Jennifer Crawford's wrestling alter-ego Moon Miss in action.

How Halifax’s wrestling scene is becoming “like a little lighthouse” for the queer community

Jennifer Crawford, Troy Merrick and Amy Rubin are making room for everyone in the ring.

There’s a scene in Season 2 of the Netflix drama GLOW: Glorious Ladies of Wrestling when, at long last, the all-American beauty queen Debbie Eagan finally understands the spectacle she’s been creating with her co-workers: “Oh, it’s a soap opera,” the former daytime star says to herself, puzzle pieces falling into place as she prepares to re-enter the wrestling ring. “This is just a goddamn soap opera!”

It took the fictional Eagan re-launching her career in an ill-fated, all-women take on WWE to get the limitless potential of wrestling, but this is something its fans already know. To multi-hyphenate creative Jennifer Crawford (who you may know from their 2019 Masterchef Canada win), wrestling is “all the sequins and feathers and the pomp and circumstance: It’s so elaborate and so deliberate.” It effuses, they add, a “kind of masculine glamour,” which “was like a little lighthouse for many queer folks” like them growing up. (Crawford wrestles as the alter-ego Moon Miss, who won the UCW Atlantic Canadian Championship belt in 2021.)

To Troy Merrick, one of the biggest names in Halifax’s wrestling scene, watching WWE as a kid was like catching loose sheets from a handbook on adulthood: “There's so many lessons that can be learned from wrestling. Like, it's OK to hug; it’s ok to get pissed off for a second,” he says. “Seeing wrestling used as a medium for storytelling was a really positive influence on my life.” For relative wrestling newcomer and seasoned drag performer Amy Rubin (who performs drag under the name Hellebore Mandrake) it was a Merrick-organinzed match they saw during the pandemic that provided an entry, with them understanding wrestling as a “more athletic—or at least more athletic in a different way” comparison to drag. (Rubin’s drag persona is often an off-duty wrestler.)

Now, this trio is bringing wrestling’s rainbow of possibilities to life. Last night, they performed a mix of pro wrestling and live drag for a sold-out crowd at their event Glory Hold, held at Pier 21. Proving the line between both mediums to be thin and permeable—“I mean, wrestling is storytelling, and drag is storytelling: Like, the ability to kind of create that narrative arc,” says Crawford—the show also marks a turning point in the city’s burgeoning indie wrestling scene: “I've been wrestling for the better part of the last 16 years and when I broke in, it was very much that male-dominated [feild]—and still is to a large extent, but no queer representation,” Merrick says. In 2019, he came out for the second time—and then started to see other wrestlers in the region begin to identify as queer, too. “It's really important to do things like this to show that hey, no, it's not just a bunch of dudes pretending to beat each other up,” he says. “I'm really grateful to get the opportunity to show that it's not just what people perceive it to be.”

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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