Echo Parque’s gang gals might be tough, but they got nuthin’ on the crash-and-tumble chicas who just moved into the neighborhood: the Derby Dolls. The female roller-derby league has been in its new Eastside space for several months now, and last Saturday’s championship bout, which pitted the Sirens against the Fight Crew, offered Nightranger our first eyeful of the expansive new “Doll Factory” space where they train and compete. Packing in well over a thousand fans on Saturday, this league of L.A.’s fiercest sk8ter girls has grown a lot since we saw its teams compete in a grimy Chinatown warehouse a few years ago. The new space not only offered a vendor village, small stage where local bands — Hollywood Trash and Jessie Deluxe — performed, and VIP area, but healthful food options, a decent bar (we even got lime with our beer!) and its own black pompon-pumping fear-leaders led by Pissant’s Josi Kat.Most impressive, though, were the players, all of whom zoomed, crashed and bumped with controlled power, and proved themselves to be quite the athletes. Athletes with fishnets and funny names (Scarlett Yohandsoff, Paris Killton), but athletes nonetheless. We defy anyone who sits in the bleachers not to be sucked into the adrenalin-charged spectacle, which will resume for its sure-to-be rip-roarin’ 2008 season on January 26.
HOW WE ROLL
Skates are one thing, but Priuses, veggie-oil-fueled jalopies and, of course, bikes are still the preferred wheels in the E.P. and Silver Lake. Oh, and let’s not forget strollers. Nightranger became a mama last year and though we roll or sling our tot to as many events as we can, clubs like the Echoplex obviously aren’t big family function locales. A recent Saturday was an exception, though, when trendy toddlers and their hip parental units — including Rilo Kiley’s Pierre De Reeder,Future Pigeon’s Ed Ruscha,Toothpick Elbow’s Todd Westover,artist Michael Whitmore and writer Neil Pollack,a.k.a. “Alternadad,” flocked to Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang’s holiday show there. Shag hairdos, vintage garb, Harajuku Lovers logowear and Chuck Taylors were everywhere — and that was just on the tykes. But unlike some grown-up shows at the live-music grotto, nobody was too cool for preschool at this Bottle Toters Bash. Gwen and her group performed an ebullient set of grooved-up/rocked-out holiday classics, getting the babes to sing along, dance and shake their rattles to the beats. Forget about the munchkins, this plucky pony-tailed girlie (who also makes grown-up music on the folk tip with a band that includes her hubby Quasar from The 88) offers upbeat sounds any age can get into, and though the wide-eyed enthusiasm she exudes on stage is definitely kid friendly, it’s not irritating like some other children’s music acts who make us giggle (and gag) more than wiggle. Speaking of wiggling, the bar sold sugary juice boxes and doughnuts, so the little angels were in a very merry mood indeed. Opener Lance Rock of Nickelodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba knew how to handle ’em, though.Onthe colorful show(created by members of the Aquabats), the former Amoeba employee/DJ and singer for the Raymakers is like a cross between Mr. Rogers and Good Times’ J.J. Walker — wrangling a crew of furry fun creatures and the little ones with dyn-o-mite distractions. With guests including the Shins,the Aggrolites, Biz Markie, Shiny Toy Guns and Mark Mothersbaugh,Gabba Gabba is this generation’s answer to Banana Splits and HR Pufnstuf, which means you’ll love it whether you cradle a baby or a bong while watching.
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A hit from the latter would have definitely been appropriate before Jackie Beat’sGive Til It Hurts XXXmas Show at Casita Del Campo the following weekend. This one was waaay on the other end of the North Pole, and we mean “pole” in the most provocative sense. Definitely not for the kids — or easily offended grown-ups. The holiday puns, double-entrendres and racy rhymes runneth over when Mz. Beat takes the mike, and her show in the Mexican eatery’s tiny Cavern Club theater last Sunday was everything we expected from our favorite drag queen, and so much more. Renditions of holiday classics like “Santa’s Baby” (about getting knocked up by St. Nick) and “Go to Hell” (an ode to stroller-pushing department-store deal seekers — we took that one personally! — set to the tune of “Silver Bells”) were biting, bitchy and brilliant, as were the comic cross-dresser’s holiday-themed re-dos of TV show themes (Facts of Life = Fucked Up Life) and modern pop hits (the cheapest gift you can give this year? An umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh — ick.) J.B.’s pipes were a little scratchy after a spate of sold-out shows, but sipping hot tea, showing off presents she bought for her celeb “friends” (granny panties for Jennifer Love Hewitt, a gift certificate for picket-line-crossing lesbian Ellen DeGeneres — for a Nebraska shopping mall) and mercilessly taunting the crowd (which included mostly hot homo studs and some straight ladies such as burlesque babe Selene Luna) broke up the campy crooning and made for an all-around shameless and satiric soiree. The Yuletide show may be over, but you can catch Jackie at Here Lounge in WeHo every Monday, and her CD The Holiday HO makes the perfect gift for your gay and gal pals alike. By the way, if you’ve never been to the Cavern Theater (one of Silver Lake’s best-kept secrets), check out the holiday hijinx of the Fruitcake Follies, co-starring another BBQ (big, booby-full queen) Momma, running through Dec. 22. See www.cavernclubtheater.com for all the dragalicous details.