When Chicagos Windy City Rollers take the rink, more than 3,000 spectators show up to watch the all-girl roller derby team raise hell. This spring, Milwaukee will have its own team of rowdy, freewheelin females to root for. They're called the "Brewcity" Bruisers.
"I ride dirt bikes with guys all the time, but Im psyched to do something tough with the girls," says Christina Tekus who plans to officially join the Bruisers at their first practice on Dec. 4.
The Bruisers are still shopping around for a home rink, but plan to start playing home games next May.
Organizer Molly Cassidy, co-owner of Riverwests sensual shop called the Tool Shed, says she dreamed of starting a team for a while, and to find other likeminded ladies she posted on a couple of Web sites and slapped up flyers around town. The response was phenomenal, and now she and co-organizers Cris Siqueira and Talia Maltz have so many interested girls that they will probably have four rotating teams.
Across the country, all-girl roller derby has made a massive comeback. The sport originated as co-ed competition in Chicago in the 30s but lost momentum in the 50s. It was revived with Raquel Welshs 1972 B-flick "Kansas City Bomber," and then underwent another wheelie of appreciation a few years ago.
This new wave of derby is definitely different from past eras, and not just because its no longer co-ed. Punk rock ethos, loud music, tattoos, skate-and-destroy attitudes and DIY costumes are as much a part of the sport as insanely fast skating.
In the world of roller derby, injury is part of the infamy, and snapped bones and bruises the size of compact mirrors are commonplace, with some fans flocking just to witness girl-on-girl rumbles. The Windy City Rollers even have an "injury gallery" on their site, but how much of the mayhem is real and how much, if any, is staged?
Cassidy admits that new school roller derby is a performance sport, but its not a spoof. "Some of its real and some of its theatrical," she says.
Sarah Ditzenberger plans to join the Bruisers and says most of what fans witness is the real deal.
"Every time were on the rink, someones going to get knocked down. Sure, were wearing pads, but the bruises and the broken bones are real," she says, going on to explain that the derby also cultivates sportsgirlship and camaraderie.
"The camaraderie is a big part of why I want to join the team," says Ditzenberger. "But also the athletic part of it, the entertainment, the alter ego and the brawls."
Adding to the theatrical aspect, each player gets to choose a rink name. Other teams have players monikered "Carmen Monoxide," "Suzy Hotrod" and "Ginger Snaps." Cassidy goes by "Butch Cassidy" and teammate Tami OConnor took the name "Dee Bauchery."
"Im ready to put Milwaukee on the (roller derby) map," says OConnor. "And I aint scared."
Roller derbys rules are pretty simple. Each team has a jammer (point scorer), pivot (pack wrangler) and three blockers. The "pack" starts out skating together, with the jammers behind the other two players, and they have two minutes to pass as many members of the opposing team as they can. At the same time, the pack skaters try to block the opposing jammer while clearing the way for their own teams jammer so she can score. This is where things usually get dicey.
Although the Bruisers havent chosen uniforms yet, theyll most likely have a punk rock-ish, DIY style. Cassidy says shes hoping for a Western theme, but says it will be a decision made by the entire group. Opposing team uniforms include girlie prison get-ups and all-black numbers with fishnets, corsets and spikes, but dont get the wrong idea; roller derby isnt just for porn stars.
"Roller derby is not just for thin, muscular women. We encourage any size woman to play," says Cassidy. "Recently, we went to see the Windy City Rollers, and there was a group of junior high girls in front of us, and it was so cool so see them getting into a sport where women can play, no matter what kind of body they have."
The Brewcity Bruiser's Web site is myspace.com/brewcitybruisers.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.