Saturday, October 16, 2010

Orlando Psycho City Derby Girls

I rushed from an art opening in Winter Park to the Universal Entertainment Skating Center (866 S. Goldenrod Road). I managed to arrive just moments before the match began. Admission was $13 which is pricey for me but I had never experienced a whole derby match before so I fumbled for a $20 out of my wallet. On the entry door to the rink was a poster for the movie "Whip it." Three steps into the rink and my hiking boot got stuck to the floor thanks to a wad of bubble gum. I circled the perimeter of the rink counter clockwise searching for my vantage point. I ran into Carl Gauze, a writer for the Orlando Weekly, and he explained I could sketch from anywhere so long as I stayed outside the bright green rink line. I setup on a table at the far end of the rink. Skaters were warming up doing leisurely laps.

The Bellevue Bombshells were competing in a rematch against the Sunnyland Slammers . Players were announced one at a time and they did a lap around the rink soaking in the roar of the crowd. Skaters names are part of the reason roller derby is so fun. There was, Anita Priest, Phoenix on Fire, Ellen Rage, Hit Girl, Sister Mary Mayhem, Brooklyn Deck Her and On ya knees.
I honestly don't understand all the rules and through the first half, I concentrated more on the sketch than on any jamming, blocking or scoring going on. At the half Sunnyland in the blue and gold had the lead of 62 to 26.

A fan who wanted to check out my drawing, explained some of the rules and the game started to make sense. Each team had a girl with a stripe on her helmet called the pivot. The pivot's job was to set the pace of the pack, no one could pass the pivot. Each team had a skater with a star on her helmet called the jammer. The jammers job was to make her way through the pack to get points. Skaters were blocking and falling down constantly. Number 187, Ellen Rage took a very nasty spill and she lay on the rink floor. Team mates skated up to her getting on their knees. After an agonizing wait she managed to get up and the fans clapped and whooped.

The announcer let everyone know there was just 30 seconds remaining in the match and suddenly all the players skated full out. "Little mini Poo Poo made a hole for cup cake!" The announcer screamed. Then skaters were ramming into each other and there was a huge pileup. A skater barreled into a referee knocking her down. "Everyone is down, it is a free for all!" The buzzer sounded and even though the match was over, arms flailed and bodies smacked to the ground. The final score was Sunnyland 124 and Belview 76. Roller derby is in Orlando you really have to see it to believe it.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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