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    Late on a Saturday night, a crowd nearing 100 gathers around a stage lined with metallic fringe in the back of the Cure Lounge in Germantown. Fan-crafted signs, held above heads, pronounce: “Make America Grrunt Again” and “Cupcake Gave Me Mono.” The red-haired man next to me stares with his jaw dropped, forehead creased, crazy eyes fixed on the short-legged table circled with blue ribbon in the center of the stage.

    Tonight’s main battle pits Buck Dungle, the fictional manager of Louisville Championship Arm Wrestling, against Geno Grigiot, the purple-clad villain. The roster also includes El Chubbs (a lucha libre arm wrestler), Skins (a theme-transforming wrestler who at one point wears a Candy Land-striped rainbow suit) and Baby (an adult-sized baby). Baby Horse Theatre originally created Louisville Championship Arm Wrestling — known to fans as LCAW — for a one-time performance at the 2014 Slant Culture Theatre Festival. Jon Becraft, who wrestles as Buck Dungle, says the free Saturday-night performances (often at Kaiju) “get theatre down on the ground level where people are.”

    Halfway through the show, Grigiot enters, double-fisting wine glasses. The crowd heckles and chants a hefty accusation: “You drink boxed wine!” He unbuttons his merlot-colored top to reveal a hidden message printed across a T-shirt: “DOWN WITH LCAW.” The crowd boos loud enough to ripple his wine.

    At the table, the gum-smacking referee drills in two barbed-wire-wrapped boards, which bloody the arms of Dungle and Grigiot throughout several rounds. At one point, Grigiot’s gang produces a barbed-wired plastic bat. His arm still locked, Grigiot pounds the bat into Dungle’s back, where it remains until someone picks it out at the end of the match. Buck Dungle, the fanny-packed hometown hero, wins.

    A beer break later and a kennel has been erected around the table for a battle between Grrunt (“a silent, time-traveling barbarian”) and Lacey Truck (a female trucker). A padlocked chain seals them inside. Nearby, a big gold belt glints on a small table. As Grrunt and Truck strain, Grigiot and his gang mob the stage with bolt cutters. But their attempted coup fails as Grrunt slams Truck’s hand down and emerges victorious, raising his belt and releasing a battle cry.

    The crowd whoops: The good guys win tonight.

    This article is courtesy of the May 2016 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here. To find your very own copy of Louisville Magazine, click here. 

    Author: Jenny Kiefer

    Image: Chris Witzke 

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