Category Archives: Backstage With

“I’d Be Okay Punching A Jigglypuff”: An Interview with Su Yung

In the wake of social media, where we are all our own independent news sources, the needs and yields of the interview are shifting. Information is abundant. I could ask any wrestler their favorite cocktail; I could also open up their twitter and Control-F “Appletini”.  The value of the information we glean from interviews—which may already exist in Facebook posts and Instagram comments—is contextualized by the vulnerability and emotional intimacy shared between subject/reporter. It is something that interviews offer that social media does not automatically guarantee: a captive, compassionate audience.

That vulnerability can be transformative, and more profound than “the scoop”.  It can only be cultivated organically—like in dating,  you can’t treat people like vending machines that dispense [gratification/resource] in return for kindness.

I don’t know yet if sharing space with Su Yung’s fearless enthusiasm and emotional bareness will make me a better writer or a more respected “reporter/blogger'”. I do know the warmth and courage inspired by her excitable yarn-spinning will linger within me for a while. The way she talked up everyone else she knew—and even people she doesn’t know but just inspired her—heartens the hardened muckraker I like to imagine myself to be.

She is why people fall in this line of work, and stick with it even when it sucks. If every friend in whatever field you’re reporting on could be as charming and affirming as her, you’d be on the fast track to a Pulitzer or a Webby or a Buzzfeed listicle of your quotes.

But I bear no belabored delusions of timidity: Su Yung could probably find more ways to kill me than three years of Remedial College Algebra could allow me to count.

I feel we’re in an emotionally incongruous time in wrestling. On the one hand, we have CHIKARA and PWG and Lucha Underground; wrestling is enjoying itself, and it’s cool to like a product that aims to be fun. But it’s still so rare to see someone in the business having fun, or say that wrestling is fun—even in shoots. Is wrestling still fun for you like it was when you were a fan and in the same ways? Or does the relationship with that enjoyment or satisfaction evolve?

I think I actually get more satisfaction out of wrestling than some other girls because I’ve loved wrestling ever since I was young. Once I started getting into wrestling, and understanding it more, and I really took initiative and applied myself to understand the psychological depth through it, it gave me a little more satisfied feeling whenever I wrestled because I feel like I’m accomplishing something though something I love, versus there are people who love it as a fan, that love as a wrestler, etc—there’s a bigger love when you become obsessed with it. It is an obsession; it’s all I do or talk about.

Photo Credit Headlocks and Headshots
Photo Credit Headlocks and Headshots

Has that love ever been tempered by the historic marginalization of women to support roles?

Women’s wrestling, is very motivational and very inspiring, especially watching Lita, Trish, and even Sable. A Sable Bomb on Marc Mero was one of the craziest things I saw as a kid. Chyna battling men was awesome—it kind of opened my eyes more towards the product as a whole because I didn’t just love women’s wrestling; as a kid I actually loved men’s wrestling more than women’s.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I will forever have a special place in my heart for Scott Steiner.

It feels taboo to be talking like this with other people. This is kind of who I am. My first wrestling show was Wrestlemania XIX —my dad bought me a Freakzilla shirt because that was the shirt I wanted out of all of them. I still have it to this day and I wear it randomly.

It wasn’t like later on I fell in love with women’s wrestling more. When Trish Stratus came out with the Stratusfaction, it just made me look at women’s wrestling in another light. I’ve always looked at women’s wrestling in another light from watching, you know, different matches and stuff.

Sometimes, when you’re a kid, you don’t really see anything but what’s put in front of you. It is what it is, you know what I’m saying? You react to it. That’s the truth.

How did you develop your move set? Does it reflect your identity, as either a character or in the context of your background?

To be honest, if I do a wrestling move in a match it’s because I feel like it’s needed there, or I feel like it goes with my character at the time. There are certain moves that I do over and over again, but the only reason I do those moves is because it’s really fun. I know it sounds weird, but I only want to do stuff that’s fun to me.

If we all just wrestled for fun I think that a lot of people would be more invested in it. That’s kind of my motive for a lot of things‑if I’m not inclined, why am I doing this?

National brands are shot and produced in such a way that they present a very homogenized wrestling culture—I sense this doesn’t exist, but lack the context of traveling the country.

The Memphis crowd—those people love wrestling to no end. They’re die-hard wrestling fans. And the area is very known for that, but there’s not many shows that run around because it’s very difficult to get that kind of group of people together. They’re huge lovers of the past, so you have to appease to everybody in your niche.

California has a great fan base there—they’re very polite, they’re very cool, they’re very awesome. In Memphis, the fans believe it so much. When I come out they chant “two dollar ho” to me. That’s them, they’re real about it. They’re in your face about it. A California crowd will be in your face in a different way.

Photo Credit to Modern Myth
Photo Credit to Modern Myth

It’s kind of like accents, wherever you go, there’s different accents, and some places you’re like “I’m attracted to that sound.”

My favourite venue to go to is the Mohawk in Texas, that’s where Anarchy Champion Wrestling is. We recently had a Wrestling Prom and people would show up in dresses and stuff for whatever they wanted. And one of the guys there dressed up as a furry! I didn’t know how to—I was just so happy. I’ve actually tweeted out to him recently. I was like “Can you please dress up as Pikachu at this Queen of Queens tournament?” I think that’s a pretty good story. You don’t see that very often at a wrestling show.

So, first I want to say “Thank you for how acknowledging how polite we Californian crowds are, we try. Second, if you could wrestle a Pokemon

A fan online said Jessica Havok was like Snorlax. If I could wrestle Jessica Havok dressed as a Snorlax that would be awesome.

But my real answer would be I would want to wrestle a jigglypuff. I would be okay punching a Jigglypuff in the face. I would punch a jigglypuff in the face, especially if they tried to sing me to sleep because ain’t nobody singin’ me to sleep.

That might be the most heel thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.

I know. I love Jigglypuff, but sometimes Jigglypuff needs to sit down.

It feels, within the last few years, there’s been a big burst of diversity in women’s wrestling—there are exponentially more women of colour wrestling than there were through all my youth combined. What would you describe as the impetuous for what has allowed for this resurgence in inclusivity of women of colour in wrestling?

It’s because basically, you know, I feel like within the history of women’s wrestling we’ve been looked at as taboo. But now it’s not really as taboo, and people actually like that women are investing in wrestling. And it’s the passion behind it. If you have that passion behind if you’re going to make it to good places.

Photo Credit to Modern Myth
Photo Credit to Modern Myth

Have you ever felt sort of pressured by bookers or the community to try and incorporate more of an “Asian influence” to your wrestling or character?

I always have people encouraging me to do that type of style, or be a certain “way” when wrestling, You’re always going to experience that, wherever you go. There’s always going to be someone pressuring you to do something you don’t want to do, or don’t want to be like. And, you know, you’ve just got to understand as a person you can say no. You can say no, because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

Why break yourself for something that’s not going to break for you? If you’re not gonna be yourself, why would you want to do something and make yourself someone you don’t even know anymore?

As it is as an art form, you have to understand that you can lose yourself in this, and once you do, that’s when you start losing everything.

Wrestling, like every fandom, has that sort of “this house is clean, nothing to see here” reactive denialism to these topics.

No one’s gonna know anything’s wrong unless it’s yourself. Everything that I do, everything that I experience in life, I want to do it for myself. If I ‘m gonna do something, and I want to take on a challenge, it’s because I want to and not because someone’s making me. And there’s no reason anyone should feel forced to do anything.

Where does selling fit into that “doing it for myself” philosophy? Can selling be an indulgence in and of itself?

I feel like within selling, you’re gonna do what’s best for the time. For me, there’s no ego behind it. If someone punches me in the face, I’m always going to react the same no matter who’s punching me.

It’s on you to do your job. As far as selling, it’s up to that person if they want to have a really good match or not. Do you really want to see two people not doing anything in the ring, and not making you feel like you’re part of the action? Or do you want to feel what they’re feeling? It’s all upon how they project that, and that’s just really what it comes down to.

That, for me, has always been one of the most compelling aspects of pro wrestling. There’s always someone pulling their hair at a football or baseball game, screaming “you should’ve made this play, how could you not have made that play, why am I here and not there doing your job for you?” With wrestling, when I saw Pentagon Jr put Sexy Star in that modified surfboard my one thought was “fuck, better her than me, I’d probably die.” It’s the emotional release of a finish—knowing you wouldn’t have fared better.

Exactly. I totally am with you on that. That’s amazing. And I think that’s part of the access of fun. You see them having fun doing it because it looks fun but it also looks scary. That’s the thrill. It’s an amazing roller coaster ride that never ends.

What is a fun move to take?

To take?


Screencap from Shine Wrestling via
Screencap from Shine Wrestling via

The RKO is always fun, even if you’re just in a swimming pool. I love stunners. I think those are really fun. I’m a sick person. I like anything really dangerous. I’m down for danger. I really like high risk stuff. But there’s not a lot of people that are willing to do stuff like that.

If you can take a tilt-a-whirl headscissors into a pool, it’s so much fun.

I like it when a girl can do a handstand in the corner and then turn it to a hurricanrana.

People don’t realize how high you are up there when you’re on the top rope. It’s really scary. But once you’re getting comfortable with your surroundings it’s amazing. It hurts though. It really does hurt. But I’m weird.

How do you feel about crowds now? With Botchamania and Twitter, crowds are getting very smart. And they’re making chants that are in jokes, and they’re holding up signs that are very clever; do you feel like that’s a good thing for crowds to be in on the joke of wrestling? Or is it better when crowds just cheer when they’re supposed to?

It’s a very hard question to answer; I do love crowds, but there are times when they’re very spoiled and ungrateful. “If we don’t see what we want to see, we’re mad”. There are a lot of people putting their bodies on the line for your entertainment, or your interest, whatever you want to call it.

Wrestling’s a market—it could be anything. There are some people that honestly invest in professional wrestling because they love the innuendos and sexual parts of it. There’s a lot of different niches in this and it’s hard to go “Well, everybody’s gonna likes this” because there are some crowds that are way cooler than others.

Photo Credit Travis Brogen Photography
Photo Credit Travis Brogen Photography

I’m not gonna lie: I’ve seen many different crowds where they’ve been unforgivable and they just wanted to hate everything. But there have also been crowds where they just love the people and are just happy to be there. Normally, those are the ones I like, the ones who are ready for anything, versus expecting something. When you expect something you’re always let down.

You can’t go in and are like “I need to see this”. That’s very mainstream visual/thinking. Whenever people go to a WWE show they’re like “I wanna see John Cena, he better FU somebody tonight.

One of the things that I feel made the indie scene so popular now, and so viable, is that the matches were so unpredictable and non-formulaic—and in turn that’s become the indie formula, you know, when people describe Cena vs Owens as “Cena doing an indie match”.

Everything’s formulated in a way, it’s just not always a 1+1=2. It’s okay to have a 1+1=2 because sometimes that’s what’s needed to be done.

There’s nothing behind passion that can be stopped. If you have the passion and drive for something you will succeed no matter what. You may not succeed in what you expect, but there is gonna be success there. It’s a positive lifestyle thinking, you know?

We respect people who are cynical and jaded and don’t like stuff.

A big person who is positive in this industry is Serena Deeb, She’s a very good positive person who reaches out to the soul. It’s really nice. And Saraya Knight, she is a definite positive person that’s really cool. I enjoy people like that more than people who feel like they are owed things.

You can’t expect things. You’ve got to be happy.

Did you get a chance to play, when you were a kid, the WCW Nitro playstation game?


Remember how you could unlock the weird arenas? The disco club and the North Pole?

I wish they still had stuff like that on the video games sometimes nowadays. Those were so fun.

If you could set up a wrestling ring in some weird locale, what would you want it to be?

If I could put up a wrestling ring in any location I would actually want to put a wrestling ring in the water at the beach. I would want to find a way to make a wrestling ring that is okay to be halfway in the water, halfway out of the water. That would be a phenomenal thing to me.

Can you imagine how sick it would be if someone had a jet ski and they tied someone to it and just dragged them through the ocean like that? That is sadistic, and scary.

You could have one of your matches be interrupted by a giant sea monster.

Like a Cthulu underneath the ring? Oh snap.

And then you’d need to get all your wrestlers out to fight the evil sea monster.

Yes. I think they did that in California, recently. I remember there were a couple of my buddies that went over there and they wrestled a Cthulu monster from under the ring at a show.

I think it’d be crazier if it was a beach show, though.

How do you define success for you as a performer? You had talked about going through the developmental process at WWE—I imagine it can feel like when you do the indies that you’re just doing a lot of the same, and without that national coverage it can feel like there’s not a forward progression. But how do you define success? Is it the pops that you get from a crowd? Is it personal development?

Photo Credit Headlocks and Headshots
Photo Credit Headlocks and Headshots

Success in wrestling for me is if I can walk away smiling and I don’t have any worries in my life. I’m grateful for everything I have. That’s successful to me, because there are some people out there, and I’ve been one of those people before, where you had to just scrape by, and you didn’t really have much, and you’re on that struggle life. You didn’t even know if you could make it to the show because you didn’t know if you had enough gas money. And by some miracle you got to the show, even though you’re not getting paid what you thought you were getting paid.

Sometimes I would walk away with nothing—I would get screwed over. They just didn’t think they would have to pay me. There are sometimes that happens and it sucks. It’s real. That’s real life. It’s a big struggle on the independent scene. And girls struggle, but guys struggle worse because they have to work harder, and they have to work better because there’s always going to be someone there competition wise.

There’s going to be 100 guys to one girl in the world of pro wrestling. It’s a bigger market. There may be stigmas of how people view women in wrestling, but there are girls out there that bust their bodies to the ground, just like the guys do, because they’re trying to make it to where one day they can wrestle on a great grand stage‑maybe the grandest of them all.

You can’t let things change you, and that’s the success in my books. If I don’t sell my soul to the devil, I’m good.

Are you familiar with crowd funding? Video games and comics and vloggers are using it to support content hat would otherwise be difficult to be paid for through traditional means. I feel like the PPV is an antiquated model and there’s a dozen independent wrestling shirt companies which aren’t transparent about whether or not wrestlers are paid for their likenesses. How do you feel about wrestling companies and independent wrestlers crowdfunding their content on a site like Patreon?

I feel like if people can give you money, they will give you money. If you need help, there’s people who love you that through hard times will help you, but you don’t need to ask a stranger for something because you don’t know what that stranger is going to ask for in return.

If you want to do a GoFundMe, go ahead. That’s on you though. I don’t do that because I know there’s people out there who work hard for their money, like I do.

I’m not downing anyone who does it, because honestly if people need to be on that hustle, I got you, I understand. For me, myself personally, I don’t want to be on that hustle game because I know that there’s consequences that sometimes come with that hustle game. And I have people who love me and care about me, that tell me “If you need anything, let me know.” Those are people who have my back. That’s my heart and my soul right there; I don’t want to let those people down.

There’s a lot of people who struggle out there and go through job upon job just to even try and make it in this business. And for you to go out and get a GoFundMe that’s just like them getting a job. There’s no difference there, because you are both getting money, it’s how you’re doing it.

It’s just like if someone wanted to be a stripper or a porn star while they’re wrestling, or they wanted to sell wrestling DVDs; there’s no difference there, you’re still making money.

There are people who are like “I’ll never understand that”, but you’re lucky because you don’t have to understand that. That’s the difference.

If you were to form a stable —we’ll say a Trios stable, and maybe you could go to King of Trios or the Lucha Libre World Cup, who would you want? Who do you have that you respect that love for as colleagues that you would want to be part of a bad girl trio?

On my right side I would have Jessica Havok. A lot of people look at me and Jessica Havok as a feud. She and I are kinda Undertaker and Kane. That’s how I think about it. That kind of destruction is amazing.

I would want, on my other side—this is a tough one because there’s so many good girls out there. I would probably want somebody who isn’t afraid of risk, and somebody who isn’t afraid to show who they really are out there. I think it would be really cool to have Athena. I really do appreciate her work. And I think that she does show a lot of passion through it. That would be my team.

“I’m Actually Pretty Great At Sleeper Holds”: An Interview with Bake And Destroy’s Natalie Slater.

In childhood, I played the odd game of touch football without an audience, held together by the numbers–points, winning streaks and personal bests. A captive audience buzzing with capital make for interesting stakes, but few if any athlete will be invited into his respective hall of fame on the grounds that, though he never won any championships, he had a really good grasp of the “psychology of the fans”.

Being a wrestling fan is not a passive state. When you look into a painting, your gaze gives that work of art meaning. In art, we call this “funding and fusion”. The ball can float through the basket whether its watched by one or one thousand people. But the botched grace of a Pollock is not empirical. Likewise: the things we love about wrestling–the sell, the hope spot, the “let me tell you something, Mean Gene”–require not only our witnessing, but our reciprocation. Hulk Hogan did not attain immortality; it was thrust upon him by throngs of fans who saw him deplete the nemeses of America with the white hot fire of a Rock N’ Roll Jesus.

The fan-created art, blogs, zines, and non-name brand merch that sprout from wrestling fandom are not just the pop culture carbon footprint of wrestling, but necessary infrastructure; we are building gods and warriors and whatever they’re doing with Sandow out of otherwise “common people”.

In curating a culture for wrestling to thrive in, wrestling fans have a lot on their plate.

And Bake And Destroy’s Natalie Slater wants to fill that plate with delicious vegan food that will kick the shit out of you if you think for a second about making a “well I’ll just eat double the cows hurr hurr hurr”.

Her book has been given high marks by Colt Cabana and Lita. Like, I mean scores. Not John Cena tripping on LSD wrapped in bows.

How much of the aggression in your aesthetic is a counterpoint to the notion of veganism as passive or detrimentally pacifist? Vegans are so angry because they’re always starving”.

Honky Tonk French Toast

Well, I’m an aggressive person to start with, so regardless of what I was or wasn’t eating, I have always been aggressive, and confrontational. Having something that I feel really passionate about, like veganism, like ethical veganism, just gives me more ammo. I just sort of enjoy arguing no matter what it’s about.

So your wrestler archetype would be Roddy Piper circa ‘84-’85.

Oh, you nailed it! If I could be anyone I would be for sure Roddy Piper.

What would go into a Rock N’ Wrestling era Roddy Piper themed cupcake?

Whatever it is, it’s gotta be something that can be used as a weapon. I feel like a good cream filled pie would be excellent. It would only make sense if it were coconut–a coconut cream pie that he could smash in anyone’s face would probably be perfect.

That is the moment I became attracted to men When I saw that happen and I was like “Whoa, that was cool, that guy’s kinda hot. Wait a minute, I think I like dudes.”

Roddy Piper was absolutely my first crush, and still remains… he still looks good.

Seeing that happen was a big part of my childhood.

Piper I was born after that segment aired. Maybe that’s why I’m a lesbian.

You know, it could’ve gone either way for me. It’s not too late still.

Wrestling is pretty much the one constant of my life. I get older, I change—no matter who I grow into, wrestling is a core part of that person’s identity. I’d definitely change my sexual orientation before I quit wrestling.

 When I was a child, I was afraid I’d be stuck living in Europe forever and never get to watch wrestling because I bought into this idea that everyone hated America’s freedoms and so Germany wouldn’t let the WWF in their country because Hacksaw Jim Duggan would try to get the crowds to chant “USA” and start an international incident. Before I ever kissed a girl, I was tits deep in the realpolitik of the ring.

Pro wrestling really, at it’s best, holds up a comical mirror to society. There’s always the guy going “USA USA”–there’s always the character, his opponent, who stands for whoever in the current news is viewed as trying to take away our freedom in some way, or challenging the American dream in some way. If you’re in on the joke, as a fan, you know you’re kind of making fun of yourself, and America is making fun of itself. You appreciate it, because you’re in on it, and it’s funny.

But I know that for a lot of people who maybe didn’t necessarily get into it when they were young–it can be a lot harder as an adult to appreciate the complexity of it and not just see it as buffoonery.

Deep Fried Cream Corn Balls
Deep Fried Cream Corn Balls

My husband did not grow up a wrestling fan, at all. He was a skateboarder, is a skateboarder, was always outside, never watched TV, wasn’t interested. He grew up a defiant little kid; everybody watched wrestling, all the people that he wasn’t interested in being friends with.

For him, as an adult, trying to appreciate something that means so much to me, it is a struggle for him, as a 43-year-old man trying to understand wrestling for the first time in his life.

So it is something very uniquely tied to your upbringing Some people do get into it as adults, and more power to them. For most people I know, it is tied to whatever it gave you as a kid, whatever feeling of unity or release or escape or whatever.

When people ask me “Why do you think we can achieve [insert goal of the “social justice agenda” here] in our lifetime” I go “look: when I was a kid, I believed John Nord was a Viking somehow resuscitated to fight the undead.

Those were magical days.

When I was a child, my parents told me that chicken wasn’t made of chicken, that it was just a vegetable that we called chicken. Until I was about 9 or 10 and had seen a farm slaughter firsthand, I had believed I was a vegetarian. It was like learning wrestling was fake—not wanting to turn around and see the steps you’d taken, able only to keep walking like nothing had ever happened. Can you remember, and do you want to share, when the pieces began to click and you realized wrestling was a work?

It wasn’t so much something that I did, or realized; it was a tide shift in wrestling itself that sort of made me willing to suspend my disbelief. In the mid to late 90s, I would say probably 1994/95, is really when Steve Austin really started booming. And by 1997, he was the biggest name in professional wrestling. And his entire gimmick was sort of gimmickless in a way.

It was certainly and exaggeration of his personality, but instead of saying “Oh, I’m a professional model and I’m gonna spray you with my essence”, instead of these cartoonish characters, he was like just a bad ass dude–you could kind of picture him being your friends’ dad or a cool uncle or whatever.

Well, I don’t know how cool he was with his jean shorts, but you know what I mean.

When wrestling started taking that shift, from that caricature to Degeneration X, where it was more just cool and every day guys, it made me, as a teenager at that point, go “oh, all that stuff before like Doink the Clown were these silly things, I accept that”.

Now everybody is just sort of like a realistic badass. There aren’t as many fanciful characters anymore.

Banana Bread French Toast Cupcakes

Honestly, that’s kind of when I quit paying attention for a long time. I didn’t want that, I wasn’t interested in that as much as I was interested in all the weirdos–demented clowns and repo men. For a while they were all just kind of this dad guy.

I wonder if that magic can co-exist with social media. Every WWE show, it’s “livetweet this match! The Bellas have been busy on Instagram! Look, we made Kane and Sheamus read your insulting tweets!

That’s a good point. There’s not that barrier between us, as fans, and the stars anymore. It’s sort of removed some of that magic and mystery.

When you think of baseball, there are foods you associate with that. Hot dog, cracker jacks, a warm beer. Though other sports don’t have quite that culinary identity, there is a food/party culture to sports: tailgate parties, popcorn, $8 beer, etc. Would you break vegan for a Superstars Ice Cream Bar, and if given necessary leverage, what would you make the “official food” of wrestling? 

Would I trade in my vegan card for the day for an ice cream bar? I have to say no. As excited as I would be to see that, it would really need to be something truly delicious that would ever tempt me away from this path that I am passionate about.

I have very clear memories of that ice cream being super icy and artificially vanilla.

Lita & The Hurricane would make for a good indie band name.

I would for sure instagram it and be super excited that it existed—but I don’t think it would be worth it for me to actually eat it.

If it were up to me, I would say since no other sporting event has ever truly claimed nachos as their own, I would like to claim that, on behalf of wrestling. And really make something of it! I love nachos–that’s probably my favourite food.

But that is really interesting that there has never been food associated with other sports—you can get a soft pretzel and peanuts at any sporting event. I wonder if it’s because wrestling events are always indoors and there’s not that picnicking aspect to it that you kind of get at a baseball game.

I was also gonna say whatever the food was, it would have to be cheap enough that you didn’t feel upset when a wrestler knocked it out of your hand and called you a piece of shit because you got too close to the guard rail.

That’s a good point!

As a non-vegan, I really love vegan baking. The ethical and moral shit aside—we’ll save that for the PPV blowoff–there are genuine objective advantages to vegan baking.

foodfightFor one thing, just right off the bat, if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat cookie dough or taste cake batter if you cook, vegan baking is the way to go. You’re not at risk for all of the food borne illnesses that you’re at risk for if you’re consuming things like raw eggs in your batter. From a purely snacking while you cook perspective, it’s awesome.

Another thing that drove me nuts, as a conventional baker, was the constant need for ingredients that I wasn’t necessarily using for anything else. Nobody in my family eats eggs. My kid doesn’t like them, nobody likes them–if I had a recipe and I needed two eggs, I’d have to get an entire dozen to make this one stupid recipe.

The same with milk! We’re not big milk drinkers, I mean being vegan, obviously now we’re not, but we never were. There were just a lot of things that I had to keep around in order to bake, that now that I don’t have to; the substitutions are simple and cheap, and they’re real food substitutions.

I can use bananas instead of eggs. I can use baking soda and vinegar as an awesome leavener. I can use flax seeds ground up and mixed with a little bit of water as a binder. There’s all these things that I can use, that are super simple, that are already in my house, really inexpensive and are actual, nutritious, food.

Once you know the tricks, it’s really not that complicated anymore. And I think it does trip people up—they’re so used to butter, milk, eggs as being the baking staples. But honestly, there’s a handful of tricks and they’re easy.

A vegan diet is a cholesterol free diet. If you stick to real foods, it improves your digestion.

There are a million health reasons associated with it too– it’s also just a purely simple and inexpensive way of cooking and baking.

What was the litmus of your suspense of disbelief? For me, I knew wrestling was real when Jake “The Snake” Roberts tied Macho Man into the ropes and had Damien bite him. Looking back, I realize that doesn’t speak well for the “magic” of wrestling. It’s athletic improvisational theatre with complicated but engaging rituals—and when that doesn’t work we have this live animal in a sack!

I remember my little sister and I being genuinely terrified of the Undertaker.

I remember him putting Ultimate Warrior in a coffin and slamming it shut. We literally cried, the two of us cried, because we thought he was dead. That was shocking, and terrifying, and we really thought we saw someone die. It couldn’t have been more real than that very moment.

A runner up for me, of moments that “wrestling is so terrifying it transcends the question of ‘real’” would be Royal Rumble ’94 where you see the Undertaker inside of the casket and then he becomes smoke and ascends to the TitanTron. That is probably why I am legitimately afraid of being buried alive, as an adult.

Those matches were really scary. It’s funny; I’ve brought my iece to quite a few wrestling events, and she cries every time Kane comes to the ring, because the fire and everything else. It’s scary, and he’s scary. I guess in a way it’s nice that some of those really supernatural and weird characters did manage to live on to keep scaring little kids the way they should.

I have always loved a good heel. But I didn’t hate Undertaker; he just scared me. It wasn’t until I was older when I appreciated that, really.

Even as a kid I, always liked Jake the Snake, I always liked the Million Dollar Man. I liked those guys because they were funnier and more fun to match. There was something about the Undertaker, though; he wasn’t a straight heel. He was something else. He wasn’t good, he wasn’t bad, he was just kind of evil and that was frightening.

He’s kind of like the Borg in Star Trek. He’s this inhuman force that can’t be reasoned with.

Right, yeah. That’s totally it. You picture yourself somehow encountering these people. If you met Hulk Hogan, he would ruffle your hair and tell you to say your prayers and take your vitamins. If you met the Million Dollar Man, he would call you a peasant, and you might be able to kiss his ass and carry his briefcase for him and maybe he would let you hang out with him. You kind of know how to handle them as a human.

The Undertaker, there was no interaction that you could picture with him because he was so cold and dead. And really, maybe the most interesting character.

Would you have taken your niece to an Attitude era show?

fraaaandsWell. it’s interesting because the biggest reason why my niece is interested is because my family is very close with Phil Brooks, formerly known as CM Punk–he and I have known each other for 20 years. He definitely crashed our house quite a bit as a teenager.

At the height of his popularity in the WWE was like right when my niece kind of hit the age where kids in her class were really into wrestling–she was second or third, he was all over the place, everybody was talking about the “Pipe Bomb” and she was really interested. My sister was like “you know, he’s a friend of ours. And auntie can take us to matches.” We would always sit ringside and it was exciting for her. A big part of why she was even interested was kind of the access that she was able to have because just of his friendship with my family.

I don’t know if there was anything going on during the Attitude Era that would have caused as much of a buzz in third grade as Punk kind of breaking that wall and really airing his grievances.

I feel like older kids were more interested in the Attitude Era—even adult men were really into Steve Austin and the whole whoop-ass and all that. DX and all their groin grabbing–that was kind of for older kids and grown ups. So, I don’t know. I really don’t know.

I feel like I should mention this now, in case you ever Google me, but I used to be a super, super, super intense critic of CM Punk

That’s fine. Let me tell you: being friends with him for 20 years, you definitely have to have a thick skin about people’s criticisms of him. People were critical of him before he was anything, when he was working in a comic book store. It’s nothing new.

I’ve warmed up to him in the past few years, because I’m an adult now. The Attitude Era was fun for what it was. And ECW was fun for what it was. But wrestling cannot be that anymore. Wrestling needs to be accessible to children. I came to really appreciate the work he’s was doing to make wrestling accessible to kids. So if you’re ever wanna tell him “I talked to this girl who used to hate you, but now she doesn’t”—well, I’m sure he hears that a hundred times a day.

Hahaha, yeah.

Do you prefer the blue waffle-style cage or the chain link fence?

I think maybe the chain link just for no reason, I just picked one that I’m like “I like that better.”

When people talk about wrestling, they frame it as a sport/jock culture. But wrestling is not a jock culture; it is very firmly a nerd culture. I hear people argue with such lengths about which cage is better. And in fact, I know some wrestling writers who hate steel cage matches, and it’s not because they don’t like the gimmick of it, but because they find a face having to escape a situation to win thematically inappropriate.

Has a more pretentious statement ever preceded the splendor of Beth Phoenix?

I’m with you. For me, wrestling was definitely a nerd thing. A nerdy thing to like, and all the jocks and the people who liked quote unquote real sports were not interested in it because it was fake.

But my husband grew up in Flint, Michigan and all his cousins were from South Carolina. Flint is very urban, but most of the people he was with on a regular basis were a little bit more rural and they all loved Ric Flair. He was their hero, and to him, wrestling was more of a jock thing to be into, because he was a skateboarder and a punk rocker in Flint, Michigan in the eighties, and very much an outcast. The kids who were more socially acceptable and popular all loved wrestling, and loved Ric Flair. It’s really interesting how your surroundings can completely make wrestling culturally acceptable or unacceptable.

I live in Chicago, Punk lives in Chicago too, and it’s been pretty easy for him to have some degree of privacy here. In the city of Chicago, people are very image concerned, it’s very “hip”, and wrestling is not really considered hip. And so he, for the most part, can kind of do this thing and not get a lot of hassle. But when he leaves and goes to the suburbs, or to another city, he gets hassled a lot more by wrestling fans. It’s weird– a lot of it is to do with your surroundings.

If you were gonna make cupcakes of 90s Sting and The Crow era Sting

Oh my gosh!

What would be in them?

90s Sting was so excellent. I loved him, and had a giant crush on him, even though my cousins referred to him as generic Ultimate Warrior.

They were tag team partners. So, not far off? 

It would definitely have to be neon in every way, like maybe a version of a funfetti cake. Lots of colours in there. And it would need to be filled with something fluorescent and custardy. Lots of really artificial food dyes would be in play. Maybe one of those tiedye cakes that are all over pinterest.

For the Crow era: I think you’d have to go really dark–like a dutch chocolate, and then fill it with some kind of red berry jam and ganache. And then you could use white chocolate to do a reverse corpse paint thing on top of it.

They would be two completely different taste buds. One would be a much more kid friendly overly sugary sweet and the other one would definitely be a more bitter and dark chocolate.

And what would your finisher be?

This is not based in fantasy. It might not be as fanciful as an answer as you would hope for. I’m actually pretty great at sleeper holds. I sometimes just throw them on my husband for fun—he’s tapped out on a few occasions.

Considering my love of sweatpants, maybe I would just call it the Comfy Sweatpants. And when I put it on my opponent, they would instantly feel like they were in a comfy pair of sweatpants and they would be unable to resist.

That’s great, that’s better than anything I could’ve hoped for in terms of an answer.


“Wear Pink And Fight Like Superheroes”: An Interview with The Blossom Twins

I have always preferred tag team wrestling. When pressed, I point to CHIKARA’s stance that more colors make for a better painting, but though this appeal to authority has spared me from a lot of tired debate, my feelings are not so neat and concise.

If wrestling was a  legitimate “sport”, then we would have standings, rulebooks. We would have  regulatory committees. Or rather, we would insist on such things. But they’re aren’t, and we don’t. Wrestling is performance, wrestling it is art–strange, wondrous, athletic, violent, witty, and transformative in  ways college drama professors pine for when they decry the digital age.

A good tag team match can embody the compelling joy of in-ring storytelling–The Blossom Twins, Lucy and Kelly (Hannah and Holly to the denizens of kayfabe) have a lot of good tag team matches.

To say they are positive for children is limiting and misleading–by having characters and a wrestling style accessible to little girls, The Blossom Twins are in turn “positive” to grown men, encouraging us as a community to let wrestling be a home for imagination and unironic, uncynical love for fiction-in-motion.

Femmezuigiri is, to unite our vernacular, “hella chuffed” to have gotten this chance to chat with the Blossom Twins.

Media, and perhaps society as a whole by extension, is quite hung the hell up on twins. On the screen, twins are portrayed as creepy, inhuman and overly sexualized. Wrestling often takes this a step further–many twin tag teams are booked as incompetent tricksters, relying on the cheap heat of “twin magic”. And sometimes they’re not even twins! It’s just two dudes who look alike that got the same haircut. Was it a struggle for you to maintain an identity, as individual performers and as a team? Did you ever feel pressure to “up the sex factor” of your twin status for wrestling audiences?

Hmm, I never really thought about maintaining my identity. We are slightly naïve to a lot of things like that and pretty much just bounce along in our daily lives. Especially when we were wrestling, we didn’t think too much about what people thought about us. We’ve always been twins and don’t know any different and we absolutely love being twins, so people can take us or leave us, it makes no difference to us. Wrestling plus the sex factor…ugh!!!

Is it just us that gets irked by how everything these days needs to have some sort of sex factor? It’s funny though as the last two years or so we were wrestling, we got told numerous times that we needed to act less like 10 year olds and more like women. We used to get so mad because we just wanted to be us.

We wanted kids to be able to watch us and relate in some way to us. We thought if kids wanted to wear our ring gear or dress like us, they could without their parents worrying that their skirt is too short or the tops barely there.

We didn’t so much feel pressure, though, I remember doing different photo-shoots at the time to show that we could be more ‘diva’ esque. Looking back, even though we had fun stepping out of our comfort zones and being creative with the girls on those shoots (thank you Kayleigh and Abi) I wish we would have stuck to our guns a little more.The same goes for “bikini battle royals”–I wish I had the guts to have simply said no. They were always terribly awkward and we hated them with a passion. It’s not our thing. We just wanted to wrestle.

Kelly: Haha, “upping the sex factor” for wrestling audiences was never something me and Lucy were very good at, quite simply because we didn’t want to. We work with kids and have always had them in the back of our minds.

We wanted to be role models and show them we could wear pink and be girly, but go out and fight like superheroes. Any time we had to do things to be considered “sexy” was just awkward, especially if it involved trying to wrestle while doing so.

Now don’t get me wrong, we still enjoyed getting made up by the professionals at TNA and getting to feel a bit glamorous for TV, but at the end of the day, you can put as much make up on me as you want but I’m still going to act like the kid who wanted to grow up, wear spandex and be thrown around a ring for a living!

How did teaming with someone you’ve literally known your whole life make your in-ring communication different from other teams you’ve worked with, if at all? Do you ever something funny stuck in your head and have to try to not think about it or laugh during the match?

Lucy: We would have to say that we guess other teams don’t quite gel together as much as we do. We haven’t worked with another tag team who have always and primarily been a tag team before, so we would say we differ in that we click together 110% and are usually always on the same page. We get what each other wants from a story or match and know what’s best for the team and how we fit.

We think it was hard for a lot of people to hear us talk in wrestling because we talk 100 miles per hour anyway, but add that to us being incredibly passionate about wrestling and it’s rather difficult. We think our twin language definitely came out when it came to talking about a match or storyline.

Kelly: As far as in the ring goes, we were always very focused on what we had to do, so we rarely tried to make each other laugh, though if there was a time when we were feeling more laid back we would sing the “Wizard Rap” from Workaholics to each other to calm each other down! Little odd but we love that show!

If the 90’s taught me anything about wrestling, is that it doesn’t pay. We’ve had wrestling race car drivers, garbage collectors, clowns, dentists; but so few culinary gimmicks! Do you have any memories or stories of big, macho manly man wrestlers just going bugnuts over sugar baked goodness?

Lucy: Haha, we love this question because of course we have tons of memories and stories that involve wrestlers and cupcakes. In fact, we have actually spent the past two years writing a cookbook that combines these stories with the recipes. It is a dream of ours to get it published one day–so stay tuned!

Kelly: Funnily enough our love of cupcakes actually grew when we first came over to the states and that was exactly because “big, macho manly man wrestlers” went “bugnuts over sugar baked” goodies.

Where does baking fall into your personal identity as feminine women? To prove this isn’t a loaded question: baking is important to me, as an adult, because I didn’t get to live that “baking pies with Mama” American girlhood. It’s very healing, and empowering for me, that sort of maternal “provider” space you get in when you give a friend a slice of home-baked pound cake. Is baking, for you, reclaiming this idea of where a woman’s place is–since you used to make a living kicking other girls in the chest–or is it sort of following suit with your ideas of what femininity looks like?

Lucy: I never really thought about it like that. We grew up cooking with our Grandparents and always loved being in the kitchen, so we kind of laugh at the stereotypes or when people say “women belong in the kitchen” to me it’s not really offensive. I love being in the kitchen and I do love the feeling of making something fresh and passing it on to family and friends, it’s the best!

Furthermore, in our family it’s our Grandad who absolutely adores being in the kitchen, he would spend every minute in there if he could, so I don’t necessarily see it as being a feminine thing.

We love being in the kitchen and baking or cooking to make people happy so that’s why we do it. With Italian grandparents, food is everything.

Kelly: Like Lucy said, it’s our Grandad who will sit and talk to us about cooking and what he wants to make next in the kitchen 24/7, so we don’t really think of it as a feminine thing to do. Like a lot of things in life, I think its one of those things people say or try to put a label on to be controversial.

Wrestling is reaping a rapid expansion in the UK and Europe. It’s always been popular there, really–I remember living in Germany and watching WWF pay per views through a pirated Sky card. A lot of American wrestling is grounded in nationalism, even today. How does UK wrestling culture differ from American wrestling culture, in your experience?

Both: We feel like we have been away from British wrestling for so long now, it’s crazy. So we find it hard to compare cultures. Especially now that we have been away from even the American culture of wrestling for a little while–it’s hard to make comparisons. We think wrestling fans do like to support their own, but these days it seems people get excited to see wrestlers from other countries too.

And it’s all just eggs, flour, fruit, sugar, some spices, really; agricultural practices have, for better or worse, rendered the notion of “in season, out of season” to the periphery. And still: we have very set ideas of what’s appropriate to bake in the fall, and in the winter, and in the spring. Do you think this is just tradition, or do we sort of invest emotions and ideas into baking that give us these ideas of appropriateness?

Both: We absolutely think that people invest emotions and memories into baking! We think it kind of starts with tradition but then you become invested into how it makes you feel.

For instance, we immediately think of all things Gingerbread when Christmas rolls around. It makes us happy and excited and adds another element of joy to the holidays.

We are big believers in food bringing people together and creating the best memories.

I feel we have demonstrated an acute sensitivity and appreciation for each other’s cultures so far in this interview. That said: do you miss biscuits and tea and pub food when you travel in North America? Have you ever walked into a pub here in the States and felt “Jesus, this is an affronting caricature”?

Lucy: Since we have been in America longer now and don’t get to go home as often as we used to.  We of course miss EVERYTHING British. However, we happen to have the best Mum in the world and often get sent tons of goodies. I think I have enough Tetley’s tea bags to last till Christmas. And as far as British themed pubs in the USA, we have tried the odd one and had fish and chips here and there, but nothing comes close to our local chippy or the pubs back home.

Kelly: Ditto! To put it simply nothing beats a good cup of tea and fish and chips from our local chippy back home!

Do you get less satisfaction out of singles wrestling? Not trying to drive a wedge between you. As a bass player, I’d say Jesse F. Keeler or Tina Weymouth are my inspirations–music doesn’t offer much in the way of “versus” competition, and so I guess for me my ideal scenario of emulation, aside from stealing their spots in their respective bands, would be to play with them. You were inspired by the Hardy Boyz; do you want to fight them? How do role models work in wrestling? Who are the “Edge & Christian” of your careers?

17757_519487708121773_353317459_nLucy: Singles wrestling was always fun. It was cool to be able to show a different side of us and what we were capable of. We both have slightly different wrestling styles so I did enjoy getting to do that. However, we dreamed of being a tag team since we were 12 and studied and studied tag team wrestling, its truly what we are passionate about. Our trainer Rip Rogers would make us so excited when he used to teach us tag stuff.  He just gets it, and understands like no other–it was so awesome to learn that stuff from him.

As far as the Hardys go, we always wanted to team up with them. We loved their style, we loved how they kicked butt and we just wanted to emulate them. I think we loved so much that they were brothers living there dreams together that we wanted to be sisters living our dreams together!

Kelly: I always enjoyed being a Tag Team more, just because I felt more confident when we were in the ring together. I didn’t mind the occasional singles match but I hated having to make an entrance on my own.

As far as the Hardyz go, we always wanted to team up with them, but then with the women we admired I guess it’s  more of a career highlight to actually wrestle them. We were lucky enough to get to wrestle Mickie James in our career and absolutely love her. We always thought it would be awesome to wrestle the team of Trish Stratus and Beth Phoenix. They could be our “dream” Edge and Christian.

Women wrestlers get so few opportunities for violent gimmick matches (I mean, aside from the gendered violence of “Bra and Panties”-type striptease contests). Tag team wrestling has a storied past of TLCs, cage matches, “put guys in a box” type contests–do you think women’s tag wrestling needs to rise to that level of risk to be taken seriously? Is it enough of a struggle to be booked as a legitimate grappler, as a woman, without setting yourself on fire wrapped in barbed wire?

Lucy: I’m going to be honest, I don’t look at it like there’s “women’s wrestling” and “men’s wrestling”. I was 12 and dreamed of wrestling Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, to put in perspective how my brain works!

I understand that yes there is “women’s” wrestling and yes, theres ‘men’s wrestling, but technically “wrestling” itself is just one sport. There’s not a separate school for women’s wrestling and men’s’ wrestling. Math is math, wrestling is wrestling. It’s all the same psychology, we should all be aiming to make art and tell great stories.

My biggest pet peeve in wrestling was when we would travel on the indys and do all girls shows–I hated hearing “we’re going to wrestle like guys” or “we’re going to show the guys that we are just as tough”, then I would see girls beating the crap out of each other or i’d actually have girls pull my hair legitimately.

Wrestling is an art, the best of the best “guy” wrestlers do not go out their and beat the crap out of each other. I want to be like Macho Man Randy Savage, not because I want to prove girls are tough or that girls can wrestle, but because he was simply the best wrestler, entertainer, most awesome person ever. Does that make sense?So as far as girls needing to be in or getting the opportunity to be a part of gimmick matches, I don’t believe anyone needs to prove themselves through barbed wire matches.

We took part in a ladder match which made sense to a storyline and was a lot of fun. I loved it, but I’m not about to go through a table just to prove I’m tough. And women’s tag teams in general, they need to first just learn what tag team wrestling is, the rules, how to do them right and actually have proper tag team matches like The Rockers and The Hart foundation, that would be a good start! (That goes for guys too.)

Kelly: Personally, I don’t think violent gimmick matches prove anyone is a “wrestler”, regardless of gender. I understand that they can be used to help a storyline go further etc but I don’t think having one proves anything other than you are a tough person who has a high pain threshold. I enjoyed having our ladder match in OVW because it helped a story progress and, growing up huge Hardy Boyz fans, it was obviously very cool to tick off the list.

With that being said, I wouldn’t want  to have a ladder thrown at me every time I  wrestled in order to supposedly prove something. I think the best way women can be accepted is by watching old tapes, learning from the best people and telling the best stories.

How do you handle holiday gift exchanges? Is it hard to keep a secret from one another?

Lucy: There’s always at least one present that I get for her that she ends up knowing before the holiday. We’re not very good at keeping secrets from each other.

Kelly: We are terrible at keeping secrets from each other. I’m trying to think of a time where we haven’t actually spilt the beans on a gift.

Our husbands are very good with how close we are. I recently moved back to Kentucky after me and my husband spent 8 months in Florida– he soon found out that life wasn’t going to be much fun with me being so far away from Lucy.

Cupcakes: can they be stopped

Lucy: Nope! We love them and they are constantly evolving and people are forever coming up with new and improved creative recipes!

Kelly: Haha I hope not! They are fun and make people smile, what’s not to love!?

Do you think you’ll see regular intergender competition, and on the multi-national media level, in your lifetime? I guess I should have prefaced this with “Do you think intergender wrestling is good?” Wrestling promotions as a whole have trouble (or disinterest in) maintaining a separate women’s tag division. Should tag teams be open to intergender competition by default to compensate this?

Lucy: This might sound harsh, but I think the reason tag team wrestling suffers these days is because, in a way, no one dreams of sharing the spotlight–I think that is more apparent in women’s’ tag teams. If we are talking women, I feel that most women want to take center stage and find it hard or just don’t want to be in competition with a partner.

I’m going to be bold and say that Kelly and I are a little different. We cared about our tag team, we cared about each other, we weren’t in competition with each other. We wanted success for the both of us.

Even when it came down to how we were going to split up, we got very stubborn and didn’t want to do it anyway but how we dreamed it and we wanted to do it in a way that we both loved, not where one was going to be left in the dust.

We weren’t, and still aren’t, about outshining each other. That’s why our tag team worked. Wrestling promotions struggle with tag team divisions because there just isn’t that many tag teams out there. We would love to see more intergender stuff out there as our favourite opponents have been some of the guys we’ve trained with. Those matches are tricky and do have to be done right though.

Kelly:  Lucy covered a lot of how I feel in her answer but I will say, I think promoters struggle with women tag teams because there aren’t that many out there, or because they think it’s easier to just book 2 women and have a singles match than it is to book 4 women.

It is a shame, as I would love to see more people out there devoted to tag team wrestling–its something we are very passionate about. I absolutely love watching The Usos at the moment because they are everything a tag team should be. Maybe their twin connection helps them too, because like Lucy mentioned before tag teams are about being a team not about outshining one another.

Describe to me your ideal “You got in the ring and all you got was beat up by The Blossom Twins” consolation cake. What kind of frosting/icing would you spell that with?

Both: We would have to go with the most colourful , bright, cute cream cheese frosting (our favorite), covered in sprinkles of every kind and colour, to  show that we just kicked your butt and had the most fun doing it!

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