Arm-Wrestling Heroines Muscle Up for Charity
Photos by Becky VanderVeen
Free Comic Book Day (or as some call it, “Geek Christmas”) is a big deal here. When the City Council nicknamed their hometown “Comic Book City” in 2012, Greensboro had two comic shops, but that number’s since doubled. On May 6, the “fantastic four” stores will team up with Geeksboro Coffee and Beverage Company and the delightfully outrageous women of the Greensboro Arm Wrestling League for GRAWL Brawl V: We Could Be Heroes, an over-the-top throwdown proving that geeks can be female, muscular and civic-minded.
“It’s an homage to our favorite comic book, fantasy and sci-fi heroes and villains,” says Amanda Lehmert Killian, the gala’s organizer and stage manager, who got involved with GRAWL after Geeksboro’s Rachel Scott first floated the idea. “As always, we’re partnering with a local nonprofit, which will benefit from the ticket sales and donations made that night. This time it’s the I Am A Queen Foundation that mentors young women in our community. Proceeds will benefit their annual teen girl empowerment conference this summer. We’re so excited to help. Like us, they operate on a shoe-string, but they do so much good for our community.”
Amanda says GRAWLers are atypical philanthropists. “We’re young professionals — teachers, librarians, government employees, middle and working-class moms. We can’t afford a $200-a-seat fundraiser. But we can give our time and creativity to come up with silly characters, design great costumes and put on one heck of a show at the affordable price of $6 per ticket. Together, we can make an impressive impact. Since GRAWL started in 2016, we have raised more than $11,000 for local nonprofits. I am super proud of that.”
I also talked to two of the formidable women who will be competing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. Shannon Reeves, a 28-year-old who’s lived most of her life in Greensboro, will be wrestling as the “slaymaid” Arie Hell. “I was able to join GRAWL from the beginning, since I’ve known Rachel and Joe Scott from Geeksboro for years. I went to college for acting and writing, so the theatrics of GRAWL appealed to me. My characters are drawn from my favorite fandoms, Harry Potter (Sleazy Weasley) and Disney (Arie Hell). My favorite Disney Princess growing up was Ariel, probably because she was also a redhead. One of the best parts of being a GRAWL gal is having new friends who share my interests. I can’t describe how cool and empowering it is to have a group of women who are huge geeks like me. They really get me!”
The Slaymaid predicts that what her opponent is going to get from her is PAIN. “Arie Hell is sick of swimming and ready to stand on that GRAWL stage! She’ll be going up against UrslamYa the Sea Witch in the first round and her message to the Witch is ‘you can take my voice and my dad but you can’t take my attitude!’ She’s one feisty little mermaid!”
The other arm-wrestler I talked to also promised to bring the pain. Lois Pain, that is. Lois’s alter-ego Meagan Hooker is a photojournalist for WGHP. “I’m 31 and have been living in Greensboro since 2004. I’ve known Rachel Scott for years, and when I heard about GRAWL I was immediately down to wrestle. This seemed like a great way to connect to other women in the community. Lois Pain is the personal hero I created for myself. She is a journalist like me, but she uses her superpowers to transform into her pop-art identity to fight evil. She is super strong and fights for truth and justice. Also, I loved crafting my makeup look for Lois, although the dots do take a while.”
Meagan is proud to be flexing her Biceps of Righteousness for I Am A Queen. “This is an area that has become near and dear to me in my work the past few years. I know they are doing great things with the youth and it’s encouraging because there is a big need for it here. I believe it’s really important for young women to see people like them succeeding. It’s empowering.”
She admits she was nervous the first time she arm-wrestled. “I’m so glad I had my husband and my son as my entourage there to calm and support me. I really do get my super strength and ability to do what I do from them and I think my character reflects that sentiment. Where would Lois be without Superman? I know this is about female empowerment, but the men in our lives are feminists too.”
The Greensboro Arm Wrestling League (GRAWL), in partnership with Geeksboro Coffee and Beverage Company and Acme Comics, Comic Dimension, Parts Unknown: the Comic Book Store, and Ssalefish Comics, will host GRAWL Brawl IV: We Can Be Heroes on May 6th in the Regency Ballroom of the Elm Street Center at 232 S. Elm Street in Greensboro. Other wrestler personas will include Rosie “Captain America” Rogers, a certain Warrior Princess and the mean green She-Hulk. DJ84 will be spinning beats throughout the show and guest judges will be local filmmaker Jaysen Buterin, renowned illustrator Dan Dos Santos and the Mayor of Comic Book City USA, Jax Carignan. Admission is $6. Audience members are encouraged to donate more money throughout the event by contributing to their favorite wrestlers. Doors open at 7 pm. Arm wrestling begins at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.geeksboro.com/grawlfcbd or at the door. Free parking is available until 9 p.m. at the parking deck at 211 S. Greene St.