Incredibly Strange Wrestling
June 21, 2001
Section: ACCENT
Page: E1

Rock 'n' Rassel

By Jim Purdy

When the Vans Warped Tour body-slams into the Peoria Sports Complex at noon Friday, Incredibly
Strange Wrestling might put as strong a hold on the crowd as the music.

The traveling music festival's four-stage circus mostly celebrates heavy alternative-rock music,
courtesy of popular acts such as 311, Rancid, Kool Keith, Pennywise, the Ataris, the Vandals and
Alien Ant Farm and others, but that's only part of the fun.

Audra Angeli-Morse started her wild wrestling federation six years ago with friends in a San Francisco
nightclub.

"This thing all started as a joke," Angeli-Morse said last week from her San Francisco office.

Now Incredibly Strange Wrestling will pile-drive to more people than most mainstream wrestling
federations, because it tags along with the Warped Tour.

"This type of wrestling is much faster paced, it's more acrobatic, it's high-flying, there's always
something going on and it's s-o-o-o comical," Angeli-Morse said.

"And it's not in-your-face trying to be comedy. A lot of it's dry humor that you have to get and when you
do, it's hysterical. And then there are the capes, the masks - they all have incredible costumes. I love
it. It blows away American wrestling."

When she dreams up whacko storylines for her nutty wrestlers to play out in the ring, Angeli-Morse
taps into her love of comic books and high-flying Mexican wrestling - Lucha Libre - which she
discovered years ago with an ex-boyfriend in Tijuana.

ISW boasts a corral of about 40 wrestlers, such as Pollo Diablo, El Borracho GigantE, El Homo Loco
and Macho and Sassy Sasquatcho, who each wears basically the same hairy costume, but one
sports a furry, pink bikini.

She calls the Poontangler one of her favorites.

"Most of her wrestling matches come from custody battles. We recently just had a paternity suit issue,
because she didn't know who the father was, whether it was the Sheik of Physique, our midget
wrestler or Jello Biafra," Angeli-Morse said.

And then there's 69 Degrees, a boy-band tag team that attacks foes with paperback copies of
"Dianetics."

"John Travolta - not the real one - showed up recently in his 'Battlefield Earth' outfit, put them in that
box and turned them into Scientologists. So now they're preaching the word of L. Ron Hubbard."

The Warped Tour provides perfect music for wrestling.

"Incredibly Strange Wrestling is as much music as it is wrestling and the type of music that really
works with wrestling is a faster-paced rock 'n' roll kind of thing," Angeli-Morse said.

"Once the wrestling starts and people get so amped up and they're so excited, if you bring them down
with a slow music kind of thing, they pretty much turn on the band."

Musicians fall under wrestling's spell, too.

"We actually has a run-in with Fred Durst with Limp Bizkit last year at the Shoreline Amphitheater. It
wasn't planned. They just sort of came up and issued a challenge and I was like, 'I'll be damned if
we're not going to accept a challenge from Limp Bizkit,' " she said.

"His head bodyguard is a semi-professional wrestler named Tomahawk, who's just gi-normous.
He's like a wall of muscle, just a big-ol' stud, pretty much. He wrestled one of our guys, Shane
Damage. The two of them just beat the crap out of each other - and it just created this huge, big
scene around the wrestling ring. It was pretty funny."

Will stuff like this happen on the Warped Tour?

"I'm sure it will. The Misfits are doing a few dates and they're wrestlers now. There's a lot of people
who have never even seen a wrestling ring, and once they see it they immediately fancy themselves
as wrestlers. It's like a big trampoline; everybody wants to get in it," Angeli-Morse said.

As far as the music goes, guitarist Chris Shiflett will play hooky from the Foo Fighters for a couple
shows with his hobby band, punk cover group Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, which will play
covers of pop songs from the '60s, '70s and '80s as well as Broadway show tunes during its set.

"We started doing it right around the end of 1995 because we wanted to do, like, a silly, punk rock
cover band, just something really loose because we all had serious bands and we wanted to do
something that we didn't have to think about too much," Shiflett said from New York City last week.

"And we all love old, cheesy pop tunes," he said.

"As long as there's been punk bands, they've been doing covers of old pop songs, so we're just
taking the tradition to the extreme."

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes will roll out its own tiki bar during Warped Tour shows.

"Heather from the Teen Idols is going to be our bartender, so it's going to be free drinks for everyone
while we play. Of course, you're going to have to get up on stage to get it," he said.

Aren't most of the concert-goers going to be younger than 21?

"We're hopefully going to be serving a lot of underage kids and maybe there will be some accidents.
We can only hope: accidents, lawsuits and angry parents. All that sort of good punk rock stuff. We
want to be a credit to the genre."