Texas Rollerderby Calvello Cup Championship

Last night was the Texas Rollerderby Lonestar Rollergirls (yes, that's a mouthful) end-of-season Calvello Cup Championship bout. I'd always been curious about Rollerderby, as there are lots of stereotypes about it floating around, as well as allusions to it that sparked my interest - starting with Sam's mom on Clarissa Explains it All to my favorite cake receptionist, Mary Alice, joining a team in Baltimore on Ace of Cakes.

In Austin, I first saw tickets for sale from girls in short skirts on skates down on South Congress during a First Thursday event. That night I only picked up a flier about TXRD, but later learned that I work with the manager of the TXRD team the Hellcats, Jonny Stranger. Prior to that discovery, he was known only as the film instructor that comes in to my after-school program to teach kids about movie making in conjunction with the Austin Film Society.

He's now become my ten-dollar-ticket man, since he sold me tickets to the first bout I went to, the Hellcats vs. the Rhinestone Cowgirls, with the Hellcats kicking the "rhiny's hineys," (read amongst the clever fan signs at the bout, amongst which was also "Who doesn't like Pussy?").

I like Jonny, in addition, because he once told students, during a stop-motion-animation class, that the human eye always assesses a scene and asks two questions: "Is it safe?" and "Is it beautiful?" A quote that now runs through my head often.

Since Jonny is my connection to the roller derby, Lennon and I attended the bout sporting all the pink we could find. And FYI, that hat is 100% his, and not borrowed from my belongings.

The Hellcats dress in pink jumpsuits that look like sexed-up car mechanic jumpers. Bloomers, fishnets, and helmet adornments are all the skater's preference. When they rolled onto the banked track, they brought in black roses and laid them on top of the opponent's helmets.

The Hellcats were up against the undefeated Cherry Bombs, a neon-green-sporting team that entered the stadium wheelding chain saws, guns, hockey sticks, and baseball bats. I was intimidated from twenty rows up.

The physical danger associated with Roller Derby is very real. At the last bout I attended, I was unsure how much of the fighting was legit, since many of the girls seemed to be laughing and very friendly off the track. Jonny told me that usually tempers will flare between two individual skaters, and others who jump in do it good humoredly and in an attempt to break up real scuffles. There were DEFINITELY real scuffles this time around. At least two instances with one skater throwing down another and beating her, and then a critical member of the Cherry Bombs - "Cherry Chainsaw" - twisted her ankle on a fall (I, and everyone else in the stadium, saw her foot go around), and broke it (like, compound fracture broke it). She started screaming and the entire stadium stopped what they were doing as ambulances had to be rushed in, morphine drip started on sight, and the track dismantled so she could be carried out on a gurney. Ouch.

After watching our first bout a few weeks ago, Lennon and I rented Hell On Wheels, the documentary about the origins of Texas Rollerderby, and there were several shots of broken bones, one showing a girl's foot hanging off of her leg, and later described as "held on by her skin and her tights." A collection went around the stadium for Cherry Chainsaw as she was being tended to, and $4,000 was raised on the spot.

Lennon's sister Laura came to visit us yesterday, so we took her to the bout as well. Some brother-sister fighting commenced in the stands.
Now that the movie Whip It is out, I suspect the popularity of Rollerderby will explode. One of the characters in the movie, Razor, is based on Jonny Stranger, long hair and all. So Jonny issued a formal challenge to the actor, Andrew Wilson (also a Texan), to a TXRD style two-lap no-rules dual around the banked track. I didn't think Andrew had accepted the challenge until the end of half-time, when Jonny rolled out on quad skates with a jammer helmet on and sporting leather shorts. Andrew cheated a little... he had on rollerblades.
Evidence that I need a much better camera aside, here's Jonny and Andrew lined up waiting for the whistle signal to start the dual.

On the far side of the track, you can see Jonny and Andrew wrestling here to prevent the other from getting ahead. This happened several times during their two laps around... and Jonny still won :) Go Austin!

In the documentary I learned the origins of "spank alley," which has evolved to be a row of front-row seats for lottery winning ticket holders, and then later is the line-up of everyone with a birthday in the house so they can receive spanks from all the roller girls. I think some people without birthdays snuck up there to get a spanking.

My co-worker Elizabeth also bought tickets from Jonny, and saved us seats in the stands, also known as the "thunderdome" in derby-speak.

The final score - Hellcats 44, Cherry Bombs 37. One of the announcers is Wesley Page, and the other announcer joked that he is Ellen Page's brother (the star of Whip It). I'm curious to know if that is true or was just a quip.

Although I feel bad for the Cherry Bomb's loss after the injury of one of their star players, I'm still glad the team who's colors I was sporting won. I can't wait for January and the next season to roll around! (haha - I'm taking cue from the incessant puns of the announcers).
Until then, I just have to satiate myself by getting over to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch the movie.