Rock Bottom

Apr 262011

Comicpalooza, the annual comic… uh… palooza, takes place in Houston, TX this year from May 27-29 (Fri-Sun). Three sets of exhibition bouts will take place on Sunday (5/30) following Saturday night’s sanctioned bout between the Houston Knockouts and Harrisburg, PA Rollergirls.  If you’ve been waiting all your life, as I have, to skate as your favorite comic figure, register for one (or more) of three exhibition bouts, or email Grrrl Friday at Registration closes 4/29! Refs are welcome, too. Further details at bottom of article.

When trAC/DC told me I could go to Houston for a comic convention AND skate there as a superhero AND see Houston take on Harrisburg, I nearly crapped my spandex.

See, I’ve had a long and confusing love affair with Captain America since the 7th grade, one that my family finds “interesting” and worthy of exploration. So let’s explore it together. Maybe you and I will look back at our superhero-laden childhoods and find that those old capes and masks laid an early, welcoming foundation for derby. Because, you know, everything has to do with derby.


It was a typically disgusting day in Kenner, LA, and I was what’s typically a disgusting age: 13. I sat in my elementary school’s humid cafeteria sweating through my see-through white polyester uniform shirt, looking out at the bayou’s concrete levee walls and the stupid heat-waving blacktop that anyone but a kid would pass out on. As flocks of the fattest seagulls you ever saw positioned themselves above our recess area for shit-on-kids time, I realized I’d had enough of this damn place as I stood in it. I’d been quiet for something like ten years, and though I excelled athletically and got good grades, no kids gave a shit about me. I was too grown up and introspective for my friends. I was always sweaty and only spoke up to stick up for Josh (he had elf ears). They knew me for being… tall.

I stared at my Cheez-It like it was a home video of a windblown grocery bag.

“Hey,” I said, looking up.

I slammed my fist on the cheap linoleum table.


The Clique looked up from their peas.

I had their attention. What was I going to say?

“I’m Captain America!”

There was a long pause.

They looked at me with a singular question in their eyes, one that I, too, was now wondering. What the hell did I just say?

I thought quick: “Callie, catch this Cheez-It in your mouth and you can be my sidekick.”

I threw it at her. She caught it.

“Julianna, what’s the capital of Mississippi?”

“I don’t know.”

“Good. Me neither. You’re in.”

And so it went. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no control. It was like years of pent up hysteria were pouring out of me, and as long as The Clique thought it was good fun, I was gonna sit back and watch me unfurl.

I commanded that damn lunch and recess. By the end of it, I had five of the cliquiest bitches following me around, waiting for orders, laughing hysterically with me and my alter ego. I was brand new, funny.

“Where did you come from?” Kelli asked me by the end of the hour-long break. “We had no idea you were funny.”

I was smug as all hell.

“You know, my mom’s vagina.” Man, I was on a roll.

But I had no idea where it had all come from. I didn’t even know Captain America was a superhero. I’d seen a patriotic car round town with the words sealed on its rear window, and they had stuck in my brain. My sidekicks got names, too. Derby names sorta. Like Sergeant Stripes, Mr. Flag, and Uncle Sam. I assigned them. We wore secret patches on our gym shorts beneath our plaid skirts. There was a handbook and a handshake. I was dope. I was Captain America!

Now, as a weird, grownass bitch, I salute you, Captain America, for coming out of my open mouth that day, for transforming my peer relations, and scaring my mother. I salute you, today, by vowing to wrap your name and colors around my derby-loving bod at Comicpalooza, even if your blue tights make me look like a sausage.

Thank you, thank goodness(!) I didn’t wait a day longer to get weird. Thank you, Comicpalooza, for letting me honor the kid, the superhero within who propels me forth.



*$10 registration fee per half-hour scrimmage includes team shirt with name and number!

What: Comicpalooza Derby Exhibition


George R. Brown Convention Center
3rd Floor
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX 77010


Sunday, May 30: 1 pm, 2 pm, 3pm

Feb 222011

It’s really easy to write a private confessional one late night on your macbook, but making it public takes a lot of deep breaths. Breathing deeply, here’s my story, in case it’s any good to anyone:

Some girls join roller derby to become someone else, to get their flipside moments on the track; but my story is quite different.

I remember being thirteen or fourteen or so and riding beside my sweet, misguided dad in his fire red pickup truck, listening to him talk to me about my future.

“Are you really sure you want to seriously pursue a career in basketball? Can you hang in with this sport for another ten years?”

“Of course, dad. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“But. I’m not sure as your father that encouraging you to play ball is the responsible thing to do. There are certain things you’ll be exposed to.”

Things? Like?”



Now, I didn’t have a lot of these conversations growing up; but I did have my fair share of nightmares about being gay or people talking shit about my swag. I’d say the topic mainly existed as a terrifying shadow I refused to acknowledge. If it came up, my line was always, “I’m NOT gaaaaaaay.”

I went to my all-girls Catholic high school, did well, earned the respect and friendship of a whole lot of people, and thought, privately, that if I ever considered “letting myself be gay,” I’d lose it all. My family and friends’ affection. My reputation as a good kid. My place in heaven. Sure, I had no interest in boys. Not even a little. But I told myself it was because I was busy being a basketball player. I made it through high school without my first kiss. Because I was busy.

Well, I did pursue a career in basketball, until I didn’t. I played a year at Tulane and then quit, a failed, but respectable straight, ready for the next thing. I dated a boy a few months later til I quit that and joined a sorority til I quit that.

Since those lady things had failed, I needed something to convince everyone that I was straight.

Enter roller derby. Derby girls were pretty AND athletic, their sexuality, I thought, never questioned. I mean, they played in fishnets. I had been playing my sport for years in shorts to my shins, my hair slicked back to stay out of my face, worn as unattractively as possible. There’s no makeup, smiling, or blowing kisses to the crowd in basketball. Here was my chance to express a certain untapped femininity through my natural draw toward athletics.

A few weeks in, I realized that I hadn’t bought any fishnets; and I wasn’t wearing makeup like I thought I might. I had no interest in the dudesy refs.

Slowly, painfully, each day an ounce of self hatred leaving my body, a girl and I fell for each other. I wondered how this could have happened. I had survived all those basketball gays unscathed and unattracted. They were dykes. I was better than that. And then, just like that, I fell in love with a girl and into a pit of emo turmoil. The further I got into the relationship, the larger my secret life became. I’d one day have to reveal it to my loved ones, and I was sure they’d disown me and talk shit about their lez former friend.

But this isn’t a coming out story. Yes, I came out, and everybody still loves me. It got pretty emo and shitty in parts, but I haven’t lost anyone. I’m closer to my mom, and, though my dad died a few years ago, I know that his love for me is more unconditional now than ever.

The point is, derby helped me shed my defensive skin. While some girls become their alter egos or use the sport to escape from their realities, I really needed it for the opposite reasons. I needed to know it was okay for me to let go of the straightlaced alter ego I had presented myself as for years and truly face up to my self, the one I had been hiding all along. I needed to let go of that hold I had on myself and thaw the freeze that I had cultivated for so long, unable to love, explore, or look real hard at my questions. I found a sport and a girl who let me do that. I found myself.

Aug 232010

#2! for Best Dressed

aka Blue Man Girl and Black Cobra. Congrats. All your sweatin paid off.


#17! for Worst Dressed

aka Lad with Unintelligible Message on his Heiney. Congrats. I am very happy. And very sad for you.

Way to go boys and girls. I’d have to say I’m happy with the results, probably because I rode Bus 217 to school for six years and am, therefore, feeling warm and fuzzy in lieu of the winning contestants’ number combo. Hoorah!

Feel free to talk shit here if you aint down with the results.


Last Day to Vote

 Posted by at 2:24 pm  No Responses »
Aug 222010

If you’ve been sitting on your opinion for the last few days, today’s your last day to get off it and release Your Vote upon the derby universe. Already voted? Send others thisaway to cast their vote–because at midnight tonight we will have  already crowned Mr. Worst Dressed and Ms. Best Dressed. Hoorah!

Aug 172010

Vote by leaving a comment, but only vote for one in each category please.

For example: Best: #whatever Worst: #whatever… Then you can write any fool thing you like but you gotta make it easy for us to count this shit.

The winner and SUPER loser will each receive a personalized LDG tshirt with their name and the enviable title Black & Blue Ball: Best/Worst Dressed 2010!

Best Dressed


Who are they? Why don’t they require oxygen like the rest of us? And who manufactures these suits? Aren’t they afraid of a “Your Suit Suffocated Me” lawsuit?

So many questions.

Keep in mind here that they are in the desert, and that they are attending a pool party. Imagine feeling sweat in all your nooks and crannies while your buddies are stripped down into their breezy swim suits, splashing away happily in the pool like drunken monkeys. These friends don’t even feel bad for you, though, because they don’t even know you’re you. So you “smile” for the camera with your equally daring coconspirator and hope the irreparable damage to your body will win you a free t-shirt.


This woman’s outfit looks seriously uncomfortable, which, apparently, takes you far in the Best Dressed category. No but really, y’all, she’s wearing a petticoat, a corset, and feathers in her hair. In like 104 degree weather. See how the makeup is starting to run a little? Well, it can run all it likes, cuz this bitch ain’t no wilting flower and that smile is staying on her face come hell or hot water. Because she’s rad. And because it took her and a friend like a month to make that dress. And damnit, she looks good.


I kind of want to just hand this girl best dressed because she has such a pretty smile and such fresh, clean good looks. She looks high on life, and that’s not the kind of high you usually see in Vegas. Plus that bustle. I don’t know what it is about bustles. It’s like you put an ass-shaped article of clothing on top of your ass and BAM! magic. Plus it’s all silky. And the stockings. She looks totally Moulin Rouge, which is a little cliche, but she’s so damn hot that I’ll take it, anyways.

Worst Dressed


I can’t pretend like I understand this catchphrase. I find its lack of sensible innuendo delightful. I get it in the derby sense, of course. Yes, Powerful Ref, you point at the box and I skate over to it and pout. You win. But the innuendo part? He could have stepped it up a bit with “While we’re wearing knee pads…” or “Two girls. One box” or “I like my whistle blown.” But had he devised a more clever assphrase, his spot on the Worst Dressed list might be compromised. We skaters don’t want our refs to be cleverer or faster or more smarter than we are. We like a lot of rough on our little ref diamonds. So, sir, thanks for sort of putting us in our place.

We salute your audASSity.


It takes balls to show off your balls, whether they’re actually your balls or really your roommate’s socks. Nevertheless, this beautiful man’s fearlessness proves that going wrong can be oh so right. It’s his authenticity that impresses me most. Sure, his crotch might be stuffed like a child’s Christmas stocking, but look at all that hair. It dances up his thighs, trails happily up his belly, and sprouts gleefully outside the bounds of that sequined halter V. It thrives beneath his nose, stretching east and west like it’s 9:15. You can’t see it on your screen, but up close and in person you would see these well waxed tips have also been glittered. And then, his hair. Head hair. Perfectly teased. Perfectly round.

Thank you, sir, for squeezing so much spandex and sparkle into so little clothing.


Whoa. What a cool dude. Not only is his outfit fabulous but so, too, is this picture. This dude is chilled out. He’s in Vegas.

Look closely at those legs. There’s a reason the garter is on his right thigh, for, ladies and gentlemen, his left thigh is taken… BY A HERD OF ZEBRA. I can count three. Maybe there are more. Maybe there are three zebra  having a threesome. I don’t know; but I like to think that he got dressed and, on his way to The Ball, thought, “This outfit is missing something. I’m not committed enough to the zebra stripe. I know what I’m missing: The Perfect Zebra Tattoo.” So he stopped by his hotel lobby’s brightest tattoo shop to seal the deal. I’m sold.

Once again:

Vote for your pick by posting a comment below. Do it like this:

Best: #whatever
Worst: #whatever

Photos courtesy Sarah Ruiz. Thanks for shooting, Sarah!