This article from a 1985 wrestling magazine was meant to teach the reader how to apply a few of those complex and punishing wrestling holds that are so fun and exciting to watch on television. Who better to demonstrate these holds than the “Man of 1,000 Holds” himself, Les Thornton? He is wearing the baby blue trunks in the demonstration photos that are meant to show us how to rassle.
His wrestling dummy — the jobber allowing himself to be placed in the holds and tossed around like a sack of trash — is Gino Carabella in the black tights with white side stripe (I love that look!)
The reader has been invited into a private grappling session between Thornton and Carabella. We finally get to see what pro wrestlers do when nobody else is around to watch them: they rassle, of course.
Here, the dominant Les Thornton delivers a “flying body press” — a chest to chest attack that is used to stun the opponent and render him helpless under the press of body weight.
Carabella’s only role in this photo essay is to serve as a toy for Thornton to play with — to allow himself to be bent and twisted and slammed however the instructor wishes. A jobber like Carabella must portray a fairly submissive weakling during a typical pro wrestling match, but in these training sessions, the jobber acts like a complete doormat — utterly helpless and non-resistant.
Thornton, on the other hand, is the skilled stud, the talented know-it-all, the worker who gets to demonstrate all his fancy and effective maneuvers.
Thornton gets to do whatever he wants to Carabella — a true Alpha Male.
As the article continues, the photos become more and more suggestive and Thornton’s holds become more and more enticing and exciting. Here he puts the “Doughboy” in a Sleeper Hold, a fairly dangerous move to be using in a practice session, unless he’s loosely applying the hold to show us how it’s done. If this image appeared in a magazine today, it would include a disclaimer about the dangers of applying this at home.
Thornton gazes directly into our eyes as if daring us (or inviting us) to get in the ring with him and feel the defeat and the tight embrace that Carabella is now experiencing.
Never once does Carabella (which means “beautiful dear” in Italian) get to show off his moves or punish the living legend Les Thornton. They say that, in pornography, the male actors are usually very plain and non-descript and physically unspectacular. This makes it easier for the viewer to focus on the object of the actor’s attention, and to place himself (regardless of his physical appearance) in the place of the actor.
Likewise, Carabella was chosen for this photo essay because of his Every-Day Joe Sixpack appearance and his submissiveness. He is dressed in basic black tights to make him seem more anonymous and unspecial.
This all enables the reader (regardless of size or shape) to easily insert himself into Carabella’s role, to imagine himself in the ring at the mercy of the “Man of 1,000 Holds.”
Thornton shows the reader some fairly basic moves — wrist locks, toe holds, and scissors. Is the purpose of the article really to teach the reader how to wrestle? Or is the intent here really to show the reader the joy and pleasure of wrestling itself? One could argue that the intimate photos, featuring plenty of gratuitous, shirtless body contact, is really meant to excite and titillate the reader — to cause the reader to crave a submissive weakling like Carabella, or a dominating Alpha Male like Thornton — to grapple around with.