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NY Times: Don't Mess with Austin

Recently the New York Times wrote, "These players are all based in Austin, Tex., which is supposed to be Texas's classy town. One can only imagine Rollergirls' Night Out in Fort Worth." 

In this story, the Times wasn't writing about college football players facing assault charges. This snide comment refers to an unfortunate scene in the A&E documentary, Rollergirls, where one of the Lone Star Rollergirls goes to the bathroom in an alley.   

I don't think it's right to judge a whole town based upon one young lady who had to go really bad.  If I were to take a larger sample--say the New York Yankees--would it be fair to extrapolate out the characteristics of the team to the whole of New York City?  Just because the Yankees are the highest paid team in the league and they still can't win the World Series that doesn't mean that everyone in New York is an over-paid loser.

* * * * *

BTW, the producers of Rollergirls originally contacted the Texas Rollergirls, Austin's flat track league and they were the first to call themselves "rollergirls."  However, the Texas Rollergirls, unlike the Lone Star Rollergirls, felt that producers were concentrating more on the after hours drama and less on the actual sport of roller derby, so they politely declined the invitation to be on a reality TV show.

Roller derby was reborn here in the city of Austin and we are the home to two different leagues.  In the beginning, the two leagues were the same organization called Bad Girl Good Women Productions.  However, there was a somewhat acrimonious split in 2003 and 80% of the skaters left to form the Texas Rollergirls.  You can read more on the split here. (And if you'd like to hear the whole story, please come back to hear our interview with Melicious, one of the founding members of the Texas Rollergirls. We had a facinating and funny conversation with Mel and she's not one to pull her punches.)

The Texas Rollergirls would like to be on TV, but they are aspiring to the likes of network sports coverage or ESPN---and only on their own terms. And only if their sport is taken seriously.  In fact, the Texas Rollergirls, and forty other flat track leagues around the nation are diligently working to build roller derby into a recognized professional sport.  A&E could have made a documentary that chronicled the birth of a new sport, but instead chose to go down the low road.  And that's a shame, for both roller derby and the city of Austin.

Here's more from the MSM:

"Beware this rinky-dink 'Rollergirls,'" ..."I feel sorry for Austin" - New York Post

"Sometimes there aren't enough players for a team practice because too many are drunk." - Sun Sentinel

"Is a fake show about a fake sport four times worse than typical TV fare, or only twice as bad? ...Rollergirls will leave it unanswered." - Philadelphia Inquirer

Editor's note:  There's a rumor flying around that this show staged a fake lesbian wedding just to up the salacious appeal.  If true, this bodes bad for the sanctity of marriage, both gay and straight. 



When roller derby strives for mainstream acceptance, I think it's going to remove some of the fun and underground nature of the sport. Why clean it up? Who cares what these moralistic middle-aged reporters think? I've been to the TXRD matches and have had a great time. It is a rock and roll sport--part of a subculture you see in Rob Zombie films, tattoo art and Whoopsy magazine--and it's quintessentially Austin. A whitewashing of the trashy aspects may be more respectable and profitable for those who want to be "athletes", but for me it's going to remove what I love about it. The worst thing about the show is that it's boring--not that it highlights the salacious aspects. It's an escape from the humdrum office and other work environments where people can craft their own larger than life identities. F**k ESPN.

Steven Phenix

I'm all for keeping the character of roller derby intact. My beef is with producers of MTV programs who think public urination is worthwhile to broadcast. And I also think there's room in this one-horse town for two different leagues with one attracting the underground crowd and the other appealing to the not-quite-the-mainstream crowd. I don't think anyone wants to see roller derby become Disney On Ice.

John Presley

I attended my first game last night at the invite of the Hotrod Honeys that I met at the hotel I work at. It was one of the greatest times I've ever had. All of the girls are awesome, friendly, approachable, and very athletic and tough. Anyone that says it is 'fake' has no idea what they are talking about.

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Guests and Armadillos

  • Steven Phenix
    Weekly podcast interviews of Austinites famous and infamous, known and unknown, with the sole intent to convince my good friend Galia, an Israeli woman living way out in California, to move and live with us here in Austin, Texas, the land of the weird and the home of the armadillo.

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