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Scream Queen

posted by B on 6/20/01

As much as I try to hide it, deep down I'm a chauvinist pig. I try to blame it on my parents for falling in love with each other and deciding to procreate in a socially-funked up state like Virginia. Other times I try to blame society and the media for giving me shows like "V.I.P." that tell me a woman's job is to be a crack espionage agent crusading to end worldwide terrorism by shooting a bunch of people and running in stiletto heels. If it's not that, they're running in slow motion on the beach. I swear, you're more likely to get shot and killed by diamond smugglers on Baywatch than drown.

It's all pro wrestling's fault, though. As much as I hate to admit it, the thing I love most in the world has done severe damage to my fragile little mind.

In the late 90's, with a big television ratings war raging between World Championship Wrestling (wrestling for the South) and the World Wrestling Federation (wrestling for kids still hanging onto their love of Hulk Hogan in the 80's), Vince McMahon's WWF took a chance and developed a new "attitude" style of programming. The women on these shows (like Rena "Sable" Mero and Tammy "Sunny" Sytch) were portrayed as nothing more than walking dolls, sent out to wear something scandalous or DO something scandalous or SAY something scandalous. It was so one-dimensional that my eyes crossed and I fell down and hit my head on the coffee table.

You're welcome.

Ever since then I've had a big gash in my forehead to remind me of the evils of objectification, and how unattractive those precut women really turned out to be. I was right, evidently...Rena Mero's went on to quit the WWF to star in a comic book and Tammy Sytch is staring up a nudie wrestling valets website. It just seemed like the two best things about being alive...professional wrestling and beautiful women...were never going to go hand-in-hand for me.

That is, until I watched the "Nitro Party Winner" contest segment on WCW Monday Nitro one night. In it (whether or not I wanted to hang onto the belief that this was truly a "contest winner"...ACK, Secret of Pro Wrestling Revealed!) there was a kind of woman I wasn't used to seeing on wrestling television. She was slight of build, with jet black hair and almost eerie presence to her. I wouldn't really call her "Goth," since she wasn't standing in the corner scowling at everybody, but she was really beautiful in a really weird kind of way. She was bouncing up and down chanting "David Flair" over and over and over.

A little bit of background, David Flair is the son of "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair, one of the (if not the) greatest World Heavyweight Champions of all-time. Young Dave, try as he might, just didn't seem to capture the ins and outs of the sport that made his Dad so famous. So, with as much credit as I still give him, he wasn't really turning out to be a reason to hop up and down on my own bed chanting his name. This woman did, though, and as much as I'd like to equate it to a Jerry Maguire moment, I'd hate to tell anybody that they "had me at David Flair."


Help me, help you. Help ME, help YOU.

Anyway, the girl was revealed as Daffney (yes, with two "f's") Unger, crazed David Flair fan and quite possibly the best screamer known to man or beast. They even made a T-shirt for her that said "SCREAMER" across the front. She started redefining for me what a woman in the business could be, and started making previously hard to watch television pretty damned watchable.

In the weeks and months that followed Daffney became a staple of WCW television, with personalized T-shirts (including "I <3 David," "Hunger for Unger," and "Booger" ), colored wigs, and an ability to add an unnerving twist to whatever was onscreen with a well-placed shriek. As time went on, WCW decided to release the very same kind of women I didn't like seeing on television, the shows were getting better, and things were going great.


Booger.

Until she got released.

For some reason Daffney (who's real name is Shannon Ward) was let go from the company, taken out of the public eye right when she and the wrestler she'd been accompanying to the ring (Crowbar, one of the most underrated guys around) were just starting to make their mark. Two of the most entertaining people in the company were wiped away to (evidently) make room for more twenty-minute in-ring speeches.

Soon after, the company went under.

But Shannon didn't.

Working hard to keep those of us who appreciated her entertained, Shannon recently reprised the role of Daffney at Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling shows on the independent circuit. Being the fan that I am (and I'm not a fan of many, honestly), I checked out her official homepage (Scream-Queen.com) and found out all sorts of things about the Screamer.

She was born in Germany. She's married to a guy from the band Stuck Mojo, and subsequently, WWF Championship hopeful Chris Jericho's great band Fozzy. The tattoo on her back is a mix of three Celtic love knots that took three weeks to complete. She's got a bunch of cats. I buried myself in knowledge, and after a while I figured I'd try to say something to her, ask her a few questions.

Imagine my shock when she wrote me back.

Presented here is pretty good evidence of how a guy like me can go crazy and rip apart somebody like Snow or Julia Roberts, but when he's trying to talk to somebody he likes he gets weak in the knees and starts babbling like a goon.

Hey, what can I say, I'm human.


B (that's me): In your official site's biography you discuss your childhood as the daughter of a career military man, moving from city to city and how it affected you growing up. I had a similar situation with my father, where we picked up shop and headed away from family and friends every few years. Personally, I know the time to myself helped me find out what I loved in life...art, writing, and so on. How do you think times like that helped give birth to your love of performing (through acting, sports, and music) and made you the confident person you are today?

Shannon Ward: Well, Brandon, I feel that the constant moving allowed me to become a people person. I feel that I am relatively easy to get along with, and my upbringing helped me become that way.

B: I know about you prowess on the soccer field and on the cello...growing up did you have a chance to watch any television?

S: Yes, although in Germany we only had one channel.

B: Have any big childhood entertainment memories?

S: Watching Star Wars over and over.

B: Like most of us, whether we admit it or not. Anyway, what made you popular initially during your run with WCW was the creative look of your character and...screaming. Constantly. It IS impressive though...in fact, how can you scream like that day to day and not permanently damage yourself? I scream through sixty minutes of "Iron Chef" and feel like I need to hibernate.

S: Sometimes I feel a little strain on my vocal chords. I usually warm up my voice before I perform. If I don't I pay for it the next day.

B: Cool. How're things going with Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling? It's got to be a blast working on such an intimate level with guys who legitimately seem to love the business.

S: Awesome! Dusty (Rhodes, NWA/WCW/WWF legend) is great to work with. All his guys are so nice and helpful.

B: On television and off, you've got a close friendship with a very talented wrestler Chris Ford, better known to wrestling fans as Crowbar from WCW. Being inside the business as you are (and working with legends like Dusty Rhodes on a regular basis), do you feel that sports-entertainment has a "glass ceiling" that prevents talented young guys like Crowbar from reaching their full potential as entertainers and personalities?


Daff with Crowbar - Misused Talent Personified

S: Yes, and that is simply because there aren't enough spaces for everyone on TV. I definitely feel that Chris deserves a shot. He’s a great worker and he’s got great charisma. Also, during our feud with Terry Funk, he showed his awesome ability to cut a promo.

B: That's the truth, Crowbar's Gordon Solie impression still makes me laugh. For those of you who didn't get to see him perform on WCW TV, try to find some tapes of his stuff. You won't regret it. Moving on, a lot of guys, online or not, have got real issues when it comes to women. Female wrestlers like the WWF's Molly Holly (who you've worked with in WCW) are pressured to work their bodies into unrealistic proportions in an already male-dominated business. Being a naturally beautiful woman without body parts so sharp they could slice tomatoes and still go through steel, have you ever felt pressured to do or be anything that you felt uncomfortable doing or being?

S: Not really. I feel pressure to be in shape, but not to look unnatural. I give many props to Nora for her talent, her perseverance, and her look.

B: One of the big factors leading to the objectification of women and pushing of the envelope in professional wrestling was head writer Vince Russo, who left the World Wrestling Federation to "bring the WCW back from the dead." Having worked during that tumultuous time, what do you think the high and low points of working for a man like Russo were?

S: He simply had unreal expectations for us females. He wanted us to train for a few months and be seasoned wrestlers.


Daffney + Miss Hancock = Good. Vince Russo = ?

B: Having a background in acting, have you ever seriously thought about bringing your talents to the big screen?

S: Always.

B: We know you've got the character acting ability down pat. I've seen you wrap your legs around somebody's head and hurl them off the top rope. I've never seen Meryl Streep do that.


Daffney executing a "Frankenscreamer." As painful as it sounds.

What can those of us who can't get out to the Turnbuckle shows do to show some support? Should we get a petition started and start setting fire to the villages?

S: Write to the WB and tell them to cast Shannon Ward as the new Wonder Woman!!!


So there you have it, it's my duty now on this Earth to make sure that Shannon, my girl Daffney, ends up on television wearing some starred underpants. It's not going to be an easy task (considering that the WB's really big on things that make me want to cross my eyes and pass out and bang my head on the coffee table) but I'm definitely giving it a shot.

Feel free to sign the Daffney Petition or send in your requests for Shan (or I'll come to your house and throw you around using my legs) on the WB to the network themselves...


Shannon on E!...the first time I've ever watched it without wanting to strangle Todd Newton. Wait, I still want to.

The WB Television Network
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 34R
Burbank, CA 91522

Or be ignored amidst Buffy the Vampire Slayer quotes and exasperated Charmed fans on the WB's "talk" feedback board. Either way, let your voice be heard...whether it be a letter or a shriek...and make my television more attractive again. C'mon, how many Mandy Moores do we really NEED, anyway? Regardless, if TCW comes by your town, whether you like pro wrestling or not, give them a shot...with Dusty and Daffney in tow you won't find more entertainment for your dollar.

I'd like to thank Shannon a bunch for taking some time to placate my otherwise powerful distaste for celebrity, and for giving me a little bit of faith in the people I look up to the most.

The big gash on my forehead is starting to heal.

b
swan@whatever-dude.com
AIM NotAGoonie
Please visit Shannon Ward at Scream-Queen.com


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