Written By: Jayme Face
upfrontNY had a blast catching up with Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson! They are serious friendship goals. From hanging out together to their children playing together to even working together and starring in Netflix’s latest original series GLOW. These besties will seriously have you laughing.
upfrontNY: Tell us about GLOW and your characters Dawn and Stacey?
Rebekka: GLOW is a 1980s show about the personal and professional lives of a bunch of women who join a female wrestling TV show.
Kimmy: GLOW obviously stands for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and it was on for four seasons from 86’ to 89’.
Rebekka: There was a documentary about it that kind of inspired Liz and Carly to write our version of GLOW. So, it’s just an inspiration point and they took some of the dramatic elements that happened, most of it is all a fictional version of this world.
Kimmy: Yeah, and we play Dawn and Stacey, hairdressers, the funniest people in their salon.
Rebekka: At least they think so.
Kimmy: And their clients think so too or else they’d get a bad haircut. We are kind of those Motley Crue mall rats. We also like to think that Dawn and Stacey… (backstory we like to think about all the time)
Rebekka: They are the type of girls who would flash their boobs at a concert, but they would not want to see our boobs. We’re not the girls they’re going to put in the music videos, but want to be. So, I have a feeling that we would have been deep background in a music video at some point. ‘Like we could be in the front!’.
Kimmy: Right! We’re so impressed by Melrose, who’s played by Jackie Tohn, because she’s just the party girl that everybody wants to hang out with. Like, wow she’s really cool, she’s living our dream.
Rebekka: So, we kind of hang out at the Sunset Strip every night and you know, try to sleep with the band. Maybe, end up sleeping with the bouncer’s brother.
Kimmy: Or at least he tells us he’s the bouncer’s brother.
Rebekka: He might just be a homeless guy.
Kimmy: We work at a salon and you know like the bug just bit us. I would say with any reality star today. You want to be famous, you think you should be famous, and everyone thinks we’re funny. We think we’re funny, let’s be stars. They start living the star life before they even start wrestling.
Rebekka: We share a gold Cadillac, not Kimmy and Rebekka, but Dawn and Stacey share a gold Cadillac. For real, they have a car that’s Dawn and Stacey’s which is gorgeous. And I think something that’s fun about us is we’re up for anything. We’ll throw ourselves into a wall, we’re just like ready for it. We think we’re awesome and we think that we are the stars.
Kimmy: 100 percent!
Rebekka: We’re starring in every episode even if we’re just in the background.
Kimmy: It’s the Dawn and Stacey show, you just have to be welcomed.
upfrontNY: Since GLOW was an actual show in the 80s, were you able to meet any of the original members or watch footage of the original?
Kimmy: GLOW is owned by Babe the Farmer’s daughter Ursula Hayden. She came to set on the finale day.
Rebekka: But, we got to watch so much of it and we watched it as kids as well and are huge fans of those women. We just laughed so hard with watching clips of them in the show and were just really inspired by the wrestling.
Kimmy: There was sketch comedy and rapping and wrestling. No joke. Its got everything. The real GLOW, it’s the good girls vs. the bad girls and they can’t interact.
Rebekka: They all actually lived in the same hotel, The Riviera in Vegas. They weren’t allowed to interact with each other, the good girls and the bad girls. They had a 10 pm curfew.
Kimmy: We loved watching clips of GLOW.
upfrontNY: Did you do your own stunts? Did you know how to do any of that before?
Kimmy: No, in fact when they said wrestling camp we thought it was going to be like boot camp with like pull ups and push ups and sit ups and like beat us up all the time. We were like ‘Are we going to be ready for this?’. And then it ended up being like the kindest gentlest most supportive environment anyone could have ever asked for.
Rebekka: Chavo Guerrero Jr. is a wrestling legend, he was our wrestling coach. Then Shauna Duggins, she was the head of stunts to make sure we weren’t getting hurt. Helena Barrett was there as well. They just really wanted us to fall in love with wrestling, so they just set it up in such a way that just taught us basics and then really built us up from there. Kimmy and I have a sketch comedy background, so we’ve done a lot of physical comedy. We do this 1940s musical comedy show called The Apple Sisters, we’re a musical comedy trio.
Kimmy: It’s a lot of singing, dancing, and pratfalls.
Rebekka: Yeah, slap stick comedy. Kimmy is an expertise in pratfalls and I have expertise in doing a jump split. The Apple Sisters, we’ve been together for ten years. At this point we do a show once every three months or so. We’d do a show in L.A. or Las Vegas and we’ve made albums and have videos, but basically three times a year I do a jump split in our show and we utilized that, at least for the audition and just a couple times between takes just to get the morale up.
Kimmy: Nothing beats watching Rebekka do a jump split.
Rebekka: Yeah. Number one, I think I just respect and understand the real GLOW women so much better and why they loved it so much because it really is bonding and powerful. You feel like a superhero everyday when you can work with your friend to like throw them across the ring.
Kimmy: I never thought that I would learn something new now, like as an adult. You kind of feel like you learn a lot of things as a kid, but then when you’re an adult to learn something like wrestling you would think that you would have to do something like that for years, but old dogs can learn new tricks.
Rebekka: We’d be very old for dogs and fairly old slash young for a wolf because wolves live shorter lives. it’s a line we say in the show. We quoted ourselves. Just make sure everyone knows how cool we are that we quote ourselves. We have no chill.
upfrontNY: We have a headline!
Rebekka: So cool they quote themselves.
upfrontNY: You auditioned together. That is not typical, how did that come about?
Rebekka: They wanted a comedy duo or at least comedians that kind of worked together to play this part; that was their ideal. So, Jen Euston who was a casting director had seen us in The Apple Sisters like ten years ago. We were living in New York. The Apple sisters there’s three of us, but Kimmy and I also do a bunch of stuff together, so they brought us in. It’s very rare to be brought in with your comedy partner who’s also your best friend. We’re also best friends so it’s pretty cool to get to work together.
Kimmy: Yeah, you never get that. Most of the time we’re going out for the same role. Like yesterday, I was helping her read lines for the part I had just read for.
Rebekka: She filmed it and had to send it off from her phone for an audition she also did.
Kimmy: But, yeah it’s such a rare thing. This will probably never happen again. That’s why it feels so special. There’s so many elements of this show that are special.
Rebekka: Until we get to sell our own show that we star in it will probably be rare for us to be able to play best friends on a show and also get to do comedy bits that we work out.
Kimmy: Exactly! So, the best thing was we do no work to be best friends where some people might have to hang out for a long time to show that closeness. Basically we just show up to set and our back story is all done. We got to pitch them some comedy bits. We’ve been doing comedy forever so when it came to the “Beat Down Bitties”, our wrestling personas, they said to us this is why we hired you. So, do whatever you want.
Rebekka: Do whatever you want! So, we came up with some bits and a bunch of them made the show and we were so excited. They came up with the actual “Beat Down Bitties” as characters, but they gave us liberty. It was just so cool because then we got to come up with dialogue and just take what they gave us and really make it our own. So, it was just a real dream.
Kimmy: We had a trailer and the door opened between our two trailers and we just kept it open the whole time.
Rebekka: Yeah, so we just had one big, not really big-
Kimmy: Not really big, two toilets.
Rebekka: Yeah, two toilets, none of them you could poop in because nobody is allowed to poop in their trailers because it would stink.
Kimmy: Those are the rules.
upfrontNY: How did you two meet and start working together?
Rebekka: Sure. So, many years ago at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City we were doing improv there and we were in the same kind of orbit, but we weren’t working together yet. Then-
Kimmy: Basically, in improv, when we started out there was one girl on every team and that was just a weird unwritten rule.
Rebekka: Yeah, I feel like one or two girls max.
Kimmy: I remember, Rebekka, she did a sketch show possible sound effects and related improv, but she did this sketch with this globe, this giant globe where she danced across the stage and I just thought it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t know why that moment sticks out so hard, but she was like a magical fairy. It was hilarious.
Rebekka: Yeah, that was a sketch show actually like Jake Fogelnest and Chad Carter, who are now like huge writers in comedy, had this show where we would do news, like SNL like news sketches every week. And so, I didn’t even write that bit, but I put on costumes that were in the basement of the UCB.
Kimmy: So Funny!
Rebekka: It had a globe and we were doing a fake Telemundo type show. And that was so funny and we just knew each other and were fans of each other and eventually we both were teaching improv at the People’s Improve Theatre, the PIT.
upfrontNY: Do you still teach classes?
Kimmy: I teach at the PIT.
Rebekka: I teach at The Nerdist in L.A. So, I teach improv there and that’s Chris Hardwick’s company, but we have an improv school out of the theatre he does stand up and records podcasts out of and stuff. So, I teach improv there and we still do Apple Sister shows, mostly out of L.A. or Las Vegas.
Kimmy: Yeah. Basically since we started The Apple Sisters we moved to L.A. a year and a half later, after we went to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Since then Sarah moved to Las Vegas to do Jersey Boys and we’ve been doing comedy videos. You can just look back and we just have hundreds of minutes of content.
Rebekka: Yeah, The Apple Sisters have been together ten years and so, you know, that’s always there and then we have other things.
Rebekka: We had kids at the same time. Not planned, I mean our kids were planned separately, but we were not like calling each other- Do it now!
upfrontNY: Do your kids play together?
Rebekka: Yeah, it’s so cute. My son is always begging to take her daughter to the zoo. They have yet to go to the zoo together. He’s like “I want to take Lottie to the zoo”. I think he wants to take her on a date that’s why I’m like resisting.
Kimmy: He’s two and half, yeah.
upfrontNY: GLOW is also getting a lot of attention for not portraying women in your typical Hollywood way, what do you think about that? How does it feel?
Kimmy: Well, it’s great. I mean one of the first things in Hollywood you would be very body conscious and we were in spandex for four months. We had to learn about ourselves our inner strength and our outer body lumps. And I have to say one of the most jarring moments was when they said don’t lose weight.
Rebekka: Yeah, they were like we don’t want you to lose weight.
Kimmy: Yeah, they were like we want natural bodies. We thought with wrestling that would be implicit.
Rebekka: Literally our kids were a year and half old, we would never imagine that like as relatively new moms we would spend four months in spandex and it ended up being the most empowering thing ever. Afterwards I went on a vacation and it was the first time I was in a bathing suit and I just felt comfortable, not because I was thinner or like you know didn’t have cellulite, it was just that I was so comfortable in my body after spending that much time in spandex and not only the spandex, but actually learning how to wrestle. It makes you feel like you’re using your body in this incredible, athletic way and so it felt very empowering to be a part of that.
Kimmy: Yeah, and I really like how Liz and Carly listened to everyone. Like Ellen Wong who plays Jenny was saying she got to, for the first time, distinguish between being Cambodian on screen which was like a big thing for her.
Rebekka: Which is her real life heritage.
Kimmy: Yeah, and what that means and how a specific joke could mean something completely different to her culture. Then she also said she kind of broke out in tears when Arthie played by Sunita Mani, her grandma makes her take that little container of Indian Curry and she was like that just doesn’t happen on screen. I like those little details that no one makes a big deal about, but it’s just represented on camera and that is so cool.
Rebekka: It was cool to look around when all of us were together or even now when I look back on pictures, we have a shared photo collage with all the girls to look at pictures, we were all just so different from each other. Everybody is different from each other, not just our looks, our personalities, our cultures, our background, just how we all kind of came to the show; it’s so cool. We get along so well and part of that was like bonding over doing four weeks of wrestling.
Kimmy: Right because everybody had to meet on this ground level. No one had any idea how to wrestle, except for Kia she’s obviously a professional wrestler, but she really mentored all of us.
Rebekka: So, it’s exciting to be a part of that. I’m really excited about how people are like talking about that element of the show.
upfrontNY: You guys have been back in New York for a couple of days what is something you had to do as soon as you got here?
Rebekka: When I get off the plane I get pizza because I could eat pizza three meals a day, seven days a week, but it has to be good pizza. So, I actually like New Jersey pizza.
Kimmy: How dare you!
Rebekka: Yeah, well you know what Staten Island pizza is really good too, but in every borough in every part of this area you get good pizza so I eat pizza and I’ve had bagels in the morning. So, those are the things I think about, pizza and bagels.
Kimmy: Yeah, Rebekka just gave me half of her bagel it’s like why haven’t been eating these. They’re so good.
Rebekka: It’s a Brooklyn bagel You can’t get that, bagels taste like weird round rolls with a whole in it in LA.
Kimmy: I like to go see a show. We’re going to go see Hamlet tomorrow which I’m really excited about. Love to go see Broadway shows and like eat as much lobster, like Maine lobster, that can fit in my body. I love lobster rolls so much. They’re all really good out here.
Rebekka: She has champagne tastes. She puts lobster on her bagel, on pizza.
Kimmy: But cover it in champagne and caviar and then I take the lobster roll put it in a limo, have it drive around, took a helicopter and then landed back right where it started.
Rebekka: As long as it comes in a nice square box with a chef on it I’ll eat it.
upfrontNY: Since you guys are best friends I wonder if you guys can answer questions about each other?
Rebekka answering for Kimmy
Favorite comfort food:
Rebekka: Well I know it’s lobster rolls, but it’s also Maryland crab cakes.
Kimmy: That is true.
Favorite part of the 80s wardrobe:
Rebekka: I would say the belts she got to wear, multiple belts and she enjoyed that.
Kimmy: It’s true, that is correct.
Kimmy: Oh, interesting.
Rebekka: Let’s see.
Kimmy: You’re like there’s too many to choose from.
Rebekka: I don’t know. Well, she can’t ever find her keys or her phone. Like she needs a leash on them or electronically, but she would lose the clicker.
Kimmy: I would
Kimmy answering for Rebekka
First acting job:
Kimmy: She was a stand in on Ed, right or an extra.
Rebekka: Yeah, an extra, background work.
Kimmy: Oh God. Oh no, this is so hard. What am I going to say?
Rebekka: I don’t even know really.
Kimmy: Maybe when, can’t come back to it, let’s figure this shit out. Rebekka- Just make something up
Kimmy: Oh good idea. I could do that, maybe when people are shitty improvisors.
Rebekka: I mean that is something I don’t like.
Kimmy: I think it’s when people aren’t self- aware.
Rebekka: Hmm yeah.
Kimmy: I don’t know if that’s a peeve.
Rebekka: Well, I would say yeah because in politics if they don’t know what they’re saying or you know like especially this year. The election was my pet peeve.
Kimmy: I hate when people make bad decisions.
upfrontNY: Is there anything you like to let our readers know?
Kimmy and Rebekka: Yeah our social media handles are @kimmygatewood and @hellorebekka We have a couple of shows The Apple Sisters July 31stin L.A. and September in Vegas and Kimmy has a short film calledControl it’s playing at the Holly Shorts Festival control-film.com .
UpfrontNY: Can you tell us a little about that?
Kimmy: Yeah sure, I worked with this woman Alison Becker who actually Rebekka worked with at Boiling Points.
Rebekka: Yeah, one of my first real acting jobs.
Kimmy: Yeah, we did a film about a woman’s suicide note that becomes a suicide binder, so it’s a black comedy. It premiered at the Palm Springs International Shorts Fest, it went to Holly Shorts and we did it over a weekend. Rebekka saved my ass by watching my daughter; we thought my husband’s parents were coming the weekend before and it wasn’t that.
Rebekka: Yeah, so Lottie slept over.
Kimmy: Yeah Lottie slept over and we made the film for about five hundred dollars with a small crew of four people and a dog.
Rebekka: That dog was the most expensive part.
Kimmy: Yeah, absolutely, he cost 499 dollars in dog food.
Rebekka: The rest of the crew got 25 cents each.
Kimmy: Nobody ate. And yeah, it was a surprise and I edited it and directed it and just- it was amazing. I sent the rough cut and it was accepted within three weeks.
Rebekka: I watched the first cut of it and I cried when I watched it. I laughed you know and then cried. It was like a rough cut and we were watching it together on the computer screen and it was really good.
Kimmy: It’s exciting and I’ve been making a move to be more of a director in general.
Rebekka: I’m writing a short film and I’ve already attached Kimmy Gatewood to direct it.
Kimmy: It’s a good thing because I’ve attached Rebekka Johnson to star in it.
Rebekka: And I’ve attached all of her equipment to use to shoot it. That was the hardest thing to get and the dog I can’t afford him.