The “Liberace of Lucha Libre” Cassandro was on The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast with Wrestling Inc.’s Nick Hausman to talk about his legendary career as an Exotico luchador. He explained that Exoticos are part of lucha libre, and he talks about the history of Excoticos.
“I mean, it’s not that we’re apart from lucha libre. We are a part of lucha libre,” Cassandro noted. “It’s one of the biggest diversities that we have, and the Exoticos was just the gender or just the group of wrestlers that try to make their own gender issues come out. And we decided to be Exoticos because we changed our perspective in this Lucha Libre business, especially because the first Exoticos, our old timers, they were mostly like the clowns at the circus.
“They didn’t compete with the guys, so they were like more feminine style, and so that when we came, nowadays, we Exoticos, we’re flamboyant wrestlers that are truly wrestlers. And they develop a feminine and masculine side inside the ring, and for me, I mean, I always say, my dualities is my strength because that’s where it comes from. And being an Exotico, I like being feminine from the dressing room until my two-minute walk to the ring.”
Cassandro then talked about starting his career in pro wrestling as a masked luchador named Mr. Romano while under the training of Rey Mysterio Sr. He talked about his switch from being a masked luchador to an Exotico where he has accomplished a lot through his 32 years in wrestling.
“Well, I started in 1987 training down in Juarez. I’m from the border town of El Paso, and I used to train over there in 1987,” Cassandro explained. “Then I debuted in 1988 with a mask, and my name was Mr. Romano. And that name was given to me by Rey Mysterio Sr. just because I thought I was going to debut in wrestling. I guess they didn’t want me to come out. Everybody knew that I was gay. I’ve never been in the closet. I’ve never been somebody else.
“So they decided I was going to wear a mask, and it didn’t work out for six months. I didn’t feel comfortable, and the people weren’t having it, until I became an Exotico in 1988 due to this big soap opera that was going on in Mexico. And then I started my my career. So supposedly my coming-out day was October 15, 1988 because that’s when I debuted as an Exotico, and in the bigger professional wrestling league. And now I just turned 50 years old, and I’ve been wrestling for 32 years. And I was the first Exotico to become a world champion back in November 29, 1992.”
Cassandro was asked if there was ever any backlash to him being an openly gay wrestler. He said there was, but he changed people’s minds and earned their respect through his hard work in the ring breaking barriers through Mexican machismo culture.
“I mean there was. I’m pretty sure there was,” Cassandro affirmed. “There was a lot of talking behind my back. I heard it through the rumors of the dressing rooms into the hallways of the gym. People weren’t having it, but I was just there to prove my talent, and why was I on top in the ring? It was because I’m a professional wrestler, and regardless of whatever my sexual identity was, I was gonna do the best I [could] in in the ring.
“And surely but slowly, I let my actions talk louder than my words because I was gonna get the recognition that I wanted and the respect that I wanted from the co-workers, the fans and the companies from showing them my talent. And that’s what I did. I started breaking down barriers. I started breaking down the dressing room atmosphere, the Mexican sport of Lucha Libre, the Mexican culture and then I also changed the Mexican country, the machismo, when I became the first Exotico to become the world champion.
“It took time, but I mean right now, I’m one of the world’s most respected wrestlers there is on this planet, and that’s because I’ve been doing my work. And I’ve been opening this new wave for the newbies. I’m always there for the newbies. Now, I’m so happy that we have transgender wrestlers. We have bisexuals. We have it all, and you know, like I said, if that’s who you are, just embrace it, love it and give us what you got.”
Cassandro was also asked if there was any hesitation when introduced to Exotico wrestling. He said there was not as it allowed him to express his frustrations in the ring.
“That was like my green light to do whatever I wanted,” Cassandro admitted. “You know men have always been my issue. I can’t live with them, and I can’t live without them, but this was gonna be my free therapy session in the ring. I was gonna get to kick somebody’s ass or humiliate them with the man that I had issues with.”
While Cassandro is a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show filled with flamboyant characters, he noted that he does not identify as a transvestite or a drag queen. He said that he is just a Luchador Exotico and nothing else or more.
“Yes, of course. I’m a fan,” Cassandro said. “I’m just not a transvestite. I hate it when in Europe, they call me transvestite or drag queen. I’m like, I’m not a drag queen. I’m not at a transvestite. I don’t do [this for] show. This is my way of dressing for my work, and I only use it for work in the ring, but yeah, I don’t know I stopped fighting with all those press that called me transvestite or drag queen. I’m just a Luchador Exotico. That’s all I am.
To follow Cassandro and keep up on his many projects please follow him on Twitter @CassandroLucha. He has also recently signed with Masked Republic’s Legends of Lucha Libre for IP representation. For more information regarding his signing please visit HERE.
Cassandro’s full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.