1,700 Dollars Fits Into Bras and a Bowler Hat
Photos by Maya Margolina
Five Boroughs Ladies Arm Wrestling had its third bout this past Friday April 20th, at the Loft above Public Assembly, in Williambsurg where appearances from Gloctopus, Nancy Drew Blood and Bitchy Strongstockings helped raise 1,700 dollars from the crowd. The majority of the funds, at the end of the night, were donated to HOTT- a program offering sex education for gay and transgendered homeless teenagers.
The night began when a line of burlesque dancers paraded through the door wearing glittery two-pieces and banging on enormous Music Man sized drums, strapped to their chests, drumming to Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World.” Halfway through the song, drums were removed, sculpted bellies were revealed and dancing and hair flipping ensued “Who runs this motherf—er?! (girls) Who runs this mother-er?!..”
Then, The First Round of Wrestling, which goes like this:
Bitchy Strongstockings vs. Charlie Chaplimbs
(a punky, 8 year old swedish girl, vs. the silent vaudevillian; re-mixed)
Beast Infection vs. Nancy Drew Blood
(a hot mess who prefers a high moon vs. a merciless case cracker and her glass)
Gloctopus vs. Rosie the Reamer
(a multiple armed sea thug vs. some old fashioned American smack)
Handgun Hunny vs. Betty Clock-Her
(armed and dangerous vs. a home maker, a tad off center.)
When ‘Gloctopus,’ steps up to the stage, several paper mache arms sprouting out of her purple back pack, it seems to take all the courage she has not to look afraid. A few silver guns appear in her tentacles, which wobble as she sits down across her opponent, Rosie the Reamer. Rosie has a big pink heart painted around her left eye and her entourage, who wears parachute coveralls and bandanas twisted around their heads, have looks of gnarled happiness on their slightly smudged faces as they gather around the wrestling table, cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in their various grips.
Ali, the ref, lets her ponytail flop to one side and lets out the roar belonging to a deep south preacher as she cap her fist over the wrestlers’ and demands of them: “Are you satisfied with your GRIP?!’ Rosie beats Gloctopus. She then takes both of Gloctopus’s hands and kisses the knuckles of each one of them with the graceful victory of a woman from some other time.
Beast Infection stands out from the crowd, even among the gun-toting, fake-freckled lady wrestlers. Her get-up makes no pit-stops at cute or glamorous, but goes instead straight to horrifying, as she composes it one fake tooth, one shadow-under-the-eye at a time. In preparation for her entrance, Beast Infection stands locked and loaded behind the bracing arms of her entourage, her knees bent, intention set. When her heavy metal entrance song “Conflicting Ideas” begins to play, Beast Infection writhes, climbs, torks and twists as the metal scrapes through the room and the squirming human fabric of her body moves, somehow, towards the stage. But alas, Beast Infection loses to Nancy Drew Blood, a character that, except for a few smudges of blood on her dress, seems clean cut enough and whose only secret weapon, other than her death-arm, is a magnifying glass.
At half-time, the accordion extraordinaire Mira Stroika is called to the stage where she promptly grabs the microphone and walks it to the center of the room. The crowd wraps around her, the houselights gaze lovingly down, her boisterous voice is unlocked from her throat and the bar is filled with French Accordion music.
Even the tall skinny man in the very back who has been drunk for hours, stands mock-still as the sound rings through the room. At the song’s finale, Mira hits one long sustained note of bravado and holds it, eyes closed, smiling, until the audience laughs and then gasps and laughs again.
A burlesque dancer by the name of Whisky Business then saunters into the milk of spotlight, leans into the microphone long enough to her say her name , before pushing the mic out of the way and beginning to dance to Sam Cooke’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold one Me”, her hands tied with red rope. A glowing range of eyes and iphones surround her as she’s tries to break free, somehow her black shorts coming off instead, leaving her in red underwear.
And then, in the few remaining seconds of the song, her hands become her own and Whisky Business is elated, her shoulders raising all over the place. The performance ends in a signature burlesque move, with Whisky Buisness whirling her breasts around and around, glittery tassels shouting with the freedom of shooting stars, let loose from some mysterious place.
Because one of the things that Ladies Arm Wrestling stands for is the principle of rule bending, when bent rules means more money for charity; no one said no when, at the end of the half-time show, a hundred dollars came from the audience to see a dance off between Beast Infection and Nancy Drew Blood that could potentially bring Beast Infection back in the ring. Scooter Biscuit the burlesque dancer (who had just finished emerging out of a cloth barrel to the song “Bushel and a Peck”) would be the judge.
So while Beast Infection wriggled and crouched, bobbed and weaved and her yellow netted pants flopped, Nancy Drew Blood struck clean cut poses with her magnifying glass and Michael Jackson sang about not stopping until you get enough. Despite how the crowd’s roars tipped the scales in the Beast’s favor, Scooter Biscuit deemed Nancy Drew Blood to have won and it was on to the second round.
Then, The Second Round of Wrestling, which went like this:
Rosie the Reamer beats Bitchy Strongstockings
(despite the fearsome three feet girth of Bitchy’s braids)
Handgun Huny beats Betty Clock-Her
(despite Betty’s tendency to smash cupcakes into the audience’s face)
And all the while, money is churning, collecting in bowler hats, pinafores, handkerchiefs, breast and back pockets, and what Kate the emcee refers to as her ‘boob space’ as she stuffs crumpled bills into her black corset, (which she wears with black jean shorts), warning the audience of running out of boob space before saying ‘op!’ and finding more. At this point in the night, 1200 dollars have been raised.
And then, The Final Round of Wrestling, which goes like this:
Rosie the Reamer vs. Handgun Huny
(Rosie smokes her, despite Handgun Huny’s, well, gun.)
After sustained holds and waves of chanting from the crowd, Rosie the Reamer is deemed the winner and a tissue paper pom-pom-like flower is awarded to her as her trophy. Her arm is raised, the tissue paper waves, and the stoic DJ Eden, whose knee bends perfectly with every beat, turns the room into a dance scene. At this point in the night, 1,700 has been raised—collected in bowler hats, pinafores, breast and back pockets and Five Boroughs Ladies Arm Wrestling sees its third event erupt into the usual dancing and debauchery. And: Scene.
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