Film ID: NEFA 21863 Video of NORTHERN LIFE: WRESTLING WOMEN 1976 Visitor TabsDescription A report on women’s professional wrestling for the Tyne Tees Television Northern Life news magazine programme broadcast on 16 September 1976. The piece features interviews with British professional, and former British and European Ladies Champion, Mitzi Mueller and her opponent Lolita Loren (?) (real name Chrissy Thompson) who take part in a Brian Dixon All Star Wrestling promotional tour in Newcastle upon Tyne. Includes fight footage and vox pop with a man in the audience. Brief shot of Mitzi Mueller and Lolita Loren (?) in the ring at the start of their fight. Mueller kisses the referee on the cheek before both competitors go to their corners. Interview with Mitzi Mueller. The reporter asks about attitudes to young women wrestling. Mueller thinks some people are ‘so square and behind the times’. The reporter then repeats allegations that girl wrestlers lose their temper more easily than the men and that they tend to get carried away in the ring. She asks Mueller if she ever loses her temper. The wrestler answers no with a smile. Wrestling match footage follows with Mueller given a public warning by the referee for rule breaking after a move against Loren. Interview with a deadpan Lolita Loren, a top villain from the 1970s and 80s. The reporter asks whether it upsets her that the audience were booing her during the fight that night. Loren replies that she is used to it by now. The reporter wants to know if she always plays the role of the baddie. The wrestler says no, its just when she gets annoyed. And she gets annoyed every fight. ‘I go out to kill actually.’ Overhead view of the wrestling ring and audience as Lolita Loren winds up the audience, and the audience jeer back at her. Asked what she thinks of the English audience, Loren says they are very arrogant. They throw chairs, umbrellas, pint pots. She has received more lumps on her head from punters than in the wrestling ring. More wrestling match action between the two competitors follows. Loren is floored and released, and a count of 10 begins by the referee. Mueller is interviewed and asked if the match is fixed, with a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’. Mueller retorts that they are not fixed. She has been in hospital three times. Mueller again manages to floor her opponent in the ring during the match. Vox pop with three men who watched the match between Mitzi Mueller and Lolita Loren that night. They are asked what they think about women’s wrestling and if they have seen it before. One man with sideburns thinks it was great. It was his first time and he will be coming again. He thinks it was fascinating, very exciting and better then men’s wrestling. When asked why that is, he jokes that you ‘see more’. The three men laugh. Context Liberating the grapple girls A ringside seat in Newcastle upon Tyne to see some women warriors of wrestling in a 1970s All Stars promotion. Are these fearless wrestlers ringing the changes for women in the 1970s? Attitudes to girl wrestlers are ‘so square and behind the times’ thinks European Ladies Champion, Mitzi Mueller, who takes on hellcat opponent Lolita Loren in her boyfriend Brian Dixon’s All Star Wrestling promotional tour, stopping off in Newcastle upon Tyne. In her best performance art mode, a deadpan Loren baits the crowd (and the male reporter) in her role as the villain: “I go out to kill actually.” Breaking into the ‘masculine melodrama’ of professional wrestling was not easy for women in the 1960s and 70s. In the 1930s professional wrestling was outlawed in London. When the ban was lifted in 1952, the Home Office excluded women. They were prohibited by the Greater London Council until the late 1970s, and promoters such as Dixon found it hard to get a license around Britain to hold women’s matches. Sue Brittain, who wrestled from the 1960s to 1982, campaigned to get women’s wrestling legalised in the capital and won through in 1979, earning her comparisons with Emmilene Pankhurst. Mitzi Mueller herself released a campaign record with Suzy Quatro’s backing band called ‘Let the Girls In (To London Town)’. Decades before a 21st century Wonder Woman pulled on her knickers to battle with cliches and the evil powers that be, stirring debates about what constitutes a feminist hero, troupes of outrageously brazen women wrestlers clad in underwear, swimsuits, and tight athletic gear were amongst the ‘carny folk’ who entertained at fairground sideshows, circuses, burlesque shows and taverns into the 20th century. They captivated audiences with their strength and sex appeal as they competed against male challengers for money. The 1950s saw the rise in America of glamorous celebrity wrestler, Mildred Burke, an ex-carnival wrestler and day-time stenographer, and larger-than-life characters such as The Fabulous Moolah (trained by Burke), and Mae Young, who also toured the wrestling circuits of Canada and Japan. Professional wrestling was popularised in Britain when ITV began their Saturday morning broadcasts of significant matches on 9 November 1955, attracting huge TV audiences. One of the British queens of the ring, Mitzi Mueller made her professional debut aged fourteen in 1963, trained by her father, pro wrestler Joe Connolly. She won the British Ladies Championships in 1972 and held the title of European Ladies Champion from 1975 to 1990. In the 1970s, she wrestled for promotions like All Star and took on opponents such as Hellcat Haggerty. With tag team partner Rusty Blair, Mueller was one of the first women to wrestle in a big venue when the ban against female wrestlers was lifted in London. She took on Klondyke Kate and Nicky Monroe in the Royal Albert Hall on 24th April 1987. Also on the programme was the European team, the Bovver Birds. The 1980s is considered a golden age for women’s pro wrestling, its commercial success helped along by the 1986 syndicated American TV comedy-drama GLOW, or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The jury of real women wrestlers is still out on this one.