Do any of these names ring a bell to you? Tina Ferrari, Colonel Ninotchka, Sally (or Amy or Babe) the Farmer’s Daughter? How about Hollywood & Vine, or Spike & Chainsaw the Heavy Metal Sisters? If your answer is “No,” then you missed out on the 80’s camp extravaganza that was GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Seriously, you missed out. As sad as it sounds, it was the highlight of many a Saturday afternoon in my teenage years.
You thought the WWE was ridiculously over-the-top? They had nothing on the GLOW girls, who had it all. Of course, by “all,” I mean skimpy outfits, terrible wrestling skills, unrepentantly offensive stereotypes, and who-actually-writes-this-crap storylines. Somehow, it all added up to must-see TV. I still remember the first time I ever lay my eyes on GLOW. Ashley Cartier, the amply-bottomed Beverly Hills beauty, grabbed the mike to deride her opponent, the fiery Latina goddess, Spanish Red, telling her “I hire people like you to clean my toilets” (see what I mean with the stereotypes; and Ashley was supposed to be the GOOD girl!) This predictably started a slapfest, and after six or seven minutes of amateurish rolling around (the girls pretty much did the same, easy moves in every single match), Spanish Red got in the last word by pinning Ashley. By then, I was hooked.
Here are some of the most memorable GLOW moments.
1) Susie Spirit, the brunette cheerleader (she often did a split right on top of her opponents) bungled a Sunset Flip in a match against the tribal Headhunters and broke her arm for real. GLOW spun the whole incident as the Headhunters cruelly injuring poor Susie (even though it was her own darn fault) and she eventually got “revenge” by beating Manna the Headhunter (who wasn’t even one of the two Headhunters she wrestled in the first match).
2) Jungle Woman, supposedly from the Amazon, always brought a blond, naked-except-for-some-leaves guy called Nature Boy to her matches. Well, the buff and beautiful Tina Ferrari (who’d later get even buffer and end up on the WWE as Ivory) wanted some of that and kidnapped Nature Boy during a match, eventually giving him a makeover and donning him with shades and fancy threads. Well, Jungle Woman attacked Tina and claimed back Nature Boy, who responded by howling and stripping down to his leaves.
3) Spike & Chainsaw, the Heavy Metal Sisters. My God, where to begin. They showed up to their matches wielding blow torches and chainsaws (or sometimes in strait jackets) and it was a given that they’d lose as they’d be disqualified sooner or later (although they did win one match against Dallas the cowgirl and Olympia the bodybuilder, which was only because it was a No-Disqualification match). Their many antics included burning Debbie Debutante’s eyes with the blow torch, branding Sally the Farmer’s Daughter’s leg, presenting Ashley with a severed arm for her birthday, and putting on blackface and throwing watermelons around in a match against Ebony the African-American supermodel (yikes). But they reached their greatest heights against the pretty but hopeless Southern Belles (Scarlet & Tara). They chainsawed through the belles’ hoop skirts, then set the hoop on fire, before making Tara bark like a dog and then jump through the hoop like a circus animal. It was absolutely ridiculous and juvenile, but it was also impossible to look away. The same could be said of GLOW itself.
After the remarkable first season, GLOW started losing steam. Apparently, they hardly bothered to pay the girls, so the rosters kept changing rapidly, the storylines started getting repetivite, and even while the level of actual wrestling got (somewhat) better, the magic slowly but surely started to disappear. After three more seasons (and an appearance on Donahue), the show was gone.
So why am I even thinking about GLOW? It’s due to “Female Wrestler,” the track by Power Animal. It’s excellent (the singer’s mumbly way of singing is kind of annoying at first but ends up being hypnotic) and brought back some good old memories.
P.S. Sadly, Mount Fiji (the kind Samoan giant) is apparently in poor health these days. Very touchingly, a huge group of former GLOW girls got together earlier this year to surprise her (the event was organized by Little Egypt, the girl who always belly danced before she started wrestling). It’s great to see what the girls look like now (though longtime champion Americana looks exactly the same!), though my all-time favorites Sally and Spanish Red were no-shows. Thanks for the memories, girls!