A look back at Vegas wrestling show ‘GLOW’ before Netflix debut

Updated June 21, 2017 - 6:21 pm

It was the universe’s single greatest concentration of hairspray and spandex — with the possible exception of David Lee Roth’s tour bus.

Beginning Friday, it’s being immortalized in the Netflix comedy “GLOW.”

Despite a flurry of interest when Wendi Richter teamed with Cyndi Lauper at the height of MTV’s popularity, by the beginning of 1986, if you thought about women’s wrestling at all, it was either the WWF’s 63-year-old champion, The Fabulous Moolah, or the John Candy-in-the-mud scene from “Stripes.”

Then came “GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” a syndicated hour of big hair and small costumes that wouldn’t have felt at home anywhere but Las Vegas. The series borrowed the city’s glitzy reputation to make up for its lack of production values, and it tapped the tightness of the community to find several of its wrestlers.

“GLOW’s” financial backer, Meshulam Riklis, used each episode to showcase three of his largest holdings. The series was filmed all over the Riviera — the cast even lived there for the first two seasons — while the mat bore the logos of his Brut and Faberge.

As for the talent, Lauri S. Thompson was the lead dancer in “Folies Bergere” when she became “GLOW’s” resident cheerleader, Susie Spirit. She brought in fellow dancer Lori Palmer, the daughter of her “Folies” costumer, to portray the Russian villain, Ninotchka. Told she needed a partner because “cheerleaders don’t come in ones,” Thompson recruited Ann LaBree, a gymnast in “Folies,” as Debbie Debutante. LaBree, in turn, reached out to her childhood friend and fellow Chaparral High grad Dawn Maestas to become the British sensation Godiva.

The local women became a part of one of the strangest series TV has ever seen.

Pitting The Good Girls against The Bad Girls, “GLOW” clearly was aimed at children, many of whom could be found ringside each week at the Riviera. Yet after a match featuring, say, Tiffany Mellon or Jailbait, the show would cut away to a sketch such as the recurring one in which a “GLOW” girl would visit the offices of the show’s resident gynecologists, plastic surgeons and psychiatrists, Drs. Fiel and Grope.

small pic description goes here


The result was like a hornier version of “Hee Haw” — if Roy Clark occasionally hit Grandpa Jones with a chair.

Then there was the rapping. Sweet Sugarhill Gang, that rapping. Inspired by the success of the Chicago Bears’ “The Super Bowl Shuffle” earlier that year, each wrestler rapped her own lyrics over the show’s single music track. (Sample verse: “Americana is my name / I fight for love and I fight for fame / I like to win for the glory / But I gotta fight clean ’cause that’s my story.”)

Whether it was the novelty, the simplicity or the sex appeal, viewers from elementary schools to prisons couldn’t get enough. Before long, “GLOW” girls were turning up on everything from talk shows (“Donohue,” “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show”) to game shows (“Family Feud,” “Card Sharks”) to fellow boundary-pusher “Married … with Children.”

Then, nearly as quickly as it took off in the ratings, “GLOW” was gone. Without warning, Riklis closed his checkbook after Season 4 ended in 1990. The ladies never even got a chance to tell each other goodbye.

The Netflix comedy based on the struggles of the show’s original wrestlers is set in Los Angeles. But make no mistake, for four years, the Riviera was the epicenter of some of the weirdest, wackiest wrestling the world had ever seen.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like