Andy Kaufman – The Lady Wrestler
The Improv's 15th Anniversary Party Andy Kaufman during The Improv's 15th Anniversary Party at The Improv in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Andy Kaufman was an American entertainer. He was an actor, writer and a lady wrestler. If you remember anything at all about Kaufman, you will remember that his brand of entertainment was unconventional, to say the very least. He was known for his eccentric brand of comedy. Actually, he didn’t like to be referred to as a comedian, but rather described himself as a “song and dance man”. Although he enjoyed making people laugh, traditional comedy was not exactly his cup of tea. He never promised to make his audiences laugh… just to entertain them.
Nothing was off limits to Kaufman. He was deliberately brash, crude and politically incorrect. He poked fun at everyone from women to foreigners. He playfully depicted all walks of life from hillbillies to the upper crust. Portrayal of the character he called, “Foreign Man”, was a gateway and an inspiration for the character, Latka, on the late 1970s sitcom, Taxi.
Much like a junkie, the more Kaufman accomplished… the more he felt the need to reach the next level. It was as if the words, “shock”, “risk” and “challenge” had become synonymous with the entertainer’s name. Next on the agenda was to target women, specifically. At the time, women were looking for gender equality and Kaufman was all too happy to call their bluff. He publicly taunted and demeaned women in an effort to get them to take the bait.
In the late 1970s, Andy Kaufman issued a challenge to any woman that wanted to try her luck in a wrestling match with him. Not a full-blown wrestling match, but a mere 3 minutes. He declared that he would bow to any woman that could beat him. To egg on the female population, he poked fun at women’s liberation and issued a statement that women were “meant to be in the kitchen… washing the potatoes, scrubbing the carrots, raising the babies”.
That challenge was more than enough for women express their outrage and come forward to accept his invitation. The challenge promised that any woman who could pin Kaufman would walk away with $500.00... cold, hard cash. Women were coming out of the woodwork to take him on! It was somewhat of a carnival mentality. Just like a train wreck, it was unpleasant and disgusting, but people couldn’t look away. It was quite the spectacle, unlike anything people had ever heard of.
Let’s not forget that celebrity wrestling in the 1970s was primarily somewhat of a sensational and sleazy business. All the more reason for Kaufman to get on board. He loved the shock value of the act. Kaufman was also not the most athletic specimen, so he knew better than to challenge men to a wrestling match. He actually didn’t discount the fact that the “right” woman just might get the best of him but that never really happened.
Women fell hook, line and sinker for the theatrical ruse. The trash talk and chauvinistic mentality that Andy Kaufman exuded was just too much to ignore. Women unknowingly fell prey to the taunting and stepped up to put the “jerk” in his place.
Andy Kaufman, reportedly, was not a male chauvinist in his personal life. He was actually quite reserved. Over the course of his career, Kaufman wrestled over 400 women. Ironically, he often found himself becoming “involved” with some of the women that took him on in the ring. He was ultimately able to accommodate both his professional and personal goals, all in one fell swoop.
Like many public figures, Kaufman’s personal ethics were judged by the behavior of his professional character. Unfortunately, sometimes people have a problem separating reality from fiction. Kaufman died of cancer at the young age of 35 in 1984. Don’t hate on him, though. I’m sure that, “WOMAN HATER” is not the legacy he intended to leave.
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