SoCal Smackdown: LA and San Diego Derby Dolls @ The Doll Factory, 5/3/08
3.05pm. Hollywood, CA. Come on girl, that’s it! Faster! Break through the pack! Oh, hello. You’ve caught DF in the middle of his second-favorite derby, that of the Kentucky-and-horse-racing variety. Isn’t the commonality of vocabulary one invokes in rooting for both forms of derby strikingly similar? What an amusing coincidence. Anyway, DF isn’t worried about the race’s outcome because he convinced some ignorant sucker/bookie to take a bet that no horse will be shot on the track immediately after the race. After all, what are the odds that some sick freak would do that?
Thirty seconds later. God dammit. DF makes his way over to the bar for his thirteenth mint julep. Losing $1000 is a painful way to learn that horse assassination is apparently standard in thoroughbred racing. I don’t like that sport anymore. But I do, as Losanjealous readers know well, love me some roller derby. And fortunately, there’s a bout on tap tonite and DF is, per usual, on the guest list.
6.55pm. Hi-Fi, Losanjealous, CA. DF arrives at the Doll Factory in bourbon-soaked seersucker, reeking of muddled mint. I ascend to the media skybox, where plentiful free booze awaits in icy cold buckets (seriously, whoever facilitated this largesse, I love you). There’s particular buzz in the air tonight because this isn’t just a league game, it’s a battle royale for Southern California banked-track roller derby supremacy pitting the LA Ri-ettes, a select team of LADD’s top skaters against the less creatively named San Diego Derby Doll All-stars.
7.17pm. Critical backstory: this is the second meeting between the two teams. Last year, the Ri-ettes traveled south to Diego, where SDDD earned a crushing 62-37 victory. Does this result mean that LADD’s southern sisters are their vast derby superiors? Possibly but not necessarily. Not only was last year’s match played on SDDD’s home turf, but also on a flat track, making for a deceptively different contest.
7.39pm. Regardless, the 2007 drubbing stirred up passionate ill will between the two cities that has whipped the fans into a frenzy of regionalistic parochialism as the first jam approaches. Ever the intrepid journalist, DF chooses a derbygoer at random to provide an illustrative quotation. “Do I hate San Diego?” the fan replies, virtually frothing at the mouth with Angeleno pride, “No, I think it’s a really nice place. I actually have relatives there and enjoy visiting.” My god—truly, this bloodthirsty regional rivalry brings out the dark side in all of us.
7.58pm. Let the derby commence! Any suspicion that San Diego would reprise last year’s beatdown is put to rest early on, as Kung Pow Tina (skating bravely through injury) leads off with a clean and convincing four-point jam. A few jams later, Mila Minute (sporting newly black hair and a truly eye-popping unitard) laps the SDDD pack twice to rack up eight points. LA’s jammers are on their game, too, with Krissy Krash and Broadzilla contributing crowd-pleasingly violent blocks. By the end of the first quarter, LA leads 33-4. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a blowout.
8.21pm. Now some would say that blowouts are not fun sporting contests for fans. DF, by contrast, would say that it depends on what kind of sports fan one is. Some fans are classy aesthetes. They are connoisseurs who prefer to see evenly matched competition and appreciate the subtle nuances of athletic excellence. Others, like DF, think connoisseurship is a load of boring crap. You can have your 1-0 pitching duels and your nil-all soccer defensive tactic-fests. Give me high scores, lopsided victories, and preferably a bench-clearing brawl or two.
8.47pm. Late in the second quarter, I am treated to one of the most delicious by-products of the blowout: taunting! Gori Spelling and Mila Minute each punctuate rather easy four-point jams by preening to the fans at the expense of the Diego skaters, and the crowd laps it up lustily. Last year’s crushing defeat is now a distant memory.
8.50pm. Yikes. Halftime and the score is already a pornographically disparate 67-8. One theory that floats around the media skybox is that the fix is in: the mob of referees that swarms the infield includes among its number only a single representative from SDDD (for an apparent 47:1 LA:SD ratio). So, bias is one explanation for the lopsided score. Of course, an equally plausible explanation could be that the San Diego team’s pre-game chow was secretly laced with powerful slowifying narcotics, or that the Ri-ettes have greased their rollerskates with a magical fastification agent. DF, always a fan of Occam’s Razor, theorizes simply that the result points to the vast difference between the banked-track and flat-track versions of roller derby, and the attendant difficulty of adjusting from one form to another. Or maybe it’s just that our girls are untamable bad-asses. Hey, either way I’m looking forward to seeing just how the LADD all-starz will administer the rest of the blowout.
9.07pm. The third quarter commences, and the gargantuan score gap breeds some interesting strategic change-ups. For one thing, it provides the Ri-ettes a chance to feature jammers who would never get to play that position in a close game. Haught Wheels and P.I.T.A. show their point-scoring skills, and P.I.T.A. impresses in her debut with a four-point jam that pushes the score to 80-10. The point differential frees up the LA skaters and they put on quite a show: Krissy Krash pulls off an acrobatic leg whip with Mila Minute; Laguna Beyatch fakes out an opponent with a body swerve so convincing that the deceived blocker goes down without even being touched; and then, for the piece de resistance, top-scoring jammer Mila Minute breaks through the San Diego pack, laps it once for four points, and then turns and skates backward to lap the pack again. It is rude and yet so awesome all at the same time.
9.16pm. Let Us Now Praise the San Diego Derby Dolls: DF would like to make it clear that however much this contest turned out to be a brutal face-crush in favor of the Ri-ettes, there are many reasons that SDDD deserves commendation. (1) This is San Diego’s first banked track game ever; (2) for reasons that I have no time to elaborate here, the flat/banked track transition is enormously hard to make; and (3) despite facing a truly brobdingnagian deficit, those bitches keep skating their guts out, which is truly admirable. If DF had been in such a position, he totally would have been all like, “fuck this shit. I’m going home to play Mexican train dominoes with my homies.”
9.33pm. Injuries and ejections punctuate the final quarter of the game. Iron Maiven and Broadzilla of the Ri-ettes along with San Diego’s Bonnie D. Stroir (who had a very fine game, in DF’s opinion) are ejected for foul accumulation, and a number of other San Diego-ite (San Diego-an? San Diegan?) ladies succumb to injury. Thankfully, the injured players are not immediately mercy-killed via shotgun on the infield, as in thoroughbred racing. That practice is very rare in roller derby; I’ve seen at most one or two skaters euthanized during games in all the time I’ve covered this sport.
9.42pm. It’s often said that lopsided games are dull because there is no suspense about the outcome. As any true fan of blowouts knows, this is fraudulent. As the fourth quarter draws to a close, the Ri-ettes stand on the brink of a record-setting feat: scoring 100 points in a game (a nearly unheard of point total in any roller derby match that features one-minute jams). Gori Spelling racks up enough points to blow past this mark, and the scoreboard resets to zero. For a moment it appears that San Diego leads LA 13-2. But even after they’ve been assessed a 100-point penalty, the Ri-ettes come back and re-take the lead, capping an astonishingly dominant victory by 18-14 on the scoreboard and 118-14 in reality.
10.01pm. DF fixes to leave the Factory, contemplating the just-concluded carnage. Tis true that this contest had none of the nail-biting qualities of some of the thrilling contests that characterized many of the recent intra-LADD bouts. But if those games were haute cuisine, this one was a huge-ass cheeseburger with salty fries and a non-diet coke on the side. They are vastly disparate iterations within the same genre, and both deeply satisfying for entirely different reasons. Truly it has been an orgiastic Roman feast of roller derby thrills, spills, and skillz. DF has, as usual, made a shameful pig of himself, and as he wanders through the Doll Factory’s vomitorium and into the balmy May nite, he realizes that he is, for once, sated. Good night and thank you.
Photos and credits:
1. Derby Blur
2. Venus de Maul’r and Tawdry Tempest incite ri-etting
3. Krissy Krash face-plants Isabelle Ringer
4. SDDD skater goes over the rail
5. Leg whip!
6. Hurdling SDDD skater
7. LA Ri-ettes celebrate victory
Photos #1-4 & 6-7 (C) 2008 by Rinkrat; photo #5 by Stalkerazzi, (C) 2008 by Kittyfight Productions, Inc. Do not use without owner’s permission.