The late, lamented Machine Gun Blues was a band known not only for its raucous, high-energy rock and roll but for the intensely theatrical and physical performances of its frontman, Aaron Collins, who would get naked, throw himself around the stage, often careening into the audience and end up covered in beer, sweat and, on particularly epic occasions, blood. Now that that group has disbanded, Collins is embarking on another intensely theatrical and physical gig: He'll be joining the larger-than-life world of lucha libre as a bona fide luchador.
Under the management of local sleazeball celebrity and lucha promoter Sid Pink, Collins is about to become a "rudo" -- one of the bad guys of the lucha libre world -- called Wall Street, a rich, arrogant prick of a gringo wrestler who isn't afraid to cheat and bribe his way to fame, fortune and undeserved wins. "I pay off refs and I throw money at the crowd," Collins says. "I'm pretty much the stereotype of what a kid in Mexico thinks an asshole American would be."
And how did Collins come to be a gringo in the world of lucha? Is it any surprise the answer is booze? "It depends on what story you listen to. Sid will tell you we were out drinking one night and I got really drunk and begged him to let me be (a luchador)," Collins recalls. "I think what really happened is he talked me into it. But we were both really drunk at the time, so it's really hard to say which is which on that front. There was lot of booze involved. Next thing I know, I'm signed up."
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Now Collins is training twice a week with Jesus Hernandez (read more about Hernandez and the local Lucha scene in Adam Cayton-Holland's January 2008 cover story) in the hopes he will be ready for his debut match at a June 26 bout. It's a tall order, but luckily Collins has the ideal background to give him a jump start in the ring. "Who would have known that all that Machine Gun Blues training would actually pay off for something?" he asks, rhetorically.
Machine Gun Blues fans who aren't feeling the lucha vibe needn't worry; Collins hasn't abandoned rock and roll just yet. He's still playing organ with the Hawks of Paradise and has his solo act, A.Tom Collins, which he describes as him and a couple of guys playing "bluesy lounge music."
In parting, Collins offers some sound advice for hopeful rock stars, luchadors and pretty much anyone with a pulse. "Don't drink with Uncle Sid," he says. "You'll get in really bad situations."