Lipstick and Dynamite, Piss and Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling (often referred to as Lipstick and Dynamite) is a 2005 documentary film about the early days of women's professional wrestling in North America. It was directed by Ruth Leitman, who interviewed The Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Gladys "Kill 'Em" Gillem, Ida May Martinez, Ella Waldek and Penny Banner for the film. The film premiered in 2004 in Toronto and was screened at various film festivals across the United States. The film also had a limited release in theaters in 2005. Reviews for the film were mixed.
Although Leitman was not a fan of professional wrestling, she was the first to develop the idea of a documentary about the beginnings of female wrestling. The objective of the film was to give back to the female professional wrestlers of the 1940s–1960s. The stars hoped the film would help "set the record straight" about the early days of women's wrestling, when it was taboo for girls to join the business.
Penny Banner helped put the film together, as she had connections in both the Ladies International Wrestling Association and the Cauliflower Alley Club, which helped the director locate older stars to use in the filming.
Kelly Hogan, an old friend of Leitman's, offered to provide music for the film and soundtrack. Her band, The Corn Sisters, also included Carolyn Mark and Neko Case. While recording, Case discovered that Ella Waldek was her great-aunt, which was previously unknown to her. After providing music for the film, they began promoting it at all of their shows.
Leitman also produced the film with the productions companies 100-to-One Films and Ruthless Films.
The film, distributed by Koch Lorber Films, had a limited theatrical release in the United States during the course of 2005. In its first weekend, it made $4,046. At the end of eleven weeks, it had appeared in three theaters and grossed $25,378. The film was released on DVD in September 2005.
To help promote the film, The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were interviewed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. They also promoted the film on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Several magazines also advertised for the film, including Entertainment Weekly, Details, FHM, and O.
Other reviews were mixed, with the film scoring a 47% Fresh Rating at Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 6.3/10 from the top critics. Roger Ebert praised Leitman for doing "an extraordinary job of assembling the survivors from the early days of a disreputable sport" and rated the film with two and a half stars out of four.
Stephen Holden of The New York Times called the movie "more of a scrapbook than a coherent history". The San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub stated that the film "doesn't succeed in its attempt to make a feminist statement, with too many of the wrestlers sounding like male athletes who talk in excruciating detail about high school football seasons that everyone else forgot." Echoing that statement, Russell Scott Smith of the New York Post stated, "Unfortunately, the filmmakers let the ladies prattle on too long about issues that would only matter to the most rabid wrestling aficionados."
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