El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Posts Tagged ‘mask

Is there any better hero than Santo?

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Most people in Mexico, when they hear the name of Santo, will laugh. Then, they will think for a moment about all of the Santo movies they have seen, their friends, the theaters, the times that el Santo may have been wrestling in their city, the fun of watching a Santo re-run on Mexican cable TV.A friend of mine, Angel, from San Miguel, chuckled when I asked him about Santo. Then he slowly began remembering stories. His older sister gathering a group of kids from the neighborhood and shuffling (more like shepherding, I imagine) them all down to the old movie theater off the Jardin.

Ahh. The Saturday Matinee. Masses of maniacs crowding in to see the King of Luche Libre, Santo El Enmascarado de Plata. Undoubtedly it was a double feature. And a scene repeated in towns and cities across the world with different movie heroes and different maniacs.

Angel said each kid would have a torta tucked into a pocket for a snack during the movie. Of course, the basic formula for a Santo movie is some 40 minutes of wrestling sequences with some 20 minutes of story built around them. Angel said when the “King was in the ring” the dark, old theater became a room full of little upturned faces reflecting back the light of the big screen in rapt attention.

If it looked like the big guy was in trouble, you know, if say, for instance, Santo happened to be fighting an invisible time traveler from the 16th century running around with a huge hatchet, or a mechanical clone created by some diabolically mad Mexican scientist, all the kids in the audience would begin rhythmically clapping and chanting in unison: “Santo, Santo, Santo”. Usually in chorus with the audience on the screen.

Many of the wrestling clips appear to have been shot live, including plenty of crowd response, which only goes to show that some things are constant across time and cultural boundaries, for example: wrestling fans!

Invariably the encouragement worked its magic and Santo recovered his bearings and pulled out a decisive victory, to the cheers of the, by now, decidely, enthusiastic crowd.

I’ve seen Santo driving everything from a dune buggy to a space ship. But he has used a variety of snazzy sports cars ( I think they made, like, ninety movies over a forty year period). Angel remembered that whatever Santo was driving in his latest movie was the car that everyone wanted to have. In Mexico, Santo masks were as popular with kids as Daniel Boone ‘coonskin caps in the U.S.

In his career Santo fought everyone (the titles were always “Santo contra someone or something”) from space aliens and ghosts to neo-nazis and crooked art dealers. (There’s even a Santo vs Capulina, for those that know their Mexican film icons. I don’t want to give away the story, but it turns out to be a clone of Capulina, made by some evil guy; rest assured that Santo would never do anything to hurt the real Capulina).

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Written by El Fomentador

January 8, 2008 at 6:15 am