Are you a girl, non binary person, or queer? Do you like to skate or want to learn how to skate?
Then the Bowl Babies is for you! We’re a roller skate gang comprised entirely of young (15-25 year olds) queer, non binary, and girl skaters! Send us an email at bowlbabiesgang@gmail to find out how to join!
INTERVIEW WITH THE FILMMAKERS OF DERBY BABY: A STORY OF LOVE, ADDICTION, AND RINK RASH
By: St. Violentine (Priscilla Boksan)
Anyone who plays or avidly watches roller derby knows it has a certain “je ne sais quoi.” The unique blend of individual expression and athleticism, along with the sense of community it offers, can easily go from being fulfilling and empowering to downright addictive. The upcoming derby documentary, Derby Baby: A Story of Love, Addiction, and Rink Rash, is filmmakers Robin Bond and Dave Wruck’s effort to shed some light on the infectious nature and culture of roller derby, where the sport stands today, and where it’s going in the future. Juliette Lewis, known to both derby and film fans as “Iron Maven” from Drew Barrymore’s 2009 feature film on roller derby, Whip It, narrates the film.
ACDG: In making “Derby Baby,” did you get an idea of its common draw to derby girls?
ROBIN: Absolutely. For some reason that I couldn’t explain, I instantly related to the skaters’ love for this sport. I was attracted to derby the first time I saw it, but I couldn’t quite say why. When I started to realize how attached and how passionate and personally involved with it they were, it seemed different from any other topic or sport that I had looked at. So Dave and I wanted to hear everybody’s take on what is this thing. It’s kind of elusive. People don’t get this attached to their soccer teams. We’re still trying to get our arms around what it is that’s so addictive about it.
DAVE: We’re trying to figure it out, but at the same time we know what it is. There’s that magic term in sports, called the “It Factor.” The top athletes have the “It Factor.” You can’t explain what it is, but everyone knows what it is. It’s what makes Lance Armstrong or Sean White or any of those people great. The sport of roller derby itself has this “something factor” that everybody latches onto. We know what it is, but like everybody else, we can’t tangibly show it or explain it, but were just trying to convey the point that something’s there and everyone latches onto it and it becomes addictive.
ACDG: The “It Factor” seems analogous to the qualities of anyone captivating, like celebrities in the entertainment industry. These players are totally worshipped by girls.
ROBIN: It’s like a charisma factor in the sport.
DAVE: It’s one of the many things we talk about it the film. We’re comparing it to not only other sports, but even rock bands. It seems to be going down that line so at some point, you’re going to have to develop a rockstar. Suzy Hotrod seems to be the one walking away with that title, but there needs to be more than just Suzy. More rockstars means more fans. And promoting matchups between rockstars (and teams for that matter) creates story arcs which fans love to follow.
ACDG: Was it the goal of Derby Baby to illustrate this elusive “It Factor?” Or did you have something else in mind?
ROBIN: There were so many themes that presented themselves in this film that we had to narrow them down to make it into a manageable story. Of course, in this journey we do look at how does this sport compare to other sports if we’re going to talk about media coverage, going professional, or whether it can be an Olympic sport. Several people we interviewed compared it to skateboarding. Every sport that we looked at that had similar qualities seemed to be propelled by a rockstar.
So that was one of the many rabbit holes that we got into in this film: “Who’s the girl that’s gonna be the poster child for derby?” There are so many talented people, but again, it’s kind of a mix of the type of person who has the star power as well as who is also willing to embrace the rockstar quality.
DAVE: When I finished [attending and filming my first bout], I had a million questions. So Robin said, “Let’s dig in,” and we started buying every derby DVD we could find: “Hell On Wheels,” “Blood on the Flat Track,” and “Brutal Beauty,” which I think had just come out. And after every single documentary I watched, I went “This doesn’t answer any of my questions.” They were decent and interesting, but they were specific as to how a league came together, not necessarily about the overall picture of roller derby.
So my overall goal with the film was to answer my questions and those of any person who had any inclination to walk into a bout and actually watch a game just to see what it was. We wrote down the list of questions: “Why aren’t people getting paid?” “Why is it all volunteer?” “Who runs this thing?” “Why are these people doing this?” and “What’s with the names?” We just had a million questions and started answering them.
ROBIN: I also had questions because as I was so drawn to the sport. Of course I was thinking, “Yeah, I bet I could do this sport. This looks like it could be fun, I like to roller skate. What’s involved?” But it’s so much more. I started digging a little deeper and found out the skaters drive downtown to practice three times a week, they risk injury, and nobody’s getting paid! And then it became even more intriguing because the question now was: “How can anybody like me be able to do this without sacrifice?” And then that elevated the question to: “Who are these characters that are these skaters?”
Today will be the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, aka the Run for the Roses and “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” It is also the first jewel in the Triple Crown.
California Chrome is the morning line favorite this year, but the field is wide open after all the bad luck our favorites have had: Constitution and Hoppertunity are both out with injuries, and Wicked Strong and Ride on Curlin drew posts 20 and 19, respectively.
I had a long huddle and a staring contest with my new horse friend about what to do. We decided that Danza is our pick, but we will still cheer for Wicked Strong to overcome post 20!