How tough are those Boston Derby Dames, really?

Our intrepid reporter gets his ass beat for science
By SCOTT FAYNER  |  February 23, 2011

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Roller Derby is for girls. And by that I mean it's stupid and lame. Staged, too. Anyone who buys into it as a sport is a chump, plain and simple. But here they are, the Boston Derby Dames, a rag-tag band of society's misfits with goofy names prancing around the ring on skates to choreographed routines pretending they're real athletes with legitimate talents. Ha! I say. And to prove it I'm even willing to risk the integrity of my bones. And I need those to live.

Now I'm not your typical Boston tough guy. Small and weak, some have even called me. But I've easily done both mine and your share of drugs, and have sucked down Marlboro Reds for nearly two decades while constantly running from vegetables and exercise, and to most this makes me the perfect test dummy in an experiment to uncover just how tough the Boston Derby Dames really are: if I can beat 'em down, then so can your momma.

I enter Roller World in Saugus, full-on expecting to see a gaggle of sniggering ladies trading cupcake recipes topless. And when my assumption proves false — um, anyone ever check these girls for steroids? — then, for the first time since agreeing to participate in this workout, I am a little bit scared. But, fuck, I've tussled with snappy, imposing dogs for years — what's 50 or so neglected housewives on tasseled roller skates gonna do to me that a surefooted pit-bull strike can't? They're pretty much cut from the same beast, and backing down only makes it worse, I assure you. Time to get dirty, ladies.

>> PHOTOS: Boston Derby Dames pummel Scott Fayner at Roller World in Saugus, by Scott M. Lacey <<

"I'm looking for Speed Metal," I say to the first skater I see. Metal's the Derby Dames' PR chick and also a "player" on the Nutcrackers. She turns out to look waifish and timid; I imagine knocking her down will be a breeze. Not so for the sturdy competitor mocking my petite frame from behind: "Look at those bony legs of his — I'd snap him in half." Metal agrees, then hands me a waiver to sign. "In case you get hurt," she snickers. "You mean when I get hurt!" I shoot back. Touché, bitch.

Even the roller-derby guys are out to get me. A former Derby Dames manager, and longtime fan, chimes in. "Here, use my skates, they're much faster." After strapping them on and getting to my feet, then nearly crashing into two players as I tremble down the hallway, I'm questioning his footwear suggestion. "Is faster something I'm really looking for here?" I shriek. Laughter.

I'm summoned to a smaller rink to practice my skating while the six or so lucky ladies chosen to kick my ass stand by and cackle at my shortcomings. My only previous roller skating attempt since 1986 began with snorting ecstasy in the parking lot and ended with a disco train off the tracks, and it appears that even sober today, I suck. I do, however, have a wicked spin move where I almost fall like five times while twirling out of control and then barely hanging on with a kick-ass flashy ending. I pull it off flawlessly over and over again. So I'm confident it won't be hard to unleash my plan of attack: just stay on my feet long enough to knock these bitches to the pine.

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