"Girls like big toys, and girls like to get dirty," says Madusa, the First Lady of Monster Jam.
Monster Jam's two-time World Finals champion, a Robbinsdale area native, was at the Dome for last week's event, with her personality that's as big as her pink monster mobile. She is, by the way, not one of those women who won't lend a hand to another woman. Madusa told me to remember that when Monster Jam returns to the Dome on Jan. 19, she won't be there, but Minnesotans should take special notice of Becca McDonough, who's from the Brainerd area. Madusa was also anxious to acknowledge the woman who's been a huge influence in her life -- her grandmother, Violet Lewandowski, featured on my startribune.com/video with other family members.
Q What was your Minnesota upbringing like?
A Only child. Granny's been my rock. She upholsters furniture. She makes wedding dresses for people across the United States. And she rides a Harley. I hope I have her genes! I think I do. I came from less fortunate [circumstances]. We didn't have much. Welfare. I always got beat up at the school bus stop. After that, I really became interested in motivational speaking. My first [motivational inspiration] was Zig Ziglar, rest in peace [he died last month]. I remember I didn't have enough money and I went to one of his speaking engagements, and I went to the back of the building, crouched down and listened. From there I listened to Tony Robbins. I was a jock all through high school -- gymnast, track and field. Then somebody approached me from Minneapolis and said, You'd be great in the entertainment business. I thought, "I could be a stunt woman." Hell no. They said, You'd be great at pro wrestling. "Those people who sit there and spit and scream on TV? Are you kidding me? No way." I went and checked it out. I left my nursing career, and two weeks later I was a pro wrestler. So 18 years of pro wrestling, and now 12 years of monster trucking, kicking ass.
Q What interested you about monster vehicles?
A I've always been a gear head. I've got Harleys myself, four-wheelers. Always been a tomboy. And I love fast. I am an adrenaline junkie, so who wouldn't like this big old muscle truck?
Q What was your first vehicle.
A Oh, that's a great question! I'm so glad you asked. My very first vehicle was a 318, three-speed on the column, truck.
Q Looking up anyone from your childhood while you're here?
A Whenever I'm able to come back, it's nice, because I get to see family. There have been a few friends I've kept in contact with from when I was 5, 6, 7. I think we have a few things planned. I'm going to stay here an extra week.
Q Will you be sad to see the Dome go?
A There's a lot of history here, but we all need new. It's really hard being a true Vikings fan. Peterson, Harvin -- those are my men [said the married mother of two]. But Ponder? He was looking so good, and then what happened? I don't know. I think he gets nervous throwing the ball.
Q How's being a woman in a man's world?
A Boy, that's a loaded question. Girl, I've had a lot of Come to Jesus talks with myself: "What the hell am I doin'?" You've got to prove yourself all the time. Hard, harder, fast, faster. Do they take you serious? Only when you're serious. I can look like a million bucks. Talk the talk. However, now I can deliver the talk, because I'm a two-time champion. I did not get any of these guys' respect at all until I won two championships. Sounds like a song. [She starts snapping her fingers and moving her head.] Before that, it was chaos. I'd come to the arena in the morning and my tires would be flat. They thought that was funny. Little did they know, they made me stronger. They made me come back with a vengeance.
Q Are the boys playing nicely with you now?
A Are the boys playing fair? Boys don't play nice. No, they don't. They don't like it when a woman beats them at a race or freestyle.
Q Are you exploiting your femininity for fame? Or are you OK with that?
A There's a thin line. I exploit myself to my fans a certain way, and that is to be a role model. Maybe some of my choices haven't been the best, but I wouldn't be who I am today if I didn't. If I could change anything, I would have worked harder. To be the "First Lady of Monster Jam," the "Queen of Carnage," I've opened up and facilitated a lot of opportunities. Now we have all these great young women nipping at my heels who want to become the next woman champion.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try.