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Meet the British wrestling collective with ‘queer joy’ at its core

London: Think fishnet tights, silver mini pants and long false eyelashes, then add bodies bouncing on ropes and landing with butts on faces. It’s the queer wrestling group Fist Club.

Their mission, they say, is to prove “that wrestling isn’t just a drag for straight people, it’s a drag for everyone.”

It was this sense of fun that delighted the crowd at a sold-out North London theater for their latest show.

The group’s founders – Daisy Lang, Ash Wilk and Heather Brandenburg – shared a love for wrestling, but wanted a space that accepted those who didn’t fit the conventional image of a wrestler, so they created one.

“For me, it’s all about queer joy,” Wilk told Reuters backstage. “Nothing gives me the same weird joy as Fist Club.”

This joy comes as much from the costumes and makeup, incorporating elements of drag and cabaret, as from the clinches and joint lock moves performed in the ring.

Several extravagantly tattooed performers laugh and pose in the dressing room as they put finishing touches on their wigs, pencil mustaches and add glitter where necessary.

“My identity doesn’t fit the cis-straight identity of your typical wrestler type,” said Lang, whose personas include drag king Rocky Rhodes.

By creating a queer and trans focused space, they believe they have created a show where everyone can feel at home, a modern take on the fight that attracted millions of viewers when it was televised in Britain in the UNITED STATES. 1970s and 1980s.

Back in north London, the crowd screams with joy as a figure dressed to look like singer Tina Turner recovers from a painful shoulder barge to overpower an opponent in crotchless pants and a bikini top.

Fist Club host Katy Bulmer says it shows the universal appeal of what the group does.

“It doesn’t have to be your gimmick, you can just book queer people, you can book trans people,” Bulmer said. “And people will come, they will applaud and they will understand.”

Published May 09, 2024, 07:29 STI