In the late 1980s, Ursula Hayden was approached with an opportunity. Michelle Duze, a high school friend of hers, became involved with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) and wanted Hayden to join the all-female wrestling production.
The perks sounded tempting enough — living at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas with room service, a swimming pool and all-you-can-eat buffets, while showcasing your athleticism and charisma on TV. It was a dream scenario for anyone wanting to break into acting or modeling.
Duze popped in a VHS tape of the Heavy Metal Sisters, Chainsaw and Spike, to show Hayden what GLOW was like.
“I thought she was nuts,” Hayden said. “But I packed my bags and left the very next day excited and nervous about my new adventure.”
GLOW was created by Matt Cimber in 1986. The all-female wrestling production was highlighted by colorful characters, strong women, over-the-top comedy sketches and even rap songs similar to the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle”. GLOW, which was syndicated from 1986-90 from the Las Vegas Strip, is the subject of an upcoming Netflix series starring Alison Brie, streaming its 10-episode first season June 23.
Hayden joined GLOW for Season 2, portraying Babe the Farmer’s Daughter, the Princess of Darkness, and Donna Matrix. She had no wrestling experience prior to joining GLOW, but was used to tumbling and falling from her gymnastics background. When Hayden was in training, she was asked to play the Princess of Darkness, but the character didn’t feel right. Most of the personas were over-the-top extensions of the actual wrestler. It seemed only fitting Hayden, who was a farm girl at heart — she grows corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and runs a cat rescue on her ranch — utilize that character and thus she became Babe the Farmer’s Daughter.
Hayden has remained actively invested in GLOW, acquiring ownership in 2001.
“GLOW in the 1980s is an experience I will never forget and will always look back on fondly,” she said. “I wanted to take over GLOW to bring it back; I wanted to wrestle again.”
Hayden has been the life and soul of GLOW since taking over ownership. She runs the website and social media accounts, organizes events, fulfills merchandise orders — personally hand burning and autographing DVDs — and was instrumental in the 2012 documentary, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and the upcoming Netflix series.
“A project I had been working on for over 15 years is finally here with the streaming giant Netflix,” Hayden said. “Who could ask for more? It goes to show you should never give up on your dreams and keep on glowing.”