D.F. Oliveria interviewed two players from Coeur d’Alene’s roller derby team prior to the Snake Pit Venomous Vixens’ smashing 215-55 victory over visiting Rolling Hills Derby Girls of Moscow at Skate Plaza Sept. 19. The local “Snakes” have beaten the teams from Missoula and Moscow, and have lost to one from Spokane. The following interview with Kristen “Holly Shyt” Rathbun Binyon and Jada “Pippi Headstomping” Bellrose first appeared on Oliveria’s blog, Huckleberries Online:
Huckleberries: Is your roller derby team associated with Joe Peak’s popular Snake Pit restaurant at Enaville?
Jada Bellrose: “We’re not associated but that’s where we got our name. It’s an iconic place, a one-time house of burlesque.
Huckleberries: Obviously, the name of your team speaks to an image that you’ve created. Am I right?
Jada: For women in America throughout history, it has been a struggle to have independence and strength. It started out that the only career a woman could have is to be a whore. They are the original strong women.
Huckleberries: How did you guys start?
Jada: We broke off from a recreational league. We started as group of 20 in June and wanted to compete at higher level. We’ve had crazy momentum since. Many of us have skated longer.
Huckleberries: How long have you been skating?
Kristen: I skated all the time when I was a kid. I haven’t been on skates since I was 12. I started skating when I joined derby in January or February of this year. I thought it’d be like riding a bike. But it has been a little more difficult than that.
Huckleberries: Where did you come up with your roller derby names?
Jada: It’s different for each girl. Some have had nicknames that they’ve kept from childhood. Some of us come up with brand new names that suit our alter egos. It’s an escape from our daily lives.
Kristen: Two years ago I weighed 256 pounds. I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve been able to step out of my comfort zone through this. I’m a wife and a mother. I have a special-needs child. It’s the one thing that takes my mind off everything else. My brain is only thinking about what I’m doing on the track.
Huckleberries: How many other teams are there in the Snake Pit Derby Dames (Coeur d’Alene area league)?
Jada: We currently have one all-star team. We have enough girls to create two standard teams. We’re waiting until the end of the season to draft girls and decide who’s on which team. There will be three teams by October.
Huckleberries: Anyone ever question you re: whether or not roller derby is a sport?
Jada: That’s a common misconception that roller derby is a show like WWF (World Wrestling Federation). It used to be like that in the ’50s and ’40s. There were small groups of people who would go around like a circus and be paid.
Huckleberries: Have either of you been hurt during a bout?
Kristen: I’ve never been hurt. But I’ve had plenty of bruises and a dislocated thumb.
Jada: For me, it’s bruises and blisters. My only real injuries have come during practice. You get a shoulder to the jaw and can’t chew for a few days. (Thanks a lot Hooky Hellraiser.)
Kristen: We do have several girls in our league who have been injured.
Huckleberries: What does your husband/family think of you participation in roller derby?
Kristen: My kids love it. The friends think it’s cool. My husband has a love-hate relationship with it. He’s really supportive of me getting out there and exercising. I took on a lot of responsibility at first. It became a little overwhelming. Most husbands or significant others become what we call “derby widows.”
Huckleberries: Are either of you the coach of the team?
Jada: No, but I coach all of the new skaters which we call “fresh meat.”
Huckleberries: How would prospective “fresh meat” join?
Jada: All they have to do is show up to practice (Sundays, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Skate Plaza) and Thursdays, from 9 to 10 p.m.
Huckleberries: Kristen, I notice you have blue-indigo-violet hair and tats on both arms, legs and feet. What image are you trying to portray with all of that? And is that image what you’re really like?
Kristen: I’ve had my tats well longer than I’ve been doing roller derby. I’m actually one of the quieter girls on the team. Most of the girls are crazy in a good way. I’m not boisterous. What someone might expect based on the stereotype.
Huckleberries: I hear that you’re going to produce a calendar this fall?
Jada: We have an official Snake Pit Roller Girl calendar coming out in October. It’s going to be hot (with sales price of $12 to $15). Everyone on the A Team will be in it – and a few “fresh meat” skaters as well. Each month will be themed.
Huckleberries: How well attended are the bouts?
Jada: They’re very well attended and we expect them to keep growing. We’ve already sold well over 200 tickets in advance ($8 in advance from local Rollergirl and Inked Tattoos on Northwest Boulevard, or Skate Plaza; $7 for students and seniors; and kids 5 and under free; and $10 for adults at the door).
Huckleberries: Who do you play after Rolling Hills Derby Dames?
Jada: Then we play Treasure Valley Roller Girls in Boise at the Qwest Arena. The arena has a seating capacity of 2,500. Their league is well-established. It’ll be our biggest event to date.
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