Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rollergirls Favorite Moments


After almost two years of diligence, dogmatism and plain old tenacity, The Big Easy Rollergirls had their first bout, September 16th. To say it was a success would be an understatement.

Some of the women from The Big Easy Rollergirls share their favorite moments from the bout.

CHERRY PI: The best word I got was from my friend, who remarked that she felt she was in another time and place, without any memory of the hurricane or things that anger us on a daily basis. We helped people forget their troubles and have a wonderful evening. I love that what we do makes other people feel good, not just overselves.

LITTLE MISS RUFFIT: My favorite moment was waiting for the first points to be posted after the last regular jam and having a tie game.

CHEAP THR!LL: I LOVE to skate but my favorite moments were:
1. Hearing we sold out.
2. Hearing we had ticket scalpers in the parking lot.
3. The last few minutes of the bout when I paused long enough to listen to the crowd going CRAZY!
P.S. And trash talking with Bessie

GALAXY GRRL: When we were all on the track doing warm up laps, I doubted there would ever be a time in my life that I would feel that good and that proud to be a part of something so amazing with such amazing people. I felt like Rocky from the first movie when he ran all the way up the stairs for the first time… I’ve never been married, but I guess I’ve been kind of comparing it in my head to something like a wedding where you spend a year (or more) planning this huge event and then it flies by so fast that it all seems like a blur… It was also great seeing people in the crowd sooo excited and happy after it was over.

CRUSTY MCKNUCKLE: I was SO nervous before the bout started, but when we skated out for the first time something magical happened. I don’t know if it was the lights or the roar of the crowd or what, but at that moment I was like, “I can do this!” And after that it was just amazing, My favorite moment was when it was all over and we were all hugging each other and so proud of what we had ALL accomplished. It was a really great feeling.

SHAY-BAY: My fun time was the last jam (the tie breaker). No point shut down for The ‘Aints.

MACE M. DIXION: Warm-up laps, right as Manwitch set-up and played some adrenaline-pumping songs from Nirvana…. Watching Bessie jam… Sending some ‘Aints into the crowd with a good hit… Waving at my family and friends from “the bench” and discerning their shouts as I skated by during action… Hugs and kisses with everyone after the tie-breaker.

POWER SNATCH: I loved seeing a sign reading, “I heart Snatch” from the crowd. But the best part was having one night where it felt like the New Orleans I remember from before Katrina: great fun, beer, Mardi Gras floats, drunk people, sweating, and having a great time with a crowd during loud music. For one night, there wasn’t a storm and we weren’t thinking of houses or jobs. We skated and played and enjoyed ourselves. It was wonderful!

LITTLE maSCARa: I think I was most excited when we were doing warm-up laps to “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” It was the perfect song. I feel like Galaxy Grrl did, I kept comparing it to a wedding also. When I had to tell my professor that I was missing class for our practice run-through on Tuesday, I compared it to the rehearsal for the wedding I’ll never have.

BESSIE SMITHEREENS: In the last jam, I remember feeling that we had it as soon as the whistle blew, because I knew every single Hor-Not would do their job. I felt trust, and when I looked around Mace, Lil’ Innocent, Shay & Wit were exactly in the right places and the right times. The blockers knew what to do and we could completely rely on Wit. Sure enough, she made it through, scoring points. And we moved as a unit out of the range of an ‘Aint point. I really would go through hell and high water with these ladies because I know they would do what it takes to get to the other side.
P.S. I liked it when CHEAP told me I scared her mom. Made me feel at home. I’m pretty sure I scare my own mom.

SmasHer: My favorite three (since three is a prime number): I was so exhilarated to see “Ginger Rocks” our littlest (but most important) fan cheering us on. Her exuberance was heartening. She kept saying, “Only 14 more years until I am a rollergirl!” Cherry Pi’s last jam to tie the ‘Aints with the Hor-nots was what cheesy Hollywood movies were made of. And at the after-party when I pulled as many rollergirls together as possible to take a picture with our biggest fan, who drove almost six hours to see us! I thought he was going to die from euphoria! These three things represent inspiration, fortitude and gratitude – all of the qualities each and every Big Easy Rollergirl possesses.
P.S. Oh, I also loved that my team wore my number on their uniform so even though I was injured I could be on the track with them. Thanks, ladies!

DYNAMITE DAWLIN': My favorite part of the bout was watching all the rollergirls that had worked so hard for two years experience such a success.

KELKAT: Simply put, our first bout was the single most exciting thing I’ve been a part of. I could feel the energy from the fans as well as the other players. So many things had to come together to make the event come together and everyone stepped up to the challenge. I am honored to be a part of BERG.

TRIXIE LA FEMME: Arriving for set up in the A.M. and the announcement comes that we’ve sold out! Entering the track to skate warm-up laps as one league before all our fans… Heavy metal playing, Bessie Smithereens smacking me with her riding crop, ah… it was a perfect moment.

DIAMOND GRRRL: My favorite moment from the bout is still the warm-up to “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” purely because the roar of audience’s response. The roar of the crowd made my hair stand up. I was exhausted from being at MGW since 10AM setting up and then running around the East and West Banks on frantic last-minute beer runs. Not to mention SmasHer flying out of my car in the drive-thru to rip a car full of people a new one for littering. In the pouring rain and wearing a leg splint, I might add, and after nearly having her ear sliced off in a “freak” accident… The energy of our audience really made it all seem worthwhile. That and two days later at work when they were asking for season tickets.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

'Aints vs Hor-nots Recap



Wit, Babycakes, Jaws, Ponchartrain, Scabigal, Bessie, Marquee
Shay, Sugar, Cooney, Innocent, Crusty, von Doom
Missing: Galaxy, Mace


Cherry, Blonde, CHEAP, Buck, Ruffit, SmasHer, Sophie
maSCARa, Vandal, Kelkat, Trix
Missing: Snatch

Big Easy Rollergirl fever intensified as news quickly spread in the early morning hours of September 16 that their debut bout was sold out. Despite fair warning to buy their tickets in advance, many BERG fans were left wanting. Two hours before the show, lines had already formed at Mardi Gras World, with fans coming from all over to get their chance to see The ‘Aints and The Hor-nots go skate to skate. Those who made it into the venue were not disappointed.

Surrounded by festive Mardi Gras floats, Manwitch, a local, all-female rock band, entertained the masses while the crowds purchased drinks, merchandise, and got glimpses of their favorite rollergirl warming up on the track.

The Big Easy Rollergirls’ mascot, Ruthie the Duck Girl, ran through the crowds tossing Hubig’s pies to lucky audience members.

By 7:30, the excitement was undeniable and the audience was anxious too see New Orleans first all-female, flat-track roller derby battle it out on the rink.

Ginger Snap, a member of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby in New York, and captain of her team, Bronx Gridlock, flew in special to announce the game. Dressed in a red tank top, black mini skirt and cowboy hat, Ginger Snap expertly skated through the crowd giving play by play commentary, rules explanation and her own personal gloss on the various players.

Joining Ginger was Hambone, a referee from the Gotham Girls Roller Derby who made sure to help keep all those rowdy New Orleans rollergirls in line.

The Hor-nots, dressed in turquoise tank tops and black skirts, took the rink first. Many members in the crowd already had their favorites, with Shay-Bay holding one of the largest fan bases.


The ‘Aints, dressed in white mesh jerseys, gold & black skirts, all wore the number 727 of their injured teammate, SmasHer. Loyal fans of Bruise Springsteen, Cherry Pi & Power Snatch Jr enthusiastically held up signs and proudly displayed their personalized shirts.


During the bouts, Mc Trachiotomy kept the crowds pumped up with his music stylings.

The first half of the bout was clearly dominated by The Hor-nots. Captains Marquee de Squad and Ponchartrain BeAtch kept their blockers tight, foiling many of The “Aints jammers.


Wit Vicious of The Hor-nots scored an impressive 27 points with Victoria von Doom scoring 15.


Despite their best efforts, The ‘Aints struggled to get their jammers through the Hor-nots’ fierce blockers, led by Jaws, Shay-Bay and Bessie Smithereens. Trixie la Femme was the lead scorer of The ‘Aints with 17 points, while Cherry Pi and Illegally Blonde both scored 14.


By the end of the first, the Hor-nots expert defensive strategy gave them a nineteen point lead, bringing the score 75 to 56.

During half-time, while fans purchased pizza from Slice, drinks from Magnolia Marketing and merchandise from the Big Easy Rollergirls, Manwitch shook the house again with their “great taste of rock-n-roll.”

Even though the ‘Aints were trailing behind what seemed an insurmountable point spread, Captains, Power Snatch and Bruise Springsteen rallied their team together. The ‘Aints were re-energized and quickly racked up points.

With two minutes to go in the last jam, Cherry Pi of the ‘Aints barreled through the Hor-nots, scoring six points and tying the score 123 to 123.

The crowd went wild as the referees briefly conferred over what to do over this unusual situation. A “winner take all” jam was established. Trixie la Femme of The ‘Aints and Wit Vicious of the Hor-Nots took the line. Despite a valiant attempt made by Trixie, Wit ultimately took the lead, scoring 5 points to secure The Hor-nots victory over The ‘Aints with a final score of 128 to 123.

Wit Vicious of The Hor-nots was lead scorer with 38 points.

Cherry Pi of The ‘Aints followed with 34.

Although The Hor-nots led the penalties with a total of 79, the dubious honor of most penalties went to Cherry Pi (14) and CHEAP THR!LL (13) of the ‘Aints. Lil’ Innocent of The Hor-nots wasn’t *that* innocent with 11. Watch those hands and elbows, ladies.

After The Big Easy Rollergirls breathtaking premier bout, the fans mingled with rollergirls, using this opportunity to get pictures and autographs until everyone conveyed at the after party at the Whirling Dervish in the French Quarter.



A special thanks to the Mississippi Rollergirls who came out to see us!

After a night of buoyant abandonment, The Big Easy Rollergirls are back on track and preparing for their October 21 bout; Rinkwraiths vs The Carries.

This time folks, buy your tickets in advance!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Frivolity in the City That Care Forgot

During one of our carwash fund-raisers for the Big Easy Rollergirls, a man came up to me as I scrubbed the hubcaps of an old Ford Fairlane. “Roller derby in New Orleans? Isn’t that a bit frivolous right now?” He didn’t give me time to respond, disappearing into the throng of customers. I was relieved, because at the time I didn’t know what to say.

The Big Easy Rollergirls joined the roller derby resurgence in the spring of 2005. With our eye on a Mardi Gras 2006 debut, we skated at a local rink and ran drills in Audubon Park. August 29, 2005, altered everyone’s plans. After Hurricane Katrina, with our rink damaged and more than 80 percent of our league displaced, our e-mails that once possessed a dauntless determination had an almost timid tone to them. How could we could persuade women who were busy gutting their homes, looking for jobs, trying to find schools for their children and waiting in long lines for supplies to spend at least three days a week training for a competitive, full-contact sport on roller skates?

Most of our members relocated, and those who stayed claimed that they just didn’t have time for roller derby. I didn’t blame them. I was living without heat and hot water, and dealing with FEMA and my insurance company was like a part-time job that only paid in aggravation. My commitment was indifferent at best.

Exercise has always been a way to calm my mind. Pre-Katrina, my typical morning routine in City Park consisted of dodging power walkers, bicyclists and dog lovers. I longed for solitude. Weeks after the storm, my wish had been granted. I jogged around the once majestic live oak trees that now lay fallen, debris, dangling power wires, and abandoned cars. The silence was cacophonous. It was mid-November until I even saw another person in the park, and it came just at that momentous time when I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see anyone again. Standing in the middle of the public running track was a woman in her mid-60s. She had bright red hair, was wearing shorts shorter than I would ever dare, and was diligently practicing her shot-put. We waved greetings to each other, and after my initial sigh of relief at seeing another human being, my first thought was, “That woman would have been kick-ass in roller derby.”

The Big Easy Rollergirls went back to basics on recruitment: handing out fliers, begging local radio stations for airtime and asking neighborhood jaunts if we could set up card tables outside their businesses to hand out information. The response wasn’t what we expected. Many of the women who had reservations about roller derby before the storm now looked at it as their second chance to take a chance.

The Big Easy Rollergirls include lawyers, architects and bankers. These women viewed their stiff muscles and newfound bruises as diplomas from the school of roller derby. This transformation was even more dynamic to watch when Trish the Dish and Ivanna S. Pankin from the Sin City Rollergirls flew out from Las Vegas this year to assist in our training. (Being in a wheelchair from a recent foot surgery did not detour Trish from her power and dedication to the sport -- and to us.) Their continual message to all of us was that wherever we went, we would always have a home with a roller derby member. Their resolve gave us inspiration. Still, I wondered where roller derby stood in the new New Orleans.

Heroes have emerged from our wounded city. Becky Zaheri, who founded the Katrina Krewe, coordinated thousands of local and national volunteers to pick up the trash that covered our city like a shroud. Wendy Laker restored the Mid City Art Market, allowing artists a venue to sell their works. Laura Maloney, executive director of the Louisiana SPCA, organized the rescue of countless stranded animals. These women were making a real difference in the city’s rehabilitation. I felt selfish wanting to skate.

This conflict was always in my consciousness until I recently spoke at the New Orleans Concierge Association Meeting. Dressed in my Big Easy Rollergirls tank top and a plaid skirt, I sat in a room of immaculately dressed men and women. When it was my turn, I looked out at the array of professionals and decided to start my speech with a disclaimer. “Please forgive me if I slur my words or drop my paper,” I nervously stated. “I’m not drunk.” I pointed to the large bruise accentuating the tattoos on my right shoulder. “I’m recovering from a minor concussion and damaged tendon from last week’s scrimmage.”
Instead of scowling or checking their watches, the members of the audience clapped their hands and laughed. Leaning forward in their chairs, they asked questions, yelled encouragement and shouted out suggestions. Afterward, an elegantly dressed woman came up to me, not only to shake my hand, but to inquire where she could buy season tickets for herself and her three sons. I had forgotten the value and power of entertainment.

The city of New Orleans’ main source of income is tourism. Currently, the city is on shaky ground. Nicknamed the Big Easy by musicians because of the relative ease in finding work, New Orleans has lost many of its celebrated musicians, artists, chefs and other performers to other cities. That, coupled with residents existing on the bare minimum of city services amid landlord versus tenant issues, potholes, broken traffic lights and miles of debris, has left us tired but not lethargic.

But that is what entertainment does: It alleviates our afflictions and gives us a diversion in which to revel. Roller derby, in its equal mix of sport and spectacle, is the quintessential form of alternative recreation – just like New Orleans. Entertainment is not only part of our city’s heritage, it’s our lifeline. It’s an admission to ourselves that it is okay to rejoice and take pleasure in the luxury of distraction.

In our city’s current state, the ability to enjoy oneself is even more crucial. As George Cornewall Lewis so eloquently stated, “Life would not be tolerable were it not for its amusements.”

If the same man from the car wash approached me again, I still doubt I would have words. I, along with the other women who make up the Big Easy Rollergirls, would be too busy. There’s a lot to plan for our upcoming bouts at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, where every day is a parade. Bands will play, restaurants will cater, bars will serve, taxis will shuttle people to and fro, but above all, people will be entertained.

Because of this knowledge, when I lace up my skates, strap on my protective gear, pull on my fishnets and apply my fire engine-red lipstick, I’ll feel confident that my fellow roller derby sisters and I are taking part in the restoration of this wonderfully unique city. But I must admit, knocking someone down after slamming into them going full-speed on skates feels pretty good, too.