inside the ring
I’ll be honest, I did not come up with the idea for this project. My husband, Tom, did. During a company-wide furlough period from work I had a full week of free time where I am forced to unplug, disconnect and unwind. No word from the office, no late night calls, no emergency requests. I could even turn my phone off…completely. Separating myself from that device was a small luxury. But, during the temporary technological detachment, my mind wandered and wondered. I really wanted a new project, something of my own choosing. The daily news cycle with an incredibly busy newsroom staff makes long-term projects near impossible but I knew that a project like this wouldn’t just slide across my desk so I’d have to make it for myself. Tom and I talked and brainstormed.
Before the meetings with my editors and before those first over-the-phone interviews I needed an idea, I needed a subject. I’m really interested in the quirky subcultures that our society often forgets or never notices. I wanted a niche and wanted to find a group so devoted that their story could empassion others. Tom suggested professional wrestling. Really? I didn’t think it existed in Vermont, but it does. Tom saw a modest flyer tacked to a telephone pole one day and it stuck with him. Professional entertainment wrestling in Vermont. Let’s go.
Back at work, I searched online and made some phone calls. Sure enough, tucked away in northern Vermont at a quiet, slightly run-down Moose Lodge was a misfit bunch of spandex-clad wrestlers. These wrestlers, both men and women, entertain a small but devout audience once a month under the flickering fluorescents and beneath the water-stained drop ceilings. The setting was perfect. The stories…surprising.
I was impressed. Not only are these wrestlers a physically talented group, but they have a deep sense of honor and respect for what they do. It is a passion in the simplest form. Life loses its luster without wrestling. For these men and women the ring presents an opportunity to be bold; to be daring.
“Not being in the business would leave a large gap, a large whole in my life. Something would be missing,” says wrestler Mark Laroche. The joy of entertaining an audience fuels wrestler Justin Lussier. “To go out into the ring and do these high flying flips and moves and watch that little four-year-old boy in the front row have his eyes light up like they never have before, that’s what it means to me. That’s the important thing to me,” says Lussier.
Not only did I shoot the photos and video for this project, but I wrote the accompanying article.
By day, the men and women of Slam All-Star Wrestling are carpenters, roofers and office workers, but by night they are a brotherhood of giants, heroes and villains. A misfit bunch clad in spandex, feather boas and studded leather, the members in this small professional wrestling community entertain screaming crowds once a month on a humble stage at the Moose Lodge in St. Albans.
“I wrestle because I love it,” says wrestler Mark Laroche. Laroche, 36, of St. Albans wrestles in a white tank top and black spandex shorts with a pair of black and gold leather boots under the name…… CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEXT.
For complete PHOTO gallery CLICK HERE.