Houston Filmmakers Bring 'GLOW' Documentary to Austin
By Susan LaMarca
The documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling screened at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on December 4 with Houston filmmakers Brett Whitcomb and Brad Thomason in attendance. Alongside an 80s commercial featuring Hulk Hogan in his most terrifying prime, pre-screening bumpers featured a clip of classic women's wrestling from the 1950s: Blond Ballerina vs June Adair with commentary from two male announcers who "sure do love to see a ladies' wrestling match." Then an Alamo programmer took the stage and asked the audience: "Who is your favorite GLOW lady?"
GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was the first ever all-female wrestling show, recorded in Las Vegas and airing for four seasons in the late 80s. Aspiring actresses, stuntwomen and models went face-to-face in wrestling matches staged before a live audience and remained in character to perform sketch comedy throughout the show. Although some of the participants speculate that the show was originally conceived as a vehicle for product placement and Vegas spectacle, GLOW became wildly popular among adults and children all over the world. The audience response to GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling proved many of the characters of GLOW continue to be very revered.
Longtime GLOW fans, director Whitcomb and writer Thomason were inspired to make the documentary by "childhood memories, idle time at work and YouTube." Their film celebrates the wrestlers of the television show. For many of the Ladies, being part of GLOW was an unexpected experience that they are proud to have been a part of.
During the Q&A portion of the evening, Whitcomb and Thomason discussed how almost all the performers were thrilled to be a part of the documentary. The Ladies remembered the sisterhood that developed backstage and felt regret that many of them lost touch since the show was cancelled. Former GLOW Lady Little Egypt was even inspired to organize a reunion that the filmmakers were able to capture for the documentary.
Each audience member's answer to the programmer’s opening question was definitive. GLOW diehard from childhood, or born during the show’s third season and therefore GLOW diehard from the Internet, it was as if each audience member had come into the theater channeling his or her own favorite GLOW Lady.
As a kid, Thomason’s favorite GLOW Lady was Godiva. Whitcomb’s was Hollywood. Both filmmakers admitted it is hard for them to have favorite GLOW Ladies now that they know them all personally. Many have gone on to have different sorts of careers in wrestling or show business, and apparently, are all equally lovely. Whitcomb recommends further research on Matilda the Hun, who has had a particularly diverse and Google-worthy career as the innovator who brought us phone sex.
The Q&A wrapped up with the question, "Where can I get the DVD?" Everyone wanted to know, and a lot of people expressed a desire to own the official movie poster, as well. GLOW may have been taken off the air, but it will always live on in our hearts and on video.
Susan LaMarca is an intern at Austin Film Society.