Folks might find a woman who once sewed another woman's mouth shut, or hung one dozen red Christmas ornaments from hypodermic needles laced through her skin, a bit intimidating. Crazy, even. And if this same woman goes by the nickname "Road Kill Kelly," folks might stay clear of her altogether. But you'd be missing out if you let this keep you from getting to know Amee White, whose acts were just for show. A student in sustainable technologies at Central Piedmont Community College and founder of Gore Gore Luchadores, an all-female group of masked wrestlers (more Nacho Libre than El Santo) that raises money for a number of charities, the 31-year-old White is a down-to-earth straight shooter, who lives by the belief: "It's easier done, than said."
"The aim of all of this is to help empower women [who] are not seen as pillars of philanthropy," White says of the Luchadores. "We're tattooed and pierced, we're moms and daughters, we're big and small. But together we're enlightening a community to think bigger than themselves. If we can get out once a month [to] wrestle in fake blood for something we believe in, others can be inspired to do their own acts of kindness."
Had it not been for an incident that happened at Benefit Cosmetics, White might never have become Road Kill Kelly, her Luchadores persona. Less than a year into her job as lead esthetician at the Charlotte boutique, she was fired from her position operating a high-end brow bar, in a situation she will only explain as, "complicated."
"I made a lot of money," she says. "I was very driven ... and when you are that engaged and you have the rug pulled out from under you — it was a really crushing blow and I found myself depressed."
A body-modification artist before she was a brow-smith, White moved from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Charlotte in 2001. Along with her troupe, Plush Pincushion, she performed at the fetish-inspired event Purgatory. White says their body-mod shows — manipulating flesh through piercing, branding and scarification — drew thousands of onlookers; at one point she says she made $350 for a seven-minute performance.
"It was kind of extreme, but at the time it was really innovative," she says. "I was very young, and it was a great way for me to show I was a body piercer. With 1,000 people watching you, it was like an instant business card in everybody's face."
White honed her skill writing shows that would appeal to audiences and became a sought-after collaborator on various side projects. She credits one of these, Nasty/Shane Productions' first Viking party, as the event that gave her the idea for the Luchadores.
"They brought out this wrestling ring and we got to wrestle inside this bar, [in] like, chocolate syrup," says White. "I'm in this Viking goddess [outfit] ... and me and another friend ... wrestled, and it was so much fun."
"... I took that idea and thought about ... not necessarily Mexican wrestling, but Mexican cock-fighting — how they place their bets. You've seen those movies [where] they have the dirty pits and they're all, like, betting on which animal is going to destroy the other one. And then you think of chicks in Jello, wrestling — kinda sexy but kinda dirty — and you mix those two and you put everybody in a name and a character and that's how I thought about the Luchadores."
"People do it every day, they talk to themselves ... they see themselves as they'd like to be, they don't have the courage you have, to just run with it." — Tyler Durden, Fight Club
"People spend so much time talking about everything, if they would've just done it, it would be over and then they could have accomplished something instead of sitting around talking about it," says White.
"[Amee] is very headstrong [and is] always trying to come up with some new idea — something to keep herself busy — and I think she really hit the nail on the head with this one," says Sarah Reinhart, a friend and fellow Luchadore. "With this project she's created ... this gives me something that makes me feel good about myself. ... It's a reason to get out of the house once a month."
White and Reinhart see the Luchadores as a way to give back to the Charlotte community and impact the lives of others. Opinionated and good-humored, they often interrupt each other when speaking; pick up where the other left off; and finish each other's sentences.
White: "If people can start doing more positive things, it's gonna be beneficial for everybody ..."
Reinhart: "... kind of like paying it forward, I guess."
White: "Yeah. Yeah."
Reinhart: "And when you watch people get creative, that makes a difference. It causes other people to be creative, too."