Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Whole New Brawl Game

I went to the Universal Skating Center, (866 South Goldenrod) to see the final Orlando Psycho City Derby Girls bouts of the season. I figured this was a prime sketching opportunity since the teams would be more likely to skate all out for their final brawl. When I entered the building I was given a wrist band with skulls on it and was told I had to wait for a minute before going out to the rink. Electrical lines and the course oval were still being duct taped down. I found myself waiting in the skaters' locker room and they were waiting as well as they laced up their skates. I desperately wanted to sketch but then the buzzer sounded and all the skaters whipped around the rink to warm up.

I walked out to the opening in the rink wall where referees were lacing up their skates. The referees were just as beautiful and quirky as the skaters, with names like Scare, Vanilla Ice Pack and Anya Knees. The first bout matched up the Bellevue Bombshells against the Arkham Assailants. As soon as the magenta and day glow green shirted skaters got on the rink, four went down in a mini brawl before they even started skating. There are rules but quite honestly I don't understand them. Basically one skater sets the pace and points are gained when another skater passes the skaters on the other team. There is plenty of body blocking and maneuvering. The announcer shouted out, "Malice in Wonderland is being followed by Cinder block!" Derby involves short spurts of fast paced action. I often watched the action and then sketched as the teams lined up for the next go around. The Arkham Assailants prevailed.

After the match, Ellen Rage lay on her back, a teammate held her head in her lap while another teammate held her hand. A referee waved a large score card to try and cool her down. She must have been suffering from heat exhaustion. She was given a bottle of water to sip. A good ten minutes passed before she could get up and with help, get off the rink. The crowd clapped when she got up. The girls were indeed skating all out.

The second bout was between the Serial Thrillers, all in black and the Sunnyland Slammers in baby blue. I moved to the sidelines behind the Serial Thrillers bench. Anita Priest with a black rose adorning her jet black banged hair coached the Serial Thrillers. Her number was 666. I began this sketch by sketching the sexy referee in the center of the rink who held a stop watch. The longest a single skating match could last was 50 seconds. Anya Knees stood with her toe pointed ballet style as she rested her weight on one skate. I really think Degas would have enjoyed sketching roller derby.

Coach Anita Priest shouted and made the hand signal for time out! Anya Knees didn't notice so she ran up to the referee indignant and furious. There was plenty of bumpin' and grindin' as the skaters jockeyed for position. At top speed, if one girl was bumped and fell, then others would go down with her. The Serial Thrillers won. Pistol Whip, Nobody's Hero, and all the women in black, formed a circle and shouted in victory. Orlando Psycho City Derby Girls are gaining momentum and are here to stay! Like artists, these girls skate for the sheer love of the sport and the roar of the crowd.

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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