Season’s Beatings: LA Ri-ettes v. Santa’s Li’l Helpers @ the Doll Factory, 12/13/08
6.49pm. Hollywood, Losanjealous, CA. Happy holidays, beeatches! Yeah, that’s right, DF is back and in the hiz, proverbially and otherwise. Rumors of DF’s demise, it turns out, were greatly exaggerated. (By contrast, rumors of DF’s losing several toes and the better part of an ass-cheek in a post-cockfight actual fight out in Riverside were dispiritingly accurate.) And what better way to punctuate my return to form than with a big fat dose of pure, unadulterated roller derby? To my driver (who is also myself), I command: “to Temple St., ‘twixt Alvarado and Union Blvds., my good man, and step on it!”
7.11pm. Historic Filipinotown, LA, CA. “But wait, DF,” you’re undoubtedly thinking, “why are you at le Factoire des Dolls when the Championship Bout (from which you were conspicuously absent) happened a month ago?” OK, well first, stop giving me shit about missing champs. DF’s absence was a non-negotiable tragedy that will haunt him to and perhaps beyond his final days. But second, and far more saliently, tonite’s slobber-inducingly tantalizing main feature is a post-season bout between LADD’s elite squad, the Ri-ettes, and an elite cadre of all-star skaters from leagues across the nation, known for one night only as Santa’s Li’l Helpers.
7.24pm. Some backstory: if Santa’s Li’l Helpers (who, it must be said, could have been more derby-esquely named “Satan’s Li’l Helpers”, though that may have forfeited the whole holiday theme) look familiar, that’s because their membership overlaps to some extent with the previous edition of Team Awesome that faced the Ri-ettes twice in the banked-track tournament that went down this past June. Each of those epic tussles was won by the Ri-ettes, but barely and (especially in the championship bout) not without a major reffing controversy (and attendant crowd dissension, projectile hurling, etc.). And to offset the Helper’s Yuletide motif, the Ri-ettes have adopted a Hanukkah-orientated theme in order to further inflame this not-unintense rivalry. Yes, what better way to celebrate the magic of the holiday season than by dressing up derby in the guise of bitter, centuries-old religious conflict? Oh, this is going to be good. Let’s watch, shall we?
7.35pm. But first: Celeb alert! No, it’s not Drew Barrymore again. Rather, the stars de la nuit are ex-KISS rocker Gene Simmons (sans, sadly, elaborate glam makeup) and his comely spouse and daughter, Shannon Tweed and Sophie Tweed-Simmons. Ms. Tweed’s shirt reads “1981”, which DF originally mistakes for her birth year, but apparently refers to her annus mirabilis, when she attained the immortal dyad of Miss November in Playboy magazine as well as a brief cameo on Falcon Crest. Anyway, the Simmons/Tweed/Tweed-Simmons trio produces a stirring, if unorthodox, rendition of the national anthem, and the whole crowd joins in. To all those who would say that patriotism is the exclusive province of Norman Rockwellian red-state settings, DF responds: suck a cock.
7.52pm. Enough foreplay. Game on. DF has predicted that SLHs’ relative lack of experience with banked-trackery will cause them to get out of the gate slowly, while the Ri-ettes will build a substantial first quarter lead. DF has also used this insight to place a substantial wager on the first-quarter score, and earn some money for that toe-replacement surgery I’ve been hankering after.
8.09pm. Oh. Well, wrong again, liberal media. The Helpers exhibit exactly no difficulty transitioning to the banked track, exploding out of the gate with great vengeance and furious anger. By contrast, the Ri-ettes start out looking flummoxed and perhaps a bit rusty. The well-balanced SLH attack is headlined by the chaos-on-wheels of Goodie Two Skates (Rose City Rollers) and the blinding speed of Miss Fortune (Rat City Rollergirls). When the dust settles, the first quarter’s almost over and SLH leads 19-9. Ah well, who needs toes anyway?
8.16pm. Oh, wait, I recognize these Ri-ettes. Who else but Mila Minute helps turn the tide in favor of LADD’s finest? The famed portrait artist and crowd fave shakes of the cobwebs and—with opposing jammer Cheapskate (Gotham Girls Roller Derby) helpfully flattened by Krissy Krash—throws down a vintage five-point jam to cut the lead and restore a bit of momentum. By the first quarter’s end, SLH is clinging to a two point lead.
8.31pm. DF’s return from the fetid porta-john is well-timed, as the second-quarter action comes fast and furious. Kung Pow! Tina turns on her skillz and speed to produce the game’s premier jam, a ten-point double grand slam—particularly rare when jams last only a single minute (NB: hybrid rules apply to this bitraxual affair, but they seem to be closer to prevailing banked-track norms). Not to be outdone, Cheapskate wipes out opposing jammer Gori Spelling on the way to a six-pointer, and then Laguna Beyatch takes advantage of a major penalty on Cheapskate to go solo for five points. Screw sugar plums; visions of awesome jams dance in DF’s head.
8.40pm. Defenses tighten following the early-quarter insanity, with Broadzilla and Demanda Riot (Bay Area Derby Girls) bringing discipline to their respective blocker packs. The point accumulation slows, as do DF’s heart palpitations. The halftime margin is 40-36, Hanukkah Harry over Santa Claus.
8.51pm. Halftime affords a valuable opportunity to stock up on the only holiday gift DF will ever buy anyone ever again for as long as he may live: LA Derby Dolls merch! Sorry Dad, but it’s going to be yet another LADD baby-tee for you this Xmas. Oh, and I do have a beef with the quality control department. I love all my LADD hotpants, but they keep stretching out in the assal regions. Oh, when will the Derby Dolls vend a hotpant for the amply-buttocked gentleman?
9.13pm. DF pops another can of eggnog-flavored Sparks and settles down for a long winter’s second half. And if the third quarter has a theme, it’s raw, unbridled roller derby brutality of the highest order. First, P.I.T.A. smashes Miss Fortune; then Demanda Riot bashes Gori Spelling; then Krissy Krash … um … krashes (into) Isabelle Ringer (San Diego Derby Dolls). Yikes. But wait, there’s more! Smarty Pants (TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls) whacks Laguna Beyatch; then Krissy Krash smacks Ivanna S. Pankin (San Diego Derby Dolls); then Goodie Two Skates jacks Kung Pow! Tina. *pant* *gasp* Overload! Violence overload!
9.28pm. Oh, and somehow points were also scored during that fifteen-minute defensive juggernaut. Miss Fortune and Haught Wheels (and likely others–it’s hard to take notes when jams last but a minute and when you’re more than a bit inebriated) managed to crank out multi-point jams amidst the carnage. Bottom line: LA’s Ri-ettes manage to extend their lead by quarter’s end, ahead 58-45 going into the final stanza.
9.35pm. And just when you thought the Ri-ettes had things all sewn up, little by little SLH eats away at the lead. A couple three-point jams from Smarty and Miss Fortune (NB: why isn’t the number of a skater whose derby name connotes bad luck “13”?) sandwiched around another three-pointer from Mila, and all of a sudden the Ri-ette lead is a mere six. Moments later, gritty jams from Ivanna S. Pankin and Cheapskate move SLH into a lead (!). But then Krissy Krash is all like “no you di’n’t”, and scores three to even the match. The two-thousand-strong throng roars. Three minutes remain. DF’s gastrointestinal system is aboil with nerves, figgy pudding, and mistletoe (the latter of which, I learn later, one is not, repeat, not supposed to eat).
9.36pm. An aside: at 66-66, the on-track contest is finely poised. Also in equipoise is the contest for more hilarious holiday-related accoutrement: SLHs’ Santa-hat-style helmet panties or the Ri-ettes’ ersatz Hebraic nomenclature (e.g., Haught Wheels = Twisted Shiksa; Gori Spelling = Challahback Girl). The only loser here? Religions without vaguely ridiculous, overly commercialized holiday traditions. I mean, what laffs did Shinto ever bring us? Just sayin’.
9.40pm. Anyway: as time runs down, Miss Fortune and Kung Pow! Tina each rack two points and the game remains deadlocked. Then Mila squares off against Ivanna S. Pankin (who, in light of her heroics both blocking and jamming, DF has begun to think of as the Deion Sanders of roller derby), and Mila—despite stout blocks from both Smarty Pants and Goodie Two Skates, escapes and once again delivers with the game on the line, earning three points for a late-game 69-66 Ri-ette lead. Crowd noise, inspired by local loyalty and not, one hopes, religio-sectarian rancor, rocks the Doll Factory. And now for…
9.53pm. The final jam. The big cheese. El jamo mas emocionante. Dramaticus maximus. Krissy Krash lines up to face off against … wait for it … zebra confabulation … wait for it … refs still talking … oh … nobody. Krissy will be skating against no one. Turns out there was a major penalty on Ivanna S. Pankin and the last jam has a proverbial dead rubber (which is a real sports term, not something gross, so get yer minds out of the gutter, people), and the final ends up 75-68 in favor of the Ri-ettes.
10.01pm. But let’s not let that anticlimax ruin what was an otherwise scintillating bout. LA retains its banked-track supremacy, but the razor-thin margins of each of the year’s three contests suggests that the difference between LA’s all-stars and Team Awesome (or as the case may be, SLH) is razor-thin. Perhaps the banked v. flat track distinction is not as salient as many have thought? Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, it is very very hard to win a game when you cede to your opponents five power jams (as SLH did to LA, which may be attributable to rule unfamiliarity). Oh, and finally, a good derby bout can make one forget about recent, traumatic toe-loss.
10.12pm. Well, goodbye, 2008 roller derby. Auld lang syne and all that. Oh, what’s that, you ask, dear readers? What else is on DF’s Xmas list besides roller derby? Well, your generosity is charming, but sheeit, fools, how greedy do you think I am? DF has just seen some of the nation’s finest roller derby skaters proffer up a delicious feast of speed and savagery. After that, I could (and probably will) spend Christmas Day on the crapper with a raging case of lite-beer-and-funyuns-induced diarrhea, and would still consider myself to have partaken amply of the magic of the holiday season (although if you see a good deal on prosthetic toes, give me a shout). Time now for DF to sign off, y’all. Scary Xmas to all, and to all a good fight.
Photos and credits:
1. One skate, two skate; red skate, blue skate.
2. Behatted, bearded hipsters merrilie applaud warm-ups.
3. Gene Simmons (sans makeup or tongue) crooning along with wife Shannon and daughter Sophie
4. Better red than dead: SLH rejoice, point skyward in team-unity-related jubilation
5. Isabelle Ringer, Bonnie D. Stroir, and Demanda Riot form a seamlessly united blocker pack; Broadzilla follows just behind
6. Ri-ettes Mila Minute and Tawdry Tempest attend closely to coach Razorslut’s advice; Krissy and Kung Pow apparently feel no such need
7. Venus de Maul’r objects vociferously as a pileup develops
8. Post-game love unites Ri-ette and SLHer alike
Photos 4-5 & 7-8 by Rinkrat. All photos (C) 2008 by their respective authors; do not use without permission.
Mad propz to Hurt Reynolds and the crew at Derby News Network for a learned live-blog of the bout that helped me write about it as though I had an earthly clue what the shit was going on. All factual errors are, as usual, DF’s. Compliments and complaints, death threats and marriage proposals are all welcome at df at losanjealous dot com. You can also follow DF’s exploits and writings on MySpace. You know you totally want to.