Sarasota Lady Arm Wrestlers Get A Grip On The Gulf Coast

Wrasslin'

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY DEC 23, 2016

Roll up those sleeves and get ready to go over the top—the arm wrestlers are here. The Sarasota Lady Arm Wrestlers (SLAW), a local chapter of CLAWUSA (named after the original Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers, or CLAW), will be hosting its first meeting this coming January 3 to recruit wrestlers, judges, referees and an excited and rowdy audience. Part performance, part competition, part charity fundraiser, it’s all about “freedom of expression and a lot of fun,” says Mistress of SLAW Ceremonies Madame von Drumpfanator. “There are very few rules.”

It’s the WWE meets punk rock meets giving back, with a dash of circus for a circus town. Bouts are called brawls, and participating wrestlers are encouraged to don theatrical and larger-than-life personas to play up in the ring, or, perhaps more accurately, at the table. “There’s no easy answer as to how much is competition and how much is theatrics,” says von Drumpfanator, “because it’s all mixed together.” Referees and celebrity judges ultimately declare the winners, but von Drumpfanator says all remain open to bribery from the audience.

While it may seem odd to encourage bribery, this is where the charitable giving enters the equation. Entry to a SLAW brawl costs only $5 and 100% of that goes to the nonprofit of the night. The cover charge also translates to a certain amount of SLAW Bucks that the holder can use as bribes for the aforementioned judges or referees by passing them to one of the many “ring boys” moving through the audience. Additional SLAW Bucks will be available for purchase at any time for those attempting to hold further sway over the night’s events. At some level or another, everyone from the wrestler to the audience performs in some way.

But while the event is designed as a fun way to blow off steam and get rowdy with friends, “it’s ultimately to provide a platform for freedom of expression, to support women and to support equality,” says von Drumpfanator. Among the few rules that SLAW does abide by, nonprofits benefitted by SLAW events must either serve to support women or issues around equality and inclusion. “This is an opportunity for community-building and for women from all walks of life to be whatever they want to be for that moment and say what they want without fear,” says von Drumpfanator. “Women of all ages, women who identify as women—it’s about inclusion.”

The first meeting of SLAW will take place January 3, where attendees can learn more about the events and how to become a wrestler, ref or judge. In addition, locations for future brawls will be discussed and practice sessions scheduled. All are welcome, but RSVPs are required. To RSVP, email Madame Von Drumpfanator at vonDrumpfanator@gmail.com.

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