Release Dates: APRIL 8, 2005


Official Websites:

Taglines: The first ladies of wrestling

Production Company: Ruthless Films LLC

Ring legends such as The Fabulous Moolah and Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillem Long provide candid insights into the history of women’s professional wrestling.

Ruth Leitman’s new documentary shines a spotlight on the strongest and most fascinating lady entertainers, such as Gladys “Killem” Gillem, who wrestled women, men, alligators bears. At age eighteen, Ida May Martinez took to the road to flash the only thing she knew – how to kick, punch and defend herself. Narrowly escaping a date rape at age sixteen, Penny Banner trained for survival. Still kicking butt at age 80, The Fabulous Moolah and The Great Mae Young live together with midget wrestler sidekick Diamond Lil, and continue to take bumps in the ring.

In Lipstick & Dynamite, each woman reflects on her own remarkable life with fond and bitter memories, reconciling a wild, flamboyant youth with the reality of aging. The film follows Moolah, Mae and the girls over the course of sixty years, both in and out of the ring. Many bumps and falls later, they discuss the money, the old days and what it’s like to be a lady in one of today’s favorite spectator sports.

Crew: Ruth Leitman (producer and director); Lydia Dean Pilcher and James Jernigan (executive producers); M. Connie Diletti and Anne Hubbell (co-producers); James Jernigan and Debbie Nightingale (producers)

Cast: Penny Banner, Lillian Ellison, Gladys Gillem, Judy Grable, Ida May Martinez, Ella Waldek and Mae Young

Studio: Koch Lorber Films

Other Info:

ELLA WALDEK (Wrestled from 1952 – 1971)
Real Name: Elsie Schevchenko
Nickname: “The Policeman”
Signature wrestling move: short arm scissor lift

Born in Custard, WA, Ella Waldek changed her name because “who could stand in a ring and autograph an eleven letter last name?” Her beauty and statuesque figure combined with her skill and style made her attractive to promoters and fans alike.

While performing at the local Roller Derby, as one of the people that went around jamming against other skaters, Ella was offered the opportunity to watch a wrestling match, and thought, “I didn’t even know there was such a thing”. Waldek began training as a wrestler, quickly learning the moves that brought her to stardom. After leaving wrestling Waldek became a private detective and opened her own security agency.

GLADYS “KILLEM” GILLEM (Wrestled from 1942 – 1962)
Real Name: Gladys Gillem Wall
Nickname: Gladys “Killem” Gillem
Signature wrestling move: belly-to-back suplex

The oldest wrestler of her generation, and a pioneer, Gladys “Killem” Gillem has taken more bumps and bruises than any other lady wrestler. At the age of nineteen she left home knowing that there had to be more to life than “taking care of my mother”. Gillem scouted out work at local Carnivals, seeking the spotlight, and obtained many jobs wrestling men and women.

Gladys’ love of the spotlight, and rebellious nature lead her to dangerous occupations throughout her life. Aside from wrestling girls, she also wrestled bears, alligators and trailed lions for a living. Gladys also made the time to start a family, and is a mother and grandmother.

IDA MAY MARTINEZ (Wrestled from 1952 1959)
Real Name: Ida Selenkow
Nickname: “The Body”
Signature wrestling move: drop kick

One of the most recognized, and beautiful, wrestling stars of the 1950s, Ida May Martinez traveled all over North America taking on the toughest opponents, thrilling wrestling fans wherever she appeared. Introduced to wrestling in 1950 by legendary promoter Billy Wolfe, Ida spent the next ten years between the ropes. In 1952, Ida was recognized as the Mexican Women’s Champion.

After hanging up her boots in 1960, Ms. Martinez went on to help early AIDS patients and their families, establish a nursing career, and become a star in western yodeling (where she’s known as “The Yodeling Lady”). Today, Ida May Martinez is recognized by numerous organizations for her many contributions to society.

THE GREAT MAE YOUNG (Wrestled from 1940 – present)
Real Name: Johnnie Mae Young
Nickname: “The Great Mae Young”
Signature wrestling move: corkscrew leg drop

Born in Sand Springs, OK, Johnnie Mae Young was as strong as she was beautiful. With the attitude of an outlaw, and the strength of a giant, Mae Young grew up a tomboy. Ed “Strangler” Lewis, a family friend, taught Mae how to wrestle, while she was taking a break from kicking field goals for the her high school’s men’s football team.

The Great Mae Young is a face familiar to wrestling fans from four generations. She has wrestled in eight decades, and was the first to train The Fabulous Moolah. Young has helped the careers of many talented wrestling stars and was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievements.

THE FABULOUS MOOLAH (Wrestled from 1949 – present)
Real Name: Lillian Ellison
Nickname: “The Fabulous Moolah”
Signature wrestling moves: leg lock, knee drop clothesline

Moolah remains one of the prime figures in the history of Women’s professional wrestling. Originally, Ellison began her career in the 1950’s as a valet and manager; most notably for “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Moolah was talented and knowledgeable, devious and vicious, courageous yet cowardly, and she could “work” the crowd like few others, male or female.

In 1983, Vince McMahon, Jr. was taking his newly purchased WWF (currently WWE) national, and he offered Moolah a deal she couldn’t refuse. Lillian sold her rights to the Women’s World Title in the World Wrestling Federation, and agreed to appear exclusively for the WWE. The Fabulous Moolah still wrestles and makes appearances with the WWE.

PENNY BANNER (Wrestled from 1954 – 1977)
Real Name: Mary Ann Kostecki
Stage name: Penny Banner
Signature wrestling move: full nelson “Catch as Catch Can”

In 1954 a beautiful twenty-year-old platinum blond named Mary Ann Kostecki stepped into the squared circled for the first time. Having grown up in St. Louis, Missouri, she had never even witnessed a women’s wrestling match before, much less competed in one. She earned a sterling reputation as a strong and powerful athlete with the looks of a Hollywood starlet. After accepting an offer from Billy Wolfe, she changed her name to Penny Banner.

Significant titles benchmark Penny’s career in wrestling, and athletics. Title after title, championship upon championship, mainly the First World AWA women’s Championship. Penny truly embodies what it is to be an athlete. Currently a Senior Olympian, Penny Banner is one of the most popular and well-loved women in women’s sports. In July of 2004 she premiered her book, more information is available on her website at

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