What Do Roller Derby Fans and Horror Enthusiasts Have In Common (Other Than Tattoos)?

I had a great weekend.

I am not saying that just to boast.
1 I spent a relaxing Saturday at home with my lovely wife and our two beautiful dogs. In the evening I drove down to the Masonic Temple for a Detroit Derby Girl2 double-header. Two matches, one evening, a great time.

Sunday afternoon I headed out to the Marriott Centerpoint for a
Penguicon planning meeting.3 After a nice dinner out with the Mrs I went to the Royal Oak Music Theater. They were showing Army of Darkness, a movie which I have seen a number of times.4 The main attraction was, of course, the man with the chin himself--Bruce Campbell. The crowd was more diverse than one would think. I think the youngest person I saw was about ten (poor bastard who was ill for most of the show). The oldest? Maybe in their 80s?

People come from all over to see one person or to view a movie or a sporting event or to just commune with each other. This is the beauty of fandom. This is what it means to be a geek.

Years ago I wrote a three piece set of posts inquiring about what it meant to be a geek (vs a nerd or a dork or whatever)
5 While I touched on a number of things, and many more were suggested by others, I think the true meaning of being a geek was shared recently by Simon Pegg:

Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.

Being a geek means embracing something fully. It means being able to put aside the worry of what others might think and be happy with who you are and what you enjoy.

This was a lesson which was driven home again and again over the course of the weekend.

The Masonic was filled (sold out crowd) with people of all ages. Seriously, 5 to 85, all there to enjoy what, for my money
6 is one of the most exciting and entertaining sports available. Despite the occasionally bawdy names of the participants7, it really is family entertainment. I have never heard any cursing, nor have I seen a fight. During half time hula hoops are made available for the young and the young at heart. Derby is a brilliant expression of athletic achievement and proof that it is possible to be feminine and strong at the same time.

Sitting in the Penguicon meeting I was touched by how far the participants are willing to go to make sure that everyone who attends this year’s convention will have an enjoyable time. These are all voluntary positions. It is a group of people who share common interests joining up to put together a convention for even more people who share common interests.

By the time I hit the
Bruce Campbell8 show I was ready to get my geek on. In this instance it meant putting aside some of my social anxiety and actually speaking to the people around me. This started before I even made it inside. Being in a geek safe zone allows one to do this because you know that you have at least one thing in common with the other people around you. Sara Gale, owner of E57 Graphic Design and Campbell super-fan struck up a conversation with me which was one of the highlights of my evening. I would relate the story of her fandom, but there is no need, because she was interviewed by the Detroit Free Press The person in the seat next to me lived 30 miles north of Port Huron but drove to Royal Oak because he is a huge Evil Dead fan, so much so that his theater group was able to get Tom Sullivan9 to visit. Sullivan, being absolutely awesome, brought props from The Evil Dead and allowed each member of the group to have their photographs taken with them. Behind me were two women in their sixties from Ohio. Anytime Bruce is in the area they go to see him. It meant encouraging another person in line to get her finger signed so she can have it permanently tattooed (she already had the appointment set up, just in case).

Campbell was hysterical. Anyone who has seen him in person will be familiar with humorous anecdotal story telling. There was an extended Q&A session which was equal parts informative and insulting. There was a showing of the
Army of Darkness (with the happy ending I haven’t seen in a while).10 There was also an extended preview for the Evil Dead remake.11

Most of all it was an opportunity to connect with a group of people who all enjoy the same thing.

Embrace that which you enjoy. Don't let anyone tell you that it is not worth doing. If you have the opportunity to connect with others who enjoy the same thing, do so every time. Do not let those chances pass.

Like I said on
The Zuckerberg Experiment “Let your geek flag fly.”12

1 Not
just to boast.

2 Where I met up with someone I used to work with back in the BBV days who now coaches one of the DDG teams -- hey Lou!

3 Because I am in charge of the literature programming. I know that you know this, but just in case you
missed it.

4 This completes me seeing all three of the Evil Dead movies in the theater within half a year. I saw Evil Dead II at the Main in Royal Oak as part of their Midnight Movie Weekends in the beginning of October last year. I saw Evil Dead at The Redford Theatre when the GLAHWhad an appearance at the end of October.

5 Unfortunately, they haven’t made it back up on the newly designed site yet. As soon as I get some free time, I promise.

6 I mean this literally. I haven’t spent any money to see any other sporting events in years.

7 Most of the women skate under an assumed name. These names are often punny takes on the game, femininity, and life in general. There is an international registry of names; no two people share the same name.

8 Bruce Campbell: B-movie actor extrordinaire, author, star of the
Evil Dead movies, Bubba Ho-Tep, Jack of All Trades, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr, “Autolycus” on Hercules and Xena, “Sam Axe” on Burn Notice. I really shouldn’t have to tell you this stuff.

9 Sweet merciless Cthulhu, you better know who Tom Sullivan is given the number of times I’ve mentioned him.

10 My DVD copy is the bleaker original ending.

11 Damn it, I might have to break my own rule about not supporting the Hollywood remake machine and see this one at the show.

12 In case you need any more reasons to wonder why I am the guy to encourage you to embrace your geekdom, you should know I’m wearing a tee-shirt called “How We Roll/Role.” It features an atomic structure made of polyhedral dice (the ones used to play D&D) and it was designed be Wil Wheaton.