|The Luchagors (Sept.07 issue)|
|Written by Jeff Clark|
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Seventeen years and a lifetime of wild experiences later, her high school crush, Shane Morton, is her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in nearly everything else, and that drawing hangs on his refrigerator. “It’s when I had a full head of hair,” Morton laughs, “so I show it to everybody!”
The couple’s band, The Luchagors, independently released their self-titled debut album on September 11th. Produced by Rachel Bolan of Skid Row, it’s a rip-snortin’, candy-coated blast of jumpy, insanely catchy punk rock revved into high gear via Amy’s bandmates’ fist-pumping metallic tendencies and Bolan’s seemingly innate production and arrangement skills. Live, they’re even better. All of them – and especially Dumas and Morton – are natural performers. Shane, who’s been a bassist in most of his previous bands – tackles his metal-god guitar with a mix of punchy riff-ripping and hammy showmanship. Amy bounds around the stage unhinged, snarling the songs in a swirl of hair and sweat, teetering on the monitors, rolling on the stage, getting face-to-face with front-row fans, and leaping into the crowd. They’re a tremendous tumult of pure fun, quite honestly, and – noting the 40 or so onlookers at their Star Bar show with The Dollyrots Aug. 29 – one of the most undervalued acts in the city.
That they’ve gotten little attention locally is a bit of a mystery. Aside from the quality of The Luchagors’ music itself, Morton has long been one of Atlanta’s most creative individuals in the worlds of music, art and theater. Dumas, meanwhile, is a worldwide superstar and has even been an action figure! Unless you’ve followed WWE wrestling for the past eight years, though, you might not even realize it.
After ditching Georgia State University in 1993 because she considered it too much like high school, Dumas wound up in Washington, DC, where she briefly played bass in a couple of short-lived bands. Her boyfriend at the time, also in a band, was a big wrestling fan. Dumas didn’t get it at first.
“When I did watch it, I almost looked at it from an occupational standpoint, rather than as a fan,” says Dumas, who had started taking judo and kickboxing classes by this point. “I was like, ‘That’s like being a rock star and an athlete in one profession.’ After a while I thought to myself, ‘Man that might be pretty cool!’ So I just started trying to learn everything I could about it.”
When her boyfriend left on tour with his band, Amy took off as well – to Mexico.
“I was a big fan of the Lucha Libre style, the Mexican wrestling style. It’s a lot more acrobatic. I bought a plane ticket to Mexico, by myself, went down there, didn’t know anybody, just started lookin’ in the paper trying to find out where the wrestling events were. It was a bunch of poor Mexicans and a white girl sitting in the front row, so I kinda stood out pretty quick!”
Eventually getting some training from her new Mexican friends, she returned to the States and started hitting the indie wrestling circuit, which, she says, “is real equivalent to a band playing every shitty bar within driving distance that’ll book ’em. I mean, you work VFW halls, bars, high school gyms…I was doing it for the experience.”
Moving to Richmond, she worked for the ECW league, not as a wrestler but as a “valet,” basically arm-candy for the male fighters and sideline agitator. Unsatisfied with that role, she took a wrestling course given by vet Dory Funk, Jr. alongside 23 men. Impressed with her abilities, Funk sent a videotape compilation of Dumas in action to the WWF (now WWE), who signed her to a developmental deal in late 1999. She made her WWF debut (under the ring name “Lita”), the following February, and before long her extreme style had made her quite the sensation.
“They let me kind of do my thing – it completely changed the way women’s wrestling was viewed, and the perception of women in the business,” she says. “The entire demographic changed – they had never had the female 18-35 demographic. I was still attractive to guys, but like a tomboy kind of character, where the girls would go, ‘Man, she’s badass,’ as opposed to all the other girls who were the bikini models type of thing, hair pulling or whatever.”
“She’s like a superhero,” Morton says, referring to her ring tricks. “Doing flips, grabbing people’s heads by her feet and throwing them through the air – it’s like Santo-style wrestling, where they fly all over the place.”
Dumas held the Women’s Champion title four separate times during her seven years with the WWE, a career interrupted for 15 months starting in 2002 when, while filming an appearance on the season finale of Dark Angel, a stuntperson dropped her on her head during a fight scene and she broke her neck, an injury she is quite lucky to have completely recovered from.
Of course, much of what attracts viewers to big-budget TV wrestling are the exaggerated characters and absurd skits. Amy played it all up. “Yeah, it’s larger than life. You come out, and there’s pyro and music, and that was like the arena rocker part of it. The physicality is real, but, hopefully, it’s exaggerated. We had writers do the storylines and everything, and then they’ll give us an idea of the story that they want to portray in the match.”
Amy’s love of the goofy theatrics turned sour in 2005, however, when the WWE (which Dumas is quick to point out, “will exploit anything”) turned her personal life’s drama into an onscreen storyline, a situation she describes as “a horrible turn of events.” She had been involved with one fellow wrestler, and then started seeing another, creating a considerable amount of tension off-screen. When this situation was written into the onscreen drama, she became a villain in the eyes of many fans, who took to shouting “whore!” at her at matches. Another reminder to never mix romance with work!
So when her contract expired, Dumas retired last November. Having moved back to Atlanta, she and Morton had become reacquainted and then romantically involved. Messing around on songs together, they decided to form The Luchagors last summer, with the band playing their first gig a year ago. The name combines Amy and Shane’s two personal passions – Lucha, of course, comes from the Mexican wrestling term, while the “gor” suffix is short for gore, referring to Morton’s interest in horror and fantasy. Some people – those under 12, for instance – might even know him better as his alter ego, Professor Morte.