Monday, May 10, 2010

Fish Nets and Wheels Brings Out A Crowd

I suspect that the tattoo parlors on State Street were awfully quiet between 5 and 6:30 pm Saturday, because it sure seemed to me like all of their clientele must have been out at the Earl Warren Showgrounds watching Santa Barbara's all-female roller derby team, the Mission City Brawlin' Betties, in their match against the West Coast Derby Knockouts.

I don't know what it is, but the roller derby certainly attracts, shall we say, an "edgy" crowd. I've seen fewer tattoos on an episode of "Lock Up."

I haven't watched a roller derby match since I was a kid growing up in L.A. where the L.A. Thunderbirds were a regular staple on Channel 5. Anyone else out there remember Ralphie Valladeres, Terri Lynch or Shirley Hardman? And of course the TV announcer for the broadcasts was Dick Lane. Whoa Nellie!

I doubt I could have ever interested my 14-year old daughter in watching those roller derby matches on TV, but she was certainly eager to go out and see the Brawlin' Betties. I can only attribute her interest in roller derby to last year's movie Whip It.

When I later asked my daughter what it was she liked about roller derby she replied, "you get to wear cute outfits and body check people."

"Cute" outfits? Fishnet stockings bring to my mind many possible descriptions. But "cute" is not among them.

Same goes for the names of the players, which are more clever than cute. Rather than use their real names, team members skate under noms de guerre such as "Bacon & Legs," "Booty Ninja" and "Vino Noir." And those are just the ones that are printable.

At the half-time break my daughter and I talk to one of the team members, "Lo-Blo SugGrr." She asks my daughter if she might be interested in joining the Brawlin' Betties. Without hesitating for even a split second, my daughter answers, "yes!"

Lo-Blo tells her that, you have to be 18 years of age and have your own health insurance.

Suddenly, for this father, universal health care doesn't sound so good.

Actually, being 18 and having your own health insurance ought to be a requirement for sitting in the front row of the spectator's section. There are no rails or barriers separating the track from the seats. One good body check delivered by one skater to another and watch out! "Who wants a lap dance?" And before you get any ideas, I should remind you, using your hands is against the rules in this game.

Of course sitting down anywhere during the match assumes you could find an empty seat, which were few and far between. With so many of the seats taken much of the crowd is standing.

For sure, there is plenty to see. And then there's the match.

Although the skaters don't reach the speeds they would on a banked track, they go pretty fast on Earl Warren's roller hockey rink. And skaters are constantly taking tumbles and headers as they knock each other around. At one point the officials stop the skating when blood is spilled by one of the Betties who takes a nasty fall.

Although the visiting team may have sent more of the Betties to the infirmary, the Betties put more points on the board winning by a lopsided score of 127 to 69.

The next opportunity to see the Brawlin Betties skate at Earl Warren will be on June 12.

That should give you plenty of time to make it to the tattoo parlor.

Photos from Saturday's match are posted here.

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