Raven Von Kaos

Jun 042010

A friend forwarded me a link in a Facebook message yesterday and what laid on the other end of that link did nothing short but make my jaw drop.

Cincinnati Rollergirl Sadistic Sadie pled guilty Wednesday to fraud. I’d like to state right now that this is not an article discussing any gossip or negative views of Sadie and what she allegedly did.

Sadie is a big name in the derby community, so much so that she was the WFTDA featured player last month. She is known for her amazing jamming skills, sassy attitude and stylish short hair.

Sadie was on the cover of the very first USARS magazine that I ever got – I was enamored with her. She was this amazing skater who was already making big waves with her little skates back when most of us were still learning how to do a plow stop.  Sadie and I are both #76 – it’s a coincidence, but one I always remember on game day. Any article, blog post or DNN report that had her name in it I read it (usually twice).

I saw her at Rollercon back in 2008 both on the track with Team Awesome and in line for the bar at the Black & Blue ball – I almost lost my shit when I was talking to her, but managed to keep my glee tuned down to polite chit-chat.

She was and is defiantly one of my derby crushes (nod to Swede) so you could imagine my stomach-dropping shock when I read that Sadie had been committing fraud while working for United Airlines, racking up an estimated $500,000 in plane tickets that she sold or gave to family, friends and derby girls.

So many questions are running through my head right now – How did she get caught up in this? She is obviously a smart girl and saw an opportunity and acted on it. She probably thought she would never get caught. Money makes people do crazy things – things that they would never do otherwise and would probably never consider.

Why do ordinary people do “bad” things? I can’t help but wonder if there are other United employees who have been running this scam as well.

I would really like to hear Sadie’s side. I’m not saying she was right or wrong to do what she did, I would just like to know why? I feel like I sorta have that celebrity complex, where you feel like you know someone, when in reality you don’t know them at all. I do know that she’s a phenomenon on the track – I guess I’m just stunned that any derby girl could commit a felony, especially a WFTDA recognized one.

Sadie is set to be sentenced in September and could (although I doubt) spend up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. I think the part that makes me sad is the very real potential that Sadie will never skate derby again – I hope I’m wrong.

My thoughts go out to her right now – I’m sure dealing with this publicly, privately and emotionally is a heavy burden.

May 312010

In my real life I work in the consumer electronics business – I represent different tech companies in North America and help their products, sites or apps get into the hands of editors and bloggers to get written up (hopefully in a favorable light).

I spend a lot of time on my iPhone and keep track of all the top apps and am constantly checking out new apps and basically putting them through their paces to see what’s cool about them, what sucks and what is just plan hype.

I was ecstatic to see that app store currently has a few roller derby apps – some free, some paid and some just plan horrible.

DISCLAIMER: I generally like everything derby related and actually have a hard time writing anything negative, but there are standards and being the tech/app expert I am, I have to keep it real for my readers.

Intro to Flat-track Roller Derby

Made by Germaine Kol, Flat-track Roller Derby is a well made derby 101 type app. Do you ever found yourself drawing out a track on a cocktail napkin with little X’s and O’s , trying to explain to Joe Shmo how derby works? No longer needed my friends.

This app has a great basic demo of how derby works including an interactive ref signals section (always good to review as a player) and FAQ section with great questions like:

Why do the blockers let the jammer go?

Why isn’t she lead jammer?

What does the pivot do?

And many more.

This is a great free app that any derby girl with an iPhone should download.

Raven’s rating: Grand Slam – get it and love it!

Roller Derby

Made by Elyzium Entertainment, Roller Derby is a game-style app that puts you in the jammer’s seat with nine laps to beat the other jammer. Sounds fun right? Well think again. The app itself sucks – sorry to say. I was very disappointed with the crappy graphics and the jammer avatar is super hard to control. Plus it feels impossible to win. I’ve played numerous times and continually get my butt kicked. I play a lot of video games and love having games on my iPhone, so it’s not like I’m the suck-factor in this case.

Having worked with companies that go through Apple’s mysterious app approval cycle, I’m super surprised this app got approved to be in the app store. If I had paid for this app, I would be writing someone stern letters to get my bucks back! Being that it is free to download, I’ll just live with my disappointment.

Raven’s rating: FAIL – don’t waste your time.


Made by Fearless code this app does exactly what it says it does. It’s a penalty timer. You can run one side of the bench or even run six seats at once, with easy to control timers and color coding.

This is a simple but great app for scrimmage nights (just be sure and put your phone on airplane mode so you do not get interrupted by calls or text messages).

Even though I am not a fan of paying for apps, for $2.99 this one is worth the price!

A must have for all you refs and NSOs out there!

Raven’s Rating: Yippee-Skippee – worth the bucks and good to have on hand.

One app I have downloaded to watch derby with is the Justin.tv app – This app is not specific for derby, but being that Justin.tv streams games it is perfect for when I am away from my computer and want to watch a killer bout I might be missing.

I would love to see more derby apps in the iTunes store, but I think developers have to keep the standards high and think about the niche they are filling. Us derby girls love to see derby-specific anything, but do us proud :)

As always, if you have questions, comments or tips for me, drop me a line: derby.hurts@gmail.com

Images courtesy of the iTunes Store.

May 212010

When I was approached some months ago by the founders of Live Derby Girls, they told me they wanted me to write their Derby Cult section and it was pretty much up to me what I could write. I’ve done a few reviews, some fashion pieces and tried to encapsulate and chip away at all that is derby culture.

Derby, as most of us gals know, has very rich culture and very deep history.  I was on my way to work this morning when I turned on NPR to get my dash of the morning news when I caught the tail end of a very moving roller derby feature.

Renowned sports writer Frank Deford narrated a very cool, three minute derbyrific piece mainly focusing on Joanie Weston. Probably important to note here is that Joanie Weston is my FAVORITE classic derby player.

Joanie was the Bay Bomber with class, beauty, style and above all else mad skills. Deford touches on this in his feature, but it is well know that Joanie was an amazing athlete. Back in her time it was hard enough for women wanting to be independent and have any career let alone a career in professional sports.

Women like Joanie and Ann Calvello skated as a way to make a living while staying out of the typing-pool. Could you imagine getting paid to play roller derby? Having it as your main career, not just something you did on nights and weekends? Heavy stuff, right? Women joined the derby as away to be independent and bring in money on their own effort, not relying on a man to support them.

Roller derby was different in those days. It was a traveling road show with owners, choreographed and scripted bouts and a new town every couple of days. Part of me likes to image myself with those ladies and gents, traveling around, playing a different kind of derby, but getting paid for it – would it be worth it? To sacrifice a “real life” and a family to play derby professionally?

I had the  opportunity a couple years ago to talk with gentleman who was at that time coaching the Redding Rollergirls – Eric Darnell Anderson was his name and it turned out that years before he had skated professional men’s roller derby for some time. Back in the day he was a close acquaintance on Ann Calvello and spoke lovingly of the sport’s origin, it’s growth and it’s potential. I’d say he thought it was worth the sacrifice, but loved the way the sport was going now.

Back to Frank’s story and the origin of this little slice of derby history, there was this one tear jerking quote in his story that really tugged on my heart strings:

One night, somewhere out on the road — because the derby was always somewhere out on the road — Joanie held her little dog in her lap, and she sighed, and this is what she told me, wistfully: “All I want out of the roller derby is to make good money, get out of it in one piece, and years from now, when I say I was in the roller derby, I want people to still know what it is. I want that.”

It just paints a vivid picture. I think the reason I was touched by this is because not only has Joanie’s wishes come true, but I truly feel that in every derby girl’s heart we all wish the same thing. Roller derby is really taking off and who knows what the sport is going to be like in five years – We could very well be paid athletes. The sky is really the limit.

Frank ended his report by saying there are now over 500 women’s leagues in 16 countries, from North America, to Europe, to Australia, to Brazil, to Abu Dhabi. That alone blows my mind.

One day when we are all wrinkly old biddies and roller derby is a true professional sport, we can all tell our grand daughters that we were apart of not just the resurgence of the sport, but the birth of professional derby. Joanie would be proud.

Photo: Derby Memoirs

May 142010

OK – I’ve been loosely researching this for about month. You know what I’m talking about . . . those darn fake mustaches. I’ve worn one. You’ve worn one. But how did this underground phenomenon bust into OUR underground phenomenon? Where and when the heck did this craze start?

I’ve asked around and have come up pretty empty handed as far as concrete facts, so I’ve decided to report on my own personal experience with the stache.

About two years ago my league had a transfer from Sac City – Hell Louis. Weezy, as we quickly dubbed her, had this great Myspace / Facebook profile picture of her with a fake mustache on post game. After some crafty clicking I saw pics of her whole team wearing the mustaches in acknowledgment of a ref or a coach with a big mustache or something. What a brilliant look, I thought.

Soon after I was at an after party for a SCDG game and in walked our team captain Lulu Lockjaw sporting a stache. Hmmmm I thought to myself that looks cool, but Lulu is one of those girls that makes every thing look cool.

Over the last year or so I’ve seen the stache become a staple of derby culture and have even more recently seen it make the crossover into real life. You can buy just about anything with a stache on it. From mugs and socks to necklaces’ the stache has overtaken the mullet in greatest retro comeback of something that was horrible the first time around.

So it’s cool, we all get that. Maybe it’s the 1970s porn-esce vibe it gives off – But why derby? I can think of a few gender-specific reasons why the fake mustache has become a staple of derby culture – please keep in mind I totally made these up:

  1. We play derby, which is already sorta bending and blending the gender lines. We are sexy bitches knocking the snot out of each other. We are muther-trucking tough girls in mascara. So maybe the stache is a statement of our obvious toughness. Like, yeah we’re chicks, but we’re so tough and here is my stache to prove it.
  2. Ummm .  . . this one is awkward to say, but maybe it’s a celebration of our . . . um . . .neither-region stache. *Insert giggle here* not an impossible comparison.

A few weeks ago I saw a Central Coast Roller Derby jammer sport a pink mustache during a game against Silicon Valley – Hello! Staches on the track!! Yes a pink fake mustache – these are called Mustaches for Girls and come in a variety of mustache styles from the Grandma to the Frida.

During my research I happened to be watching Blood on the Flat Track and I saw a brief clip of girls sporting staches – so at least we have some empirical evidence it has been a growing trend for at least five years.

Related to the fake mustache is the finger stache tattoo – this too could be considered part of the phenomenon. Although tattoo enthusiasts have been getting them along with the tear drop on the inside of their fingers for years. I have noticed MORE derby girls getting them with the growing popularity of the fake stache – but as we all know there are quite a few of us derby girls who are tattoo enthusiasts, so it’s not really a stretch that some of us would make it a permanent punch line. I’ve taken to carrying a sharpie in my purse and drawing on a fake one when the mood suits me.

So that is my official – unofficial report on the fake mustache. I have no idea when or why it started, but it did . . . and I enjoy it.

How’s that for hard-hitting journalism? ;)

If you have a great picture of  you getting your derby-stache on please email me at: derby.hurts@gmail.com

If you have any information behind this great mustache mystery please email me STAT!

Photos: Raven Von Kaos (me), Chrome Molly, Leigh Stovall (derby girl in training), Susan Elizabeth Marshall, Creme Bruisee

Apr 302010

I have wanted to watch this documentary for a couple years and was glad to find it in my possession this week to review.

A Leaky-Sleazewell production, Blood on the Flat Track takes a look at the Rat City Rollergirls in 2005 – a year after the league was founded and blew up much to Seattle’s chagrin. What can I say about this documentary?

One thing that was really in the forefront of my mind as I watched this 90 minute flick was: Dang. Derby has changed. The game has evolved so much in the last five years it’s pretty crazy. Strategy and the rules have really evolved. It’s was funny to see girls still abiding by the ol’ penalty wheel (at first) and getting in to real and staged brawls. I could never imagine clockin’ another girl on my league . . . It was cute to see some of the narrators like Basket Casey talk so candidly about the fighting and express how it really was just part the production.

The documentary was well made and should be considered a big chapter in flat track derby history. I saw players like Mama Cherry and Pia Mess who now are California residents in the infancy of their derby careers tearing it up.

Major appearance by the Tamaccio sisters (Femme Fatale and D-Bomb) before their Oly days. One thing I have got to say is that those girls were and are effing amazing! I saw Femme Fatale throwing strategic and effective hip hits while everyone else was doing the big crazy takeouts. Those girls are so amazing! I am in awe of all the is Tamaccio. It was great to see them pre-Oly. They were actually on opposing home teams and had to play against each other. As I’m sure all you derby enthusiasts know there is a third Tamaccio sister who also skated for Rat City and is now with Oly – Blonde An’ Bitchin.

Blood on the Flat Track did a nice job of depicting the real life of a derby girl and their relation to the sport, their relationships and professions. Seattle is such a colorful and cool West Coast city that the Rat City Rollergirls really encapsulate their surroundings and leave their mark on the metropolis.

There are great interviews with about 5 or 6 main girls. A couple of my favorites were Burnett Down, the chill painter/ bartender who was a bad-ass vixen on wheels and of course Miss Fortune, jammer extraordinaire who I have gotten the opportunity to see tear up the track with Team Awesome. Hot Flash, Miss Fortune’s mom, skated on the same home team (the Sockit Wenches) with her – could you imagine skating on a team with your mom? I would get so pissed if some one hit her  . . . just saying. It was a cute dynamic though.

All in all Blood on the Flat Track is a must see for any skater. I do think it is about high time for a new derby documentary to surface though. I feel like a lot of what I have been seeing and reading is about five years old and this sport, like it’s players, moves fast.

You can purchase Blood on the Flat Track from Strand Releasing.

Be sure and check out the preview here.
Photo credit: Leaky-Sleazewell Productions