“Whip It” Good

The Real Deal: The Varsity Brawlers of L.A. Derby Dolls

If I suffered through any annual rite growing up, it was the routine rush to the emergency room thanks to some fall from grace in dance class or dashing around the school yard: Head to toe fractures, sprains, stitches and out-right bone breaks and tendon tears are inventoried in my doctor's files like some M.A.S.H. unit handbook.
I even managed to rip my anterior cruciate ligament (one of the four major ligaments of the knee) thanks to a pair of six-inch platforms, a misstep that my orthopedic surgeon claimed topped the worst he'd seen among a client list filled with pro-football players (presumably in cleats, not stilettos).
That incident resulted in a replacement ligament from a cadaver. Dead man walking!

"Whip It" Cast: Eve, Ellen Page, Landon Pigg, Drew Barrymore and Har Mar

So it's no surprise that I've always marveled at anyone who can really roller skate. Sure, I spent many a seventh grade Saturday night at the Fountain Valley roller rink. But I was never really that good for fear I'd end up hurt. I'm hell on heels, so imagine me on wheels.
Fear is not an option among the women in the thriving revival of roller derby, who brandish their bruises like honor badges. But as integral to the adrenaline rush during each jam is the esprit de corps. These are women united and empowered, who are navigating within the rules of a game precisely because they are playing outside the rules of conventional society's expectations.
Of course, this is the message, or at least one of them, in "Whip It," which, as you know, opens in theaters this weekend. It might be a coming-of-age flick about the pain of growing up and, of course, derby skating. But at least the cast did their due diligence. Drew Barrymore, who stars and directs, has been a regular at the L.A. Derby Doll HQ in historic Filipinotown (caught her there at a May jam), where the entire cast underwent boot camp and the competition scenes were filmed.

The whole lot of them–Drew, Ellen Page, Eve, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis and others whom I couldn't recognize–turned out there Monday night for a pre-premiere bash and post-match Q+A. Shauna Cross, who wrote the screenplay based on her quasi-autobio, was also there, as was local louche (and I mean this affectionately) Har Mar Superstar, who appears as Coach Jeff in the film. The scruffy "sex idol" delivered a pretty decent rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" before a full-session bout in which the Varsity Brawlers got creamed by the Tough Cookies with a score in the triple digits. Among the TC stars are the phenomenal Rachel "Iron Maiven" Piplica and Kristen "Krissy Krash" Adolfi, who also appear in the film (although Rachel had to loan out her name to Juliette Lewis' character).

Krissy Krash and Heathyr Lawrence

Both gals also got their Cinderella moment Tuesday night at the official Hollywood premiere thanks, in large part, to their colleague at the hot rod clothing brand Lucky 13, Heathyr "Meow Meow" Lawrence. As designer there, she kitted out the pair in custom dresses and flowers for their hair. It was signature Heathyr, who I've known forever and recently reunited with again–and who was grand enough to invite me to another highly charged night at one of my new favorite L.A. haunts where I could dream under the mirrored roller skate in the sky.
(I think I'll call my skating alter ego, Rosie Thorn. A girl can dream…)

Krissy Krash, Juliette Lewis and Iron Maiven
Sketch for Iron Maiven's red carpet look by Heathyr "Meow" Lawrence
The L.A. Derby Doll family watch the big Hollywood stahs talk shop.
class=”caption_container” width=”434″>Ellen Page's love interest in the film Landon Pigg and his real band.
Heathyr Lawrence and yours truly, Rose Apodaca
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