Wanted: A few tough ladies.
Maureen Maples is recruiting women for the Olympia Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers, referred to as Oly CLAW. The club aims for the brawny theatrics of professional wrestling – only with a feminine twist.
Oly CLAW intends to blend the attitude of roller derby with the spectacle of burlesque, all while encouraging philanthropy among young people, Maples said. Aside from being a creative outlet, Oly CLAW will raise money for SafePlace, an Olympia-based service provider for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
“It’s just a win-win all around,” said Maples, who also founded the Oly Rollers roller derby league. “It’ll be a good thing for our little Olympia.”
Maples got the idea for Oly CLAW from a friend who posted photos online of a similar club in Virginia. Other chapters in the U.S. are modeling themselves after a documentary based on the original club in Charlottesville, Va.
To gauge interest, Maples held an informational meeting for almost a dozen interested women Tuesday at Le Voyeur Café and Lounge in downtown Olympia. Le Voyeur will host the inaugural Oly CLAW event, which is tentatively scheduled for the end of May.
Flanked by an entourage in matching costumes that can range from sexy to absurd, each arm wrestler creates a persona – with names including Pain Fonda, Michelle Obomber and Jackie O’Nasty. Arm wrestlers will compete in a bracket-style format until a champion is crowned.
Plenty of nonwrestling roles are available, Maples said, and the club plans to rehearse before each show to ensure a polished production.
Safety is also a priority. At Tuesday’s meeting, Maples distributed a list of techniques to minimize risk of injury for arm wrestlers and maximize chances for victory.
In two pre-meeting matchups between friends, Maples locked hands with Katie Meyer as the women flexed their guns. Meyer, who beat Maples twice, will shape her CLAW character as a tough version of Pippi Longstocking.
“I like more rowdy sports,” said Meyer, a lifelong Olympia resident. “It’s always fun when a bunch of ladies get together for a good cause.”
Oly CLAW will be “much like the documentary (“CLAW”) with less T&A,” said Ryan Dicrescenzo, owner of Le Voyeur, who has long been interested in co-organizing an arm-wrestling event. For almost 15 years, the lounge has hosted local musicians, performers and charity concerts – anything that promotes culture and brings people together in Olympia. Aside from getting the word out about Oly CLAW, the next step is to build a special table for the arm wrestlers.
“It seems like a lot of fun and it fits in this town all too well,” Dicrescenzo said of Oly CLAW. “Whatever builds community here is what we’re all about.”
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869