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Photo: Zohar Lazar

If it’s true that love is war, then it’s not surprising that some men need a little hand-to-hand combat to get their rocks off. One-on-one wrestling matches with female bodybuilders have become an increasingly popular fetish. They are like real wrestling matches but cost up to $500 an hour and end with the man physically spent, in more ways than one. The men say they enjoy the thrill of being dominated by women who can pin them with their thighs, while the women use the proceeds to pay for their steroids and posing suits.

The nation’s premier portal into such sessions is the Jersey-based femalemuscle.com, which hosts profile pages for female bodybuilders and books 300 wrestling sessions a week. The site’s founder is Lori Victoria Braun, a petite, toned blonde in her mid-thirties with a Flatbush accent. In the early nineties, she was a trainer at Pumping Iron, an Upper East Side gym, and ran ads in magazines to get new clients. “Guys would call and ask, ‘What do you look like?’ I’d describe myself and they’d say, ‘How big are your biceps? What can you bench-press?’ ” Their voices were so eager and breathy that she soon realized they were getting a charge out of it.

Sensing she was onto something, she started recording erotic stories about muscular women for a pay-per-minute phone line (“My name is Julia. I work out in a hard-core gym, and I’m very competitive. It’s kind of funny how whenever I need a spot, all the men come up behind me … ”). In 1994, she launched the site.

Most matches take place in hotel rooms, and many men book the same women repeatedly. Requests fall into four categories—submissive wrestling, for men who want to be pinned; pure wrestling, which involves more back-and-forth; body worship, in which the man rubs oil on the woman and admires her body; and the least common, combative wrestling, in which the man tries to win.

“They love headlocks,” says Braun. “Being crushed by biceps, and the body scissor, where the woman squeezes her legs around their waist.” Of course, the women prefer body worship, because it involves the least work. Usually they wear posing suits, but “if the guy gives them more money, they’ll take off their shirt.”

“I never thought that it meant anything. Honest to God, my librarian fantasy is as strong as my wrestling fantasy.”

Matt, a divorced 50-year-old lawyer, books a session once a month, usually through a dungeon that has a special room for this purpose. He first realized he was attracted to strong women when he was a junior in college and watched his roommate arm-wrestle a girl. (“It put a seed in the back of my head.”) Years later, he married, but he didn’t play the fantasy out with his wife. One day, in a Times Square sex shop, he found wrestling tapes. “A light went on,” he says.

In the late eighties, he had his first session, through an ad in Muscle Magazine International, with “an African-American athlete from California. It was like a first kiss,” he recalls. Since then, he estimates, he’s done about 100 sessions. Does it bother him that he’s spent close to $30,000 on a fetish? “I put a bunch of kids through college. And I don’t have any other extravagances.”

The thrill of the wrestling, he says, comes from constantly shifting power: “I wonder, Am I really giving it my all, or am I just letting her beat me? I start to measure: If I do 82 percent, I’ll get my ass kicked. If I do 91 percent, I can stay in. It’s unclear whether I really want to lose. And then I realize, either in fantasy or reality, that she can take me, and that’s the buzz.”

He likes to wear sweatpants, with nothing underneath. The dénouement occurs when, he says, “I perceive myself to be in some inescapable hold, and then I take care of things myself.” Does she watch? “I’m usually in a headlock, and there’s no eye contact.” Sometimes he waits till he gets home. “A really good session is good for a lot of memories.”

Michelle, 31, a five-ten bodybuilder who weighs 167 pounds, wrestled men for money for four years: “One guy wanted me to wear my posing suit and sit on his face with my glutes. Another lived out of the city. I’d meet him in a hotel, wrap my quads around his head, and squeeze until he passed out.”

Another client, a wealthy Romanian, enjoyed it so much he had her call another wrestler, then ran down to a Citibank to get more money. “He wound up blowing $1,500,” Michelle says. “At the end, he said, ‘I love America!’ ”

She’s asked a few clients about the reasons for their fetishes. One told her his mother used to bring men home and have sex with them in the next room, separated by a curtain. He would watch her high-heeled feet under the curtain and became obsessed with women’s feet. Others say their sisters beat them up when they were little.

Matt has spent some time looking into the roots of his own fetish in therapy, but not too much: “My ex-wife was a lifeguard. I never thought that meant anything, but maybe it did. I laugh about it because, honest to God, my librarian fantasy is as strong as my wrestling fantasy.”

He insists his everyday sex life is a normal one, but sometimes in personal ads he’ll drop a hint: “I might put, ‘Let’s arm-wrestle after a cappuccino.’ It would be great if I got a response like, ‘I’m five-one, but let’s give it a shot,’ but I have no interest in selecting my mate on this basis.”

With female wrestling on the WWE and entire magazines devoted to women’s physiques, his only regret is that he doesn’t have to work hard to fulfill his fantasy. “It’s so available,” he says. “I hate to say it, but it’s almost too easy now.”

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