Dumas gets hold on new career

Luchagors' singer leaves Lita, keeps the swagger

Amy Dumas (right), formerly pro wrestling's Lita, sees similarities in the sport and fronting the punk-rock band the Luchagors, in that there's a live audience and 'anything goes.'

Amy Dumas (right), formerly pro wrestling's Lita, sees similarities in the sport and fronting the punk-rock band the Luchagors, in that there's a live audience and "anything goes."

If, for some reason, you were planning on heckling the band playing at the Young Avenue Deli Saturday night, don't -- lest you find yourself on the hurtin' end of a Lou Thesz press or an El Kabong, your now soft, squishy, bloody face smashed into the Deli's cold concrete floor.

Amy Dumas (right), formerly pro wrestling's Lita, sees similarities in the sport and fronting the punk-rock band the Luchagors, in that there's a live audience and 'anything goes.'

Amy Dumas (right), formerly pro wrestling's Lita, sees similarities in the sport and fronting the punk-rock band the Luchagors, in that there's a live audience and "anything goes."

Usually when you read about a band's powerhouse vocalist, it is a reference to the singer's strong, clarion pipes or assured, skillful way with a song, qualities the Luchagors' Amy Dumas has in abundance. But the Atlanta native brings another, more deadly, meaning to the phrase.

For seven years Dumas was better known as World Wrestling Entertainment's Lita. A self-professed "skater chick" in high school, Dumas got into wrestling through an ex-boyfriend who was a fan. After studying in Mexico and paying her dues with several regional promotions, including Memphis Championship Wrestling, she moved up to Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation, where she acquired the ring name Lita.

A popular and frequently controversial character, Lita participated in the first women's Steel Cage Match and won the WWE's Women's Championship four times before retiring in 2006.

"I did a lot of groundbreaking stuff over my seven years there," says Dumas of her decision to leave the ring. "At that point, it just felt like it was going to be pretty redundant, and life's too short to just repeat what you've already been doing."

As recounted in her 2004 autobiography (written with Michael Krugman) "Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D.," Dumas was a punk-rock fan going back to when she was 13 and her best friend, Kerry Burke, took her to her first show, a double bill of 7 Seconds and the Circle Jerks.

"7 Seconds are still one of my biggest influences," Dumas says of the Nevada hardcore stalwarts.

After high school, Dumas played bass in several short-lived bands and worked as a roadie for five years, so it wasn't a stretch when she and her new boyfriend, Atlanta artist and guitarist Shane Morton, formed the Luchagors in the summer of 2006. (The name was a combination of the Mexican wrestling term "Lucha libre" and gore, an oblique tribute to horror-punk masters the Cramps.)

Now Dumas finds herself crisscrossing the country in a van with Morton and bandmates Jay Leslie Hedberg (bass) and Racci Shay Hart (drums). Gone are the perks that allowed Lita to concentrate solely on her craft.

"With the wrestling, everything except for the actual wrestling was done for you," say Dumas of her new beginning. "Whereas here, it's just the four of us. We don't even have roadies or a tour manager or anything like that. Everything from writing the songs to hauling our gear to getting to the show and playing, it's all just us."

That said, Dumas does see certain similarities between her old gig and her new one.

"Probably stand-up comedy is the only other thing comparable," Dumas says of the comparison between wrestling and fronting a rock band. "You've got that live audience in front of you and, sure, you can have somewhat of a game plan. But anything goes and there's going to be different variables to feed off of at any given time that may not have been there a minute before, and they're not going to be written down anywhere."

Though far removed from the bright lights and crowded arenas of the WWE, Dumas and the Luchagors have made modest inroads. The band received positive reviews for its self-released eponymous 2007 debut, which was recently picked up for European distribution with a tour to follow next month. And the band is working on a follow-up.

Meanwhile, Dumas remains intent on the Luchagors earning success on their own merits. She has never used her WWE connections to promote the band.

"We don't write songs about wrestling. We don't talk about wrestling. Lita will not be at the [show] tonight. It's two totally different things," she says, " which is really, really hard for wrestling fans to grasp."

The Luchagors with the Dirty Streets

Saturday at Young Avenue Deli, 2119 Young. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission: $7. For more information, visit youngavenuedeli.com.

© 2009 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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