R.I.P. Captain Lou Albano: Feminist Antiheroes 'R' Good Enough
This morning, professional wrestler, Cyndi Lauper video star, and feminist antihero Captain Lou Albano passed away at the age of 76. For you youngsters out there who may not be familiar with Captain Lou (or even for those of us who are), you will absolutely not regret taking 12 minutes out of your day to watch this epic Lauper/Albano collaboration video, "Goonies 'R' Good Enough":
The epic tale! The always-confusing facial rubber bands! Captain Lou! Cyndi Lauper! The Goonies! It doesn't get any better than this, folks. That is unless you consider Captain Lou Albano's staging of a pro-wrestling event wherein he and Cyndi Lauper battled on MTV over sexist remarks called The Brawl to End it All a better story.
That's right. In my searching for some background info to share with you about Captain Lou, I learned of an altercation between he and Cyndi Lauper that became truly awesome (seriously, by the end of it Hulk Hogan's career was launched and Mr. T, Liberace, and Muhammad Ali appeared at Wrestlemania together, so when I say awesome I mean it). Apparently, Albano made a sexist remark about Lauper, claiming that he jumpstarted her career by appearing in several of her music videos. Lauper retaliated in public in a WWF (read: clearly scripted and staged) attack on Albano that resulted in the two of them agreeing to pit the female pro wrestlers of their choice against one another in a televised battle.
The match, entitled "The Brawl to End it All," was between The Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter and was televised on MTV. Here is a video clip of the infamous bout that took place in the name of sexism. Be forewarned: The following video is full of pro-wrestling shenanigans like Lauper and Albano coming into the ring in the middle of the match. Excitement!
We feminists can be proud of the fact that Richter (Lauper's wrestler) pinned Moolah (Albano's pick) and won a battle in the name of sexism. MTV can be proud of the fact that this event earned them a 9.0 Nielsen rating, making it the most-watched program in the history of MTV. Says Earvolution of the match:
The broadcast snagged a phenomenal rating for the fledgling video channel, at the time its largest, and sadly may have planted the seeds for non-video, non-music related programming amongst the network heads. While it didn't exactly help Lauper's career, it really didn't do any damage to it either. She would make an occasional appearance for the promotion over the next couple months, culminating at the original Wrestlemania, where she, Mr. T, Liberace, Billy Martin and Muhammad Ali would feature prevalently in the organizations inaugural version of its yearly extravaganza.
A quarter century later, professional wrestling has grown from a series of regional promotions into a field dominated my Vince McMahon and the WWE (neé WWF) through a chain of events that can be traced directly back to Cyndi Lauper's appearance. It's an unlikely legacy for the diminutive singer, who's name is no longer uttered or remembered in pro wrestling circles with the respect that it deserves.
What a crazy story! And it looks like Lauper can be credited not only with a great music career, but also with the following: Winning the battle against sexism (It's over! We won!), launching Hulk Hogan's career (and thus inspiring Brooke Knows Best, so she might not want to take credit there), bringing the most bizarre collection of celebrities imaginable together for the first Wrestlemania (did Liberace and Mr. T share jewelry?), and planting the seeds for MTV's transition from a music television channel to the home of shows like Homewrecker and Sorority Life. Thanks Cyndi!
Of course, at the root of all of this was Captain Lou Albano, spurring Lauper on with his scripted sexist remarks and awe-inspiring video appearances. So take a minute (or 12) today to appreciate this bizarre wrestler-turned-video-star-turned-feminist-antihero. Captain Lou, you and your facial rubber bands will be missed.
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