what if your father had invented a game and you just watched the World championship


I will keep it short.

Yes there are 1628 Leagues in the world.

And yes the growth has been phenomenal over the past 10 years.

But the impact never really hit me until I saw players and fans from 15 nations during the phenomenal coverage of the Men’s World Cup from Birmingham,England. And my friend and cohort at Brown Paper Tickets Bob “Noxious” (Randy Hughes) announced the final game.

The other sports should enjoy such love and sportsmanship. Skaters patting opponents while on a jam. Amazing moments you will never forget:

Japan and Argentina being adopted as home teams by the entire crowd; Japan brand new to this type of game (My good friend Hiroshi Koizumi is the father of Roller Derby in Japan); Argentina with just 8 players and astonishing everyone with their play; maybe the loudest cheer of the tourney when Scotland got 10 points against the US powerhouse in the final jams.

And on and on: the Argentinian player proposes to his girl friend and the crowd cheering and tearing (I did).

And the winning US team, coached by my Derby wife, the incomparable Val Capone; tell her Roller Derby needs her anywhere in the world and she is there. And so many of my “friends” on the squad, from three members of Rollerjam (which could have been so good if not so phony) to Tony Muse who represents the Roller Derby Skate Company Elite skates, finally getting back to the game that meant so much to them; and my father started that company!

And my father, Leo Seltzer, who died in 1978 believing his beloved game which he fully intended to bring back as a legitimate contest was gone forever.

And me, the almost unwilling heir to the family business, whose videos from the 70s inspired April Ritzenhaler and others to bring it back to life in 2003.

I am so sorry I didn’t make it to Birmingham; but nobody will keep me from the women’s World Cup in Dallas this December. After all I write a column for Blood and Thunder magazine who is sponsoring this event, and I know Robin will put me on the credential list; and even if she wouldn’t, I will be at the Fair Park Arena where we used to skate.

My god, this is a worldwide sensation…..just how would you feel?

Long Live the (Roller Derby) Queen –


Long Live the (Roller Derby) Queen – Gapers Block Tailgate | Chicago.

(click on link above)

Almost all of you know Ann Calvello, who in the 50s through the 70s was the Suzy Hotrod of her day (or is it the other way around?)

Well, Ivy King was the first Derby superstar.  She skated in the very first Roller Derby in Chicago and for the next 15 years.

She was tiny, wore glasses, looked sweet as Shirley Temple, but was a real pisser.  A terror on the track, and funny, foul-mouthed and a great woman into her 90’s.

The perfect connection between original Derby and modern Derby, and that is why the Windy City Rollers named their championship cup after her.  Please read the great piece from Chicago.

Two loves of my life:  Ivy King and Val Capone…….I am definitely trans Derby.

thoughts on the start of the 12th year of Modern Roller Derby


The first actual game was in June 2002 by TXRD.  And because April Ritzenhaler (La Muerta) had just come out of boxing training, the name they gave to these matches was “bout”.

I first became aware of the growing sport in 2005, when I met Val (sigh) Capone and the members of the fledgling Windy City Rollers at the 70th anniversary celebration of my father’s creation.

After that I was hooked.

Like all sons of gods I really wanted to see the game recreated in the original image, but I have learned that what you are doing – in the various rule sets – has made it your own, and I accept that.  I don’t think it is a big secret that I like a fast skilled game (preferably on a banked track) and it certainly is trending that way.

But what this post is really about is who I have met and interacted with along the way, and the effect that it has had on me.  Please don’t get upset if I don’t mention or acknowledge you; I always write this whole thing by memory as that is just the way I write.  So feel free to comment or yell at me.

First of all, remember my original role with Derby:  the owner-promoter from 1960 to 1973 who employed (all) of the very talented men and women in the International Roller Derby League.  And we were hugely successful in terms of attendance, television ratings etc.

But today is different, and in this environment we are all equal (am I being presumptuous in including me in that statement?).  So many of you have become great friends and what you do both on and off the track has brought happiness to me and many others.  The Bay Area Derby Girls making me feel such a part of what they were doing and even acknowledging me in their program; the WFTDA allowing me to say a few words before the nationals in Portland and the other courtesies shown me.

Both the Denver Roller Dolls and RMRG who made my trip to their city so memorable (and the indomitable P J Shields who coolly staged the greatest Colorado rescue of the century) when lst Bank Center became the Dolls home; Rose Columbo and Tom and all the others who brought me to Philly to see OSDA on a banked track (still there!), and how the original game with men and women could work today, and Ms Evanstone of the Philly Roller Girls who let me help them find a new venue.

And how all of you responded, raising tens of thousands of dollars from around the world to pay for surgeries and care for Lori Milkeris whose skating career ended when she was so brutally beaten, almost to death (see I Like Women post on my blog), and that Rhea responded immediately to start “Derby against Domestic Violence” on facebook to bring help to those in abusive situations; over 2000 belong today and you should also (and don’t forget about “Blockers, not bullies”).

And Donna”thehotflash”Kay who although with medical problems that would crush others (especially at age 56)  just keeps trucking and wants to help all in Roller Derby get a sense of value about themselves and their behavior; and because of her there is now “Derby over 40” on facebook, with an amazing array of women (and men) who are still skating -almost 1500 members-and talking about it and giving advice to each, a number in their 60s and a few 70-year olds!

I should devote a whole page to at least two very influential organizations that really helped and crystallized the growth and acceptance of Derby around the world (1418 leagues, 41 countries).  First Hurt Reynolds and his wife and all the others at http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com who certainly have not made a fortune out of their efforts to bring dozens of games each month, not only from the US but from Canada, UK, Australia and I don’t know how they do it.  And they have shown WFTDA and USARS  and whatever they can to help the game grow.  As a friend, I ask you to support them.

OK, now let’s talk about Ivanna and Trish and all who have made Rollercon the centerpoint for Derby.  The concept of bringing 5000 people together to live, skate, learn, seminar, party, get married (I’ve done it twice, and will once again this July) is such a logistical nightmare to me that it boggles the mind.  Realize, I put on over 3000 Roller Derby games in the US, Canada, and Mexico; booked concerts for the Dick Clark review, Willie, Waylon, the Highwaymen, Merle Haggard, the Smothers Brothers, etc and booked and presented trade shows; and knowing what I know, you have no concept of what is involved in putting this extravaganza on in both the US, Australia , and soon in Europe.

Rollercon is really the University of Roller Derby; it brings all of you together, and not only do you learn about skating from the best, but you meet and learn from each other (the best part!), regardless of style of skating, rulesets, etc.  And they keep adding tracks (I believe 5 last year) and remember, if you have to wait to skate, that is just the way it is…..you can only squeeze so much toothpaste out of a tube.  Please make the commitment to go to Rollercon if you haven’t already….it will make you jump start your ability (with Quadzilla (my friend from Rollerjam days), Bonnie, Suzy and all the others with years of knowledge and ability who are teaching you, and make you appreciate the game even more.  More importantly, say hello to the Commissioner who will also be leading a seminar.

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Image by RAWKU5 from stock.xchng.com

Others who leap out at me:  Jessica Wendling, amazing woman from Alabama; Ten Gauge Rachel Rage; Fernando Leguero, the professional soccer star from Mexico who is bringing so much to Windy City and our game; all of the women from my home team, Resurrection Roller Girls; the wonderful women of Gotham, Oly, LA Derby Dolls who have brought the national attention to our game; April, of course; Swede Hurt; Erin “Lucy D” Dynamite who has brought her great artistry and design to our game.  Victorian Roller Derby, Far North Roller Derby, Sonoma County Roller Derby, London Roller Derby, Toronto and Montreal, Tel Aviv, Sacred City, LA Derby Dolls and their new and more exciting version of banked track Derby,  and on and on.  And of course, Far North Roller Derby in Alaska who are leaving a ticket and a Commissioner’s chair at every game!

And Roller Derby has several shrines:  The National Roller Derby Hall of Fame in New York (covering earlier Derby), the Roller Derby collection at the University of Texas in Austin: and Seltzer Park, located in Seaside Oregon right on the Pacific Ocean.

AJ from Vancouver who is going to succeed in getting Derby on TV; Cliff Butler, who can train you like no one else except for John Hall; Larissa leaven; my beautiful Pia Mess, Misty Greer; Atomatrix; Suzy, of course; Raw Heidi;  Bar Elder; Brandy Rettig, Lara (hot wheels) Irons, the wonderful and brave women of CaiRoller Derby, daring to bring the game to Egypt.  I have to stop and I apologize to all of the friends I am pissing off; just send me comments.

And USARS for honoring my family by naming their Championship trophy “The Seltzer Cup”

I have to acknowledge Donalei Erie especially, and the other photographers (except for one) who are so good and professional at what they do that you should acknowledge them and support them because they are doing it for the love of the game.

Many great writers following the game:  my favorite “Windyman”.  And of course Matt Faure.

And the magazines that are so professional:  Blood and Thunder, Lead Jammer UK (had to list those first, since I have columns), Five on Five, Hit and Miss, and the others out there also on line.

And the announcers; without their skill and sense of fun the game is much less (and remember, no other sport (I hope) has Dumptruck!)

of course the NSOs and officials, and PR and all other volunteers and those who make the sport work.

And those outside who work with Derby:  first of all Scott Riegelman and the great people at Riedell.  Not only do they have a great product but their sponsorships at Rollercon and elsewhere are their symbol of giving back.  And I know Scott does a lot more that you don’t know about in supporting skating.

The people at Atom wheels who have been particularly kind to me (and the owner gave us his wife -that sounds terrible- Atomatrix), and they also have a great shoe product now.

And Doug Martin of Roll Models (www.competeteamoutfitters.com) who wants to bring the professional uniforms he provides to other major sports to Roller Derby – designed by Derby women -and has quietly served almost 100 leagues so far.

And to Drew Barrymore who unknowlingly brought the sport to so many people who were not aware of the modern game.

And to Robin Bond, David Wruck and Ron Patrick who made the glorious “Derby Baby” with their own funds.  Please book it on a large screen in your city if you haven’t already, and certainly get the dvd.

And of course, Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com).  I know, I joined them after almost 40 years of being a pioneer in computerized ticketing, but this is why:  they provide the best service to you at no cost; a 99 cent  service charge to your fans (plus minimal credit card fee); they have a dedicated person, Bob Noxious, who will work with you on helping your league, regardless if you are a customer or not.  They will help you with promotion and advice, help you to find a venue, provide paperless ticketing if you want! (imagine being able to tell the audience at a game that they can go to their cell phones and order tickets for the next game!), do season ticketing.  And 24 hour client service for you.

William Jordan and Steve Butcher are to be commended in creating a ticket service that is not just a huge profit center with service charges and imbuing this spirit throughout their whole worldwide organization.  And Sten Iverson will answer any of your quesstions at client services.

They don’t care how many tickets you sell on the system, so put your league on, let the fans know that you are with one of the largest, most accessible ticket providers in the world….they can order by phone (for just 99 cents), talk to operators in English, Spanish and French,and can service your league anywhere in the world. And the President and CEO are determined to keep this a buyer friendly, fair trade company.  They donate 5% of the service charge to community and charity organizations.  And they serve far more leagues than any other service.

Now you understand why I am with them, although I do not handle Roller Derby.

Every day more and more people are learning about what you are doing.  As Bonnie D. Stroir says, it has gone from people asking about Roller Derby to do you skate with them.  The game is here to stay; now you have to realize that you must continue the good community works and all skate like the big girls do (although Junior Roller Derby will change the game radically in 5 to 7 years).  The world will finally realize just how major a sport this is; some of you don’t want that, but the great part about the way the game has grown is that is for you to choose.

What’s in a name?


I saw Derby Baby again last night with Brandy and the wonderful women of Golden State Roller Derby in Livermore CA.  A small group of determined women who epitomize DIY Derby, and their spouses, boyfriends, parents, children whom you feel are such an important part of Derby’s support system.  You think that putting on skates, rolling around and waving at the crowd is what this game is all about?  Talk to any Derby girl to find out.

Illustration by saine from stock.xchng.com.

Pia Mess was there; talk about your beautiful talented athlete!  And a wonderful lady from Santa Cruz Derby who was also in the film.  We all had go at least 40 miles to get there; I had come 80 miles from Sonoma.

Then the film.  The audience cheered and laughed and knew it was their story.  I wish there had been more non-Derby people there so they could understand what this “thing” is all about.  The good thing about the Sonoma Film Festival showing was that out of the 300 people there (sold out in advance; ah my home town!), over 240 were subscribers to the Festival and believe it or not, they stayed to the end.

The film shows, but does not preach. Robin Bond and Dave Wruck are such good filmmakers, and they get their views across without being obvious.  And the camera work is spectacular, from the helmet shots to the overheads to one view that blew me away, looking between two five gallon water bottles onto the track.  But it is the subject that carries the story.  No matter whether in Ireland, or Sacramento or in Chicago or Denver or Las Vegas or Charlotte or Toronto, you feel these are the same people,  just with different faces.  Their views and stories tell you all you need to know.  And in true DIY style, they did this film with their own money and time.

There were two things in the film that also grabbed me because of my experiences.  One is Craig Bailey from Charlotte’s concern that this game cannot get on the sport pages because the writers tell him that the names, tattoos, the “costumes”, etc mean it can’t be a real sport because it “don’t look like one”.

First of all, Craig, the future of the sport does not depend on the acceptance of sports writers, although they would like to think so.  My father advertised on the entertainment page so the press yelled “see, he says it is not a sport!”.  The reason he placed the ads where he did was because the audience was predominately women and at that time they did not read the sports page.  Should you place ads on a page that isn’t effective to impress writers who are predetermined not to like you?

The public will decide ultimately whether to support you, so you reach them through all of your PR, outreach, community service and giving them the best product you can! (Need I say no slow Derby?)  You think you only need their approval….wrong, the fans will ultimately decide your fate.

We handled it differently.  When Art Rosenbaum (a truly wonderful writer) from the San Francisco Chronicle told me that not only didn’t he think Roller Derby belonged on the sport page, but he was limited in his space, and he had to take care of all the other sports down to high school track.

So at our games I had it announced that many of our fans (I guess I counted myself as many) who lived in different areas were upset because they didn’t get the nightly scores and we suggested they call their local sports editors.  Before long our scores and often a short synopsis of the game (which our announcers called in after the games to the sports departments) were appearing in all the Bay Area papers…..do they really care about their high judgment?  No, they want to satisfy their readers.

And we had the most powerful thing going for us:  a live telecast every Sunday night and a repeat every Saturday morning.  And this is something you can do: we got one of our local radio stations to do a “Roller Derby report” for 5 minutes three times a week.  And of course we gave the scores, talked about the stars (you all better start addressing that soon; people come to see Suzy Hotrod, Pia Mess, Val Capone, Anamtrix, etc, and I know all about the jealousy of “stars”, but until you build them up, you are going to get a lot of one-timers at your games), and promoted all the upcoming events and our community services we were engaged in.

Image by enjoymath from stock.xchng.com.

Unfortunately (for them), the newspapers are losing their impact:  television, radio, Sirius, social media, etc. are what you should go after, as well as other sections of the paper.  The people in Derby are not doing what they are doing to impress sportswriters, but are doing what they love and just want to survive and grow.

Now the other point that some expressed in Derby Baby was about the names.  Is it the Derby names that are keeping the game from wider acceptance.  My feelings? If you are doing something that is bringing more people into your arena (except slow Derby…..ok, I will shut up), you have every right (obviously as a league) to keep doing what you are doing.  When a TV network comes to you and says we want to televise your games and pay you a lot of money, but you have to use your real names, THAT is the time to decide.

One very strong suggestion:  as you know I can get a bit raunchy on my facebook page, but not too much and I have adult readers.  By your use of scatological or downright pornographic names you are affecting what adults who bring their children see.  I know The Windy City Rollers and other leagues do not allow it.  By the way, I will fight to the death to keep my official Derby name:  “The Commissioner”

I thought you might not notice this:  I am in Derby Baby at least five times, but who is counting?