Tag: Ric Flair

“But You Know It’s Fake,Right?”

Childhood, Pro Wrestling, and Being a Mark

Back before “sports entertainment” was a thing, my dad ran an independent wrestling company. Think less Vince McMahon and more flea market Jim Cornette.

He’d book shows in high school gyms, bingo halls, auction barns, basically anywhere that had space for a 16x16ft ring.  Because of that, I spent the first five summers of my life stuffed between my parents in a late 70s Chevy Silverado. This was a time before mandatory child seats, seat belts, and common safety knowledge. We travelled the Carolinas, towing behind us a trailer full of wood and metal. The bed of the truck was full of mats and turnbuckles, 12 packs of Natural Lite and multicolour cable ropes.  At our feet were empty Salem cigarette boxes, beer cans, and a black belt with a big metal plate.

We’d arrive at an empty building around midday and my dad and his motley crew of weekend performers would go to work setting the ring up. I would sit on the bleachers, a few toys in hand and watch the men strain and swear and finally turn a pile of random junk into the fabled squared circle. I’d try to stick around and watch them do run-throughs of the matches but usually, I’d be swept off by my mother to come sit with her and the other women in the concessions area. More often than not, I’d sneak off to go hang out with my dad and the other menfolk, getting ready for that night’s show. It was there I was schooled in the secrets of the business.

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One of the secrets of wrestling is that there are these things called “works”. A “work” is when you get over on a crowd. It’s the act of getting people to suspend disbelief long enough to become emotionally invested in what you’re doing. It’s a grown-up version of playing pretend.  As an example; On April 27th, 1991 during the peak of a white-hot feud, Earthquake (Whose real name was John Tenta. He was billed as 6’7ft 486 lbs) crushed a bag that held Jake “The Snake” Roberts pet python Damien. Damien had been Roberts’ sidekick and was a character in his own right. When Earthquake “crushed” his bag, the crowd went wild. Those fans that lost their minds and completely bought into the story are known as “marks”. With Roberts tied up in the rings, he was unable to do anything but watch this huge mountain of a man crush his pet and only friend presumably to death. Roberts work is some of the best ever to grace the inside of a ring, and that night he was on point. His face full of despair, he yelled and screamed for Earthquake to stop, for it to all not be true. In reality, it wasn’t true. The snake was never in any danger and Jake Roberts didn’t watch his only friend die. The role of Damien that night was played by ground meat shoved inside a pair of pantyhose.

Too many times I was hauled away from the wrestlers and forced to sit still and be quiet in some boring corner, far away from the banging of bodies on the mat and counts of three. In those moments when dad and the crew overruled my mother, I was the official gopher for the night. I’d run the lengths of the gym, hauling beer, towels, cups of water to the guys in the back.  Before the main event, I would usually be out of sight, asleep in the truck far away from the crowd. Wrestling was a constant in my life, and I loved every bit of it.

Growing up in the Carolinas it was kind of hard not to be surrounded by the sport. The closest major city to my little backwoods hometown was not only the home of Jim Crockett Promotions (which would be sold to Ted Turner in the late 80s and become World Championship Wrestling) but also the home to one of the biggest names in wrestling, The Nature Boy Ric Flair.

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Arrogant and flamboyant,  confident and animated, Ric Flair was, and still is, pro wrestling. From his expensive shoes to his bedazzled and feathered robes, he was the icon for the sport. His theatrics, his ability to tell a story not only with his passionate speaking/screaming but also his body set the bar for how a professional wrestler should perform. In my eyes, he and the men he faced in the ring were more than human. They were like the Greek gods. But with championship belts and American accents.

And that’s what the allure of pro wrestling is. It’s men who look like superheroes acting out comic book storylines live and in person. It’s bigger than life characters taking part in beautifully violent choreographed battles. Good guys versus bad guys, babyfaces versus heels, heroes versus villains, add some beautiful ladies and it’s the male equivalent of a daytime soap opera. But with way more punching than kissing.

Sadly, a real-world workplace injury brought our wrestling adventures to an end not long after I turned six. The ring was broken apart and not put back together. It’s corner post used in the fencing for our merger herd of cattle. The hefty Silverado replaced with a smaller truck. The walls of my dad workshop stopped getting promotional poster stapled to them. It was over.

But my love for professional wrestling continued on.

It wasn’t until middle school that my love for pro wrestling, or as the regional accent in my head says “rasslin'”, became socially acceptable. But still, it wasn’t something that many girls my age were into. Along with my ill-fitting boys pants and at home butcherblock haircuts, my excitement for wrestling set me further apart from my female peers. Nevertheless, I was enthralled. What I lacked in a social life, I made up for with being a wrestling fan. No matter how many times my interest was discouraged with “But you know it’s fake, right?” I continued on.

High school and college came after and with them, more adult responsibilities than I should have had to take on. The schedule I was keeping kept me away from the TV for most of the week. Still, when I could, I would sit down Monday and Thursday nights and watch wrestling with my dad. Like keeping up with the Atlanta Braves, wrestling was how we bonded. I’d watch the spectacle of The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and DX with glee. My dad, in typical grumpy old man fashion, would complain about how wrestling had “gone to hell” and was nothing more than “a bunch of hogwash”. With the space between us filling up with more and more things, it became our last avenue for connectedness.

But like all storylines, that too would end.

The day of my courthouse wedding, it was a disagreement centred on the name of his old promotion that kept my dad from coming to witness the event. Someone had decided to use something close enough to his promotion’s name and he felt slighted they hadn’t consulted with him first.  At least, that’s the story that hurts the least to believe. If I can believe he missed my wedding for something he gave numerous years of commitment to, it really doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

After all, I know what a work is. And I’m a big enough mark to believe it.

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Stitchcraft: Triangluar Prism Bag

If you remember from my previous post The Subtle Art of Good Enough, sewing is one of my favorite hobbies. I grew up surrounded by women who could transform the simplest of fabrics into functional, sturdy clothing. Even though I didn’t join in until I was older and they were gone, a part of me feels connected to this art. To make it clear, I’m no Olivia Walker *. To me, as messy and beautiful as it is, sewing is an extension of my witchcraft.

Merriam Websters has the definition of witchcraft as :

1 a: the use of sorcery or magic
b: communication with the devil or with a familiar

Now, I don’t think my Singer sewing machine is a hotline to the devil (I mean really? Could it be so easy?) or a familiar (I usually try to keep her away from my fabric) but I will not discredit the sorcery it takes to turn a plain sheet of fabric into something functional and tangible. So, if I may be pompous, I present you with the Conjure and Coffee definition of Stitchcraft

Stitchcraft

1.a: the use of sorcery or magic using stitches made with needle and thread.

b: communication with the devil by yelling things like  “Goddamnit!”, “Oh shit!”, and/or by accident piercing one’s flesh with needles, pins, or scissors.

The first thing I’d like to share with you in my Stitchcraft series is something I am all about right making right now. I was pointed to this Craftster tutorial by a dear friend and fell in love! I mean really, how cute is a triangular prism for a makeup bag?

Quick side note: If you aren’t wise to the ways to Craftster, please, please check it out. There are SO MANY great tutorials. The user community is so vast and knowledgeable that inspiration abounds. Whatever craft makes your heart sing you’ll find a chorus for there.

On to the triangular prism makeup bag!

Following the measurements provided, I cut out the pattern for the bag out of everyday simple printer paper. I would advise to maybe cut the pattern out of a more stable medium. Printer paper is really flimsy. Cardstock would be a much better choice.

After measuring and cutting the pattern, I folded it in half, lining up the sides. Why? I prefer to cut on folds. I have no real reason, I feel that it helps me judge how much fabric I’m using. Once folded, I followed the directions and cut two out of the outer and inner fabrics.

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That’s when the fun started! It was time to attach the inner and outer fabric to the zipper! Zippers are still something I struggle to get “good enough”. Sometimes I can get them on no problem, other times it’s a garbage fire. Before I started sewing the zipper, I unzipped it enough so when I was finished sewing all the other sides I could turn the bag right side out.  For this project, I did an acceptable job with the zipper. I still have a little way to go before I master it, but I’m satisfied with my progress.

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One note about zippers: Make sure you check your zipper before using it. I bought a good size lot of zippers off Amazon. I didn’t go through and check their individual functionality. I just grabbed one that matched colors. The one I used for this bag was a little hiccupy the first few times I used it.

After doing that zipper magic to both sets of fabric, I did a seam down one side, stopping at the right angle edge. Then I sewed the bottom straight across. After that, I did the other side.

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Once those three sides were done, I pinched the cut out right angle looking edges together and zapped them under the sewing machine needle real quick. The bag finally took shape!

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I cleaned up some long leftover threads and turned it right side out. And BAM! A makeup bag is born!

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I love this tutorial and pattern so much!! It’s easy to assemble and pretty fun. The bag itself is really versatile. I keep saying its a makeup bag but really, you can use it for anything. About ten minutes after finishing the one I made for this post, my three year old had taken it for her Shopkins.

I hope you enjoyed the first Stitchcraft post!! This kind of post was a first for me. I’ve never really taken the time to chronicle making something. It was definitely a learning experience. But isn’t that what growing in the Craft is about? Manifesting something out of pure idea and energy is never easy. Hopefully, when I bring you another Stitchcraft post, it will be a bit more polished and a little more informative.

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  • But wait! Who’s Olivia Walker? Olivia Walker is the seamstress who for decades provided the colorful robes that The Nature Boy Ric Flair wore as he walked that aisle. Being a Southern girl who was the daughter of an independent wrestler (trust me, I’ll tell you about this later) Ric Flair and his flashy robes were my first taste of costuming and pageantry. Without these robes, you could make the argument that Naitch wouldn’t have been the character or champion he is known for being.

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