Ahead of EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch this Saturday, EFFY talks about the pioneers that will be there, threats the first show received, and much more.
April 4, 2020 was supposed to be a monumental morning with EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch as one part of The Collective by GCW. Just over six months after it was first scheduled, the event is finally becoming a reality on October 10, 2020.
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch was one of many shows scheduled this year as part of The Collective, a joint venture in independent wrestling led by GCW, but every show fans hoped to see that weekend was ultimately cancelled as the threat of a global pandemic became clear. Seeking to capitalize on WWE WrestleMania 36 bringing thousands of die-hard fans into the Tampa area, something most independent wrestling companies have made an annual habit of, EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch was going to be more than your average wrestling show.
As the name suggests, it was originally planned as a catered brunch for everyone in attendance that would also include a wrestling show highlighted by LGBTQ talent from across the industry. Before the rescheduled event arrives this Saturday, I had the opportunity to speak to the show’s organizer and titular figure, EFFY.
Before we got into the difficulties the originally scheduled event faced, we looked back to exactly how this show first came into being. It all began when EFFY, already making a name for himself as one of the most must-see openly gay professional wrestlers within independent wrestling, was speaking to Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) promoter Brett Lauderdale.
“I think the initial conversation was kind of an offhanded comment. I was kind of joking as a bet. I was talking to the promoter of GCW, and he said ‘you’ve got all the gay fans on your side,’ and I said ‘I think I have more than that. I think I have the straight fans who want to be the gay fans on my side. So what if we did a gay wrestling show? Just to see how that plays out,'” EFFY began. “He didn’t get back to me for a while on it, and I kinda put it out publicly and was like, alright if somebody’s not gonna do EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, then I’m gonna do it myself. And he was like ‘hold up, hold up, let’s do it.’”
“I think I just wanted to have the idea of how much fun I have in the gay community, and going to gay events and trying all these things out,” he said. “The environment in the gay community is very much a family, and if we can turn that same family of wrestling and bring the gay community into it and give them a safe place to watch wrestling while also showing all these hardcore wrestling fans that we’re actually pretty good at this stuff. [Show them that] if you gave us a chance, and let us get some shine in, you might actually be pretty entertained.”
“The first one that was scheduled was going extremely well. It was really exciting, and we were selling a lot of tickets. It seemed like there was a lot of hype for the show in Tampa, and obviously it’s completely out of our control that it couldn’t happen,” EFFY said.
Violent threats against EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch
As I asked about the difficulty of realizing the show wasn’t going to go on as intended, EFFY took a moment to shed light on a challenge taking place behind the scenes. As exciting as it was to see a progressive event like EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch look to spotlight the LGBTQ community in professional wrestling, an in-your-face warning by EFFY on Twitter to keep bigotry away from the event drew the attention of the very bigots it was trying to repel.
“That whole process was crazy, and I wanna mention what was going on at the time. I was also dealing with a police investigation about people who were making death threats to me. I put out a stupid video that was like ‘if you’re homophobic at my show, I’m just gonna kill you in the street.’ So I was in a mood, and it stirred up some attention,” EFFY explained.
“We actually got some terrorist threats, is what the police called them, of people saying they were gonna kill me at the show, they were gonna kill anybody at the show, they were gonna shoot up the show, they were gonna bomb the show,” he said. “And the police took it really seriously, because they were making these threats to the venue. So, during the time COVID’s ramping up, I’m also dealing with calls with the police talking about how we’re gonna be handling our security and how we’re gonna be protecting the area, what we’re gonna do to maintain the safety.”
“I think with the nature of the event, they were like ‘this is technically a hate crime,’ because clearly what they were angry about is homosexuals gathering in a public space,” EFFY said. “Every side of me that doesn’t take anything in this world too seriously is like ‘come on, they’re playing on the internet,’ but then I’m getting calls from these officers going ‘we’ve gotta take your statement on this.’ And I’m like, Jesus Christ. I’ve gotta learn to shut my f**king mouth, but maybe not. Maybe not. Maybe I need to keep being loud. Who knows?”
“It was getting a little out of hand, and with COVID calling it off it was sort of like, okay, hold on,” he said. “Let’s take a breath and look at our card and look at our event and see what we can change and what we can make better to where I’m not dealing with so many external issues while trying to create something that’s supposed to be a positive adventure.”
“I look at it now and I’m glad we’ve had the time to explore more LGBTQ talent and open up new avenues and try some new people. And also, get some people out that weren’t good for our scene and weren’t good for our business,” EFFY said.
EFFY discusses #SpeakingOut revealing hidden abusers
While those threats of violence served as a difficulty in the build-up to the event, there were other threats that revealed themselves months later. Back in June, the courage of vocal victims sparked the #SpeakingOut movement, akin to #MeToo and #TimesUp, and outed abusers like David Starr, Joey Ryan, and many others.
While Starr and Ryan were only two of many named as the movement gained steam, they are reluctantly relevant to EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch because they were both scheduled to compete at the show in April. David Starr was even set to face EFFY at the show, which is something I asked EFFY about when we spoke.
“I’m glad we can kind of discuss this, because to me as someone who, yeah I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, but I also walk this world with a lot of privilege,” EFFY said. “As someone who is a six-foot white male who can straight pass if he wants to in the Whole Foods, but typically doesn’t, I have a lot of privilege. It also keeps my eyes closed to a lot of stuff. Not to make this about me, because it’s not about me. I was not assaulted. I was not treated poorly. I was not put in situations where I felt sexually pressured to try things with people I didn’t want to do it with. I was not the victim in this situation, but I had to look at kind of how I was approaching the business.”
“We live in this world where we all have our secret identities, and that’s fun,” he began. “We respect that and we honor that most of the time, but we have to start looking at who are these people actually? We can’t just look at, okay yeah I hung out with David Starr for 20 minutes at the show, or I got food with David Starr before the show for 45 minutes. During that time, it’s very easy for an abuser to keep the wool over your eyes and keep you feeling safe.”
“What we found was these talents that were being abused, or fans that were being abused, or people who were just in relationships with these people that were being abused. Once we had the distance of COVID, once we had the distance of shows, once we had the distance of not having to see your abuser or rely on them for income because they control your booking, that’s where we saw people speaking up. So that power was lifted away, and to kind of see this grand charade unfurl, it makes you feel disgusted,” EFFY said.
“So now it’s like, yeah we would’ve had a really cool shining moment for LGBTQ people and we included a few straight people, and whatever that is. Then, a month later we would’ve had to have no more watching of that VOD. No more watching of that show. We would’ve had to have that asterisk on that show,” he said.
“Now, I get to go forward with a new card of people who I have vetted more thoroughly. Who I have looked into more thoroughly. Who I know on a more personal level,” EFFY said. “Who I can trust to come in and do a show that, a year, two years, five years down the line, I don’t have any worry that they’re going to be putting anyone into a bad position or they’re going to be doing anything to other talents or other people that’s going to scar our business further.”
“I hope to continue to kind of delve into this, and figure out what these steps are, but no one’s in charge. I say this all the time, and I know it sounds like this a**hole sort of ‘oh, he’s just better than authority and he’s better than this.’ I really mean it,” EFFY said. “In wrestling right now, no one is in charge. There were issues of abusers at all levels within WWE, within Ring of Honor, within Impact. There were all these people everywhere. AEW had issues with it. Every company is culpable for this.”
“What can we do to, number one, stop people from thinking they are safe in a place like this to come abuse people, and number two, [have people] feeling welcome and feeling safe in knowing that we’re taking steps to actually make sure you’re protected in these spaces,” he said. “More than ever, somebody has to step up and say we’re not gonna deal with this s**t anymore. We’re gonna look out for each other, and we’re gonna make a cool place where, if you’re disabled, if you’re of another race, if you’re of another religion, if you’re of another gender, whatever you are, you’re supposed to be able to come in here and enjoy wrestling freely.”
As we discussed the damage these abusers had done to the industry, EFFY took a moment to discuss another difficult part of the situation. Not only had the actions of these abusers damaged these victims on an emotional and personal level, but it had significantly affected the careers of many women in the wrestling industry as well.
“I think about, on an entertainment level, how much did the industry hold women back by abusing them in the system? By holding things over their head, by raping them, by sexually abusing them. How much did the industry hold back their potential? Because, if you were abusing me and I had to see you when I was going to my performance-based job, where I really had to go as intense as I could in a match,” EFFY said.
“You’re talking about someone who could be broken, at no fault of their own, having to perform. What did we take away from these people that maybe they can gain back through learning, and therapy, and help from people in our community, but maybe they can’t,” he said. “What did we take from them, and what are we going to do to maintain the future of our sport to make sure these people are welcome with open arms and, if they have the skill and if they have the talent, aren’t held back by any of these things.”
One of the additional difficulties that came specifically with the revelations about David Starr were related to the seemingly positive work he’d been doing. Starr had positioned himself as a key figure in the fight for unionization and labor rights in wrestling, a cause that is now particularly tarnished by his actions.
“You’re playing up these things that you know people will respond positively to in order to maintain this false image, and it’s really damaging because he was a person who, on the surface, looked like he was fighting for workers rights and union rights and trying to make some real change in wrestling in how the actual talent of wrestling is treated. Which, historically, has not been great bar a few people who made really good money in it,” EFFY said.
“It’s going to be hard to even build that reputation back up to where it could be, because now it’s mostly associated with someone who probably should be in prison, and probably should be away from people,” he said. “It’s hard enough, and it’s a mess. How do we earn that trust back? And if people go, ‘you know what, I don’t trust you.’ The only thing I can really say is, I don’t blame you. What can I do to change it? And if I can’t, you don’t have to forgive people, and you don’t have to forgive things.”
“If you associate wrestling with your mental health being in deterioration or someone treating you poorly or people around you not treating you correctly, I can’t blame you for walking away. All I can do now is try to do the best possible thing to help people who don’t want to participate in that kind of stuff,” EFFY said.
EFFY discusses dangers of putting wrestlers on a pedestal
As we continued to discuss the damage that had been done by these abusers, both to their victims and the wrestling industry as a whole, we talked about the danger of idolizing people and creating this celebrity pedestal that distracts from the real person behind the public figure. This is especially true of professional wrestling, where wrestlers often use their in-ring names on social media and even among their peers.
“We can’t keep linking professional wrestler with also real-life piece of s**t. We can’t do it. Somebody’s gotta say ‘hey, that’s not us.’ That’s why I started putting my real name out there,” EFFY said. “Straight up. I put it on my COVID test. I don’t care if people call me it anymore, these were two separate identities of myself, but now it’s like, why would I hide something from these people?”
“We have enough kayfabe within the ring, and we are gonna tell a story. If you’re a good enough performer, you can make them believe for 15 minutes. I don’t need you, 24 hours a day, thinking I’m prancing around in pantyhose and in jacket and fully doing this. I’m a person, like you. We are people. I’m a performer. We have to take off this sort of celebrity pedestal,” he said.
“I think there can be honor and respect of fans towards performers. I think that’s great, but we can’t let this celebrity pedestal move us away from the facts,” EFFY said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people who could shoot a really nice game of golf who’ve killed people, but I don’t want to see them play golf.”
“We can’t hold wrestling in a different regard to other forms. It will always be the problem of celebrity, but I hope within our industry we can at least look at it and say this is still just a person. We are still just people,” he said. “We did a great job entertaining you, but do not feel like because of our position or status that you cannot criticize us as humans. When we take your money willingly, we are open to public scrutiny.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being cautious now. There’s nothing negative about being a little apprehensive. I think as people, and as performers, we have to recognize that and kind of move forward in that environment of like, if you’re gonna be skeptical of us, cool,” EFFY said. “That’s fine. Do it. Cool, and if you wanna come check under the hood and look in the trunk and check the closets, we’re not hiding anything from you anymore. And we’re making sure that we look under there too, first.”
GCW and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch plan a safe return
Nearly six months after the originally scheduled EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch was supposed to happen, a rescheduled version of the event is finally coming to us this Saturday. When we spoke, EFFY talked about how he learned The Collective would be returning and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch could be a part of that.
“Brett Lauderdale with GCW called me, and he goes ‘we’ve been sort of running these Indiana shows, which are great. And we’ve been sort of running these Atlantic City shows, which have been great. They’ve both been outdoors. They’ve both been handled safely,'” EFFY explained. “So, he calls me one day and he goes ‘we’re doing The Collective. Where should we do it? Atlantic City or Indiana?’ And I was like ‘it seems like Tri-State, it’s a little easier for Atlantic City.’ And he goes ‘yeah, but the Midwest is way too hot right now.’ All these undiscovered talents that are popping up so big have been given this Midwest opportunity, not just from GCW, but because that’s where the shows have been running. It made sense to cap the end of this summer by sort of giving back to it.”
“Luckily Nate Webb, who is the Indianapolis legend and knows everyone in Indianapolis, secured a huge building that we’re running at 25% capacity. We’ve got a full coliseum building that we’re gonna be completely distanced from each other, and it’s so awesome,” he said. “It allows us a lot more people in. It allows us a lot more space. It allows us sort of a roof, in case of the rain, and it seems like it’s going to go really well, but this was a last-minute decision.”
“We’re gonna have Collectives in the future. We’re gonna have Collectives when we get things back on track, but for the people that were ready for this, for the people that have stuck with us all summer, for the people that are takin’ the risk out here, we’re gonna at least give you this for now and not hold it back from you any longer,” EFFY said. “Because who knows. You know how contracts change in wrestling. Who knows what you’re gonna get?”
Since the ongoing global pandemic has continued, professional wrestling has had to adapt to return in a way that tries to be safe for both the talent involved and the fans in attendance. As I asked about the precautions that would be taken at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, EFFY also took a moment to discuss an event that showed them exactly how not to do things.
“The first show I went back to was the 20th of June, and it was the IWA Mid South show. A few of us got there the day early for the GCW show so we could go check it out, just to see how this goes,” he said. “Well, Ian Rotten, he doesn’t like law or masks, and we literally watched two matches and I left. I said ‘this is so unsafe.’ I was so nervous about the next day. Talked to Brett about it, he said ‘this looks so bad for wrestling. This looks so bad for what we’ve got going on.’ I said listen, let’s go over the precautions.”
“We had temperature checks at the door for every single person. We had masks required on site, and we had people going around telling you to pull your mask up. It’s like being on an airplane. If you’re taking a drink, taking a bite, you can take it down for a second, but other than that the mask is on. We’ve been enforcing that,” EFFY said. “We have people going around with sanitizer bottles to people to give them more sanitizer. We have the ropes and the canvas sanitized in between each match. We have areas for us to be safe as talent where we’re not standing on top of each other.”
“It feels fine. I’m in a mask until I’m in the ring, and then I’m in a mask after I leave. There’s not a time where I don’t really feel safe. Keep your mask on, people,” he insisted. “Because I’ve gone all over the d**n country with my mask on all the time, and I’ve been fine. But we do try to go above and beyond, because we saw people who didn’t do that.”
“In the end, spending more money now on being safe about this is going to make us more money down the line,” EFFY said. “When we create a trust with people, it’s not just a trust about, ‘oh, the show will be good because we know they booked good people.’ It’s a trust about ‘we don’t feel at risk at this show,’ and we’re at least trying to take the steps with you to make sure you’re not feeling like you’re at risk.”
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch aims to welcome and protect the LGBTQ community
While we had already discussed safety precautions taken against the global pandemic, there was another type of safety on my mind as a member of the LGBTQ community. Various forms of bigotry are an unfortunate reality of the world we live in today, and I asked EFFY how an event like this could help foster a safe environment for LGBTQ fans in attendance.
“I think when you have talent already on the shows, you sort of have put a zipper in the mouth of anything that can be said negatively about that. GCW has especially taken a lot more time this summer to book a lot more Black talent. They’ve booked me and Allie Kat, but obviously this is my chance to book a lot more gay talent,” he said. “When you have these people on your show and represented, people who paid to be there can’t complain about the talent that are in front of them.”
“That stuff is strictly not tolerated within GCW. It’s not tolerated at the show. We put a kibosh to it quickly. There was an incident in Atlantic City with someone that I had to pull aside and have them dealt with, because they said a word I didn’t like,” EFFY said.
“There are ways to coax people into understanding. For the most part, I think wrestling fans are pretty open-minded about everything. I mean, the stuff that gets over is crazy,” he said. “Think about Fandango’s theme song getting over a few years ago. That’s crazy to think that the man who swivels his pants would’ve gotten a silly salsa theme song over. We’re open-minded as wrestling fans to see these things, but sometimes we need it put in front of us.”
“As a wrestling fan, seeing a gay talent in a clip or in a picture is cool, and that’s great. That really goes for any talent, but seeing them in person and seeing that they actually put the work in and seeing that they’re actually entertaining you, it can change your mind about things,” EFFY said. “It can open your mind on things. I mean, I saw it happening all over Alabama and North Florida and Georgia when I was starting out. Now, we can take this even bigger, and now we have a whole army of these LGBTQ talents behind us that are really making a difference.”
“I know that people in the LGBTQ community, by virtue of who we are, have gone through frustration and dealt with things that aren’t right and dealt with things that aren’t good for them and had to hide who they are in certain specific situations. Now, I kind of need the rest of the gay world to see that this wrestling that you thought it was, it’s not that anymore. It doesn’t have to be that anymore,” he said.
“It’s so good for you to come for something that is this crazy theater in front of your face. This live-action stunt show, and be able to just yell and react to something, and lose yourself for a second, because a lot of gay culture is around partying and going out and going to these events and drinking and brunch and doing this,” EFFY said. “We can have all of this fun stuff, but when you come watch the show, and when we can give you a show that represents you, you’ve got a whole new world to sort of release yourself in that is pretty harmless and fun and exciting and completely something you’re not used to.”
One of the most powerful things for people of any marginalized group, including members of the LGBTQ community, is seeing yourself represented. EFFY didn’t have a specific example of someone he’d seen in wrestling’s history that made him feel represented, which immediately brought into focus the importance of seeing that representation in the future.
“We weren’t given proper heroes, and we’ve kind of got to go back and use our knowledge of this sport and create our own. We can use these references and build this up, but we also have to have our very own identity,” he said. “Because these new fans aren’t worried if we did the wristlock the exact same way that the old world champion did it. They’re not concerned with that. They want the entertainment, but we still have good wrestling inside of that.”
“I think I’m of a very different school of thought than some people, which is that some people think you have to ease people into it. You gotta ease ‘em in. You gotta tell them that so-and-so is such a talented wrestler, and they’re so good at wrestling, before you show ‘em how gay they are,” EFFY said. “I’m of the school of, let’s rip the band-aid. I think we need that sort of shock. Let’s go all the way with the gay stuff, and then we can have the conversation where we proved ourselves in the ridiculous while we had your attention, now you can take us more seriously.”
“We’re asking for the same sort of accolades that our peers are getting who don’t fall in our category, and those accolades aren’t made for us. So it’s sort of about ripping the whole system open and saying ‘we can do this as well as you. We don’t think you should be in charge of this, and we think there’s a way to be mainstream talked about superstars, as you want to put them, in professional wrestling.’ Using professional wrestling in this world that is sort of beyond your scope,” he said.
“I think we need to stop bending at the knee to what they will allow us to do to represent ourselves. Whether that be you get the rainbow wristband, or you can mention that you have a husband once. Let’s sort of put it in their face and financially create a situation where they cannot ignore us anymore,” EFFY said.
“The people are starting to speak. I talk to guys. I know guys. We’re talked about and discussed, and I don’t just mean myself. I mean a lot of this queer talent, but you have companies that are p**syfooting around because of problem they have had in the past and mistakes they have made in the past,” he said. “They just don’t wanna jump out on the ledge, and it’s now on us to show them that we don’t need you to jump out on a ledge with us. We’re building a bridge over here, and you’re gonna want on it once it’s over. But we’re not gonna play by your rules and live in your world, because your world was not made for us.”
“I hope more talent start looking at that and using those ideals, because there’s no barrier for entry anymore. It’s just as likely that a match clip from someone’s match at GCW will go viral as a giant television company,” he said. “And we all see the TV ratings. Y’all aren’t doing s**t. There’s no better time than now to try and gain a new audience and gain the trust of people who are maybe adverse to wrestling, but maybe don’t understand exactly what it is.”
EFFY talks about the importance of attracting new fans
That desire to grab a new audience is one I’d heard before, as MV Young had talked about the importance of it when we spoke earlier this year. EFFY also added to that, emphasizing the dangers of catering too much to people who are already die-hard fans of wrestling.
“I often joke that I’m not for wrestling fans, and that doesn’t mean that wrestling fans don’t enjoy me. I’ve also been to a lot of wrestling shows, what I can tell you is that it doesn’t matter if you book the latest WWE release. It doesn’t matter if you book the guy who everybody’s talking about this week who does the new six flips instead of five. None of that matters,” he said. “Wrestling fans show up. They will show up every time. The fact that is that you have to get people who aren’t in that ilk, and we have to stop thinking that a retweet is success for your company.”
“We have to start actually moving people into wrestling or getting their eyes on wrestling and giving money back to wrestling, because we’re spinning the same wheels. I go to some of these reunion places where you go get the autographs and stuff. This version of wrestling fans is dead,” EFFY said. “Whether of age or diabetes, they’re done. They’re out. They’re still at the shows. That’s great, but we cannot cater to them and expect to have a future. They’re out the window.”
“MV gets a lot of flak because he tries s**t that is wild and weird, but I’ve never been involved with MV at a show where there wasn’t financial success or it was successfully done,” EFFY said. “He makes their skin crawl because he doesn’t need promoters anymore. He doesn’t need the old fans anymore, and that makes them nervous. They can’t control where we are anymore. In the old days, they controlled who got to see us. Nobody has that power anymore.”
“Wrestling doesn’t like reaching outside of wrestling because of its own pride and because of its own past. It won’t do it because it’s so stuck in what it thinks wrestling should be and doesn’t want outside forces in here, but when you let these people in who actually do have skills, they can actually help us,” he said. “They can make it better and help people see what we’re doing. When you’re not afraid to sort of tuck your tail in your legs and get rid of your ego and say ‘hey, I could use help,’ you actually do better. It’s pretty incredible.”
“I’ve probably said this in too many interviews too, but I really get stuck on the concept of everyone saying that wrestling was racist and misogynistic and homophobic. Which it was, but don’t ever forget what the business was built on,” EFFY began. “The business was built on filling up an arena and selling a pay-per-view. If those were indicative of the cultural values of the time, and it sold tickets, then that’s probably why they were doing it. Now, what sells tickets is being culturally aware of the people around you, being inclusive to people who are not the same as you, making sure that people feel safe. That’s what we look for now.”
“We’re not this ‘hey, everybody follows dad to the show and what he says goes’ culture anymore, and we have to reflect that. If we want to be successful, we’re gonna steal what they use. They used these hateful tactics to get people in. We’re gonna use the opposite of those tactics to keep those hateful people out and to build more people in this with us,” he said.
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch welcomes pioneers Cassandro and Dark Sheik
Two of the most highly-anticipated matches scheduled for EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch this Saturday feature true pioneers when it comes to representing the LGBTQ community in the world of professional wrestling. EFFY took a moment to first discuss Dark Sheik, a trans woman with almost two decades of wrestling experience, who is scheduled to face Still Life With Apricots & Pears.
“Dark Sheik is someone that more people should know about, and Dark Sheik has been the leader-head of a huge West Coast movement. Not just about West Coast wrestling, but it’s about wrestling in general that sort of says ‘hey, f**k your rules.’ Hoodslam was built on the backs of a few people, but Dark Sheik was there, and Dark Sheik still handles most of Hoodslam. I don’t think that’s a big secret,” he said.
“Dark Sheik has found herself a better performer than ever, has been wrestling since 2001, transitioned to become the real Dark Sheik a few years ago, but has now just been finding her groove and finding her magic moment. It feels like every time I see her wrestle she gets even better,” EFFY said. “To be able to put together a match like Dark Sheik and Still Life With Apricots & Pears, it reminds me of like an East Coast-West Coast beef, but there’s no beef at all.
“It’s the school of Chikara, which is destroyed, and one of the top students who ever came out, and wouldn’t have without their skill,” he said. “[Still Life] is gender nonbinary. [Still Life] looks up to Dark Sheik as someone who has been so influential in the scene, not only as a wrestler and someone who did it her own way, but someone who pioneered not being within the gender binary and not having to play by their rules, and still finding success. It’s not just a historic match. By the end of it, people will forget it was even supposed to be a historic match. It is just going to be a really good wrestling match, as well as being super entertaining.”
The other pioneer EFFY took a moment to discuss was Cassandro, a Lucha Libre legend who has been wrestling since 1988. A documentary about his life, called Cassandro, the Exotico!, premiered in 2018 and is currently available to stream for free on Tubi, and it can also be rented or purchased on Amazon, Vudu, or Apple TV.
“Cassandro is such a workhorse. Cassandro has the documentary out, and has been doing a lot of press for the documentary, and I think it’s going to be on a few more streaming services next month. So, the timing is great,” EFFY said.
“Talking with Cassandro, sometimes when we talk to people that are our peers and we talk about homophobia, we talk about what we deal with and it’s ‘this person called me a f**got’ or ‘this person was mean to me’ or ‘these people yelled at me out of their car’,” he said. “And what Cassandro was dealing with was ‘these people were throwing rocks at me while I was doing my job’ and ‘these people were trying to find me with knives after the show’ and ‘these people were trying to have me killed.’ It’s so wild to me that the way they talk about it with a grain of salt, because it was all about ‘I am me. I am fine. You can try to kill me. You have no chance of doing it. I am incredible,’ and has continued a storied career that has gone on for I believe almost 40 years now. It’s just infallible to think that I could put together a show that Cassandro would not only be willing to, but wants to participate in, and was very excited to have Sonny Kiss involved.”
Those harrowing stories that had been relayed to EFFY by Cassandro brought to mind the challenges faced by our queer elders. As real as the bigotry of today still is, we talked about how it can be sobering to remember how difficult the past was and the progress that’s been made.
“I keep going back to this Stacy Abrams quote, which some people were pissed off about, but I think it encapsulates what we kind of need to hear right now. She said, ‘I’m a Black woman. I can’t take all or nothing.’ It was sort of the idea of, like there’s this liberal perception of ‘if we can’t have all of our demands, we’re just done with everything.’ And it’s common amongst the younger ones, but we sort of need to remember that we need to take these advances and look at them and reflect on them and say ‘this is great how far we’ve come,’” EFFY said.
“It doesn’t stop us from going further, by any means, but it’s okay to say ‘hey, I’m glad that you don’t have to deal with that anymore. I’m sorry you suffered it, and I’m hopeful that we can keep making changes so it’s even less of a problem for people in the future.’ But we don’t need to be dismissive of what they’ve been through, and they sort of don’t need to be dismissive of us either, because there’s a responsibility to teach there too and kind of push us into the next learning and building phase,” he said.
EFFY dubs Sonny Kiss ‘a future World Champion’
Not only will Cassandro be at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, but he’s scheduled to face current AEW wrestler Sonny Kiss. Originally scheduled to compete at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch in April, AEW is allowing Kiss to compete this Saturday at the rescheduled version of the event.
“Sonny is someone who I’ve known for a while, and we have all known. You know when Sonny is there that Sonny is going to be a big deal, and Sonny would always joke like ‘no, guys, that’s not me,’ but we all just kind of knew. Sonny has it. Sonny is so good,” EFFY said. “Sonny has it all, and now Sonny’s talking on the mic. Sonny’s acting in segments. Sonny’s showing this grit and this personality, and has really come into his own with Joey Janela and become this workhorse tag team and shining like a star.”
“We are so happy for Sonny, and it’s so awesome every week to see those boundaries just ripped off the wall and broken down live on TNT Network. To still have her want to come do the show with us, there’s sort of a brother-sisterhood of like, we’re still looking out for each other and we still wanna look out for the people that love us. It’s very cool, and I think we have a future world champion one day on our hands, and if they don’t move in that direction, they don’t like money,” he said.
The prospect of Sonny Kiss as a future AEW World Champion brought to mind my recent conversation with Fred Rosser, formerly known as WWE superstar Darren Young. When we spoke, Rosser drove home how important the milestone of having the first gay World Champion in wrestling could be, something EFFY echoed before calling out a history of closeted behavior in the wrestling industry and how that could be preventing the milestone from becoming a reality.
“Of course we’d like to get to the day where we don’t have to worry about everyone doing it, but whenever someone who is a minority of some sort wins any award and they say ‘hey, this is the first type of this person to win it,’ it’s only the privileged people who are complaining about that distinction,” EFFY said.
“This is where we get a little spicy. We’ve been kind of wholesome. The real problem a lot of these guys have with gay pro wrestlers is that there’s a lot of closeted behavior within wrestling history. There always has been. There still is. It’s still very commonplace, and by living out and free, we’ve sort of taken away their secrecy,” he said. “This is a lot sort of coming from the top and moving its way down. So it’s like, by acknowledging this you sort of validate it, and it sort of isn’t a secret world anymore that is not talked about. It’s sort of out in your face now, and so maybe it’s a lot of self-reflection that needs to happen before they crown someone who’s a gay world champion. Maybe they need to look at themselves first.”
EFFY talks The Twink Gauntlet, SGCLGBT Challenge, and Allie Kat vs. Jamie Senegal
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch isn’t just a powerful moment for the LGBTQ community, it’s also still a professional wrestling event with some exciting matches on the card. EFFY took a moment to discuss The Twink Gauntlet, The SGCLGBT Challenge, and a potentially show-stealing clash between Allie Kat and Jamie Senegal.
“The Twink Gauntlet was a big deal for me when I did the first one. The first Twink Gauntlet I did was in Fargo, North Dakota, and I didn’t have a ring, and it was twinks fighting me, but the winner of The Twink Gauntlet originally was Cody Rice dressed as a bear,” he said. “So, we sort of flipped everything on its head, but I’m doing a different Twink Gauntlet now. What I’m utilizing The Twink Gauntlet for is to sort of say you’re a twink if you wanna be a twink, and you don’t always have to be this perfect physical specimen. If you wanna be a twink in your heart, you’re a twink.”
“I’m gonna put Parrow up to the challenge of The Twink Gauntlet, and I don’t think that means he’ll survive the whole time, but this Twink Gauntlet gives us the chance to put a lot of wild, weird wrestlers in, and I would just say to really watch out for that Twink Gauntlet,” EFFY said. “It’s spiritually akin to the Clustef**k, but it’s gonna give people more time to shine, and it’s gonna give people more time on them. I’ve got a lot of people coming into that that are going to be kind of new faces for people that they should definitely be paying attention to.”
When I spoke to EFFY a few weeks ago, he discussed one of the night’s most exciting matches that hadn’t quite been announced yet, but has since been revealed on Twitter. EFFY talked about the participants in The SGCLGBT Challenge, and exactly what makes this eight-man tag team match so crazy.
“I’ve been told not to do this match, because it just sounds too crazy. I am part of one of the most dangerous gangs in wrestling, and I’ll say gang. What’s happened is things have gotten a little diluted because some s**t was out of our hands, but the SGC is here,” EFFY said. “This is Second Gear Crew. People know about the Second Gear Crew. It’s me. It’s Eddie Kingston. It’s Matt Justice. It’s Manders, The One They Call Manders. And it’s Mance Warner, and AJ Gray.”
“Now, I can’t have Eddie Kingston come hang out at my Gay Brunch, unfortunately. He’s got duties to handle, but he’s handling a lot of business on TNT,” he said. “I wanted to do something that took my group of tough guys, who are these straight dudes, and put them against the toughest group of gay people I could find. And not just gay people, but LGBTQ people, and nonbinary people who fit into our category, because I’m a part of both of these worlds.”
“When SGC rolls into town it’s heavy, but people also know I roll heavy with my LGBTQ gang. So I am taking the team of Matt Justice, Steve Manders, Mance Warner, and AJ Gray, the SGC, and putting them in The SGCLGBT Challenge against MV Young, Billy Dixon, O’Shay Edwards, and Joshua Wavra,” EFFY revealed. “I’m so godd**n pumped. No rules. All bets off. Pure mayhem. I’m so godd**n excited.”
“What better way to combine my worlds,” he began. “Than to bring these dudes who are supposed to be the toughest motherf**king outlaws in wrestling going around the scene, handling business, not giving a f**k, against these other outlaws who also are doing the same thing in their own world. Why not clash them out?”
Another match that has since been announced on Twitter, but was still waiting for a reveal when I spoke to EFFY, will see Allie Kat taking on Jamie Senegal. Both were scheduled for different matches during the original EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, and Senegal was even expecting to face former WWE superstar Ariane Andrew in what would’ve been Andrew’s in-ring return.
“I know we’re gonna be announcing Allie Kat and Jamie Senegal,” EFFY said. “Allie Kat, who is my tag partner in Bussy obviously, and is a fantastic kitten, against Jamie Senegal. It’s one of those thing where it’s like ‘hey, both of y’all would’ve been doing probably something a little more high profile at the other show, but y’all are both more high profile than you think, and I know you’re gonna have a bomb-a** match.’”
“I think it’s another match where gender sort of doesn’t matter. Jamie has said ‘you can call me him, or her, she, they, garbage, whatever you wanna call me,’ and Allie Kat has really deeply opened up on the pansexual side and opened up about her love of women. Now we get to see them beat the s**t out of each other,” EFFY said. “We’ve seen hardcore Allie Kat. I’ve seen hardcore Jamie Senegal. I don’t know if it’ll get hardcore or if it’ll just be a good a** match, but I’m kind of leaving that world up to them and seeing what they wanna do. They’re just both like riding in the streak right now, and Jamie’s wilder than ever, so we’ll see.”
EFFY prepares for Priscilla Kelly and the ‘Too Hot For TV Match’
While EFFY is organizing and promoting the event, at his core he’s still a professional wrestler, and EFFY is scheduled to take on Priscilla Kelly at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch in a “Too Hot For TV Match.” I had a very simple question for him, what is a “Too Hot For TV Match”?
“I am really glad you asked me to explain this, because Brett was like ‘what are you talking about? A Too Hot For TV Match?’ And I was like, I need to cut this promo, because people need to understand what’s happening,” EFFY said.
“I have been traveling the country going around wrestling up until COVID for a while, and at all these different places I run into Priscilla Kelly. Whether it’s FIP, which is owned by Evolve, which is owned by WWE. Whether it’s in the Pacific Northwest for indie shows. Whether it’s working for GCW,” he said. “Working for these places, I see her everywhere, and she had that little taste of TV with the Mae Young Classic. They showed this watered-down version of Priscilla Kelly, and it was not fun, and I’m not about it. Then she just did the NWA Women’s World Championship, and she gave the nice Priscilla Kelly and did a good wrestling match.”
“But what has followed me and Priscilla Kelly is controversy. She’s pulling tampons out of women. She’s spitting in her boyfriend’s mouth. She’s in controversial relationships. She’s in controversial pairings,” EFFY said. “And what you see is these companies that are bigger either neuter her down or stay away from her because they think she’s too scandalous, and I am someone who owns my scandal. I don’t give a f**k about these companies.”
“When they want to come to me, and they will when they figure out they can actually make money with me and it’s a good relationship and I’m really easy to do business with. They’ll come talking, but it’ll still be a difficult conversation, because I don’t wanna give up the control I have,” he said.
“I need to make Priscilla Kelly understand that she has to stop dressing up and playing the PK that they want for her to give. She’s showing up and she’s giving the PK that they want her to give, and when I see PK unhinged, it’s the best PK in the world,” EFFY said. “So we’re saying that PK, you’re embracing this match with me and you’re coming in, and I’m gonna beat your a** so hard and make you have so much fun that you’re not even gonna give a f**k about the TV companies anymore. You’re finally going to agree to just become a f**king outlaw like me and find your true spirit.”
“That’s the story in the match, and I think it’s a little deeper than people expect, but I want to get out to the world and let them understand that we are Too Hot For TV, Priscilla. And in today’s world, financially, fan-wise, show-wise, it’s not a bad thing anymore,” EFFY said.
After EFFY had elaborated on the spirit of the match, and exactly why it was going to be dubbed “Too Hot For TV,” I followed up by clarifying what specific rules the match would have.
“We are taking this all the way to the limit. When I tell people it’s gonna be an extreme hardcore match, it is gonna be an extreme hardcore match. My boyfriend does not like seeing me bleed. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe he can talk me out of some crazy stuff,” he said.
EFFY’s dog Cranberry, who fans can often enjoy seeing on his Twitter, is also expected to make an appearance at the event. Considering Cranberry’s presence, I asked if we could expect the image of EFFY’s boyfriend covering Cranberry’s eyes to protect her from witnessing the potential carnage that may take place.
“Oh, a hundred percent. Definitely,” he said. “Cranberry’s scared out of her gourd to see me in action. I want it to be that crazy over-the-top super vibe of what wrestling should be to me. Which is fun. The problem with me and Priscilla Kelly is we’re both utility players. If you need us to wrestle, we’ll wrestle. If you need us to be hardcore, we’ll be hardcore. If you need us to be funny, we’ll be funny. And I need to combine all of those worlds to create that masterpiece with her and show her that she’s worth the value where she doesn’t have to dilute herself ever again for television.”
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch takes place this Saturday, October 10, 2020, as part of The Collective presented by GCW. The event will air live on Fite TV at 11am ET/10 am CT, just like any proper brunch should.
Fans can purchase the event on Fite TV for only $12.99 to watch as a stand-alone show. If you’re interested in seeing multiple events that are a part of The Collective, GCW is also offering a bundle for $139.99 that includes all 12 events taking place this weekend.