Cameras flashed, the crowd oohed and ahhed, and WWE superstar Jeff Hardy carefully painted a nose onto an oversized white canvas.
The WWE onslaught that culminates with Sunday's Wrestlemania XXV eased its way into Houston this evening in an unusually genteel (and slightly unsettling) fashion -- a charity auction called WrestlemaniArt.
Waiters in bow ties carried around trays of hors' doeuvres, and some of professional wrestling's more outrageous characters -- Jerry "The King" Lawler, Santino, Vicki Guerrero -- traded tights for red-carpet attire (or, in Hardy's case, acid jeans and a t-shirt) for the occasion. It took place in the Spanish Revival-styled Julia Ideson Building across from City Hall and was co-hosted by Mayor Bill White and Linda McMahon.
Hardy's creation, like the framed drawings hanging on the wall beside his brother (and tag-team partner) Matt's abstract paintings, ended up looking a lot like Strong Bad. The rest of the celebrity artwork covered quite a spectrum from there. Hair Balls would like to emphasize that the proceeds went to charity.
The Bella twins, for example, provided self-portraits.
J.T.G., whose WWE bio touts him as "street tough Brooklyn brawler in and out of the ring", came up with a rectangular slab of jeans with the word "Yo" pasted here and there and work boot soles glued onto each corner.
Mr. Kennedy had a drawing called "The Comedy of Tragedy".
Vicki Guerrero, wife of the late wrestler Eddie, did some scrapbook-style compilations -- HHH breaking through glass, a composite of her fictional (we think) marriage to Edge.
"I try to tell a story with each box," she told Hair Balls.
Vicki started scrapbooking 12 years ago, with pictures of her kids. At ringside she's a hated manager who hooks up with the Big Show behind Edge's back.
"I manipulate all the guys around to do what I want. It's the best job ever," she said.
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One of the more interesting pieces was a water-color flower titled "The Softer Side of Santino". Santino plays a bombastic Italian who often loses to women. He spoke with Hair Balls wearing the same metallic pink-ish shirt he's sporting here.
"I've always admired flowers. The fact that a flower can actually bloom is what makes it stand out," he said.
Santino then claimed to be an equal rights pioneer, and said he's hoping to score a match this weekend: "I'd like to challenge all the Divas to a Battle Royal, to show that I am the superior athlete."
That was as close to typical wrestling as things got.