Updates, Interviews, Good Stuff

Roller Derby Old and New at Hollywood Theatre

Portland, OR – Kim “Rocket Mean” Stegeman, executive director of the Rose City Rollers, will give a short talk at The Hollywood Theatre’s showing of “Kansas City Bomber” tonight, April 1st as part of its #OREGONMADE Film Series. Tickets can be purchased through the Hollywood Theatre website or at the door.
“Roller derby has always occupied a special place in popular culture,” says Stegeman. “Films like Kansas City Bomber and Whip It are some of the ways people find our sport. For our junior skaters, the journey also often includes the Newbury Award-winning graphic novel, Roller Girl.”
Kansas City Bomber was filmed in Portland in 1972 and uses one of roller derby’s earlier iterations, roller games, as the setting for its story. Roller games (which were a form of sports entertainment in the same vein as professional wrestling) gave birth to iconic teams like the Los Angeles Thunderbirds. At the time of the film’s release, the movie’s star Raquel Welch lamented, “It’s too bad it couldn’t be a more legitimate sport. The skaters have great athletic ability.”
That changed in the early 2000’s with the birth of modern flat track roller derby…and Portland’s Rose City Rollers were there from the start, launching in 2004.
“The sport has evolved a lot since 2004,” notes Stegeman. “In the early days, it was very much a subculture. The precursor to WFTDA, the sport’s sanctioning body, started with 20 leagues. Now, there are over 450 leagues around the world. The Roller Derby World Cup, which was held in England last year, 38 countries were represented and the event was covered by BBC Sport. Derby is a big deal.”
The Wheels of Justice’s Loren Mutch skates against Seattle’s Rat City Roller Girls at a bout last August.
(Photography Credit: Regularman Photography)
And for Portland, perhaps a bigger deal than many of the city’s residents might appreciate: the Rose City Rollers’ premier All Star team, the Wheels of Justice, are currently ranked the #1 team in the world. Their championship win at the International Championships in New Orleans last November was the third time they’ve brought The Hydra back to Portland in the last four years.
Residents of the Portland metropolitan area will be able to see Rose City Rollers’ top skaters when the league’s All Stars take the track for their 2019 debut at the “Wheels vs. Justice” exhibition bout on Saturday, 4/5. Tickets for all of the league’s upcoming events can be purchased at www.rosecityrollers.com.
Press are invited to attend our upcoming games this weekend, and accommodations can be made for photographers and reporters upon request. Please contact Rose City Rollers Marketing Manager, Meg Patterson, for more info: meg@rosecityrollers.com.
About Rose City Rollers:
The Rose City Rollers is 501(c)3 charitable organization that serves nearly 400 of Portland’s women and girls who want to play the team sport of roller derby, connect with an inclusive community, and realize their power both on skates and off.