Portland, OR – Kim “Rocket Mean” Stegeman, executive director of the Rose City Rollers, will give a short talk at The Hollywood Theatre’s showing of “Kansas City Bomber
” tonight, April 1st
as part of its #OREGONMADE Film Series. Tickets can be purchased through the Hollywood Theatre website or at the door.
“Roller derby has always occupied a special place in popular culture,” says Stegeman. “Films like Kansas City Bomber and Whip It are some of the ways people find our sport. For our junior skaters, the journey also often includes the Newbury Award-winning graphic novel, Roller Girl.”
Kansas City Bomber was filmed in Portland in 1972 and uses one of roller derby’s earlier iterations, roller games, as the setting for its story. Roller games (which were a form of sports entertainment in the same vein as professional wrestling) gave birth to iconic teams like the Los Angeles Thunderbirds. At the time of the film’s release, the movie’s star Raquel Welch lamented, “It’s too bad it couldn’t be a more legitimate sport. The skaters have great athletic ability.”
That changed in the early 2000’s with the birth of modern flat track roller derby…and Portland’s Rose City Rollers were there from the start, launching in 2004.
“The sport has evolved a lot since 2004,” notes Stegeman. “In the early days, it was very much a subculture. The precursor to WFTDA, the sport’s sanctioning body, started with 20 leagues. Now, there are over 450 leagues around the world. The Roller Derby World Cup, which was held in England last year, 38 countries were represented and the event was covered by BBC Sport. Derby is a big deal.”