Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flyering for the league is weird when you have a penis.

The new bout poster is out, and I'm pleased as punch that Dreadnought and Splitter Noggin are the featured skaters for this one. The former is my missus, the latter is the captain of the team I served faithfully for two seasons. So proud am I, that I have flyered a couple of salons, my gym, and other store fronts.

Dreadnought's tiara cannot be seen through the contrast. 

Flyering for roller derby is pretty easy now that I announce, but I absolutely hated flyering with street teams when Dread started playing. Why would I feel uncomfortable? It's simple, really. It's an all-woman league, passing out flyers on roller skates.  As they were skaters, they could at least say things like, "I'm skating in this one, you should go," or "come watch me skate!" What could I say? 

Stuff like:
"You gotta see this, man." 
"It's amazing, you should go."
"You look like someone who would love this, and you don't look like a rapist..."

I was often taken aback by the weird comments random men on the street would whisper to me about the ladies as we shilled for the bouts. A few close-calls almost ended with me in fist-fights with guys who, if they had written online what they said to me about these ladies, would have had them dealing with an entirely different master of ceremonies.

Why don't you have a seat?

In some ways, I understood why some of these men thought it would be okay to talk to me, rather than the skaters. I don't have the parts they're ogling, and I'm around those lady-parts...therefore, I might actually be thinking what they were thinking. Perhaps I was the gatekeeper. A St. Peter of womanly delights. Alas, no.

Just being a widow meant that my promotion had to come about more organically and less public. I emailed my friends and families, I put up posters at work, and I networked within the sphere of people I knew wouldn't have to register with each city they moved into. Dressed as Drago, I was able to make a more public show of selling our games, yet you would be surprised how few people want to talk to man in a chimp suit in the middle of Harvard Square. 
Even with my announcing job, I still don't flyer on the street. Rather, I bring up bouts casually with people I am talking to and give them the information they need in order to get them to buy tickets. So my advice to widows going  out with their skaters to flyer: Don't do it. Stand slightly apart, hold bags, and watch for creeps. If you're a pacifist, or you would use your lady as a shield, have your cell phone ready to call the coppers or to take pictures of the nasty dudes. Avoid any awkward conversations while handing out leaflets; you can promote derby bouts it your own way on your own time. 
 Or don't. You're free to do what you want.

-Pelvis Costello

Monday, March 22, 2010

Doubleheader Two rings true!

The sold-out crew this time around was in a vastly superior mood compared to February 27th's season opener. Maybe it had to do with the dancing of Slam Chowdah and Anna Wrecksya. Likely, the weather, which was gorgeous, heightened the mood. Poppa Feevs, master of the derby tailgate, had been grilling since noon, so our parking lot smelled of sizzling meat and molten cheese.

The mood of the day was soothing. Instead of turning red from stress, I maintained my pale, default coloration. However, there were occasional hiccups in bout production that caused me to lose my typical smile, turning me into a slightly unsatisfied, alabaster gumby:

Really, man? Really?
(photo by Art Newberg...who is a talented dude)

But if that's the worst face I pulled, then we can call it a success. One of the things that surprised me were the sheer number of widows that had come early to help us set up the venue, three of whom left to wait in line to pick up their tickets and watch the game. Many people who help out do look for a few hand-outs, but not these gentlemen. Mr. Geddon in particular helps out without expecting anything in return. So thanks, dude. You're now internet famous.

I was interviewed twice, got to to do a plug for Silly Gillman, and I was able to call two games in the mighty Pelvis manner with Lady Oshun and Kevin Up. Though I missed most of the after party because I decided to help clean up the venue, I am happy to hear people had so much fun. Now, I need to finish reading The Sound and the Fury before Wednesday. I like it so far, but it's a far cry from watching three teams I love entertain over 1350 fans.  We need a bigger venue.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The best part of the season is when your lady takes the track

Ask any derby widow what moment they look forward to most in a new season and, if they're smart and worth being with, they will say it's the moment their woman first takes to the track. Whether it's the intro, or the first jam, seeing her out there should make your heart and gonads go all a-tingle. There she is: your missus, out there playing the game she loves as much as you, if not more. 

Tomorrow, I get my love tingles right away.  Dread's team, the Nutcrackers, are taking on the Wicked Pissahs in bout one of the sold out Boston Doubleheader. While I will keep my utter love for this woman in check on Saturday, I wanted to say right here... I love her.

photo by Erin Caruso

Tomorrow, watching her play will certainly cut down on the bout stress that comes from being part of a triumvirate in charge of bout production and an announcer. Whereas last month's bout was all about putting out fires, I think I will just revel in Dreadnought lighting up the track. And calling the game. Yeah. Because I still need to do my job.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Widow pride

The Boston Derby Dames were in their second season when Dreadnought joined. MySpace was still the king of online social networking (where people like "Digital Boob Angel" would send you friend requests and it seemed easier to point to the name and say, "This, Mom, is why we should keep our conversations on the phone"). On my MySpace account, I was sent a friend request from the "Boston Derby Dames Roller Derby Wives Club." It was run by Triple Deck-Her's Bottom Floor, who was instrumental in getting after party food for the bouts.

While she and I were friends, it was rare to see us out making omelets and partying with the other widows in our league. I believe the distance between widows is shrinking, and certainly there are pockets of Boston widow running crews, but it's also a relief that we're not all forced together on mandatory play-dates like the toddlers of uncool, wine-swilling socialites. "You two would love each other..." Right.

Of course, the culture in every league is different.  Some leagues party more, some have great senses of humor, and some leagues are so intense you wonder if they'd descend into chaos if someone passed wind in the middle of a bout setup.  Needless to say, each society of skaters can dictate how well their widows socialize. Vermont, thankfully, has such a great group of ladies that their widows and widowers seem to have formed a team of their own:

Look at those shirts. They had them ordered from Arizona and gave them out before the bout started. Sharks and Jets be damned, there is a new gang in town. In this case, you see a sort of working-class athletes' wives club, proud of their girlfriends and partners, and unafraid to to form a drunken pyramid, but do you want to dance fight against them? I didn't think so.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The reading, the continuing season, and happy times

Almost a week ago, I was writing to you from New York City about the reading I was going to do in Metuchen, NJ at The Raconteur.  It was, in a word, memorable. The Raconteur is a fantastic bookstore, overflowing with used books, DVDs and tchotchkes. The store's decor gives it the appearance of awesome attic and eccentric library. Sort of a Bugaboo Creek for literary types.  I went on first, and read a short-short called "Replacement" that had come from an email I almost sent to the man to whom I was going to give Drago. Who would have thought it could have actually been something entertaining.

The Nutcrackers couldn't be here, so I was a cheap stand-in.

Two men in the audience laughed pretty loud at some of the lines. One was Mike Edison, who has been a pro-wrestler, punk guitarist (worked with GG Allin),  pornographer, and writer/editor. The other, was Juan F$%^ing Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter. My brain almost bled. 

The other people in my class often remind me of how talented they are by breathing in the same room I inhabit. Getting to hear seven of them read for fifteen minutes at a time was revelatory. 

So, I made it home in time to start working on bout production, my school-work, and Power Jammers. It's a decent life. What makes it truly beautiful is that I came home to Dread, with whom none of this would have occurred in the delicious sequence I have enjoyed. 

Tomorrow, I go up to Burlington, Vermont again to watch GMDD take on the Utica Clubbers. I'm doing it solo, so this should be an odd experience for me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Counting down till Metuchen

In about twenty-four hours, I will be reading some of my work that is going into a fiction collection called about derby widows. Sitting at the cold, stone-topped table of my friend, V, I am nervously awaiting his critique of the first draft of the story Dread suggested I read.

I am in one of the coolest apartments on earth, preparing for a moment I have feared to have, with a dude smarter than I will ever's heaven.

It is one thing to be calling derby action. To put your own stuff out there; whoa baby!

Location:Lafayette St,New York,United States

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Art Imitates Life Part Two: My turn at the wheel

While many of this blog's readers are from New England, there are a small number of you who live within an hour or three of the event below. I would love it if you could spread the word and bring some derby love to the Raconteur. The owner, Alex Dawson's a really great dude and I am honored to go on first. Here's the event announcement from Alex:

The Raconteur Presents
8 PM, Sat. March 6
Readings/Live Music

In keeping with my previous efforts to bring accomplished Bennies to Metuchen (Pultizer Prize finalist David Gates, South African author Sheila Kohler, travel writer Rolf Potts), I've extended an open call to my fellow MFAers. Bennington is a place where the students are almost as accomplished as the faculty, and this weekend seven of my Bennington College colleagues will be descending on The Raconteur from various Seaboard states for a night of poetry, music, and prose.

The evening will include such illustrious guests as Steve LaFond, a roller derby mascot (his day job has him donning a red astronautical jumpsuit and elaborate Planet of the Apes-style latex to play a Soviet space chimp named Drago), who writes stories inspired by his life in monkey make-up and the skate rink; Willa Carroll, an acclaimed Manhattan modern dancer-cum-poet recently published in Tin House and labeled an "angel who stirs up trouble" by the Village Voice, whose onstage unicorn-horned wrestling was praised by the New York Times; Jeremy Oldfield, an appropriately surnamed former farmer once dedicated to rejuvenating fallow land (get it? old field) who sings songs about, among other things, compost; and myself, reading a very funny story which begins with the trusted knee-slapper, "When I was ten, my stepfather hit me in the head with an axe." Also with Jennifer Acker, Jamie-Lee Josselyn, Julia Lictblau, Robert "Vee" Hansmann, and Sue Repko. Plus a surprise guest. Free. Comp libations (wine, beer, bourbon).

The Raconteur hosts free weekly events (live music, film screenings, author signings, staged radio plays, art exhibitions), and organizes oddball literary happenings that range from Manhattan pub crawls and arm wrestling tournaments to motorcycle rides and beard growing contests. It's been called "a literary center of gravity" by The New York Times, "a literary landmark" by Time Out New York, and "a literary sanctuary" by the London Guardian.

Previous guests include Jim Carroll, Susan Orlean, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, John Crowley, Charles Bock, Arthur Phillips, Paul Muldoon, Todd Solondz, Mark Doty, Ian Mackaye, The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Sheila Kohler, Samantha Hunt, John Wray, Arthur Nersessian, David Gates, John Wesley Harding, 2008 Oscar winning documentarian Alex Gibney, and two guys who made a shot by shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark when they were ten.

The Raconteur
431 Main Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840

Honestly, going first is a real way to keep me from looking the fool. Everyone from Bennington has no small amount of talent and I have always been floored at the skill that each of the people I am reading with on Saturday possess. It's an intimidating and very entertaining group.