View a full gallery of images from the event here.

“I think I might need another hairpin,” Amanda Lehmert says. “My wig feels loose.”

Lehmert
drapes the ginger curls of her wig over her shoulder, then walks up
to the taproom of Gibb’s Hundred Brewing Co., her floor-length
Grecian-inspired dress trailing behind her.

Lehmert
is going by Aphro-Bite-Me this evening, taking her place among the
parade of costumed women kicking off the fourth season of the
Greensboro Arm Wrestling League. Tonight, a Saturday, the quiet
taproom out front acts as the backstage area to a tournament of
ladies’ arm-wrestling.

Lehmert
pulls up a page on her phone, showing off the money the group raised
before the first match had begun. The proceeds go towards the
Guilford Green Foundation’s newly-opened LGBTQ Center. At the end
of the night, the women will have raised over $4,000. For Lehmert,
the real victory comes from the donations, rather than forcing an
opponent’s fist onto their side of the table.

“I’m
really competitive at the fundraising part,” she admits.

Jennifer
Ruppe, executive director of Guilford Green Foundation, jumps into
the fray against Lehmert. For her first onstage arm-wrestling
experience, Ruppe crafts what she calls the “anti-Valentine”:
Cu-Pissed. She covers herself in a dark cloak and mask, lit up by a
red LED heart on the back of her cape, along with her slogan.

“My
tagline is, ‘Breaking hearts and pinching arms,’” Ruppe says.

Aphro-Bite-Me
gives a sarcastic-looking curtsy after losing two rounds to
Cu-Pissed, but she grins as she weaves through the room while the
rest of the matches play out.

Rachel
Scott, a founder of GRAWL, firmly believes in the group’s motto of
“fierce feminist philanthropy.” Scott mentions how women gain
confidence through controlled combat and shared goals.

“It’s
really fun to see a lot of the women come out of their shell,”
Scott says.

For
Shannon Reeves, the night may be her last armwrestling event in
Greensboro before moving to Asheville. . However she pushes that
thought to the back of her mind to act as Sleazy Weasley — the
Weasley sister disowned for sorting into Slytherin.

“I’m
a huge Harry Potter fan, but I also love looking sexy if I can,”
she laughed. “So I merged the two ideas.”

When
she loses, she stays in the running by using a GRAWL tradition: the
tie-breaker.

When
an arm-wrestler loses a match, they may rejoin the competition if
they both raise $75 in GRAWL bux, the competition’s currency, and a
competition of their choice.

Sleazy
Weasley weasels her way back with a lip-sync to Cee-Lo Green’s
“Forget You.” She jumps around the aisle as her secret weapon—
a glitter cannon — deploys.

After
losing a second match to Candy Crusher of Dreams, aka Laura
Eynon-Way, Reeves repays the sum of money for a dance-off.

As
Britney Spears’ “Toxic” plays, the Slytherin sways her hips,
climbing onto the front-row bench; her Hogwarts entourage rains GRAWL
bux down on her. Candy Crusher, her magenta wig draping her face,
hangs her head in defeat.

“It’s
hard to compete with all that cleavage,” Eynon-Way laughs.

Mary
Elise McNaught, known for the evening as the no-nonsense punk-rocker
Cherry Bomb, ends most of her matches in moments. She stares down
Sleazy Weasley as she approaches the table. The divided crowd chants
“Cherry” and “Sleazy” as the referee places his hand over
their interlocked grips and starts the match.

While
Sleazy Weasley resists Cherry Bomb’s strength, Cherry manages to
break through at the final second and slam her fist onto the cushion.

After
the show, McNaught greets some of the people she wrestles for — her
students.

“Part
of the reason I wanted to do this GRAWL was for them,” McNaught
said.

McNaught
sees arm-wrestling as a chance to not only raise money for the
foundation, but to also help the LGBTQ students in her middle-school
classes.

McNaught
adds how becoming Cherry Bomb provides a channel to show off being a
strong woman.

“It
was outside of my gender role,” McNaught said, her trophy tucked
under one arm. “So, this has given me an outlet for that.”

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