My Weekend with Wrestlers.

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The last thing I expected when I attended a cousin’s wedding a few weeks ago was to reconnect with a family friend/fellow wrestling fan and be swept up in a two-week whirlwind of wrestling mania.

But that’s what happened to me and I’ve been reeling ever since.

A bit of background: I’ve been a die hard wrestling fan for twelve years, and even though I can’t afford/my landlord won’t let me have cable television to watch weekly episodes of WWE Raw, SmackDown!, Main Event and NXT, I try to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world of professional wrestling, and I never miss a WrestleMania. (For the uninitiated, WrestleMania is a yearly wrestling spectacular that brings the biggest stars [The Rock, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, The Undertaker, etc.] together in some of the most memorable moments [Hogan lifting the over-500 pound Andre the Giant in a scoop slam at WrestleMania III, The Undertaker’s undefeated streak, Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from 20 feet above the ring at WrestleMania X-Seven, the Money in the Bank ladder matches] in wrestling history.) One of my grandma’s close friends, Zoran—a huge wrestling fan and promoter who is married to the cousin of a WWE Superstar—and I have been introduced once or twice before and bonded over our mutual interest, but that was really the extent of our relationship.

So when we ran into each other at the aforementioned wedding, you can bet wrestling was on the conversational agenda. My answer when asked if I was still into it was, “Hell yeah, I just met Mick Foley last week!” Zoran revealed he was actually the photographer for Foley’s show, and that they went out to dinner prior. If only that wedding had’ve been the week before…

Zoran also told me that as of the following week he was working on a film project with a bunch of former WWE stars: Nick “Eugene” Dinsmore, Orlando Jordan, Gene Snitsky, “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters, Carlito and Rob Conway, as well as Ohio Valley Wrestling star, Mohamad Ali Vaez, and that I should come out for dinner with them later that week. He didn’t have to ask me twice.

In the days leading up to the dinner, I contracted a stomach bug. Great! After a few days off work, I mustered up enough physical strength to trek to Prahan for dinner to sip lemonade while everyone else indulged in a three-course meal. There I spoke a little with Nick, Orlando, Rob and some non-wrestling company including Zoran’s lovely wife Carrie, but mainly kept quiet as I pondered Zoran’s previous offer to be involved in the film as a wrestling valet. Or, a piece of eye candy that escorts wrestlers to the ring, for those not in the know.

As soon as I was dropped home by Zoran and Nick and stepped in my front door I decided to do it. After all, it’s not every day you can say you spent the evening at dinner with some of the world’s most famous wrestlers, let alone engage in a working relationship with them!

At a barbeque a few days later, I got to know some of the wrestlers a bit better, namely Rob and Ali, met some more people involved in the film, and was privy to bits and pieces of the film’s storyline. It was there that my feminist tendencies were revealed in conversation (something I’m still trying to reconcile with my wrestling fandom: watch this space), and were continuously brought up throughout the rest of my time with them. While many people tend to tune out when the topic of gender equality comes up, I think most of the wrestlers really got a kick out of being around a feminist; something I don’t imagine happens very often.

It was also at the barbeque that Zoran invited me to go up to my hometown, Bendigo, for the filming and some club-hopping with the group the following weekend.

It’d been years since I’d experienced the insular nightlife of Bendigo, and I was feeling some trepidation about it. But, again, when else am I ever going to hang out with wrestlers I grew up watching in the town I grew up in? Worlds collide…

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So, on a Friday night after work, I took the train up, dumped my stuff at my mum’s house, and headed out to meet the group. We hit up a couple of relatively dead bars before ending up on the top floor of Huha, where people over 21 and music with words and a decipherable beat go to die. I gravitated towards Zoran, Carrie, their friend Merrin and the two guys who were filming the late-night shenanigans, Corey and Sam, as they seemed to have a similar attitude as me to the atmosphere of the club.

It wasn’t a total loss, though; I got a free drink, saw a childhood friend, got to wear an outfit I’d been wanting to debut for months, and had a D&M about U.S. politics, feminism and Tupac with Chris, who I had yet to really get to know.

Me and a couple of others eventually convinced the group to gravitate downstairs where they were actually playing good music. By that point we’d lost Zoran, Ali, Corey and Sam and their cameras, and Nick.  I had a dance to a few songs, but by about 2:30am with no end in sight for the rest of the revelers, I called it a night and went home.

The next day, after barely any sleep from ruminating about the surreality of the previous night, I caught a ride with Corey to the location of that day’s filming, a property out whoop-whoop. We stood around in the sun for a few hours while production managers, investors, the film crew and hired help set up for that night’s scene, until it was time to go and pick up the wrestlers and their food.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur, as I became increasingly anxious about my cameo appearance in the project. What started out as a simple valet job that required next to no acting transformed into my character (check me out, I have a character!) needing a reason to suddenly appear on the scene as a valet. At one point the idea of me physically interfering in Chris and Carlito’s match and getting spanked for my efforts (see how troublingly sexist wrestling can be?) was brought up, but was scrapped due to my inexperience in and around the ring and the likelihood that I could get hurt.

We shot a few takes of my eventual cameo in the hot early evening sun and it was over in less than twenty minutes, so I worked myself up over nothing. What I really should have been focusing on, though, was navigating my through the ring ropes in heels, which I’ve never done before. Hell, I’ve never even been in a wrestling ring, period.

Nick, Gene, Chris and Carlito (who I ended up escorting as a tag team) were super helpful and advised me of what I needed to do and when. I did experience some “displacement” (Chris and Carlito’s take on anxiety, from what I could understand of their sophomoric antics) in the lead up, but I’d like to think that dissipated once I clambered into the back of a ute (our mode of transportation to the ring in the middle of a dusty paddock), struggled my way between the bottom and middle ropes (according to wrestling “etiquette”, that’s the way women have to get into the ring, even if they’re too tall and wearing too high a pair of heels, with the exception of Stacy Keibler) and self-consciously cheered for my team on the outside of the ring. Only time—and the footage—will tell, I guess…

After the match we could relax, so I sat outside on the patio and chatted to Chris, Carlito, Ali and Gene, whom I probably connected with the most out of all the guys, and I got a foot massage (you can find a photo of the aftermath of said massage on Gene’s Twitter…) and a Masterlock as part of my initiation (see video above). When the filming had finished and everyone was covered in all manner of wrestling-in-a-paddock by-products (sweat, baby oil or “physique enhancer”, dirt) and in need of some serious “isolation” (another Chris ’n’ Carlito coined term for relaxation), we all went outside to take some photos in the ring to commemorate what is sure to be one of the most memorable nights of my life: the night I became a wrestling valet.

Stay tuned for more wrestling shenanigans as I attempt to unpack the culture of masculinity in the sport (entertainment) and how a feminist can really call herself a wrestling fan.

Related: Last Night I Met the Only Man Who Can Be Identified By Googling the Words “Hardcore Legend”, “Hell in a Cell” & “Feminist”: Mick Foley.

Elsewhere: [YouTube] SnitskyTV.

Images via Facebook.

Last Night I Met the Only Man Who Can Be Identified by Googling the Words “Hardcore Legend”, “Hell in a Cell” and “Feminist”: Mick Foley.

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Do yourself a favour: look him up.

Related: Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley Review.

Loving… Mick Foley.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Greatest Person of the Day—Pro-Wrestler Mick Foley Works to Prevent Sexual Assault.

[Jezebel] Wrestling Star Mick Foley Blows Our Collective Mind.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

On the censorship of Andrej Pejic’s Dossier cover:

“… why is Pejic’s cover getting the same treatment as a porno mag? What message are the big bookstore chains sending—that the male torso is only appropriate [for] all-ages viewing when the man in question is ripped?”

Mia Freedman on when life begins.

SlutWalker Leslie Cannold on “the right to be equally mediocre”.

Speaking of SlutWalk, the Melbourne event’s coordinator, Clem Bastow, writes on the event for the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ostentatious disgustingness of “Push Presents”.

Glee: give fat girls a chance.

 The militant atheist doesn’t exist.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual assault allegations are one in the same, according to “The Media’s Groping Problem”.

In the same vein: why powerful men sexually assault women.

From Texas’ hottest sex offenders to Strauss-Kahn’s “hot-or-not” accuser.

What would “a word where Aspergers was the norm” look like? “Girls who spend hours a day straightening their hair are recommended for counselling,” amongst other things.

Rebecca Sparrow on “Hollywood’s Fake Teenagers”.

As if we didn’t need another reason to love Mick Foley: the Huffington Post names him their “Greatest Person of the Day”.

Meghan McCain rips the sexist and sizist Glenn Beck a new one.

Much to my mother’s—and her fellow kindy mums’—dismay, my big-for-her-age, four-year-old sister refused to walk to preschool, so Mum was forced to push her in a stroller. Check out Too Big For Stroller for more on this hideous phenomenon.

Are child murderers born evil or created?

In the case of toddler James Bulger’s murderers (one of whom re-offended after being released and is now back in jail), and Dontez Tillman and Thomas McCloud, who beat and tortured “two homeless men over the course of two days”, I tend to lean towards them being “born that way”. If Law & Order and Criminal Minds have taught us anything, it’s that children who demonstrate these kinds of behaviours usually turn out to be sociopathic serial killers.

Image via Queer Me Up, Psychology Today, Even Without Popcorn.

Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

So this review was originally going to be about Bendigo’s Book Mark, which still remains the best secondhand book store I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Such gems I’ve managed to find there are Mick Foley’s rare first novel, Tietam Brown, and a $7 copy of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. I scoured the shelves for over an hour looking for that one. When I took it to the counter, the man who served me marveled at it being left on the shelves; he’d put all Jackson-related literature on their website to be sold at an elevated price after his sudden death.

But perhaps my friend Hannah and I left it too late on a Saturday afternoon to visit the shop: they close at 4pm and we got there at 4:05!

So we decided instead to venture over to Book Now, located at 1 Farmers Lane, opposite Rosiland Park. There’s no denying I’ve gotten some good titles there before—a first edition of The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving springs to mind—but I find it a bit stuffy and overpriced for a secondhand book store.

However, this weekend’s trip yielded some fantastic finds for both me and Hannah. Hannah is studying to be a doctor in Russian history and social sciences, so she took home a book on Nicholas II of Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, parents of Anastasia of Russia, and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I knew Book Now has a large collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, so I rummaged through them in the vain hope of finding My Sister, My Love, a recent novel based on the JonBenet Ramsey murder. And low and behold, I did find it resting on a shelf right up the back of the shop.

My Book Now trip was pretty much complete after that, however I did spot some Armistead Maupin titles, and picked up a few of those. (To be honest, I own so many of his books I wasn’t 100% sure that I don’t already own The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon. But at $6 a pop, who am I to complain if I do?!) Finally, I stumbled across Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and decided to add that to my ever-growing pile.

So what began as a somewhat disappointing afternoon when Book Mark wasn’t open, ended as a surprisingly great one, with four new additions to my bookshelf.

Bendigo only has a few really good bookstores, so if you’re ever up in Central Victoria, visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery (stay tuned for more this afternoon) or the Golden Dragon Chinese Museum, pop on over to Book Now or Book Mark.

I know I will on my next visit.

Related: Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving Review.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Armistead Maupin in Conversation with Noni Hazlehurst.

Elsewhere: [Book Now] Homepage.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.

Image via Book Now.

Book Review: Countdown to Lockdown—A Hardcore Journal by Mick Foley.

 

Midway through Countdown to Lockdown, wrestler Mick Foley’s fourth memoir and ninth published work, the author says that “June 24, 2007, had been a disaster, probably one of the worst days of my year, possibly even my life” (p. 215). And that was before he’d heard the news that colleague Chris Benoit and his family had been murdered.

Of course, it was later revealed that Benoit had committed a double murder-suicide, murdering his wife and son in their home. Foley uses the tragedy as a cautionary tale to others in the business, warning of the affects of not only drugs, but the lonely business professional wrestling can be if you aren’t one of the lucky few to be on top of it.

Aside from the small portion of the book that deals with Benoit, death, drugs and Foley’s unhappiness with his final stint as an announcer in World Wrestling Entertainment in 2008 (which you can find some funny anecdotes about on pages 143–144), the rest is a riot.

Countdown to Lockdown is very much all about family, as are all of Foley’s books in some way or another. Another strong emblem of the memoir is Tori Amos. Odd, I know, but hear him out.

Foley was touched by “Winter” by Tori Amos, and it helped him get through one of his most brutal matches in Japan, in which he lost an ear via barbed wire hanging:

“And then there’s Mick Foley, who took the most beautiful song ever written and turned it into his own twisted ode to suffering and woe…” (p. 72).

Readers of Slate, Jezebel or this here blog from time to time will know that Mick Foley has been named man of the year by the Good Men Project, is a volunteer for Amos’ charity, RAINN and labels himself a feminist, amongst many other good deeds he’s used his wrestling career for.

I can’t recommend this—nor any of Foley’s books—enough. It’s got the perfect combination of violence and morbidity, family and fun, humour and intelligence, and empathy and charity.

Related: The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Elsewhere: [Slate] The Wrestler & the Cornflake Girl.

[Jezebel] Wrestling Star Mick Foley Blows Our Collective Mind.

[The Good Men Project] Top 10 Good Men of 2010: Mick Foley.

 

On the (Rest of the) Net.

(Sorry, only one picture this week as I wrote this quite late at night—hey, 9pm is late for me, okay! I live the lifestyle of a grandma. In fact, I think my grandma stays up later than I do!—and just wasn’t inspired.)

There’s a lot of content worth reading on MamaMia at the moment:

“Would you wear Nicole Richie’s wedding dress?” Yes, if it were a little less poofy and a little more ivory. In fact, it is somewhat similar to the wedding dress I have created in my mind for my own wedding. Now, to find that pesky groom…

By the same guy who brought you the brilliant “17 Arguments Against Gay Marriage & Why They’re Bollocks” comes the equally as brilliant “10 Things You Need to Understand About Asylum Seekers”.

This is worth taking a look at if you care at all about where your supermarket eggs come from.

And finally, is Shane Warne punching above his weight? He sure is, but really, who cares? While I can’t stand Warney and think he is the king of the douches, good on him for bagging someone as hot as Liz Hurley. But shame on her for allowing herself to be seduced by said king of the douches.

Rachel Hills on what’s in and what’s out for 2011:

“Fool: Binge drinking.

“Cool: Binge thinking.

“… Fool: Staying out til 3am because it’s a Friday night and that’s what you’re supposed to do.

“Cool: Staying in on weekends if that’s what you feel like doing, going out on weeknights if there’s something cool on…

“Fool: Internet fameballs and feigning a glamorous life in the hope of inspiring envy in others. Lifecasting.

“Cool: Mindcasting. Reading other people’s blogs instead of just trying to get them to read yours.”

Tiger Beatdown’s fun facts about straight people:

  • “Most of them are not dangerous!
  • “Some of them are actually quite lovely people.
  • “Straight people are not as violent as they are portrayed in action movies.
  • “Straight people are your neighbors, your friends, members of your community. You may be related to a straight person, or even share a room with one in the hospital.
  • “I mean it TAKES ALL KINDS, amirite?
  • “Tomorrow, while you are attending the daily Straight Pride Parades that form the totality of public life in America, take a moment to tell a straight person you support their life decisions.
  • “Tell them you know many fine straight people.
  • “Then put your hand near their ear, and pretend to find a silver dollar there. They love that shit.

“Straight people will NOT:

  • “Try to make you straight. [Early Bird note: This does not apply to me and my best gay friend/husband Jason, whom I will never stop trying to make straight!]
  • “(Not that it would work, amirite?)
  • “Make it impossible for you to appreciate Ani DiFranco on rainy days.
  • “Make you want to move to Florida.
  • “Inject a lot of brown into your wardrobe.
  • “Drag you on a cruise and then spend two weeks complaining about how few deck chairs there are.”

Just one of the reasons SJP and SATC ruined NYC:

“Cheated on your boyfriend? Threw a public hissy fit? OMG, it’s just like that one episode of ‘SATC’! So don’t sweat your own stupid, overly dramatic behaviour… everything will be okay when the credits roll in 20 minutes. Or, you know, not.”

Sady Doyle on the Julian Assange rape allegations:

“.. You know who doesn’t stand to profit? Like, at all? The women pressing the charges. Because (a) rape victims almost never profit from taking their cases through the legal system, which is why so few do, and (b) they’re already facing substantive personal smearing and stereotyping and in some cases having Keith fucking Olbermann insist they have ‘ties’ to the ‘CIA’ (oh for FUCK’s sake), and (c) they’re not pressing some airtight case here. Because, as we all know, the only AIRTIGHT rape case is one where Julian Assange jumps out of the bushes with a chainsaw and an assault rifle and you try to fight him back with your bare hands but ultimately he cuts off both your arms with the chainsaw thus ‘proving’ that you ‘resisted’ him, and oh also, he’s not Julian Assange, he’s a homeless man of colour named Stabs McMurderson, and you’re not an average woman, you’re a fourteen-year-old blonde white virgin who’s walking home from the Jesus School of Sewing and Homemakery. I would add that the whole thing would have to be captured on tape, but there have been ACTUAL RAPES that were ACTUALLY CAUGHT ON TAPE and they didn’t get through, because the defence alleged that the girl was ‘faking’ unconsciousness because she wanted to ‘make porn’.”

My friend said I wasn’t unique in having a blog as every sixteen-year-old and their dog has one. Some friend, right? (Love you, April!) I’ll pay that, but according to Gawker, blogging is an old person thing now.

Mick Foley is Good.

Books: The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

Again, I don’t do New Years resolutions, but hopefully in listing the books I didn’t get around to reading in 2010 in a public forum where reviews are commonplace (um, this blog, for those of you not keeping track), I’ll be forced to devour in 2011.

1. Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley. I’ve been very vocal about my love for Mick Foley in recent months, and I was lucky enough to receive his latest memoir (number four, but who’s counting?) for my birthday, two months ago. I’ve been eagerly anticipating having enough time to dive into it headfirst, and I’m hoping it’ll be the first I check off my list this coming year.

2. Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Bernard Comment & Stanley Buchthal. I love Marilyn Monroe, both as an icon (though I wouldn’t go as far as to have her image tattooed on me, à la Megan Fox), and as a fascinating person who had many layers, some of which are peeled away with the release of this book. This is a high priority read.

3. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Lady & the Unicorn, so something tells me I’m going to love Remarkable Creatures, about two female fossil hunters in 19th century England. The subject matter is a bit left-of-centre for historical fiction, but it appeals to me nonetheless. I know I couple of friends who own copies of this book, so maybe I can bum a lend…?

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have a tendency to build classics up in my mind before I’ve read them, and I’m then sorely disappointed. I have a feeling a similar effect will occur with The Great Gatsby, which I became interested in reading when I heard that it will be subjected to a movie remake at the hands of Baz Lurhmann. So bogan-esque, I know!

5. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Crosley’s books have done the review rounds in some of my favourite and trusted mags, like Yen and Cleo, with nothing but good vibrations about her collection of essays.

6. How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley. Yes, this is Crosley’s second appearance on the list, but all the buzz surrounding her books and her clever, witty and sometimes snarky tone means I can’t wait to gobble them up!

7. The Genius & the Goddess: Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe by Jeffrey Meyer. I read a review of this tome earlier in the year, and it has stayed with me since. Most intriguingly, the book “houses an appendix detailing the illnesses and operations” Monroe had throughout her life.

8. The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper by Dominick Dunne. I can’t get me enough of Dominick Dunne, so it’s a surpriseeven to methat I haven’t read all of his books yet. This one is somewhat of an official memoir, as a lot of his fictional works blur the line between reality and fiction, Another City, Not My Own especially.

9. The Life & Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan. In case you were wondering, I plan to do a lot of Monroe-related reading in 2011. This is one of the more imaginative books about her life.

10. The Prince, The Showgirl & Me and My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clarke. Both are the basis for the new Michelle Williams effort, My Week with Marilyn. Just while we’re on that, I’d like to sneak in another Monroe-inspired fiction: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, which another biopic starring Naomi Watts as Monroe is based on. Perhaps if I had picked up the copy I always see at my favourite second-hand bookstore, Bendigo Book Mark, it would have given me more incentive to read it. No, wait, that doesn’t work for the numerous other books I’ve got sitting there, just begging to be read…

Related: In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Things Bogans Like.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Elsewhere: [Bookslut] Genius, Goddess: Reading Theatre.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.