I haven’t yet bothered to invest in a satellite dish, mostly because I’ve not been overawed by the product on offer – the films of interest on it have been few, far between and easily available down the local video shop. The Lifestyle channel, run by W.H.Smith’s and carrying programs like ‘Fashion File’, ‘Wok With Yan’ and ‘Great American Gameshows”, is not the place you’d expect to find trash of the highest order, but tucked away at three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon is a programme which on it’s own makes buying a dish appealing. That programme is ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’, known to it’s fans as GLOW. If they were to make a TV series of “Reform School Girls”, it’d probably look like GLOW – similar OTT characters, gratuitous violence and total lack of plot.
There are two sorts of characters: Good Girls and Bad Girls. The former are mostly all-American beauties with blonde hair who play fair, except when pushed too far by the Bad Girls. THEY, on the other hand, are evil, corrupt and nasty people, who’ll cheat at every opportunity and drink beer STRAIGHT FROM THE BOTTLE. Examples: Amy, the Farmer’s Daughter (hair in bunches, Mid-West drawl, cut-off jeans) is a Good Girl. Palestina, the Syrian Terrorist (khaki fatigues, wields a scimitar, prays to Mecca before each bout) is a Bad Girl. I should point out there is no anti-Arab bias – one of the Good Girls supposedly hails from Egypt, though I have my doubts whether either of them has been closer to the Middle East than a New York bagel bar.
Other Good Girls include Tara the Southern Belle, the California Doll, Susie Spirit (enters carrying the American flag) and head Good Girl, Tina Ferrari. She is often called upon to intervene when one of the Bad Girls goes too far i.e. Palestina taking on the announcer, the ref and the entire audience with her scimitar. In the other corner we might have the Princess of Darkness, Hollywood & Vine (a tag duo specialising in cat-fighting, where the violence gets SERIOUSLY unnecessary) or Dementia, perhaps the weirdest of them all. She’s straight out of ‘Halloween’, and enters wearing a mask and carrying her twin trademarks of a toy, usually a doll, and a weapon, her favourite being an axe. The first programme I saw featured a bout between her and Tina Ferrari – on her way in, Dementia passed a young fan waving a Tina Ferrari poster (planted? Nah, surely not!). This was snatched and scrawled upon with crayons, before being mercilessly shredded. The girl ain’t all there.
Each programme contains four bouts, which may be one on one, tag team (with two or three a side) or battle royal (TWENTY in the ring, all vs. all). Between these, you get totally feeble attempts at humour, with perhaps two Good Girls putting on their make-up and bitching about a Bad Girl (or vice-versa). Here’s an example :
“Ashley is really top-heavy”
“Yeah, they stopped her in the bowling alley for stealing the equipment!”
Just as bad are the horrific song and dance numbers: “Good girls don’t, but good girls might” sing the Good Girls, as they strut their stuff beside the swimming pool (Bad Girls don’t either, at least not in GLOW – though nearly anything else goes, costumes are sacrosanct, inviolate and remain firmly stuck to their owners). Sometimes, before a match, a contestant will indulge in some rap – Colonel Ninotchka (Soviet, thus 100% Bad Girl), before taking the GLOW championship off Tina Ferrari, came up with : Tina Ferrari’s the capitalist dream / She won’t look as good, face down in the ring She thinks she’s sexy and so very strong / I will destroy her, it won’t take long”.
There are regular spots such as “Amy’s Letters Home” (she’s the Farmer’s Daughter, remember?) which are just an excuse for another joke. “Tina’s Hints & Tips” sounded like one of these : “Tina Ferrari here with another tip on how to get the man you want. Don’t be upset if things don’t work out at first. A relationship is a lot like a puzzle; the fun is finding all the pieces and making them fit”. I waited for the punch-line. And I waited. Eventually it dawned there wasn’t one; it was supposed to be serious. Somehow, that was far funnier than the deliberate jokes.
Occasionally I do get pangs of guilt about finding two women trying to beat each other up funny; certainly, if there was a man dishing out the punishment, it would not be entertaining in the least. Somehow, GLOW transcends all that, perhaps because the actual wrestling is a very minor part. What’s engaging are the characters, the naff humour, the commentary (Motormouth Mike Morgan deserves an article to himself for things like “Her smile is so big she’s getting lipstick on her ears”) and even the adverts (“Another great invention from TELEBUY!!”), all combining to produce something more surreal than even this writer’s imagination can invent. The last edition taped for me had running chainsaws, Colonel Ninotchka becoming the champion, and the President of GLOW absconding to Brazil with the cash after he was discovered wearing ladies’ underwear. Can Tina Ferrari take the title back? Will Col. Ninotchka mellow in this era of glasnost? Are they EVER going to tell a funny joke? I, for one, will be watching avidly to find out…