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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

FIGHTS: LOUDMOUTH - CHAPTER 2 - The Audition

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

“Yippee-Kay-Ay, mother fucker.”
- Bruce Willis, “Die Hard

Chapter II: The audition

            It was a simple process to audition to be a part of the announce crew of the Texas Rollergirls.  Three roles were up for grabs:  Master of Ceremony, Play by Play, and Color Commentary.
            Deciding I was totally in the dark about the rules of roller derby, I thought Master of Ceremony was going to be the best role for me.
            The requirements of Master of Ceremony was to create a unique introduction for several players.  The players had hilarious names.  Anna Mosity.  Misty Meaner.  Tinkerhell.  Vendetta von Dutch.  As much as I wanted to play with many names, I was required to pick only three.  I did make more, though, in case they needed them.  It was always good to be prepared for an audition, especially when the process of the audition was unknown.   
            I remember my most favorite of the lines I created.  It was for Tinkerhell:
            “From the bad side of Never Neverland, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Tinkerheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell!”
            Dressing up in my best business suit, a two-buttoned navy blue suit with a red power tie, I drove my vehicle to the once free 6th Street parking lot under the IH-35 overpass.  I was a bit nervous, but excited at the opportunity.
            The address for the audition was Beerland, a place off of 7th street.  The journey up the street was a bit of an adventure in itself.  To get to Beerland, you had to travel up 7th street near the Austin Police Station.  Ironically enough, the same street was the place many people went for their drugs.  Homeless people littered the sidewalk, and their glaring stares at the Hispanic in a blue business suit made me wonder just exactly when I was going to get mugged.
            Fortunately for me, the lack of eye contact, brisk walk, and fading daylight prevented any pickpockets from messing with the “’fraidy Cat” in the blue business suit as I turned the corner.  Somehow the urine stench of the building housing Beerland made me wonder if I was overdressed.  I never thought it was possible, but the building progressively became older, danker, even in the sunlight.  A large black sign with “Beerland” written in white and a font similar to a distinct beer label hung on the wall like the beacon of an antiquated salon.  All the place needed was swinging bar doors and cowboys ready to shoot the “sissy” likein The Three Amigos. 
            The crowd also changed.  Somehow cleaner than the bums I passed to get there, yet just as edgy.  I was getting a little nervous I was looking like to much of a stiff for this crowd.
            Fortunately for me, waiting at the door was a familiar face.  He greeted me with a smile and hearty handshake.  His name was Les McGehee.
            Les McGehee was a man I met during my college days while performing with ComedySportz.  He was the literal and spiritual leader of the Austin ComedySportz team.  Though I only performed against the Austin team on special occasions, Les is one of the few people who consistently hit it out of the park every time.  I make no exaggeration with that statement.  Les was like a comedy alchemist, turning turds into comedy gold.  He would go on to write a book about improvisation and life entitled “Plays Well with Others”, a veritable Bible of improvisational pearls and advice.
            “Bowie Ibarra.  How the heck are you?”
            “Les, holy crap!  I’m fantastic now!”
            “What are you here to try out for?”
            “I think Master of Ceremony.”
            “Well, I think they have someone in mind for that right now.  You should probably be a good play-by-play.”  The subtext was clear.  Les was pretty much a shoe-in for the Master of Ceremony role. 
            Now I was even more nervous.  I did not know a thing about the game.  How could I call play-by-play.  Granted, I would love that role in professionalwrestling, but I knew the rules of professional wrestling. 
            I tried to relax, relying on my improvisation skills to get me through.
            After Les talked with me briefly about his life and mine, I found a seat.  I felt like a fish out of water among a bunch of punk rockers.  I knew for a fact I was going to get my ass kicked.  Though I’ve always been able to be a social chameleon, able to meld in different groups, I had never been around legitimate punk rockers and the ilk.  Their reputation as toughs and rounders had preceeded them, and I felt as if I need to proceed with caution in this foreign land of beer.
            The place was a beer soaked, dirty, and smoke filled box.  Some of the finest cheap beers were on sale at the bar.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Pearl on sale.  I purchased one and took a seat.
            The crowd was raucous, but one particular girl was especially vociferous.  She was yelling obscenities and other insults out loud.  It was a fair assumption that she was drunk.  She was cute and quite humorous and was dressed up for a ball.  Her yelling was a bit annoying, but it was funny.  She was eliciting laughs from everyone in the room despite her boisterous voice.  She must have been a roller girl.
            On a large projection screen above a small stage where bands usually play, clips from derby bouts were playing in rotation.  I remember one camera angle the cameraman took from the floor, pretty much shooting up the dresses of the jammers as they were about to jam.  One of the skaters was wearing thigh highs with pretty pink bows just below her ass cheek.  “Oh, my goodness,” I thought.  “What the hell have I gotten into, a burlesque show?”  I opted, naturally, to keep my disposition as professional as possible.
            I seem to remember the auditions starting with the DJ.  I also seem to remember only one showed up.  His name was J.J. and he sat behind the turntables like a pro, spinning punk rock and other obscure rock tunes, at least to my limited punk rock knowledge.  He was the epitome of cool, switching from song to song while puffing on a cigarette, like some kind of musical satyr spinning tunes for a forest party of wild animals. 
            It was then time for the people to try out for Master of Ceremony.  I stood on the stage, looking out at the wild looking people and stern faces.  I was very nervous, but executed my performance with all the poise I could muster.  I was happy hear some of my jokes go over.  I thought I did pretty good.
            I watched one man go up for the part.  All he did was yell.  I was no professional at the time, but I didn’t think that was going to work. 
            Another guy went up.  He was enthusiastic, but didn’t come across to me as anything special.  He had the energy, but seemed to lack charisma.  His gimmick name was funny, though:  Chip Queso.
            It was time for the announcers to try out.  The loud girl in the back made her way to the stage.  She was very pretty, but still seemed very drunk.  Her name was Whiskey L’Amour, and she knew what the game was all about.  She did very good, even though I had no idea what she was saying in regards to derby jargon.
            I was then asked by someone, perhaps The Wrench, to go ahead and try out for announcer.  I thought either Les had pulled some strings for me to try this role, or perhaps they thought I did good on the M.C. bit.  Like in all auditions, the answer is always “yes”, even if it should be no.
            They put me on the stage with Whiskey L’Amour.  I had to be professional.  It was like improvisation, you had to share and work off of your partner.  But my partner was a real motor mouth.  She would not stop talking.  I had to choose my words wisely when there was a break in the action.  She was good, but did not seem to have the sense of sharing that announcers needed.  I provided some very brief insight when I could, making sure to do what I thought was the number one job of an announcer: put the product over.  In this case, get the rollergirls over for everything.
            Watching the clips, it was very obvious it was a sport.  The athletic ability was apparent, and I made sure to illuminate that point every chance.
            “The skill and athleticism is outstanding.”
            “What tremendous balance these girls have.”
            “The athleticism is amazing”
            After a very short clip, they asked me and Whiskey to stay up again for a longer one.
            When I got down from my audition, I felt really good.  I knew I was one of the better ones in the room, and I felt one of the three roles could be mine. 
            As I sat down, there was a giant puddle of fluid in the chair.  Somehow, some mystery liquid had been poured on the seat of my chair.  I immediately assumed someone was trying to pick a fight with me.  I was actually very upset.  This was one of my good suits and it came across to me like someone was messing around with me.
            I turned around and glared at no one in particular.  No one seemed suspicious enough for me to lay blame on.  Perhaps it was an accident.
            Though I almost remained seated in the chair out of embarrassment, I moved to another chair using common sense. 
            When I had moved, Chip Queso approached me.
            “Hey, man.  You did really good up there.”
            “Thanks.”

/   /   /   /   /   /

            The very next day, I received an e-mail from The Wrench.

            I had earned one of the three spots as color commentator for the Texas Rollergirls.


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More to come... stay tuned...

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