Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

SPORTS COMPLEX Roll Bounce: An Author's Obsession with Roller Derby
by Jim Provenzano
2006-11-29

This article shared 3959 times since Wed Nov 29, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Tim Patten has been obsessed with roller derby for as long as he can recall. The first time he watched games on TV, he wanted to be a part of it, and took up roller skating soon after. Whenever roller derby tournaments toured near his childhood home in Wisconsin, he begged his parents to take him.

He later competed in the sport/entertainment, ran a California women's league for years, and was the subject of a documentary, Jam, about his attempts to keep that league afloat, despite ongoing struggles.

This year, Patten self-published a novel, Roller Babes, a fictional yet historically accurate and personalized account of the national women's roller derby leagues in the 1950s. This past July, Patten and his lawyer finally negotiated the film option of his book with Los Angeles-based Kaliber Films.

'When it first happened, I was elated and couldn't sleep,' says Patten, who spent four years working on his novel.

The author of five other e-books, Patten says, 'I had already had a taste of self-publishing.' After numerous rejections from publishers and agents, he decided to put the book out himself. 'The process [ of getting published ] is crazy,' he says. 'I couldn't afford to wait.'

That's because Patten thought he might die. Diagnosed with an HIV-related brain infection, Patten spent months in treatment and hospitals, writing out passages of Roller Babes when he wasn't too sick to work.

'What's the point of waiting for an agent who wouldn't want to even deal with the property, knowing my personal complications? Fortunately, I did a lot of experimental medications, which doctors didn't approve,' says Patten, who still endures some symptoms. 'I thought [ the novel ] was going to be my last words to the world. It became like my final obsession to complete this.'

Patten was so worried about his legacy being lost, he took a pen name, that of his sister, D. M. Bordner, who lives in Wisconsin. Patten says she gets his royalties 'because I'm not supposed to be alive right now.'

His illness destroyed his balance and mobility, and could still affect his muscular system as well. 'I was prepared for all of that to happen when the MRIs showed that part of my brain was destroyed. I was pretty much a basket case for quite a while.'

Patten, 54, moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco in 1973. After graduating from college with studies in computer science, 'before there was even such a degree,' he balanced his work in computer development with skating.

Through 18 years of competing in men's and mixed leagues, Patten began working on owning and promoting a league. In roller derby, players loop a circular track, either flat or ramped, and compete to finish first as a team. As players often fall or collide, the more outrageous versions of the sport capitalize on the wilder action, with fights sometimes breaking out.

Such sensational changes have taken place in both men's and women's leagues. 'But I was always intrigued by the women,' says Patten, who has been out as a gay man for decades. 'Even straight people who love roller derby were always intrigued by the women and how vicious competitive women are.'

Of the private, locker room atmosphere, Patten says his experiences with men's and women's leagues varied. 'The men would be strategizing around [ how to play despite ] each others' injuries, while the women would be figuring out how to attack opponents. I thought this was fascinating—everything that nobody really sees.'

In Patten's novel, two of the female characters are lesbians, while the main story is about a straight player. Additionally, one irascible character, Eva Belzak, is a barely veiled depiction of roller derby icon Anne Calvello, who recently died.

So, is roller derby staged? Originally a competitive sport in its early depression-era Chicago origins, roller derby has gone through revivals and fallow periods, and has occasionally been known for theatrics similar to professional wrestling.

'There is some staging,' Patten admits. 'You're doing this every night for a living. But in my book, I wanted to show the real competition that goes on between players that the public doesn't see.'

Speaking of his own experiences competing, Patton says, 'Usually every game starts out with the idea of what we'll do. Then the claws start coming out. By the end of the game, you really are skating as hard as you can, and doing the best you can.'

Patten's enthusiasm and devotion for roller derby comes through clearly in his book and in his many promotional efforts over the years, including a website for a San Francisco team, www.baycitybombers.com .

'There is a transformation that happens to the crowd,' he says of even the most casual roller derby fans. 'They come and think it's fun, and then they get drawn in.'

Patten says that in his early years, he wasn't out in roller derby, but gradually found acceptance. 'There are lesbians in the sport,' he says, but wouldn't name any players on the record.

'Ever since it started in 1935, the sport's always been gay-friendly, even for the men, but especially for the women. Back then, women normally didn't choose a physical sport with body contact, and that included fighting and blocking.'

Although his accounts of African-American players being banned from certain hotels in the South while on tour were fictional, they were based on common practice at the time. 'I discovered it was easy to slip into these 1950s characters. I'm writing my experience as them.'

Patten says, 'I wanted the lesbian characters to be as real as possible, so you don't even trip on it. That's the way it always has been in roller derby. Lesbians have always been part of the culture, and it always had an interracial mix, too. Socially, [ roller derby ] was so far ahead of the curve in this area.'

Jim Provenzano is the author of the novels PINS and Monkey Suits. Read more sports articles at www.sportscomplex.org . He can be reached care of this publication or at sportscomplex@qsyndicate.com .


This article shared 3959 times since Wed Nov 29, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Chicago Red Stars announce schedule 2021-05-07
--From a press release - Chicago, Ill. (May 7, 2021) — The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced today the broadcast schedule for the upcoming 2021 regular season. The Chicago Red Stars will play live on Twitch, Paramount+, and CBS Sports ...


Gay News

NU faculty 'alarmed' by hiring of new athletic director 2021-05-06
- Northwestern University has hired Mike Polisky as its newest athletic director—a move considered controversial by the school's alumni and campus leaders, The Chicago Tribune reported. According to the school's website ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars announce expanded ownership group 2021-05-05
--From a press release - HICAGO (May 4, 2021) — The Chicago Red Stars are thrilled to announce the second group of individuals who have joined the team's groundbreaking ownership group. All are dedicated to supporting and growing the Red Stars ...


Gay News

CMSA files lawsuit against ex-treasurer, alleging fraud and misappropriation 2021-05-04
- The LGBTQA local organization known as the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA) filed a five-count lawsuit May 4 in the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking damages and restitution from the former board treasurer Michael O. ...


Gay News

Registrations now open for 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago 2021 2021-05-03
--From a press release - Now in its 30th year, the AIDS Run & Walk Chicago returns October 2 to help create equity and justice as well as raise awareness and funds for individuals who are living with or vulnerable to ...


Gay News

Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Blackhawks Foundation Military Appreciation Night May 1 2021-04-30
--From a press release - The Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, in partnership with USO Illinois and Boeing, will kick off May's National Military Appreciation Month with the team's Military Appreciation Night game on Saturday, May 1 as the ...


Gay News

United Center to welcome fans back for Blackhawks, Bulls games as of May 7 2021-04-29
--From a press release - The United Center received permission from city and state government officials to welcome fans back to the arena for Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls home games beginning May 7, 2021. The teams will each host fans ...


Gay News

Former, current Chicago aldermen facing multiple charges 2021-04-29
- On April 29, former 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz was indicted on federal charges alleging he spent cash from a political fund he controlled on sports tickets, travel, meals and other personal expenses, The Chicago Tribune ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars reveal 2021 NWSL schedule 2021-04-28
--From a press release - The Chicago Red Stars announced today the club's National Women's Soccer League ...


Gay News

Yet another governor signs anti-trans bill 2021-04-28
- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle and high schools and colleges, The Seattle Times noted. Bills seeking to ban transgender girls from competing ...


Gay News

Chicago Sky announce 2021 preseason schedule 2021-04-28
- The Chicago Sky announced its 2021 preseason schedule April 27 in conjunction with the Indiana Fever. The Sky and Fever will play a two-game home and away set on May 9 and May 11. Neither game ...


Gay News

Red Stars lose Challenge Cup finale 2021-04-28
- Mallory Pugh scored her first goal in a Red Stars uniform and Morgan Gautrat added a stoppage-time goal as Chicago fell just short in a 3-2 loss against OL Reign in their Challenge Cup finale, a ...


Gay News

Chicago Blackhawks to celebrate Pride Night April 27 2021-04-27
--From a press release - The Chicago Blackhawks will celebrate Pride Night, in partnership with BMO Harris Bank, on Tuesday, April 27 when the team hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center. Pride Night brings the entire Blackhawks community ...


Gay News

Red Stars earn another tie 2021-04-22
- The Chicago Red Stars welcomed their National Team players back into the starting lineup and Katie Johnson scored the equalizer late in the match as Chicago earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Kansas City ...


Gay News

Chicago Sky finalize 2021 training-camp roster 2021-04-21
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 21, 2021) —The Chicago Sky has announced its 20-player roster for 2021 training camp, which begins this Sunday, April 25, at the team's practice facility in Deerfield. ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.