Girlz On The Road
Traveling, regardless of gender, has its hardships—but there are some unique to the fairer sex.
In a man's world, being a woman isn't always easy—especially when traveling on the road. After speaking with a few of the Federation's female superstars, as well as a couple of "the boys", I was able to gain an appreciation for what life on the road entails—and a bed of roses it's not.
Traveling, regardless of gender, has its hardships—but there are some unique to the fairer sex.
Issues such as safety, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and hauling along the appropriate outfits and costumes make traveling on the road a less than glamorous occupation. Yet, after talking with these Federation gals, many presumptions about travel—and women in general—were dispelled. Read on for enlightenment...
It is rare for any of the Federation Superstars to travel alone—the expense is prohibitive. By traveling with one or two others, rental car costs, gas and even gym and food expenses are drastically reduced. However, the greatest challenge is finding the right travel partner.
"I found that you gravitate towards people that are like you," Debra explained. "When I travel with Val Venis and Test, they're like the best people for me to travel with because they eat healthy, they go to the gym every day, and they don't party.
"I'm a very independent person normally. And, so, for me to have to ride with people... you know, it was something for me to have to get used to. I like to stop when I want to stop or do what I want to do on my own, but I've had to learn how to work around other people's schedules," Debra continued. "The only thing is that they make me listen to rap! Oh, my God, it is in my ear every day. Rap! I like rap—I like country to rap to techno—but a little change would be nice. But I didn't complain—we laugh in the car, it's fun and actually I'm sorta used to it now. At first, I was going, Oh, my God, this rap's killing me, but I never said a word. But now I'm sorta used to it. I'll probably be deaf in about another five years."
A theme that is constant throughout seems to be trying to achieve some sense of normalcy on the road.
"You try to find something normal in your life, so that way if you ride with the same people you get the same schedule. And over time you're in the same cities, so you know where to stay and then you know where to work out. I swear—we hit the Red Roof, the Denny's and the gym," Debra explained (laughing). "That's our routine! And it's funny, you try to stay at the same type of hotels—either The Fairfield or The Red Roof Inn. That way you know where to put your luggage—I know this sounds stupid—where to put your shoes, where to unpack and it's almost like you're in the same hotel room every night."
Chyna also expressed it this way: "You know, the things that I think are important to mention—not so much the luggage and the vulnerabilities—but how about lack of privacy every day when you're on the road, and how about never being home? Two days every two weeks. And how about trying to eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle?"
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the road is one of the greatest concerns of the Federation women. Going to the gym, eating healthily and getting enough sleep are constant struggles in these women's lives.
Chyna continued, "If you are somebody with a physique that you need to take care of, it's very difficult to do that when you're at Denny's at 1 o'clock in the morning. What do you eat, you know? What do you do if you can't eat that many times? One of my suitcases is half full of bodybuilding supplements—the protein shakes and protein bars, so that I can try and maintain my lifestyle while I'm on the road."
And sometimes, according to Ivory, eating can prove to be a challenge with travel partners of the other gender.
"D'Lo loves to eat the fast food," Ivory laughingly revealed. "And Debra? She travels with carnivores—Val and Test. They are just always in search of a big juicy steak! [Traveling together] has been great with me and Jackie. She appreciates good food and she likes to eat as much as I do and eat decent things. We keep each other in check that way."
Debra affirmed Ivory's comments: "These guys eat a lot, too—the ones I travel with—so they stop a lot. They always give me a hard time because I eat like a rabbit. They'll go and order a steak and eggs late at night and I'm ordering a salad with no dressing. They're like 'You can't live on that! You need to order eggs!' Every now and then I'll order eggs if I'm really really hungry; but I'm really a very light eater. The good thing is that I just know every day, you know, we'll cut into our sleep time just to make sure we go to the gym."
Perhaps the first thing one thinks of when women travel is the issue of safety. It is no secret that women are often the victims of violent crime. However, these women of the World Wrestling Federation certainly are not lacking in street smarts.
Debra elaborated, "Well, I would think—and don't you agree—that the women in this business... we're pretty much independent women to do this. I'm not scared to go anywhere. I'll go anywhere. I have sense in that I have lived in big cities, so I know you lock your car doors and if you're getting out at the 7-Eleven by yourself you look around, you don't wear jewelry and... I don't walk around in those short, short skirts when I'm out traveling. You just become aware of where you are, what neighborhood you're in. That's just like street smarts."
Ivory reiterated those views. "I lived in Los Angeles my whole life so I'm not anybody who ever goes out my front door without thinking that I'm kind of going out to warfare. You have that city sense about you—that you're always looking over your shoulder. And you make sure you have gas, you make sure you know where you're going... and charging your phone and people know when you left and when you're supposed to be arriving. But I think that someone like Chyna, who you just cannot recognize, and if there was going to be some weirdo out there who wanted to play on that, that's always scary. But that could happen to any of us at any time at a personal appearance.
"I really feel safe at the arenas, though, with our great security." Ivory continued. "Jim [Dotson, head of Federation security] is someone who deserves awards for his efforts and successes at each arena. I've actually overheard him pull together the security staff and make a plan—'Here's the layout, here is what's acceptable, here is what's not. I'll back you up in anybody you want to throw out. Here's what we do.'"
And the Federation guys also seemed confident of the capability of these women to take care of themselves.
"My wife can send out a signal that 'You mess with me...' You know, she can take care of herself. She's a tough little cookie," Dustin asserted. "But one of the big rules we have together is that she has to stay at a hotel that does not have an outside entrance that you can walk right through the door—kind of like some of the Red Roofs, or whatever. You have to go inside because that's safer, I guess, than one from the outside."
Despite the confidence exuded by the Federation guys, many of the men are still protective of some of the ladies—albeit in a brotherly sort of way.
D'Lo explained, "You're always watching out for them, you know, to make sure no one bothers them. For the most part they can take care of themselves, but you're always—I mean, Ivory is like my little sister in a way, so you keep that watchful eye on her."
When among fans, Jacqueline clarified, "The guys are very protective... they're like big brothers—they watch my back and I really appreciate that."
According to Chyna, the answer is no. "Half the time, the guys are in getting hotel rooms while I'm the one loading and unloading the luggage. I mean, nobody treats me chivalrously on the road. I think that's the case with some of the other women that go to TV and they're there with their husbands—but as far as I'm concerned, I'm one of the guys and I'm expected to pull my weight."
Debra, concurring with those sentiments, said "I try to pull my own weight," she said. "I pick up my own luggage. I don't expect them to open the door for me."
With regard to the women who travel on the road with their husbands, Debra suggested, "They're lucky. They have their own little... I call them... their own little pack mules with them. They carry their luggage. When they have their husbands, you know, they don't have to carry their luggage. That's the worst part. I swear my arm hurts from carrying my luggage this week—I had so much crap in it!"
On the other hand, Jacqueline raved about all the help she receives with her luggage—and she carries at least three giant pieces. Quite the contrary to what Dustin claims have been his observations when his wife has traveled alone.
"[Terri] carries so many bags and men these days don't care to help the young ladies," he said. "This upsets me because there's no real gentlemen much left anymore—except for myself and very few others. So, she's there to lug around her bags by herself and take cabs, limos and rental cars by herself."
Perhaps it's not so much that there is a lack of gentlemen, but instead the Federation guys aren't getting much of a chance.
"You know, [the women] say they want to [handle their own luggage] themselves," D'Lo explained. "But you're just being a gentleman, so you do it for them—or you try to do it for them at least. But sometimes Ivory will just grab her stuff before you even get your hands on it."
Speaking of luggage, it was discovered that there certainly is an art—or science—to packing, and that in some respects gender is packaged differently.
Debra explained, "I notice that when I'm on like a 5-day trip I carry a certain piece of luggage and then when I'm on an 11-day trip I carry another—a different-size piece. So, I have different... I could probably open up a luggage store... I have different-size luggage to fit what trip I'm going on.
"My character..." Debra continued. "I think I have to carry a little bit more because of the business suits and I have to carry all those on the plane because I don't want to take a chance of them getting lost because they're custom-made and I can't just run out and pick up a real boxy-looking suit. So, that's a little extra thing I have to carry. "I've been doing a lot of personal appearances, so I have to put in an extra suit—like pants—to wear to my personal appearances. I've found that I used to dress up, but now that I go to the gym every day I pack just work-out clothes.
"I've also learned that when I pack I put everything in Ziplock baggies. I swear, I go through so many—I probably own stock in that company—because it makes it easy... you can see what you're looking for. You put everything—shampoo, toothbrush, everything—in them. That way you can throw it all out and look at the bag and see when you need really fast. Oh, Chyna—I already got her onto it! We should do promotional work for these people!" Debra said (laughing).
Ivory added, "With TV dates—you see the locker room for the girls—it's probably half the size of the guys'. We have about nine or ten of us packed in there and all of us have about at least two big trunks of clothes. And you watch Chyna or Sable pull out her shoes that probably take up half the suitcase because they've got such gigantic platforms. So, it's a lot of toting around. But the luggage thing—I'm finding that every time I go to the story I buy another piece of luggage—one that's gigantic, one that's extra large, the next one's large—and you're always trying to figure out what the perfect combination is. So, you have a train of wheeling bags behind you.
"Yeah, we always admire how the guys can come to the arena... you know, they go to the gym and then they basically have to wash their underarms and put a bunch of water all over their hair and then go out in their trunks. We have to put make-up on and curl hair and it's a while big different deal."
However, as Hunter explained, "Guys might bring one little suitcase to the building, but they bring just as much stuff on the road."
Perhaps Dustin most eloquently expresses his solution to the luggage dilemma: "I've got mine down to an art—I usually wear a lot of dirty clothes over and over—except for underwear and socks. The less you can take on the road the better."