“Boom. Boom. Pow!” No, this isn’t the hit Black Eyed Peas song or Adam West throwing punches in the “Batman” TV series. These are the sounds of Milwaukee’s Brewcity Bruisers taking command of the roller derby rink.
The Bruisers launched into its fourth season Jan. 16 amid a World Wrestling Federation atmosphere bolstered by a capacity crowd at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex.
Fans waved homemade signs and pockets of die-hards wore coordinating colors.
The pompom-wielding Beerleaders (read: cheerleaders) kept the fans at full boil, helped along by the booming voice of emcee Gloria Hole (aka Stephanie King), who urged the audience, “The more you cheer for them, the drunker they get.”
According to Sexi Mexi (aka Melina Rodriguez) of team Maiden Milwaukee, the league has gained a reputation in the roller derby world for its standout production values — and opening night did not disappoint. It included energizing music, a half-time show featuring the hip hop and break dance roller skating moves of Break Sk8 (think a more technical version of the choreography from Madonna’s Confessions tour) and projections of pictures and names at the introduction of each player.
Everything and everyone in this league has a clever sobriquet, with team names such as Crazy Eights, Shevil Knevils and Rushin’ Rollettes. A cute male referee is named Sloppy Joe. The Shevil’s roster includes Grace Killy and Becky the Butcher. The Maidens boast Habeas Kickass. And the Eights have Kat Scratch Fever and Jenerous Beatings.
As the Jan. 16 bout began, a gaggle of refs stationed themselves in the center of a fluorescent, taped-off racetrack. The offense and defense stood ready at their respective lines. Then the opening whistle blew for the initial jam, the first of many 2-minute maximum innings.
The defense players took off from their more forward placement on the track. There was one pivot position per team at the lead and three blockers each in the pack. The second whistle sounded, and the only two offensive players on the track launched their attack from the rear.
Each of the attackers is known as a “jammer,” and she’s visible by a helmet with a star. Her goal is to shove through the defensive wall to receive points by passing the opposing team’s players.
While there is no outright fighting during a jam, the Jan. 16 audience reacted enthusiastically to well-timed body checks and to offenses that sent skaters to the penalty box — which in past seasons was presided over by guest drag queens.
Lesbian-identified skater Pound Anya (aka Joey Zocher) said only about 10 percent of the “80 really racy women” are out lesbians.
But, she added, this also is an LGBT-friendly sport.
“We’re treated like everybody else and we’re very open,” Zocher said. “People talk about boyfriends and girlfriends.”
The group skates in the gay Pride parade and, if a gathering is held at a lesbian bar, no one has qualms about going, Zocher said.
Zahra Kiarang, a two-year volunteer, said LGBT people should be fans because, “It’s total chick power. Awesome gals go out there and rough it up a little bit. Professional sports are all men and this is a chance to see women.”