In the course of my messy career, I set up a backpacker hostel. It started as a place where scuba divers could stay and got bigger and bigger. Many of my guests were on around-the-world trips and some needed to earn a bit of cash to keep them going.
Mud wrestling was one way. It took place in a local beer garden and was open to female contestants. Prizes were awarded to victor and vanquished alike and preference given to buxom girls in floppy tops.
The prizes came in the form of medallions that could be exchanged for cash at the bar. As the girls said, no work visa was required and there was no need to disclose anything to the income tax office. Before long they were part of the regular act.
One night they invited me along to watch. I arrived at the appointed hour and was shown to a table beside a large plastic paddling pool. I ordered a beer and watched as a woman in black leotards tipped dark powder into the pool. It came in sacks with writing saying it was good for the complexion and removed wrinkles.
The leotard lady smoothed the powder, sprinkled it with water and sloshed it around until it had the constituency of wet toothpaste. By now a large crowd had gathered and more people were streaming in from the street. I was hugely impressed. The hotel had gone bust a few months earlier. The new owners certainly knew how to get things going.
“Ladies. Your attention, please …”
The leotard lady picked up a microphone and announced that a bath of health-giving organic balm had been prepared for the night’s contest.
“The challenger is Helenna from Helsinki!”
She pointed to one of my girls: a big lass, called Joanne, who came from Perth.
“She will be fighting last night’s champion … Priscilla from Paris.”
Neither girl was using her real name. That’s important in this sort of contest. The aim is to entertain and you shouldn’t care a sod whether you win or lose. If you do lose, just tell yourself it wasn’t you but some chump you were impersonating at the time. That’s one reason. Another is unwanted fame.
In this age of rapid communication, images flash around on mobile phones. That could cause unnecessary angst when you arrive back home. The mud is there to provide cover for your activities. Don’t give the game away by telling people who you really are.
“Ladies. Prepare to show us what you’re made of …”
The crowd went mad with excitement and the girls took up positions on either side of the pool. They crouched like sumo wrestlers then launched themselves at one another. Bodies clashed and mud spattered. They squirmed around, displaying the odd glimpse of nipple but not much else. The bout ended when Priscilla wrapped Helenna’s T-shirt round her neck and forced her to concede defeat.
After that everything went smoothly. More of my girls presented themselves and were joined by girls from the crowd. Some were rejected as unsuitable. Others dropped out when they discovered they had to remove their bras. The contest ended and prizes were duly awarded to all contestants.
As far as I know, a good time was had by all. That didn’t stop the local women’s rights organisation from protesting. One well-known lady picketed the hotel to the embarrassment of some of its older patrons but was ignored by most.