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Big hair, big muscles, totally 80s: Glorious images & footage of the lady wrestlers of ‘GLOW’
05.26.2017
11:59 am
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A few of the girls of ‘GLOW’ back in the 80s.
 
Next month, on June 23rd Netflix is launching the highly anticipated series based on the gonzo television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or GLOW that got its start in Las Vegas back in 1986. I can’t lie—I’m one of those people who can hardly wait to binge-watch the series because I was a huge fan of the original TV series as well as the early days of the World Wrestling Federation (or the WWF) that dominated the television airwaves during the 80s.

If just the mere mention of GLOW makes you think you smell the heavy fragrance of Aqua Net while feeling terribly nostalgic for the gift that was bad television programming from the 80s, you are not alone. The decade was jam-packed with awesome and strange shows like Night Flight, The Young Ones, and Pee-wee’s Playhouse just to name a few. That was back when you could solve all your problems just by watching the tube while under the influence of Budweiser (tallboy, of course), and a $2 joint. Sure, I could easily reproduce that very same cheap buzz I just described but it just wouldn’t be the same now, would it? Getting back to GLOW, if you recall anything about the show you recall how purely campy it was, especially when the girls tried their hand at performing comedy skits. Then there was the cultivation of the right image for the fictional characters the women played on the show. For instance, there was Queen Kong (aka Dee Booher who also played “Matilda The Hun” on GLOW) who looked like a mashup of Divine and Fred Flintstone, and the blonde duo of Brandi Mae and Malibu looked like castoffs from another show that was still on the air during the 80s, Hee-Haw.

My personal favorites were always the girls who were decked out like the wrestling version of former Warlock vocalist Doro Pesch, who painted their faces like King Diamond, with glitter or Halloween spray-on hair color on their heads. There were a few that took on that style during the good-old-days of GLOW, following in the footsteps of season one stars Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky, “The Heavy Metal Sisters.” There was also seemingly no need for political correctness on GLOW and often girls would portray a character that was based on their actual or perceived ethnicity. “Palestina” (Janeen Jewett) was supposed to be some sort of Middle Eastern terrorist with a penchant for wrestling and Latino stuntwoman Erica Marr was dubbed “Spanish Red.” One of the show’s more popular attractions was Samoan wrestler “Mt Fuji” (Emily Dole), who was descended from actual Samoan royalty. Back in 1976 while she was still in high school Dole nearly made it to the Olympics, thanks to her shot putting skills. And it would seem that having the ability to hurl heavy, metal balls long distances also translated to being able to twirl a girl over her head before tossing her out of the ring. GLOW was good times.
 

A group shot of the girls of GLOW.
 
Don’t get me wrong here, despite its high levels of soap opera silliness, the girls of GLOW were mostly tough women who worked out hard, lifted weights and liked to show their guns off like Hulk Hogan. Some were even stuntwomen (like Erica Marr) who were trying to break into Hollywood by pretending to break their opponents’ bones in the ring. The concept of doing a show featuring female wrestlers following a scripted storyline was the genius idea of David McLane. McLane got his start working with Dick the Bruiser—the former 260-pound NFL star who started his three-decade-long wrestling career in the 1950s. McLane would quickly excel as a promoter and later as a blow-by-blow commentator for the WWA (World Wrestling Association). Now here’s where things get a little bizarre—McLane would reach out to Jackie Stallone, you know, Sly’s mom, who was running a ladies-only gymnasium in Las Vegas called Barbarella’s. He pitched his show to Stallone who in turn gave him access to the girls who frequented her gym. The pair then enlisted the talent of Italian producer, director, and screenwriter (who was also briefly married to Jayne Mansfield before she died), Matt Climber, and GLOW was born.

The show itself was shot in a ballroom at what used to be the Riviera in Las Vegas before it was demolished last year, and if there’s a more appropriate setting for a wrestling match featuring gorgeous half-dressed women, I don’t know what would be. The girls of GLOW lived in Vegas and when they were out in public the ladies were required to stay in character. Split into two classes, the “good girls” and the “bad girls” the wrestlers were not allowed to fraternize with members not in their designated groups and would be fined if they did. Many of the girls lived full-time at the Rivera which the management of GLOW paid for and received $300 bucks a week and free tickets to the hotel’s buffet for their work on the show. If all this has gotten you chomping at the bit in anticipation of the new series then I’d suggest you check out the fantastic 2012 documentary GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. I don’t want to give anything away about that but my eyes leaked a little when some of the former cast members were reunited, many of whom hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for two-plus decades. I’ve posted some great vintage shots of the girls of GLOW below as well as some footage from the original show, including the infamous “GLOW Rap” that opened season one. I also threw up the trailer for upcoming series of GLOW on Netflix in case you haven’t seen it yet.

If this trip down memory lane doesn’t make you smile, your lips might be broken. You should probably have that checked out. Some of the photos are slightly NSFW.
 

Dee Booher as “Matilda the Hun.” Booher has fallen on hard times and is currently trying to raise some much needed cash for medical expenses. Help out if you can here.
 

Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky aka “The Heavy Metal Sisters.”
 
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Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.26.2017
11:59 am
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Meet the legendary ‘glam rock’ wrestler of the 1970s, Adrian Street
02.10.2016
11:59 am
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In Britain during the 1970s live wrestling matches were broadcast every Saturday afternoon on the ITV channel. Millions of fans tuned in to watch such legendary British wrestlers as Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy. These men were working class heroes—no nonsense traditional wrestlers in trunks and boots. Though they looked like your Dad—a bit a chubby, with a liking for beer—in the ring they were ruthless. Each was a master of a particular wrestling technique with which they showed off their athletic prowess.

Then one Saturday there arrived Adrian Street—a peroxide blonde, in lipstick and mascara, nail polish and pantyhose. He was the most glamorous wrestler on the planet. Street was camp, outrageous, a glam rock wrestling superstar who dispatched his opponents without chipping a fingernail. He was the “merchant of menace,” the “sweet transvestite with a broken nose.” A herald of the social and sexual changes happening at full tilt across the country. He was loved and loathed in equal measure—an older generation feared what he represented; a younger generation embraced it.
 
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Each week Adrian turned up in more elaborate costumes, more glittering makeup and a selection of moves that brought the crowds to their feet. His trademark was to kiss his opponent. While they reeled from the shock of being kissed by another man, Adrian flattened them with a forearm smash, a drop kick, or his favorite the sleeper hold.

Adrian Street was born into a mining family in Brynmawr, Wales in 1940.  As a child he fantasized about running away with a tribe of Native American Indians. He wandered neighboring fields dreaming he was Tarzan and picking bluebells to give to his mother. In his teens he started body-building and briefly worked with his father down the mines. He then moved to London where he began his wrestling career in 1957. He was trained by Chic Osmond and fought under the name Kid Tarzan. During his time in London Adrian had his first taste of bohemia life hanging out with artists and writers most notably Francis Bacon. By the late sixties, Adrian reinvented himself as the androgynous wrestler “The Exotic One.” He went on to fight an estimated 15,000 bouts over a seven decade career.
 
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In 2010 the artist Jeremy Deller made a documentary on Adrian Street called So Many Ways To Hurt You. Deller had been inspired to make his film by a photograph of the wrestler.

I first became aware of [Adrian] through a photograph showing him with his father in 1973, which seemed to me possibly the most important photograph taken post-war. It encapsulates the whole history of Britain in that period – of our uneasy transition from being a centre of heavy industry to a producer of entertainment and services. It’s a rather bizarre and disturbing photograph, taken when Adrian went back to Wales, to the mine that he had worked in as a young man, to meet his father. Adrian’s still very much alive and still wrestling in Florida, where he has settled. He’s an incredible person, who has tremendous willpower and a great sense of his own worth. His story has an epic quality to it, he has basically reinvented himself for the late twentieth century.

As much of an influence as all the pop artists who liberated teenage minds during the 1970s, Adrian Street opened up a world of rich diversity to an older generation who had been shaped by the austerity and hardship of post-War Britain.

Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.10.2016
11:59 am
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Awesome Lucha Libre magazine covers from the 1970s
09.24.2014
12:38 pm
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Admittedly, I don’t know that much about Lucha libre (meaning “free wrestling”) culture. But what I do know is the costumes, colorful masks and buff bodies make for some interesting eye candy. These vintage magazine covers and pages from a Lucha libre glossy, I believe, prove my point nicely.

They sure as hell beat American-style wrestling getups, anyway!


 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.24.2014
12:38 pm
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Andy Warhol, wrestling fan?
05.19.2014
02:59 pm
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“I’m speechless. I just don’t know what to say.”

At some point during the 1980s, it made sense that MTV would try do something to take advantage of the pop culture juggernaut that was the World Wrestling Federation and some perceived rock/wrestling crossover that probably just boiled down to Cyndi Lauper’s dad being played by Captain Lou Albano in her “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video and little else.

“The War to Settle the Score” was a series of WWF matches with a storyline that involved Albano, Lauper and her manager David Wolff (I won’t bother to explain it in detail, but Albano was a manager and Wolff and Lauper are trying to steal clients.) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper got pissed off about the whole MTV connection and this brought another “feud” into the storyline, but also in real life.

Piper was disqualified from the championship match against Hulk Hogan and a brawl erupted.  At one point, Cyndi Lauper, who had rushed the ring with Mr. T to support Hogan, was kicked in the head.

Since the event was live, MTV had cameras set up backstage to interview Hogan, Lauper, Mr T and Albano afterwards, but Andy Warhol apparently opened the wrong door and was pulled into an impromptu interview with “Mean Gene” Okerlund.

You’ll notice that Okerlund refers to the Pope of Pop as a “one of the greatest wrestling fans” at the end.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.19.2014
02:59 pm
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Velvet portraits of wrestling greats
03.21.2014
01:23 pm
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Hulk Hogan
 
Velvet paintings and professional wrestling—a veritable chocolate and peanut butter of low culture combos! Artist Bruce White “believes that Elvis and Jesus are not the only icons of the world worthy of being immortalized on a velvety canvas,” and his show “VelvetMania” really captures the personalities of the great wrestling icons of yore. Many of the portraits you see below are for sale, should you be in the market for some fine (and fun) art.

For the unacquainted, professional wrestlers are far more than buff (or even not so buff) actors staging a phony fight—these men are the drag queens of heterosexual masculinity. If you grew up watching wrestling, the appeal is obvious. If you didn’t, I suggest you get right with God and YouTube some classic matches this very minute. If you don’t fall in love with the spectacle, I pity you. But how could you not? The swagger, the bombast, the mullets! The only real question is who to favor? Who will be your champion, and what does it say about you?!?

If you pick Hulk Hogan, you may be attracted to American classics, or you may just be a bore. Jake the Snake and Koko B. Ware (below) may appear to rely on a gimmick of animal companionship, but I assure you, they’re men of great charisma. Then we have Shawn Michaels for the glamor queens, and The Ultimate Warrior—the uber-buff “wrestler’s wrestler.”

You may remember “Rowdy” Roddy Piper from his brilliant performance in John Carpenter’s 1988 dystopic sci-fi classic, They Live, where he ad-libs one of the greatest tough guy lines of all time. Then, for the goth kids, we have The Undertaker—he had great entrances. But I saved my favorite for last—Mick Foley, as his unhinged character, Mankind, and his little friend, Mr. Socko. Fun fact, Mick Foley is a huge Tori Amos fan and does a lot of advocacy for victims of sexual violence. I fucking love Mick Foley, and he’s even a Hoosier, like myself. I’ve included his debut as Mankind at the end—the dude could really put on a show.
 

Jake the Snake
 

Koko B. Ware
 

Shawn Michaels
 
More of Bruce White’s velvet portraits of wrestlers after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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03.21.2014
01:23 pm
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BIlly Herrington and the Japanese cult of ‘Stylish Gay Wrestling’ (NSFW)

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What fresh madness is this? Well, apparently it’s the Japanese version of Rickrolling, “switch and bait” trolling using footage from American gay wrestling porn instead of Rick Astley, and it has been a relatively popular meme over there for the last few years.

As you can imagine from that description, it’s pretty fucking nuts. And very NSFW.

Much of this “wrestling series” stars a guy called Billy Herrington, who has become such a cult figure in Japan that a doll has been made in his honour (above, part of the “panty edition”.) You may have seen some of these kinds of clips before, in particular a 3D computer graphic version of Herrinton riding a clone of himself like a Segway, chasing after a guy on a steamroller, and thought “what the fuck am I watching?” Well, friends, wonder no more, thanks to the folks at Know Your Meme (Herrington also has his own Wiki page with more info.)

Here’s a great example of the wrestling series, an edit of a film called Bayollante, supposedly a parody of Bayonette. Even though this is completely made up, I love this quasi-review-cum-description by YouTube commenter skidreckums:

With a palette of visual effects that would make James Cameron blush and some of the most bone-crunching sound effects to be found outside of a Jell-O factory, Bayollante 4 leaves little to be imagined or desired by anyone lucky enough to stumble across this gem in their local video store’s import bargain bin. Fans of Bart Howard’s 1954 vocal jazz standard, Fly Me to the Moon, will also appreciate the subtle yet fully modern remix heading the otherwise brutal soundtrack. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that SEGAY really has outdone themselves this time. Just writing this review has gotten me wondering if I will ever be able to water my motorcycle with peace of mind again. The great thing about watching Bayollante 4 - Trillion Real Handguns isn’t seeing the beefcakes smack each other down with colorful energy attacks and hard gay magical summons, it’s showing everyone online that I did. It’s official, I’ll never be able to watch anything else again.

Bayollante - Stylish Gay Wrestling (in Japanese) - NSFW:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.22.2012
09:25 pm
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Grindhouse, Rocksteady & Andean Women Wrestlers: Oakland Underground Film Fest opens this week

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The crew that hooked up the Bay Area premiere of the fantastic blaxploitation spoof Black Dynamite returns to put on another wildly diverse Oakland Underground Film Festival for 2010. Screenings run from Sept. 23 through Sept. 26 at the Grand Lake Theater on 3200 Grand Ave. and the Linden Street Brewery on 95 Linden St. Check the Oakland UFF site for details.

The Fest features indie and DIY film, video, and projection-art based in the O, with special emphasis on local filmmakers, social justice, urban life, the environment and non-traditional filmmaking. Films on tap in the 2010 fest include Elijah Drenner’s survey of exploitation film American Grindhouse and Stascha Bader’s Jamaican music doc Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae.

One of the intriguing docs in this year’s lineup is Betty M. Park’s Mamachas Del Ring. It depicts the pressures of hustling in Bolivia’s lucha libre circuit on indigenous champion female wrestler Carmen Rosa and her crew of petticoat-and-bowler-hat-bedecked maulers.
 

 
After the jump: trailers for Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae and American Grindhouse
 

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Posted by Ron Nachmann
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09.20.2010
10:20 am
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