Welcome to SWN Behind the Art: #SpeakingOut
Let’s start by asking: What’s happened? Well, to be blunt. As we’ve seen across social media and in the press, abuses of all kind have been taken place within the wrestling industry including mental, physical and maybe saddest of all, sexual abuse, although absolutely no kind of abuse should ever be tolerated ever anywhere. My aim here is not to name names though, that is up to individuals to speak out and tell their own stories, for the promotions to investigate and clean up their companies and if need be for the police to be brought in and deliver justice to the victims.
Our role in this situation is to listen to the victims, stand with them and support the idea of change and if need be demand it.
So what exactly is happening? Many promotions are looking for some sort of board of authority to be brought into existence to deal with complaints which would act independently from any of the companies within the wrestling scene. Sounds like a great idea to me personally but it may take some time to implement properly. In the interim, promotions including, Discovery, based in Edinburgh, and Fierce Females, based in Glasgow, have announced sweeping changes in not only management, but looking to introduce safeguarding officers to take care of talent relations behind the curtain. In fact in Discovery’s case, a General manager, Julie Millar, has been appointed and assigned to be a bigger presence front of house at shows to deal with any problems that fans may have or, more worryingly maybe, that fans may cause. Yes, sadly the recent troubles have not been solely within the backstage area, fans have made a nuisance of themselves too in the recent past. Please if you’re at a show remember you’re at a show and act responsibly or you may be asked to leave and possibly banned from future shows.
One such new appointment is Ayesha Raymond. She’s just joined the Fierce Females management team alongside Toni Shivers, Sammie Jo and Veda Rose, who was already co-owner of the company before the current situation. Veda’s former business partner, who was linked with controversy himself, has now stepped down.
Ayesha kindly spoke to me of her hopes for the future and her role in the team.
“After the #speakingout movement I felt that from my story and experiences I could help. We’ll be reinstating the Fierce Females Training Academy where i’ll be head coach, and in terms of fierce females as a whole Veda, Sammi ,Toni and myself as a collective will be taking over the management of the company. My role is mainly creatively, and after my past experiences with toxic and negative people in wrestling, those people and their presence will not be in FF locker rooms for the safety and sanity of all.
It doesn’t mean I have hung up my boots yet!“
Her hope is “that we’ve all learnt from this and we truly do now support each other”.
She will be involved ‘creatively’ as she mentioned and has proved that she is also creative outside the ring too. I asked her about her art work inspired by the Speaking Out movement.
“I’m a women of many talents. As the old saying goes “PUNKS not Dead”. I made that [art piece] after one of the first team meetings. It’s meant to be inspirational to all who continue to follow the women of Fierce Females and the company itself.
We’re not dead!”
So to the question I wanted to answer with this article: How can Art deal with the recent problems and support the victims? Above is a fine example of ‘inspirational’ art for a start. Inspiring the heart, soul and mind of everyone. Art can be that powerful on its own. But let me tell you about another way.
Let’s move on to the Speaking Out symbol. I spoke to it’s designer Primal Mistry. Most would refer to it as a logo but that would be inappropriate and wrong as it’s not intended for corporate business use with profit as a goal, instead it’s something victims can use to enhance their message.
Alongside one of his close friends they run Hope Spot Clothing Company, which designs and sells ‘street wear based around wrestling’ and donates 50% of the profits to charity. The company has many wrestlers as affiliates and through reaching out to one of the wrestlers who has been affected by the recent events, Lucia Lee, the idea was conceived to design a symbol.
I asked if he could talk me through the design and thought process.
“So essentially it’s a fist (representing standing up for yourself and others) mixed with a speech bubble (because of speaking out) and an electronic/lightning bolt (as this was done electronically/online and of course lightning adds a little extra power, pun not intended but encouraged). Originally the thought was to use pink as most of the victims were female but I decided with this colour scheme and font as it’s similar to the Apple notes app where a lot of these stories were being written. It adds a little extra context, meaning and symbolism.”
So it’s a fist but it’s also a speech bubble. It’s a very well thought out thing when you think about it and very hard to keep simple. Simplicity with any message that needs to be easily understood is key.
I asked about which charities Hope Spot supported.
“Well there are plenty at the moment and it depends on which bit of clothing you buy. We have a bright blue piece that goes to NHS Charities, we have Lucia Lee’s which goes to RoSA which is a cause for victims of r*pe and s*xual Abuse and our newest campaign ANTI has proceeds going to four – Amnesty International, Black Lives Matter UK, Mermaids and Safeline. For more just pop on our website“
All sadly needed charities and great causes. I urge you to go and take a look at them after reading this article and if you can, please support them.
Another piece of artwork that I want to enthuse about is a poster created by our very own SWN head writer Adam Morrison who jumped at the chance to show his support to everyone involved. It depicts twelve of Scottish wrestling’s most courageously brave, beautiful and talented female wrestlers and for just £5. The profits will also be going to a charity to help victims of abuse. A bargain for a great cause. If interested go to @RayhneUK and she will get that sorted for you.
But now onto maybe the masterpiece of the Speaking Out movement, which includes within its genius appropriately enough Primal Mistry’s fantastic Speaking Out symbol. It was made by Irish artist Philip Cotter and includes five Irish female wrestlers who’s faces will be familiar to many wrestling fans in Scotland I’m sure and who were brave enough to speak out recently too.
I asked him about how it came about, what exactly inspired the piece and about the fantastic feedback it’s received.
“The idea came from that famous photograph and statue of the American soldiers raising the flag after the Battle of Iwo Jima in the final stages of the Pacific War.
It’s some of the people from my local scene in Ireland who came forward with stories and that I see wrestle every month and have followed some of them from the start of their careers. Debbie Keitel, Amy Allonsy, Katey Harvey, Session Moth Martina and Raven Creed. They’re raising the #SpeakingOut flag in victory in a broken down wrestling ring, soon to be rebuilt from scratch.
Yeah it has gotten a lot of positive feedback some very nice comments and DMs. It was just my way to pay tribute to the bravery of the people coming forward about horrific experiences that they went through and in doing so created an incredible movement and hopefully created a better wrestling scene. It was inspiring and I’m truly thankful.”
To end this article I’d like to include my piece of art here too, to show my support to all who have been affected and to all who are being part of the change. My message is clear and simple. Speak Out. Stand Together. Raise Up Wrestling.
For some reason great art can come out of great tragedy. It’s one of life’s enigmas but it gives us hope that a safer brighter future is just around the corner.
I can’t but thank everyone who spoke to me.
We stand behind all the brave people #SpeakingOut
You can find everyone involved in this article through the following social media contacts
Hope Spot Clothing Company
And if you’d like to be featured in Behind The Art you can send in your art to: