Cassandro, the Exotico!
For close to twenty years, filmmaker Marie Losier has been making singular portraits of the artists and originals of her era, filming the everyday lives of legends like Tony Conrad or Genesis P-Orridge and augmenting them with her vision of their dreams and fantasy lives. With Cassandro, the Exotico!, she turns her inimitable gaze upon Saúl Armendáriz, better known as Cassandro, a legend of lucha libre, the wildly popular form of Mexican wrestling. Cassandro is a leading exotico, a wrestler who appears in drag but is every bit as formidable as his macho opponents. Unlike most exoticos, Cassandro is openly gay and an outspoken champion of the marginalized. While the film catches Cassandro as he makes the difficult decision to retire and nearly loses his hard-won sobriety, it avoids sensationalism through the obvious bond between filmmaker and subject. With her off-screen laugh and the handcrafted feel of her 16 mm images creating an intimate environment, Losier invites Cassandro to open up, capturing the traces of the painful history that have made him such an emblem of resilience, from the literal battle scars that dot his body to the evidence of the psychic damage of a life lived against the grain.
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