One of the ladies featured on the A&E's newest series describes the action in its debut episode as "beer, booze, music, babes." She left out cigarettes, catfights, cleavage, cussing.
It doesn't sound very ladylike. But then these ladies answer to aliases like Miss Conduct, Venis Envy, Jail Bait.
Clever, no? Classy? No.
That's pretty much the point with "Rollergirls," where "The Real World" meets professional wrestling on roller skates. The whole shebang debuts 10 p.m. EST Monday, when the rest of the world gets a behind the scenes look at the resurrection of roller derby in Austin, Texas.
The Lonestar Rollergirls league was founded in 2001, and features five all-female teams following in the skate marks of old school roller derby legends Joanie Weston and her Bay Area Bombers. Their home is the Thunderdome, a former airport hangar where the bouts are held for wildly enthusiastic crowds.
This new generation of roller derby queens skates that thin line between blue collar and white trash, balancing nights of tequila shots with days of their real-life careers as nurses, teachers ... rubber-lingerie designers.
A built-in demographicThe show comes with a built-in demographic: viewers who enjoy sweaty, scantily clad women waging war on roller skates. "Rollergirls" just needs to lure them back from the Internet.
The skaters are bad girls — to a point. They smoke and drink and curse like sailors, but they bristle (in episode two) at the suggestion that roller girls are easy.
Their position on the last point is undercut by a penchant for fishnet uniforms, rump-shaking celebrations, extended middle fingers and alcohol-fueled antics. When Miss Conduct is missing in action at a practice, a teammate offers this explanation: "Miss Conduct is drunk."
Fellow skater Cha Cha could have offered the same excuse when she mistook an alley for a ladies room during a girls' night out with her teammates from the PDFs, which stands for ... ah, forget it. It's enough to know that one of the PDFs proudly tattooed part of the team name inside her lower lip.
Fair enough. These girls are roll models, not role models.
The arrival of reality television at the roller rink is no surprise; the real question is what took so long? The show belongs somewhere in the mix. Maybe in a slot between Bobby Brown and Martha Stewart. Or between the suicidal guy from "The Partridge Family" and the ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback on "Survivor."
"Rollergirls" boasts a bit of a pedigree. It was created and produced by Gary Auerbach and Julie Auerbach, the makers of the hit MTV reality show "Laguna Beach."
The dangers of skating bralessEpisode one features the clash of the old and the new, when veteran Lux and the Rhinestone Cowgirls square off against rookie sensation Venis Envy and the PDFs. Lux, the cocky star who's presented as the league's Raquel Welch (remember "Kansas City Bomber"?), learns she shouldn't skate braless.
Its follow-up focuses on Sister Mary Jane, a special-ed teacher whose skating wardrobe generally features low-cut tops, tiny skirts and panties with the message "No Pain, No Jane." The episodes end with a roller derby showdown where many issues are resolved on the track.
Ah, the track. When two teams square off, it's just like the roller derby you remember: headlocks, fights, dirty tricks. One difference: these skaters occasionally suffer from "fishnet burn," a scrape left by stockings skidding on the track.
Some highlights from the first two episodes:
- Best name for a skater: Blanche Davidian.
- Best line of dialogue, delivered by Cha Cha: "She also messed up her foot at that Jell-O wrestling, when she was on the trampoline."
- Best bit of voyeurism: Lux prepping for the first bout of the season by gently moisturizing her legs.
- Best team uniforms: The Catholic schoolgirl outfits favored by the Holy Rollers.
- Best pre-game meal: Venis Envy's cigarette while driving to the Thunderdome.
And does roller derby get any sweeter than this? After Miss Envy's first match — but before she goes out drinking and returns to her motor home — she shares a quiet moment with her boyfriend Palmer.
"I could not be prouder of you," he says.
And it sounds like he means it.