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CASSANDRO THE EXOTICO! (in theaters) Review by Veronica LeDezma

Director: Marie Losier Writers: Marie Losier, Antoine Barraud Producers: Carole Chassaing, Antoine Barraud Distributor: Film Movement Language: English and Spanish with English subtitles Running Time: 73 mins.

Saul Armendariz, also known as Cassandro or the Liberace of Lucha Libre, is part of a niche of luchadores (masked or sometimes unmasked, but always campy wrestlers) that call themselves The Exoticos. At 49 years old, the one time World Champion of this sport, opens up in this documentary about the struggles of making a name for himself in a field that is predominantly ruled by machista values.

Although this film does not portray Cassandro’s story in a tone worthy of his illustrious life, it still is well worth seeing as it depicts a little known genre of Mexican queer culture in sports. Marie Losier fails to capture quite a bit of his life story, so a viewer not familiar with his personal life and career, misses out on various details that make this man so iconic.

As an Exotico, Cassandro enters the wrestling ring in flamboyant and extravagant costumes that border on the gaudy side. However, he still is able to maintain an elegant dignity about him. The gymnastic prowess he demonstrates is impressive and physically demanding to the point where his health has been compromised more than once throughout his 25 plus years on the circuit. He shares with us his obstacles with rejection from both his family and his peers, his battles with drug addiction, sexual abuse and mental health issues.

His dedication to the sport is obvious and he demonstrates that not only in the colorful pageantry he delivers but also in his magnificent and professional showmanship. He is a trailblazer who fought against being known as just a “gay” luchador while still being an open representation for the LGBTQ+ community.

Ultimately, we witness a man attempting to obtain a compromise within himself when his heart and soul wishes to continue his passion while his body fails and cries out in defiance.


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