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.

In the News: Who is Stacy Keibler?

You might have seen the blonde Glamazon on the arm of notorious bachelor George Clooney at the premiere for his movie The Descendants a couple of weeks ago. They even spent Thanksgiving together.

But who exactly is this tall, blonde and beautiful woman?

Stacy Keibler has been in such TV shows as Punk’d, Chuck and US Dancing with the Stars, and in movies like Big Momma’s House 2. Before she got together with Clooney, Keibler was in a long-term relationship with Geoff Stults of 7th Heaven fame, who also caught the eye of Jennifer Aniston at one time.

But Keibler’s biggest claim to fame was as a WCW Nitro Girl and WWE Diva. For those not familiar with the acronyms WCW and WWE, they stand for (the now defunct) World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment, respectively. That’s right, Stacy Keibler was a wrestler…

Well, more of a piece of eye-candy than a wrestler, per se, who strutted around in short shorts and mini skirts, using her 42” legs to her advantage in Thanksgiving gravy bowl matches, lingerie matches and Santa’s Little Helper matches. Hey, no one ever said professional wrestling was feminist!

She spent seven years in the biz (as they call it in, erm, the biz!), at one point even studying full-time, appearing weekly across the country as a Nitro Girl and cheerleading for the Baltimore Ravens, all at the tender age of 20! Keibler acted as a valet for wrestling Superstars such as The Dudley Boyz, Test (the ring name of the late Andrew Martin), Scott Steiner, Randy Orton and Rosey & the Hurricane. Despite her athleticism, Keibler never won a major wrestling title.

And she’s not just all about the glitz and glamour; Keibler has been involved in charities as part of the WWE, including SmackDown! Your Vote, a campaign to mobilise unregistered voters in the U.S., Make-a-Wish Foundation, as well as UNICEF and the Celebrity Soccer Challenge outside of the ring.

Whilst she has now moved on to bigger and better things (you can’t get much bigger and better than George Clooney, amiright?), she will always be known as the “legs” of professional wrestling.

Images via The Hollywood Gossip, Inside SoCal, YouTube.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“The Fashion Industry’s Anorexia Problem.”

Gala Darling offers an interesting take on pageantry. It seems not all beauty queens are vapid glorified prom queens with “miles of hair extensions, industrial-sized cans of hairspray and gallons of butt glue”.

Do you have to be a mother to be empathetic?:

“The reason Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was able to handle the flood crisis with such competence [is because she is a mother], according to a fellow mum. How true, how true, clucked a host of TV talk show mums the next day, as the commentators all agree that Anna won the ‘image’ war over Julia in the aftermath. Then of course she would—only a mother can cry with conviction for lives lost.”

90210: “The Sexist Postcode”?:

“So 90210 was an important early building block of enlightened sexism because it insisted that the true, gratifying pleasures for girls, and their real source of power, came from consumerism, girliness, and the approval of guys…”

My friend Anthony and I were discussing the benefits of cheap Coles milk when we paused and though, what exactly does cheap milk mean for farmers and why all the fuss? Rick Morton of MamaMia is here to answer our questions.

Also at MamaMia, the defence force sex scandal.

Speaking of, MamaMia’s 3.0 launch is the only blog redesign I’ve liked in recent months (Jezebel, I’m looking at you).

“Wait? What? This is where it gets interesting for me as a sex positive parent. My son just went from wishing he was sexy to shaming a girl for being just that? I rolled up my sleeves and got ready to do some unpacking.” The unpacking the primary school backpack on “Slut-Shaming on the Playground”.

This is just plain wrong: “The 15 Most Inappropriate Baby Outfits”.

The cigarette packaging reform.

Michael Cole, WWE announcer, tweets a gay slur. GLAAD faux pas or staying in character?

Are disability jokes really that bad? Or are we all just going PC crazy? (Just ask Laura Money and Kieran Eaton at their Unfinished Business stand-up show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.)

The meaning of Sucker Punch according to io9:

“1. Insane people and sex workers are interchangeable.

“2. Women can only triumph over adversity in their dreams.

“3. Action movies spring from the imaginations of enslaved, mentally unstable prostitutes.”

“Do You Know What a Normal Female Body Looks Like Anymore?”

Francine Pascal as feminist literature pioneer?:

“In the beginning, that wasn’t enough for many booksellers, who deemed Sweet Valley too ‘commercial’ for their readers. The Times snubbed the series; librarians fought to keep their stacks free of the ‘skimpy-looking paperbacks,’ as one library journal put it. It was Pascal’s fans who defended her: buying a dizzying 250 million copies before the series published its 152nd and final title, in 2003. The series even became a case study in how to get young girls to read. ‘Sweet Valley changed the dynamics of the industry,’ says Barbara Marcus, who, as former president of Scholastic’s children’s business, published The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, and Harry Potter. Sweet Valley spawned seven spinoff series, a TV show, a board game, and dolls. Not until Twilight came along have girl fans been so loyal.”

In this vintage post from the time of Jersey Shore’s debut, Irin Carmon discusses the cast’s views “On Beauty & Not Even Looking Italian”. Quite interesting, actually.

It’s time to go, Betty Draper.

Forget menopause; say hello to “manopause”.

First the video music world, now the movie world: Rebecca Black’s film debut in “Sunday Comes Afterwards”.

Porn WikiLeaks: damaging the reputation and safety of porn performers by publishing addresses, personal documents and hateful HIV diatribes (SFW).

The ugly step sister?

Images via Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“Benevolent” teen sexism versus “hostile” teen sexism at Psychology Today via Jezebel.

Also from Jezebel, “Facebook Tells You When You Will Break Up” via a handy little graph. I wonder how the graph would change to reflect Australian dating norms andmost interestinglyseasons.

The always hilarious Mia Freedman muses on “First World Problems”.

Gawker’s take on Gossip Girl’s “Juliet Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, or more importantly, Chuck and Blair’s sex life:

“So, Blair and Chuck are totally mashing genitals against each other for pleasure, and everyone is throwing up all over the place because of it. Because it’s so gross. ‘Hey Blair, let me put my penis inside you behind those bushes.’ THROWUP. ‘Hey Chuck, why don’t you stimulate my vagina with your mouth some more.’ RETCH. ‘Oh my gosh, let’s pant and wheeze and sweat here in this limo because we just rubbed our genitalia together to the point of climax.’… IT’S GROSS, is what I’m saying… But they’re doing it anyway and that was a plot point. Absolutely nothing changed or developed in their fucking…”

Since when did Gossip Girl need a plot point, anyway? It’s a guilty pleasure and that’s the beauty of it.

This 2009 New Yorker article is suspiciously similar to a Law & Order: SVU episode from season 11. But it is a brilliantly haunting read about fire investigation, wrongful incarceration, execution and justice.

Defamer addresses Vanity Fair’s penchant for posthumous covers.

Ideologically Impure responds to Stephen Fry’s assertion that women don’t like/want/have sex as much as gay men:

“Because, Mr. Fry, do you know what happens to women who openly state they enjoy sex, who act in an overtly sexual manner, who admit to casual sex?

If they get raped, their rapist walks free.

“Because a woman saying she enjoys sex is obviously always up for it. And a woman who’s had casual sex in the past must not be fussy about who she fucks. And a woman who flirts is just ‘sending the wrong signals’ and completely gives up her right to say ‘no’.”

The allure of the Kindle, by Maggie Alderson.

The original “In Defence of Slut-O-Ween” and, in the same vein, The Stranger wishes us a (belated) “Happy Heteroween”.

Annabelle DeSisto, the girl who shut down the Situation on Jersey Shore, tells her side of the story on Best Week Ever:

“… He kept asking me if I wanted to change clothes, like to get into something more comfortable like pyjamas. And I was like ‘No’, and he was like ‘But you seem really uncomfortable in that dress, let’s just get you into pyjamas.’ I’m like, ‘Does everything you own have a rhinestone bulldog or dragon or Ed Hardy logo on it?’ And he’s like, ’Yeah, of course!’ And I was like, ‘Then I’m not changing clothes.’”

Sounds like a quintessential douchebag to me!

In defence of Kanye West:

“Part of Kanye’s curse is that after everyone chills out a little, we all realise he was just saying what everyone was thinking, and we were unfair to leap all over him…”

“What is Vampire Sex?” Effing hot, that’s what!

Shameless Wildfox plug: “13 ‘Mature’ Things to Do While Wearing Wildfox This Halloween”. I did just one of these things this Halloween. Can you guess which?

If you missed Zoe Foster’s “All Women Really Want is a Cup Of Fu*king Tea” relationship advice in Cosmo a few months ago, here it is again on her blog, via MamaMia.

Mick Foley pens his thoughts on Linda McMahon:

“… The concerns expressed in regard to WWE are valid onessubstance abuse problems, content issues, the troubling trend of pro-wrestlers dying way too young. But if Linda McMahon is going to be held personally accountable for every negative aspect of her family business, shouldn’t she be given personal credit for every positive aspect as well? Like the 5,000 wishes to children facing life threatening conditions WWE has granted over the last twenty five years, through ‘Make-a-Wish’ and other wish granting organisations? Or the ‘Tribute to the Troops’ tour that WWE has embarked on every year since 2003; spreading holiday cheer to service-members far from home, in remote bases in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.”

When things are looking glum, take a look at this mantra from Gala Darling. Things aren’t that bad.

Movie Review: The Expendables.

 

When I first expressed interest in seeing The Expendables, those who don’t know me well wondered why. But those who do know me well, know that I’m not as traditionally feminine as I appear to be.

My dirty little secret is… I love wrestling. I haven’t watched it in about six months, because my body corporate doesn’t allow cable in my apartment building. But I’ve been devoted to World Wrestling Entertainment for almost ten years now, and anyone who is remotely familiar with the product will know the name “Stone Cold Steve Austin”. And anyone remotely familiar with the action-hero line-up for The Expendables, will know that “Austin” is one of the names that appears alongside “Stallone”, “Lundgren” and “Schwarzenegger” on its poster.

While there is a storyline per se (The Expendables, a group of elite mercenaries, are commissioned to overthrow a Latin American dictator, General Garza, on the island Vilena in the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst there, writer and director Sylvester Stallone’s character, Barney Ross, meets their contact Sandra, who turns out to be Garza’s daughter, and makes it his own personal mission to rescue her from the tyranny of her father and her country, and in turn, open his mind and heart. Gag me.), it’s so badly written that I didn’t even know that Jason Statham’s (my new action hero crush, BTW) character’s name was Christmas until a friend mentioned it to me days later!

But the reason movie-goers flock to a film like this (as opposed to Eat, Pray, Love, which opened the same weekend as The Expendables) isn’t for its storyline. My fellow patrons at the cinema were a primarily male audience, obviously into action films, weaponry, fight scenes and professional wrestling. Jet Li, UFC fighter Randy Couture, former NFL player Terry Crews (who is one of my favourite comedy/action actors, and was relegated to cheap one liners and blowing stuff up in favour of more screen time for surgery-damaged, pillow-faced and drawn-on-facial-haired Stallone) and Austin got the best pops from the audience, especially when those actors were utilised for their talents, with Li taking on Dolph Lundgren’s character Gunnar Jensen in an entertaining fight scene, Crews throwing an explosive as if it were a football, and Couture and Austin pulling out their street fighting skills/wrestling mat moves (Figure Four leglock, anyone?) in the final scenes.

I definitely know my wrestling trivia, but as far as action films go, The Longest Yard (another Austin/Crews collaborationgo figure), The Fast & the Furious and The Scorpion King are about as far as my knowledge extends. So I asked my friend and fellow Expendables-watcher, Eddie, to point out his top five throwbacks to the great action films of the ’80s and ’90s, which this film is meant to emulate.

1) At the start of The Expendables, they are taking down The Pirates. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the past decade’s most successful action film franchises, in which the leads are played by pretty boys Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom; a far cry from the rough and tumble action heroes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s era.

2) “The Stormtrooper Effect”: Garza’s henchmen have their faces painted as they go into battle with The Expendables. This is known as the Stormtrooper effect, where the enemy’s face is obscured so as to help the audience deal with them being killed off by our incomparable heroes.

3) The Expendables all wear different hats (Li’s character Yin Yang in a baseball cap, Couture’s Toll Road in a bucket hat, Ross and Christmas in black military-style berets) so that the members of the audience with a lower IQ can tell them apart during the fight scenes. And let’s face it; with a movie like this, the majority of its audience tend to lean that way.

4) As the team is descending on Vilena for the final showdown, Ross switches their plane’s controls to autopilot, and from there on in, the rest of the film travels on autopilot also. That’s funny; I thought the whole film was travelling on autopilot.

5) In the closest scene to character development, Mickey Rourke’s character Tool divulges to Ross his inner torment about not saving a woman when he had the chance to, and encourages Ross to go back for Sandra. Similarly, when Christmas discovers his ex-girlfriend has been beaten by her new boyfriend, Christmas ambushes said new boyfriend and his friends on the basketball court, bringing the beaten ex along for the ride. The whole movie, disguised by boys club banter and blowing stuff up, is about a man’s desire to save a woman. It’s most guys’ dream to be the knight in shining armour, as Stallone and Statham are here, and come to the rescue. Sure, this is a dated and highly sexist ideal posits that it’s a biological truth ingrained in most men.

Certainly in the man who wrote and directed The Expendables, wouldn’t you think?