The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLAW)
I love strong women. I’m drawn to muscles, sweat, and bad language in the fairer sex. When I started hearing rumors about a women’s arm wrestling league launching in Charlottesville, I knew I had to photograph it.
Part lucha libre, part amateur theater, part cock fight, part estrogen-fueled, back-lot circus, the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLAW) exceeded my expectations from day one. Spectators and wrestlers crammed shoulder to shoulder, everyone hollering and talking trash, fans placing bets and passing around fake money (all of the proceeds going to charity) – I couldn’t stay away. Even better, I became a part of it. I elected myself chief paparazzi of their bawdy spectacle.
As the CLAW project evolved, I became more enamored. I began shooting portraits before matches, trying to capture the essence of the arm wrestlers’ personas under more favorable lighting conditions. When contrasted with the gritty, claustrophobic feel of my live shots of the event, these images add a more composed element to the melee.
Now, CLAW is a national phenomenon. The name has changed, the the acronym stays the same. The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers has leagues in Brooklyn, Chicago, Washington DC and New Orleans to name a few. Each league sticks to simple rules, ladies arm wrestle in character, raising money for good causes. Other then that, there are no rules. I continue to photograph it, and am currently making a CLAW documentary with Brian Wimer. Get ready.