On my penultimate visit to Gleason’s Gym (16 July 1994) before moving to New Zealand, Larry asked me if I considered myself a fan. Genuinely stumped, I thought for a minute before responding that I was no longer sure, but I didn’t really think so. After another silence, he said that he didn’t think he was either. At least, we agreed, we knew that most of the time we were not, although at moments we had to admit to being as much marks as anyone else. Now, having written this book, I would answer the question differently. Yes, of course I am a fan. How could I have spent years in and out of the gym, attending performances and collecting materials as well as conversations, if I were not, on some level, as deeply engaged as the most hard-core fan? While there have been many times in the researching when I, like the fans, have wanted to stand up, chant “Bor-ring” and wait for the action to pick up, I also have experienced moments of genuine exhilaration, both during workouts and at performances. Like the hard-core fans and the wrestlers themselves, I have been rewarded for my patient presence with instances of breathtaking flight, incidents of fierce fighting, genuine intimacies, and a sense of community that I might not have otherwise experienced....
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