Skip to comments.Texas Tough, in Lipstick, Fishnet and Skates
Posted on 08/01/2004 8:14:46 AM PDT by Pharmboy
In Texas women's Roller Derby, players, like the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, are unpaid.
AUSTIN, July 26 - Of course there are rules in Texas women's Roller Derby.
One unwritten rule, more for the audience, goes, "Never, never, ever spill a beer."
Another rule, also aimed particularly at the legions of male fans, says that if a Texas Rollergirl or TXRD Lonestar Rollergirl (there are two leagues, not on speaking terms) slips on beer or whatever and falls in your lap, "You can't take her home unless she says so."
For the skaters, there are rules against fighting and stuff but they are not taken too seriously.
Roller Derby, Texas style - now popping up in cities around the country - is not to be confused with the quaint Depression-era craze that sent marathoners skating off segments marking the mileage between the coasts. Or the periodic revivals marked by the aptly-named 1972 Raquel Welch film "Kansas City Bomber" or the televised RollerJams on TNN from 1999 to 2001.
Since a handful of self-described onetime kiddy rinkrats met at an Austin party and formed the Lonestar league in 2001, offshoots have sprouted in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tucson, Las Vegas, Raleigh, N.C., and the Cayman Islands, among other places. And many more are said to be under way.
Leave it to Austin, which prizes its weirdness, to foster this contagious blend of high performance sport and campy theatrics called not games but bouts, fought on traditional four-wheel skates. And to field the two feuding leagues - the Texas Rollergirls (www.txrollergirls.com) and the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls, also known as Bad Girl, Good Woman (www.bggw.com).
This is, at the very least, extreme roller skating, heavy on attitude and light on attire, the better to bare breathtaking tattoos. Social scientists may scratch their heads over the emergence of a new form of staged violence by macho women, but to the players, who don't get paid, it's easy to explain: it's fun.
"It's kind of like hockey in lipstick and fishnet stockings," said Lacy Attuso, 27, a computer publicist who goes by the rink name of Whiskey L'Amour. (Whiskey because she drinks it, she said, L'Amour from the Western writer Louis L'Amour.)
A founding member and star of the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers of the breakaway Texas Rollergirls until she was benched with a broken tibia and fibula, she said it took only one bout in 2002 to hook her. "I was instantly smitten," she said from inside an oversize Winnie the Pooh costume she donned to deliver the play-by-play for the Texas Rollergirls at the Playland Skate Center before 1,100 fans on Sunday night. "Girls in leather and fishnet stockings beating the hell out of each other - it was a dream come true."
Bryce Harper for The New York Times
Teams like the Hustlers and
Hotrod Honeys field five players;
points are won by skating past
Others agree. "It's great therapy," said Audra Shimek, 34, a massage therapist and Desert Storm veteran, who skates for the Rollergirls' Hell Marys as Misty Meaner. But she insisted, "I would never hurt somebody; we all know how far we can push each other."
The players are hard to stereotype. "They're 21 to 45, married, single, gay, straight, moms, teachers, every walk of life, tattooed and not," said Melissa Joulwan, 36, a freelance creative director who skates under the name of Melicious for the Hotrod Honeys of the Texas Rollergirls.
The scoring is arcane, sometimes baffling the referees themselves. The two competing teams each field five players: a pivot who sets the pace, three blockers and a jammer who starts in the back and fights her way through the pack, racking up points by lapping teammates and rivals while fending off body blows and shoves. There are four periods broken into two-minute jams and ties are decided by sudden death overtime.
Though perhaps not as naughty or X-rated as it pretends to be, it is still, many of the women gladly concede, an erotic playground where Barbarella types fill out the action by instigating assaults that everyone insists are real.
The skating injuries certainly are real. "Four months and the stupid bone will not close," said an unhappily sidelined Julie Underwood, 32, a librarian whose broken shoulder took her out of action as Vendetta von Dutch of the Hotrod Honeys. The Lonestar Rollergirls tabulate their collective injuries on their Website: fractured and broken tailbones, broken wrists, broken ankles, countless hangovers - and "two pregnancies."
"I hate to say that but it's a male fantasy thing," said Louisa Brinsmade, 41, who skates as Mau-Mau for the Lonestars's Hellcats in their bouts at the Austin Thunderdome. On the other hand, said her teammate, Sarah Luna, 24, a paralegal and bartender who helped found the Lonestar Rollergirls and now skates as Lunatic, "another woman once proposed to one of our players." The offer was declined.
The Lonestar Rollergirls fractured in April 2003 with members walking out to protest differences with management and an accident that dissidents said was not covered by insurance. Also, the Lonestar skaters favored a banked track while the breakaway players preferred a flat surface.
Both leagues field four teams of similar archetypes, but play is only within each league, a handicap when the same four teams have to keep playing each other.
In addition to the Hotrod Honeys, a girl gang in black and pink; and the Hustlers, 70's divas in purple and silver, the Texas Rollergirls have the Hell Marys, parochial-school girls in red-and-black plaid; and the Honky Tonk Heartbreakers, rodeo sweethearts in blue-and-white gingham.
The Lonestar Rollergirls have the Hellcats, 50's vixens fixated on hotrods and switchblades; the Putas del Fuego, bad ladies with a taste for blood and tequila; the Holy Rollers, bullies of the parochial schoolyard; and the Rhinestone Cowgirls, country -western gals given to chicken-fried violence.
The Texas Rollergirls' semifinals and championships are coming up Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, while the Lonestar Rollergirls have games coming up on Sunday and Aug. 22.
...in the NY Times.
Looks like my trailer park ladies made the big time. Hope they don't get the big head and forget where they came from...
RPR Fast Women ping
But seriesly, this article fairly drips with Metrosexual condescension.
The 'Hell Marys'? LOL!
This calls for pictures!
Besides the ones in my mind.
I confess... I used to watch roller derby when I was a teenager.
What, no tatoos?
...and isn't the picture with the beer cases a keeper?
Oh yeah. Daddy like.
You have to excerpt this.
Growing up in the '50s, me and my buddies used to watch rollerderby all the time. The one team I remember well was the Bay Area Bombers from SF. The star of their team was a tough blonde...can't remember her name.
I dream of being ravaged by these women.
That's who I watched too, I grew up in Concord/Walnut Creek. Good stuff!
I dreamed of growing up to be a roller derby skater, but when you end up only five feet tall and under a hundred pounds you have to be more practical about your career choice!
So far, the NYT hasn't made the list.
...not to be confused with ...
I have never had to excerpt a NY Times article before...whay do you say that?
the Putas del Fuego
Ooh my, OH MY!
Wonder if they'll be coming to atlanta?
Yeah, what real man could resist a cold can of beer served up by a flat headed woman in garage sale attire on roller skates? It's a redneck's dream come true. All that's missing is bait n' ammo.
Bump to your brother
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