It’s not everyday a person gets an email from ‘Queen Kong’. I instantly remembered ‘Deathstalker 2’ and perhaps an episode of ‘Married With Children’. Since I did not follow wrestling, I wouldn’t have known her from GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, so it says something about her range that she has an identity beyond the cult 80’s television sitcom.
A visit to her webpage queenkong.com confirmed this was indeed the cult movie actress. Deanna Booher was working on her autobiography. I drove to her home and enjoyed listening to stories about her days in wrestling and entertainment. She had noticed the webpage for my documentary ‘Wrestling Then and Now’. My p.o. box address was in the same building as her p.o. box.
She worked with a number of editors but was itching to finish her book. Not only was I local, I welcomed the opportunity to read the rough draft of what has become; GLAMAZON QUEEN KONG: MY LIFE OF GLITTER, GUTS, AND GLORY!
Deanna grew up in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, CA. Taller than most, she felt awkward because of her physical appearance. Like Sissy Hankshaw, the heroine who is sensitive about her big thumb in Tom Robbin’s ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues’, she hits the road and meets some rough characters. She gets pregnant and nearly has her baby taken away, but she asserts her rights and gets him back.
Deanna marries Ken Booher, a man who is opposed to monogamy. It is the mid-sixties. Free love would eventually morph into swinging. Ken and Deanna were there as both participants and journalists. While some people might be put off by Ken’s view of monogamy, I should point out an incident in the book that caused me to raise an eyebrow.
Ken had an opportunity to work in a school for boys, but refused to inflict the types of punishment his supervisors wanted him to impose. He quit. Since I was working with a non profit group that called for greater transparency in boarding schools and group homes, Ken received brownie points from me for not playing along with the abusive system.
Deanna and Ken opened the first telephone sex business in the country! The FBI took an interest in their work and promptly closed them down. Not long after, 800 numbers began cropping up in sex magazines.
She dominated men as ‘Queen Adrena’. This became her first wrestling name. Women in wrestling were on the outside looking in, so Queen Adrena’s first professional match was not with a man. It was a bear! Yes, regulations and scarcity of men kept this Glamazonian from wrestling men at the Olympic Auditorium. Since professional wrestling didn’t pay the bills, she became ‘Queen Kong’ and pioneered session wrestling (in which men paid for the opportunity to wrestle with this amazon).
Deanna and Ken eventually met Matt Cimber, the producer of Butterfly, Tangerine Dream, Fake Out, and The Witch Who Came From The Sea. They discussed the possibility of a wrestling television show that featured women. This became GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling which began taping in Las Vegas.
The women were divided into good girl/bad girl camps. Deanna was now ‘Matilda the Hun’, a Teutonic Queen and true bad girl. The women were expected, in true kayfabe tradition, to keep their personas in public. This did not warm them to the heart of professional wrestling who, in the ultimate spirit of hypocrisy, wouldn’t accept GLOW as ‘real’. Not even Vince McMahon could keep GLOW from becoming a cult phenomena (even though he’s rumored to have threatened to pull his programing from any TV affiliate that showed GLOW).
One thing no one expected was for GLOW to become popular with children. Children flooded the auditorium at the Riviera Casino. Vegas was changing its image to become a more family friendly place. This brought the very real fear that someone could discover Matilda’s past as a dominatrix and get her pulled from the show. It nearly happened before when Deanna appeared on Hardcastle and McCormick with Brian Keith.
Matilda the Hun left after the second season of GLOW. She returned to her previous alter ego ‘Queen Kong’ and made a name for herself during the golden age of mud wrestling which reached its pinnacle at the Hollywood Tropicana. It came to a spectacular halt when Queen and Ken produced a one of a kind mud/oil/cream wrestling extravaganza called ‘The Female Combat Circus’. An unforgettable evening marred only by getting ripped off by the casino owners.
Her acting career took off and she was practically on every sitcom that required the services of a woman wrestler: Night Court, Hart to Hart, Mama’s Family, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Married with Children, not to mention numerous b-movie drive in classics like Deathstalker 2, Space Balls, How I Got Into College, Lust for Freedom and Dirty Laundry.
The demands made on her, combined with her wrestling injuries, took their toll. A particularly disturbing episode on Patrick Duffy’s show, Step By Step, made her realize it was time to bring down the physicality a notch. She began offering ‘Slam-a-Grams’ and it became a news sensation along with her song ‘Raw Meat’ which, although originating on GLOW, began playing at the beginning of Fred Roggin’s sports updates.
A car accident brought activity to a standstill. Ken, who starts out the book as the dominant breadwinner, ends up sick and dependent on Deanna. Ken died and Deanna eventually moved to a retirement community in Seal Beach. She began working on her memoir and hiring editors. That was when she sent the email to me.
Our work began with digitizing slides and videos. Hundreds of hours and images from her days in sex journalism, wrestling, GLOW, Hollywood, and roller derby. Oh! Did I just now mention roller derby? That’s what it was like working with Queen during the past year. We would dig up a photo that triggered a memory and, sometimes, a new chapter! This book is jam packed with stories and experiences regarding wrestling, entertainment, the sexual revolution, and the slam bam punches that life can pull!
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling began shooting a few years before Deanna contacted me. As the movie became more of a reality, she wondered how her fans would react to the portion of her book dealing with her days as a dominatrix. The GLOW screenings proved her fans were more accepting than previous generations.GLAMAZON QUEEN KONG should be required reading for womens studies classes across the nation. It’s a first person account of a woman asserting herself in male dominated industries, and possibly through her influence, helping to mold change.
GLAMAZON QUEEN KONG is ultimately a story of a woman coming to terms with her past in order to pass on a legacy to future generations.