Effy is a weapon of Sass Destruction. He's an openly queer wrestler who plays with that perception of sexuality in his in-ring performances. Effy is a homegrown FEST Wrestling talent from "Tallasassee," is absolutely electric to watch. His charisma is palpable, whether he be bursting out from the back in his glittery, studded magenta glittery leather jacket and fishnets or selling "Smash the Patriarchy" themed Effy merchandise in a baby pink pair of short overalls.
CP chatted with Effy before his match with Stevie Aesthetic at the FEST Wrestling showcase on Oct. 29 in Gainesville, FL about queer representation in wrestling, almost stopping Donald Trump from being elected and being a business daddy by day and a wrestling daddy by night.
In the wrestling world, I feel like it's really rare to have a wrestler whose gimmick revolves around them being queer be an actual gay person. And here you are, an actual queer person in control of your character and gimmick.
Oh yeah, no! They're just like, "You're gonna do a gay gimmick!" Like Billy and Chuck, or even Adrian Adonis was the same way. All those guys going back, they were just straight dudes who knew there was money in a gay gimmick.
For me, I'm in full control of my character. People say things like, "Oh, I've had bad gimmicks." But I have always been this.
I got sober when I started training, and that's when I was fully coming to terms with liking what you like and not having to be something for anybody else. And I was like, I'm doing all these shows in the South, and so I thought it would be good to mess with the people a little bit.
I was really just erotic about things, and I wanted them to make the assumption, I didn't want to tell them. It was an easy way to get heel heat, but it's flipped itself now to where people are behind it, especially at FEST.
You come out and people are all about it because everybody has the same goal. Tony [Weinbender] who runs the FEST had a meeting before the show today to say, "We don't do racism, we don't do homophobia, we don't do hate speech. Everyone is welcome here, and we won't tolerate it." And that's never been what wrestling promotions do.
Usually it's like, promotions approaching me and being like, "You ain't really a gay is ya?" And you have to beat around the bush. But now I'm like, "Screw it! I'm doing whatever I want to do." I'm in full control of myself.
Is there anyone who pushes against it?
With the gay gimmick, some people will say to me, "You're overdoing it, you're being a stereotype!" And I'm like, "No, I'm not, I'm literally just expressing myself now." Sorry, it is physical performance art, and if this is how I want to express my sexuality and my gender and this is how I want to do things, I can do it however I want. And if you think it's "too gay," then that's your problem to deal with.
"Oh it's too much of a stereotype!"? What do you know about a stereotype, you know?!
How did you come up with the title "Weapon of Sass Destruction"? When did that come to you?
That was really early on. I have always been a really catty person anyway, so I thought it'd be politically funny, playing off the whole, "We have to find the weapons of mass destruction," because it's like. I'm right here! But I'm a weapon of sass destruction. I've played around with that some, but I've kept it for years because you get the point of it, and you understand that I'm sassy and catty, but there's a flip, where I'll beat you and hurt you. I don't want opponents to assume I'm going to be this little ballerina in the ring. I'm a brawler, I hurt people, and I take pride in that.
Stonewall wasn't a pillow fight, after all!
It was a battle! It was a battle for life.
Whenever you do get heel heat off of a gimmick that is also true to your real, off-stage life, does it ever get too real or personal?
Not so much. I've had a situation, and I've referred to this before, but literally all night crowd members at a show were yelling "Queer" and "Faggot" at me, shouting "You're too damn gay!" and this and that, and I feel like, not to get too into the privilege argument, but I'm a 6'1" white male. I'd rather them be hurling these insults at me, when I know they literally could not do anything to me. If they really stepped to me and had a problem, I'd have them knocked out in three seconds. I'd rather be the target of this than someone who may not necessarily have the confidence or size or physique or advantage that I do.
There's a lot of people who are going to get bullied in those situations, and I don't advocate for violence, but I wouldn't want them to have to fight that off. I'd rather people take their prejudice to me and say, "If you've got a problem with someone else, you have to get through me."
Fortunately people stay behind the barricade. I've told people before, "You can say what you want behind the barricade. It's not to keep you away from me, it's to keep me away from you." Because once they step into my world, if they want to talk that talk, let's go.
But you still do have moments where you're exhausted, you want to go home and you're like, "I hope no one is in the parking lot talking shit, trying to come at me." It's pretty rare.
But there are people who yell slurs during the show and then come up to me after the show to be like, "Great show!" As if they're a part of the act! They don't get it. Their hate speech is never a joke. Fans that are heels are kicked out now, thank God.
That's definitely my least favorite trend, fans having "heel" personas.
"Oh, I'm a heel now!" Like, no.
They're not paid professionals so it's not their place.
Yeah, they're just people who paid to get in so they could be a dick. Sorry, you don't get to do that!
On the positive end of the spectrum, have you found that a lot of queer wrestling fans approach you and connect to you?
I've noticed, it's not like a 'thank you,' but I've seen. Not necessarily at FEST, because the crowd is just progressive and inclusive, but at other shows in the South, I find there's more queer people who feel comfortable coming in to that world and coming to shows. They don't feel like they can't go to a wrestling show because it's all a bunch of drunk rednecks who are going to be mean to them, because they see me and are like, "If he can do it, we can at least go support that guy!" That's a huge change. I've gone to towns that have hated me and hated me and hated me, but that flip is starting to happen. They like me more and more.
I'm not saying that I could have stopped Donald Trump from being elected, but if I had more airwaves I could have flipped a few more people! [Laughs]
Where were you?!
I know, right! There were a lot of these redneck towns who hated me and now they love me and they get it, and they have their kids take pictures with me. Like, you were calling me a queer two months ago! And now you want to buy my shirt? Like, please go ahead!
But that's the thing. Wrestling fans, even if they're close-minded in their own lives are often more open-minded to things in the wrestling world, so you've kind of got a platform where you can say, "Hey, it's not that bad! You don't know what you hate. Also I'm a great wrestler!" I just feel like I don't have to back myself up, they understand it now.
One of my favorite things about wrestling is that it's overflowing with homoeroticism and gender fuckery and a complete rejection of gender roles, especially with women's wrestling, but it's still assumed to be this "white trash redneck" sport.
It's changed a bit, because I remember when I first started I remember seeing a man vs. woman match, and now inter-gender wrestling is such a big deal. Women are competitive in those matches, and I've had matches with women where they've whooped my ass, and not like, wrestling kayfabe whooped my ass, like they GO. Women figured out they don't have to be that diva role, they can fucking wrestle.
Like today, Rachel Ellering is wrestling, and she's incredible. The FEST Champion right now is Su Yung, and she's incredible.
The whole first inter gender match that I saw featured a guy saying, [puts on deep gritty southern twang] "I'm not gonna touch a woman!" And I was like, this is not a match. This is just you being insecure about wrestling a woman who is perfectly capable to wrestle you. I'm so glad it's changing.
It's the same thing with gay wrestlers. They used to do gay wrestling spots, and I certainly like to set things up to where it feels gay, but then it gets really real. If people are telling me I'm too much of a stereotype, they aren't watching me in the ring. Because I want you to see the fishnets, see the homoeroticism, see me playing it up, and then I want you to go: "Oh shit, he's beating that other guy's ass! That is a giant dude beating another man up." I like that switch of watching people be like, "Oh, they gon' have a gay match" and then being like, "Oh, you're really good at wrestling and I underestimated you."
I've had people in your bigger indies and WWEs be like, "You're just a character." And when I've asked if they've seen my matches, they haven't. And if you think I'm 'just a character,' you've gotten worked by me.
Congratulations, y'all played yourself!
Exactly! You played yourself. That flip on its head homoeroticism, you almost have to take it to the next level now. I like that. You can't just rely on spots like, "Oh, he touched my butt! Oh, no!" You can have so much more action in it. And like, the match today, we'll play with that a little, but in his character, he's kind of a super heteronormative, self-obsessed, woman-loving guy, and I'm on the other side being like, "I do whatever I want. Come into my ring and I'll whoop your ass or touch your titty!" [Laughs]
How does your wrestling career interact with your dating life?
I've been with my boyfriend for a year-and-a-half, and he doesn't like coming to wrestling for two reasons. One, he doesn't like me getting beat up, but two, people are very friendly with me. I don't mind getting touched or kissed on, but he definitely doesn't like seeing that stuff, and I don't blame him. He's been very patient with me, because it's not really his thing.
What I've really hated is that I've had to defend my sexuality before. If I show up and do something, people like to say I'm just pretending to be gay. I just shouldn't have to start all my conversations with the fact I'm dating a man. It shouldn't matter, but the fact that people want me to clarify and can't see my sexuality in the ring as valid if I'm not dating a man is frustrating.
It's a hard thing to run with. You just shouldn't have to give yourself super strict definitions.
How did the conversation go when you met your partner and told him you were a professional wrestler?
He was all about it at first! But then he realized what it entailed. At first we weren't living together and he'd buy shirts and come the shows, buy a drink, have a little fun, but then he realized it's every weekend. I'm literally gone Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We've had those hard conversations when we have to say, "I can't be at all of your events, I can't expect you to be at all of my events." And there's no love lost!
Is wrestling your full-time gig?
Oh, no! I run a pretty large transportation company. So during the week, I'm boss man daddy, and during the weekends—all my employees know I'm wrestling on the weekends, but I don't think they really know what the full of scope of what I'm doing.
Luckily the owners of the company turn a blind eye and don't really want to know what I'm doing [laughs]. I like to keep my jobs separated. I wish there was more money in wrestling! I'm definitely making more money now than when I started, but the [indie] guys who are out there acting like they make a full-time wage doing small shows are bullshitting. I know how much merchandise they sell, and based on where they live, there's no way they are making enough to live. This career goes from no money to a little money to an amount of money you can live off of, but you'll be deep into your career before then.
I do really well some weekends, and really not well other weekends. It just depends! I've also stepped back though, because there are people who will do every single show, and I've started saying no. I can't do every single show; it's wearing my body down, some of those shows don't matter in the grand scheme of things, and if it's not going to be fun for me, I don't want to do it. Period. I'm not going to bust my ass for 7-8 hours to wrestle a 10-minute-match and not get paid what I'm worth.
I don't want to be a diva, but I'd rather get paid what I'm worth or I'll just stay in on a Saturday night, and I'll enjoy myself.
What are you favorite moments from this year so far?
I'm doing a really weird, serious sexual experimentation match with White Mike who just wrestled. We're really trying to push some buttons with that. Long story short, he ate some whipped cream out of my ass, and we're leading people into the assumption that we've experimented sexually and maybe I got my heart broken, maybe he doesn't want a part of it anymore. What's that phrase? "Build a chair, you're not a carpenter. Suck a dick, you're not a gay?" [Laughs] We're trying to roll with that idea that sexual exploration doesn't have to define you, but we're doing it in wrestling, so it's ridiculous that the storyline is coming up.
All the FEST stuff this year has been so good too! And I'm sure a lot of these guys would say the same thing. You get to a point where it's not fun, but you get a re-invigoration where you realize it can be fun, and you can tell stories and you don't have to worry about someone in the back bitching you out for doing a big spot.
How do you envision better representation of queer people in wrestling?
It's going to hit the right point, and this sounds backwards, but it's going to hit the right point when you can have an openly queer character who is hated, not because they're queer. It's totally okay to be on the side of, "Oh, we love him! He's queer! This is great!" I'll have a really warm reception today. But if I can get to the point where people are like, "We fucking hate this guy!" and when someone's like, "Is it because he's gay?" they'll respond, "No, it's because he's a bad person!!"
That sets the equality level to a place where you can move forward. We hated him not because he was gay, but because he was a bad person, and now we like him, not because he's gay, but because he's a good wrestler and good guy.
It's going to take a wrestler whose really talented to be really fucked up bad, but have their sexuality not be the reason they are so bad. That way there are better opportunities for different storylines.
I always worried about them putting Darren Young back on WWE TV, because they've been chomping at the bit to do more gay stuff, and I just don't think that company can handle it properly.
Do you prefer to be a heel or a face?
A heel! It's so much fun. The heel gets to be in control, you get to be more aggressive. When I started doing babyface work, I felt like I had to change my character up, but I realized I can still be vicious and aggressive, I just have to sell a little bit more. It's more fun to be a heel, but I've figured out how to make my babyface a little more heel-ish. That's what got me over in the first place, being a dick. You can still be the good guy and be vicious as fuck. Because when you do get those big moments, it's an even bigger deal.