Pillow The Belt

3 comments January 22nd, 2007at 04:06pm Posted by Eli

Behold, the Future Of Sport:

The reigning world champion of the Pillow Fight League is backstage, strategizing about how to put the hurt on Betty Clocker.

“I tend to knee a lot, but not this time,” she says, whispering so her opponent can’t eavesdrop. “Because she’ll be expecting that. I’m switching it up.”


Toronto’s PFL… answers this crucial question: Will people pay to watch Canadian women clobber each other with pillows?

The answer: Duh. Demand for the $20 tickets was so high that a second night at Galapagos was added and quickly sold out. But anyone who comes for a giggly face-off between two chicks in undies — the age-old slumber party fantasy — is in for an unhappy shock. “Real women. Real fights” is the league’s motto, and this is no joke. When the fight starts, nearly anything goes — leg drops, arm bars, chokeholds and punching — as long as a pillow is the point of contact. Just don’t gouge, scratch or pull hair, and no fair hiding bricks or any foreign objects in the pillowcase.

You win by pinning an opponent’s shoulders, as in a standard wrestling match, or pummeling her so hard she quits, or if the referee stops the action. If there’s no winner at the end of the one-round, five-minute fight, three judges choose a victor, based on style, stamina and aggressiveness.


Nothing is fake or scripted, though in the tradition of professional wrestling, each fighter takes a nom de guerre and a persona. Lady Die enters the ring dressed in elegant equestrian gear, though she undercuts the aura of English hauteur by flipping the bird with both hands as she struts to her corner. Eiffel Power is dressed in a shirt with those horizontal stripes that will forever connote Frenchness. Lynn Somnia enters screaming, ostensibly driven insane from a lack of sleep and wearing a white hospital gown.


“Roxxy Balboa, do you want to fight?” shouts the referee.

Thumbs up from Balboa.

“Ursula Anvil, do you want to fight?”

As a matter of fact, she does.

“Fight like a girl!” howls the ref — the phrase that launches every bout — and it begins.

Forget technique. None of the fighters seems to have any, aside from the basic windup and swing and the occasional leg sweep to dump an opponent on the mat. The action is frantic and grueling. The fighters seem exhausted after a minute. Wild swings outnumber square hits. Much of the action happens on the ground, where the fighters pitch and roll, occasionally using their pillows to try to choke each other, which doesn’t really work. There’s nothing sexy about it, and with a 20-ish, mostly male crowd calling out such bons mots as “Hit her low!” the event often has the atmosphere of a “Jerry Springer” melee.

The PFL is the brainchild of Stacey P. Case, a 39-year-old who swears his name is really Stacey P. Case. In 2004, he was driving through Austria with his band, the Tijuana Bibles, when a thought struck him out of nowhere: pillow fighting. Real fighting. Ladies only.

“A light bulb went off,” he recalls…. Everybody thinks it’s a strip thing, but it’s not. We’ve had offers from nudie bars to come and fight there and I don’t even return their calls. I’ve got a rule on the books that says no lewd behavior.”

The fighters, he says, are mostly denizens of Toronto’s art scene, which means the whole show could be interpreted as one big performance art piece. (That doesn’t make the violence less real, but it gives onlookers the out of regarding the PFL as an exhibit they are watching rather than a car crash they are gawking at.)


“I asked the girls the other day, ‘Hey, how many of you would quit your jobs and become pillow fighters full time?’ And half the girls raised their hands.”

As undignified as professional pillow fighting often looks, it is alluring enough to tempt a few in the audience to try. Once the appropriate waivers are signed, a dozen attendees… start roundhousing each other in impromptu five-minute battles. Among them is a woman in a red gingham top who obviously came ready to riot. She has “Vermonster” written in pen on the back of her shirt, and after coming close to pinning her startled opponent, she wins a unanimous decision.

The fighting, according to the pros, is just part of the appeal.

“Off the mat, we hang out,” says Reardon, the PFL champ, who has inked the word “hate” across the knuckles of both hands. “You might be mad at someone because of what they did on the mat, but you bring it back to the mat.”

Reardon’s showdown with Betty Clocker is the final match of the night. Clocker enters wearing an apron and bearing a plateful of cookies that she hands out to the crowd, instantly turning her into the audience favorite. Reardon, who enters wearing the three-pound PFL champion belt, doesn’t care.

“I tried to do my judo and sweep out her legs,” Reardon says grinning and out of breath after the match, her belt firmly back around her waist. “And once I got her tired, I knew I could get her on the ground and smother her.”

The PFL Network is just around the corner – I’m looking forward to their all-day draft coverage.

(The WaPo story has video, BTW…)

Entry Filed under: Sports,Weirdness


  • 1. Codename V  |  January 22nd, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    How is this any different from Roller Derby? Apart from the gimmick being pillows instead of skates.

  • 2. Eli  |  January 22nd, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Well, roller derby is a team sport, and this is individual – although it’s only a matter of time before they bring in tag-teaming, since this is a lot closer to wrestling than roller derby, IMO.

    Also, the rules are a bit easier to understand – roller derby’s are kinda arbitrary and silly.

  • 3. wesunusawood  |  June 3rd, 2008 at 8:56 am

    and dream. I thought probably came rewarding I’d hoped knew I assumed to it visit to ramble community

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