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.
The announcer shit starts hitting the fan. And all I still know if that you earned something, you have every right to defend it, no matter how insignificant it might be in the bigger picture of the greatest sport to originate in the new millenium.
“If the Gods could build me a ladder to the heavens, I’d climb up the ladder and drop a big elbow on the world”
- Cactus Jack
Chapter XIII: The Controversy - Announcer issues come to a head
The months and preceding years after the first Dust Devil were pretty much the glory days of announcing. With interleague bouts came visits to Texas by nterleague announcers, and a whole lot of fun. It culminated in a veritable announcer summit for the double billed Wisconsin/Hot Rods and Carolina/Hell Mary’s bout. Rockerboy, Tank, Coach Caesar, The Colonel, D-Lux, Rusty Pickup, and even Bob Noxious were in attendance at the Geneva of Texas, the luxurious Austin abode of Whiskey L’Amour. This was also the world premiere release party of the Butt Butter Churner’s initial song, “Queso’s Mom is a Fuckin’ ‘ho”. Glorious
But after a peak comes a valley.
With the acceptance of announcers as a professional position within the league came professional management in formal leadership of the announce team. Whiskey L’Amour was dubbed the announcer leader by upper management, and all issues within the announce team were to be addressed to Whiskey to be resolved before moving up the ladder. It was feeling like the girls were understanding the need for leadership, finally. My concerns about the direction of the announce team would finally have a source to be aired to. But the clash of two monster egos with two different visions for the announce team would culminate in the end of an era for the first flat track derby announce team.
By the fourth season, my fears of an internal usurping were becoming a reality. Procedures that had been set down years prior by Less were now being hijacked by Chip. As Chip made himself more available to announce around the nation and more and more leagues took him up on his offer to announce, an assumption was becoming obvious. He was clearly working himself up and out of his wrangler status and stealthily positioning himself as an announcer. I really believe that since the first Dust Devil, he was not representing himself to other leagues as a crowd wrangler, but as an announcer. If it is true, then he was doing Whiskey and I a massive disservice by misrepresenting himself. Chip denies he ever called himself an announcer to other leagues, and maintains he told them he was the crowd wrangler.
The first bout was filled with tension as I purposely directed more questions to Whiskey and Jim in between jams, taking time away from Chip. He confronted me at the announce table and asked me why I was taking away his mic time. I told him he was the crowd wrangler and needed to wrangle instead of being concerned about making calls Whiskey and I were making. He then got in my face and told me how much he does for the league and how great everyone thinks he is and how he deserves more time. Knowing he was not going to be quiet no matter what I would say and in an effort to remain professional during the bout, I let him talk and zipped my lip.
But with the new formal leadership in place, I thought it was time to voice my concern. With the girls mentioning they needed a fix due to too many voices in the booth, I think it was a perfect time to revisit our roles and redefine them for clarity. After consulting with Whiskey and Jim about my thoughts, Whiskey approved my query and prepared for discussion.
I clearly expressed my opinion to the announce team in an e-mail, describing how I felt. I described how since Dust Devil, Chip had started to encroach on the roles of Whiskey and I. I also spelled out the way I felt the roles were intended to be. I mentioned the girls need to formalize the voices with interleague play. I also provided insight into what the crowd wrangler role was intended for, and even provided examples of what it could and should be. I offered to help Chip find more of himself in the role and move away from his assumption that he should merge with the announcers. In short, I was not calling for Chip’s expulsion from the team, rather describing how much fun it could be outside of the formal calls Whiskey and I were making.
Before I continue, I must say I had been warned on several occasions by Jim “Kool Aid” Jones that, in his opinion, Chip could be very unstable and irrational. I had not spent enough time with the guy to know either way.
I found out pretty quick what Jim was talking about.
Before he replied to me, he made a very quick effort to establish himself as an announcer at nationals by requesting from several rollergirls to start talking about nationals, which at this point eight months away. Countering the insincere ploy to begin organizing nationals, I quickly replied to the e-mail and told the girls in very vague terms there was some issues within the announce team that needed to be resolved before any discussion of the roles of announcers at nationals was to be discussed.
I then got the e-mail from Chip, which challenged my manhood multiple times before stating he had not even finished reading the e-mail. He claimed he would not “run away from criticism or fault” and insisted I should “man up” and call him. He then plainly refuted his crowd wrangler role by writing, “BTW I AM AN ANNOUNCER SO F U FOR SAYING I AM NOT”. He then redefined his wrangler role by saying he also provides color.
His claim continued with how many meetings he attends and how many rollergirl events he attends, all of which announcers are not required to attend. Yet he continued to claim these extracurricular activities somehow give him carte blanche to do as he pleased within the announce team. He ended the message by implying that if the rollergirls from within the league and without were to vote on who is the best member of the announce team, he would come in second to Whiskey.
With our egos colliding, I asked for some assistance. My friend, Jeromy Sage, had access to a computer and proceeded to help me word my e-mail response in the cruelest way possible. Jeromy was a fellow Aries, but unlike me, had harnessed and mastered the cruel and blunt aspect of our personality. Nurtured in the locker rooms of the fiercely competitive world of professional wrestling, Jeremy knew how to hold his own and knew the definition of what it meant to be a “man”, from the pro-wrestling perspective of testosterone and masculinity. On the way back from recording an episode for the international distribution of IWA Puerto Rico, Jeromy goaded a carload of people into a Whataburger parking lot ready to fight for the sin of cutting him off. As appealing as a midnight fight in a Whataburger parking lot was, I didn’t want to go to jail and drive back home to my wife and daughter with a new nose and missing teeth. Jeromy was the perfect person to help me harness my inner asshole and fight fire with fire.
Immediately, Jeromy thought I should be more insulted at the consistent “be a man” theme that permeated the initial e-mail and just go out and fight him. As much as that was the correct response, I had to think of my family and how jail time would inhibit my bedtime stories with my baby girl.
So we responded by pulling no punches and telling him he was an egomaniac. He was a liar to tell other leagues he was an announcer. Whiskey was awarded best announcer three years running and all she did was show up to games, and that the person that I see in the mirror is a man dedicated to his wife and daughter who would never leave them and do all he could to support them and stay with them. Yeah, it was dirty. But so was Chip.
The e-mails were ugly, and with a bout just around the corner, things were going to get worse before they got better.
The second bout was my worst performance ever, and I was even more displeased that it came during an interleague bout with one of my personal favorite teams: The Alamo City Rollergirls. Tension was high and it was abundantly clear to those who were paying attention that the philosophical battle was bringing the quality of the call down. We had agreed to share a microphone so the visiting announcer could have their own, in a hospitable way. But the microphone that was shared was between Jim and I. Chip knew we meant his mic, but stated that I was the one that volunteered to share the microphone.
I was angry beyond belief. Jim Jones was disappointed with his comrades, and provided a relaxation method that was a temporary salve to the tension and my inner rage. While trying to do a post mortem on the show, Whiskey had a meltdown that found her yelling at the top of her lungs “Shut up! Shut Up!” before storming off when Chip and I once again went at it at the booth.
The bitter battle raged on. An accord was struck by Whiskey and Sparkle, an important piece of legislation that would set a formal direction for the announce team.
A shrewd speaker, Sparkle formally announced the purpose of the roles, going so far as providing a percentage of time on the mics. Whiskey as play-by-play would be 40%, I was to be 30%, Jim as Master of Ceremonies would be 20%, and Chip as Crowd Wrangler was to be 10%. A final attempt by Chip to lay claim to making color calls was swiftly shot down by Sparkle, who stated quite clearly that those calls are to be made by Whiskey and I. Sparkle had made our roles as clear as crystal, or the glass Benoit beads Coach Caesar sticks up his butt while looking at dragonflies.
Going into the next bout, I had not been any happier calling a game. In fact, I was elated. It felt like a new world, like when I was a kid walking into Toys R Us in San Antonio and shopping for Atari games. Not only were the roles finally defined, but this would be the first bout in which we were to be paid.
But the tension remained, and the seeds of dissent and deception planted at this time would reap a bitter harvest as nationals approached.
More to come...