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      The Woman Who Invented Phone Sex and Wrestled Bears

      November 28, 2012

      By Alex Godfrey


      Queen Kong (right) torturing some poor girl in the ring.

      Deanna Booher has lived – I reckon – a good five lives and had just as many aliases. Queen Adrena, Juicy Joy, Matilda The Hun and Queen Kong are just some of the names she's gone under for her various guises. She's been arrested and jailed, she's wrestled a seven-foot grizzly bear and she's strutted about in an Aerosmith video with a dwarf on her shoulders. She's also been a pioneer in sex photojournalism and female wrestling, the latter of which made her an American TV star in the late 80s.

      For four years, GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) made Deanna a role model for big women, as she and the likes of Mt Fuji (a 5ft 10 Samoan Olympic shot-putter) rapped and spat and threw each other around a ring for almost 30 million TV viewers. Director Brett Whitcomb recently made a great documentary about GLOW, and he put me in touch with Dee, who spoke to me for two hours and made me feel like I should get out more.


      Deanna – as Queen Kong – with some fans.

      VICE: So I grew up in the UK watching people like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, but GLOW seemed to have started as British wrestling was on the slide.
      Deanna Booher:
      Yeah, I was in the UK making a couple of movies around that time, actually – Hellcats: Mud Wrestlers and Foxy Boxing. It was around 1982. I was on talk-shows and in newspapers. I was a big star. I didn't get to see any wrestling, though, unfortunately. Didn't Big Daddy kill somebody?

      Someone died after he landed on them, yeah, but the guy already had heart problems, apparently.
      Ah. He did my move: the big squash – which is where I saw it first – where you fly through the air and land on someone's belly. And the guy died. I didn't want to kill anybody, but I saw Big Daddy on TV – his size and how he moved was impressive.

      Yeah, they were big beer drinkers, that lot.
      England doesn't mind their people being big. They're not all tight like they are over here. If you're five pounds overweight, you're not right. I had a hard time growing up big. I was an outcast, a klutz, very awkward, no confidence and bullied.


      The GLOW girls.

      Where did you grow up?
      In this very small town in Lake Arrowhead, California. I didn't think I was attractive because I grew up in the early 60s, when socially women weren't allowed to be taller than men. You were considered a threat if you were, but I think it was just a power struggle; I think the young boys who bullied me were actually aroused. I wanted to be a cute little girl that the boys liked, but I think some shorter people feel challenged by taller people, and if they sense you're timid, they strike. Like a bulldog.

      Physically?
      No. They never tried to hit me, I would have flipped on them – I had a buried rage inside of me. I could have killed one of them, but I was timid. I would slump to look less tall. If you don't feel attractive, you don't wanna be noticed. There weren't clothes that fit me. Fashion for women was becoming cuter and cuter. But later I met my husband, Ken, and we got into swinging.

      How come?
      I never wanted to do it – it made me totally jealous – but Ken was my leader in perversion; the king of perverts! It was the 60s, everything was opening up and we'd been together for a few years and our sex life had become kind of humdrum, so he convinced me we needed a bit of variety. We were a couple pursuing other couples and we learned to be social scientists.


      OJ Simpson with some of the GLOW girls.

      How did you find that?
      It ended up being fun for me, but it was quite a process overcoming social stigma, fear and jealousy. I liked it when it was couple to couple – smaller things. I didn't really like the parties, the wild orgies. It wasn't erotic for me but it made him happy and we'd go home and have great sex. He and I ran a parlour for a short time – happy endings were going on – but it was dangerous because the police were sniffing around.

      Were you OK doing that?
      Anything I did bothered me at first. I was raised as a good Catholic girl, so I always had guilt in the back of my mind. I was wrestling with myself. I had a young son and I wanted to be a good mother, but I learned to get past it. We were making good money and I learned that I was attractive – I had many men clamouring for my attention. I built up my confidence and the guilt was easily buried.

      What did that lead to?
      We started writing about what we were doing, we were the photojournalists for the first real sex newspapers in Hollywood – Hugh Hefner's portrayal of women bothered me so we got into the radical free press thing – and, in the middle of this, we created phone sex.


      Mt. Fuji, Deanna's "rival" at GLOW.

      Wait, you created phone sex? How did that happen?
      Ken and I were trying to create a group-living commune with two other couples in committed open relationships. It was a nice fantasy, but it didn't work unfortunately because people don't do their share of work. Anyway, Ken put this ad in the free press that said: "Exhausted psych grad. Needs help with three horny masseuses."

      The phone started ringing off the hook – all these breathers and perverts; every horny guy in LA wanted to come and play – so Ken decided to record the calls of me talking to the guys and play them to friends. I was a natural – I had quite the erotic vocabulary – then I got busted at the massage parlour.

      How come?
      I got set up. You're not supposed to do happy endings and I fell into a trap with a cop. He kept pushing for things, asking me how much, and I said “You may give me a tip for services rendered.” I suspected something, but he had this lonely sob story and he handed me $50, I lost my senses, took the money and he pulled his badge out. I went to jail, which was terrifying, but Ken got me out right away.

      But you carried on with the phone sex?
      Yeah, I became Juicy Joy and pretended I was 16. Ken put an ad out saying people had to send us $3 for our new phone number, we checked our post office box and there was $300 in it, which was huge money for the 70s. We put in some more phone lines, I trained some girls how to do it, guys could pay $40 for a one-on-one session and we were making $300 a week. It was fun for me. I'd been reading Marquis de Sade and was becoming these characters.


      Deanna as Queen Adrena.

      What kind of characters?
      I developed my dominatrix persona, Queen Adrena. In the dominatrix world, it's the men with the guilt, which usually relates to them being spanked on their momma's knee when they were young. The moment they became aroused, that's what they remembered – which becomes the addiction – so that's the dark side. I got into understanding the psychology behind why they needed this role-play and it was fascinating becoming a goddess.

      We were doing well financially with the telephone work, but all of a sudden the FBI knocked on our door and basically said: “We don't know what you're doing here, but if it ain't illegal, we'll make it illegal.” They thought we were operating an international prostitution ring. We were terrified. They were all dressed up in these suits.

      The men in black.
      No, the men in black are exciting, these guys were in grey tweed who looked like they drank too much – boring. I took them to the room where we had the phones and I played them a sex message. You could see one guy getting aroused and he got pissed off and threatened to put us in jail, so we got the hell out of there. Then I became a dominatrix, which turned into being a lady wrestler. A lot of guys like strong women to beat them up.

      Is that how you got into wrestling?
      Kind of. Before we'd moved, I was at college studying art and music and I took a self-defence class. I started getting good at it – I effortlessly beat men up – and I found out I was pretty strong. Right after the self-defence class was a wrestling class. I really enjoyed the science of it, the moves and the counter-moves. It was a sort of ballet of power. I did it for fun, but as it got more challenging, I thought I had to do it properly. I wanted to do it to get on television.


      Deanna (far left) at the GLOW Games.

      Were there other women doing it?
      I was the only woman. I went to the Olympic Auditorium and started pursuing it professionally, but there were no women, so no work. Then I saw an ad about mud-wrestling, so I went there and it was very athletic. I wrestled another girl and wiped the floor with her, so the owner started putting me against guys. The men thought they were getting some cute little muffin, then I'd come out and beat them up. The winner was decided by audience applause and people loved me – I'd finally found my niche. I got a real taste of being a star and I really loved it.

      Tell me about the time you fought the bear.
      There were two or three show bears on the professional wrestling circuit. It was a specialty. Bears and midgets. I wanted to prove I was one of the boys.

      Was it not a terrifying prospect?
      Of course! Oh my god. I'd never even been in a professional ring before; that was my first professional match.

      It's funny to hear you call fighting a bear in a wrestling ring a professional match.
      Well, you've got to know what you're doing even more so than with a human, because a bear will break your neck. And your back. The bears are trained and muzzled, and the bear I fought was a female that had been fanged and was kept on a leash, but she was still 700 pounds. She could have broken me in two, but I lasted 15 minutes with her.


      Mr T with GLOW wrestler, Hollywood.

      Did you get hit?
      Oh yeah, but you learn to duck. Anyway, I did well and the promoter liked me, but there were no women for me to fight. If you wanted to make money in professional wrestling, you had to go and live with this woman called The Fabulous Moolah on her slave camp in North Carolina.

      Slave camp?
      Yeah, I thought about going and met her in Vegas for dinner. She said that if I was serious I'd have to leave my husband and child to live with her for six months. Huh? No, I don't think so. I spent the night with her and she "accidentally" groped me, which was kind of creepy. And I wasn't going to leave my husband and son for that.

      Is she still alive?
      No, she's dead now. She's a big hero to many people because, for them, she was the first woman who had any power or talent in the professional wrestling ring, so they don't want you talking bad about her. She just had her strange proclivities. She'd beat you down then build you up again – that's how it was in the professional wrestling world. At least we were on television, were travelling and had fans with GLOW.

      How did you get involved with GLOW?
      I saw this ad that said: "Wanted: athletic women for new comedy television series." So I went to audition and I hit it off with the director, Matt. I worked with him for a few months putting it together, I wrote the rap song and music for the pilot and trained about 12 girls at a camp we started in LA.

      What were you looking for in your recruits?
      We wanted them all to be different – racially, physically, everything. Everyone had unique gifts – it was the birth of the best thing that had ever happened to any of us. We loved it. We shot the pilot, sold the show and it went wild. We were a phenomenon. At one time we had 26 million viewers. To this day it's been the only all-female wrestling show.

      How did Jackie Stallone get involved?
      She was asked to manage the good girls. She was interesting. A very interesting kook.

      Did she actually manage them?
      No, she was just a figurehead. But she shot for the TV, she did her rap. I liked her. She was odd, but cool.

      Tell me about eating raw meat in the ring.
      I wrote a song about that for the Hellcats movie in England. My manager suggested it. That was my thing at the time; I was called Queen Kong, I was a beast and I ate raw meat. The song's funny: "I eat raw meat, I eat it plain / from the tuchus to the tummy / from the rump to the brain." Haha! It was symbolic of eating a man alive, y'know? I actually liked raw meat. GLOW was pretty sleazy at the beginning. The training camp was in a really poor area of LA – a smelly old boxing gym with spittoons in the corner for the guys to spit in.


      GLOW Magazine.

      I gather a lot of you got hurt quite badly.
      Oh, people were hurt all the time. The wrestling ring they gave us was pathetic and a lot of the girls ended up with permanent knee injuries. Susie Spirit ended up with her elbow poking out of her socket, looking like she'd never be able to use her arm again. All kinds of horrible injuries. And the pay was so bad. I was the highest paid performer and I was on $500 a week. I couldn't support my family on that. And they kept us in the dark – we had no idea we were famous. They never gave us our fan letters in case it went to our heads, because the show was the star, not the girls.

      And then you left?
      Yes, me and all the top girls walked out of GLOW and if it wasn't for Brad and Brett, the guys who made this movie, we'd all still be wondering what happened. I was depressed for 20 years because that was my joy, so the way it all turned out was very disappointing. Nobody really knew why it ended. We still don't. But I went home and did some acting. I was in In Living Color with Jim Carrey and I was in Mel Brooks's Spaceballs.

      You acted with Jim Carrey?
      Yeah, I held his hand. This was before he became the Jim Carrey. He was a sweet young man. I played his wife. And I was in the "Love In An Elevator" video with Aerosmith.

      Yes, I watched that the other day – you had a dwarf on your shoulders.
      Yeah, I did. We had a ball. Steven Tyler was the nicest person.

      How are you holding up now with your wrestling injuries?
      I'm permanently in a wheelchair, I have degenerative disc disease – which ended up turning into numb feet and losing toes – I can't stand for any length of time and now my hands are going numb. Sitting at a computer for 20 years doesn't help. I've been making and selling fetish videos. The last thing I did was fetish wrestling videos. It all connects. I got a staff of big women and trained them how to dominate men physically. Some men are into the giantess fantasy – they want to be squished and live inside you. Oh my god. It would be great if I felt a little better, but everything's good. I'm a survivor. I survive for my grandchildren – my joy.

      Okay, Deanna. Thanks for talking to me.

      Visit the GLOW website to find out more about the film and go to queenkong.com to buy Dee's autobiography.

      Follow Alex on Twitter: @MrGodfrey

      Have you seen our film about the present-day British wrestling scene yet? You should, it's great.

      More interviews with people you won't believe are real:

      The Atlanta Twins

      I Publish a Magazine Full of Half-Naked Little Boys

      Japanese Bagelheads

      I Make Jewellery Out of My Cat's Fur Balls

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      Topics: GLOW, wrestling, female wrestling, queen kong, phone sex, DOMINATRIX, jackie stallone, jim carrey, deanna booher

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