Roller derby's Texas-sized comeback.
Roller derby's Texas-sized comeback.
Dispatches from the dark corners of sports.
May 13 2004 2:24 PM

Lone Star Skate

Roller derby makes a Texas-sized comeback.

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The last notable roller-derby launch, 1998's TNN show RollerJam, met a familiar fate. According to this history of roller derby, RollerJam "hired a number of nationally ranked speed skaters and instead of taking advantage of this wealth of talent, they highlighted actors and non-talented, overweight skaters to perpetuate a pre-fabricated storyline. RollerJam became a spectacle of bad taste." After two years, it folded.

The Austin roller derby has no shortage of self-conscious zaniness: An endless parade of costumed characters, from the greaser, to the geisha, to a purple-clad pimp, stalk the sidelines all match long. And if you give women named "Kitty Kitty Bang Bang" and "Vendetta Von Dutch" mouth guards and elbow pads, a catfight is sure to follow. Several times a match, play deteriorates into a theatrical battle royal. Just before the end of the first period, two Honeys pancake a Hustler. When all three tumble to the ground, a Hustler races in at full speed and lands a flying body check on one of the supine blockers. It's a major cheap shot. The benches clear. The fans in front of me leap to their feet, jeering. I'm left scrambling for a better view.

Felix Gillette is a reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review's CJR Daily.