Casanova Valentine is known as the king of underground “no-ring” death matches in Brooklyn and beyond. Every couple of months, he organizes a bloody battle in a small pizzeria and event space in Greenpoint called the Kingsland. But on May 12, his bout wasn’t just another fight, it was Valentine’s 100th deathmatch, dubbed the “Seance of Suffering.”
For those readers who didn’t grow up on a steady diet of WWF, no-ring deathmatches are a particularly brutal style of hardcore wrestling where anything goes. Weapons are allowed — and indeed encouraged by an audience that expects bloodshed. “It’s G.G. Allin meets pro-wrestling mixed with nightlife,” Valentine once told Vice.
Warm up act: Dominick Denaro strangles Gabriel Skye with medical tape (Alex Kent)
Friday night started with a March Madness-style tournament that led up to the headliner, with three matches fought by four wrestlers. After winning their matches, Gabriel Skye and Dominick Denaro faced off for first place. As they entered the small venue fans poured beer into Skye’s mouth and forced a slice of pizza onto Denaro, which he promptly shoved into his mouth. These carbs didn’t slow Skyel’s acrobatic flips or Denaro from strangling his opponent with medical tape. Skye ultimately came out victorious after body-slamming Denaro through a wooden door.
Theodora Ballstein pours beer into Gabriel Skye’s mouth as he approaches the makeshift arena (Alex Kent)
Between matches, the New City Fear go-go dancers — Leah and Happy Bun Bun — entertained the audience by gyrating on the bar, while attendees ordered pizza and drinks. The main event, the titular “Seance of Suffering,” went down an improvised ring created by four skeleton-mask-wearing entities holding barbed wire over a pentagram. Within these dangerous boundaries, headliner Casanova Valentine faced off with his nemesis, Kit Osbourne.
Leah and Happy Bun Bun dance on the bar (Alex Kent)
Osborne opened with his signature move — throwing sand into the eyes and wounds of Valentine — and tried to force Valentine’s face into the barbed wire barriers. In return, Valentine raked a metal gardening tool across Kit’s back and face, drawing copious amounts of real blood.
Kit Osbourne uses a metal instrument to cut Casanova (Alex Kent)
The two went tit for tat, breaking fluorescent lights over each other’s backs. Valentine slammed Osbourne through a table and was pinning him for the win, when one of the masked individuals holding the barbed wire intervened and clocked Valentine over the head with a metal bell.
Casanova Valentine breaks a fluorescent light over Osbourne’s back (Alex Kent)
And with that, in the major twist of the night, victory was stolen from Valentine by the Cold-Hearted Playa, an older rival of Valentine. As Valentine lay in the remnants of the shattered door, covered in blood, Osbourne claimed victory and the Cold-Hearted Playa vowed to face off with Valentine one-on-one for a deathmatch on June 9.
Osbourne, covered in blood, stands up after pinning Casanova (Alex Kent)
Not only does Valentine wrestle in these events, he hand draws the flyers, organizes the fighters, and hosts the matches. These evenings themselves fall in a legal gray area, though. The New York Athletic Commission requires combative sports to hold special insurance, have an ambulance on standby, and forbids weapons. By calling the brawls performance art, Valentine circumvents the commission’s regulations. A former art major, Casanova insists that art is in fact at the heart of all of these performances. “Whether it’s a paintbrush or my fists,” art is at the heart of everything he does.
Fan Zac Amico sits on the stage between fights (Alex Kent)
There is still no official posting for the June 9 showdown, so the curious can find updates on Instagram by following Valentine and New Fear City.