Talented, witty, athletic…gorgeous. The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) took television by storm for four years, beating out their male counterparts ratings between 1986 to 1990. Despite abruptly ending due to financial backers pulling out, GLOW was never canceled, and its legacy has not faded in the 22 years since its final episode.
Director Brett Whitcomb and writer Bradford Thomason tell the story of life behind the velvet curtain at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas, NV strip. David McLane, who unfortunately declined to be in the documentary, recruited attractive, dominate, energetic performers like Susie Spirit, Tina Ferrari, Little Egypt, Hollywood, Daisy, Col. Ninotchka, Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, Ashley Cartier, Godiva, Cheyenne Cher, The Heavy Metal Sisters, Matilda the Hun, Mt. Fuji,Big Bad Mama, and a whole host of other women who deserve their proper recognition.
“They (Whitcomb & Thomason) did a lot of YouTube watching, looking up unique, interesting things. GLOW just popped up,” said April Mitchell, Whitcomb’s girlfriend.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling tells the story of these competitive combatants, along with their desires for fame and recognition as wrestlers and more importantly, entertainers.
“We were calling it ‘entertainment’ from the beginning, we never hid what we were,” said Matilda the Hun, the 6’4” titan who retired in 1996 from active competition.
The show’s campiness was brought out by director Matt Cimber (Mariam, Butterfly, Single Room Furnished), who ruled with an iron first, or as Tina Ferrari referred to him, “An abusive husband who manipulated the girls to get the best performance out of them.”
Steven Blance, the head writer and referee for the promotion, is credited for having made McLane’s office a telephone booth off the strip. According to Blance, McLane was the cheapest person he ever met, so it was the perfect setting for owner of the company.
Mondo Guerrero, of the famed Guerrero family, relays a story about putting an unruly girl in a sleeper hold, a la the tradition of Sun Tzu in getting his troops to fall into line.
Initially, Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, who owns the rights to GLOW and its extensive video library, was reluctant to do the documentary, but thanks to the charming ways of Thomason, she agreed to the film. Thanks to her, this project that took nearly three years complete was, in this journalist’s view, the gem of the Newport Beach Film Festival.
The only problem with this documentary was that it just wasn’t long enough; even if the film was three hours long, the audience still would have been excited to watching. The caliber of the crowd’s enthusiasm was evident before the opening credits.
A man in his early 30s came walking in screaming, “I love you Matilda the Hun!” He didn’t realize she was only a yard and a half in front of him. She turned around and yelled back, “I love you too!” His priceless reaction of, “Oh my God! You’re here!?!” running up and giving her a hug set the tone for the entire evening.
This is a must-see, and if you get to see it at a film festival with the GLOW girls, then you better make your way out there, because their enthusiasm and appreciation of their fans is second to none. The only thing we can hope for is an extended director’s cut for the DVD/Blu-Ray.