Are there real-life fight clubs?


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark, a staff writer here at HowStuffWorks.com. With me is my fellow staff writer, Charles Bryant, Charles W. Bryant, right?

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: Welcome, Chuck. How are you doing?

Chuck Bryant: I'm doing great, Josh. How about you?

Josh Clark: I'm doing pretty good, Chuck. I'm feeling a little jacked up. I actually kind of feel like punching you right in the face!

Chuck Bryant: Well you know what, Josh, if you did that, I would take it like every good pacifist.

Josh Clark: See, I'm not necessarily a pacifist. I more fear pain.

Chuck Bryant: Me too.

Josh Clark: Okay. So I think that means that neither one of us should actually join a fight club.

Chuck Bryant: No, I've never been hit in the face, and I don't plan to start now at my advanced age.

Josh Clark: It's been many years since I was hit in the face. And I think that was the first and only time. I quickly became scared of being hit in the face, which was my fear of pain that explains that.

Chuck Bryant: Right, so fight club is not for us.

Josh Clark: Off limits.

Chuck Bryant: But they are for some people.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and actually they are real. Surely you've seen the movie, Fight Club several times.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, every guy that's a real man's man, I think has seen Fight Club at least three times.

Josh Clark: At least, maybe four even. Have you read the book?

Chuck Bryant: I did. I read the book. I saw the movie. I put on a One Act Play for Fight Club. It was great.

Josh Clark: I'll bet. I'll bet. It was your own interpretation of it, huh?

Chuck Bryant: It was.

Josh Clark: So the author of the book, Chuck Palahniuk, I think.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: He has been accused, many times over, especially after the movie came out because I think most people who start fight clubs don't read, necessarily. But he was accused of starting a trend of conceiving of these fight clubs, which he says he made up.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and then it spawned the real thing.

Josh Clark: Yeah, lot's of people who like to fight.

Chuck Bryant: Right, copycats.

Josh Clark: Started their own fight clubs. And actually, there are some out there. I found some when I wrote the article, "Are there real life fight clubs," and found that a lot of them really mirror some of the rules and the set up that you find in the book. Did you read about bloody knuckles?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, bloody knuckles in San Francisco, they have their one rule, which is the famous rule from Fight Club. If you show up, you have to fight. You can't just be a spectator. And you have to say it like that.

Josh Clark: Exactly, or else it loses its meaning. And you kind of wonder like what exactly would happen if you're like okay. I'm going to go to Bloody Knuckles fight club. He lives in a hotel. I imagine a really run down weird hotel. And everybody meets in his room. There's a secret knock. You have to know somebody. And they take you down to a subbasement to fight, right. What happens if you get to the subbasement and you're like I don't want to fight?

Chuck Bryant: Right. It might quickly turn into a Pulp Fiction scene.

Josh Clark: Yeah, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: The gimp might (inaudible).

Josh Clark: Oh yeah, yeah, that scene. Ooh, yeah, that's a bad one.

Chuck Bryant: And I think I'd rather fight.

Josh Clark: I would too. I would too. Just go ahead and go through with it because you're either going to be beaten and mauled or just fight somebody else, whatever.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: California seems to be the place to be for real life fight clubs.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, there was another one in Oakland, just on the other side of the Bay, called the SB Rats or Gang of Motorcycle Toughs or Vespa Toughs. And they use it, actually, as a form of initiation. Apparently hundreds of people show up to these fights, so you can be a spectator.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's not just a form of initiation. And there are hundreds of people. It's like the place to be on Friday nights if you ride a motorcycle, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So some gangs, including the Rats, use it as initiation for prospects. They just basically throw them in the ring and have them beat the tar out of one another. I guess whoever is left standing is the new member, that kind of thing.

Chuck Bryant: Right. And if you lose, then I'm not sure what gang you're a member of then.

Josh Clark: I don't know what happens either. And actually, there was a really extensive article in the, I think, San Francisco Bay Guardian, something like that. It seemed like an underground kind of newspaper or alternative press, at least. And this guy chronicled this Friday night at the SB Rat fight club. There were girls fighting one another.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: He went up and interviewed one of them. She got about halfway through this quick interview and turned and started vomiting because she was beaten so badly. Some prospects got jumped in and -

Chuck Bryant: That's when you earn your money as a journalist.

Josh Clark: Yeah. And this guy, you could tell it was very thrilling. But when you're writing about a fight club, the best way to do it is to go yourself. I, unfortunately, didn't have time to do that.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Plus, I didn't find any in Atlanta.

Chuck Bryant: Although, it would be legal. I know you found out that as long as two dudes or two women are -

Josh Clark: Whoever, adults, as long as they are of age.

Chuck Bryant: They have to be adults and they have to be not paid. They can beat the snot out of each other and there's no repercussions.

Josh Clark: As long as you're consenting.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And actually, I also ran into something that didn't make it into the article. It's called the pillow fight club. Have you heard of this?

Chuck Bryant: I've heard of national pillow fight day they have every year.

Josh Clark: They have flash mobs. There was one in Tel Aviv. I found one in Seattle, where everybody just shows up at a predetermined time and starts beating one another with pillows.

Chuck Bryant: Wow, that sounds like a lot more up my alley.

Josh Clark: It's much more of a love-in, yeah. As a lover, I think you'd appreciate that. I think anybody would appreciate, "Are there real life fight clubs," so you should go read it now or else me and Chuck will find you. So Chuck, do you know what Hurricane Katrina evacuees and The Brady Bunch have in common?

Chuck Bryant: You know Josh, I don't. You tease me with this one for weeks. And I've been dying to know. I can't imagine.

Josh Clark: I'm finally going to reveal it to you. They're both exposed to formaldehyde through particle board. Do you know anything about this?

Chuck Bryant: No, but how does the Brady Brunch figure in?

Josh Clark: The Brady Bunch had that faux wood paneling in their living room. And Hurricane Katrina evacuees were exposed to it through FEMA trailers, which the government recently ordered them out of because of health issues, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, yeah. That's a bit of a reach, but I'll buy it.

Josh Clark: Actually, it's not. I found that the combination in one of our colleague's articles, Kristen Conger wrote, "Ten every day Dangerous things in your home." And you can find that on HowStuffWorks.com. Learn about formaldehyde and nine other interesting things you should be very scared of.Announcer: For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com.