During a recent episode of Renee Paquette’s podcast, former WWE Diva Kelly Kelly, whose real name is Barbie Blank, shared that on her first day in WWE in 2006 as part of the relaunch of ECW, she had to take her clothes off as an “exhibitionist.” This was an idea proposed by Paul Heyman, who was the Head of ECW at the time, and she had a jealous boyfriend character, Mike Knox, who covered her up every week. Kelly explained that it was just a storyline to get her foot in the door, as she couldn’t wrestle yet, but the team thought it was a good idea. She also mentioned that Vince McMahon taught her how to do the dance and striptease for her character, and they wanted her to watch Carmen Elektra dance tapes.
“The first day I was an exhibitionist, and I had to take my clothes off. And my poor family are watching and they’re like ‘what are you doing?!’ And I told them ‘Just wait.’ Oh my God. And I was just ‘look, it’s on me, for a few months. I promise.’ Just to say that’s how I started is so hilarious.
“I was only in developmental for literally two months. Paul Heyman called me and he’s ‘Barbie I have this idea for you. You’re going to be this exhibitionist, but you have a jealous boyfriend [Mike Knox] who comes out and covers you up every week.’ And he told me ‘it’s just a storyline to get your foot in the door. We know you can’t wrestle yet. But we think it’s a good idea.’ And I just thought ‘well I’m not going to say no. Let’s do it!’ I remember Kasama [veteran backstage WWE producer.] Kasama had the role of having to really teach me how to dance.
Then we had to go and show Vince. And Vince had [his own ideas on the dance.] And I remember being like ‘this is somebody that I used to watch when I was a kid.’ And this is Vince McMahon, teaching me how he wants me to do this dance and striptease. They wanted me to watch the Carmen Elektra dance tapes. ‘Okay, I’ll watch whatever.
I was thrown into it at 19, I mean I was the youngest female that had been brought up. And I got thrown into ECW which is hardcore. You see me, this young 19-year-old who has no idea what she signed up for. I mean, I’m lucky I started there because honestly, I can’t imagine starting at Raw or SmackDown because it’s such a higher level. And I was able to really grow in ECW and I had great [mentors.] Tommy Dreamer, RVD & Andrew ‘Test’ Martin who’s passed away. He took me under his wing and I thank God for him.
“Everybody treated me like their little sister too like they wanted to take care of me and kind of protect me. I feel like I got tested a lot in the beginning. I got hit with a Singapore cane… I just went through it. I got tested and I think I proved myself because they were like ‘we’re going to see if this girl can handle these things.’”