By James Whitlock
On January 29th, Puscifer will be performing in NZ for the first time – one show only at Vector Arena, Auckland.
This band is the brain child of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, and it’s pretty weird. It gives a glimpse of where his mind wanders to, when it’s not being channeled into wine making or one of his other numerous musical endeavours.
As it turns out, his cerebral landscape includes numerous alter egos, puerile innuendo, mother nature and Mexican luchador wrestling.
And this brings me nicely to the matter at hand.
The current Puscifer outing is called the Money Shot tour, after their 2015 album of the same name. They are bringing an opening band with them, but it’s not a band of musicians… it’s a band of wrestlers called Luchafer (the name presumably being a portmanteau of Luchadore and Puscifer).
I recently conducted phone interviews with a member of each Luchafer team. There are two – the Red Team (who are evil) and the Blue Team (who are good). At each concert, both teams wage war over a key… the key to a Mexican jail cell where Billy D (one of Maynard’s alter egos) is holed up.
Make sense to you? Nope, me neither.… and talking to them didn’t really help.
First, I spoke with La Mano Roja – the male leader of the Red Team, and then two weeks later I interviewed La Sirena – the female half of the Blue Team. Oh… there’s one more thing you should know. There’s an unofficial fifth member of Luchafer – a man in black they call El Catrin. He’s short and tries to intice the wrestlers with an elixir (which turns out to be Maynard’s wine). I wonder who that could be…
Interview 1 – La Mano Roja
Hello. Greetings from New Zealand
How are you?
I’m well, how are you?
I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
You’re very welcome. Are you looking forward to coming to NZ?
Absolutely. La Mano Roja… Luchafer… Definitely looking forward to getting down to Australia, New Zealand, we’re bringing the Money Shot Down Under tour, you know, with Puscifer. Yeah, we’re definitely looking to get down there.
Fantastic. We’re very excited.
That makes two of us!
You should know that I’ve never interviewed a luchador before… is there anything I should avoid asking?
Oh, everything’s on the table you know..? I mean I’m La Mano Roja, the baddest luchadore around. The baddest luchadore on the planet! I mean, c’mon. I have no fear. I’ll answer anything.
Okay, fantastic. So, here are a few questions. Are you the first wrestling troupe ever to open for a band?
Y’know, as far as I know, Luchafer is. The only. Only. And the greatest opening act. I’ve seen, I’ve seen… I’ve seen wrestling and lucha play at the… at festivals like Lollapalooza, but nothing of this caliber. You know, we’re on… this’ll be our fifth tour.
Your fifth tour with Puscifer?
Fantastic. Would you ever consider opening for another band, or are you and Puscifer locked together?
We definitely would be… we definitely would open for other bands, even doin’ our own show. That’s definitely the goal, Luchafer… you know we’re five luchadors and luchadores from Los Angeles California, from the Santino Brothers wrestling academy, and definitely looking to spread our wiiings. We’re just tryin’ to get out there.
So this is the start of something big?
Absolutely. We’ve just been working right now with Puscifer and Puscifer has been the best to us. We’ve been on two United States tours, a European tour and we’re definitely looking forward to going down under.
And we’re looking forward to having you. If this hasn’t been done before… a luchador act opening for a rock band, how do the two acts complement each other? Do you wrestle in rythym or do something to complement the music?
Oh absolutely. What we do is we have our opening act, it’s 30 minutes right before Puscifer goes on… and the wrestling ring is right there in the middle of the stage. And I get down with my right hand woman… Scorpia, and we go against the Blue Team. The Blue Team they’re my adversaries y’know? But, we go out there by ourselves and we do our thing… we go back… we kinda shake it off a little bit… and then when Puscifer’s playing we go out there and there’s another show with Luchafer. So we’re out there all night. Kinda just doing our thing during the shows… y’know, and then Puscifer will stop, and then we’ll get right down in the ring, right in the middle of the concert.
And do the musicians ever get involved, or do they stay well away from the violence?
Oh, for the most part… they kinda stay away because they know La Mano Roja can kick some ass. I encourage Carina (Round, Puscifer guitarist and vocals) like and you know sometimes… sometimes… y’know Maynard’s in my face. Sometimes he’s nice. So it’s just, ah, depends on what kind of night it is. Whether he’s on the Red Team and the Blue Team, but… y’know I got my eye on them because you never know… that Carina… y’know sometimes she push him and I gotta stand in between y’know?
That’s right, because Maynard does Ju-jitsu doesn’t he… he’s a martial artist. Do you think you could take him in a fight?
Oh, you know what..? I don’t think I could take him… I KNOW I could take him. But you know what? You know what? He’s the real deal… I’ve seen him in the ring training… right before the show. He don’t mess aroooound. Y’know. So, I’d rather have him on my team y’know? Yeeah.
So training for wrestling is similar to getting ready to go on stage and perform music is it?
Well, you know… when we do the warm up we do our thousand squats, and we do our push ups and our sit ups and our calisthenics. You gotta make sure to be really limber when you go out there, but really… when you go out there you feel the… the, the… the the vibration of the crooowd… y’know they really get you goin’… and when they get into it cause they don’t even know what they’re gonna see sometimes, and they don’t even know who Luchafer are, they think they’re gonna see musicians, and we go out there and we start kicking ass… and Luchafer the best at what we do… everybody’s always entertained.
Fantastic. So, I understand that you’re part of the evil team… the Red Team, is that right?
Absolutely. You got La Mano Roja and then you got Alicrana Plataaaa… the silver scorpion. And this team… this team, we’re the bad team y’know, we’re not bad… we’re just baaad. You know what I’m sayin’..? Like Michael Jackson bad.
Like Michael Jackson, ‘cause I was going to ask… you don’t sound evil. Why be the evil team?
Because we’re ass kickers. We got the key and they’re trying to break out Billy D (one of Maynard’s Puscifer alter egos, who has been captured and is being held in a Mexican prison)… and we’re not gonna let it happen. You know? We gotta go in there, and we’re the evil team because we’re red.
So, you want Billy D to stay in jail, I thought you wanted to break him out?
We wanna just take controool. We gotta keep him in jail at the moment, keep the Blue Team away… that’s what we’ll do. We gotta do what we gotta do. We gotta have control.
You’ve gotta have control. And what will you do with that control? Are you looking to hold Puscifer to ransom..?
Well you know what? If I told you all my secrets, then everybody would know. You just gotta know what you gotta know. And you gotta know that we just gotta have controool.
Okay, so control is what you’re after…
Absolutely… we gotta keep the pesky Blue Team off us.
Yeah, so you’ve been fighting the Blue Team in, what did you say, five different countries and what 70 different concerts. How often do you win? Are you always victorious?
Well you know whaaat? I mean, y’know we’ve been doing our wrestling… y’know we go out there, we defend the key with the Blue Team and they try and kick our aaaaass… y’know Signor Valiente is the Blue Team leader, he’s my adversary. Y’know I lost the belt to him twenty years ago, so, you know we’re kicking ass. And then this guy comes in. This El Catrin guy comes in… and I dunno who he is, or who he’s working for. Y’know so… y’know they start kickin’ our ass and we don’t know what’s goin’ on. He’s really good though so I think I need to recruit him to our team, but… y’know?
So, El Catrin. He’s… he’s random isn’t he? He chooses his side depending on the night?
Oh, he’s a bad mammajamma. Yeah he definitely changes his sides. But for the most part he wants to be on the blue team, so he wanna be with the blue team so y’know? I go out there. Me and Alicrana… we go out there and whip some ass and we even whip the little guy’s too y’know. We’re not messin’ around.
You said he’s really good… so, do you have a special move that you’ll try and take those guys down with? Do you have a signature move?
Oh absolutely. Absolutely, I got the Gonzo Bomb. The gonzo bomb is like a variation where I just drop the man on his HEAD. You know, you really just gotta devastate the guys… cause y’know a lot of these guys… the luchos… they wanna go ahead and… maybe people wanna say it’s a dance, but when I drop a guy on his head, there’s no ballet involved..!
Yeah, they don’t get up…
Absolutely not. Especially the little guy. Y’know sometimes his heart wants to keep him goin’, but I just gotta stomp him down again with my big splash on the top rope.
So you do the gonzo bomb and then, what, elbow off the top rope?
No I do the Big Splaaaash. Body parts splash right onto him and take all of his air out. He never gonna get up after that one. He moves though, he moves… y’know, sometimes he moves and I hit the pool with no water inside and it hurts. And maybe he’s got a chance to beat me but otherwise… I get the job done.
I’m looking forward to seeing it. Since this is the Money Shot tour… I wondered whether you had a move called the Money Shot. And if you didn’t, whether you could make one up… and what would the Money Shot move be?
That is a fantastic idea. I mean c’mon! You know the little guy, y’know he does that gesture like he’s playing with himself, but as far as the Money Shot, I think you need to help us. What’s your favourite move?
Uh, well. From what I’ve seen on the (Money Shot) music video, I think the Money Shot would just be um… I dunno… just kicking him in the balls..?
I like the way you thiiiink. See you think like the Red Team. That’s what we would do… just kick him right in the baaaalls. You know whaaat? I got that Blue Team tries to grab him in the you know what… but Alicrana doesn’t let it happen.
Right, so is there a referee? Are you controlled in terms of your aggression in the ring?
Oh you know what? I got control all the time. Sometimes I get so mad at the Blue Team. But yeah, y’know for the most part, I take control.
So if the referee were to come in and stop you, if you decided to do the Money Shot move, because it sounds pretty uh… pretty nasty. Could the referee take over?
So you know the best part? The best part is we don’t even have a referee.
Oh you don’t have a referee?
No, we don’t even have a referee. We just go and get down.
So anything could happen… anything at all…
That sounds crazy. So I believe that El Catrin comes in with an elixir does he? There’s something special about the elixir?
Oh, you know he comes in with the Caduceus wiiine. You know, cause if it’s not Merkin it’s not workin’. Y’know, he comes in like a wine guy, and y’know, how can you resist wine? Especially wine made by Maynard. Maynard’s wiiine. We go out and drink a little bit of wine I mean c’mon… how many times you offered Maynard’s wine? We go ahead and drink it. It kinda gets us goin’ y’know, we start feelin’ it.
I bet. So, if El Catrin is a little guy… and he carries around Maynard’s wine. Do you have any idea who he might actually be?
Well that’s the thing. Y’know at the end of the night I can’t remember anything. The key is gone so I don’t know what. I mean, maybe he’s puttin’ something in the wine but I can’t resist the wine. I go down to Arizona just to… just t’get a taste.
And what about the rest of the audience..? If El Catrin’s true persona was revealed at the end of the concert, and you guys have been overcome by the elixir that he’s administered to you… what about the rest of the audience? Are they somehow brainwashed as well, so that they can’t remember who El Catrin is?
You know, at the end of the night. They love the ass kicker. And y’know sometimes… the little guy has the key, and he gave us the poison elixir, and sometimes they’re cheering him. But we gotta go catch him, so… y’know they’re really looking for the ass kicker. So y’know sometimes when he gets us, we gotta wait our turn and in the middle of the concert, we’ll get him in the ring. He’s not so bad all the time.
Okay, so it depends on the night. I just wanted to ask… you’re coming to NZ in January so we’ll have Xmas and New Year between now and then. How does a luchador celebrate Xmas and New Year?
Oh… the way we celebrate it every year. With tamales and pupusas. Y’know cause they say, y’know I gotta head for something for Xmas, so we gotta unwrap that tamale. Everyone loves the Red Team. I never get nothing. Definitely.
Okay, well I’m glad that despite being the evil team you still get Xmas presents. It… it’s lovely.
Absolutely. Even if it’s a tamales. You can’t go wrong with that.
You can’t go wrong. Okay, well, thanks very much from Libel and New Zealand. We’re looking forward very much to seeing you guys touring in January… and just don’t get injured between now and then.
Absolutely not. That’s the goal. We look forward to seeing you. It’s gonna be a pleasure.
Interview 2 – La Sirena
Hello this James calling from Libel
Hello… how are you
I’m good. How are you?
I’m very well thank you. Whereabouts in the world are you calling from… California?
From Californiyaaa. Yes!
Fantastic. How’s the weather
It’s pretty cold for California here, but not super cold for other parts of the world
Okay we’re just coming into summer finally, so… we’re happy
I know, I can’t wait to experience your guys’ summer, while it’s our winter
Yeah great. Have you been to NZ before?
No I haven’t. I’m really excited
Great. What have you heard about NZ?
Uh, I’ve heard that it’s really beautiful, and that there’s lots of fun, exteme things that you can do
And are you going to do those things? Bungy Jumping?
I’m going to do as extreme as I normally do, which is wrestle in a wrestling ring.
Okay, because maybe we can offer things more extreme than that…
Yeah, I’m sure. I don’t know if I could handle the rest of it.
We have a harbour bridge in Auckland that goes across a stretch of water… and you can jump off it with a bungy cord attached to you, and if you like you can dip your head in the water. It’s fantastic.
Oh no, I like my feet on the ground unless I’m falling onto someone else.
Well, maybe once you see it we’ll be able to change your mind
So, tell me how you got into wrestling… it’s an interesting career choice for a young lady
I’ve always loved wrestling. Um, and I wanted to inspire girls and women everywhere, and so I decided to start wrestling… and I took it up pretty quickly because I used to dance, so it’s easy for me to kinda get the moves and everything like that.
Okay, so dancing helped with wrestling in terms of timing and things like that
Yes. I do a lot of flips and cartwheels and athletic things that I think could be of help for me to… do.
Right. It’s very interesting that you’ve teamed up with Puscifer as a double act. Y’know, wrestling and music don’t always go together…
How did that come about? And how do you think it works… do you think it’s a combination that we’ll see more of in the future?
Yeah, it works pretty well because… they came to us and they wanted us to kinda do our thing, and they get to do their thing and um… I think that with the band that Puscifer is, a lot of people can expect kinda crazy things from them, and so… we’re kinda nothing new when it comes to the crazy shenanigans that they like to do too, so I think it’ll catch on and a lot more people are like… wanting the Luche Libre style, which is what we do and it’s becoming more and more popular again, so more people will want to see more of it.
Yeah great. How is the Luche Libre style different from other wrestling that we down in NZ might have seen on TV… WWE or something…
Luche Libre is more… flippy… more like showmanship, it’s a lot about how they look and how... uh like… how much like fancy, like fun stuff, and they also integrate a lot of story and comedy. So it’s already kinda part of it which is why it works so well I think with Puscifer because we… Luche Libre is kind of linked to comedy in that way that they do a lot of that kind of stuff, just in the regular Luche Libre.
Right, understood. Tell me if this is too personal a question… but why do you guys wear masks? Is it just the tradition… do you know where the tradition came from?
Uh, I don’t know where the tradition came from but it’s definitely part of the Luche Libre tradition for sure. Like, forever they’re been wearing masks. I think it’s probably… and I don’t know for sure… to make more of like a superhero… like not human. More of a character… more of a superhero.
Yeah, I understand. There are some bands that wear masks, and part of the allure for them is they can get up on stage and take on that alter ego and play… and then they can get into the audience and nobody would know it was them. They could integrate and not have how they look become an obstruction.
Yeah, that’s also why in Luche Libre, it’s a very bad thing for a luchador to lose his mask. The identity of like who they are.
Right. Of course. So how often… or is it a goal during wrestling to try and unmask the opposition?
Not always, but the bad guys… guys like La Mano Roja, on team Red… he’ll try and do that sometimes because they’re mean, and they know it’s disrespectful.
Right. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. He’s baaad.
Ooooh he is. He’s a bad dude! He likes to beat everybody up. Corrupt.
He’s corrupt. Have you any idea what happened to him? He wouldn’t tell me much about his back story or… y’know why he’s become the way that he’s become…
He’s always been a mean person. But my uncle, Signor Valiente who’s my tag team partner, he beat him 20 years ago for a title belt… and he’s been bitter and angry trying to get back at him ever since
And he’s never managed it in 20 years…
No. And we meet again on the Puscifer stage… and that’s when the battle begins.
So every concert… every time you meet in the ring, it’s for the title belt?
Yes. Every time. Because La Mano Roja he has the title belt now… and he defends it every night at the Puscifer show. And I’ve won it a couple of times. Signor Valiente has won it, and that little scamp has won it too.
Who’s that… you mean the little guy..? That’s what La Mano Roja called him.
Yes. El Catrin.
Yeah, what’s up with El Catrin? Where does he come from?
We don’t know who sent him. But he… is crazy. He’s crazy… he’ll take anybody out. We’re kind of friends… but he’ll still beat me up.
And how often does he side with the Blue Team, and how often does he side with the Red Team? Does he just do that randomly?
He always sides with the Blue Team, because in the end… he has a good heart.
Well that’s nice to know.
Yes. And that’s what makes a good person different from a bad person
Yeah, right. La Mano Roja was telling me about an elixir he tries to use to brainwash people, or…
Oh… this is a good thing you told me about this! I haven’t heard anything about that. I avoid any drink…
Oh right… ummm… look I hope I haven’t given anything away. Because it would be terrible if…
Well, I guess it matters if you’re on the good team or the bad team. Ha… ohhh… I know what he’s talking about. The wine!
Oh the wine… right… he called it an elixir.
Maynard’s wine… he brings it out and he makes us drink it. And then we dance and we have a good time, and we like each other for a second. And then he beats us all up
So he uses the wine to loosen you all up, and then take advantage…
Yes, and I love wine.
Did you love wine before he started using it as a wrestling tactic?
I’d never had it before…
Is that right? Well New Zealand is famous for its wine. So if you’re not going to jump off a bridge with a bungy rope tied around your ankle, at least you could go and try some wine tasting…
I would if you give me wine and then push me off.
Ha! I’m sure that’s been done. There are lots of stag parties… or what do you call them? Bachelor parties… guys go up there and they can’t bring themselves to do it without external influence. So their mates get them all tanked and push ‘em off.
Some courage. Some liquid courage.
That’s right. So, um, you’ve told me about La Mano Roja… but there’s a female too in the Red Team. Alicrana Plata?
Yes. The Scorpion.
So, I mean obviously you try and kick everyone’s ass, but do you have a particular rivalry with her?
I do because she tries to get me every time and she’s so mean. She’ll pull my hair and she’ll choke me, and she just doesn’t play nice. I just want to have a good wrestling match sometimes, y’know..?
Yeah. I mean, the Red Team have got to be bad. So they will naturally do things that will get the audience booing them, and against them. Because I presume the audience, when we see you in January, we will support the Blue Team. We’ll want to be on the side of good.
Well you better.
Well we will!
Who’s gonna be on the side of bad when you’ve got a good heart?
Well that’s right, but I s’pose nobody can be evil from the very beginning. Maybe they were good once and they became evil… they were twisted, or convinced by somebody.
Perhaps, but I haven’t known either of those two to be nice.
Right. As long as that never happens to you. Or us.
So, in NZ we don’t have a wrestling industry. If you were going to start one in NZ and try to encourage us into wrestling, how would you go about that?
Oh, well… I think Luche Libre is a good start. It’s very flamboyant and fun to watch… and I think when people start seeing how athletic professional wrestlers can be and how good of a story they can tell, then I think they’d be interested in having more of it.
So if you were to start recruiting people… would you go to dance schools, or gymnastics schools as a place to start?
Those are definitely a good start because they already have some of the fundamentals. You guys have amateur wrestling yes? You could have that too. Those people who do amateur wrestling… a lot of people do that.
As in competitive… olympic style wrestling…
Greco-Roman yeah… right. So that’s a good start. You’d need to combine, obviously, the grappling as well as the aerial aspects.
Yes. Greco-Romans they keep their heads down. Once they show their faces, and show what they’ve got then they… they head for a good time.
Right. Well, it sound like it could take off y’know… hopefully we get lots and lots of people along to your show, and you never know.
What would you say to, in particular, to some young girls who came to watch you wrestle? You might become their hero. They might decide, after seeing what you can do, that they might like to follow in your footsteps.
Well, it’s a very good sport to be empowered in… although it is a man’s world, you get to beat people up and feel empowered. And you get to kinda find yourself and become who you want to be inside and out.
Great. So it nurtures the body and the mind…
Exactly. It makes you tough. Mentally and physically.
Yeah. But, um, injury must be a real risk isn’t it? With aerial manoeuvers. Have youever sustained a big injury that put you out of wrestling for a while?
Lucky for me I have not, uh, but I take very good care of myself and I’m very careful while I’m in the ring… while still being aggressive. I haven’t experienced any injuries as of right now. Knocking on wood.
Okay. And you’ve been wrestling for how long?
I’ve been wrestling for two years… and most of my years have been spent with Puscifer so it’s been a very great experience.
Yeah awesome. We’re looking forward to seeing you. One question I’d like to ask… I also asked La Mano Roja and I’d like to know what your response is as well. You’re coming as part of the Money Shot tour… ‘Money Shot’ sounds to me as though it could be a wrestling move. If it were a wrestling move, what would it be?
Hmm… I think it would be… a move where one person is in the middle, and you jump off the top rope and you hit him with your arm… you hit him with a clothesline and you knock him down… like a slingshot clothesline.
A slingshot clothesline!
And do you have a signature move that you always unleash to… to take the enemy down?
The move, it doesn’t take the enemy down… it’s done after the enemy is down. And I flip and I put all of my body weight on top of them.
Wow… okay, looking forward to seeing it in January. Thanks for telling me about wrestling. Teaching me about what’s required. I’ll have a think about starting up a professional wrestling school… once I come and see you guys. It could be a bit of a… a career change for me.
Yeah there you go. I’m sure you’ll get people who will want to do it.
I’ll need to be able to do it myself first… without injuring myself.
Well that would help.
Okay, fantastic. Well thank you very much… it’s been a pleasure. We look forward to welcoming you, and Puscifer, in New Zealand at the end of January.
I can’t wait.
Thank you. Bye bye
Well, there you have it. Two of the more bizarre music interviews you’ll probably read.
I look forward to seeing how well Mexican wrestling and Puscifer’s music complement one another. Suffice to say that if Maynard Keenan is involved, it’ll be something to behold. Sounds like he may very well make an appearance in the opening act too.
See you at Vector Arena on Jan 29th!
Puscifer with special guests Luchafer
Sunday 29th January: Vector Arena, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster