What do gelatin, a wrestling ring, and feminism all have in common? Jello Underground. An all-female run jello wrestling tournament. Part performance, part competition, part declaration of female power and sex positivity.
Jello Underground began as a Seattle-based burlesque troupe. According to the show’s producer, Gracie Garnet (that’s her stage name), the hustle it took to choreograph, produce, and run a burlesque show became too strenuous. So the troupe, still wanting to perform, took a step back. “We wanted to do something else, but we thought, what’s that going to look like?” Gracie says. One performer by the name of Baberaham Lincoln had the idea to try jello wrestling, something they hadn’t seen in Seattle before. One thing led to another and Jello Underground was born. They have been performing monthly-ish since 2009.
Sound Effect producer Bethany Denton gets invited backstage to interview a few of the jello wrestlers, and there she finds women of all shapes, sizes, and body types. Thin women in lingerie, athletic women in biking shorts and sports bras, big women in cutoffs and tank tops. Women who are short, fat, brown, straight, old, white, black, trans, tall, queer, muscular, thin, hairy, and everything in between. Jello Underground is open to any woman who wants to wrestle onstage.
The mission of Jello Underground is to produce a body positive, inclusive, female dominated show that is free from the sexism that plagues jello wrestling and its cousin, mud wrestling. The show’s emcee, Punches, puts it this way: “Jello wrestling, mud wrestling, it’s always been geared toward sleazy guys.... If I get in that pool, it’s because I want to have fun wrestling that other woman... [Jello Underground] is like that movement of women taking back the ‘c-word’. That word is used in such a derogatory form, and it’s like, no! That’s my word, don’t take my power away from me!”