Sergio Benitez aka Fray Tormenta aka the Real Nacho Libre

They laughed at me when I said I could write a review of “Nacho Libre” that tied the movie about lucha libre Mexican wrestling with noted philosopher of media studies Theodor Adorno. Well, who’s laughing now? Little did I know when I revealed that “Nacho Libre” is a comedy of tremendous depth that it was also based on a true story.

Don’t laugh. It’s all true. Well, a lot of it is true. The important stuff.

Fray Tormenta has been termed the real Nacho Libre because of his subversive underground plan to raise money for a Mexican orphanage. That successfully fulfilled plan kind of makes those Roman Catholic priests whose underground buggery is veiled behind the protection of the Vatican look even more repulsive by comparison. Tormenta’s effort to make the lives of young Catholic kids better is the kind of stuff you wish you could read about continuously when you study the history of the Church. While much of what is read in the Vatican library might be considered the stuff of comedy, Tormenta’s story seems less so, but “Nacho Libre” proves differently.

Tormenta spent nearly a quarter century strapping on the color masks that marks the appearance of the lucha libre wrestler known only too well to millions of Hispanic fans. Okay, okay, Fray Tormenta is not the real name of the priest. Fray Tormenta is a stage name, if you will, that translates roughly into Friar Storm. As in let’s get ready to…well, you know…Friar! Storm! Delectably scintillating as that moniker might be for any athlete in a Spanish-speaking country, it probably would not do as well for a village priest. So Sergio Benitez thought. Although, when you think about, Sergio Benitez has a certain kind of magical ring to it as well.

You will find Sergio “Fray Tormenta” Benitez referred to as “the real Nacho Libre” in various other profiles of the man, but it would be a mistake to assume that “Nacho Libre” is faithfully based on his life. The character that

Jack Black plays was an orphan with no siblings. Sergio Benitez had 17 siblings. Black’s character remains an innocent in a kind of fairytale world where the toughest individuals can be disposed of with a hilariously aimed piece of corn on the cob to the eye. Abject poverty made Benitez, by contrast, fall into the sordid world of drugs and the real life underworld.

Everything turned out for the best once a kindly priest intervened and helped Benitez get out of that life. Differences aplenty can be found between the real story of Fray Torment and the celluloid adventures of Nacho LIbre. The most fascinating and telling event that occurred on this side of the screen that was not replicated in the film. According to an interview Benitez granted SLAM! Sports Weekly, after a couple of years of leading his double life, a Catholic Bishop found out and told him to stop the wrestling. After Benitez let it be known that his doing so would mean a weekly visit to the Bishop to pick up money to for the orphanage, the Bishop had a change of heart.

Sometimes the comedy in real life exceeds that of its cinematic doppelganger.