Unto Us a Rollerchild Is Born: Fight Crew v. Varsity Brawlers @ the Doll Factory, 10/8/2008
6.47pm. Alongside southbound 101 freeway, LosAnjealous, CA. “Citizen, you were going over ninety miles an hour”, the CHP officer unnecessarily explains to DF, who was well aware of how awesomely fast he was going, “what’s the big emergency? Wife having a baby?” To which DF responds, “Hey, that DNA test was negative… I mean, Lord, no… Wait, actually, yes, officer, that’s exactly what’s happening and I was speeding so awesomely fast in order to be there on time!”
6.59pm. Okay, so that was sort of a lie. Technically, I am not on my way to observe an actual fetus being squeezed out of an actual birth canal this eve, but I am rushing to be present for something kind of similar and certainly far less viscerally graphic: the LA Derby Dolls’ heretofore metaphorically fetal squadron, the Varsity Brawlers, are going to be squeezed out of the metaphorical birth canal that is the Doll Factory this fine Saturday as they face the Fight Crew. (And even if you consider strained metaphors a species of lies, let me assure you from personal experience that lying is a lot more effective at traffic-citation evasion than my old strategy of going into full-on rage-blackout mode and referring to the relevant CHP as “Officer Dickless.”)
7.23pm. Historical Filipinotown, CA. DF arrives just in time to witness the magical moment wherein the Brawlers enter the world. Squeeze! Push! The head is crowning! It’s a girl! And she is adorable. The Brawlers debut all decked out in purple gear with stripey knee-sox and other 70s-era gym-class accoutrements. Less novel but equally adorable are the Crew, who skate out in their standard red unis and black flight caps (a not unhot but vaguely commie look, I’ve always thought). The political world may be currently fascinated with supposedly fierce-yet-adorable ladies, but let it hereby be said that the Dolls have been authentically rocking this combination of qualities for years.
7.43pm. Various and sundry refs sonically indicate the inception of the bout, and we’re under way. In the VBs’ inaugural jam, Long Island Lolita of the Brawlers faces off against the Fight Crew’s Vulvarine, and LiLo gives the newborn team an early 5-0 lead. By god, this child is a prodigy! Is it possible that these enfants terribles could pull off a win in their first game? DF’s cranium spins with upset-oriented headlines. “Badass Baby Brawlers Bash Craven Crew, Causing Commotion.”
8.10pm. Oh, wait. That was a bit premature. The Fight Crew are without jamming stalwarts Crystal Deth and Fighty Almighty, but the resurgent triumvirate of Judy Gloom, Vulvarine, and Jihad stamp their authority on the game early, eradicating the early Brawlers lead and staking the Crew to a 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
8.23pm. The Fight Crew blocker lineup has recovered from the previous game when it was sadly depleted by injury and absence, and the difference is immediately apparent. Kubonator and Broadzilla are back in the mix, and contribute to a steadily smothering presence that keeps the Brawlers’ point total to a minimum. Most telling are two occasions on which the VBs get to skate solo due to FC penalties, and on neither occasion does the Crew let the Brawler jammer even get through the pack. The second quarter sees the Fight Crew—led by a pair of five-point jams from Judy Gloom—stake out a commanding 31-13 halftime lead.
8.46pm. As DF downs a halftime corn dog or twenty, he ruminates on a pre-game question. Who, he had wondered, would emerge as the crowd favorite? Would it be the fetching newborn Brawlers or their big sisters, the Fight Crew? Following empirical observation only slightly blurred by an as-yet-not-extreme state of drunkenness, the answer seems to be: whoever is winning the jam. Truth be told, derby fans do not appear to have strictly drawn loyalties so much as they seem to respond well whenever a jammer breaks through the pack or there’s a particularly nasty hit or spill. The people want red meat, in other words, regardless of who’s serving it up—and god bless the dolls for giving them a whole heaping helping of rump roast, bloody-rare as all hell.
8.50pm. And while DF’s in the kind of deep philosophical mood brought on by an excess of freshly-breaded, nitrate-laden halftime sausages, allow me to add that tonight’s birth may be simply metaphorical, but still has the virtue of being far less gory than the real deal. Or so I recall, my only data point being a single real-time, close-up, full-color film of a live birth shown to my senior class in Catholic high school to deter us from having sex (good thing, too, because acne-ridden, nerdy seventeen-year-old boys are constantly beset with opportunities to fornicate). Mad props to anyone who toughs that process out, but DF prefers his gore stylized and sexified, thanks very much.
8.59pm. Speaking of sexy and stylish gore, the game’s afoot again, and the Fight Crew shows no signs of losing the momentum they built up toward the end of the first half. In fact, the Crew steps up the pressure and widens their lead. The Brawlers fight gamely, as their name suggests, and there is no shortage of hard hitting—VB skater Ivanna Knockemova in particular throws herself into the fray with appealing bloodlust—but the FC juggernaut cannot be stopped, and by the end of the third quarter we have all the makings of an all-American blowout, 56-15.
9.13pm. Who among us does not love mascot fights? For you see, in the late stages of a blowout, the edge can come off the game a tad, and while derby is a fine and compelling spectacle whatever the score (and while DF loves a good blowout, as has been amply documented elsewhere), why not add some spice to the mix with the invariably comic fiasco of two grown men in fanciful anthropomorphic costumes tussling with one another? The Fight Crew’s lobster faces off with the Varsity Brawler’s tiger (who seems to have a bit of a Phantom of the Opera thing going on as well, which honestly kinda creeps DF out), and while there is no clear winner, the audience’s appetite for camp violence has been well and truly satiated.
9.30pm. Midway through the fourth quarter, Brawler co-capitanitas Long Island Lolita and Juana Beat’n are ejected in close succession, and again and of course DF has no clue why. But the crowd boos and cheers in equal measure, and it all works out quite well as the VBs’ two standout skaters get a moment in the spotlight, however pseudo-ignominious. Perhaps of even more note, though, not a single FC skater is ejected. (This is a good result in theory, but then again, the late-game Armov heave-ho was becoming as much a derby tradition as baseball’s seventh-inning stretch, and I must admit I kind of missed it.)
9.43pm. As the bout winds down, Vulvarine ices the Crew’s victory cake with a record-tying ten-point jam, and even Tara Armov gets a turn as jammer. But the final word goes to Judy Gloom, who punctuates her return to form after a long road back from injury with yet another five-point jam, earning honors as the game’s top-scoring jammer, and putting the exclamation point on the Fight Crew’s 78-23 victory over the Varsity Brawlers. On paper it’s a crushing margin of defeat, but it’s as mutually feel-good derby result as DF has ever seen; the big win was a much-needed tonic for the Crew after a disappointing 2008 regular season, and the Brawlers certainly have everything to be proud of after a fully meritorious and really quite promising debut.
9.48pm. Let Us Now Praise the Varsity Brawlers: Okay, the Fight Crew gave these rollerbabies a good and proper ass-spanking, but the Brawlers skated with moxie, vigor, and even vim. Hell, this wasn’t even the worst blowout of the year; they held the score down more than San Diego’s Derby Dolls did in their legendary bloodbath shellacking at the hands of LADD’s all-stars earlier this year. For the record, this derby writer predicts that the VBs will start raising a fuss for their older siblings before they see their first birthday.
10.01pm. As DF departs Hi-Fi, he ruminates on the momentousness of this new addition to the LADD world. And what better way to mark this glorious birth than with a passage from the Holy Scriptures? And so, let us conclude with a reading from the Book of DF (24:17): Behold, for many years the league had labored with but three teams, which is kind of an awkward number when you really think about it. And lo, the skaters did multiply, and the committees did meet and the prophet Demolicious said unto the world, “Let us begat a new team.” Yea, and unto them a child was born bearing purple fishnets and skate wheels of the finest polyurethane. And although that newborn child did get well and truly smoten by the women from on high, the bout still brought great tidings for all (especially the Fight Crew, who were totally overdue for a win). And the great god of roller derby looked down upon all this that which had been created, and He saw that it was good, and He said, “Fuckin’ A.”
Photos 1-6 by Rinkrat; photo 7 by Charlie Chu; all photos (C) 2008 by their respective authors; do not use without permission
1. Cabooses about to cut loose: Ivanna Knockemova and Judy Gloom await the onset of the jam
2. The makings of a delicious derby sandwich: Stiv Skator, Pushy Whipped, and Trixie Biscuit pile up as Tae Kwon Ho skates past
3. Trixie Biscuit: “Wd U like my elbo in yr face?” Ivanna Knockemova: “Yes, pls!”
4. Let it not be said that the Fearleaders do not have ample bosoms, for that would be a falsehood
5. Vagillante’s all like “No Gloomy didn’t”, and Myna’s all like “Oh yes she did”
6. Brawlers sprawl and vamp campily
7. Victorious Crew celebrate long-overdue vict’ry
A note to my dear readers: Remember, DF is not infallible (though your assumption to the contrary is understandable). As such, please send any comments, concerns, complaints, cunctations, criticisms, or clarifications regarding the foregoing to DF at losanjealous dot com, so I can duly incorporate (or, as the case may be, ignore) them.