MV Young, Darnell Mitchell, and Lynn Frailey discuss the origins of Uncanny Attractions, what the promotion fights for, their upcoming cinematic show, and more.
As the week of WrestleMania 36 began to draw closer back in March of 2020, the threat of COVID-19 continued to grow and its potential impact on the wrestling industry started becoming clear. Uncanny Attractions, led by the trio of Owner Lynn Frailey, Co-Founder & Producer MV Young, and Social Media Manager & Producer Darnell Mitchell, was one of several wrestling promotions hoping to make a huge impact this year in Tampa in the days before WrestleMania 36.
The road to that week and the ultimate decision to cancel Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4 has seen three very different people from unique backgrounds find commonality in their desire to make wrestling look like the world they see around them. Uncanny Attractions is run entirely by queer people, a rarity in the wrestling industry, and that fact is sewn into the fabric of what Uncanny stands for, fights for, and showcases every time they present their entertainment to fans.
On September 9, 2020, we finally see the return of Uncanny Attractions almost six months after they had to make the decision to cancel their WrestleMania week event. Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4: The Wrestlers Take Manhattan will be an entirely cinematic show set to air on IWTV with proceeds from the first week going to two very important charities.
To fully understand what this show means, and how it has come together, you have to know the origins of Uncanny Attractions and exactly who these three voices are, all three of which were kind enough to speak to me. MV Young, a Co-Founder and Producer at Uncanny Attractions, spoke to me previously over the last few months about his career as a professional wrestler and his role as Leader of the PolyAm Cult.
The Origin Story of Uncanny Attractions
Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 1 was presented to the world at New York City’s House of YES on December 15, 2018. It was a chance encounter between MV Young, who today has seven years of in-ring experience, and veteran event producer Lynn Frailey that ultimately brought that event to fruition.
“It’s actually a very funny story,” Frailey began when we spoke. “So, Michael is also a personal trainer to make money, and he was training some people that lived down the hall from me in my building. He worked at Blink Gym at the time, and that’s where they trained with him, and they said ‘but he said he would take other clients,’ ‘cause you know Michael. Always bending the rules. So, I got his number and he used to come over to my house.”
“I have a terrace, and we would box on my terrace. I invited him to a barbecue one weekend, and he said ‘oh, I have a wrestling show.’ And I was like ‘wrestling?’ In my mind, this is how little I knew about wrestling. I guess just because he’s young, I was thinking maybe he had done some collegiate wrestling and there was kind of like a fun get together on the weekend,” she explained. “I had no idea, and he said ‘no, I’m a professional wrestler.’ And then, again, now I look back on it and I’m like ‘oh my god,’ because people ask me the same thing all the time, but my next question was ‘do you mean like WWE?’ Which now I could kick myself for saying, but that’s where I was at, and he said ‘yes, and no.’ I said ‘okay,’ and then we just kept talking about it. I would say for the next couple of months I just became obsessed with it, and I would ply him with questions the entire time we were working out.”
It was the very first exposure Lynn Frailey really had to the world of professional wrestling, but live events and entertainment were something she was certainly no stranger to. Her resume, which Frailey took a moment to talk about, speaks for itself.
“I own my own production company. It’s called Spiral Creative Productions, but I’ve been in production for more than 20 years. I lived in San Francisco before I moved to New York, so I did the first couple Coachellas. When I say did, there were many producers that worked on Coachella. Goldenvoice is actually the main production company, but they hire freelancers. So I worked on various elements of the first couple Coachellas,” Frailey said. “I do a lot of music concerts. I did Panorama, which is also by Goldenvoice, when it came to Randall’s Island a few years ago and that was their first show in New York.”
“I started out in TV production. I did music videos, and I produced a Creed video from their second album,” she said. “I did a lot of music videos. Beck, Alanis Morisette, Primus. I did a bunch of Primus videos. I was doing a documentary on Elliott Smith when he passed. So a strong music background, but also just really anything people will pay me for I’ll produce. ‘Cause it’s kinda all the same thing, but a different commodity if you will. Wrestling is its own thing, for sure.”
As she continued to pepper MV Young with questions about wrestling every time he’d show up to train her, that eventually turned into an invitation to a Capitol Wrestling event that MV Young was scheduled to compete at. Frailey accepted, and what she got a chance to see at that event got her mind going about what she could do with a wrestling event.
“I went to the Capitol show. And, you know I’m not calling anybody out. Everyone has their own style, but in my mind I thought this should be more of a show,” she said. “Again, not taking away from Capitol at all. I’d been talking to Michael about it all the time. I was thinking how cool and creative and amazing wrestling could be, and so that’s why our Uncanny shows are the way we are.”
“We have them at House of YES, which is this really cool LGBTQ night club where they have drag performances. That’s why we have drag queens in our show, because the similarities between drag and wrestling are so amazing. We try to make it as fun and as safe and as open to everyone as possible, and that’s how Uncanny kind of came to be,” Frailey explained.
Originally it was just Lynn Frailey and MV Young, but eventually Darnell Mitchell took on the initial role of Social Media Manager and then found his place today as one of the promotion’s producers. When I spoke to him, Darnell Mitchell explained that, not unlike Lynn Frailey, his road into the wrestling industry wasn’t the usual path.
“I’ve been watching wrestling since I was ten years old. Our family kind of had a little bit of money, but I didn’t get to go to a lot of shows. So, it was a very rare thing. I probably went to maybe four shows when I was a kid, but a lot of my actual experience like enjoying wrestling in that different sort of medium is when I started going to independent wrestling probably when I was like 25, 26,” Mitchell explained. “Which was kind of always hit or miss. There were some shows, Ring of Honor, that I went to where I felt very uncomfortable very quickly because of the fanbase, and I realized that maybe this type of wrestling is not for me.”
“I wanna say 2017 I got involved with a company called Capitol Wrestling just out of Hoboken, New Jersey. They asked me to do their podcast with my friend Dustin Smothers. We were doing a podcast at the time, and it was my first time actually quote-unquote ‘working’ in the wrestling business,” he said. “I hated to use that term, because I feel like someone that does a podcast is not someone who works in the wrestling business. It was only when I was asked to do more other things and the wrestlers themselves said ‘yeah, you’re a part of it,’ that I felt that I was actually a part of wrestling. Even that was an unusual and weird way to get into wrestling, because I don’t take a bump. I don’t manage. I didn’t ring announce. I didn’t do any of that.”
Unfortunately, the unusual paths that Lynn Frailey and Darnell Mitchell took into the world of professional wrestling saw some pushback from some people within the industry. Mitchell discussed the reactions he got, and the surprising places they came from.
“The fact that I was just a podcast content creator being brought on, some people were not happy about it. They were very open about how not happy they were about it, when I just wanted to do the job that was asked of me and go the f**k home,” Mitchell said. “It’s weird, because the people who are very territorial about it and that I had a lot of disagreements with, or we just didn’t see eye to eye on certain things, they themselves were very open about the things that they had to deal with when they got into the business.”
“I don’t understand the thought process of ‘you know what’s smart, let me do the exact same thing to someone else that’s just trying to get into the business.’ It’s a neverending cycle. Not to be pessimistic, but that’s one of the reasons why a lot of wrestling will never get better, because that’s just what you do,” he continued. “Instead of the mindset of ‘hey, maybe we should just make this easier for everyone behind us,’ and it blows my mind, because it’s just not how any proper business should run. It makes no sense. It’s so counterproductive.”
Lynn Frailey, Owner of Uncanny Attractions, also discussed the struggles she found herself up against as the promotion began to make their mark on the industry.
“From the very get-go, there were some people that I was talking to that have been in the business for a long time and that we were using for various other things, whether it be getting our shows live-streamed, or whatever, licenses, EMTs, and I was told outright that the old-timers are not gonna like it. That secretly they kind of are waiting to see what’s going to happen with Uncanny,” Frailey said. “Someone said that to me verbatim. ‘We’re gonna wait and see what happens with Uncanny, but we think it’s very interesting, and let’s see where it goes.’ And I think that’s been a lot of people’s attitudes is like, how is this gonna work? Because it hasn’t really happened. There hasn’t been three queer people doing something, so I hope that we’re proving them all wrong.”
Much like MV Young’s initial connection to Lynn Frailey, the same kind of chance encounter saw him working with Darnell Mitchell for the first time when Mitchell was at Capitol Wrestling.
“Michael and I worked together at Capitol Wrestling. I interviewed him for the podcast before, and Capitol Wrestling’s September show was in White Eagle Hall. He had the first match, and then he came and sat with me and it was the first time we really had a long conversation together. We went and got Taco Bell and then came back to the show, and it really started our like actual friendship,” Mitchell said.
As MV Young explained the idea of the initial Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks event to Mitchell, they found themselves discussing it more and more and Young even began bouncing ideas off Mitchell as he prepared for that inaugural show.
“I just kind of helped him on the back end with ideas and things like that that I thought would be smart for the show, not really thinking anything of it,” Mitchell said. “I attended the show. I said hi to Lynn. Lynn had no idea who I was, and it wasn’t until after the show where I guess Lynn and Michael talked and he was like ‘yeah, Darnell helped me out with a couple of things,’ and she was like ‘well, if he’s helping us out, let’s get him to do this, because he has social media.’”
“So the ‘Mania show, I was definitely social media and I was a little unsure as to what my role was. So even backstage I was like ‘what can I do?’ And people would ask me questions and I’m like ‘I’m not sure, but I’ll figure it out,’ because I really just did social media. Then, after that show there were conversations where it was clear that I was capable of doing so much more, and then things are where they are now.”
“I think I toyed with the idea,” MV Young began as he discussed when he realized he wanted to bring Darnell Mitchell into the fold as part of Uncanny Attractions. “After the first show I had him do social media, and then decided I wanted him on the team full-time after the WrestleMania 2019 show. He was just a really good fit, and it was obvious. Just made sense.”
It was a story and sentiment echoed once again when I spoke to Lynn Frailey, who talked about the decision to bring Darnell Mitchell in and solidify the trio of voices that now run Uncanny Attractions.
“So, at first it was just Michael and I. Darnell was at our first show, but I didn’t know anybody in wrestling at our first show,” Frailey said. “I was introduced to Darnell that night, and then he was at our second show, and Michael had called me that morning and said ‘this guy Darnell, you met him briefly,’ and I was like ‘I met a thousand people Michael, I don’t remember.’ And he said ‘but he could tweet about our show,’ and I said ‘oh, cool.’ And he was like ‘yeah, he says he’ll do it for free, he just likes what we’re doing. And I said ‘that would be amazing.’ I talked to him more that night, and then after that’s when Darnell kind of came into the fold, and it’s been a great mix. We all bring something different to the table. So, I really enjoy it, and I think it shows in our Uncanny shows and with our relationships with our wrestlers too.”
When I spoke to MV Young, he gave a similar sentiment about the power of having such different people contributing to the promotion.
“I think we just give three different perspectives building a show,” Young said. “It’s three different people from three different backgrounds that give you three different viewpoints and then combine them together, and that’s how to make the art. Three different opinions coming together as one.”
While there were some hiccups at their inaugural Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks event in December of 2018, Lynn Frailey talked about the goosebumps she got and the “s**t-eating grin” on her face as she finally got to see a glimpse of what Uncanny Attractions could become.
“When I saw that kind of platform and that way we could give some people a voice or the courage to just be themselves, and not have to worry about other bulls**t, and just wrestle, because that’s what we’re doing, right? We’re here to entertain,” Frailey said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about a bunch of other s**t, or creepy promoters, or other wrestlers being s**theads. You should just be able to come and have fun and hang out with friends and have a good time and wrestle and have a great show and then go have some beers after and go home.”
As I talked to all three voices within Uncanny Attractions, it was clear there was a definite positive impact from having three diverse people at the top of the promotion. Lynn Frailey discussed how that has also affected their relationships with the wrestlers that work with Uncanny Attractions.
“Well, I think it gives the wrestlers a real sense of comfort, because not only are we very inclusive but we’re also very professional. So one of our main things is to not only be inclusive, but also to be very safe and to be professional. Like, when we have a match I speak to every wrestler personally and talk about predetermined rates. Then they sign the contracts when they get there, and then we pay them,” Frailey said. “So they know what they’re getting paid beforehand, they sign off on it, and then they get paid before they wrestle. Small things like that I think carry over and then make the wrestlers want to work with us again. They also know when they’re part of an Uncanny show that they’re not going to be the token queer.”
“No one ever says ‘oh no, we already have enough straight white guys. We don’t need any more of you.’ That’s never said, but it’s like ‘no, we have enough queers now, we’re full up.’ Or the same thing with females. You know, Roni Nicole has done all our shows, and Roni says the same thing,” she continued. “Sometimes it still happens, but definitely when she first started out, that she would be the only woman and sometimes male wrestlers wouldn’t even have a conversation about what they were gonna do in the ring because they were so opposed to wrestling her. They know that’s not going to happen at Uncanny.”
Uncanny Attractions, led initially by Lynn Frailey and MV Young, carried the successes of that first event forward and created another inclusive and diverse show in the days before WresteMania 35 with Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 2 on April 6, 2019, and again once Darnell Mitchell joined the fray with Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 3: A Nightmare on Wyckoff Avenue on October 30, 2019.
Canceling Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4
April 2, 2020, was supposed to be the night things took their next step, as Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4 was set to be their most exciting and jam-packed show yet. Lynn Frailey discussed some of the preparation that went into that event, including a trip to Tampa by herself and MV Young.
“Michael and I even did a site survey, because that’s the kind of professional I like to be,” she said. “We flew to Tampa just to look at clubs, to make sure that the club was going to be good, to meet the person in person, to make sure they understood what having a wrestling show meant in their queer club.”
The show looked to contain a massive lineup featuring EFFY, Faye Jackson, Billy Dixon, MV Young, Danhausen, Allie Kat, RJ City, former Impact Knockouts Champion Su Yung, Still Life With Apricots and Pears, AEW star Sonny Kiss, and so many more. Understandably, MV Young was worried as the event drew nearer and initially wanted it to still take place. Lynn Frailey discussed the days leading up to the decision to cancel the event.
“So, Michael had reached out to me I think a week before things shut down and said ‘hey, what are we gonna do?’ I guess it was around March 2 or so, and he said ‘are we still gonna have our show?’ And I was like ‘well, I mean, yeah.’ I knew that there were some cases in Seattle, but I don’t think anybody foresaw what happened,” Frailey said. “Then within a week I had changed my mind, and I said ‘okay, we are gonna have to cancel our show.’ And we got some grief about it from a couple of other promotions that were still having their shows.”
“I’m not telling anybody else to cancel, but I’m just saying that we’re not gonna run our show,” she said. “Then on social media we got called out by some people. I think there was one person that said ‘well, the show must go on. Wrestlers aren’t supposed to be p**sies,’ and I was like ‘okay, well I just care about our wrestlers, and my life, and everybody else’s life.’ But then, of course, everybody had to cancel. Southern Nights even said ‘I’m so glad that you had canceled, because we’re closing also.’ And then I think the City of Tampa came out and said ‘all of this is stopping.'”
MV Young also discussed the moments leading up to the cancellation, and his feelings at the time compared to looking back on everything today.
“Leading up to it, it was very stressful but you could tell that it became inevitable. At the time, you didn’t know how you’d recover, but since then we’ve found a way to recover and stay relevant and get more of a following. So, I guess it doesn’t hurt as bad. I still think ‘Mania would have been huge, but it’s better now for sure. It just sucked at the time, I remember that,” Young said.
It was a difficult decision, but ultimately the right call for the safety of everyone involved. On March 12, 2020, they finally announced the cancellation of Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4 on Twitter.
Darnell Mitchell also discussed the thought process that went into the decision to cancel, as well as the reaction and immediate aftermath as other wrestling promotions started to see the writing on the wall and followed suit by canceling their events as well.
“If memory serves me correct, we were one of the first big shows to cancel. At the end of the day, I love wrestling and I love wrestlers, but I think sometimes wrestlers don’t put their health first and foremost,” Mitchell said. “We sat there and we thought to each other, well not sitting, a lot of this was like phone conversations and stuff like that. It was just kind of like, is it worth it? We weren’t sure how worth it it was gonna be. Do we think the show was gonna be a success? Sure, but at what cost?”
“We knew that people would get mad at us, and some of the wrestlers might be mad. And some of the wrestlers were, and that’s okay. Their feelings are valid, but at the end of the day it is fake fighting, and I’d much rather you be safe and able to do this at another time,” he continued. “We also had that thought process of this will come back around, but your health, and your grandparents’ health, and your child’s health is first and foremost. And hopefully, in being one of the first companies to straight-up say ‘hey, this isn’t worth it,’ hopefully people take credence in that and they follow suit.”
“There was actually a couple of promoters that reached out to me and reached out to the Uncanny page saying ‘yeah, it was a hard decision, but we’re glad that someone made it first.’ And then if you actually look at it, when we released our statement, I think in the next week like 10 to 15 other companies bowed out like days afterwards,” Mitchell said. “I think everyone was kind of looking for that. They were like ‘okay, I believe Uncanny. I believe these three people. If they’re saying this is not smart and this is not the right thing to do, maybe they’re right, and so let’s just end it.’”
“At the end of the day, these are people’s lives. There will always be another WrestleMania, and I loved that card. Also, I think our poster was the best poster. It was so good, and I really wanted that card to happen,” Mitchell said. “I loved that card, but I can always do that card again. Lynn can always do that card again. Michael can always do that card again, but I’d rather do it with all the wrestlers there, and not do it with just half the wrestlers because some of them got sick and potentially were hospitalized. Just not worth it.”
When the threat of a global pandemic started bearing down on them, Uncanny Attractions knew a difficult decision had to be made in favor of the safety of their fans and their wrestlers. That same commitment to doing right by their fans and wrestlers carries over in every facet of how Uncanny Attractions operates, and Darnell Mitchell talked about how their own experiences inform the way things are run.
“I only go to very particular wrestling shows. I don’t go and attend a show that I don’t see Black people on the poster or on the card, women on the poster or on the card, queer people on the poster or on the card. Period,” Mitchell said. “It’s a very easy decision to me, because I’ve been that person at an independent wrestling company hearing slurs and feeling very unsure about the things that are going on around me. I know what that feels like. My thought process is I didn’t want anyone else in the crowd to feel that way.”
“I think that when you have three different mindsets where, at the end of the day, Michael wants to see representation and people who look like him and have the same feelings as him and have gone through the same trials and tribulations as him. And the same with me. And the same with Lynn,” he said. “I think when you put all of that together, all you just get is inclusiveness, because we feel that wrestling should look like the world. The world isn’t cookie-cutter. The world isn’t all white guys with long stringy hair and black tights. The world is so much more colorful than that.”
“If I hear any wrestler complaining this might be too gay or there’s too many people of color, you’re done,” Mitchell said. “Our idea is that Uncanny Attractions is an umbrella, and it’s a family, and we want to make sure that everyone that’s in that family feels comfortable and safe with one another. That’s also the beauty of having three different people who are seen as the showrunners, because there might be someone who feels more comfortable with Mike than they do with myself or Lynn, and they can go to Mike. Someone that feels more comfortable with Lynn, and they can go to Lynn. Someone that feels more comfortable with me, and they can go to me. And then we can figure out what we need to do based on a concern or question of a wrestler comfortably and safely.”
MV Young’s Outdoor PolyAm Cult Parties
While Uncanny Attractions has yet to hold an event since the cancellation of the WrestleMania week show, Co-Founder and Producer MV Young started a project of his own by recently hosting a small mini-show called MV Young’s Outdoor PolyAm Cult Party. While Lynn Frailey was there to help take temperatures at the door and ensure the limited crowd kept their masks on, and Darnell Mitchell provided ring announcing duties for a few of the matches, it was not presented as or intended to be an official Uncanny Attractions event. However, Mitchell discussed how they quickly realized most people weren’t picking up on that technicality.
“We realized that people would naturally equate anything with Michael with Uncanny, so [the next show] does say Uncanny Attractions Presents, but it’s Michael’s show,” Mitchell said. “We sat down and had the conversation that anything Michael does is automatically going to be considered an Uncanny show. Anything I do is automatically going to be considered an Uncanny show. Especially if it’s both of us. So, while I am still very iffy about shows with fans, we took that affirmation and said ‘okay, so Michael you’re gonna do another show, let’s just make it Uncanny Attractions Presents so that we have something under our umbrella.’ Lynn and I are going to help produce the show.”
Lynn Frailey also discussed the situation at that first MV Young’s Outdoor PolyAm Cult Party event, as well as providing more details about the precautions being taken for the upcoming PolyAm Cult Party Part II: Pittsburgh PolyAm Mansion Edition on September 5.
“As far as wrestling, you know Uncanny hasn’t had shows, but MV has been running some PolyAm Cult shows, and he has the PolyAm Cult Mansion coming up in Pittsburgh, and Darnell and I are both helping with this one. All the wrestlers have to get COVID tests, and I’m doing temperatures at the door. Everybody has to wear a mask, and I’m kind of the bouncer for that,” she said.
Darnell Mitchell was frank about his own commitment to safety for the upcoming event, and how he hopes his own desire for safety carries over to make everyone involved feel comfortable.
“First and foremost the safety I’m concerned about is me, because of course the safety I should be concerned about is me and my own health, because I can only protect myself and my health. So my thought process was, if I’m going to this show, I’m going to make sure that things are done in a way that makes me feel safe, and hopefully because I feel safe everyone will feel safe,” Mitchell said.
“So, the next show is outdoors. It’s like 1.4 acres. Now, I don’t know acres, but it sounds like a lot, and it’s plenty of land for like 30 people. We’re social distancing, masks required, sanitizer there. We’re gonna make sure everyone is evened out, spread out as much as humanly possible. I feel comfortable at that show. Lynn feels comfortable at that show. Michael feels comfortable at that show.”
When I first called MV Young on Tuesday to discuss this event and Uncanny Attractions, he missed the call because it’s frankly quite difficult to answer a phone while operating a chainsaw. The 1.4 acres they have access to for this event, which is a little more than the size of a football field, started as an overgrown mess, and he’s been working hard to prepare the location for the next PolyAm Cult Party on September 5.
When I did catch him just a little bit later in the day, MV Young took a moment to discuss how he felt going into the first PolyAm Cult Party compared to how he’s feeling as the Pittsburgh PolyAm Mansion Edition nears.
“The first PolyAm Cult Party was stressful. I was a little less stressed going into it than I am for this one, but the day of was very stressful because they gave me a completely f**ked ring, and they didn’t tell me,” Young said. “So, I did the best I could with that situation, but it was still successful overall. This is probably gonna be my last ring show of the season just because it’s taking years off my life and it’s a lot. The first one was fun. The first one was great, but it kinda felt like it was a mini show. It was good. It got a little internet pop. I think we were trending on Twitter, but I think this one can be massive. I think this one can have massive appeal, and I expect this one to have massive crossover appeal.”
“I feel like I have a little more pressure on me, because I’m bearing most of the weight of this one and we’ve put our brand on it,” he said of this next show compared to the first. “So, yeah there’s a lot of pressure, but I think it’s gonna be very successful and I trust my abilities. And I think it’s gonna be a really great representation of Uncanny and who we are.”
The Wrestlers Take Manhattan heads to IWTV
It’s been six months since Uncanny Attractions had to cancel their WrestleMania week event, and almost two years since the promotion had their inaugural show. It’s been a difficult and unique road, but things are set to culminate with an all-cinematic show as Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4: The Wrestlers Take Manhattan will air live on IWTV on September 9 at 10 pm ET.
Things got kicked off last week when IWTV announced their official partnership with Uncanny Attractions moving forward, which will include past Uncanny Attractions events as well as those coming in the future. MV Young talked about how excited he is to connect with IWTV moving forward.
“Oh, I think it’s huge. I think it’s gonna bring a whole new set of eyes. I think that people knew what we were doing from social media, but I think now that it’s at their disposal to see exactly what we’re doing, it’s just gonna snowball our following even more,” Young said.
Lynn Frailey also discussed her excitement about this cinematic show coming on September 9, and the creativity that has gone into it.
“We’re very excited about it,” Frailey began. “We want to be able to entertain people, and we want to still have fun with wrestling. So, we decided to do this cinematic show, and it’s with local wrestlers or people that can drive. It’s just different vignettes, and they’re all completely different, and it’s just so creative and so fun. It allows the wrestlers a different sort of avenue and a different way to show their creativity instead of just having stuff in the ring. The wrestlers that have been involved with it have been so into it, and they like having this different sort of avenue to explore.”
“All five vignettes are completely different, and then there’s advertisements if you will in-between. So we’ve involved a lot of other wrestlers that aren’t in the matches but they’re a part of it also. It’s gonna be super fun, and it’s gonna be on IWTV,” she said. “IWTV is beside themselves excited about showing it.”
When I spoke to Darnell Mitchell, he discussed how an initial one-off cinematic match between MV Young and Pinkie Sanchez helped inspire this event and talked about the precautions that were taken when filming the show.
“Michael and Pinkie Sanchez did a cinematic match. I saw it. I thought it was great, and the first scene that popped in my head was ‘Michael, let’s just do a show based off of this.’ Which we are. That was an avenue that I felt super comfortable with,” Mitchell said. “I wore a mask at every shoot I was at, because I directed two of the matches. MV is directing the other three, and Lynn’s producing all of them. So we’re all there and we’re all wearing masks. The film crew is all wearing masks. We actually make sure that we put masks in every single match so that this is clearly in COVID. Wear your masks, people. Like a visual cue.”
“Every single one of our wrestlers, we told them the date of the match that they were gonna do, and they had to have COVID tests. And because I’m a crazy person, they had to email it to me, and if I did not get it the day before, they weren’t in the match. Period. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s free to get COVID tested, especially in New York City,” he said. “The wrestlers were like ‘I feel so relieved that you’re requiring this and you’re telling us what’s happening during the process,’ because again, love wrestling, it’s not worth dying for. I also understand you gotta pay your bills. You gotta feed people.”
While filming a cinematic show during the ongoing global pandemic has provided definite challenges, it’s also provided a unique opportunity for everyone involved, both behind and in front of the camera, to showcase their creativity. MV Young discussed that, and how performing in a show like this can help performers once wrestling is live on a regular basis again.
“Every single match we did was basically no-ring cinematic, and I think it’s a really unique way to get people’s characters over in a way maybe regular live wrestling can’t. Obviously it’s not anyone’s go-to or favorite, but I think it’s a unique way to adapt to the current environment in the world, and I think it’ll be an easy watch for everyone,” Young said. “I think that in an environment like this, the creative people stand out the most. I think that during this time where there’s only wrestling once or twice a month that’s live, I think that if you’re creative you’ll get a following that will carry over to when wrestling is regular again.”
Darnell Mitchell also discussed the power of utilizing that creativity, as wrestlers are inherently creative but rarely get to showcase that outside of the squared circle.
“Wrestling is such a creative outlet, and I think that a lot of times people are only given that creativity to express themselves in the actual in-ring form, so I can’t wait for people to see,” Mitchell said. “You know, Nick Stapp’s match is basically a culmination of everything you’ve seen on his Twitter for the past four months, and it’s us coming up with a story together. MV Young’s Ring Light Championship Match is a great sort of character work detail on his opponent for that match. It’s super smart and creative, and we’re being able to work with companies like Go Pro Wrestling, New Fear City Crew, and we’re able to work together and allow these wrestlers to be as creative as humanly possible.”
“I think that it’s hard to do these types of things, but I think it’s showing wrestlers that you can be more than just the physical embodiment that people see in the ring. So, who you are as a wrestler and who you are as a creative, let’s figure it out and let’s put it on the screen. We are in a weird time where we’re actually allowed to be the most creative we’ve ever been,” he said.
As Mitchell continued to discuss the potential that cinematic wrestling can have, as well as the examples that have preceded this show, he made sure to touch on the fact that they aren’t walking on completely unpaved ground here. Uncanny Attractions is doing important work, but there are others who have broken barriers before them.
“In wrestling, I don’t like saying ‘well if it wasn’t for this person, this wouldn’t happen,’ because I don’t think that’s true,” Mitchell said. “In the same way that, while we’re an all-inclusive company, we’re not the first all-inclusive company to ever happen. Hoodslam’s been around for ten years. There’s so many other outlets out there but us, but I think what’s important instead of getting caught up in the details of ‘who was the first to do this,’ what are we doing to help supplement wrestling and help lift wrestling up? That’s what we’re concerned about.”
When I spoke to Lynn Frailey, she also made a point to recognize Hoodslam and how Sam Khandaghabadi has blazed a trail before Uncanny Attractions by founding that company in 2010 and continues to influence the industry today.
“I will say, you know Hoodslam, Sam from Hoodslam is a trans woman and she has been running Hoodslam for over ten years, and she and I are very close and I get a lot of advice from her, actually. So that’s been great,” Frailey said.
Save Our Stages & Trans Women of Color Collective
As exciting as Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4: The Wrestlers Take Manhattan is for fans, the most important part of the event is that the proceeds from the first week of streaming are going to two very key charities. As Darnell Mitchell discussed with me, all of the event’s streaming profits for that time period will go towards Save Our Stages and Trans Women of Color Collective.
“I want people to be really happy, and if people aren’t happy, and they think the matches are stupid, I don’t care. Watch it from beginning to end so we can donate to charity,” Mitchell said. “At least give us that, because we’re also in a time where our climate is everyone realizing about the real things that are happening in the world and not this trivial stuff that we’re always talking about. So, if we can get a bunch of people to just watch it, and we can donate money to Save Our Stages and Trans Women of Color Collective, then I’m happy.”
“Save Our Stages is a charity that Lynn actually recommended. They do help with giving money out and helping these venues that obviously during COVID are closed, and for some there’s monetary issues and financial issues. I think, especially for us to be all-inclusive, the sort of theater world and a lot of these spaces are safe spaces for people of color, for queer people, for women and gender non-conforming people, for disabled people. So it’s important for us to make sure that we’re supporting them as much as we can,” he continued. “You know, Uncanny Attractions’ home is the House of YES. Which, if you live in New York City, everyone who’s queer knows the House of YES, and I think it’s really, really important for us to make sure that we are uplifting these spaces as much as humanly possible, because I don’t think a lot of the people that we do hire and do employ would be around here if it wasn’t for these liberal arts spaces.”
“When it comes to Trans Women of Color Collective, when Michael did his February fashion show that was the organization that he donated proceeds to. I’ve said it on Twitter a bunch of times and I’ll say it ‘till the end of the day, I don’t think most of us would have any rights if it wasn’t for trans women of color. Period,” Mitchell said. “They’ve been the forefront of every single thing that I can pretty much think about that affected me as a human being, whether I knew it or not. Whether or not they get accolades for it. Whether or not they get the credit for it.”
“I think especially when it comes to trans Black women, in this time I wholeheartedly obviously believe Black Lives Matter, and I think a lot of other people do too. And I think you cannot believe Black Lives Matter without first and foremost putting Black trans women first, because they are the people that actually see a lot of the effects of mistreatment, of misogyny, of homophobia, of transphobia, of racism, more than anybody else,” he continued. “There are things that are gonna happen in my life as a Black man and as a Black queer man that I understand, and it’s f**ked. That’s what life is, but I understand my privilege of still being a cisgender male who is in the Black community.”
“I have to understand my privilege and I know that trans Black women do not have that same privilege. They have no privilege, so it was very important to me that that was something we were giving back to,” Mitchell said. “Now, all the proceeds for the first week, because that’s how you generate money, and 90% of the time most people are going to watch the show in the first week, that’s just how it works. So we wanted to give all of those proceeds to these two charities. I also wanted to be very transparent how much we’re giving, because I think that there’s something very good about transparency, personally.”
MV Young’s PolyAm Cult Part Part II: Pittsburgh PolyAm Mansion Edition takes place on September 5, 2020, and be sure to follow MV Young on Twitter for further updates on that event as the date nears. Uncanny Attractions Drags & Dropkicks Vol. 4: The Wrestlers Take Manhattan will air live on IWTV on September 9, 2020, at 10 pm ET.
Most importantly, please visit Save Our Stages and Trans Women of Color Collective to donate if you’re able to. Be sure to catch The Wrestlers Take Manhattan on IWTV and watch the event from start to finish to ensure money can be raised by Uncanny Attractions to donate to these important causes.