Mar 182011

Readers’ note: this post is part 2 in a series.  If you haven’t seen part 1 yet, please go here first.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  Unless you hate hilarious stories about boys losing their virginity.  In that case you might, very well, be disappointed.

Maybe dudes are better when used as chairs! (Strap-on chair design and image credit to Annika Schmidt,

4.  You don’t REALLY need a dude, do you? (With apologies to my actual dude, who is awesome.  But who cannot roller skate.)

It’s no secret that derby loves ladies who love ladies.  In fact, as our own Rock Bottom has pointed out, derby is often the first safe-space available for women questioning their sexual identity. But even if you aren’t a member of the Vagine Regime, chances are that at some point in your derby life, you’ve thought to yourself, “Wow.  Girls really ARE hotter than boys.”  And they can DO pretty much anything boys can do, too.  Think about it.  Even if you’re the straightest edge in the toolbox (WTF metaphor?!?),  isn’t there something enticing about knowing that your derby wife could kick your boyfriend’s ass?  There’s often a lot more intimacy – and sweating, and panting – involved in an intense set of suicides than in the most extreme bedroom experiences.  And when you find someone who skates in the same rhythms and patterns that you do – whose style and speed are in perfect unison with yours – you may start to wonder why you stopped hanging “no boys allowed” signs on your treehouse back when you hit puberty.

Stupid puberty.

5.  Despite what we’d like to believe, sometimes you DO need 3rd-party intervention.

If you’ve never played roller derby, you probably don’t realize how many people are necessary to put on a bout; but experienced attendees have probably noticed that the players aren’t the only ones involved.  There are the multitudes of refs who call the penalties and count the points; then there are the NSOs who track those calls and make sure the stats get recorded.  That’s about 20 people, and I haven’t even COUNTED all the volunteers needed to set up the venue before-hand, take tickets at the door, and sell merchandise!  And what about the fans?  Derby wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the crowd!

We don’t usually think of our bedroom antics as public spectacle, though.  As El Toupee said in the comments of Part 1, “I just pray nothing bedroom-related requires the services of seven referees and a full contingent of NSO’s (Action and Error Tracking might prove somewhat embarrassing!).”  I laughed out loud at the comment… and then I immediately started thinking, how many people’s sex lives are REALLY 100% private? Sure, we perpetuate the idea that sex is confined to the bedroom.  But even the most private people I know require one or two friends to do post-game analysis and scorekeeping when they take on a new partner.  And when that new partner does something off-the-wall, there’s the friend you call for play analysis, the one who helps you decide whether to send them to the penalty box or eject them altogether.

Our sex lives wouldn’t be anything without our refs and NSOs.

6. Don’t forget about your teammate(s)! (Credit for this one goes to Rage in the comments on Pt 1!)

Last night I thought I was having the best scrimmage of my career.  I was playing pivot against some of our team’s heaviest hitters, and for the first time ever I realized I wasn’t scared of getting hit.  I had guts and determination.  I had skill.  And I skated my fucking heart out.  I was moving from side to side like lightning, shoving people out of bounds with only one foot on the floor, and tomahawking (successfully!) to keep the blockers on the inside line from reaching my jammer as she flew threw the center of the pack.  It was the equivalent of a double-digit orgasm night; I ended the jam exhausted but satisfied…

Until I realized that literally no one else had been having fun, or feeling good.  My teammates and I had lost track of each other throughout the jam, failing to form obvious walls at opportune times.  One of us even forgot temporarily what side she was playing for and went in for a hit on the wrong jammer.  While I had been skating around thinking I’m Queen of the Damn Rink!, everyone else had felt confused and disoriented. And it had all happened while I was wearing the pivot panty. It wasn’t my job to be the star.  It was my job to keep everyone together, to make sure my teammates knew what to do and when to do it.

It isn’t your job to be the only star in the bedroom either.  Double-digit orgasms are more fun if everyone gets to play, so unless you’re a dedicated onanist, the fact that you’re feeling awesome doesn’t mean anything if you’ve totally lost track of your partner.  At your best, you should be working in sync, paying attention to each other’s rhythms and “coming” together (ha ha! I crack myself up!).  But even at your worst, you should at least know where they are on the track.

I could keep going all day with this.  So if you’re enjoying the series, keep the comments coming (ha ha!  There’s that word again! I’m like a 12-year-old.) and I’ll put up a new piece of the series every couple of weeks.  Or until I get bored.

Mar 112011

I know I owe you guys another installment of Sex and Roller Derby.  And I promise it’s still on the horizon.  But remember how I warned you I might come up with something more important to say?  Last night, when Moxie posted about the oft-contentious topic of derby dress, I realized I DID in fact have something to say.  Because what I wear to derby matters to me.  It matters A LOT.  Because I’ve been worrying about my clothes for way too long already.

I had my first conflict over clothing when I was about 10 years old.

I'm the one in pink. I am 6 here. I am already developing hips and thighs.

I’m one of those kids who developed really early – earlier than is strictly reasonable.  I was full height by age 9 or 10, already sporting breasts and hips and an ass that, for an elementary schooler, could only be referred to as “epic.”  Whenever I mention this aspect of my childhood in mixed company, my male friends say, “That must’ve been awesome!”  Girls know better, though.  When I mention being the first kid on the playground with a C-cup, girls cringe silently or offer commiserating stories of their own.  Because girls know that being sexualized early is rife with complications.

All of a sudden, my uniform shorts looked a lot different than everyone else’s.  The baggy fabric was hugging me so tightly that preventing panty-line became a daily challenge.  My new bra (like actual bra; no training for these tits) was absurdly visible through the sheer fabric of our Peter-Pan-collar innocent-schoolgirl shirts.  Boys popped my straps on the playground.  They asked me if I’d be willing to show them my tits.  Up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever even heard the word “tits,” much less some of the other super-creatively-gross euphemisms they’d come up with.  I had no idea what they were so interested in.  As far as I could tell, I wasn’t any different than I’d been the year before.  I was the same mousy, quiet girl I’d always been.  Now, all of a sudden, the other kids were paying attention to me.  But the attention didn’t feel good.  It felt strange and awkward, unfounded somehow in anything I could comprehend.

I’m not saying I didn’t know what sex was; my dad is a scientist, and as such he always made sure I had a scientific explanation of the world around me.  But understanding the mechanics of sex does nothing to help you analyze the skeezy feeling you get when the class bully unhooks your bra during math, or tries to bounce a penny off your ass whenever you bend over.  Those feelings have nothing to do with making babies, nor with the “mutual respect and affection” that you’ve been taught are supposed to accompany human sexuality.  (Yeah, I know.  ”Mutual respect and affection” is kind of high-faluting language to use on a kid.  But you’ve never met my dad.)

My mother and I began to have near-constant conflicts about my clothes.  While school days were taken up with required uniforms, my weekends had always been a long string of shorts and tank tops.  Now, suddenly, I found my mother trying to convince me to “layer.”  She took me to Dillards in search of jeans to replace my well-loved outdoor shorts.  Whenever I tried to ask her why I couldn’t just wear my old clothes, she would hem and haw, telling me only that “those clothes just don’t look right on you anymore.”  When I got a little older and babydoll dresses with spaghetti straps got popular, I had to continually insist that wearing a t-shirt underneath the dress kind of hurt the look.  The same held true for wearing biking shorts underneath a skirt.  My mother didn’t breathe again until I got into grunge and started wearing figure-masking flannel shirts and overalls.

It took me years to understand why clothes that looked so cute and fun on my friends somehow looked slutty on me.  Things started to even out a little as I got older and my peers began catching up to me.  My body didn’t stand out quite as much outside an elementary school classroom.  But the weird feeling that there was something wrong or immoral about my shape never quite left me.  My breasts and hips were intruders that made my life confusing and complicated, that asked people to read my body separately from my personality.  They had their own grammar, sent their own private message to the world.  And I hated them.

By the time I hit my senior year of high school, I was a full-blown anorexic.  I had dropped from around 130 lbs (about what I weigh now, for those who know me) to 100.  My freshman year of college the numbers climbed lower, first to the lower 90s and then, after a bout with stomach flu, the lower 80s.  I bottomed out at around 82 lbs before I finally got some help and started the slow crawl back to normal.  And although I can’t guarantee a causal relationship, I can’t help but think that my early experience with T&A helped push me over the edge.  If I could just lose a little more weight, just a few more pounds, maybe my hips would disappear.  Maybe my breasts would dissolve and never return.  Maybe I could live a life where the clothes I draped myself in didn’t matter so much.  Maybe I wouldn’t look like a slut.

Me, parodying "sexy", at the 2010 Running of the Rollerbulls in New Orleans

I had to begin dealing with my body dysmorphia in order to get healthy again.  I had to learn that food is good and starvation is bad, that my body is my friend, yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda.  But it wasn’t until I joined derby that I really became friends with my body again.  I learned that giant asses are tools of power, that tits can be used in strategic positional blocking, and that thunder thighs help me get low and gain stability.  So when I dress for practice, I wear outfits that highlight my most valuable assets.  As Moxie mentioned in her post yesterday, derbies have long been proud of their hot pants and fishnets and low-cut tops.  But they’ve also been criticized for them, taken to task for not dressing like “serious athletes.”  So when I don my hot pants, I’m sending an important message to the world.  I’m saying “fuck you” to all the people who made me feel ashamed, who tried to teach me that asses and tits and hips were nothing but sex tools.  I’m reminding myself and my audience that women’s bodies – no matter their shape – are powerful.  I am proud, not ashamed.

So if the world wants to keep staring at our hot pants and telling us we’re nothing but sex kittens, that’s their own damn fault.  I know better.  I know that my body – while sexy – can do a lot of other things besides fuck.  And until the world learns that women have a right to display their bodies however they choose, without judgment, I’m going to keep skating – hot pants and all.

Mar 032011

Tuesday night, as I was squinting across the rink at my teammate (and fellow LDG author!) Moxie Balboa, all I could see were the words “SEX” and “ROLLER DERBY” written across her shirt.

Makes sense, I thought to myself.  They’re obviously the same thing.

Later, I would realize that Moxie’s shirt ACTUALLY read “The only things I think about are SEX and ROLLER DERBY.”  But the amount of space the two items occupy in my brain is not the only thing they have in common.  And so, inspired by Moxie’s practice gear, I bring to you:

“Oops!  I Didn’t Mean To Do THAT:” Lessons Learned In Bed and On the Track

1. Your first time will get you sweaty and messy – and you’ll probably kind of suck.

I wish someone had told me this before I learned it for myself.  Like Mannie Freshmeat, I watched my first bout imagining myself whooshing around the track, scoring a million points and knocking down the other players like bowling pins.  I would be the 6 Million Dollar Woman on Wheels, a faster, stronger, better model than anything anyone had ever seen.  But fantasies and reality just aren’t the same thing, whether you’re on the track or in the sack. (Someone should hire me to write a cliched sex-self-help book.  I’m really good at this rhyming catch-phrase thing.)  I just might be willing to admit that, as an inexperienced preteen, I imagined myself as the Lady with the Magic Vagina.  When my “first time” came, I would please my partner and myself simultaneously, a pure concentration of vulvic power.  (Note: WordPress thinks that “vulvic” is not a word.  Should it be “vulvar?”  Who wants “vulvar” powers?  That doesn’t sound nearly as awesome.)  When I finally actually managed to get in the same room with a real-life naked dude, things weren’t quite that explosive.  While points were scored, I was definitely not lead jammer.  And there might have been a handful of major penalties involved.

2.  Size doesn’t really matter.

Sure, there are people who try to tell you that big girls can’t skate fast enough, or that skinny minnies won’t be able to take (or give) a hit.  But for every single skeptic, there are at least 5 derby girls out on a flat track right now, proving her wrong.  We derbies are proud of the diversity of physical bodies that inhabit our ranks, and we know that the human form is beautiful in all its incarnations.  People who use their beds as size-ist war zones should take a lesson from the derby rule book.  Bodies can do amazing and unexpected things, no matter their shape or size.  Haters are missing out.

3.  Fancy shit is fine, but if you don’t know the basics, you can’t get far

The night my friend Q lost his virginity, he accidentally learned that he was fantastically adept at performing in a backbend-intensive position called “London Bridge.”  His girlfriend, also a virgin, loved the position and claimed it made her cum every time.  Consequently, Q started to believe that London Bridge was some kind of lady-pleasing secret that his sexually active bro-friends just hadn’t uncovered.  After all, he could make a girl climax every time!!! Like my pre-cherry-popping self, he assumed he was some sort of sexual superhero.  About six months later, he and his girlfriend broke up, and -eager to try out his super-secret power – he found a new partner.  During their first encounter, he almost immediately folded himself into a backbend, trying to initiate London Bridge.  His new orgasm-candidate glared questioningly at him and said, “Are you doing a BACKBEND?”

“Yeah!” he answered, “It’s awesome!  Go ahead; climb on top.”

She didn’t.  Instead, she pushed him back onto the floor and – in a moment far more forceful than anything I experienced as a teen – said to him, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.  Don’t you know how to just FUCK?”

Don’t be like Q.  Don’t limit your repertoire to the most complicated trick and believe it makes you the Super-Secret Power-Skater.  One day down the road, you’ll get your ass kicked by a girl who can do a mean t-stop.  Learn the basics.

This is not the end of the SEX and ROLLER DERBY comparison. I’ll be back next week with more, if I haven’t thought of something more urgent to say.  In the meantime, submit your own comparisons!  I’ll write up the best ones in next week’s entry.

Jun 042010

In the derby community, we’re pretty much all familiar with the success of Shawna Cross’s Derby Girl, which was recently made into the popular film, Whip It, directed by none other than the totally fabulous Drew Barrymore. Whip It’s commercial success was modest, but it did help increase the visibility of our sport, and resulted in a fresh wave of recruits – my own league, Red Stick Roller Derby, has doubled in size since the movie, and most of these new derby girls started skating with us right after it came out.

There seems now to be a quiet trend towards publishing books about roller derby. These include books about the sport itself, aimed towards the derby fan or the derby-curious, including Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby, by Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee, Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track, by Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan, Roller Derby: The History and All-Girl Revival of the Greatest Sport on Wheels, by Catherine Mabe and Ivanna S. Pankin, and others. This is most awesome, and I’m excited about this newest indication that the world is taking serious notice of us.

Figure A. Oh, marketing.

But even more thrillingly, roller derby is now the stuff of more published fiction. I was in Barnes and Noble the other day (we’re short on independent bookstores here in the Rouge, don’t judge me), wandering through the “Literature” section (y’know, the area with the books in it) to see what might catch my eye. And there I found Going in Circles, by Pamela Ribon. On the cover, a lady skater. It took me a moment to accept what I’d found. A book about derby, just sitting there in a major retail branch, in the most mainstream of locations, that I hadn’t heard about through some underground derby channel? Could it be? It was even TURNED OUT, its cover rather than its spine displayed to entice the casual browser like myself. (I will say that said cover is confusing – see figure A. You can see why I needed to pick the thing up to confirm its connection to derby.) I’ve yet to read the book, but it looks decent, and, more importantly, it suggests that derby fiction might be gaining a little foothold as a trendy publishing niche. And while, as an aspiring author, I’d like to think that it’s the best books, regardless of topic, that get published and reach the well-exposed shelves of retail giants, I’m clued in enough to know that publishing is a business, and, like any business, it is susceptible to trends and gimmicks.

So, I’m about to start this insanely expensive degree, and I’m thinking maybe I should cash in on this trend. Why not? I could write about what I love, and give further exposure to the sport, and have a refreshing little side project to work on when the emotionally heady memoir I plan to write at school is proving too taxing for me. Thing is, I don’t often write fiction, so I have to have an angle that will be sure to spark my imagination, while filling a gap in the existing derby literature.

you get the picture.

Yesterday my beloved trAC/DC and I were talking about these derby books, and in about eight seconds we came up with the angle: sex! What seems to be missing, glaringly missing, from derby lit is derby erotica. Imagine: skates and sweat and queer sex (and, sure, some straight sex), all done with a bit more literary flair than your average bodice-ripper. A little something for the derby community and for the rest of the world. Brilliant, I think. And we’ll keep each other motivated and on-task, so we’ll actually get these things written. And we’ll get to read and laugh at our ridiculously overblown sex scenes over glasses of bourbon. The idea is to make this a series about two best friends who skate, and their romantic adventures on and off the track. Sort of like a derby version of Sweet Valley High.

I wrote about 2,000 potential words of my potential book today and am having a great time, even though it got a little hard to concentrate because I started somewhere, let’s say, in the middle of things. As I continue, I welcome your suggestions: what would you like to see in a work of derby erotica? What sorts of fantasies have you had involving mouthguards? Got any adventures you would like us to memorialize (anonymously) in print? Email me so we can keep the comments section of LDG fairly clean. My address is TrickyLaRougeATredstickrollerderbyDOTcom (protecting myself from spam-bots here). We’re also taking suggestions on names for the eventual series.

Until next time, happy practices – and post-practice evenings – to all!

Photo Credits:, activistgrrl