Edith Surreal: Liminal


It’s the space between closing time and opening time. A hallway from one room to the next. The person and passage of time from the terminal diagnosis until death. The span of time between the second count and the third that rings the bell. 

Ever since I’ve seen Kenny Johnson’s documentary of independent wrestler Edith Surreal on YouTube, I was reminded of how she is a liminal space. What do I mean by that? Well, I’m glad you asked (even if you didn’t).

I’ve seen Edith periodically when her shows or matches would show up on my YouTube recommended or across Twitter’s timeline before the documentary and following watching it, but beyond these snippets in the sometimes hard-to-follow world of wrestling, it was even harder to dig deeper to find out more about her. Information on Wikipedia and fan wikis don’t bring much. You have to go to Cagematch to get a summary – her history of matches, what others think of her, her move set, but you won’t know her, until you know her. Until you witness her journey. Indie wrestling’s funny like that. Fittingly, that’s in line with her story and that of her peers – pouring their souls out, but not getting too much of recognition for it unless you delve to the source. 

But there is a way around that. Watch the shows and the matches, listen to interviews, read the articles, etc.

That isn’t to say that she’s a relative unknown. She’s been gaining traction since 2020, with her PWI ranking going from 140 in 2021 to 70 in 2022. Eyes are most certainly on her. There are plenty of interviews in wrestling media that feature her, such as Warren Hayes in this Belle to Belles spotlight on Edith.

She just doesn’t have the brightest spotlights on her, is all. Edith Surreal lives in a middle ground – beloved by the fans in the know, but not typically featured on television, which isn’t a prerequisite to be a great wrestler anyway. And that’s not where her story lies, or why she’s a striking talent. Why I personally find her a compelling fish in a sea I don’t swim in much to know the depths of. Among the many beautiful things to love about independent wrestling, it’s talents like Surreal, Robert Martyr, Kidd Bandit, and the recently retired Darius Lockhart that keep me coming in for a dive.

There’s something between the woman that wears the mask and the woman who does the art of wrestling, and that center is the woman who knows the fight must continue off of both canvases. A world that she, among those she fights alongside, should not have to fight, should not have to be strong for. All for the space in between the fight and the freedom. A woman that works with an army of others to bring voices and opportunities to others, and to ensure more comfort and safety in a world that they absolutely belong in.

And her mask symbolizes this, and the in-between during the passing of the curtain where human becomes persona and shoot becomes work. Her mask means something. Like Sting’s face paint, Raven’s grunge gear, Lita’s loose clothing, and Mercedes Mone’s wigs, Surreal’s mask represents identity, art, and agency. It is this symbol for those who follow her that will make her inevitably be a bit of wrestling and LGBT folklore. The mask is her truth and her power. 

How fitting is it, that a mouth obscured says the most about a part of society that has spent so much time being censored, silenced, and ignored? This may not be her intention – I do not know, because I do not know her, but this is the message I get and I feel it is a powerful one. To me, she represents those in the LGBT+ community and perhaps even beyond, who hate and fear their reflection in the mirror, who want to live life as the person they want to be and who they know themselves to be. It represents the constant, needless uphill battle to just simply belong.

I’ll get back to the mask later, I promise. For now, it’s time to delve into the woman that fills this liminal space.

Originally billed as Still Life With Apricots and Pears, Edith was trained on the independent circuit by the likes of Drew Gulak, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Cheeseburger while she made her beginnings at Chikara, but if you ask fans who’ve seen her before and after, who’ve lived through the liminal space, they’d tell you they saw potential in Still Life, while seeing it all coming together now that she’s Edith Surreal. 

In 2020, when Chikara dissolved, Still Life changed her name to Edith Surreal, and she hasn’t had to look back since. She’s always been Edith Surreal, after all. A technical wrestling masterpiece, she wrestles like someone fighting to live and who lives to fight. She’s formidable and strong at six feet tall and she has Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roller, and Melon Baller. What’s not to love? 

There’s a sheer power to her, and coupled with her holds and submissions, she doesn’t have to be a brawler, acrobat, or anything other than what she feels she needs to be, but if she must be those too, then so be it. In her freelance work within many places in the industry, she does exactly just that. 

Whether it’s GCW, Beyond Wrestling, Enjoy Wrestling, or wherever else will spotlight her story, she will fight and create art like her life depends on it. 

As a creator and storyteller myself, I sympathize with that. The need to have something put out into the world that will mean a lot to someone always makes it worth it, even if it isn’t seen by as many people.

With Edith, she damn sure has that connection that does point to a potential where fans will bat for her. I am recently among them. There is a market for her, as there is for every Gizele Shaw, Kidd Bandit, Veny, Nyla Rose, and on and on. There are more trans wrestlers both in the spotlight and away from it, all of them connect with fans whichever way they want and whichever way is natural. And they fight for each other to get chances and opportunities in any way they can.

Edith’s mask is her way. It’s the liminal space that hints that you think you know the woman underneath. You could feel her stretching your limbs, you may even see her tears and sweat. If she high-fives you on the way to the ring, the sensation of a hand colliding with yours, you would be under the impression that you know her as an individual. With that mask though, she represents so many people, at least that’s the impression that I get. She carries everyone who has held their voice to fit a world, and she uses another through combat and sport to speak for her. It’s her agency and her identity.

As with lucha libre or any wrestler who’s had a personal attachment to their mask, Edith’s is important to her. It’s the emotional tie, like owning a pet or having a loved one and she doesn’t want to let it go.

A perfect example of this would be the Mask vs Hair match at Enjoy Wrestling’s Night Moves on October 08, 2021, against Ziggy Haim. Ziggy was a psychotic monster who wanted to take from everyone and prove to everyone that she was to be feared. Edith wanted to keep her mask and retain herself. If she were to lose, she would simply not be.

The match is something beautiful. It’s powerful and it’s women putting themselves through hell for our entertainment. Stretches, dropkicks – there’s even a hellacious table spot that I love replaying. I recommend giving it a watch. 

The road to having the trans and LGBT community in general is a long way to seeing the end of. We are still in the liminal space between outdated, obsolete views, and the freedom that lets the people of the world freely express themselves. From shortsighted laws to a world of pure individuality.

To have Surreal be that symbol, like a superhero, she’s to some, what Sting was to young, disaffected young men, what Steve Austin was to blue-collar workers, what Rikidōzan was to the post-World War II Japanese, and what The Rock was to the black community. She’s the in-between of what is and what could be.

Stories like hers deserve to be told and shared so others can tell theirs. It’s surreal that it hasn’t happened that way yet, but it will be because wrestling needs talents like her.

Like any wrestler, Edith Surreal won’t last forever. Enjoy her while you can, for she is ephemeral. She is liminal.

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