TRCH Mindgames

School of Hard Notts: Face Time with Visage

18 March 19 words: Chaz Wright
photos: Gary Ward

Meet Visage - Nottingham’s Wrestlin’ Bitch Face. Another House of Pain alumnus building momentum on the UK’s grappling scene Visage is a flamboyant and instantly recognisable character. He’s also proper nails - mock his collection of amazing wigs and he’ll slap the taste out of your mouth. Visage’s blend of humour, innuendo and merciless bludgeoning is an unusual in-ring fusion invoking classic performers like Gorgeous George and Cassandro. We cornered Visage for a chat in a pleasingly kitsch tiki-bar.

 

Your Wrestling character is pretty outrageous and risqué. A lot of successful performers like The Rock or Macho Man essentially portrayed exaggerated versions of their own personality in the ring. Does this apply to Visage or are you playing a character?

Well, in a way the Visage character is me turned up to eleven. I do have quite an adult sense of humour so some of the stuff I do in the ring like “The Dirty Dozen” (a move where Visage administers a number of…err...“blows” to his hapless opponent) can be pretty close to the knuckle. It turns out a lot of kids absolutely love the character and come to shows dressed as Visage, which is brilliant, so it’s become a bit of a balancing act. Clearly I don’t want to offend anyone. I think of it like some modern Disney films, a lot of the jokes work on two levels. Hopefully kids can enjoy it while their parents can raise an eyebrow at the subtext or racier side of the performance.

I also think the idea that the best Wrestler’s characters represent their real personality can be overstated. Look at Cara Noire, he is an incredible wrestler, with just an element of the real person on show to keep it real, but the Noire character is almost all performance.

 

I know you have a background in drama and teach character development at House of Pain. Do you think this aspect is overlooked during some wrestler’s development?

I’ve always been involved in dance and theatre, I went to one of the best performing arts schools in the world and worked in theatre before I got into the ring so Stixx offered me the opportunity to deliver the occasional class at HOP. It’s not something we do on a daily basis, but I do think it’s something some training schools could overlook. It’s all about creating and developing a character, building an appropriate move set and knowing when to use them in the most entertaining way.

 

The wrestling world’s fictional landscape has changed in the last few years - the idea of Kayfabe is not as closely adhered to as back in the day and consequently some fans won’t always accept heroes and villains portrayed in the ring at face value. What’s your take on this shift?

Well, it’s a weird scenario, I can see the positives and negatives. Wrestling has always been a business and it used to be the case that we worked together collectively to protect the illusion, so baby-faces and heels wouldn’t talk to each other or travel together. But every wrestler is an entrepreneur, they have to pay the bills. Heels who might do a great job of generating hatred in the ring find themselves next to a popular babyface at the merch table are likely at a massive disadvantage. Plus, personally, I find it difficult to keep up the façade, if a child approaches me after a show when I have been playing heel, I am not going to spit in their eye it’s just not me!

 

In my view, fans should try to play along with the story, but it’s also something unique to wrestling. Punters can’t go to a football match or play and expect their instinctive reaction to the spectacle to directly influence the results. When fans have direct interface with character development or storyline progression it feels very interactive and satisfying.

Yeah, I get that and I do enjoy the organic way storylines play out. Personally, I am cool with acknowledging the performance aspect of it because of my background, but at the same time it can be detrimental to a show if fans don’t buy in to the characters we are portraying. An audience that’s too savvy and refuses to accept the story of heroes and villains we are telling can take over and make it difficult to wrestle the best match possible. It’s an interesting one and definitely a real challenge for performers and bookers, because there’s no going back to the way it was.

 

Given the choice of working for any promotion on the planet would you choose? And who is your all-time favourite wrestler?

For me its WWE, I grew up watching the attitude era so it’s what I dreamed of when I was little. Maybe for the new generation its New Japan or Ring of Honour, but it was watching guys like The Rock that got me into this world. I think you should work as many places and styles as possible so if the opportunity came up, I would love to go to Japan. In the UK, I would love to work for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) or Progress.

My favourite Wrestler is definitely Lita - her and the Hardys were so cool at the time. The first match I ever watched, she did the classic moonsault and that was it I was hooked.

 

Visage would doubtless be a great fit for ICW. Any entrance music by any band of all time, what would you pick?

Easy, I already have it – “Cover girl” by Rue Paul, it’s totally perfect.

 

Finally, could you give us your opinion on the Nottingham Wrestling scene at the moment?

I feel so lucky on the timing of my career. House of Pain have been the scene for a while but are now running as many as eight or nine shows a month. Now we also have great promotions like Wrestle Gate Pro, Wrestling Resurgence and Paradox, everyone is pretty cool with each other so for guys like me we have so many different places and styles to work. I came along at just the right time - it’s an incredible boom.

Flexicon

Kayfabe – An internal consensus portraying wrestling as legit competition

Babyface – A heart-warming goody

Heel – A villainous villain

Merch Table – Location to meet fans/purvey t-shirts

Attitude era – Classic, edgy WWE

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