Over $56,000 raised at Jell-O Wrestling benefit for SAAF


Imagine yourself in a vat  about 7 ft x 7 ft of cold blue/green/orange colored jello,  wrestling another human being, in front of a wild crowd of about 400 adults.  Well, that was the enthusiastic performance of 9 teams last night at the Slaughterhouse on 1102 W. Grant Rd. (east of the I-10) for the 27th annual Jell-O Wrestling event  to benefit SAAF (So. AZ Aids Foundation).

Before and during the matches, little containers (“jello shots”) of lime/orange/strawberry/blackberry jello (with vodka or rum) were sold to the audience.  I confess I had at least 3 of them. The fun began with Mistress of Ceremonies DIVA Lucinda Holliday introducing other Divas (including Miss Gay Arizona) who sang throughout the evening, while people donated funds in plastic buckets or fishing nets to SAAF.  9 different teams of two each wrestled from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. along with a live auction of lovely art, gift baskets, restaurant meals, and hotel nights in Mexico.  The auctions bids ranged from $20 to $1000, and it was announced that over $50,000 was raised last night.

SAAF Executive Director Wendell Hicks just informed me that the final figure raised was over $56,000.


L-r: Woman with pink hair, Mia Hansen, Kurt Tallis - before the wrestling match (courtesy of Mia)
L-R: Shawn Kaylor (the Tucson Tamale Fairy) , Mia Hansen, Kurt Tallis – before the wrestling match (photo courtesy of Mia)

Since this was my first Jell-o wrestling event, I had gone to see friend Mia Hansen (“Mighty Mia”) of FEATsAZ  take on Kurt Tallis aka  Kaptain “Krunch” Kurt of 4th Avenue fame.  Kurt came dressed as a pirate while Mia was dressed like Wonder Woman (with a Ron Barber bumper sticker taped on her behind).  After a rambunctious wrestling match in which Kurt lifted Mia on his shoulders at least twice, she was able to subdue him for a win.

Other wrestlers were creatively dressed as male gladiators, female gladiators, men in kilts, black tux & black gown, Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, Lost Boys (one in a hula skirt) arriving on motorcycles, and roller derby women contestants.   SAAF Executive Director Wendell Hicks and Ben’s Bells Executive Director Jeannette Mare were dressed as long haired rock stars prior to the match, then wrestled to a tie, according to the referee.

L-R: Wendell Hicks and Jeannette Mare, before their match, photo taken by Paul Reimer, courtesy of Wendell
L-R: Wendell Hicks and Jeannette Mare, before their match, photo taken by Paul Reimer ( courtesy of Wendell)

I sat next to two gay friends who recently got married in California.  Coincidentally they told me that they had met a jello wrestling match 12 years ago here in Tucson.  How romantic.   Former Mayor Bob Walkup and his wife Beth were sponsors of this event and in attendance.  The long red AIDS Ribbon was also displayed and carried around the wrestling ring, with soulful guitar music to remember those who have passed on.  One lucky winner won the raffle of 2 tickets to see Britney Spear in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood.

This event was truly the extravaganza it was advertised to be.  Seeing is believing, and if you haven’t been to one of these jello wrestling benefits, make sure you attend the 28th annual one next Spring. This benefit was started by Tucsonan Reno Gannon to raise awareness of AIDS/HIV.  He died at the young age of 23 from AIDS.  He would have been very pleased to hear how much money was raised last night, and also how much fun people had at this benefit in support of SAAF.

More photos of the wrestling matches  promised by T-Media Promotion, www.tmediapromotion.com, so stay tuned.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    • Jello in your ears? Now that’s funny Kaptain “Krunch” Kurt. You had a formidable opponent.

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