How Mondo Lucha Performers Prepare Their Fighting Fits

We go behind the scenes with Mondo Lucha wrestlers and burlesque dancers to learn more about their colorful getups.

MONDO LUCHA – a variety show that mashes up live music, burlesque and lucha libre wrestling – is a sweaty, sexy and often funny annual favorite at Turner Hall. The freestyle wrestlers, or luchadores, snap on their signature masks and get into character. Sure, the wrestling is staged, but the storytelling is gripping. 

These high-flying shows originated in Mexico, but Milwaukee natives Jay Gilkay and Andy Gorzalski brought the concept here in 2008. “Mondo Lucha is me and Andy’s love letter to wrestling,” Gilkay says. A big part of the spectacle is the luchadores’ tight, colorful and always flashy outfits. With the next show coming up on Oct. 28 – just days before Halloween – we thought we’d ask the talent to tell us about their eye-catching costumes. You might even pick up an idea or two.



 
 
1.

Lola Van Ella Flaunts it

Burlesque performer Lola Van Ella has been with Mondo Lucha since the beginning, and she loves a sexy look. See her on stage in heels, a plunging unitard and tassels. The key to creating a provocative persona is confidence, says Van Ella. “It’s not how clothed someone is, but how you create a silhouette that flatters your body, and the type of picture you’re trying to create.”

Lola Van Ella; Photo by Ian Storck, courtesy of Mondo Lucha



 

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2.

The Beast Embraces His Inner Villain (but also reads the room)

Like many luchadores, star wrestler The Beast keeps his true identity under wraps. He got his start as the show’s villain, a Cold War throwback called “KGBeast,” dressed in Soviet red with a hammer and sickle on his mask. Later, the character became a hero – though he says he had fun during his time as a bad guy. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he shed all Russian imagery from his look, noting that it’s not right to be a hero “wearing a flag of an invading country.” 

Mondo Lucha’s “The Beast”; Photo by Ian Storck, courtesy of Mondo Lucha



 
 
3.

Darin Corbin Swears by Spandex

The right fabric matters when you’re flying through the air and slamming into the ring. Wrestler Darin Corbin says spandex is best. “Pleather can be sticky and hard to wash,” he says. “Velvet materials are hot, but spandex will breathe and it isn’t constricting.” It’s also durable, and comes in bright colors and patterns, which help make his characters stand out.



 
 
4.

Red Goldstein Gets Weird

One of Mondo Lucha’s most outlandish characters, Red Goldstein, is a googly-eyed, toothy-grinned, masked weirdo dreamed up by Gilkay and Gorzalski. The mask is complete with wild red locks and a bushy mustache to match – you can’t miss it.  Multiple wrestlers have donned the mask and the tight, metallic outfit that goes with it. Gorzalski says the success of the character is thanks to the total package of “costuming, body language and personality.” 

Red Goldstein; Photo by Ian Storck, courtesy of Mondo Lucha


Catch the Mondo Lucha show on Oct. 28 at Turner Hall Ballroom.


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s October issue.

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