my goal.
Eventually I approached Ghost, a somewhat notorious downtown gutterpunk and self-described "individualist anarcha-syndicalist egalitarian aggressivist" who starred in Niki D'Andrea's cover story on freeganism. He's also kind of badass warrior poet in a sense, who's down with both going toe-to-toe with cops or reading William S. Burroughs. The fact he resembles Keith Flint from The Prodigy or was wearing a dress this particular evening diminishes him in the slightest. Prior to our scrap inside the makeshift parking lot arena of cardboard and cyclone fencing, Ghost politely asked if I wanted him to remove his multiple facial piercings or refrain from using punches. (His civility sorta reminded me of this clip of Henry Rollins on the Drew Carrey show).
"I'm cool with almost anything, except for ball-shots," I said.
And then it was on like Donkey Kong. While European industrial bands UberByte and W.A.S.T.E. blasted out the noise from inside the bar, we proceed with the parking lot pugilism. After dancing around for a few seconds, Ghost started wailing away with punches to my head and neck. I took a few swings myself, and only landed a shot on his shoulder. The fight then became like every single UFC contest I've ever seen and became a grappling match. Meanwhile, the assembled crowd of Sadisco* patrons shouted the usual "kick his ass" and "fuck him up" taunts.
We both exchanged weak punches and traded headlocks, each trying to wrestle each other to the ground while smacking against the cage. Ghost was both speedy and strong, managing to muscle his way out almost every time. We both were winded within minutes, and I was definitely gasping a but more than my opponent (smoking and a sedentary lifestyle does that to you).
After a couple breaks in the action, I basically ended up tackling the dude to the ground. Given that I have a couple of inches and at least 150 pounds on Ghost, gravity played more of a role than grappling skill. I don't recall whether Ghost gave up or the ref (the aforementioned Tyler clone) halted the fight, but either way, the war was over.
I didn't consider myself the winner, nor was I suddenly swaggering around Jugheads like Brad Pitt. (I resemble Robert "Bitch Tits" Paulson more than Mrs. Angelina Jolie at any rate) In fact, I was more concerned over the state of my adversary, who walked away with a bloody nose. There were also far more brutal fights that evening, including the one depicted in the following YouTube clip.
In the end, it was just a fight. It was an interesting diversion, I can say that I did it and move on to something else. Like maybe soap-making or starting some underground anti-corporate movement.
At least I'll know what to do if I get jumped by gutter punks at my next house show.
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Saturday Night: Fight Club Sadisco* at Jugheads
Better Than: Watching my copy of Fight Club on VHS.
One More Thing: I joked with the taxi driver that took me to Jugheads that after the fight, my next stunt was going to involve punching a grizzly bear while jumping out of an airplane.