Pale Horse Roller Derby Blog
By Roadside BombShel #3165
Feature photo by Sean Murphy. Roadside BombShel is on the far right.
Hey new skaters! Wondering what your derby name should be? I’d like to suggest something bloodthirsty and violent.
I have a special reverence for names that are fierce to the point of shocking. Razor Slut, Agata Chokeabitchski, Chainsaw Guts Fuck, C-Section, Deathskull…epic names like these set apart the Hardened Killer Who Eats Kids Like You For Breakfast from the weak of heart who has asked herself, “What would my mother think?”
A badass derby name will hit you before the skater herself can; in fact, they cause a visible reaction from people. Hearing one for the first time, a typical person reacts in the following steps:
- Eyes Widen
- Confirmation of what they think they’ve just heard is requested
- Nervous chuckle
- Name in question is repeated a couple times
- Comment along the lines of “that’s awesome” is whispered
- Subject is switched.
A layer has just been added to the legend of that skater, without her having to lift a finger.
But don’t just take my word for it; epic names have a history that can be traced all the way back to the Bible. Consider this quotation:
When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hell was following close behind her.
— Revelations 6:7
In the book of Revelations, the fourth and final horseman of the apocalypse is named Death. Of all the fearsome riders described, she is the only one to whom the text itself explicitly gives a name. The effect is shock and awe; the deliberate naming of the rider implies a reputation that incites terror without needing further explanation.
My name, Roadside BombShel, is not a badass derby name. And like a high school sweetheart who married too soon, I have a wandering eye and fantasies of leaving my old faithful for something fresh and exciting. Each time I become infatuated with a new name, and I am sure I am ready to make the leap… another sweet young thing comes along that turns my head. Names I’ve lusted after include: Double Tap, Jenna Juggernaught, Tittie FuckYouUp, Safe Word, and most recently, Crack War. (Say Crack War a few times fast out loud and you’ll see what makes it a shocker.)
But as fun as psychotic names are, the reality is that any derby name can be fierce; it depends entirely on the skater who bears it. A seemingly cute lil’ name like “Trish the Dish” will knock knees all over this town. Have faith in your chosen name and it will grow to represent every seemingly impossible lateral move, every effective booty block, every jammer take-down, and every lead jammer status of your derby career. Some examples of downright terrifying names in Toronto Roller Derby are Bambi, Land Shark, Mega Bouche, and Bruiseberry Pie. The names themselves may not cause you to wince in fear, but their relentless stamina and skill would make four skaters like these a familiar Biblical force.
No matter what name you choose, you’d better get it registered soon. A very small group of players have been causing a very big buzz (see articles here , here and here) about a move towards using players’ every day legal names instead in an effort to present roller derby as a serious sport. Although at this point it’s just the Race City Roller Derby (RCRD) girls, their motivations have caused a seemingly supportive reaction from WFTDA. The recent WFTDA 2011 Demographic Survey asks respondents how many other types of sports they follow, and asks if they, “would enjoy roller derby more if skaters used their real names instead of fake ones.” WFTDA is unmistakably testing the waters. Aside from that, some believe that the use of real names will soon become a necessity. With over 20,000-plus names of roller girls registered on the master roster, chosen names are getting rejected more frequently as requests for names that are identical or too similar to pre-existing names continue to pour in. For example, there are currently over 120 names that begin with the word “hell” in some form.
While I appreciate the goal of RCRD, I think the names should stay because they are part of the culture of the sport. Furthermore, derby has already blown up and the names are being taken seriously by the mainstream for better or worse: one skater has found herself in a legal dust-up over her chosen name. Crackerjack, a roller girl featured as an avatar in the new Jam City Rollergirls game for Nintendo Wii, is being sued for copyright for the use of her name by Frito Lay. If that doesn’t say we’re too legit to quit, what does?
Despite my day dreams of instantly achieving badassery through a new death dealin’ derby name, whenever I hear someone call “Hey, Roadside!” I feel a sense of pride because even as a humble rookie I know that my name reflects where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, and where I want to go. It tells my story.
Whether it is a reflection on the seriousness of the sport, a perceived threat to a corporation, or good old fashioned intimidation of other players, it is clear that a roller derby name leaves a distinct impression. A doomed lover once asked, “Would a Rose, by another name, smell as sweet?” But I’m not going to conclude by asking that that weak-ass question. On the track, I feel the answer tickling on the back of my neck from the breath of the pale horse that Death rides.
You can follow RoadsideBombShel on twitter.