In my quest to discover more wrestling branded food to review I stumbled across the art of Betty Turbo and couldn’t be happier. Betty was kind enough to take the time to speak with us about what drew her to draw wrestlers in such a delicious light.
A.V: How did you get into wrestling fandom and what about it resonates with you the most?
BETTY: Several years back a friend asked me create a custom work of art for her partner for a holiday gift and the only clues she gave me were that he liked Ric Flair and giant squids. I had to do a little research about who this Ric Flair chap was. I got so many comments from people on my Ric Flair drawing, I was urged to illustrated more wrestlers, and I was really unprepared for how enthusiastic wrestling fans were! As someone with a background in theatre, and someone who utilizes an art persona in my professional life, I connected with the dramatic angle and performative storytelling aspect, as well as the notion of characters and alter egos. The more reading I did the more I got sucked in to the world of wrestling! Through the magic of the internet I connected with Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy, who is also a big proponent of wrestling and baked goods, and she connected me to a lot of contemporary wrestling fans and later invited me to illustrate her cookbook.
A.V: What inspired you to combine wrestling and delicious baked goods in an art form?
BETTY: When I started the Ric Flair piece, it was such a foreign subject matter to me, that I tried to filter the content through a lens in which could bring my own enthusiasm and expertise more directly. I have always been a dessert fan, and I was working as a cake decorator at the time, so I decided Ric Flair and the giant squid were battling for the last slice of chocolate cake. Next I drew Jake the Snake and replaced his trademark gimmick with cupcakes. While it started as a joke, as I developed more drawings it became a very compelling tool to play with.
One aspect of fascination for me in looking at pop culture is: who are our examples of excellence? Wrestlers battle it out to win this or that championship title, and devote themselves (to varying degrees) to becoming these top specimens of physical strength. What if they put all that work into winning a blue ribbon in a baking contest? Are certain categories of excellence reserved for only men or only women? Who do we model ourselves after and how can we cross-pollinate some of these arenas that feel largely divided by gender roles?
Another fun intersection of pop culture and dessert I always come back to is the idea of consumption and “guilty pleasures.” How we consume media for entertainment and our attitudes towards food have a lot in common, you know? Some of it is considered good for you. Some of it is considered junk. Some folks want to make you feel bad for enjoying anything “low brow” or assume that if you are interested in wrestling, or reality TV, you have only poor taste and low standards. Or you couldn’t possibly be a foodie if you also enjoy ranch dressing made from a packet. And healthy people definitely never eat a double scoop ice cream cone. But I do think it is in fact possible to enjoy some junk food, physically and mentally, and still be a thoughtful, intelligent human being!
A.V: If you could have your own food inspired wrestling persona, what would it be? Do you have any moves that you would incorporate?
BETTY: Oooh! I would have to come up with something ice cream related, because it would be so good to play with visually, and I could also tie in the cold aspect, as if being born in snowy Alaska created my frozen persona. I could go iiiiiice coooold when I needed to be a heel. Gosh I’m ashamed I haven’t already developed this further in my mind!
A.V: I noticed that you have the Beth Phoenix design and was wondering if you had any plans to do a focus on any other female wrestlers in this art series?
BETTY: I would LOVE to draw more l lady wrestlers. I haven’t actually added anything to this series in a while, I’m not sure in what fashion it will continue. Beth Phoenix was vastly more interesting to me than the rest of what I observed of WWE Divas (As a casual fan! No disrespect intended!) but the more that I meet people from independent wrestling promotions the more I am interested in new ways. I did a little painting inspired by The Fabulous Moolah for a recent show and I would definitely love to go back and spend more time learning about women wrestlers of years past as well. Of course if any lady wrestlers are listening and need a weirdo illustrator to create some merch for them, I’m available!!
A.V: Favourite baked good?
BETTY: Pie! Filled with sour things like plums and rhubarb.
A.V: Favourite wrestler?
BETTY: I really love Mick Foley and reading his books was what really got me on board as a wrestling fan. He seems like a pretty outstanding human being. I just want to give that guy a hug!
A.V: Do you have a favourite match or a dream match that you would book in an ideal world?
BETTY: My dream match is the one in which I’m drawn as a lady wrestler in a Hernandez bros comic book!
Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you. Betty was kind enough to donate one of her wrestling prints as a prize to our loyal readers.
To enter the contest you need to be following us on twitter, facebook, tumblr . You will get an entry from each social media interaction.
Tweet us @femmezuigiri with a link to the contest and your dream wrestler + food combo
Tag Femmezuigiri on Facebook and comment on the page with which food you think it’d be most fun to wrestle in a pile of
Reblog the contest entry on tumblr and add in the comments a food related pun for a wrestling move
Win a dessert themed wrestler print from Betty Turbo
Character is collaborative. You can write every intended spoken line and weeks worth of kayfabe tweets, but you can’t move their mouths or blink their pretty eyes for them. At some point, the wrestler enacts agency.
David McLane’s women-based wrestling promotions GLOW and Women of Wrestling were plagued with setbacks by the bucketful, the least of which was a racist run rampant, practically sprinting.
It’s easy, or rather it has been societally programmed as such, to look at women of color playing out race-baiting pantomimes and fall back on the either/or: they must have full agency over their decision to take the part, or they lack all agency in their participation. The truth is stuck in the mud along the border of the rival states. There is room for enjoyment, satisfaction, coercion, and frustration, for working with the system and being exploited by it, simultaneously–the scenario is universal, but the reaction is case by case.
All this to say that WoW’s Slam Dunk made the most out of a preposterly offensive gimmick. She was set up as a (then) heel inversion of Mt. Fiji–the giant undefeated woman. Supposedly banned from the WNBA for being too violent, Slam Dunk compensated a weak knack for grappling with heel ring psychology and the sort of trash-talking swagger of self-love and confident that white America had come to resent so immensely in young black athletes.
As a face, Bret Hart insisted he was “the best there ever will be”–he wasn’t even the best wrestler on the roster at time. But when Ali called himself the greatest, the soap boxes lined the streets. People begged and pleaded that someone, out there, would be able to teach Ali some manners and his place in society. Babe Ruth calling his shots is now endearing nostalgia–would we tolerate this from a black athlete?
One positive (of many) in building wrestling shows around non-wrestlers who are trained and learn how to be wrestlers as they go: you can actually sell a leg drop. The roughshod choreography of spots, and Slam Dunk’s imposing size difference over her opponents, makes her leg drop look at the very least unpleasant, if not legitimately painful.
Most women who get into wrestling are taught how to work the crowd as managers–when they finally get a chance to compete in the ring, it’s hard to translate that manager heat into sustaining the audience’s attention. So they try to stick more moves and repeat botched spots and fall apart into a frenzy of awkward half-bumps when the match isn’t working.
Slam Dunk, wisely, spends more time working the crowd than she does her opponent who is, like her, a wrestler by happenstance. You do the best you can with what you have, and many of the women David McLane wrangled for his schemes weren’t given much in the way of respect or concern for safety.
A towering and obnoxious villainess like Slam Dunk is a staple of a successful fledging roster. You can feed them smaller, less experienced wrestlers for heat, then blow it off with an underdog fan favorite with a convincing half-crab (like Slam Dunk’s rival, Roxy Powers).
She may not have a believable big leaguer, but Slam Dunk had the puckered-lip cockiness and stage presence of a reliable heel menace that could have helped WoW cultivate an acceptable product. At least until they could have afforded to give her a less obvious temporary tattoo. Of a basketball.
David McLane does not have an entry in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s database and frankly this vexes me.