The weird and wondrous world of Lucha Libre with Brian Smale


Brian Smale is not your typical portrait photographer. After all, he’s had his share of shooting not-your-typical people, from chain gangs and mobsters to the KKK. On assignment from Texas Monthly magazine, he headed to northern Mexico for a story on small-town Lucha Libre wrestlers. Brian shot portraits of the wrestlers in locations around their towns that helped bring out the over-the-top personalities of their Lucha characters. He also photographed a fight promoter (one of the few women in this male-dominated sport), a barber whose shop was plastered with Lucha posters and paraphernalia, and one of Mexico’s best-known mask-makers. There’s a haunting beauty in the way these images combine gritty reality with surreal fantasy and splendor. That’s the strange magic of Lucha Libre, and Brian captured it perfectly.