I recently competed in my first bout with the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW) – CLLAW XXVII Summer Smackdown – as The Feisty Feline Fräulein, Hell Cat Von Purr.
What the heck is CLLAW? If you’ve watched GLOW* on Netflix, it’s similar, but arm wrestling, and a fundraiser for both the Sideshow Theatre and a Chicago non-profit (this bout benefitted the Chicago Women’s Health Center in Uptown).
*And if you haven’t watched GLOW, go freaking watch it!
One of my burlesque friends competed in the last CLLAW, and after seeing her photos, I wanted to do it! It combined my love of performance with physical strength, which I’ve been working on building more of. So I reached out via Facebook and got in touch with the producer … and I was in. (No auditions or anything.)
Every wrestler picks her name and story. I went with a feistier version of my burlesque persona (Kitten Von Purr) and created Hell Cat Von Purr. My manager was Miss Kitty (my burlesque bestie/duet partner Kitty La Royall).
We came up with our own costumes. The back view was … cheeky 😉
The commitment for CLLAW was a couple of meetings the week of the event to review the format, rules, proper arm wrestling form, and do some actual arm wrestling. There were 12 wrestlers, and we knew our first round opponent going into the event, so we could discuss a plan (arm wrestle for real or decide who will win), and coordinate any bits/schtick. During the event, once you knew who you were facing in the next round, you could duck back stage or to the green room to discuss a plan.
The event was held at the Logan Square Auditorium. Call time was 7:30pm. We reviewed the format and rules again, went through a group warm-up, and reviewed the opening ceremony. The doors opened at 9pm and we could mingle with the crowd and start collecting CLLAWbux – bets on each wrestler which are also raffle tickets. The opening ceremony kicked off at 9:30pm and we immediately went into the first round.
I faced Toni Perkis in the first round. Each match is the best of 3. I lost the first one, and reacted by trying to claw Toni in the face and had to wear the penalty helmet for round 2, which I lost, thus sending me to the losers bracket. Which was very distressing … so I coughed up a “hairball” and threw it at Toni.
I faced Peggy SWOlson in round 2. I won the first one, and Peggy ashed her cigarette on me. She won the second one, and then took off her manager’s (Joan Hell-oway) necklace and started dangling it over me, and because I am, of course, a cat, I started batting at it. She won the third one and thus the match.
When they were down to three remaining wrestlers, everyone who had been eliminated went back on stage for the crowd to pick a favorite to come back. Sadly, it was not me, but I didn’t care, I was just in it to have fun. In addition to the wrestling, there were a couple bands that played between rounds. Overall, participating in CLLAW was tons of fun, and my arm-tourage had a lot of fun in the audience as well.
Kitty and I with one of the commentators, Vallery Dolls, who we know from Vaudezilla shows
You can read more about the history of CLLAW via Rebellious Magazine. It sounds like the next bout is November 3rd, so save the date! Maybe Hell Cat Von Purr will make another appearance? Maybe I’ll compete as another character? Who knows! You can follow CLLAW on Facebook for updates on the next bout. (Or contact them if you want to get in on the action!)
Have you ever arm wrestled? It’s hard and uses muscles I don’t often use. I intended to spend more time arm wrestling friends and family leading up to the bout, but didn’t.
What would be your wrestling name and character?