Savage Pleasures

Savage Pleasures

This spring agents of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals staged the largest raid in the ASPCA’s 129-year history. Aided by thirty New York police, a dozen ASPCA agents swooped down on a converted movie theater in the Bronx and broke up an event billed as the “National Championship Cockfight.”

The national championship claim may have been hyperbole, but what the ASPCA agents found when they entered the theater was no local cockfight intended for neighborhood aficionados. The raid, which received front-page coverage in the New York Times, provided a startling portrait of a secret world in which promoters earn as much as $30,000 a night from admission fees, betting, and liquor sales. The converted Bronx theater where the cockfight was held contained a fighting pit and bleachers designed to be pulled together in case of a raid. Outside there were cameras and lookout guards stationed on roofs. Inside, in an area the size of a football field, was parking space for the 289 spectators who had paid $20 each for admission.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels