Derby saved my soul.
That is not exactly the truth but it is faithful to my feelings about a sport I’ve been photographing for the past four years. I am a retired person who was in so many ways rotting away in boredom.
There came a day that my daughter decided to become a Derby Girl. I have missed my children so much since they became adults and started their own lives. As a single parent I was to suffer from what is commonly known as the Empty Nest Syndrome. Color me surprised since I had always considered it a malady suffered by the mother. But not so much the case with me.
As I took photos of my daughter at her practices I decided that it made sense to take photos of the other skaters. So I did. In all honesty those photos were not very good but the Derby Girls responded with approval. I liked that! They even gave me my derby name, Daddy Skittles. My daughter is Tangy Skittles so it made sense and I liked that too! I have always considered my derby name to be a precious gift from my daughter and her team, the Shotgun Shirleys.
As I got to know the members of the Shotgun Shirleys I gained an appreciation for them and what they were doing. In essence they were leaving the hum-drum daily events and conflicts at the door and throwing themselves into a culture dominated by other women who found the exhaustion that came with such a physical sport to be rejuvenating, They came together for a purpose which allowed them to associate with others from all walks of life, make friends and work off their frustrations along the way. A bit like drinking without the need to worry about getting pulled over on the way home.
I met many ladies who were to gain my respect for their fortitude, dedication and honesty. The tattoos and ever changing hair colors were a bonus. There is a little joke about Derby Girls. It is said they like shiny things. But it really is not a joke. They do. I’ve come home with glitter in my hair, on my clothes and even on my camera gear. I liked that too. At every turn there were surprises for me. New experiences. New sights. New everything. For someone easily bored, and I am, it was and is exciting. The salty language was a bit out of the ordinary for this man who had a very deeply religious conservative upbringing. But it wasn’t like I had never imbibed in sailor speak so not such a big deal once I discovered that these women were humans. Very bright humans.
One thing led to another and soon I was photographing their competitions known as bouts. Women and men knocking the crap out of other women and men. Who wouldn’t find that at least interesting? It is beyond me why there are not hoards of photographers beating down the doors to record this unique sport. I am very fortunate to have been allowed through those doors.
But the very best part is that Roller Derby has given me a new purpose. No more sitting at home rotting away. No more Empty Nest Syndrome. Most Saturdays bring a new bout, new photos, new acquaintances, new experiences and a great deal of respect for those I photograph.
From time to time, my photos bring smiles…I really like that. Those photos are in so many ways memories waiting for the skaters to one day show to others proving they were crazy bitches and assholes that went way too fast on wheels way too small. And…I’ll be a part of that. That thought makes me feel good, as in…Very Good!
Visit my fundraising roller derby show at Eye Lounge at 5th Street and Roosevelt
and go to the fundraising website to donate in the fight against cancer
Help Wil Munny Save Some Boobies