John Ross Ferrara
Mad River Union
CREAMERY DISTRICT – Armed with hot glue guns, scissors and duct tape, four teams of two entered the Arcata Playhouse arena to redefine sport at the second annual Rebel Craft Rumble.
Organized by SCRAP Humboldt, the fundraiser pitted Humboldt’s fiercest crafters against one another in a winner-take-all gauntlet of glitter.
Round one featured last year’s runner up team the Sparkle Ninjas versus the “ghetto fabulous” Wrapper’s Delight.
Ninja contestants Mindy Hiley and Allison Poklemba sought redemption for last year’s second-place finish. Despite Poklemba’s recent back injury, the team looked poised for victory.
“Allison threw out her back last week so I thought we we’re gonna have to find a sub,” Hiley said. “I didn’t think we’d make it through the qualifiers.”
The contest began with the ceremonial bribing of the judges, where Patrón shots, booze babies — cardboard cutouts of children with airplane bottle of Jameson taped to their chests — and cakes in a jar were offered up in hopes of swaying opinion.
Ten minutes were set on the clock and crafters were given the task of building a hitchhiking sign with only the items avaliable on stage.
The horn sounded and the teams rushed to the craft table, clashing in an explosion of flying fabric and knick knacks. Both teams quickly selected pizza box lids as their base and began gluing, pasting and cutting their way to victory.
“Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas blasted through the Playhouse speakers as the crowd came to life. Spectators bounced condom balloons around the bleachers, downed glasses of booze and shouted rehearsed chants for their favorite teams.
When time ran out, both teams backed away from the tables and displayed their creations. Wrapper’s Delight held up two signs with built-in change cups and verbiage that told a heartbreaking tale of returning home to reopen their family’s Larrupin’ sauce factory.
While the Wrappers plucked the judges’ heartstrings, Sparkle Ninjas worked their sex sells attitude and revealed a sign reading “Forget the leg, I show nip!” followed by a Sparkle Ninja bursting open her jacket and revealing one hand-crafted breast with a long protruding nipple.
The judges were floored by the surprise finish and the Ninjas advanced to the championship round.
In round two, first-time competitors the Serious Scavengers faced the veteran Arcata Playhouse Arts Annex All Stars. The Scavengers paraded into the stadium dressed in pirate garb while rolling a hand crafted pirate ship fastened to a children’s wagon.
The Playhouse All Stars dressed for business in bicycle helmets and overalls. Meanwhile, their loyal cronies surrounded the judges’ table and vigorously hand fanned the
arbiters to curry their favor.
Although Playhouse All Star Lush Newton competed in 2013, her teammate Malia Matsumoto took the spotlight for the first time.
The teams were tasked with making a holiday centerpiece for their fictitious aunt Sativa Quinoa. The clock began ticking and sweat poured from the brows of the Playhouse All Stars as they sculpted a metallic holiday tower, fashioned with a pine cone tree topper and a festive holiday log.
“This one’s dedicated to the man upstairs... Santa!” the All Stars shouted.
Meanwhile, the pirates utilized their sewing machine to construct an autumn centerpiece of cornhusks, magnolias and rose petals.
Despite the Scavengers appearing to be the crowd favorite, the judges admitted the All Stars’ bribery influenced their decision and the persuasive duo advanced to the the championship round.
Former Rebel Craft Rumble champion and honorary judge Amy “Haters Gonna Hate” Jester said she enjoyed the bribery.
“There was a man taking off the strap of his overalls to seduce us, there was massage, grinding, fanning. It upped the energy a bit; it was pretty awesome,” Jester said.
After a brief intermission, the Sparkle Ninjas and Playhouse All Stars took their positions for the final 15 minute round. Audience members were asked to check under their seats as two Bigfoot masks were hidden among the crowd. The masked recipients were called on stage to act as live mannequins while the teams built their final challenge — a pair of zesty headphones.
The Sparkle Ninjas outfitted their model with a green and white gown accompanied by a top hat made of black velvet and a lamp shade. Bulbous emerald fabric was fastened on either side of the model’s head as an abstract take on headphones.
The All Stars crafted a dress from an emergency blanket with a flower belt accessory made of pink glitter duct tape. Their model was topped with large film canister headphones, decorated with compact discs and cassette tapes.
When time ran out, the crowd was honored with the presence of Mr. Humboldt 2013, who decreed the Sparkle Ninjas the 2014 Rebel Craft Rumbel Champions and draped Hiley and Poklemba with championship capes.
“This is the best live crafting spectacle on the planet,” Poklemba said. “We will thoroughly enjoy our reign as Supreme Ultimate Craft Champions of the World.”