As Mexican lucha libre wrestlers who are most easily recognized for their dramatic stylizations and their feats of strength and grace, exóticos defy convention and categorization even as they constitute their own genre of wrestling. While the ‘exótico’ category typically includes luchadores who identify as gay men, the category itself is not solely based on gender identity or sexual orientation, but rather on a common mode of exótico performance. This study seeks to understand how exóticos engage with and contest heteronormative hierarchies and structures of hegemonic gender relations that would inscribe men who perform femininity and stereotypes of homosexuality in positions of inferiority. By examining exóticos’ experiences with becoming exóticos, their performative practices, how they interact with other exóticos and other luchadores (“wrestlers”), as well as how they move through public and activist spaces, this dissertation considers both the ways that exóticos disrupt heteronormativity and the ways in which their practices may reinscribe it, especially with regard to trans exóticas. Drawing on data from 16 semi- structured interviews, this dissertation documents and amplifies the experiences and perspectives of exótico wrestlers both as a subculture and as a category of wrestlers with growing popularity. By connecting queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, and performance studies, this research aims to contribute to the growing discussions of gender performativity within exótico wrestling and the broader cultural implications of exóticos’ performances on attitudes towards lucha libre, exóticos, queer identities, and LGBTTTI activist movements.