January 22 - February 4, 1981
Text by John O. Gunter
Photos by John Walker
Like a few Texans I know, I really did bum my knees in barrel races as a kid, and my momma's house really is about a mile from Gilley's and other Spencer highway joints I frequented a little later on. So I look upon all this de rigueur urban cowboy chicdom with a, well, jaundiced eye. Therefore I approached the Rodeo Dallas Disco in European Crossroads, protectively colored in jeans and Tony Lamas, hoping not to be spotted as a cultural interloper.
I needn't have worried. Very few of the predominantly young hatted and booted bucks or does gave me a second glance. All eyes were riveted on the performers in the Rodeo's latest Thursday night crowd puller -- female mud wrestling. After paying a $2 cover, I moseyed into a room booming to recorded redneck rock. A few folks were dancing, but most were caterwauling along with the music, stopping only to whoop or chug-a-lug $3.50 longnecks.
At ten sharp a deejay emcee, incongruously dressed a la Cardin and full of bad Catskill Mountain standup comic lines, jumped onto the floor and began to hype the crowd while a chap in referee zebra set the stage: a six-foot square ring, sheeted and filled with beige mud, and two chairs behind diagonal comers. The crowd chanted "more mud, more mud."
There were three matches that evening: a light-, middle-, and heavyweight, though the six women were all about the same size. In fact, they were all well-built, but looked more like cute topless dancers than athletes.
At the beginning of each match, the two contestants entered wearing fantasy costumes (librarian, cheerleader, infantryperson, elegant doper). Each then stripped to a bathing suit as the music pumped and swelled. The most popular model was a one piece wrap-down-under-back-up-and-around number that couldn't be easily yanked off. Only one wrestler wore a bikini, and her bra predictably slipped once, driving several young males to a frenzy.
Each match consisted of three 60-second rounds in which the women started on their knees and were encouraged and allowed to do anything except stand up, pull hair, or deliberately kick. The ref counted the number of pins per round, and the winner was determined by audience response. McLuhan would call this a hot medium.
The quick transformation of an attractive, nubile, half-dressed woman into a mud-covered, hair-matted, half-dressed, snarling female was a bit of a sensory rush, but the actual wrestling left something to be desired. In the first two matches, for instance, I detected the contestants furtively whispering mutual strategy to each other. The refs calls were sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and the dippy emcee yelled over the music at the crowd.
But most of the people didn't mind. They had not, after all, come to see competitive wrestling. They loved the show and cheered constantly. I did, however, spot a few women and men wearing that mixed mask of fascinated revulsion we normally reserve for snakes, sharks, political enemies and other aliens.
The last match was the evening's erotic and competitive climax. The challenger, a sexy blonde with athletic legs, proved a formidable opponent for the reigning champion, Miss Cocaine. The Pope's recent warnings about male concupiscence (intense sexual desire) came to mind as the stunning Miss Cocaine hit the floor, stripped to a bikini topped by a Fredrick's of Hollywood garter belt, hose and heels outfit. She reminded those of us old enough to remember Candy Barr or Chris Colt just how erotic a strip tease can be, even a modified one. The younger crowd caught on real quick and her number produced bedlam: airborn hats, knocked over beers, concupiscent moans like "Cocaine Poontang" -- well, you get the idea.
The leggy blonde truly went after the champ and almost beat her; an extra round was needed to prove Miss Cocaine's dominance. Both women looked whipped when it was all over.
The flushed crowd scattered into the night quickly, having briefly sated their senses. I too, in spite of the hype, had enjoyed this up and comer on the Dallas experiential range.
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