Friday, April 4, 2008

Review of Changing Perceptions: Profile of an openly gay pro wrestler

Today I'll be reviewing the ground-breaking documentary Changing Perceptions by Rook Communications Studios. This Telly Award-winning piece is a first both in the gay community and the wrestling business. In it, a camera crew follows the pro wrestling career of real-life homosexual Simon Sermon, the first competitor in the history of the business to come out of the closet while still actively performing. Since the start of his career in 2001 Sermon has gained notoriety by keeping homosexual stereotypes out of his openly gay wrestling persona-a first for the profession to be sure.

The documentary begins with footage of legendary wrestler and real-life heterosexual "Exotic" Adrian Street prancing around the ring and scaring a homophobic male opponent. Street, who portrayed a flamboyant homosexual stereotype during pro wrestling's early televised years, would be interviewed later in the film.

From there the DVD smoothly transitions to both in and out of ring footage of Simon Sermon. The action footage is plentiful considering the documentary's length, and out of the ring events are just as enjoyable. Sermon's no-holds-barred discussion of controversial subjects ranges from religion to homophobia, giving the viewer not only plenty of laughs from sarcastic one-liners but food for thought long after the DVD is over. During the drive to an AWN show in Georgia Sermon talks about the few but subtle differences between himself and his character, the reason for the existance of gay characters in wrestling, the lack of openly gay role models in sports and entertainment, and so much more that I found myself wishing he'd gotten lost on the road and had to keep talking.

Adrian Street's opinionated interview is just as fascinating and equally uncensored. Wrestling history buffs should snatch this DVD up for the Exotic One's footage alone. Besides revealing that his now infamous heel character wasn't originally meant to be gay, the DVD also includes a match between Street and Terry Taylor. As if being "the Red Rooster" wasn't bad enough, Taylor comes up short due to a hilarious same-sex kiss. Street goes on to express opinions about homosexuals that are likely to ruffle a few feathers and make him a top heel in San Francisco. The documentary closes with Simon Sermon winning his six-man tag team match that night in Georgia and talking over the film's credits. Even Sermon's failed attempt to cut a promo on the camera is hilarious.

In my opinion Changing Perceptions is thirty minutes of pure entertainment and pro wrestling history that goes by way too fast. Victor Rook paid great respect to the wrestling business and the homosexual community with this rare documentary. With a low retail price of $12.95 USD plus bonus features such as a Simon Sermon photo gallery, you can't go wrong picking up this DVD. View the trailer and order your copy today on the official Changing Perceptions Web site:

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