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Arts and Entertainment

The Mickipedia to Becoming a Derby Doll

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This upcoming weekend is probably the biggest weekend the LA Derby Dolls have had so far. In a first tournament of its kind, the best skaters from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County are having it out on a banked track. Not only will there be tons of games throughout Saturday and Sunday, there will be bands, food, beer and general awesomeness. What the Derby Dolls do is very special and unique to Los Angeles. If you were making a list of thing to do before you move out of town, this is a must and here's two days of opportunity (and while available, there's a discount code [ladd2day] for $10 off here).

And if you do go, you'll see one hopeful player working the door. She won't be playing since she's still considered "Fresh Meat," or sometimes a "Baby Doll," but she hopes to make a team in the August try-outs and isn't shy to admit her derby zeal and kick-ass skills on the track. By day, she's Micki Krimmel, a new media consultant who helps media companies and technology startups define their web strategy, particularly with social tools. "My focus is on building long term sustainable communities," she says.

And by night--or more accurately, when online--she's Mickipedia.

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"I guess you could say Mickipedia is my online alter-ego," she told LAist in an interview. "I started blogging in 2002 just for fun. Back then I was working in the indie Film industry and my blog was called 'The Red Carpet' as sort of a play on the whole 'I want to be famous' thing. I'm basically using myself as an art project to explore the narcissism of our generation and how that plays out in media.

"When I moved to LA, I took a job with Participant Productions where I started to really focus on the new media stuff. It was 2004 when blogging was finally becoming mainstream and everyone was in a frenzy about how the web was playing such a big role in politics and social change. So I led the interactive department for Participant for a couple years and spent a lot of time at conferences, etc just trying to learn as much as I could about what we now call "social media." It was a conference in San Jose that Brad Templeton (Chairman of the board of EFF) told me I should register the domain Mickipedia. I did it on the spot. A year or so later, I saw Brad and he said to me, 'I knew I was naming your website. I didn't know I was naming you!'

LAist: You're well established in the blogging scene, but how did you start to get invovled with the Dolls? What made you want to try out?

Mickipedia: Well i've always skated -- I mean not in a number of years, but i grew up on skates. I went to two bouts and felt like "I can do that!" I found out a friend of mine was training to be a referee and he really encouraged me to come 'cause I was a little intimidated at first. But he came with me to my orientation -- then i found out that the league is really supportive. The trainers are amazing and all the girls are super helpful. They beat the crap out of each other sure, but they do it with love.

So I figured what the hell? They have skates and pads and helmets for new girls to use so you can try it out without making the commitment. I figured I'd give it a try and if i didn't like it, no harm done. Of course, I LOVED IT right away.


Mickipedia practicing to a whip

So is this when you had to raise money and used your Twitter to help that effort?

Hee hee. Well, yeah, basically. I was determined to move up as quickly as possible. I wanted to be as ready as possible for the next round of try-outs and I knew that would mean that I needed gear ASAP.

My boyfriend and I recently had a bunch of family issues pop up that necessitated last minute travel, etc. so my bank account simply was not supporting the idea of paying $500 for a pair of roller skates. But $500 ain't that much if it's spread out across a few thousand people. So I went on a limb and created an online fundraiser with I wrote a blog post and twittered -- asking for support. It was amazing!
People started donating right away. So I kept updating the fundraiser on twitter, thanking people for donating and drumming up excitement. In 48 hours, I had surpassed my goal. In total, I think I raises about $520.

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One of my Twitter followers (who i don't know personally) dontated $100! I sent him a DM [direct messaged] like, "did you add an extra zero? Did you mean to donate that much?" And he said he did. I mean wow. Of course, now I have to stick with it. I've got to get out there and kick ass for the people who helped me when I needed it.

Wow, amazing.

Yeah it was pretty motivating. I mean we had a really rough couple of months with people dying, houses burning down, etc. and I needed something fun that would push me to move on in a way. Roller derby is super motivating. You leave practice and you feel like you can do anything. So while it was just a few hundred dollars, it meant a lot.

How often are practicies?

For fresh meat, two times a week. Once you get track-cleared, which basically means you can skate well enough not to be dangerous to others, you can practice more often.

There's a whole set of skills you need to master first. The training program is really intense. You don't just go to the track and skate in circles. They've got it all worked out. One day you're working on stops, the next day you're practicing different falls and how to get up quickly. There's most definitely a method to the madness. It's a serious sport. There are four teams now and a couple open skates each week so i think if you went by the doll factory any night of the week, someone would be practicing.

Well, good luck at the next try-outs and we'll see you this weekend at the tournament!

Photos by Michael Zed (aka Rink Rat)