On Tuesday night, Cinefamily screened G.L.O.W.: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a documentary on the low-budget, female version of the WWF that ran from 1986 to 1990.
“Everybody thought G.L.O.W. was about sex,” said the show's director Matt Cimber. “But it wasn't at all. The sex was in your mind.”
Cimber appeared alongside filmmakers Brett Whitcomb and Bradford Thomason and nearly a dozen of G.L.O.W.'s wrestlers. If you watched the series and smelled what these ladies were cooking, to paraphrase The Rock, it was probably Aqua Net.
Everything about G.L.O.W. was '80s excess: the makeup, high-cut leotards and even higher hair. For 500 matches, girls with un-P.C. and mildly offensive names like Spanish Red, Cheyenne Cher, Little Egypt and Palestina head-locked each other in staged cat fights in Vegas interspersed with cheesy comedy sketches and even worse rap songs — inspired by the Chicago Bears' “The Super Bowl Shuffle” — that made Debbie Harry sound urban.
“Think I'm peachy and I'm keene / But get me mad and I get mean,” rapped pom-pom-shaking Vicky Victory.
Each wrestler was a character, so — gasp — the cigar-smoking Ninotchka wasn't actually Russian. Neither was the British Godiva.
The documentary's trailer
As the story goes, in 1985, Cimber, Riviera hotel owner Meshulam Riklis and wrestling-obsessed creator David McLane recruited amateur girls, mostly from L.A., who wanted to break into TV. (Jackie Stallone, wrestling promoter, astrologer and mother of Sly, was also a manager). They were divided into good girl and bad girl groups — Americana vs. Ninotchka, good vs. evil — playing up the Cold War and other politics of the decade.
But unlike most of the women who were either models, aspiring actresses or fitness enthusiasts, the large-and-in-charge, 6'4'' Matilda the Hun was a semi-pro wrestler, having once gone head-to-head with a bear in the ring. And the 5'11'' Samoan-American Mt. Fiji was a national shot putter.
At the height of G.L.O.W.'s popularity, the stars appeared in Married with Children and Family Feud, and made the talk show circuit: The voodoo-spouting Big Bad Mamma even got into the ring with Donahue, while Mt. Fiji almost got to body slam Bob Eubanks on an episode of Card Sharks.
When Riklis, ex-husband of Pia Zadora, pulled the plug on the show, the ladies went on to have careers as disparate as minister and auto mechanic. Tina Ferrari, however, became a WWE champion, while Matilda the Hun wrestled until she was 50. Sadly, Mt. Fiji (Emily Dole), arguably the show's most popular character, is bedridden in an Orange County nursing home.
The film's where-are-they-now interviews are made all the more touching thanks to a cast reunion recently organized in O.C. that included the elusive Cimber, who, by most accounts, was a temperamental taskmaster. Cimber, a movie producer who was Jane Mansfield's last husband, declined to be interviewed for the movie.
He did, however, take part in the post-screening Q&A alongside wrestlers Matilda the Hun, Lightning, Godiva, Hollywood, Jailbait, MTV and Chainsaw.
When an audience member confessed to writing a fan letter to the wrestler named Hollywood (Jeanne Basone) that went unanswered when she was eight years old, Cimber jumped in, saying, “We weren't sure Hollywood could write.”
Chainsaw (Sharon Willinsky) — one-half of the kvetching tag team the Housewives, and later, the more maniacal Spike and Chainsaw — led it be known that she and her sister were “the only Jews wrestling.” Take that, Goldberg. “We were such bad role models as Jews.”
Matilda the Hun (Dee Booher) is still sporting her trademark makeup and fingerless gloves. When she walked up to the stage, Booher grabbed director Whitcomb and buried his face in her pendulous boobs. “She did the same thing when I first met her,” said Whitcomb.
Another girl in the audience later recalled hiring Booher to wrestle her mother's boyfriend at a family party. Bet you The Rock never did that.