In true WWE fashion, to understand this incident, you'll need to bear with some self-promoting backstory:
I spent the bulk of May 2012 staring at my phone. Willing it to ring. Praying for an unlisted or unfamiliar number.
Then one day it finally came.
*BLARING FOG HORN SOUND EFFECT*
“THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING! CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'VE WON A CHANCE TO GET A FREE CRUISE OR SOME SHIT!"
This telemarketing-bot called over and over again and like a dumbass I got my hopes up each time. I didn't want another free cruise! I wanted an agent. A manager. A coffee. Anything.
I'd just graduated from USC's Screenwriting program and thought I'd played the game right. I won the awards, found supportive mentors, and met talented collaborators and friends. My work was out there, but nobody was biting. I'd been raised to believe that if you produce good work, you would get noticed. By that math, I'd failed. Special snowflake, melted.
So I did what seemed natural -- go into a mental death spiral of self-loathing and avoid writing altogether.
I found a way to monetize that avoidance with an enjoyable job. I planned the crap out of my upcoming wedding. I watched every episode of every season of every city of the Real Housewives. And a friend introduced me to something that would prove to be a game changer -- the WWE.
Yes, I discovered my passion for wrestling as a 25-year-old woman who'd never seen a match in her life. Prior to my first viewing of Smackdown, my WWE knowledge was limited. I knew that all the kids that bullied me in middle school were equally fond of whatever The Rock was cooking. Then in high school, wrestling was the awful program that interrupted what should have been all-evening marathons of "Law and Order." To this day I have to fight my Pavlovian instinct to change the channel when I see Raw is up next.
But my friend made a case I couldn’t argue, so I tuned into my first episode. It happened to be one of the big debuts of a character named Damien Sandow, a.k.a. The Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses. Yes. You read that that correctly. He had a big scholarly beard, carried the mic like a brandy snifter, and trolled the audience about their supreme ignorance. Months later he would form a tag team with Cody Rhodes. They would be called Team Rhodes Scholars. Again, your eyes do not deceive you.
This was my postmodern wet dream come true and, holy crap, the wrestling was fun to watch too? Turns out I wasn't the only one with a lady boner of sorts. Soon enough my husband and I found a treasure trove of erotic wrestling fan fiction a woman had put together for her female friends.
I NEEDED TO GET IN ON THAT.
For the first time in a long time I actively thought, I could have fun writing. So I made a Craigslist ad for ***FREE: eRoTiC fAn FiCtiOn starring YOU!!!! AND YOUR FAVE SUPERSTAR*** and turned my old OKCupid profile into a platform showcasing my newfound hobby.
Requests were spotty in the beginning. Not too many “serious inquiries.” That was until I got a message that was the internet equivalent of Pandora's Box. "You're on Reddit."
I felt a rush of excitement because, hell yeah, it’s Reddit. And then fear washed over me because, Jesus Christ, it’s Reddit.
Apparently a guy had taken a screenshot of my profile and titled it with "I can't wait back to hear from this girl!" To my surprise, the comments were playful and positive across the board. People couldn't wait to read this promised erotic wrestling fan fiction. The Reddit gods had smiled upon me and it was my turn to deliver the goods. As that god-awful John Cena would say, "My time is NOW."
So how does one actually write erotic wrestling fan fiction? While every story was different and tailored to the specific client, there were certain reoccurring components that seemed to make a satisfying read. These included some combination of past and present Superstars (say, Randy "The Macho Man" Savage and Randy "The Viper" Orton), a whimsical adventure to an off-ring location (IHOP), and then some fuckin' that gets interrupted by fightin'.
When I was faced with the task of satisfying Reddit's wrestling cum-lust, I confronted some of the same difficulties I had with previous stories. Some seemed like par for the fan fiction course. Like how many different ways can you refer to hands without calling them hands? Or, am I using phrases like "locked eyes" as a crutch?
Others were more specific. Like do I have a solid wrasslin'-to-sex ratio? More often than not, I found myself answering no. I seemed to pathologically gloss over all the juicy bits in favor of absurdity or more wrestling references. I kept telling myself that this was just staying true to the spirit of the PG WWE but who was I kidding. It took writing erotica to realize I may be a prude.
The other concern was less personal and perhaps most daunting of all. Have I ensured that these stories don't get, to put it least offensively, problematic? Have I made it clear, without killing the vibe, that all fictional parties have established consent? It felt like a tough spot because I had to both satisfy the wish fulfillment of the reader while at the same time maintaining the integrity and agency of the Superstar. Even in fiction, someone as boss as AJ Lee wasn't going to deep-throat some random-ass guy because he said so. Here I was thinking that intellectual property laws were the only "serious" issues at stake.
Luckily, my Reddit guy was vehement about me having creative control and was satisfied with the final product, Money In The Spank Bank (thanks, cobaltcollapse for the title). In a curious but nonetheless shoulda-seen-it-coming twist, the actual 1,000+ word fan fiction that everyone was so excited to read got far less engagement than the original post.
As my inner marketer wept over the measly number of upvotes, I managed to catch myself mid-spiral. Writers write. They don’t sit by phones or keep clicking refresh over and over and over again. They’re also only allowed so much time to write about writing. With that in mind, I’m out and back to the xxxRAWxxx gRinD.