Iron Maidens

The history of women’s weight training rounds out this sassy, poignant memoir ~ Utne Reader

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At age twenty-three and fresh out of drama school, Kristin Kaye landed her dream job: to write and direct a Broadway show in New York City. Its title? The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World, starring twenty-five of the world’s most muscular women. Her mandate? To turn The Celebration into a High Art Happening exalting women’s physical and intellectual strength.

Kaye thought this was her chance to enter a whole new feminist arena, but in reality she was about to enter another world entirely: her carefully orchestrated artistic interludes would be sandwiched between skits involving white lace thongs, smoke machines, and a bodybuilder spinning by her neck. Kaye tells the whole story in this hilarious book, alternating between an account of directing the show, which builds to the disastrous climax of opening night, and reportage on women’s bodybuilding and the little-known sub-culture around it, including the use of steroids, the side business of strong women who wrestle men for money, and the judging controversy that threatens to split the sport in two. (Avalon/ Thunder’s Mouth Press 2005 and eBook by Book Baby 2015)

FINALIST 2006 Oregon Book Awards

“Not long out of college and trying to figure out what to do with her life, Kristin Kaye found herself writing and directing a Broadway show about female bodybuilders. In telling the tale of this show and the women who were in its cast, she persuades us of their humanity while at the same time showing the less appealing aspects of women’s bodybuilding. Kaye tells her own story honestly and amusingly, but always keeps the bodybuilders at the center of the stage.” ~ OBA Judge Jonathan Yardley

HUNKETTES: No discussions of female victimhood the other night at Roseland. Just two dozen women bodybuilders, very pumped up. ~ Arnold Roth, The Talk of the Town column for The New Yorker

“Kaye weaves the story…in an earnest, idealistic and endearing way….” ~ Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

One of five new titles for women who resist easy definition. ~ Utne Reader

Iron Maidens Makes Weight by Kat Ricker – First-rate author Kristin Kaye deserves admiration for her immense, unflinching bravery in writing Iron Maidens: The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World. With deft writing skill and gripping momentum, she bared her evolving personal and professional raw self, exposing every hope, every delusion, misjudgment, rationalization and grief in the rarified experience of her first big break – writing and directing a Broadway show. The pain of her tough and bizarre journey is exquisite, and yet she unfolds the tale in such an engaging way that she allows you to laugh at it all, even eggs you on with her wounds gaping open…On top of this steady, jading, black humorist perspective is an equally naked stare into the wild world of professional female bodybuilding…

“Kaye weaves together the story of her bittersweet directorial debut/meltdown with a darkly humorous look into the world of female bodybuilding [and has] also ended up creating the most up-to-date journalistic history of the sport available.” ~ The Willamette Week

Kristin Kaye was a wide-eyed 23 year-old fresh out of drama school in 1993 when she responded to a classified ad that read: “administrative assistant wanted for exciting women’s project.” What she didn’t know at the time was that the project was a Broadway show entitled “The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World,” the brainchild of bodybuilder and writer Laurie Fierstein. Kaye ended up getting hired as the show’s director and had just six weeks to put it together. Iron Maidens is her funny, readable account of what followed: a regular girl’s journey into the world of women’s bodybuilding…Kaye has moved beyond her initial shock and bafflement at female bodybuilders, through fascination, to genuine admiration for them. Hopefully, a lot of readers will do too…” ~ GeneX Magazine