Dan Aber pauses his video camera and leads two women wearing only baseball hats and G-strings into what passes for his gym: a large private room above a bowling alley, empty save for a 12-inch-thick wrestling mat on the floor.
Veteran wrestler "Coni," a 34-year-old black woman with a tiny waist and enormous breasts, warms up for the next scene by stretching, giggling, and slapping her own ass in self-congratulatory fashion. Her opponent, "Vera," from South Africa and at least ten years her senior, has never wrestled. She stands in the corner, hands folded politely, awaiting instruction in what will become yet another way South Florida adds to the porn universe.
Sexual stimulation is a funny and personal matter. Some people get turned on by watching hardcore midget sex; others are aroused by the smell of flowers (seriously it's called antholagnia). Men into the particular fetish of catfighting would rather see ladies make war than make love especially if their clothes come off in the process. But one thing is constant: For every kink in the world, there's someone to capitalize on it. Here, in Wilton Manors, a small operation called Woman's World Wrestling sells custom-made videos to guys who can't get enough of ladies in headlocks and pins. Or who can't wait to put ladies in headlocks and pins: The company also sets up private matches between clients and women a little venture I would soon learn about firsthand.
Woman's World is an admittedly bare-bones operation. Competing companies, like FlamingoWrestling.com out of Fort Lauderdale, spend more on production values, with makeup artists, airbrushing, and special effects. But Aber has no patience for any of that. He films every story himself. He edits movies while they're still in the camera, not on a computer. His studio lighting consists of four floodlights bought from the Home Depot. "The movies we make are not quite mainstream," he says slyly. "They're not quite ready to enter a film festival."
Two days before Christmas, the actresses are eager to wrap up this sucker and go home. "Let's do it in one take," Aber says. "This should be the easiest match." His T-shirt is tucked into his jeans, his dark hair carefully combed. But his authority is slightly diminished by the fact that, one, he is shorter than each of these ladies and, two, he is walking around in his stocking feet (so as not to ruin the mats). Still, like a substitute schoolteacher trying to command respect, he soldiers on. "Come on! We've got to get through this without laughing."
"Yes, Dan," Coni says, humoring him.
"Here's what you're gonna do. You're gonna circle, then lock up in a test of strength," Aber says. "Bring your fingers up" he demonstrates, spreading his hands out like claws "and tense your body. Go breast-to-breast, then sloooowly come to your knees" he lowers himself to demonstrate "and here, you can do either a breast smother, a foot smother, or a hand smother. Improvise as you see fit. Vera, you're going to win the match."
Vera bravely raises her hand and asks exactly what a breast smother is.
"Coni, show her the breast smother."
It does seem self-explanatory, but Coni obliges. She straddles Vera, leans in, shoves her knockers in Vera's face, and wiggles.
Aber nods approvingly. "So that's your basic breast smother."
The script yes, there is a script, tucked into Aber's back pocket calls for the two women to take off their hats and stare each other down, then start a catfight. Pretty standard.
The camera rolls. Vera straddles Coni. After five minutes, it becomes clear that she is quite adept at the breast smother. Maybe too adept.
Cut! "Everything isn't a breast smother," Aber explains, trying to exercise restraint. "Use your legs! Try some scissors! Any type of scissors move looks good. Try some headlocks, ankle locks. Coni, show her you have a much larger repertoire of holds. OK? When I say 'action,' go!"
This time, Coni performs satisfactorily she incorporates a "grapevine," a "surfboard," and a "seated backbreaker." In the final scene, she's supposed to be defeated. But then comes the late plot twist.
After Vera had triumphantly walked away from Coni's lifeless body, Coni suddenly leaps up, grabs Vera's hair, and uses her improv skills: "I'm gonna show you something, Blondie!"
"Come on, Coni," Aber barks. "You've got to sell it a little better! You should know by now! String it out a little more, and when you die, don't just die; make it a little bit more than that! I want to see your legs spread wider that's what makes it look good and what helps sell it. Be louder! Whimper!... That was good, Vera, but crank that hold a little more! Get her ankles tucked in under her armpits! As she's weakening, do a final breast smother. When she stops twitching, check to see that she's knocked out. Do a little breast jiggle, say 'Cheaters never win!,' get your hat, and we'll do a fade. Got it?"