The Farmer’s Public Market is “blowing” up this weekend, with Balthazar’s Ladies and Lords of Wrestling (BLOW) unleashing its season-opening title belt at 4 p.m. Sunday in the OKC Farmers Public Market.
What started in 2014 as a performance-art piece for the multi-hyphenate local artist Balthazar (aka Leslie Hensley) has become its own actual troupe of wild and well-practiced female wrestlers.
“It’s weird being the one in charge,” said Balthazar, whose wrestling persona is The Burger. “I step back and am like, ‘Oh my god, there’s like 400 people here. It’s like, ‘Goddamn!’”
The circus spirit inspires BLOW, and this spirit is embedded into the ringmaster’s brainstorming. Balthazar said she decided to make wrestling her next venture while watching wrestling videos at home. Plus, she said, she can’t afford a trapeze set but can afford a ring. Still, she never imagined how popular her muscle-bound menagerie would become, or how much it could grow in a year.
“We got a big crowd, and it’s not just a wrestling crowd,” she said. “It’s just for everybody.”
As any fan of WWE theatre well knows, half the art of pro wrestling is in the characters themselves: the feuds, the personalities. Both Balthazar and another prominent figure in the ever-rotating cast, The Delicious Diva, acknowledge a debt to WWE wrestlers, specifically the women. Although the WWE is a little more focused on the sexual aspect of female wrestling, BLOW banks on creative costumes to create its eye candy.
In addition to WWE-inspired flair, performances also pay homage to certain ’80s wrestling personalities from GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). For example, Godiva became Balthazar’s leading inspiration.
Persona profile: The Delicious Diva
At first, The Delicious Diva didn’t know how she was going to come up with a character. Everyone else had theirs. She brainstormed “Delicious Diva,” and the other girls said that was so her.
“It was actually quite easy,” The Diva said. “Once I figured out who she was. Once I figured out, ‘OK fine, this is … my take on … where our society is at this point, and everyone wanting to be in the limelight and everyone wanting attention. How would you go about getting that? She really is just there to be famous, and she couldn’t give a damn about anyone else. She feels that everyone is beneath her, and feels she doesn’t have to do any of the work for [success].”
The Delicious Diva was an athlete in a previous life (cheerleading and track and field). She had a few moves in mind when she decided to brave wrestling.
“I like to physically attack people, just from all sides,” the Diva said in a recent phone interview. “If at any point in time there is something I can do that just kind of looks like more of an aerial move, something that should be on Cirque du Soleil, I’m going to try and do that. If I can get into a handstand and toss someone, then I’m going to do that. I can do a handstand from the bottom rope.”
In conversation, The Diva has an interesting distance from her stage persona. She asked that we only use her middle name “Antonia” to identify her owing to her day job in the public sector.
Antonia said she has seen professional women in similar situations face criticism — and even lose their jobs — when people learn they are entertainers by night.
“With everything being so widely viewed via technology these days, you don’t know what access people are going to get into avenues of your life,” The Diva said. “There’s a lot of my after-life, as I lovingly call it, that some people find questionable.”
But no matter what, she says, a part of The Diva kicks in when 400 people are hollering and rooting her on in the ring.
“There is a certain persona that comes through when someone calls me Diva. It’s not on purpose, but yes it’s going to happen,” she said. “Quite a few of the wrestlers often say I live my gimmick. It’s not a gimmick if you can’t disassociate me from Diva.”
Ladies and Lords face off
Doors open at 3 p.m. and bell time is at 4 p.m. for Sunday’s Ladies and Lords of Wrestling main event. The Delicious Diva and The Burger will combine to form The Delicious Burger in a tag-team match against Texas Chainsaw Mascara and The Hills Have Eye Shadow. Also, The Bacon takes on Eric “The Mountain” Everest in the Lord of BLOW match, and Daniel LaRusso will square off against Walker Texas Ranger in an Action Hero match.