The latest from William Finnegan is a beaut:

Sa├║l Armend├íriz grew up in one of the world's weirder double cities: El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Ju├írez, Mexico. Born in El Paso, he lived, always, on both sides of the border. "I went to school in El Paso, but on Friday my sisters and I would run over the bridge to Ju├írez," he says. The fun and the family were mostly in Ju├írez. At the top of the fun list, for Sa├║l, waslucha libreÔÇöthe flashy, popular Mexican brand of professional wrestling. Every barrio had a small arena where masked heroes (t├ęcnicos) and villains (rudos) grappled and whirled and tossed one another around on Sundays. Sa├║l loved the gaudy costumes. He loved the rowdy, passionate crowds. He idolized the larger-than-life luchadores. He was not a big kid, but he was athletic and quick and in desperate need of an alter ego.

"Being gay is a gift from God," Armendáriz told me recently. That was not his experience as a child. He remembers being brutally punished, at a very young age, for playing patty-cake, a girl's game, with a like-minded boy at school. His parents, particularly his father, were mortified by his effeminacy. "My dad was amachista," he said. "He did not want a gay son." His father, a truck driver, drank; he beat Saúl's mother. They divorced when Saúl was thirteen. Other kids were also rough. "Boys in the neighborhood, including my own relatives, used me as a sex toy," he told me.

Armend├íriz, who is forty-four, stood at a dressing-room mirror in Los Angeles, putting on green-glitter eyeshadow, while recalling these horrors. He did not seem notably detached from, or perturbed by, what he was saying, but somewhere in between. "I am not a victim," he said firmly. Then he gave a small sigh and started putting on lipstickÔÇöfire-engine red. "But I am still so damaged." He glued on a pair of false eyelashes. He was transforming Sa├║l into his lucha character, the fabulous world welterweight champion Cassandro.

[Photo Credit: El Paso Times]