I just put the Pillow Fight League up for sale.
The PFL was my baby for five years. Female fighters were trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, professional wrestling, and the psychology of audience manipulation, all while fighting with pillows. Our first live event was in May 2006, and our final live event was in March 2011. Sixty-five live events. Hundreds of matches. I have over 400 hours of footage. Tons and tons and tons and tons of press.
It all seems like a lifetime ago. I look at all of the posters I designed and screenprinted, and my media scrapbook, and honestly can’t believe I did what I did. What we did. It doesn’t make any sense, it never made any sense, and yet…it makes total sense. It always did.
I loved the subtext of the whole project. Most people thought the worst – women exploiting their bodies for the amusement of a male crowd – when in reality, the truth was much, much different. So much…better. It was empowering for the women on the mats and in the crowd. It wasn’t planned, it just…happened. At shows, I was the hated Commissioner Stacey P. Case, a male trying to control all of the unruly women in the League via a long list of Rules, with my hapless male referees continually foiled by the fighting women, which only made me madder at the fighters and at my refs…the audience would cheer the women and boo the men, and it became a work of art. Men and women had a ball at shows.
That’s only the subtext though - I haven’t even touched on the rivalries and storylines between all of the fighters. First, some of the women were ‘bad characters,’ and some were ‘good characters.’ Some chased the dream to become World Champion. Others just wanted to get even with their opponent for a past match. Bruised and battered, arms and noses were broken in the mayhem. Love. Hate. Honour. Glory. Revenge. Respect. We had it all. The alliances that were formed, all of the psychology going on, we knew what we were doing, and it showed. Even more importantly, behind the scenes, we all knew, every single one of us - the fighters, the refs, the buffers (men who acted as a human shield between the fighters and the audience), the camera crew, we all shared one big secret – none of us really knew what was ever going to happen. We were free to explore ourselves, explore our ‘characters’, explore our relationship to the audience, and for a few hours, really be something else.
We had an amazing announcer in The Mouth. His intros and commentary added so much to the production.
Allowing women in the audience to have amateur matches against each other throughout the night was a real crowd-pleaser, and it was very smart of us to do that.
I’ll miss Polly Esther and her roundhouse pillow attack. Olivia Neutron-Bomb always giving it everything she had, with one of the deadliest pillow strikes in the history of the League. Carmen Monoxide, who fought through untold losses in the beginning of her career, only to blossom and become World Champion a couple of years later. I’ll miss tangling with Referee Ross Jeremy. I’ll miss Senior Judge Sean Condon calling it right down the middle every time. I’ll miss setting up the room the day of a show, with red, white and blue everywhere. I’ll miss hanging with the men of the PFL, and I’ll miss hanging with the women too. I’ll really miss watching our fans going nuts from backstage, or wherever I was, smiling inside and thinking to myself how cool it was, what we were all doing to make an audience go so crazy sometimes. Winging it. A loose framework, but everything else? Improv. On the mats and off the mats.
What I will miss most is simply having it all to do.
I need another project. One that doesn’t suck up all of my time, energy and money the way the PFL did, something less stressful. I’ve got a few ideas, and I’ll be spending some time seeing where they take me.
In the meantime – goodbye, PFL. It was a pleasure knowing you. And to you there, reading this – would you like to buy a women’s sports league? It’s got a great back story…