I was a bit nervous, so I stood at the porch for a moment and finally decided on three modest backhanded strikes to the front door. In what must be a mystery to the laws of physics, the door immediately swung open. “Steve! So nice to meet you!” Standing before me was six-feet of intimidating muscle dressed in full wrestling attire. On his face was an outlandish blend of pink and blue eye paint that not even Brigitte Bardot would have been so bold to use. Just down from that masterful piece of art however, was a five o’clock shadow. As if my brain was not conflicted enough, this large man was standing with one foot slightly off the ground, and both arms extended upwards in a V-shape with palms turned towards the sky.
Before I was ready for it, his arms came crashing down around me in an embrace. Never in my life have I ever been greeted in such an enthusiastic and effeminate way, only to then be squeezed with such force that I was actually concerned I’d lose consciousness right there in the doorway.
He finally let me loose and I greatly welcomed the return of air to my lungs. As I gathered myself I heard his soothing girlish voice invite me in, “Come in, come in! Isn’t it wonderful!” As I looked up I began to question whether all the oxygen had quite returned to my brain yet. I was suddenly in the pinkest place I had ever ventured into in my entire life.
“Wow, this is quite a palace of pink you have here Paredyse.”
Suddenly, his voice turned stark and masculine, “What do you mean, ‘pink’?” His eyebrows had gone stern and he had his entire arm and finger extended stiffly in my direction, with a point that seemed to pierce me through my very soul.
“Magenta!” he exclaimed, as his voice returned to it’s more comforting state.
Still trembling I glanced back over my shoulder only to be greeted by a most bizarre looking fluffy bovine-hominid hybrid. I then heard him say, “Fuchsia!” and turned to see him daintily point towards what I think may have been a lamp. This went on for several minutes as Paredyse increased my vocabulary for shades of pink some fifteen fold. However, his lecture was abruptly interrupted by a small cellular device’s rendition of “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls. “That’s our ride!”
Before I knew it, I was being drawn out of the house and into a waiting automobile. There had been no mention of this in the email’s we had exchanged and I was more than a little apprehensive about the whole thing now. Finally managing to shout over the loud techno music blaring from the radio, I asked just where it was that he was taking me.
“We’re going to Down and Derby! Woohoo! It’s spectacular! I go every year!”
My God, I thought, in an hour from now I may very well be standing next to a turnbuckle holding a tag rope.
Before I could inquire any further, Paredyse began shouting again, “Wait! Oh my goodness! Stop the car! I have to pee!” In an instant we zoomed into a Thornton’s and Paredyse hopped out of the car and pranced across the parking lot in his small colorful wrestling tights.
I got out too, but only to get some fresh air so I could ponder whether or not this interview is really worth the possible permanent bodily harm I may endure tonight. I was starring off into space scratching at my chin hair when I heard, “That ain’t right you know!” As my attention shifted to this tall man in an expensive suit, my first thought was, this man must represent The Gillette Company and is most likely anti-facial hair.
“What exactly do you mean sir?”
“What that guy is doing! It just ain’t right!”
I began to ponder this and eventually arrived at the decision that this man was right, after all he was in a very nice suit. Yes, perhaps we should put a little gas in the tank since these folks are nice enough to let Paredyse use their facilities. But it wasn’t my car and so I figured that maybe it really wasn’t my place to say anything.
Rushing back with an energy that never ceases to amaze me, Paredyse danced back into the car, and I too somehow willed myself back in. I was prepared this time and had already plugged my ears in anticipation of the brain rattling bass beats that were sure to come my way. Luckily it was only a short drive more to River Road.
As we entered the art museum underneath the strikingly beautiful 19th century Greek Revival water tower, I felt a rush of relief come over me. There was no wrestling ring awaiting my impending doom. There were only people dancing together, and what amazing dancing it was. Especially for the men, I had never been around so many men that were such accomplished dancers. I began to wonder if Down & Derby was some sort of dance competition.
Paredyse had begun talking to an older gentleman to the right of us as I was taking in the scene. The man quickly turned away and Paredyse came back over to me, “That was Fred. No wait, maybe Ted? Anyways I told him to make sure you don’t run out of Barefoot all night. You seem to be the wine drinking kind of guy. “
How Paredyse knew I was a wine enthusiast I may never know, but I was more perplexed at the social interaction I had just observed. I can only imagine that Paredyse may have threatened this man into buying me drinks all night, but that was hardly the case. Ted or Fred seemed exuberant as he returned holding out a glass of Moscato for me. However, before I could thank him, Paredyse had quickly donned a pair of little angelic wings and floated up to the main stage.
He began to introduce a very beautiful young woman to the crowd, “And now, the only girl I’ve ever cared about! Amelia Gandara!” I found out that Miss Gandara was also Miss Jefferson County and I actually felt a little sense of pride that my hometown had produced someone as lovely as her. When they were finished I made my way through the crowd to ask her about Paredyse. She seemed extremely delighted with him and seemed just as impressed with his bravery as a professional wrestler as she was by the bravery it took to wear his outfit, “I was scared wearing this (extravagant) skirt, but he has really gone out there!” I laughed at this and then realized that I had somehow managed to lose a six-foot winged man wearing not much more than his underwear.
I began hastily searching for my interview subject, but sometimes stopping to experience this intriguing foreign environment that was all around me. And all the while different guys were showing up out of nowhere to hand me drinks, each time saying that Paredyse wanted me to have this. Every one of them seemed more than happy to do so, and I still couldn’t quite figure out how he wielded this power over them.
I began to really dig the tracks being mixed from the DJ and actually found myself kind of dancing a little with my glass of Barefoot. Well in full disclosure, my only slightly in time rocking, probably shouldn’t be referred to as ‘dancing,’ especially considering what was going on around me. But then I was quickly astonished by who I took sight of just across the room. There, just next to the doorway was another very accomplished professional wrestler, none other than April Hunter!
I must have looked like an awkwardly mobile wallflower as I leaned on the outer walls of the dance floor room to stay out of the crowd and reach Ms. Hunter. Much to my surprise she was really excited to talk to me about wrestling, which we did at length. She was even nice enough to pose for some pictures for me. I had asked her about Paredyse and found out they both were selling raffle tickets for charity, and that she had raised eight hundred dollars already. She was a big fan of Paredyse and even took pointers from him, “Paredyse is very flamboyant and twice as talented. He said after the show he is going to help me with my make-up.” As she said this I noticed Paredyse was darting across the dance floor, so I thanked Ms. Hunter and gave chase!
He dashed through the restroom doors and as I blindly followed through after him I was astonished to see a very well dressed, very blonde, very female person washing their hands. I was embarrassed, but she didn’t seem to mind one bit. Even more astonishing than this exchange was that Paredyse was shouting, “Let me in, I have to go!” as he was scaling up the side of the bathroom stall. The stall door burst open and this very confused looking man ran to the adjacent open stall that I suppose Paredyse failed to notice.
“Uh Paredyse, I’d like to ask you a few questions for the interview.” I said sheepishly from outside the stall.
“Sure buddy!” Then the stall swung open again. “But now it is raffle time!” And he was racing off again.
By the time I had made it out the door he was already on stage dancing with the lovely DJ Brynn Taylor. But sure enough it was raffle time, the music stopped and a woman handed a bowl of raffle tickets to the MC on stage.
“Paredyse would you please do the honors of drawing for us tonight?”
“Why yes, but I am always safe and use protection!” On that note he reached into the front of his tights and pulled out what I think was a “cherry blossom pink” colored glove. He placed it on his right hand and reached into the bowl, making sure to turn his head and cover his eyes as he did so. Funny enough I think Paredyse was even more enthused when the winning name was read than the winner was himself!
I was still a bit clueless on the nature of the event so I decided to go talk to the lady that handed the bowl to the MC. She was on her way out so I did my best Paredyse imitation and bravely danced through the crowd that was already back to gyrating with DJ Brynn.
Her name was Kelley Brendler and she explained to me that Down & Derby was a joint effort from Fairness Campaign and The Wings Clinic. Fairness Campaign focuses on striving for equal rights for all people while The Wings Clinic provides healthcare for HIV patients despite their ability to pay, national origin, sexual orientation, race or creed. Ms. Brendler was really delighted that Paredyse had become a fan favorite at OVW.
“I think it is nice to see that something that is not quite the mainstream, can still be viewed as a positive. It is nice to have someone like that who the community can get behind and cheer for because he is a good person.”
I left Ms. Brendler with a new perspective and a greater respect for what was going on. I then turned to find a smiling Paredyse once again, “Ready to head out buddy?”
At the mention of his soon to be opponent’s name, his face became very serious.
“He is going to be a tough opponent. I’ve been training really hard and have been watching the film on him looking for his weaknesses. I really hope my ring psychology can get him off his game a bit, but he is a really solid wrestler. You have to remember that this guy is the reason Ryan Nemeth isn’t in OVW anymore.”
I guess it wasn’t really the answer I anticipated. He is such an eccentric, ridiculously excessive fellow that I didn’t really see him managing to slow down long enough to do film study or dedicate so much of his time to training. I have to admit that perception was a shortcoming on my part. I found that I was certainly judging this book by its cover, and the truth is I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this man’s complex personality.
Paredyse is exactly the person that he wants to be, even though some people are uncomfortable with how he lives his life. In fact he even manages to use this discomfort as an advantage in the ring. He is a person that seems completely self aware and comfortable with himself. We should all be so lucky.
Interview conducted May 7, 2011.
Special thanks to Down & Derby whose website is www.louisvilledownandderby.com.