Dr. Anthony Lioi, a professor here at MIT who has mentored me in the course I'm teaching on the cultural history of American professional wrestling (Web site here), recently referred me to a Web site he had stumbled upon and paid special attention to due to his recent involvement in my planning the class here at MIT.
It's the Web site of Sheamus O'Shaunessy.
This "Irish Curse" is a pro wrestler from Ireland looking to use the Web as a way to get significant attention for his character from an international wrestling audience.
Anthony called it a "walking cultural studies article waiting to happen," and while I don't have time for that right now, I was intrigued with how the Web site and various transmedia extensions are used by an independent wrestler in this regard to sell his persona. While Anthony is probably right that some people of Irish ethnicity might not be so crazy about the blatant use of Irish stereotypes, the site includes a lot of extremely interesting promotional materials.
At the top of the list is O'Shaunessy's Second Life photo gallery, featuring a variety of shots of him on Second Life. The promotional blurb calls these pictures "the world's first ever virtual photoshoot inside the latest successful web interactive phenomenon Second Life." Well, at least this may be the first such photo shoot for the pro wrestling world.
O'Shaunessy may be best known to American fans for a brief appearance on WWE Raw back in November, when he was a security guard who received the Pedigree from wrestler HHH.
And the Web site even touts O'Shaunessy's involvement in The Escapist, the Rupert Wyatt movie filmed in Dublin.
O'Shaunnessy's site includes a lot of YouTube footage, in addition to the Second Life photo gallery, including Clan SOS, the wrestler's fan forum.
Pro wrestling personalities have long found ways to promote their own characters, as even the WWE personalities are considered independent contractors, although the company provides some health benefits for them. I know there are many independent pro wrestling personalities here in the United States actively using Web sites or MySpace to further promote themselves.
So, while I write about plans for the William Morris agency to launch devoted Web sites to their favorite personalities, let's not forget the great number of self-promoters already out there. And if one industry has self-promotion down, it is the world of professional wrestling.