The Wheels on the Hussy Go ... 

Just in time for the 2007 roller-derby season, Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan, a founding member of the Texas Rollergirls Rock-n-Rollerderby League, has published Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track, the comprehensive handbook for rollergirls and their fans, covering everything from the sport’s campy history to choosing a nom de guerre. Even over the phone, Joulwan skates circles around the Current.


Just so I know where I stand:  Let’s say you and me are near the front of the stage at a Social Distortion concert and a T-shirt is being thrown out.

Oh, you don’t have a prayer. Even without thinking about it, I would probably drop down into my blocker’s stance and take you out at the hip level.

And what would happen to me?

You would laterally fly a few feet and then land on the floor ... on your ass. And then the crowd could take care of the rest of you while I claim my T-shirt.

Would I require hospital treatment?

Oh, I think you could probably be healed with a couple of beers.

So, a friend of mine recently started a team way up in po-dunk South Dakota `Sioux Falls Dollz` and I wonder, what’s the draw, why is this becoming huge?

You’re getting exercise, but it’s coupled with this outsider, punk-rock vibe. You get to be girly and tough at the same time. When I was doing research for the book, I heard that over and over again. I don’t know how many activites there are where you get to do that. Being the singer of a band, I guess.

So, are rollergirls getting endorsement packages yet?

Not yet, but man, we’re hoping for ’em.

If you were going to advertise a sports product what would it be? Deodorant? Gatorade?

I would step outside the sports world, actually, and go for Advil or Tylenol. And I’d always be happy to be sponsored by Jim Beam.

So, when you get knocked, what’s the painkiller of choice?

You know, I recently discovered Extra Strength Tylenol. I bragged in my book about never having an injury, and as soon I submitted my manuscript I tore my rotator cuff.

Doing what?

It was during a practice, which is the greatest insult of all. It was the last jam of the last practice before we played against the Mad Rollin’ Dolls in July. And I got blind-sided because I was tired, and landed with all of my weight on my left hand. I thought that I just bruised the muscle ... I kept on playing and my team actually voted me MVP for that game. I got to the off-season, rested, and it still hurt ... I had surgery in December. So, Extra Strength Tylenol.

And what deodorant is best for a rollergirl?

I’m going to go look in my cabinet right now.

You don’t know?!

I just wanted to make sure I got the name right! Because here’s two things: It actually works, and it’s got a really cute, pink, sparkly label which I really like. Secret Invisible Solid.

Many, many years ago, my friend and I interviewed the lead singer of Good Riddance and thought it’d be funny if we asked him about his deodorant. He flipped out like it was the most offensive question he’d ever been asked: “I don’t use deodorant. They test on animals.”

Oh my god. Well, I will go on record right now as saying I love chemicals. I like to put to them in my hair. I’ll let you in on another secret right now. There’s this stuff called Final Seal you can get at dance stores. You spritz it on your face after you do your makeup and it makes it stay on.

So, why aren’t there male roller-derby leagues?

We just decided we wanted to do it all-girls and other people followed suit. There’s been talk, every once in a while, among some of our guys. They call themselves “The Widowers” ...

These are the groupies?

Husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends of rollergirls who graciously let their partners give all their free time to roller derby. They’ve formed a little community of their own. There was a group playing poker every week while we practiced.

It sounds like a support group.

It kind of is.

“Hi, my name is Dave ... ”

“... And I’m a Widower.”

“Hi Dave.”

So, every once in a while the Widowers toss around the idea of a reverse powder-puff game where they would put on the skates. But once the beer’s worn off they’re like “yeah ... no.” Doing a one-off like that, it’d be ridiculous. You have to train to play the game. There’s one league that has a men’s team, but who are they going to play?

Why can’t they play the girls’ team? They’d still get their asses kicked.

They probably would, but ... I don’t know that I would classify myself as a feminist, and I don’t know how many rollergirls made the conscious choice to think of it as a feminist activity, but it’s just really cool to have a group of women come together. Generally, it’s hard to get 60 chicks together and not devolve into general cattiness. All of the natural competitiveness is filtered into the sport, and the rest of the time we’re like a family.

More by Dave Maass



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