10 Colorful Facts About the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Netflix
Netflix

A curiously compelling blend of pro wrestling and roller derby, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) debuted in 1986 with the expectation that wrestling fans would flock to an all-female roster of grapplers with names like Matilda the Hun, Jail Bait, and Babe the Farmer’s Daughter.

Although it lasted four seasons, it never quite took off the way its organizers planned. GLOW, Netflix's fictionalized account of the promotion’s struggles, is set to debut its second season on June 29. To celebrate the return of the streaming hit, let's take a look at some facts about the all-women’s squared circle.

1. THEY CAST RANK AMATEURS.

GLOW was the brainchild of wrestling fan-turned-promoter David McLane and Jackie Stallone (Sylvester’s mom) who saw an opportunity to recreate the heyday of women’s wrestling in the 1950s by casting actresses as broad “types” like bullies, housewives, and Cold War-era spies. To fill out his roster for the 1986-1987 season, McLane auditioned women in Los Angeles by having them train three nights a week in a wrestling ring. Their trainer, former wrestler Mando Guerrero, was partial to grueling, highly physical sessions that included choking at least one trainee unconscious. One former GLOW star, Dawn Maetas, told the Toronto Star that the prep work “felt like my organs hurt.”

2. “BAD” WOMEN TRAVELED SEPARATELY FROM THE “GOOD” GIRLS.

To help perpetuate the rivalries featured on GLOW, the production insisted that the women favored by the audience traveled on a separate bus and were forbidden to fraternize with their onscreen enemies. But while they were filming in Las Vegas, the cast lived dorm-style—two to a room at the Riviera Hotel. In a bit of method wrestling, the women were also instructed to call themselves only by their character names regardless of whether they were performing or not.

3. THE WOMEN HAD CURFEWS.

Living at the Riviera in Vegas, the GLOW women were given a curfew in an attempt to keep them from indulging in the Sin City nightlife. According to women interviewed for the documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, producers would fine the women $250 if they were caught coming back to the hotel past their allotted time.

4. IT WAS NOT VERY POLITICALLY CORRECT.

According to Jeanne Basone, who went by “Hollywood” in the GLOW ring, some of the match gimmicks were not exactly what anyone would consider tasteful. Basone and other wrestlers would invoke Nazi iconography by singing German marching songs and tossing gas masks at opponents; in another bit, a woman was forced into a straitjacket, which prompted angry viewer letters complaining that GLOW was mocking the mentally ill. Basone says the series toned down in later seasons, but during the first two years, “We got away with a lot.”

5. IT WAS ALSO PRETTY JUVENILE.

Scantily clad women putting one another in choke holds may never be considered legitimate athletics, but GLOW had no pretenses about its mission: Offer a campy, kitschy show that maximized the sex appeal of its stars. The wrestling bouts were interspersed with comedic skits, including ones in which the sore grapplers would visit team physicians Dr. Fiel and Dr. Grope.

6. THE SHOW WASN’T RESPECTED BY “REAL” FEMALE WRESTLERS.

While pro wrestling was already a sort of parody of itself, GLOW seemed to take it a step further, minimizing any serious choreography in favor of more bombastic comedy. That didn’t sit well with female wrestlers outside of the promotion, who perceived GLOW as denigrating their profession. Wrestler Malia Hosaka once commented that she “had no respect for [GLOW]. I actually had one GLOW girl tell me they were out there to make fun of women’s wrestling … Basically, you’re telling me that you’re out there to degrade those that have paved the way for you to have this.”

7. EVERY SHOW FEATURED A RAP.

As a result of the Chicago Bears releasing a successful single, “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” a few years earlier, the women of GLOW would typically begin each episode with a rap. There’s really no substitution for seeing it for yourself.

8. IT MAY HAVE BEEN ART.

Matt Cimber (actress Jayne Mansfield's ex-husband) was GLOW’s recurring director, and was aiming to create a kind of wrestling expressionist art piece. "If you look at GLOW carefully, especially the first two years, GLOW is existentialist," Cimber told Canoe Sports earlier this year. "The paintings on their faces, the symbolism of their characters, they're off the wall. And yet, the one thing is I always stayed in a guideline, make sure the audiences understands them. Don't make it so heady and so arty that people think it's a bunch of crap." Cimber also asserted that McLane wanted a more serious show and left during the second season to pursue other opportunities.

9. PIA ZADORA MAY HAVE KILLED IT.

While GLOW was a modest ratings success, none of the cast was asked back following the fourth season. The abrupt ending was reportedly the result of financier and Riviera hotel owner Meshulam Riklis withdrawing his participation in the project at the behest of his then-wife, entertainer Pia Zadora. (The GLOW property is currently owned by former performer Ursula Hayden, who portrayed Babe the Farmer’s Daughter on the original series and is a consultant on the Netflix series.)

10. FANS CAN WRESTLE “HOLLYWOOD” FOR A REASONABLE FEE.

Since GLOW went off the air in 1992, some cast members have continued to pursue business opportunities as a result of their notoriety. Earlier this year, Jeanne Basone, a.k.a. “Hollywood,” told Thrillist that she accepts engagements to wrestle fans in private, often in hotel rooms. “It’s mostly just fans from GLOW,” Basone said. “We are just wrestling. I make that clear from the start.”

Additional Sources:
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

Cook a Game of Thrones-Inspired Feast With This Video Tutorial

Kristofer Hivju, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke celebrate in Game of Thrones
Kristofer Hivju, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke celebrate in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Tonight marks the series finale of Game of Thrones. Hosting a watch party? Consider skipping the chips and dip, and try whipping up a dish inspired by the show. In the video below, first spotted by Laughing Squid, Binging With Babish host Andrew Rea provides recipes for three foods featured in the fantasy series: Purple Wedding pigeon pie, Dothraki blood pie, and Sansa Stark’s lemon cake.

For the uninitiated, Binging With Babish is a YouTube tutorial channel that features Rea cooking—and in some cases, improving on—foods from popular movies and television shows. Game of Thrones's characters are likely better on the battlefield than they are in the kitchen, so Rea takes a few culinary liberties while recreating Medieval and Dothraki fare: His “pigeon pie” is made with squab, and the blood pie, in Rea’s own words, is “essentially a black pudding in pie form” that’s garnished with figs, goat cheese, and black sea salt.

Updated for 2019.

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

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