The best way to elucidate the buzz on the Internet over the first two parts of our four part series on wrestling's trailblazers of tittilation would be to borrow the words of the late, great Billy Idol (no, seriously, he's alive?) who sang, "with a Rebel Yell she cried mo', mo', mo'"...which actually I've always found strange since for my money Curly was the looker. And even though I admit it was more of a warped whisper than a rebel yell and that any woman caught on this site would be tossed out of NOW like Snooki from a Mensa meeting I think my point is clear. So let us forge ahead.
And when we left our stalwart strumpets they had reached something of a crossroads on the way to Knockout-ness. The quaint cuteness of Sunshine and Precious had finally given way to the brazen bimbo-sity of Missy Hyatt and it seemed the dye for these heroic harlots was already cast. But not so fast...
Before Vince McMahon Sr.'s body was so much as tepid in the mid-'80s his son had begun a mad dash for the big cash that would make Anna Nicole Smith's run to the Dallas County Probate Court after J. Howard Marshall's funeral look like she was leading the Macy's Day Parade. Against his father's dying wishes Vinny Jr. began storming through the long protected regional territories and setting up his own nationwide wrestling dynasty. Problem is this plan began by targeting a pre-pubescent audience that was closer to thinking "milk" than "motorboat" when they saw the mountainous mammaries that we take for granted today.
Thus the likes of Hyatt and company were put on hold, but only temporarily. And even someone like myself, whose deepest thoughts at that time tended toward deciding whether Razzles was a candy or a gum, could see the inevitable coming. But until then let's look at some of the transitional tarts who helped build the bridge to Diva-dom.
1. Luna Vachon- Dave Meltzer, the dean of wrestling writers, once observed that he could tell how "over"/believable was Bruiser Brody's persona in Japan by the fact that when fans ran from other wildman wrestlers like Terry Funk, Stan Hansen and Abdullah The Butcher they did so with smiles on their faces, happy to be part of the act. When they ran from the the chain-swinging Brody, however, their faces showed true fear. That's kinda how I feel about Luna Vachon.
It may be the face paint, the perpetual sneer, the teased mohawk or the fact that she patented a move called the "Crotch Claw", but I've been sleeping with a light on ever since I researched this "Anti-Diva". Though I guess that's what you get when your mother remarries and you're adopted at age 4 by "Butcher" Vachon.
To his credit the Butcher tried to dissuade a young Luna from entering the biz. His plan, however, featured a move that could make the Houston couple who sent their kindergartner to school with a loaded gun look like Ozzie Nelson and Donna Reed when he sent his 14 year old daughter alone on a European tour with Andre the Giant. Apparently the idea was to get little Luna to despise the grind of the road, but with Andre's well known penchant for drinking, joking and taking home multiple women who wanted to find out if he truly was "The Giant" it turned out to be like trying to reform an effiminate delinquent by placing him in "Scared Straight"- one walk past the communal showers and it would look like things were one big party in the big house.
Next thing you know Luna had shaved her head, wrapped herself in chains and joined Kevin Sullivan's Army of Darkness, a stable featuring a relief map forehead-ed King Curtis and "Maniac" Mark Lewin that could make the bar in Star Wars look like a George Will-led meeting of The Heritage Foundation.
After cutting her teeth with Sullivan's horde in Florida Vachon's actions became even stranger. She married wrestler David Heath (later Gangrel in the WWE) , but when she sent in a tape promoting him to Vince McMahon he took one look at her bizarre managerial act and offered her the contract. The only problem was she had disappeared on a tour of Puerto Rico and it took two teams of private investigators to find her wandering aimlessly around the island like a bizarro world version of Margot Kidder.
In the WWE she was put into a fued with a then novice Sable where she competed in a series of "Evening Gown" matches in which the object was to be the first to strip the other to their bra and panties. That Luna prevailed over the nubile newcomer at every stop is a bet even Art Schlicter could've cashed. From there the two engaged in more conventional matches where Luna, apparently having seen the slutty writing on the wall as to the future of women in the promotion, had to be repeatedly advised not to slap Sable around too much for fear of rendering her unattractive for photoshoots.
Dissastisfied with the growing sexualization of the WWE Vachon jumped to ECW where the idea that things would be different seemed belied by their already featuring a valet named Kimona Wanalaya (say it slowly) at the time. There she managed Tommy Dreamer, but broke this off when her husband, Gangrel, became jealous. That Dreamer was involved with 5'6", 110 lbs. cutie Buelah McGillicutty at the time and Luna was once involved in a faction billed as The Human Oddities apparently never crossed Gangrel's mind.
Vachon continued to work into the new millineum, but sadly things did not go well for this woman who gave so much of herself to the sport. In 2000 she was diagnosed as bi-polar and in 2004 she became a Born Again Christian and was baptized by Nikita Koloff which may make her Russian Orthodox (I like the hats, very pious), I'm not sure. She passed away in August of 2010 at age 48 from an overdose of prescription medication which is to wrestlers what drive-by shootings are to rap stars. A true professional to the end.
Hey, who's up for a threesome!?!
2. Chyna (Joanie Lauer)- How popular was Chyna during her D-Generation X run? So much so that it provoked WCW into a game of one-upsmanship where they hired their own female bodybuilder (Cristi Wolf) to accompany their top clique, the NWO, and dubbed her Asya thereby seeing the WWE's country-theme and raising them a continent. To date there is no word if making Perry Saturn wear sundresses and leather skirts for 30 days after a loss to Chris Jericho was taking this to a planetary level, but Lord knows Vince Russo and company did dumber things (google "The Finger Poke of Doom" for Exhibit A).
Before we make any wisecracks though I have to admit that if I ever feel bad about some aspect of my upbringing all I'll have to do is think of Chyna's childhood and the moment will pass. For by the time I was sitting in my parent subsidized off-campus apartment, sucking on a Zima (which "zucked" by the way) and trying to decide whether Wang Chung or Kajagoogoo was my generation's Pink Floyd Chyna had already lived through more nightmares than the denizens of Elm Street. In fact before she had graduated High School her parents had divorced over her father stabbing her mother with a butter knife, she went through 3 stepfathers, suffered from bulimia, received sexual advances from a teacher and was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor. Yet she still found time to play cello in the school orchestra which goes to show...there's always room for cello.
Considering that I once writhed on the ground clutching my liver from watching the movie Barfly I find it no less than a miracle that Chyna survived these traumas to attend the University of Tampa where she graduated with a B.A. in Spanish Literature. The return to normalcy continued when she came out of a stint in the Peace Corps (God, I'd kill to get in the Peace Corps) and ultimately completed Flight Attendants School.
But if there's one theme throughout these pages it's that once the Pro Wrestling bug gets hold of you it treats you like that one they put in Ricardo Montalban's ear in The Wrath of Khan. Lauer chucked the stewardess gig and enrolled at Killer Kowalski's Wrestling College which I don't believe offered courses in Miguel de Cervantes.
Her initial rise was meteoric. Quickly jumping from the independent circuit to dating Triple H and taking the WWE by storm. Her size also inadvertantly established a separation between Valets and Wrestlers among the girls. Too big to compete seriously with other women wrestlers Vince McMahon was able to basically ignore the whole division and let Chyna compete full-time against the men. Any other ladies looking to break into the big time then had to do so on looks alone leading to the likes of strictly eye candy types like Debra and Sable until Trish Stratus and Victoria/Tara came along and resurrected the hottie as grappler type.
At this point the WWE marketing machine went into overdrive and pretty soon this Khloe Kardashian look-a-like was posing for Playboy and Hustler, guest starring on a number of TV shows and hitting the best seller list with her autobiography. Still you knew the inevitable crash was coming.
Released in 2001 by the WWE Chyna was also stripped of her trademarked moniker and began showing up on the reality circuit as China Doll or under her real name. A stint on VH1's Surreal Life ended up exposing her wild on-again/off-again relationship with wrestler X-Pac that ultimately produced the sex tape One Night in Chyna...though my suggested subtitle (And A Lifetime With Chlamydia) was rejected by the distributor. Today Chyna still pops up on reality shows such as her 2008 turn on Celebrity Rehab. Not surprisingly a therapist who goes by the less than confidence inspiring title Dr. Drew was unable to break her of an addiction to painkillers and sleeping pills that helped ease the pain of a lifetime of physical and mental abuse. Still she survived an overdose in 2010 and remains a testament to the fact that women can legitimately make it in the male dominated world of wrestling.
3. Elizabeth- The Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian of the Wrestling World. Elizabeth is mostly famous for being famous as far as I can tell although the folks at the pink and baby blue "Miss Elizabeth Worship Page", where you can sign a petition for her WWE Hall of Fame induction, might think otherwise.
Liz jumped into the spotlight when she began managing her then husband Randy "Macho Man" Savage on his highly successful WWF run. Stiffer than Gary Glitter at Chuck E. Cheese her whole repertoire consisted of standing at ringside looking tan and pretending to be on the verge of tears kinda like Speaker of the House John Boehner watching Bedtime for Bonzo. Eventually she worked her way up to participating in angles and interfering in matches, but she still doled out dialogue about as often as Marlee Matlin though not quite as clear.
Despite divorcing in 1992 she hung around as Savage's manager until the late-'90s. Then in the wrestler's mid-life crisis version of buying a motorcycle Macho Man chucked her in '98 for 22 year-old stripper Stephanie Bellars who worked under the ring name Gorgeous George. She briefly tried to go it straight when she married Florida attorney Cary Lubetsky at the Cuban Hebrew Temple in Miami where I believe they served Kosher plantains and unleavened frijoles at the reception.
It didn't take and the couple divorced 6 months later. Then sensing, at age 39, that the hourglass on her career was running out she quickly opted for breast implants and a chance at one last run in the dying WCW. There she was put into programs that had her stalked by Goldberg, mentally abused by Sting and kidnapped by Vince Russo and yet the worst thing to come out of the whole experience was her real life hookup with Lex Luger. Already in the midst of his own professional demise Luger had turned his condo into a den of steroids, painkillers, sleeping pills and cocaine that was one grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich away from Graceland circa 1972. Ultimately Elizabeth would die from a prescription med OD in 2003 and Luger would be hauled off to jail on a litany of drug charges. Another cautionary tale of running off to join the circus.
Elizabeth striking her trademark "Lions and Tigers and Bears" pose.
4. Madusa Miceli- The ultimate anomaly Madusa was a woman ahead of her time. With striking good looks, the ability to work a decent match and competent mic skills she was the whole Diva package before promoters and bookers knew what to do with it. Thus instead of establishing herself as a star in any one territory Madusa bounced literally around the world in a career of fits and starts that never quite took off.
She posed for Playboy as early as 1987 then refused to sign the release form. Won the WWF title as Alundra Blaze then jumped to WCW and threw it in the garbage on Nitro. Saw her popularity take off like a Tamagotchi from Hell upon debuting in Japan in the early '90s, but chucked it to work for the LPWA whose payroll meeting ability was in a league with Frank McCourt's Dodgers. Perhaps if she had stayed in one place for any length of time or someone had developed a longterm program for her she could've been more than a pleasant basic cable distraction. We'll never know.
A legit tough woman in 2000 Madusa agreed to take the big bump in a WCW scaffold match with Kidman, Shane Douglas and Torrie Wilson and disappeared from TV without a word shortly thereafter. Today she has her own stream of consciousness blog that in true enigmatic style is part religious, part soul searching, part self promoting and done in an odd grammatical style of misspellings, ellipses and mostly lower case lettering with the odd capital thrown in for good measure. Like someone tossed the complete works of e.e. cummings and James Joyce in a wood chipper and randomly pasted the letters on a page ransom note-style. She also is a serious competitor on the Moster Truck circuit, holds several black belts and worked "shoot fight"style in Japan so we'll just leave our snarky comments at that.
Next stop The Super Terrific Happy Hour...Banzai!
Part 4 with Woman , Sable, Debra and the Boogie Woogie Man's Big Mama up next. Check back for updates or go to our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Bowling-Til-It-Hurts/144323018970626 to see the latest.