"Fight like a girl!” The cry rings out in the secret underground arena affectionately known as Trash Palace – secret as the location of this fight was only revealed after I’d purchased a ticket, and even with the map on the stub it took some alley-walking and basement-stair-descending to find the place. “Fight like a girl!” signals the start of PFL 26.
The girls of the Toronto Pillow Fight League have been dishing out hits and sassy attitude to rapt audiences at home and across the border since their inaugural event in May of 2006. Since then, the sport of pillow fighting has remained somewhat underground here in Canada, but has made a loud, lipstick-stained entrance into the mainstream lexicon across the border.
“The events at Trash Palace are special,” PFL Founder and CEO Stacey Case told me. “Holding an event like that for a small audience is just fun. But we can go from doing that, to having a bus chartered to take us to do a short fight at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. There we’re playing to over 13,000 people.”
All-girl, all-out, all-too-much-fun, the sport has attitude to spare, with fighters taking on cheeky monikers and sporting even cheekier outfits. The fight I attended saw rookies Courter Pounder, Charley Davidson, and Apocalypstick (to name a few) taking it to the mat in a multi-fight format. Keeping with the spirit of the evening, during her first fight, Ms. Pounder ran over to the concession between rounds to order a hot dog.
All fun aside, don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t a real sport. These girls train hard, and there are strict rules as to what goes, and what gets you tossed from the ring. The rules are as follows:
1. Female pillow fighters only. No exceptions.
2. Professional pillow fights are won via pinfall, surrender, or referee stoppage. If a pillow fight ends at the time limit with no winner, a winner is declared by a three-judge committee, using the traditional 10 point system. Pillow fighters are judged based on Style, Stamina, and the Eye of the Tiger*.
3. Pillow fighting is Fun. No biting, scratching, or hair pulling. Malicious intent and blatant disregard of your opponent's safety (or your own) may result in immediate suspension and/or dismissal from the League.
4. Mouth guards, knee pads and elbow pads are mandatory.
5. Bearing in mind Rule #3, most anything goes in a pillow fight, as long as there is a pillow at the point of contact. Preventing your opponent's offense by holding her pillow is not allowed.
6. Pillow fighters must practice good sports-womanship. No rude, lewd, or suggestive behavior.
7. A pillow is not a weapon. Deliberately compressing the pillow fibres to increase the density of the pillow is not allowed. Loading a pillow with any foreign object is strictly forbidden.
I was told to watch closely for the Eye of the Tiger, best defined as the fighter’s sheer will to win. That killer look used to topple one’s opponent. In close fights, the Eye of the Tiger is usually the tie-breaker.
So where does the PFL go from here? Stacey has had very clear plans for the league since day one. “It was conceived as a television show. And it’s still designed that way to this day. I see the show coming together as episodic television, with stories revolving around things like the fighters, the refs, and the business of the league.” Each fight is taped on high-definition, and Stacey keeps a bible of scripts for each episode – ready for the day when a network picks up on his vision. Until then, you’ll just have to hope the ladies of the PFL will soon be coming to your town.
Can’t see them live? Check out the Toronto PFL at gopfl.com .
1. Champain VS Carmen Monoxide - photo Dawn Weaver
2. Laina Beaton VS Charley Davidson - photo Stephanie Nixon
3. Charley Davidson VS PhDemon - photo Stephanie Nixon