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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FIGHTS: LOUDMOUTH - CH. 1 - A LITTLE ABOUT ME

At the end of my past life, I earned the right to be the first flat track derby announcer with the Texas Rollergirls.

What follows is a very old, very unauthorized, and very unedited version of the document I produced describing my experiences during the genesis of flat track derby.  It would be some of the last moments of my past life.

Enjoy.

LOUDMOUTH: Confessions of a Flat Track Derby Announcer

By

Bowie V. Ibarra


Copyright 2007  Bowie V. Ibarra

“I see a bad moon rising,
I see trouble on the way”

--- Creedence Clearwater Revival

CHAPTER I: A LITTLE ABOUT ME

            Here’s a little back story on how I became the guy I am.
I can’t tell you if I was destined for the stage.  I can tell you, though, that being the only child to two loving parents gave me a lot of confidence in myself, and I will forever love them both for the strong foundation they provided me with.  Naturally, everything the child does in his younger years is, or at least should be, lauded.  I was the apple of my parent’s eyes. 
I completely understand how they feel.  With my daughter, I feel that same emotion.  But that part of the story comes a little later.
            My parents set good examples for me in the small south Texas town of Uvalde, Texas.  Both my parents were hard workers, and passed on that trait to me.  My mother was the bookkeeper for the school district and my father was a school administrator.  Dad was a strict disciplinarian and very fair, and kept me in line early.  When I got out of line, I got several smacks on the rear with a belt.  When I got in big trouble in Middle School, I got three licks by the paddle by “Mr. Ibarra”, then got another three at home from “dad”.
            It is not for me to judge if I was ‘funny’ as a child.  Hell, it is not for me to judge if I am funny today.  But I do remember taking to joke books very early. 
Sitcoms were my favorite as a kid, and I will never forget sitting with my parents on Sunday nights watching the television programming on CBS.  Some of those shows included Alice and the Jeffersons.  The laughter my parents and I shared still echoes in my mind.  I didn’t have any patience for drama.
            But laughter….
            There’s something about this heavenly gift that I guess has always held an appeal to me.  In my youth, I found an importance in it.  A kind of safety.  When you laugh, there’s no problems.  There’s no danger.  There’s no sadness. 
            Just laughter.   Happiness.
            Somehow I knew this was a feeling, a sensation, I wanted to give to others, as it brought me great joy.
            In my youth, I found laughter to be a great defense as well.  In fact, it prevented me from getting my ass kicked by a ruthless gang of 1st grade bullies…. 
(Flashback fadeout)
“Louis’ Gang” held sway over the playground of Dalton.  It was a group of poor Hispanic kids that liked to literally gang up on one kid and kick the shit out of them, then disperse quickly like scared cats.  I think many of them should have been third graders, but flunked out of 1st grade.
            Apparently, a rumor started that people who wanted protection from Louis’ gang needed to wear masking tape around their finger with some word on it.  I remember a friend of mine, P.J. Reilly, telling me that it was important for me to have it on me.  Instead, totally disregarding his warning, I said something to the effect that I wasn’t afraid of “Weezee’s Gang”, mocking the 1st grade gang kingpin with the same words George Jefferson used to call his wife.
            Someone ratted me out.  I hate thinking that P.J. told him, but within minutes of my playful insult, I was literally surrounded by a large tree at the back of the playground.  It was a kind of evergreen with long branches that created a large canopy over the bare ground below it.  The tree provided a great shade and almost reminded me of a primitive hut.
            It also provided the perfect hiding spot for me to get my ass whipped.
            Anyway, so I’m surrounded, about to get beat up, and I start cracking jokes.  Basically, just acting silly denying the allegation of insults.  People started laughing.  I continued to act silly, milking it for the sake of my skinny hide.
            Before I knew it, the crowd started to disperse.  Slowly but surely, the kids wandered off.  Thank God for 1st grade flunkies with short attention spans.
            (End of Flashback)
            I had a very blessed youth.  Though my parents would argue, mostly on weekends when they had been drinking, things were about the same for a little kid growing up in the ‘80’s in a small south Texas town.  I enjoyed classic video games and even had my own Atari 2600.  I also received my first comic book, a Sgt. Rock comic my father bought for me.  I was very happy.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” affected me like no other movie until “Night of the Living Dead”.  Indiana Jones was everything I wanted to be: smart, tough, and a daring risk taker.  He was also educated.  For months I would walk around with a fedora and bullwhip at my side.  I even took two school pictures with it during the 5th and 6th grade. 
Doctor Who inspired me the same way Indiana Jones did.  But Dr. Who had great adventures and humor.  It was a show I could only see on Friday nights, as it was on late on PBS.  The Doctor influenced me to wear a long scarf and jacket during my junior high and high school years as well.  I was hot, but not in the classical hunk sense, more like Pepe Le Pew. 
Thanks Tom Baker.
            I wanted to preserve the TV shows, but was too young to figure out how to program the VCR.  So to preserve the episodes on Friday night, I decided to put an audio tape recorder by the television and describe the action as it took place on the screen.  For the next two or three years, I recorded several boxes full of tape, describing each and every action.  Already, the commentating was getting in my blood.  Or was it just hearing my own voice.  Probably both.
            It was also around this time that I began to appreciate professional wrestling.  The stories were dynamic and the wrestlers were admirable.  Great bad guys would really make me angry, almost to tears on occasion.  I also began to listen to what the announcers were saying, how they were saying it.  It was the birth of my appreciation for the artform. 
The earliest announcers that I remember were Gordon Solie, who was the raspy voice of the Saturday night show World Championship Wrestling.  Bill Mercer was another great voice, working for World Class Championship Wrestling.  He was doing the commentary straight from the Dallas Sportatorium.  Their distinctive voices and enthusiasm for the action provided many moments of excitement for me, planting the seeds for my future in announcing.
            Theatre came to me by accident.  A girl I had a crush on was in local community theatre plays.  I figured the best way to be around her was to try out for a play.  So when I heard about an audition for the summer show, I asked my parents to be a part of it.
            Unfortunately, she was not in the play I tried out for, but it provided me a chance to be in my first public performance.  The play was “Winnie the Pooh”.  Being a young kid and having no theatre experience, I was a small woodland creature.  It would be the first of subsequent summers performing in Uvalde’s YouP.O.P. (Youth Players On the Plaza) at the Uvalde Opera House. 
In the hallowed halls of the Opera house, I learned some of the fundamental aspects of performance.  Most of it revolved around blocking and vocal work.   I would go on to play such roles as Huckleberry Finn, Long John Silver, the Artful Dodger, and the Professor from “South Pacific”.
            High School was fun.  For the most part, I concentrated on football and my studies.  I wanted to date a lot of girls, but never mustered up enough courage to ask any of them.  Instead, I formed a comedy troupe called “The Comedy Cesspool” with my friends and wrote short informal sketches for talent shows at the schools.  Most of them involved acting out jokes I had heard and stealing stuff from the “Airplane” movies.
            My High School comedy career culminated a week before graduation.  My friends and I produced a show at the Opera House called “An Evening with the Comedy Cesspool”.  It was an entire show I helped write and produce, with sketches we had all  written. 
            I received a scholarship to act at Bee County College under the direction of Robert Hodde.  This man blew my mind when it came to theatre.  The entire world looked so different to me after listening to his theatre teachings. 
            College was also a learning experience when it came to girls.  I actually had my first “sit down and make out” session during this time.  It was amazing.  In a way, I’m glad things did not get too sexually crazy, as I was able to keep my grades up and graduate.  I think that if things had gotten out of hand, I probably would have concentrated on other things instead of graduating.
            The one thing that I did do that involved physical contact with the female species was dancing.  In college, I became very good at country and Tejano dancing.  I built a foundation in Uvalde, with the two step, polka, and Tejano dancing.  Really cute girls helped me learn to dance. 
To this day, I’m an exceptional dancer and since that time only one person has told me that I cannot dance:  the woman who was to become my wife.
            The time in college was good for my growth, but my mother was having to deal with something at the house that would haunt me for years.  I say haunt, because I did not quite realize the gravity of the situation.  Perhaps I did and just denied it.  My father was progressing rapidly with a form of Alzheimer’s disease.
            My father, Valeriano Torres “Bowie” Ibarra, was the middle child in a family of five.  He served in the United States Marines for four years, and went on to earn his degrees in Education and Administration at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). 
Before he was in the service, he saw my mother for the first time.  My father knew he was going to marry my mother in that first moment.  The story goes is that my father was swimming with a friend at Garner State Park, a riverside gathering spot for anyone in south Texas.  My mother and her parents, Olivia and Fernando Gonzalez, worked at the park every summer when they were not doing migrant work.
            My mother was working as a soda jerk at a concession stand by the river.  When he saw her, he told the friend words to the effect of, “I’m going to marry that woman”.
            When my father returned from the military, he saw her again at a boxing match at a local American Legion post.  My mother’s brother, Carlos, was boxing on a card at the Legion.  My mother did not respond to my father’s advances because he was drinking.  It also might have been because her father, Fernando, knew my dad and his brother, Franciso, from the Montana Bar where they would drink together.  My dad was loud and Francisco would always get in fights.
            It all worked out, though, and my mother and father were married.
            With my father’s advanced degrees in Education, he set a standard for work ethic and the importance of education to me early.  He was a teacher and vice principal of schools, he followed me as my school principal in my High School career.  I tended to stay out of trouble, so he never cramped what crappy style I had at the time.  In a way, it was comforting to know he was there.  Apart from the great paddle incident of 7th grade, I never had to answer to Mr. Ibarra or my father for things I did wrong.  His ass whippings early in my life kept me in line for the most important times of my life: getting my education.  I am forever indebted to him.
            I regret not talking to him more in my youth, and not remembering his words he shared with me.  My father submitted to the Alzheimer’s two days before my 23rd birthday.
           
            Theatre would remain a powerful part of my life during the struggle with my father and afterwards.  I participated in the legendary Canyon, Texas outdoor musical drama where I learned a lot about theatre.  Bee County College kept me busy as well, and Southwest Texas State presented more social, sexual, and emotional tests than I could imagine.  My father passed away during my final semester of school, and though it was very difficult, I moved on.
            During my time at Texas State, I did not participate in a main stage play.  Though I did form a sketch and improvisation comedy group called “The Skinniez” with J.J. Olsen, Christina Piazza, and Donna Yarborough.  I also experimented with stand up comedy.  The Velveeta Room off of Sixth street was a proving ground for me.  I’ll never forget the second time I performed, feeling like I really did well.  The crowd was laughing, and that was good considering the fact that I was performing for an after midnight crowd.  These experiences were helping to set the stage for my work in derby.
            I ended up graduating from Southwest Texas State XXXXX.  The real gift was making two of my greatest friends: Brian Kroeger and Clayton Odam, who would go on to become Jeromy Sage.  He made a name for himself in the Texas independent wrestling scene in Texas in the 90’s.
            When I first met Brian Kroeger, he hated me.  It had to do with the fact that every time I saw him, I would quote a line from “Animal House”:  “Um, Larry Kroeger.  Ah.  We need the dues.”  I first met Clayton Odam after being invited to a wrestling pay-per-view that pitted my old favorite Ric Flair against Odam’s favorite “Macho Man” Randy Savage in a cage.
            Things were a little tense, as Clayton was a big fan of Macho.  So big, in fact, he dressed up as Macho when the event arrived.  Then the match went down, and things got a little awkward.
            Flair won, taking not only the Heavyweight title, but “Macho’s” woman as well.
            I went ahead and left before the main event.
            It had to be destiny meeting these guys as the Monday Night Wars had commenced and were pretty much in full swing when I met them.  Many a Monday Night was spent watching wrestling with my new best friends.  It was during this time that Brian and Odam would point out how much I knew the moves and commented that I would make a great announcer.  I pretty much felt the same way and wished that it would happen someday.
            I was glad that I befriended them.  They eased the pain of my father passing.  During my time of mourning, I chose to give Odam my wrestling videotape collection that I had compiled from years of watching the old Monday night show.  He was grateful.
            Since my father’s passing, things just did not seem funny anymore.  I quit working on comedy, got a new wardrobe, and reexamined my life.
            XXXX
            Weeks before graduation, I was dreaming of moving to Mexico to become a Mexican luchador.  But plans always change. 
I blew out my knee roughhousing with the likes of Odam and Kroeger after an ECW pay-per-view.  It sucked royal.  Surgery and recovery brought me back to San Marcos where I began work again, XXXXX
            XXXXXXX
            Frustration with my job moved me to audition for movies and kick start my acting career.  I got my first taste of the movies working as an extra in “The Alamo”.  I took three days off from work to participate in it, and I loved it.  Before long I was represented by Acclaim Talent, and the auditions were coming in.  I landed my first real job that sent me to Omaha, Nebraska for a Nebraska Medical commercial.  When I was paid for the gig, I could not believe my eyes.
            Work be damned.  If I wanted some extra money, I was going to audition.
            It was the initial need for work that drew me to AustinActors.net.  A bulletin was placed on the board calling for auditions for announcers for a roller derby team in Austin.  I did not know a damn thing about roller derby.  But the fact was it was a chance to be an announcer.  I responded to the e-mail and prepared for the audition.

            It was a moment I’ll never forget.

-----

More to come.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

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