Mark Zupan (search) is no "woe-is-me gimp."
On the court, the tattooed captain of the United States Quadriplegic Rugby (search) team is crass, funny and totally fearless as he slams full-tilt into opponents.
When he's not competing, Zupan -- star of the documentary "Murderball (search)," which opens this weekend, can be just as much of a player.
"You can get away with a hell of a lot more in a wheelchair," says Zupan, drinking a Corona in his hotel suite and reflecting back on his single days before he met Jessica, his girlfriend.
"I mean, you've got an a--level view no matter what, so that doesn't hurt. And you can, like, do this" -- he mimes putting a hand squarely on someone's behind -- "and be like, 'Oh, I just grabbed your a--, I'm sorry,' and she looks at you and she's like, 'No, no, I'm sorry!'"
In "Murderball," Zupan and his quadriplegic teammates -- the sport defines the condition as having some impairment of all four limbs -- annihilate any audience expectations of a melodramatic wheelchair-victim tale.
They drink, flirt, talk trash, pull practical jokes (in one, their arm- and legless teammate hides under a box in a corner, then scares the hell out of a hotel busboy) and, most of the time, act like terstosterone-fueled guy's guys.
"Imagine if the whole cast of 'Jackass' (search) had broken their necks in some stupid stunt," says the film's co-director Henry Alex Rubin. "That would be our guys."
In fact, many of them did lose their ability to walk in reckless accidents. Hard-partying Zupan passed out in a pickup truck and was thrown from the back when a drunken friend hit the highway. Scott Hogsett got thrown off a balcony in a fight. Keith Cavill is a Motocross racer who wiped out. And Andy Cohn was in a car accident as a teenager.
Zupan, Hogsett, Cohn and Cavill have always been chick magnets -- but since the movie began getting attention, their popularity has skyrocketed.
"You should have seen it at Sundance," says Rubin. "This car drove by with all these beautiful girls in it, and one of them opened the window and shouted at Zupan, 'Coco thinks you're sexy!' And the other day in a bar, some chick just ran up and kissed him."
The guys take it in stride -- they've become accustomed to the attention you get as a hot guy rolling into a bar in a wheelchair -- but say they're still impressed at how insistent "Murderball" groupies can be.
"It's wild. We were in New York doing the premiere, and the girls there are so forward!" laughs Hogsett. "They knew my wife was there, they didn't care. Girls were coming up to my wife, saying, 'Your husband's hot!'"
Hogsett's wife, Michelle, tries to keep a sense of humor about the whole fame thing, but admits an occasional twinge of jealousy. "I don't love when women come and attack him on the dance floor and push me out of the way," she says.
And the first thing those women want to know is ... can they, you know, do it?
"A lot of people think, 'Oh, you're in a chair, you can't have sex.' I'm like, 'Honey, you have no idea,'" Zupan says. "No idea."
The guys say it usually takes 10 or 20 minutes for women to get around to asking The Question. "Sometimes it's even sooner," says Zupan.
The answer is, yes, they can -- and do.
"We started talking about the rivalry between quadriplegics and paraplegics -- quadriplegics can have sex, and paraplegics can't -- and it was organic to the story, because Zupan has this girlfriend, and Hogsett was sort of a ladies' man," says co-director Dana Shapiro.
"These guys are sexual beings. They're not at home with a blanket in their lap because they can't be men anymore. In fact, they're hypermasculine," Shapiro says.
He's not kidding. Cohn tells the story of one prodigious night after the team came in second at an international tournament: "I hooked up with two different girls from two different countries that night," he says. "I ended up with the silver -- but I think I still won."
The innocent-looking Cohn's been breaking hearts all over the globe, the directors say.
"When we went to Sweden, each team was given two high-school Swedish hostesses," says Shapiro. "Andy was the subject of a bitter fight between the two hostesses for Team USA. One got him and the other didn't -- and she was very mad!"
Cohn even has a foolproof fallback if he ever gets in too much trouble with the ladies. "One of my friends once told me, 'People expect a guy in a wheelchair to be retarded anyway -- so if you ever get in a bad situation, just act a little slow,'" he says.
Back in their respective hometowns on a regular Saturday night out, these guys' able-bodied friends are the ones at a disadvantage for female attention -- so they'll often take a spare wheelchair and ride along.
"A buddy of mine did that the other night," says Zupan. "He played the whole thing up, getting in the chair, moving his legs. The only problem is, our other friend was drunk and kept tackling him."
When the movie comes out, Zupan hopes it'll make people get over the "be nice to the poor little crippled kid" mentality he sometimes encounters.
"It's kind of funny," he says. "I was at New York Sports Club today lifting weights, and I dropped a glove, and this lady's like, 'Oh, oh, let me get that.' And I'm like, f---, lady, I'm at the gym! If I can't pick up my own f---ing glove, then why the f--- am I here?
"But of course, you don't say that," he says with a grin. "You're just like, 'I got it.'"