The "Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers’ Sweet Sixteen (CCLAW XVI)" had everything: Heels and faces, drag queens and lumberjacks, Slim Jims and kosher dills. The charity event, benefitting Sideshow Theatre and its partner for this match, C4 -- Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, rocked the Logan Square Auditorium late into the night on Friday June 7.
The hostess for the evening, Valerie Dolls, warmed up the room by turning everything from Leonard Cohen to Kander and Ebb to "The Star-Spangled Banner" into the best kind of torch song as the ladies of CCLAW and their entourages worked the crowd soliciting CCLAWBUX, the equivalent of raffle tickets used by attendees to bet on their favorites or bribe anyone worth bribing. Audience members could also pony up cash for a snapshot with their favorite lady in the photo booth throughout the night.
Valerie stuck around and sat alongside announcer Chuck NoPants for color commentary while the mistress of ceremonies, Rokke L. Squelch (Sideshow’s fantastic ensemble member Karie Miller), supervised both matches and the raffles (with a variety of prizes for betting on either the winner or the loser) from the floor. Beach balls soared, and classic rock blasted as the crowd cheered and booed the likes of T. Wrecks, June Meat Cleaver, Schemepunk Sally and the Kosher Dill.
Referees Dick Douché and Gordon Limey supervised the matches and deployed the Bucket of Shame for a variety of penalties ranging from arm-break holds to the occasional call of shenanigans for slap fights, weave-ripping and, in the case of Gorrison Killer, wrapping her opponent in public radio’s own sheet of static. Bouts running more than 20 seconds were decided by a spin of the Stalemate Wheel and a variety of competitions from dance-offs to thumb wrestling.
Arm Wrestlers and entourages alike roamed the floor and got into scuffles at halftime while the Black Laces rocked punk classics like Bikini Kill’s "Rebel Girl." Before long it was on to the second and third rounds.
Through eight matches best of three matches in the first round and four in the second, through disqualifications and dance offs, it all came down to the reigning champion, the Killer Bee and The Doctor in the final best of five match. At the end of the night, Killer Bee kept her grip on the bedazzled CCLAW gloves, and crowd favorite Ivana Drago took home the Magic Sash of Joy.
The Lucky Shiners closed out the night (after losing their drummer for a worrisome length of time in the kind of crowd where anything might have happened to him) with an eclectic batch of crowd pleasers like "Ballroom Blitz," "Mama Say Knock You Out" and "Hit Me Baby One More Time," complete with flawless dance moves.
It was a frenetic evening that could have easily turned to chaos without the obvious effort put into keeping things moving, the crowd invested, and the energy turned up to eleven. True to the Sideshow’s company motto, "Familiar Stories. Unorthodox Methods. Perpetually Curious," CCLAW XVI was all of the above.