It’s Pride Month! Throughout June, HollywoodLife is celebrating with The Sound Of Pride, where celebs and stars of the LBGTQ+ community pick songs for the ultimate 2023 Pride Month playlist. It’s the perfect soundtrack to planning your Pride party, researching how to protect LGBTQ+ rights, or reading about the history of Pride Month. This time, Dark Sheik — the High Priestess of the Church of Wrestling, founder of Hoodslam, and trailblazing wrestler — celebrates the fearless with her picks for the playlist.
“Every Pride event is amazing,” Dark Sheik tells HollywoodLife, “because, in a world where you’re made to feel a stranger, it is a beautiful thing to walk into a space and see people like yourself. We don’t often realize the importance of this communion, but it is healing and powerful.”
For over thirteen years, Dark Sheiks has fostered this communion with like-minded outsiders whenever she steps into the ring and through Hoodslam, her wrestling promotion. Blending wrestling, performance art, and reality, Hoodslam is an experience that proudly walks hand in hand with the sincere and the absurd. It is a company that features characters like Chupacabra, Cereal Man, Drugz Bunny (RIP), and The Stoner Brothers but puts them in rich stories that last years, stories that see these characters grow, flourish, and even die.
Hoodslam’s mission statement – “This Is Real” – was once best explained through a quote from writer/philosopher Alan Watts: “By seeing that Nothingness is the fundamental reality, and you see it’s your reality, then how can anything contaminate you? … Because you’re really Nothing, but this is the most incredible Nothing.” As such, Sheik has created a world out of this “most incredible Nothing,” one where reality is what one makes of it.
This reality is a haven for fans that mainstream wrestling often overlooks or straight-up ignores: women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Hoodslam has long celebrated the power of female characters with its beloved FEMMED OUT nights and has continued to spotlight talents that normally don’t get top billing.
“Being okay with gay people and minorities in wrestling, not talking down to our audience, give them fun characters, storylines for grownups. They really took to it,” Dark Sheik said to FOX KTVU about Hoodslam’s becoming the “accidental phenomenon” that it is today. “I’m a lot of things and one of them is trans. But more importantly, I’m a storyteller. I like doing things that are new and scary. We’re going to do things that are a little bit more risky and provocative.”
For fans in Oakland, they can see the next chapter in the story when Hoodslam puts on SUNNY DAYS on June 23, and American Scream on July 7. Both events will stream live on FITE+ if you can’t make it to Oakland. Until then, blast Sheik’s selections for The Sound Of Pride.
Kylie Minogue, “Padam Padam”
“Because Kylie said ‘Here’s a special gift just for us’ and right on time. And it’s the first song EFFY played for me in the car on June 1st.”
David Guetta & Sia, “Let’s Love”
“Because you just get to yell ‘let’s love’ over and over.”
Michael Jackson, “They Don’t Care About Us”
“[The song] just really hits sometimes, y’know?”
HL: How does this year’s Pride celebration feel when compared to last year’s?
Dark Sheik: “I tend to work straight through it, so my perception is skewed. But, the less the companies support us, the more I see us supporting each other. It’s a trade that I welcome wholeheartedly. We are stronger together, and it’s the company I’d rather celebrate with.”
Pride is a time to celebrate unsung heroes. Are there you’d like to see get some more of the spotlight this year?
“Since you’re asking me, I’m going to say me. But it feels that transmasculine people are often underrepresented, especially if they are people of color, and I’d love to hear an answer from someone any of that description applies to.”
Do you have a specific memory of Pride Months’ past?
“Every Pride event is amazing because, in a world where you’re made to feel a stranger, it is a beautiful thing to walk into a space and see people like yourself. We don’t often realize the importance of this communion, but it is healing and powerful.
“I’ve been lucky enough to perform during Pride at Hoodslam in Oakland and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch across multiple locations, and it’s a humbling experience. Acceptance from those I don’t respect isn’t something I see value in, but being able to be a representative for people like myself is inspiring in ways that go beyond performance.”
What do you have planned for June (and the rest of 2023?)
“I’m going to feed the stray cats and crows, perform in Vegas, Oakland, Minneapolis, Alberta Canada, and wherever else is fond of chaotic energy. And experience the celebration and joy that pervades from individuals who have the courage to cross the abyss within themselves and be the most honest version of themselves they can be, the freedom of the fearless.”
Do you have a Pride 2023 message to share?
“Be crime, do gay.”