On January 19, 2007, the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, NY was stormed by a crowd of pillow-wielding, trash-talking Toronto women. The Pillow Fight League (PFL), a group of women led by Commissioner Stacey Case (founder of the PFL, T-shirt printer, and member of local surf-punk band The Tijuana Bibles) battled in front of hundreds of screaming spectators and curious members of the American media. The highlight of the group’s appearance was a match between league champion Champain and #1 contender Betty Clock’er.
The PFL started at the Gladstone Hotel’s New Year’s Eve party in 2004, and was resurrected for the next year’s celebration where the first live audience tryouts took place. When Case realized that women in the audience were keen to get involved, he decided to invest time and money into developing the PFL into a professional organization.
The PFL could be described as a hybrid of WWE wrestling and Mexican Lucha Libre, but with campier costumes and no script. The League’s rules disallow biting, eye-gouging, hair-pulling, and lewd behaviour, and state that any wrestling move may be used, as long as a pillow is employed in its execution. It’s also strictly women-only.
The first PFL events were held in the sweaty confines of the former Vatikan club on Queen St. W., but in the last several months the PFL has moved on to larger, swankier venues like The Courthouse on Adelaide and College St.’s Mod Club Theatre.
The crowd at PFL events has always included a good number of artsy types and punk rockers, not to mention more mainstream men interested in getting an eyeful of the feisty fighters. However, as the League has become more established, it seems to have attracted more of the hipster crowd and fewer of the camera-brandishing perverts.
At the Mod Club on January 12, one week before their American debut, the PFL held a fundraiser that included a match for the title of #1 contender-the fighter who would face feared league champion and pillow fight veteran Champain (aka Stacy Reardon, who is also a member of Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque-the group that staged the initial 2004 pillow fights).
The Mod Club’s dance floor was transformed into a regulation-sized ring, and a series of fights took place, including amateur bouts, a “dommage à trois” in which three opponents fought to be the last lady standing, and the final, tense face-off between Polly Esther and Betty Clock’er for #1 contender status. After a tense five-minute mutual thrashing, neither contender had submitted. A panel of three judges, including Case, decreed that Betty Clock’er would be the one to face Champain.
The following week, in the presence of hundreds of new American fans, Betty graciously lost to the triumphant Champain, who retains the gold PFL championship belt. The New York trip garnered the PFL attention from the likes of ABC news, The Washington Post, ESPN, and Reuters-not to mention just about every Canadian news outlet. With plans to tour the Eastern provinces and states this spring, and a TV deal in the works, expect to see more pillows swinging your way in the future.
Check out the PFL online at www.gopfl.com
Get to know the PFL
The PFL’s current champion and one of its founding members, Champain (a.k.a. Stacy Reardon) is known for her fierce attitude and strength-she once fought through heatstroke and a bruised kidney. Champain is also a burlesque performer, soccer player, and model for and employee of NOW magazine.
Donning a housedress and apron and distributing her trademark chocolate-chip cookies before every fight has made Betty Clock’er (a.k.a. Tara) a crowd favourite. Despite her housewife image, she’s one of the toughest women in the League, and narrowly lost to Champain in a recent NYC championship battle.
The league’s “waitress from hell,” Polly Esther (a.k.a. Fiona) wears an embittered, hard-ass attitude with her polyester uniform. Despite a spotty win-loss record, Polly is one of the most feared opponents in the League, and boasts brains to go with her brawn-she holds degrees in both English Literature and Theatre.
Towering over the other PFL ladies, Eiffel Power (a.k.a. Angela) was the first member to be recruited from a live audience tryout (the Gladstone’s NYE party in 2005). Outside of pillow fighting, she works as photographer’s assistant, a barback, and is a talented photographer as well.