All about the ass

When’s the last time you thought something that was over-hyped was actually really good? It happened to me recently. It wasn’t my reaction to the new Starbucks Summer 2006 banana blend frappuccino fiasco (who green-lights this shit?) or Mission Impossible III (yeah, Lisa, wasn’t that unexpectedly fun?) or Band of Horses or Seagrams and Diet Dr. Pepper (damn that shit grows on you). No. It wasn’t those things. Recently, Trixie and I were visiting America’s midwest–specifically Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Madison–and we took some pictures. Fear not, this post is not going to be a travel diary, although that would have its merits: instead, this will be a quick look at something unexpectedly (for me at least) entertaining and fun. This post is about Roller Derby.

A few months ago I got excited about cable TV’s Roller Girls, which seemed like a fantastic idea for a reality series. Lots of sexy ladies and the potential for violence. Unfortunately, within four or five minutes of its premiere, I changed the channel and never went back. It was just so boring. The ladies they focused on–or the way they did it or something I‘ve now forgotten–just killed the show. It was cancelled one month into the series. So, I concluded that roller derby was kind of a drag. End of day. Watch Fox News weather. Go to sleep.

But I was wrong. So wrong. While visiting Madison a couple weeks ago, I attended my first Roller Derby. And it was a gas. First off, in Madison, they start an evening of Roller Derby, just like any other major Midwest sporting event: with a tailgait party. I wish I had photos of that part of the night, but imagine ordinary folks like me and Trixie drinking beer and grilling hot dogs in a parking lot while hot girls in tights and skates show up in vans and roll their way into the arena.


I took a photo of the parking lot an hour later, but all the fun had been packed up. What you can see in the photo is the glorious roller rink.


This is not a roller rink designed specifically for the rituals of roller derby. It was a standard, ultra-ordinary, found-in-every-suburb-of-America issue roller rink. Nothing special at all. Awesome.

So, the Derby features four teams competing against each other. They were the Reservoir Dolls vs. the Unholy Rollers and the Vaudeville Vixens vs. the Quad Squad. The evening has an emcee, more of a ring-master really, who goes by Zsa Zsa LaGore, or “The Doll of Discipline.”


She rolls around with her microphone and whip, and although there are two official referees she deploys a special version of discipline to keep order.


And she monitors and taunts the naughty derby girls in the penalty boxes. Her presence turns what could be a kind of boring event (the derby action is constantly disrupted by penalties and the girls have to roll back into formation; imagine the pace of a slow football game) into a kind of S&M burlesque show on skates. Who wouldn’t find that fun?

best antivirus software for pc

I’m not going to explain the rules or point system of Roller Derby. You can read it here if you have to know. The scoring details become much less important than the carnival going on between Zsa Zsa, the girls, and the crowd. The crowd, I have to mention, is made up mostly of friends, family, groupies, biker-types, and other assorted misfits.


They bring children.


And grandparents.


In fact, half way through the night they even sang Happy Birthday to this roller girl’s 85-year-old grandpa. They also brought silly posters, pom-poms and tons of enthusiasm.


It’s a spectacle, very performative, and not at all rivalrous–except in the most stylized way.

There is also a lot of beer. PBR in 16oz cans.


It‘s the only beer sold inside, along with mini-pizzas, cotton candy, hot dogs, and popcorn, your normal roller-rink stuff.

Obviously, the best part is all the ladies on skates. They wear crazy tights and stockings and tattoos and they have tough suicide-girl sex-appeal. They aren’t necessarily babilicious:



But they all strut it anyway. And they look sexy. And in the words of our dear friend Jemery who bought our tickets and introduced us to this whole fantastic subculture, “It’s all about the ass!” So you stare a lot at them, asses. And who doesn’t find that fun?


They were in fact having an online contest to vote for your favorite Roller Girl’s ass. There’s a website,, where you can discover everything you want to about this growing sport and its nationwide organization. Until last week you could vote for your favorite ass there too. But the competition is over. Oh well, that's for the best. The asses really need to be experienced in person with all their real-time shaking and flexing. If you are in any proximity to a Roller Derby this summer, I urge you, no, I beg you, no, I command you to experience the glory. You'll thank me.


5 responses to “All about the ass”

  1. i [heart] TGW thursdays.

    wm looks like he’s having so much fun in that picture, though for now he seems to be a popcorn man rather than an ass man.


  2. Jeremy Zitter says:

    What a fun post, Farrell. If Roller Derby comes to the LBC, I will obey your command…

    By the way, I figured PBR should be, like, a buck-fifty over in Wisconsin. What’s up with the midwest charging LA prices?

    (And what’s wrong with “travel diaries”? Are you dissing my last post?)

  3. Stephanie Wells says:

    Am I reading that right–did YOU actually tell F&R that it’s all about the ass, Jeremy? Since when are you a roller derby assficionado? I had no idea.

  4. Jeremy Zitter says:

    I believe you are reading incorrectly, Steph.

    Jemery is Jemery–Jeremy is me.

    But, like Jemery, I do believe it’s all about the ass.

  5. Tommie Gunn says:

    So glad you had a good time. And damn straight, real roller derby is nothing like that aweful TV show. Derby should definately be experienced live and in person. I hope you come back and see us again sometime.