Gio isn't the only EFW member who pictures his father at strange times. Rich does, too, but he does it when he's enraged.
Rich Teixeira is a 17-year-old, dirty-blond-haired boy who carries his 340 pounds on a six-foot-one frame. His size alone intimidates, a fact that pleases him. "I've been in fights since I was little," he says. "That's just me. I've always been bigger than anyone else, and I have always felt I have that little bit of power. It's a power trip."
But something else drives him to violence, he says: his father. Rich moved to Florida from New England with his mother, Regina Teixeira, last March because, they say, his dad threatened them. They also say Rich's father is thousands of dollars behind on child-support payments. Rich contends he feared his dad until his parents divorced when he was about 11 years old. (Despite extensive efforts New Times was unable to reach Rich's father for comment.)
"I know I hate my dad," Rich says. "My mom says he hit me with a closed fist, but I don't remember that. I do remember him beating me with a belt to where I couldn't walk up the stairs. He had a cow whip and used to threaten me with it. A couple of times, he hit me with it. And he had these ninja swords he used to threaten me with, too."
Rich says that, no matter how hard he tries to forget his father, he can't do it. "When I get angry, I start seeing pictures of my father everywhere," Rich says. "I get flashbacks of him beating me as a kid." Before Rich came to Florida, his anger spilled over in high school. He fought another student in the hallway, and the other kid suffered a concussion in the fracas. Rich was convicted of assault, sentenced to probation, and is now undergoing therapy to help him cope with his anger. He says backyard wrestling provides him with an ideal relief valve. "I'm played out on the fighting and violence," he says. "I hate it. All I do now is wrestle."
Rich, who was an honor student in middle school, now ekes out a C average, "just enough to graduate," he says. He attributes his scholastic decline to smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. He says he'll either attend community college or join the army. Like all the EFW kids, Rich has endearing qualities. He's smart, acutely sensitive, and cares deeply about his friends. When something goes wrong during a show -- like the time he accidentally staple-gunned David's forehead or when John seriously injured himself with the razor blade -- Rich is usually the only crew member who shows emotion. At these times he becomes distraught and seems to cry, but with a boyish machismo, he denies shedding tears. "It's a family," he says of EFW. "That's the way most of us look at it. I needed to get friends down here [in Florida], and these guys are like family to me."
At the end of the February 24 show, however, a member of his real family flashed in his mind: his father. And that was not a good thing.
EFW members have a fitting plan for the end of the performance. In the spirit of blending sex and wrestling that works so well in the professional ranks, they are going to propose the girls in the audience participate in a wet T-shirt contest. But Rich has something else on his mind: that orange. He and his friends work way too hard on the craft of wrestling to be pelted with fruit. So Rich confronts the crowd member who he believes tossed the offending piece of citrus, a skinny, dark-complexioned 15-year-old named Frankie. Soon, the two of them square off in the middle of the backyard.
"Fuck you!" Rich yells.
"Like I fucked your mama last night," Frankie shoots back.
Rich gets in Frankie's face.
"Wop!" Rich yells.
"What the fuck are you?" says Frankie, backing off a bit.
"I'm 340 pounds of person who will beat the shit out of you!" Rich replies, his head shaking in rage and his massive belly bumping Frankie backward. Rich then exhorts Frankie to hit him, to provide Rich with an excuse to beat him into the ground.
Some in the crowd seem to believe this is all still part of the show. They laugh and watch in anticipation, perhaps of a body slam onto a bed of thumbtacks. Rich, too, is still caught up in the excitement. He's demonstrative and wild, much like his pro-wrestling idols. Later he admits he was still pumped up from the show and wasn't really prepared for what followed: Frankie, dancing around and appearing understandably nervous, looks away for a moment before shooting a stinging right to Rich's jaw.