Why I love lady wrestling
Heather "La Rana Venenosa" Bandenburg on why she can't get enough of hard femme wrestling.
My favourite thing about wrestling is how it allows people to become powerful extensions of themselves. We all have our insecurities, but wrestling helps to inhabit your body, to perform a character, to lose inhibitions. It’s a space to let go and surprise yourself at what you are capable of. Queer wrestlers like Cassandro El Exotico and Sonya Deville are great examples for this, taking that thing that makes them different and using it to inspire others to break stereotypes of queer, femme bodies.
The freedom of a character also means you can become an antithesis of yourself. No one really knows who you are behind the mask and that's an empowering thing. When I was first given my character, the booker essentially wanted me to be a sexy Kermit the Frog. Instead, I created a slimy, spitting, poisonous Queen of the Sewers – I even blacked my teeth out. During the day I spend most of my time worrying if people like me but when I become Rana Venenosa I transform. I draw cocks on the hands of chauvinist men; I throw seedy chat-up lines across the ring like a kiss with too much tongue. My finisher is a move called “the Flying Cunt Drop” where I knock my opponents out with my fanny-bone. It's the best therapy in the world.
I have seen a lot of people talk about how they wish wrestling was like GLOW – all female and fun – but for us that's going backwards. The original GLOW's damaging stereotypes and quite patchy wrestling, in reality outweighed it's moments of genius. Wrestling is becoming a community that encourages performers to build characters that are themselves, not based on what a male gaze requires.