Lipstick and Dynamite: female wrestlers

I had a bit of a clear out over the weekend and came across a fascinating project I did while I was on my MA… Obviously I’m now gonna rehash it for your perusal.

Lipstick & Dynamite is a film that came out in 2005 about women’s involvement in the early days of wrestling. Women’s professional wrestling in the mid-century era is not exactly a well-known subject matter; if your opinion of housewives in the 1940s and 50s involves aprons and prozac then hopefully this will change your mind. Admittedly this male-dominated sport didn’t attract too many dames and those that were involved weren’t exactly treated with the same respect that their male counterparts received, let alone the adoration and fame that the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Mr Hogan achieved. But who cares what people thought? These women make Chyna and Michelle McCool look like pussies. Don’t Google Chyna’s… no, wait, let’s not go there.

Sex, money, drugs and dodgy deals were par for the course for women wrestlers and this film is a genuinely fascinating insight into a world that isn’t particularly well documented. I like how director Rush Leitman sums it up: ‘a portrait of women who lived hard, and fought even harder.’ The women documented in this film are bonafide legends with amazing stories to tell, and, of course, all have appropriately awesome names…

Elsie Schevchenko, aka ‘The Policeman’. She left wrestling to become a private investigator! Neko Case of the New Pornographers is her niece, a fact that they only discovered when Neko got involved with the soundtrack to Lipstick and Dynamite!

Gladys Gillem, aka, ‘Kill ’em Gillem’. As well as wrestling fellow women, she also wrestled bears and alligators and trained lions! During one professional wrestling match, Gladys had one of her EYES knocked out of the socket. Barf!

Ida Selenkow, aka ‘The Body’. Once her wrestling career was over, Ida trained as a nurse and cared for AIDs patients. She was also a much respected star of the yodelling world! True!

Johnnie Mae Young, aka ‘the Great Mae Young’. Johnnie is one of the most respected names in wrestling and has a place in the Wrestling Hall of Fame for her achievements training wrestling stars of the future. She lived in a houseshare with The Fabulous Moolah and fellow wrestler Diamond Lil!

Lillian Ellson, aka ‘The Fabulous Moolah’. Moolah was firmly involved with WWF from the very early days and continued to appear exclusively for them until her death in 2007. Moolah was also part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection, a WWF storyline which saw Cyndi Lauper hit Moolah over the head with her handbag in a move later dubbed, “The Loaded Purse of Doom”!

Mary Ann Kostecki, aka ‘Penny Banner’. Penny was the Commissioner of the Professional Girls’ Wrestling Association and competed as a Senior Olympian doing swimming, shot put and discus until her death. She also dated Elvis!

The gals enjoying a beer with the promoters

Who would guess their day job from this tasteful snap?

Here’s Moolah training some girls how to kick ass

Check out those leopard boots!

Penny Banner looking like a total and utter fierce babe

Mae Young giving the ref a seeing to

Gloria getting trounced by Ella… or is she? The old body scissors can cause severe damage…

Ida earning her title of ‘The Body’ the hard way. I’d like to see Elle Macpherson attempt that. Actually, she probably could, she’s ace too.

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s another:

Here’s where you can buy the movie:

What are you waiting for??

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