No matter where we live, there is always a weird and unforeseen subculture just around the corner. In the case of the Ludas Wrestling School, where hulking dudes hurl chairs and body-slam each other for the amusement of small crowds, the excitement takes place in south Brooklyn.
Most of us don’t go looking for underground grappling venues in the depths of Greenwood Heights (let alone anywhere), but photographer Giacomo Fortunato obviously has, documenting his experience in Friday Night, an ongoing photo-project that captures the blood-spattered theatrics on display at Ludas.
Fortunato, who shoots for Wired and recently talked to the magazine about his project, also shoots pretty intimate portraits of the wrestlers, which range from silly and goofy to downright mean and evil.
But despite the wrestlers’ tendencies to showboat their personas, the athletes at Ludas take their crafts very seriously and train hard, risking injury by jumping off ladders and throwing each other onto table tops.
Fortunato told Wired that “people think wrestling is all fake, but it’s far from it.” His photos stay true to that statement, as they show blood spurting from foreheads and giant men clutching barbed-wire laced bats. They are very real indications that Ludas’ athletes put their bodies on the line, and that they love the adrenaline surge of competition.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the action at Ludas, check out their website for competitions listings. Just don’t be surprised if you catch an unintentional shoulder-check from one of the high-flying wrasslers. It’s a high-risk spectator sport.