BlackBook Interview: Rebekka Johnson and Kimmy Gatewood Talk Comedic Sisterhood in ‘GLOW’

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With the first two seasons of Netflix’s GLOW drawing rave reviews, there’s no reason to not have already binged every episode. Based on the ’80s wrestling show of the same name, the scripted series uniquely packs dramatic punches, as well as laughs.

At the heart of the show’s comedic appeal is the wrestling duo known as the Toxic Twins (formerly the Beatdown Biddies). Portrayed by real-life friends and comedy partners Rebekka Johnson and Kimmy Gatewood, they bring a particularly unapologetic yet refreshing brand of funny to the show. Under their firm grasp of a more innocent ’80s sense of humor is a modern outspoken pair that keeps the show upbeat, yet crudely hilarious.

We recently caught up with them to chat about season two. From returning to training to filming in the wake of the #MeToo movement, they had much to say about the unintentionally feminist series.


BlackBook: What’s it been like seeing the fans’ reactions to the first season?

Kimmy Gatewood: I mean, it changed our lives, and the fans have been totally amazing. We were so nervous about real wrestling fans.
Rebekka Johnson: Yea, we thought they were gonna be like, “These girls don’t know how to wrestle!” I don’t know, you’re just thinking, “Oh god, are they gonna like it?” But they really embraced it. And then people who weren’t fans of wrestling now have a greater respect for it just from watching GLOW. So, it kind of went both ways. But we love working on it so much, and it’s felt so awesome to be a part of it.
KG: Yea, and there’s great fan art. We just got some yesterday, drawings of the Beatdown Biddies. And I’m so touched by that. And people dressed like the GLOW girls for Halloween. What a dream. I think I’ve always wanted to do anything where someone would dress up like my character. So, it feels really awesome.



What was it like returning to set for season two and getting back into that kind of ‘80s mindset?

KG: First of all, we found out maybe two or three weeks before we went back into training that the show was picked up for a second season. So, we were all just like, “Yea, can’t wait to see you guys!” But we were also like, “Are we ever going to see you guys?”
RJ: Yea, and when the show got picked up, we were waiting to figure out if we’d still be on it. Like, we knew we’d be on it, but we were like, “What if we’re not? What if we’re not?” So, it was exciting. It felt really celebratory getting back in the ring, because we had to train again before we started shooting. It’s fun that we get to train before the season because we all get to be together. So, no matter what scenes are shot first, we’ve had that time of re-bonding, even though we never really stop hanging out with each other.
KG: Yea, first season we had four weeks of training as well. And we were scared and tentative doing forward rolls. When we came back in the second season, everybody had like a new lease on wrestling life. We’re doing three-quarter flips and back bumps and sunset flips, week one. The moves were so much more difficult this season, and it was pretty punishing at times.

Have you gotten the chance to meet some of the original GLOW ladies?

RJ: We met a few of them. We went to a WWE show, and they were also invited backstage. So, that was awesome. I got head-locked by Matilda the Hun, who’s got a lot of muscles. She’s definitely stronger than anyone on our show.
KG: She’s in a wheelchair, giving us a headlock. And I was like, “I cannot get out of this.” She’s a beast!
RJ: Yea, they’re great. They’re such inspirations, and I really hope this shines a light on them and that they continue to work or get more work because of it.
KG: You hear these stories but actually getting to meet them was a whole other thing. They were telling us that they really had no idea what they were doing. They were watching tapes and making up moves, trying to figure out how to wrestle. It feels like very kindred spirits.



And your characters were based on some of the actual GLOW wrestlers, right?

RJ: The New Jersey Housewives and Chainsaw and Spike. Yea, the same sisters did two different parts. And we get to really fulfill that destiny in season two, because our characters transform as well.

You two are friends in real life. When they were casting, were they looking for people who already knew each other and worked together?

KG: We’ve been friends and comedy partners for over 10 years now. When they were casting for the show, Jenn Euston knew us from a comedy group we had called the Apple Sisters, which is a trio with Sarah Lowe. And we still perform together. Sarah’s in Las Vegas, and we’re in LA. So, Jenn asked us to come in together. Originally, Dawn and Stacey were a standup comic duo. So, our audition was making a dating tape, and we sang “Jellicle Cats” in the middle of it.
RJ: Literally, the script was a page of dialogue, and then told us to make up whatever we want. So, we came up with several versions of Dawn and Stacey. We had a New York version. We had all different versions of them. Then when had a callback, they told us to come up with a tag team character inspired by what was on the show, no script at all. So, we came up with five, and we did a full show for them. We were like, “You can stop us after three. We have three to five characters for you.”
KG: They interviewed us for like 20 minutes, and we told them our life story. We’ve had many an adventure together, pre-kids, post-kids, in labor with kids. At the time in our careers, I was ready to fly to New York and take a full-time job, working for a podcast network. We were just kinda at this point in our careers where we were thinking we’d just go behind the camera. So, we really put it all out there in a way I don’t think we could have recreated if we want to.



Since season one aired, the #MeToo movement has really taken off. Would you say that kind of changed the atmosphere on set, especially since it’s mostly women?

RJ: It was awesome to be around so many supportive women as that was all coming out. But really, the #MeToo movement didn’t invent the problem, it just shined a light on it. So, with everything going on in the world, it was just cool to be around so many likeminded, supportive people and see women in positions of power. You feel safe. I think that was the most important thing for me.
KG: And we had an environment where you could share your story with other women. It’s good. We deal with it in season two as well, not even knowingly. It’s something our show deals with, women’s issues, which involves sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s strange that sexual harassment and even immigration, which is in season two, are these topics that we’re dealing with in 2018. And they were dealing with these in the ‘80s as well. It’s very interesting.

Season two of GLOW is now available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.


Brit Artist Sophie von Hellermann Brings Her ‘Petri Dishes’ to the West Coast

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Sophie von Hellermann has built her artistic career around the use of idioms, metaphor, and literary references in her work. But it’s the German painter’s own life in Margate, UK, and her family that provides inspiration for the new exhibition Petri Dishes (at LA’s Parrasch Heijnen Gallery).

“The personal is of course a part of the process,” Hellermann says. “Canterbury Bells is a direct reference to the school my children attend, and the painting was made when the Bluebells were in flower throughout the forest along a historical route pilgrims would take to the Cathedral City. Whereas Seaside Culture is a reference to where we live in Margate, a typical old fashioned seaside resort.”

Canterbury Bells by Sophie von Hellermann

Through these examples, as well as references to Greek mythology, Christianity, German folklore, and modern American culture, her latest series examines the roots of our cultural understandings. A bold yet thin application of color on canvas represents what seems a chaotic portrayal of life, floating subjects in some mysterious system of harmony. But it’s in the madness that she finds her muse.

“Living is drama,” she reckons, “and indeed the paintings are attempts to contain the turmoil of emotions and solve existential problems…or find harmony, or as you put it, idyll, in chaos.”

Sophie von Hellerman’s Petri Dishes is on display at the Parrasch Heijnen Gallery in Los Angeles through August 18.

Victoria Beckham Works the Door in F/W18 Fashion Film

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The critical eyes of the fashion industry can often be brutal for anyone who doesn’t stand out. All it takes is a wrong look from the right person to immediately knock you down the ranks.

This is the case in Victoria Beckham’s short film for her FW18 collection. Model Chloe Nardin navigates the streets of a seedy metropolitan, sporting a bold look. Turning heads throughout the city, she finds herself at the entrance to an elite nightclub where none other than Beckham herself is working the door with a stamp of approval for only the most fashionable people.

Luckily, Nardin makes the cut, as she dons a chic leopard print from Beckham’s latest collection. It also references the coat worn by the designer in the film, as she steps aside to usher the model through. Their looks perfectly exemplify the animal prints and feminine yet sophisticated silhouettes of the fall line.

Victoria Beckham’s FW18 collection is now available online. Watch the film below.


Faye Dunaway is the New Face of Gucci

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Faye Dunaway has led a storied career, with iconic roles from Bonnie and Clyde to Chinatown to Barfly, her work has endured generations. But her most memorable role might be that of the late Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, a jaw dropping account of the movie star’s dark maternal secrets.

Dunaway sets her sights on fashion in her latest project, which features her as a different kind of Hollywood mother: indeed, imagine Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise in 20 years. As this fictional Hollywood matriarch embarks on a day of shopping, tennis, and signing autographs, French singer and actress Soko accompanies her as her adoring daughter.

The short fashion film is for a Gucci campaign featuring Dunaway as the face for Sylvie 2018; as the ladies sport some high-end Gucci looks, the Sylvie bag pops up throughout. It concludes with Dunaway gifting the bag to Soko, as if to pass it on to a new generation.


‘American Horror Story’ Reveals Unsettling Season 8 Theme

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Through seven seasons of Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology American Horror Story, we’ve seemingly seen it all. From snarky witches to vampire Gaga to pro-Trump clown cults. But nothing could have prepared us for season eight.

Last night, the show’s Twitter account released art depicting the new theme after a Comic Con event, and it appears we’re looking at the end of days. With a photo of a red baby against a red backdrop and a demonic black hand desperately in need of a manicure, the promo poster reveals Apocalypse as the theme. Given the ending of season one, it appears the they will revisit the adolescent anti-Christ.


In recent months, Murphy has revealed that the season will in fact be the highly anticipated crossover of season one’s Murder House and season three’s Coven. He also stated that it will take place in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps that leaves room for another season taking place in the interim or even in the past, as previous seasons have gone for the period piece classification.

Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Billie Lourd and Adina Porter are returning to the cast this season, with newcomers Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Kyle Allen also joining; Joan Collins is set to make what will surely be an iconic appearance. Perhaps since we’re looking at the end of days, we might also get a return from Jessica Lange and /or Lady Gaga.

All we be revealed soon as American Horror Story: Apocalypse premieres September 12 on FX.

Britt Baron Talks Teen Angst & #MeToo Moments in ‘GLOW’ Season 2

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If you’ve yet to binge the recently-released second season of GLOW on Netflix, you’re missing out. Jenji Kohan’s series follows the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, an all-female wrestling league made up of struggling actresses. The show was inspired by an actual wrestling show of the same name that had a run in the ‘80s.

In season two, Britt Baron returns as Justine. The youngest GLOW, she revealed that the show’s director is her father in the first season finale. As the two develop a relationship in the new episodes, we get to see a more age-appropriate side of Justine – skipping school, fighting with her mom, and planning to run away with her punk rock boyfriend.

We recently caught up with Baron to chat about everything from developing new moves to meeting the original GLOWs, and how the show has grown in the era of the #MeToo movement.


I loved the first season of GLOW. What’s it been like seeing the fan reactions?

It’s kind of surreal because you’re so close to the project. It feels like our little baby, and we’re so proud of it. I think with season one, everyone thought it was going to be really good and a big deal, but it was my first show. So, I didn’t really know. I had no barometer, really. So, I guess I was looking to people like Ali (Brie) or Betty (Gilpin) or our showrunners who were very sure that it would do well. But it was a really pleasant surprise, because you never know. There’s so much TV now, it’s such a saturated market. I feel so freaking fortunate to be on a show that has been received so well and that I’m proud of. And I feel like the thing about GLOW is that’s a show I would have watched, regardless if I’d been cast or not. I love Jenji (Kohan’s) stuff.

What was it like getting back together with the cast?

We’d all been apart for a while. A lot of the girls live in New York or Canada or the UK, so for months, we kind of didn’t see each other. But because we train together for four weeks before we start shooting, and I think that process alone is a very intimate, vulnerable thing where you have to trust each other, we’ve just built an unbreakable bond. I think the best thing about GLOW is that years from now, it’ll be the relationships that mean the most to me.



Now that the characters are officially wrestlers, was the training more strenuous this season?

Well, first season, none of us had any wrestling experience besides Kia Stevens, who plays Welfare Queen. So, there’s just a lot of basics that you need to learn. And it hurts the first 20 times you try to fall on your back in a back bump. Surprisingly, it’s kind of like riding a bike, we all fell right back into it. It’s exciting because once you know the basics, you can start having fun. We got to learn more complex moves, instead of basic jumping off the ropes, back bumps, front bumps, the kind of stuff we did in the first season. It’s important because the girls, just like the characters, are getting more advanced – and there’s so much wrestling in season two, and the moves are bigger. That’s a big story arc, where they need to compete with the male shows. They needed to step up their moves and push themselves, and I genuinely think we also did as actors.

You’ve gotten the chance to meet some of the original GLOW ladies. Have you had a chance to compare your skills or anything?

Oh gosh, no! Not yet. But I think it would be so awesome if we got them to cameo in a future season, like they could come in as trainers or competition. They’re just so sweet and really supportive.

And I know one of the originals, Mount Fiji, died this year. Did you get a chance to meet her at all?

No, I wish, she was sick for awhile. But there’s a wonderful documentary about them. And if you see what these women put their bodies through, that left lasting damage. It’s not just like GLOW is done and now their bodies are fine. You’re really hurting yourself. But everyone loved Mount Fiji, she was kind of the heart of the girls, so positive. You could just tell watching the documentary, she just emulates good vibes.

In season one, we found out that Sam was Justine’s dad. How does that relationship grow in season two?

In season two, Justine has moved in with Sam. It’s such a bombshell at the end of season one. So, now with season two, you kind of get to see Justine finally, without this mask on. She had this really tough exterior, and she’s trying to act older than she is. In season two, I talked a lot with our showrunners, and they really wanted to see Justine as just a teenager. She’s different than the other girls, she’s not a full-fledged adult. She’s still figuring out who she is, and I think with Sam’s relationship, you kind of get to see her struggle with her expectations of who she thought he’d be versus the reality. I feel like a lot of people, at some point or another, go through that. She spent her whole life watching his films and had built this ideal version of him; and Sam Sylvia is just never gonna be the number one dad. So, you get to see them reconcile and meet halfway; and it’s nice, because you get to see Sam’s softer side. He’s such a grumpy old man. It was such a joy to see him kind of reach out and protect her and care for her in a way.


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Would you say Marc Maron has that same kind of soft interior, rough exterior in real life?

Yes, I feel like Marc is so phenomenal on this show because Sam is very similar. Marc is so much nicer than Sam is, but he has a tough exterior. He’s kind of huge in the comic world, no bullshit. But once you get to know him, you see him as such a good guy with such a soft side. And the girls, we’ve roped him into so many birthday cards we send and videos we make. He’s just such a team player, it’s been wonderful getting to know him. Plus, we love having him as a scene partner because he’s confident on set. He’ll speak up when we have different directors and it feels like things might be taken in a way that’s not right for the character. He will always speak up, which I appreciate, because as the youngest in the cast, I get a little timid and I don’t want to step on any toes.

Since season one aired, the #MeToo movement has really taken over Hollywood. Would you say that kind of changed the atmosphere on set, being that it’s mostly women?

Yes, we were all talking about it constantly. It was great to be with a bunch of strong, intelligent women to kind of discuss what was going on, first of all. And second of all, we have a kind of #MeToo moment in season two that I think was written before #MeToo happened. And the joy of being part of this show is that we have almost entirely women writers, which is important because these are women’s stories being told. I just think that’s where you get in murky water, when you have men writing for what they think it’s like to be a woman. So, because we have these amazing women writers writing from their own experience, a lot of these things are very authentic and real. And I hope they resonate. I think they do a really nice job of discussing kind of controversial or sensitive topics in a very sensitive way. It’s not pushed in your face, they do a nice job of exploring all sides, especially because it’s in the ‘80s. These characters are complicated, and I’m excited for people to see how different women in the cast react when we get to our kind of #MeToo moment, because not all of them are supportive. You get to see how far we’ve come from the ‘80s and how far we have left to go.

Season two of GLOW is now available to stream on Netflix. 


Lola Kirke Wears Her Vulnerabilities in ‘Sexy Song’ Video

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We’ve loved Lola Kirke in her memorable roles in Gone GirlGemini, and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle – but we’ve been admittedly even more enamored of her blossoming music career.

To wit, she just dropped the video for “Sexy Song,” from her upcoming album Heart Head West. Following on from her previous single “Monster,” it is an intimate, ethereal ballad about the pressure to be desirable – featuring her signature breathy vocal style.

The video was directed by Mara McKevitt, and features Lola at her most seductive and vulnerable, almost like an alien exploring what humans find sexy.

“Sexy Song” is available August 10 on Heart Head West, will be released August 10, but is now available for pre-order.



Sarah Paulson Haunts a Neon Fantasy in Prada Campaign

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Fans are on the edge of their seats for the upcoming eighth season of American Horror Story. But Sarah Paulson’s latest project looks like it could be a highly stylized Ryan Murphy work itself.

Paulson stars in Neon Dream, a short film by Willy Vanderperre for Prada’s Fall/Winter 2018 campaign. Aptly titled, it features a collection of neon accented pieces on model Amanda Murphy. It plays out against the neon lit dreamscape that is Las Vegas’ Sunset Strip, like a fashion-forward homage to Hunter S Thompson.

Paulson makes multiple appearances as a hauntingly mysterious woman. A suited valet, a roller-skating bartender, and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, she shadows Murphy through this colorful fashion fantasy. RuPaul’s Drag Race season seven winner Violet Chachki also makes an appearance as the front woman of a Marilyn army and a showgirl performing onstage for Murphy and Paulson.

See Prada’s FW18 collection here.


‘Stranger Things’ Gets Super ’80s with Season 3 Teaser

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It unfortunately appears that we have another year before we find out the fate of our favorite Hawkins, Indiana kids in Season 3 of Stranger Things. We left off as the Upside Down was seemingly defeated once again; yet an unknown evil was (literally) looming over the town.

Luckily, Netflix has graced us with a little teaser to hold us over. In the form of a commercial for Hawkins’ new Starcourt Mall, it features all the nostalgic locations we could have asked for. From Sam Goody to Claire’s, it’s the most ’80s thing Netflix has given us since the recent second season of GLOW (potential crossover anyone?).

There’s even a familiar face, as well as a new one. Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) pops up as an employee of an ice cream shop alongside a new character named Robin (Maya Hawke). Perhaps Steve is in for a new love interest now that Nancy has left him broken hearted?

Watch the teaser for Stranger Things season three below.