Sweet, white lace panties, socks to the knees and impeccable pigtails are the images conjured when one thinks of the words “pillow fight.” But the girls of the East Van Pillow Fight Club are anything but the stereotypical “sweet girl sleep over” pillow fighters. Attend any of their monthly shows and the world of badass pillow fighting will have you associating nosebleeds rather than knickers with the words “pillow fight.”
The group’s most recent event, held at the Astoria on July 22 was a night of extreme fighting and entertainment. The crowd was roaring with excitement as MC Crazy P made his flashy entrance, hyping the crowd for the strange battle that was about to take place. An intense light show, accommodated by an array of blaring music that helped set the stage for the fight. As the crowd surrounded the battlegrounds, Crazy P wailed into the mic, introducing the ring boys, who donned short-shorts and knee high socks.
The judges, who included Swollen Members’ Prevail, sat high across the stage, waiting for the fight to commence. Each girl entered the ring, marching or stumbling to music catering to her specific character. One fighter,“Medikated” emerged from the darkness, wrapped in a straightjacket that she fumbled to rip off, consuming, and dispensing, a few pills to the audience. Between each battle, three lucky audience members were given the chance to try out their pillow fighting skills on an unlucky individual wearing a well-crafted mask of Canada’s not-so-glorious leader, Mr. Stephen Harper, much to the enjoyment of the audience.
Chaos ensued as the match began and the pillows start flying, with swipes and dodges whipping across the mat. As the four matches unfolded and the victors announced, it was the final match that held the most excitement. As “Melitia” and “Blondie Bedlam” battled for the glory of the coveted golden pillow fight cup, presented to the Pillow Fight Champion.
Club founder, Melanie “Melitia” Porodo, was inspired by a Toronto-based pillow fight league, and after three years of ideas and development, debuted the East Van Pillow Fight Club on April 7 of this year. “Once we got the studio space, it was all of a sudden feasible. It’s sort of a rebellious thing to do and fun, and aggressive, and a good way to connect with women,” says Porodo of the all-female club.
The club is comprised of women of different ages and backgrounds, brought together by this one common interest. “There is a contrast to what these women do during the day and what they do at night. We have some mothers and some corporate chicks so it’s pretty cool,” says Porodo. “Some of the girls we have nothing in common with them but this and now we’re great friends.”
What’s most important to the ladies is that the club is anything but the stereotype that is typically associated with pillow fighting. “When girls come and check it out and see that that’s not what it’s all about they want to come and join,” says Porodo, adding “we’ve been turned down from venues because we’re not slutty enough and we take pride in our shows, that they’re not sex-based but still entertaining.”
By way of the roller derby style, the East Van Pillow Fight Club is a collection of female ass-kickers that don their pillow fighting personas by night for the entertainment of others. The different characters that the ladies of the club develop for themselves vary from militant leader, blue-collar vigilante, and dynamite toting blondie, to butchers, freaky fairies, and asylum escapees. “They really do live and breathe their characters,” says Porodo of the ladies involved, which is evident of the current top three contenders — Melitia, the Serbian Scrambler, and Blondie Bedlam, three tough chicks with very different characters.
Porodo’s character, who goes by “Melitia” in the ring, is a militant leader who believes that the world around her is crooked and she is the only one who is on the straight and narrow.
“She’s a feminist and very self-disciplined, she’s also the old lady type that corrals everyone and keeps them in line,” says Porodo, whose performance often includes a duck-taped mouth and beret, while marching to the tune of Seven Year Bitch, followed by aerial flips. During the day, Porodo works at Muster Studios in Gastown, is a freelance photographer and graphic designer, and plays music.
Ana “The Serbian Scrambler” Krunic, who spends her days working as a cook, fights for the blue-collar working man by night.
“I fight for those who get beaten down by the man, the people that are working crap jobs for no money and have no way to speak up for themselves,” says Krunic, who heard about the club through a friend, came out the next week and became quick friends with the other club members. As for her signature move, it’s all about the element of surprise.
Cali “Blondie Bedlam” Robinson is a dynamite toting post-apocalyptic badass who has mastered the art of the helicopter pillow pummel. While she isn’t throwing down in the ring, Robinson works at the Granville Island market and as a freelance makeup artist.
Now with four solid shows under their belt, the club is only growing. With 11 girls on their official roster, events are getting bigger and more elaborate. “Our show has a crew of 18 people, it’s a very big production, so much bigger than just the fighters,” says Porodo. Each fight has a crew that is compiled of behind-the-scenes sound and lighting pros, as well as referees, judges, ring girls, corner men, and even MC Crazy P from the B.C. Lions, that help support the fighters and the show.
While theatrics are a large part of each fight, the matches are comprised of a point system, based on judgment, that determines a winner. “The fights are based on three two-minute rounds and each round is based on a 10-point system. Much like boxing, there are three judges and each do a score out of 10 for each fighter for each round, and then the scores are averaged to determine a winner,” explains Porodo, who created the rules and point system when the club first came together.
While a technical knock-out is a possibility, the fights are typically based on a series of strikes, striking combos, rolls, dodges, jumping and take downs.
“Anything is legal as long as the pillow is the main point of contact except we don’t do pinning or headlocks,” she says.
Porodo and the girls not only duel it out in the ring, but take the female empowerment of the club one step further by conducting fundraisers for Vancouver’s Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. “We do once-a-month bike wash and barbeques in Strathcona and all the money goes to the rape shelter. It’s a way to be outside in our costumes, meeting people and telling them about the club, but also feeling like we’re doing something important,” says Porodo, who volunteers at the shelter on a regular basis.
Where does Porodo hope to take the club in the future?
“We’re planning a show in Whistler right now and I want to take it to the island, to Naniamo and Victoria,” explains Porodo, who’d really love to travel with the show, and encourage women in other cities to start up clubs of their own.
Next event is August 25. Car wash August 26 from 1 – 4 p.m. at Jackson and Union for the Rape Relief Shelter. Tickets on sale at St. Regis Bar and Grill.
By Rachel Morten
Cover Photo: Joshua Grafstein