September 2012 Featured Skater: Demanda Riot

September 10, 2012

Part blocker and part warrior, B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls' own Demanda Riot instills fear in – and inspires – all who oppose her on the track. Sporting fierce blocking skills, Demanda has made a name for herself in the roller derby world as a skater who embodies the extreme attitude, commitment, and athleticism of the sport. Look behind the war paint, and read on to learn more about Demanda Riot as she prepares for the West Region Playoffs, “Bay of Reckoning”.

Photo by Michael Dunn

Derby name: Demanda Riot

Number: 000 (modified from the original jam clock run down – 0:00)

Tagline: “0:00 Time's Up” and/or “Real Fucking Scary”

Home league: B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls

Home team: Richmond Wrecking Belles

What is your position of choice?
If I'm on the track I'm happy. I've spent my time blocking with a rare jammer appearance now and again.

What is your skate gear of choice?
Antik AR1 skates, 187 Killer pads, Pro Derby knee pads

Do you have a pre-bout ritual?
The time I use to apply my war paint is how I turn off the rest of life and tune into bouting head space.

What do you think about when you're lacing up your skates?
Over, under, over under. Followed by, where is the damned end of that lace? Awh hell, now the ends are way uneven, follow it back and fix it, over, under, over, under.

Do you have a motivational quote?
I don't live my life by motivational quotes, I motivate based on those around me, like my team and league mates.

Do you and your team have a psych-up ritual to prepare for games?
My team has a call and answer break that we do only on game days.

Do you have a theme song?
I recently stumbled upon “Tractor” by CombiChrist and I found that it suited me well at this point. (Also See: Combichrist's "Tractor" vs Lady Gaga's "Let's Dance" mash up. it's pretty much the battle between the party I would rather be at and the roller derby dance party that I attend. Very indicative of the inner turmoil.)

What is your favorite derby moment?
Hmm, I've had SO very many amazing moments throughout my involvement in the sport. I don't really rank one moment above all else – yet, perhaps. HA! Perhaps that moment hasn't happened and that's part of the drive that keeps me coming back and putting in the time and effort. Being part of amazing teams, building those teams and rebuilding with them as the people and game changes within them.

Why did you want to start playing roller derby and what was your first exposure to the sport?
My first exposure to the sport was a bout poster for the Rat City Rollergirls. The poster was sitting at Jon Fitzgerald's tattoo station at Slave to the Needle where I was working counter at the time. He was friends with Betty Ford Galaxy and told me a bit about roller derby. Maybe just under a year later I made it out to the old rink in South Center for a roller derby date night. I became a bit of a fan, and decided my sister (who had not yet become Miss E Vil) NEEDED to see this sport. She used to play Division 1 basketball in college and I knew with her size she would just MURDER jammers. I was right, she's an amazing derby skater.

Then there was a break up, and then another break up...and I had some time on my hands. It was suggested that I might try the sport I'd enjoyed watching. So, one evening as I was getting my dreads done by now skater Maiden Hades, I told her I had just gotten some skates off of Craigslist. She said if we could find her some as well she'd learn how to skate with me and we'd try out together. And so we did. Roller derby seemed like a lot of fun. And again, I was totally right, it's a ton of fun!

What is your pre-derby sports/skating background?
Hah, I was in marching band in high school, and that got me out of PE since it was a sport so I guess that applies. I was in the drumline, in case you're wondering. And I learned how to roller skate when I decided I wanted to play roller derby.

How did you choose your derby name?
My sister was fresh meat for the Rose City Rollers before I ever even considered skating, and there was a breakfast with some of her league mates up on Queen Anne hill where it was determined I would need a name. So even before I picked up skates, Demanda Riot was born.

When I lived in Seattle, before there was roller derby in my life, I would go out almost every Wednesday night to a drag show at the Vogue. There was a performer name DeManda Lott. I totally ripped off her first name and Riot seemed like what I wanted to bring to the table. I put the two together and there you have it.

What is the story behind your distinct warrior paint? How did decide on the design? Do people in the roller derby world recognize you without it?

Photo by Tony Rotundo

Just as Demanda Riot existed before I was on skates, so did her visage. Originally the warpaint design was ripped off of Andy LaPlegua's makeup (he's the lead singer for CombiChrist) from a performance I went to. But you try to explain an electro-industrial music reference to 90% of the world, and they're not going to follow you.

And so, war paint is war paint, it crosses all cultural bounds and speaks to something at the gritty core of aggressive human behavior. That is what I'm tapping into when I don my war paint.

I was recognized twice last week, once at work and once on public transit, obviously without the war paint. I can get by some unnoticed, but more or less the derby world has me on lockdown with or without the war paint.

Can you talk a bit about your rookie year and how you learned to play roller derby?
I spent about 3 months in Seattle with a practice group called PFM (prospective fresh meat). We did a lot of pace line drills and learning the basics of blocking and some very rudimentary scrimmaging. After my first scrimmage they made everyone take a rules test before they could scrimmage again. Can you guess who didn't quite grasp the rules and was just smashing into people?

After that I tried out for Rat City and was cut day 1 of their 2-day tryouts. And you better believe I showed up for tryouts in full war paint too. At the same time, I was offered a job in San Francisco. I had seen the B.A.D girls play at Bumberbout and I figured that since they were 'bad girls', they would probably get along with me. So I moved and started skating with them. Somehow they put me immediately onto a home team as a transfer even though I'd never made it on a league before. It was a good fit. I was asked to start coaching some practices since I knew drills the others did not. Even though I wasn't a good skater I was down to share, and I also started attending boot camps and RollerCon so I could learn more things to pass on to my league. Since again, I wasn't a very good skater.

My home team captain set a high bar for our team. We were a new team that season and the underdogs. She had the vision that if we could have better teamwork than any other team then we would be able to prevail no matter what our individual skills were. And she was right. We won our home team championships that year. And since then, there has only been one year that the Wrecking Belles haven't been able to win our home championships.

That year, our travel team had a bout against Grave Danger, a Rat City home team. There was nothing I wanted more than to bout in that game. I did not make that round of travel team try outs. But later that year I was on the team that traveled to bout the Carolina Rollergirls and Philly Roller Girls, as well as the Angel City Derby Girls. It was a great first year of roller derby for me.

Photo by Michael Dunn

If you search “roller derby” on Wikipedia, your photograph is included with the definition of “blocking.” How does it feel to be the example of blocking in roller derby? How have you developed the blocking skills that serve as an example for so many roller derby skaters?
Dude, it's just a picture! It was pure luck that it was included in the Wikipedia definition of Roller Derby. My teammate Slaybia Majora is in there as well as an example of a derby name. I don't think that makes her THE example of how derby names work grin. Did you see the lady with all the fire performance stuff on her boutfit in there as an example of what skaters wear? I've yet to come across anything like that in the bouts I've skated grin.

As for how I've developed my skills, I practice a lot. And I practice against skaters that are better than me. At the same time I don't pull punches on skaters that are not yet better than me. I don't want to be coddled and I don't offer coddling to others, let's push each other to get better, ya know. I also almost never say no to an opportunity to skate, so I've gotten a lot of time on the track working with great skaters from all over the nation on teams like: Team Awesome and Team Legit and a whole slew of scrimmage teams that play at RollerCon and beyond. I learn a little something and sometimes a big something from each of those experiences.

Do you have any advice for anyone who want to join roller derby?
If you want to join roller derby, do it! Don't be afraid to fail, the only way to get better is by pushing yourself to the edges of your ability.

Do you have any derby heroes?
My first captain and skater I feel lucky enough to call a dear friend, Liza Machete. I will always strive to fulfill the potential that she has seen in me. Off of the home league, Denise Lightning was a derby hero of mine. I was really inspired by her triple threat ability on the track. The first time I met her was warming up for the B.A.D. versus Carolina bout. She skated over to me and said “I see what it is that you're doing there, and it's not working.” I think I replied something along the lines of “just wait.” I liked her swagger.

How would you describe your derby playing style?
I think I have a high activity, collision style of playing. I like to create action that others have to react to. I like to think I've also got a good sense of track awareness and so am able to know when and where to make offensive moves while still being defensively minded.

Do you have a signature move?
I'm not sure. ( note: Demanda Riot sought help from a teammate to answer this one and received the following response.) “Any time you are on the track is your signature move. :) Or, I think the way that you block jammers or goats out of bounds, stop and turn, and then STARE them down is pretty vintage Riot. I also think the Demanda Riot Escort Service is a pretty great signature move–-where you can escort your jammer from the back to the front of a pack.”

What are some of your greatest roller derby accomplishments on the track?
Greatest on track accomplishment is being part of the mob that makes up the B.A.D. All Stars.

Off the track?
My greatest off the track roller derby accomplishment would have to be being invited to coach with Team Awesome at Camp Awesome in Oahu. Being able to go places I'd never be able to manage to on my own accord and working together with some of my favorite and respected skaters is just amazing. I'm constantly humbled by these opportunities.

Photo by Jay Vollmar

We understand that Colorado artist Jay Vollmar created a pretty amazing poster of you in your iconic war paint: what was the genesis of this piece? How does it feel to be immortalized as artwork?
Haven you seen Jay's work?! If you haven't check it out! He's done a bunch of bout posters for Rocky Mountain Rollergirls and he also did the cover artwork for Down and Derby: The Insiders Guide to Roller Derby. Ever since I noticed one of his bout posters up at the San Diego Derby Dolls' practice space years ago, I've been noticing and really enjoying Jay's art. So when he contacted me in January with the idea, I was super flattered and excited. Not to mention he's the dude of the most rad She Who Cannot Be Named. There was just so much win all over this idea.

The B.A.D. All Stars, The Golden Girls, will be competing in and hosting this year's West Region Playoffs, “Bay of Reckoning.” Which teams are you most excited to play against and/or watch play? How, if at all, are you involved in the organization of this tournament?
I'm hoping that B.A.D will get a chance to face off against the Rose City Rollers. We haven't yet met on the track this season, and Rose City has put together a very solid showing this year. They look ready for a battle and B.A.D is getting ready to step up for that, and I love a game that is tooth and nail every inch of the way. I feel quite similarly about Denver Roller Dolls. B.A.D handed over the second half of the game we had against them in our first bout of the year. That's something my team would like to make right.

What do you think will be the benefits and challenges of playing the West Region Playoffs on your “home turf”?
I think a great benefit to having the playoffs on our home turf is that it limits the number of unknowns my team will face. We know the venue. We know the track. We know where to get the food we want to fuel us for our days. We know the comfort of the beds we will rest in at the end of each day. Also, we know our fans grin.

Photo by Michael Dunn

The biggest challenge I think can come from being so close to our worlds outside of derby. Daily life can be a greater distraction when you're still in the midst of it. There's also the aspect of the whole team not being in one place for the whole duration of the event. There's a degree of focus and comfort that comes from waking up with the team, eating together, meeting, and spending the day pre-bout together.

What are your personal goals for this year's WFTDA tournament season?
My personal goal is to be a strong link in the makeup of my team. The team goal is to make it bout Sunday at Championships. Saying that here, and not just to my teammates, is manifesting the shit out of this grin.

How has your involvement in roller derby affected the way you live the rest of your life?
Brutally honest, beyond taking care of my health, I cater the rest of my life to my involvement in roller derby. I'd like to spend more time doing scarification, but it's such a small niche in the wide world of body modification that the effort needed to grow that side of my portfolio just doesn't show the growth as the same amount of effort put into roller derby. That being said, if you want some scar work hit me up!

How do you find a balance between your derby life and your “real” life?
Pah, balance! If I'm working enough hours to qualify for health care, pay rent, and maybe scrape a little extra for derby travel, then I consider myself doing alright. Sometimes I sleep too.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
I expect to see all of you in your best gold wear with signs in hand at Westerns!!!

Do you know a WFTDA skater with a dazzling derby career that should be featured on Please email and tell us why!

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.