Cissy (second from right) and her girls hitting the town in Amsterdam
Extreme Flapping, Gold
The year was 1928, and though the world sat on the precipice of utter economic ruin and a second World War, no one in Amsterdam during the Olympic Games gave two toots or a whistle. Rather than past Olympic athletes, dour in their outlook and dedication to sport, most of the competitors in Amsterdam were there to have a gay old time. Dancing and whoring the night away was the goal for most in attendance, and out of this atmosphere the controversial Extreme Flap event was born. The brainchild of Cissy “Twisty Arms” Carolina, the event would only exist for a single Olympiad, cancelled due to tragedies well beyond the scope of anyone’s imagination.
Cissy “Twisty Arms” Carolina, was born Cecilia Featherstone in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The youngest of nine, Cissy’s father Hank was a miner and her mother died in childbirth. Cissy’s childhood was harsh. She was teased mercilessly by her siblings and denied food by her father who blamed Cissy for her mother’s death. Driven out of town at thirteen, Cissy moved to the big city of Harrisburg where got a job washing dishes at Trudy’s Diner, a favorite late night haunt for state politicians. There she struck up a strange friendship with Governor and former baseball star John Tener. From a steel family himself, he saw a little bit of himself in Cissy’s eyes, and when he left office and she turned sixteen, he took her as his common-law bride. It was around that time he was named President of the National Baseball League and moved to New York City.
New York City! What a wonder it was! To a small-town girl like Cissy Featherstone, it was a land of opportunity unlike any other. And her husband, while loving and sweet, was a loadstone on her aspirations. So she abandoned him, changed her name to Cissy Carolina, and joined the burgeoning Hampton’s Dancing Circuit, a collection of young women who would attend parties and dance the popular moves of the time such as the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, and the Saskatoon Shuffle. A loosely organized group when Cissy arrived, she used the political acumen she had learned from her ex-husband to organize the women into a fierce union.
Cissy and her collection of well organized dancers took the Circuit by storm, and soon were the only affiliated organization of Charleston dancing ladies that a wealthy Hamptonite could get out to a party on a single night’s notice. But Cissy’s ambitions were greater than parties, and she rebuffed the advances of many men who aimed to make a proper woman out her. She had one goal: the 1928 Olympics. There she would say to the world, “I’m Cissy Carolina, and my dance is the world’s dance.” Fortunately for her the Prince consort of the Netherlands, Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was an unrelenting ladies man and frequented the, “dirty side of the pond,” in order to satiate his desires. He also had an in with the IOC as they organized the Amsterdam games. So in exchange for having her entire union perform the Dutch Triple Step in a private audience for him, he ensured the addition of Extreme Flapping to the games as a demonstration sport alongside the Dutch Basketball variant Korfball.
When the games began, Cissy’s girls introduced the world to Extreme Flapping. Unlike traditional dance competitions which either valued longevity or artistry, Extreme Flapping required both. Judges measured the duration of time that Flapping was occurring above a certain metric standard. When the quality of the dance dipped below a certain level, the competitors round was completed. Their time performing was multiplied by an artistic coefficient in order to come up with a final score. While Cissy assumed that her union girls would be the only participants, the official Soviet contingent of Olympic prostitutes led by Loretta Kazakov, which had been supplied to the athletes by Stalin himself, decided they would participate against the Americans. But they lacked the limber joints to complete the moves in rapid succession as was needed. The American put up consistently high scores, and Cissy herself would take the gold, but the Russians…
Medical technology was nowhere near our modern level. And a torn ACL was death knell for those without the funds to rehabilitate themselves. And so when six Russian prostitutes went down with catastrophic joint injuries, and the Kremlin refused to pay for their treatment on the grounds that dancing is not proper whoring, the women were disavowed, and left in Holland to die. Cissy pleaded with the Dutch to do something to heal these poor women, but the Dutch Prostitute Union was too powerful, and could not abide supporting the allocation of precious resources to heal these women. Cissy stayed in their room as one by one the life slipped out of them.
So wracked by guild and grief was Cissy, that she again changed her name and purpose in life: she renamed herself Cissy Lynn, and moved back to America, to a small coal mining village in Kentucky, where she married a miner like her father. There she birthed a daughter she named after her favorite Russian prostitute: Loretta. And she told her young girl of her sadness, and she shepherded her voice. And she made little Loretta Lynn, her little coal miner’s daughter, promise that if she ever had a film made about her, the lead actress should share her mother’s name.