Some Star Wars-themed roller derby skate names from our “Graphical Taxonomy of Science Fiction Skate Names.” See a complete, high resolution version here
MODERN roller derby, a truly twenty-first century sport with over two thousand leagues worldwide, is typically played by women, most of whom use pseudonyms called “skate names” or “derby names.” (See more about the origins of skate names here.)
Skate names reveal a lot about the culture of the sport, and the women who play it, including the fact that a lot of them are geeks, and many are science fiction fans.
“A lot of the women who play roller derby are geeks, and many are science fiction fans.”
Earlier this year, when we created a taxonomy of several thousand skate names—which represents only about two percent of all the skate names in the world—around one in ten had a science fiction theme, and more than half of those were inspired by Star Wars.
“Sith Lords are an over-represented group among skaters.”
Which character from the Star Wars fictional universe is the popular in the real universe of roller derby? Based on our taxonomy, that’s easy: Darth Vader, who has inspired more skate names than anyone else, ranging from the relatively straightforward “Darth Skater” and “Darth Evader,” to the truly brilliant “Ruthless Vader Ginsburg,” the derby name of a skater with New York’s Ithaca League of Women Rollers, who, appropriately, has a secret identity as a lawyer by day.
One of the best Star Wars-themed skate names around: Ruthless Vader Ginsburg of the Ithaca League of Women Rollers.
Sith Lords are an over-represented group among skaters: there are 32 Sith on our list, versus only 27 Jedi. Darth Maul is especially popular, with names including “Darth Brawl,” “Darth Small,” and “Darth Mauler,” as are general Sith references, which include the excellent “Sith Happens,” the name of an official with the Orange County Roller Girls, and “Sith Vicious,” a skater with San Diego’s Renegade Rollergirls.
“The second most popular Star Wars character in roller derby is Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
And the 27 Jedi? Most of the are inspired by the second most popular Star Wars character in roller derby, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Some of the best tributes to “old Ben”: “Obi-Quad Kenobi”, “Obi-Quiet,” and our personal favorite, “Obi-Wan Kenosebleed.” Other representatives of the light side of the Force include 5 Luke Skywalker variants (“Juke Skywalker” and “Puke Skywalker” among them), as well as “Mace Hindu” and “Qui-Gon Jenn.”
Obi-Wan Kenosebleed of Salisbury Rollergirls & Princess Sleia of Southern Maryland Roller Derby. Pictures: Joshua Hoover.
The next three most popular characters, each with 10 skate names each on our list, are all rebels of one kind or another: R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia. Great examples include “R2-Beat U,” “R2-KO,” “Chewie Tabacca,” and, best of all, “Princess Lay-Ya-Ass-Out.”
Han Solo takes sixth place, inspiring some of the best names on the list, including “Hannah Shot First,” “Hung Solo,” and the wonderful “Han YOLO.” We’ll also give a dishonorable mention to Han’s nemesis, the perhaps inevitable “Jabba the Butt.”
It’s not just names: one of many brilliant Star Wars bout posters, this one from Rochester’s ROC City Roller Derby, 2011
And it’s not just the obvious characters that get the derby treatment: among the brilliant, geeky others are “Crashing Wookiee, Broken Zebra,” “May The Force,” “Nerd Herder” and “Nerf Hurt-her,” “Oreo Wookiee,” “Wookiee Mistake,” “Ringo Death Starr,” “Barbie Fett,” and “Admiral Snackbar.”
Why all the love between roller derby and Star Wars? Well, one is some kick ass women leading a rebellion against an empire of evil clones. The other is Star Wars.
Our taxonomy is based on a selection of names from the brilliant, free online database at www.derbyrollcall.com, created by the very talented Sausage Roller, as at May 2015. If you play roller derby and have not entered your skate name into derby roll call yet, we highly recommend it. Please like Ithaca League of Women Rollers, Salisbury Rollergirls, Southern Maryland Roller Derby, and ROC City on Facebook. Images of Ruthless Vader Ginsburg, Obi-Wan Kenosebleed, Princess Sleia, and ROC City’s poster used by kind permission of Ruthless Vader Ginsburg, Joshua M. Hoover, and ROC City Roller Derby.