Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mexican Wrestlers, Safe Sex, Peter Kuper, Antonio Prohias's Ghost, and Tex[t]-Mex!

The internet can teach you things.

As a frustrated, wanna-be illustrator, one of my favorite haunts is kind of virtual hang-out for famous, infamous, and up-and-coming illustrators like Cathie Bleck, Nate Williams and Edel Rodriguez.

One of my favorite illustrators there (see his Oaxaca travel diary) is a cool, lefty artist by the name of Peter Kuper, who I ran across back in the 80's in Art Spiegelman's and Françoise Mouly's Raw and whose work I have followed since, especially since he assumed Antonio Prohias's mantle and began producing Spy vs. Spy for the revamped (with ads, yuck!) Mad Magazine.

In any event, the Tex[t]-Mex connection to all of this underground comics-laced, inky nostalgia are the condoms Kuper markets at with the Lucha Libre logo. Here, then, is the safe-sex antidote to the theories espoused in my book regarding the overdeterminedly sexual nature of the word "Mexican"--in the book I try to show (especially with regard to the critical analysis of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil) how the adjective "Mexican" becomes a synecdoche, a handy-dandy shorthand proxy for a gnarly, dark, swarthy, sort of carnal sexuality.* And it is not just the word "Mexican" that assumes this metonymic magic, it is anything even vaguely connected to Mexicans and Mexico--in this way Latina bombshells, oily, leering bandits, etc serve the needs of directors, artists, photographers and writers alike.

So Kuper's decision to market a line of condomsSanta Maria, holy prophylactics!) with the mug of toothy practitioner of the arts of lucha libre strikes me as a xicanosmosis of sorts, a fusion of America (sic) and the Americas that is decidedly sexual and decidedly safe and squeaky clean at the same time. This "branding" then, becomes part of a metamorphosis, part of a transformation where the subterranean and nefarious emanations of a Mexican sexuality or a Mexico (Lucha Libre wrestlers, in this instance) are stifled and redirected, stopped and transformed--and all in the interest of safe, hot, sex.

Also by Kuper on the net and not to be missed--especially by comparative literature types--is his Kafka "Metamorphosis" book with Random House.

*Regular Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog contributor Professor Michael Wyatt Harper, Esq., wrote in yesterday to make me aware of a Japanese [oops! Chinese--thanks for the correction! see comment below] poster he ran across that he found particularly blogworthy--while the poster says more about the locale of the particular restaurant (could a reader write in and tell me where it is: Tokyo? Osaka? Kyoto?) than about the sexualization of Mexicanicity, it still deems a posting here in this gallery of lascivious Latino artifacts:


  1. that poster is written in simplified chinese, and it does match the engish version. what a weird poster...

  2. that poster is written in simplified chinese, it could be from anywhere since there are chinese people everywhere, also, it matches with the english version below.
    what a weird poster...