Stage 2

The Ironic Masculinity of Adrian Adonis

I was raised in principal part by a father who harbored an abiding and perhaps even excessive interest in hair care, musicals, fancy clothing, and domestic tasks such as cooking and cleaning. He was also a large, densely built former college football player with a violent temper. As a young boy, it seemed to me that these parts of his character were in constant tension; was he a gentle, artistic soul or a lumbering brute? I had my own problems in school and at home, however, so such questions were often put aside in favor of hours spent watching and reading about professional wrestling in my bedroom. While engaged in furious, secretive fandom, I was struck by the transgressive way in which many male performers chose to depict themselves. I’d no idea what “transgressive” meant much less why such depictions mattered in a broader social context, but my sense of puzzlement existed from the outset: