A team of artists led by filmmaker Charlie Cauchi have been gathering stories of Maltese people living abroad as part of a Valletta 2018-supported trans-media project called Latitude 36. Their travels have seen them visit Detroit, Toronto… and more recently New York.
It’s here that they met Malta The Damager, a seven-foot, second-generation Maltese wrestler who’s somewhat of a cult icon in Queens.
When not dressed in a long black cape adorned with an eight-pointed cross, Malta The Damager goes by the name of James Bonavia. Steadily approaching 50 years old, Bonavia was born into the world of professional wrestling. His uncle, Barron Mikel Scicluna, was an early pioneer of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, and his grandfather was a bodyguard for Archbishop Gonzi.
According to his Pro Wrestling mission statement, Malta The Damager is “leading the crusade against the evil, the bad, and the smut that plagues not only Professional Wrestling, but modern day civilization itself.” In fact, he regularly asserts that he’s not only a wrestler, but also a family man.
Malta The Damager has taken part in years’ worth of fights, and is even set to make his big screen debut next year. He’ll actually be playing the part of legendary wrestler Andre the Giant in the Hollywood blockbuster American Brawler, a film telling the real-life story of an underdog heavyweight wrestler in 1975.
A couple of months ago, Maltese artist Sebastian Tanti Burlò encountered Malta The Damager on his home turf during a wrestling match in the gymnasium of Queen’s Sacred Heart Academy. In a selection of photos by Burlò which were curated by Charlie Cauchi herself, the behemoth wrestler is portrayed doing what he does best; destroying the competition with a charming dash of drama.
This gritty, candid sample of Latitude 36 (aptly named WRESTLING.QUEENS) will be debuting this Sunday for the first of edition of Parlour. A new series of events celebrating creativity, Parlour is an exhibition of art, music and food, a veritable dream team-up between New York Best and Blank, who always come up with great alternative venues and ideas.
Parlour will be on every Sunday for the month of December, showcasing different artists from different fields. Along with live electronic music by Fabricka and Acidulant and mouthwatering street food by NYB brand-brother Fat Louie’s, this first edition of Parlour will be focusing on none other than WRESTLING.QUEENS.
Lovin Malta has been given an exclusive sneak peak of Burlò’s photos to share with our readers, including some snaps of the iconic Malta The Damager himself, and it sure looks like it’s going to be one for the history books.