Even though Orlando Jordan is been an openly bisexual professional wrestler for years, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling just repackaged him as even more overtly bisexual, even going so far as to have him kiss a guy and a girl and have his boyfriend rub his crotch in the ring. Reportedly, Spike TV is a bit uncomfortable airing the bi star’s antics, but it’s not because pro wrestling’s has never had flamboyant and overtly gay characters. Rather it’s because they’ve never had one that’s actually bisexual.
Jordan made his bisexual premier on TNA’s most recent Monday Night extreme, relays Outsports. It was “queer,” but mostly in the “strange” sense of the word:
Jordan was lowered from the ceiling wrapped in caution tape that said, “Cross the Line.” He then crawled and rolled around the ring like a cat on the prowl. He left the ring, walked over to a curtain and whipped off his sunglasses to reveal…he was wearing eyeshadow! The curtain raised to reveal a pretty woman and hot guy sitting on a couch with a picture connecting two male symbols and one female symbol. Jordan sat between the two and the camera cut away to a commentator who was nearly left speechless: “Well folks I don’t know what to make of that, but we’ll continue nonetheless.”
Because we’re literary queers, we’d like to point out that Orlando Jordan shares a name with Virginia’s Woolf’s gender-swapping character. And his character (must like hers) has caused some confused head-scratching among fans. Outsports‘ Cyd Ziegler Jr. writes: “It’s obvious the crowd was put off by the display. It sounded like you could hear a pin drop in the place: An awkward silence. I can’t even say it’s because it was a bisexual character, because you couldn’t tell that from what he was doing. It was just strange.”
And Ziegler’s right. Over time, wrestling has gradually embraced its overt homosexuality. It’s already an ultra-fake testosterone-soaked soap opera where mostly-naked musclemen in knee-high boots fight over a Bedazzled-looking belt. Behind-the-scenes teams of writers spend 5 hours a day figuring out how to best capitalize on the storylines of every actor: from the wrestlers and their managers to the announcers and referees themselves. So why then did TNA’s writers not know how to give Jordan a proper coming out that was more flashy and less queer?
After all, Jordan’s not the first wrestler ever to capitalize on his sexuality. Pro-wrestling’s long had gay characters designed to rile up the audience, starting with the (actually straight) father of modern pro-wrestling, “Gorgeous” George Wagner.
In 1941, Wagner emerged as “Georgeous George,” a vain heel who antagonized the fans with his exaggerated effeminate behavior. He grew his hair long, dyed it platinum blonde, and put gold-plated bobby pins in it (which he sometime gave to his fans as “Georgie Pins”). He was the first wrestler to really use entrance music—he’d enter to “Pomp and Circumstance” wearing a velvet, sequined robe on his own personal red carpet accompanied by two male valets who’d spread rose petals at his feet and carry his over-sized silver mirror. He’s rumored to have sprayed Chanel No. 5 around the ring and on the referee’s hands before every match. Some of his theatric entrances lasted longer than the matches themselves.
A more recent example of an overtly gay wrestling villain would be WWF’s Goldust—a character who used to molest and flirt with his opponents before finishing them off with moves like “Curtain Call” and the ball-busting “Shattered Dreams.”
But that’s the problem: Wrestling markets in gender stereotypes, from the ultra-aggressive hetero gorilla to his ultra-jealous buxom arm candy. There are so many easy-to-read cultural signifiers for gay men—narcissism, effeminacy, camp—that almost anyone can get them. Even wrestling’s prototypical dumb hick fans. But how do you signify that someone’s bisexual (especially when so many LGTs write off bisexuality as heteros looking to dabble or gay folks trying to “pass”)? Apparently, you cover them in police tape, give them mascara, have them crawl up a catwalk, and have them make out with a man and a woman.
If they wanted to do a REAL genderfuck, they could have gone a lot further. What makes pop-culture examples like David Bowie, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, or Madonna/Britney/Lady Gaga‘s bisexual turns so sensational is that they each came as a surprise during the show already in progress. In contrast, Jordan’s bisexuality is the show (and one that quickly ran out of steam). To really queer it up, they could have had him appear as a female wrestler looking to fight a male competitor. Jordan could have made out with a woman before the match, and then had his fake breasts torn off during the match, only to be lead away by his boyfriend after he pinned his competitor. Offensively campy, yes… but much more exciting and sensational than sitting him between a guy and a girl.
Unlike pro-wrestling’s other gay characters (such as Gorgeous George, the “Exotic” Adrian Street, Adrian Adonis, Rico, and the West Hollywood Blondes, Chuck and Billy), Jordan’s not just acting—he’s openly bisexual in real life. So maybe the newfound emphasis on his overt bisexuality isn’t just a ploy but also an acknowledgment of his actual life or an attempt to profit off of the sensationalism of recent gay celebrity outings.
Since the franchise is focusing on Orlando Jordan’s bisexuality, it’s because they plan of profiting off of it. But you gotta wonder: Who’s their target demographic. Bisexual men and women who’ll be turned on by his steamy and incredibly strained entrances? Or easily-offended fans who’ll foam at the mouth for Jordan to lose?