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April 1, 2016

The woman behind Chikara wrestling's crazy costumes

The culmination of the year in professional wrestling builds this weekend as the WWE presents its 32nd annual WrestleMania, the equivalent of the Super Bowl for scripted gladiatorial combat.

Sometime during Sunday's event, take a moment to tune out the spectacle, the muscled behemoths hurling their bodies around the ring, the over-the-top characters playing out their story lines in steel cages and atop precarious ladders, and give a thought to the wardrobe that has to withstand choreographed violence.

Kate Nyx (a.k.a. Nickerson) understands what it takes to costume a pro wrestler. Two years ago, she started Closet Champion (www.closetchampion.com), designing and creating custom wrestling gear out of her South Philadelphia home. A large portion of her income comes from Chikara, a Philadelphia independent wrestling promotion, in its 16th season, that draws equal inspiration from lucha libre and comic books.

Eight months after leaving her day job selling hosiery at a luxury boutique in Center City to focus on the new endeavor, she's tenuously returning to her sewing machines after a bout of tendinitis and nerve pain due to the challenging materials she works with.

"I just don't think my body was prepared for the volume of work that I was doing," Nyx said last week amid a clutter of glittering fabric scraps. "Stretch materials are notoriously hard to work with, and everything I use is basically vinyl, spandex, and elastic. It has to look like a larger-than-life costume, but it has to go through what activewear would go through. Exercising creativity within those limitations has been interesting and sometimes frustrating."

There won't be any Closet Champion designs on display when WrestleMania unfolds Sunday at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The closest Nyx has come to that big a stage is through NXT, the WWE developmental program that is spotlighted in its own weekly show on the WWE Network (and that tonight will present its own big show, Takeover: Dallas). Nyx designed the gear for a wrestler named Sarah Dobson (known on the independent circuit as Crazy Mary Dobson), who made her NXT debut last week...More?

source: philly.com

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