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Boogie Nights Rollergirl Everett

The Wheel World

10 Great Moments in Rollerskating Cinema

Catch Boogie Nights this month on IFC.

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The 1970s rollerskating craze gave birth to a host of films, TV moments and questionable skating attire. In honor of Boogie Nights airing this month on IFC, we compiled a list of the great moments in roller skating history that will make you want to dig out your old skates and hit the nearest rink.

1. Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights Rollergirl

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinematic ode to the early days of the adult film industry is also an ode to the “Me Decade’ itself, referencing not only the decay of American morality but also many of the latest and greatest cultural fads. Our beloved Brandy (Heather Graham) embodies one such fad: roller disco. Brandy loves her roller skates so much, she never takes them off (a quirk she adamantly defends when Dirk Diggler asks her to remove them while they’re having sex for the first time), earning the nickname, “Rollergirl.” During one big disco dance number (choreographed by Hairspray director, Adam Shankman), you can see a fully clothed (for once) Brandy skating the night away with Dirk and the gang. It’s a short-lived moment of pure disco-era joy before the excess begins to take its toll on everyone, including fun-loving, free-wheeling Rollergirl.


2. Xanadu

A box office flop at the time of its release, Xanadu became a “so bad it’s good” favorite thanks to its hit soundtrack and a look that screams “roller disco heaven.” Olivia Newton-John plays Kira, a roller skating Olympian Muse who falls in love with an artist (Michael Beck) and inspires him to open a nightclub named Xanadu. Olivia Newton-John, who barely escaped starring in fellow 1980 disaster Can’t Stop the Music, did all her own skating and suffered an injury while filming the dance/skate sequence “Suddenly.” But despite its flimsy plot and silly effects, Xanadu gained a large cult following over the years and spawned a hit Broadway musical adaptation in 2007 that was nominated for several Tony Awards.


3. Whip It!

Drew Barrymore’s 2009 directorial debut about an outcast Texas teen’s coming of age via joining a roller derby team is surprisingly sweet. Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) longs to find a purpose in her life beyond the pageants her former beauty queen mother (Marcia Gay Harden) forces her into. After sneaking off to a roller derby match with her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat), Bliss decides to try out for one of the local Austin teams, the Hurl Scouts, and winds up making the team. As her skills grow, she earns the nickname Babe Ruthless and starts taking charge of her life, which puts her at odds with her strict mother. The cast — which also included Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Eve, Ari Graynor and Juliette Lewis — spent hours training to be able to really perform all the skating sequences seen in the film. Page had never skated until she began training with a coach nicknamed “Axles of Evil” during pre-production.


4. Can’t Stop the Music

Young man, there’s no need to feel down– especially if you’re Steve Guttenberg gleefully skating your way through New York City in the opening credits of a Village People biopic. As David London sings the catchy-if-lyrically-inane tune “The Sound of the City,” we see Guttenberg’s character (who is very loosely based on Village People creator, Jacques Morali) skating in the midst of Midtown traffic, past Broadway and XXX-movie theater marquees (Ahhh, Times Square in the 1980s!), and through a large parade before meeting his fashion model roommate (Valerie Perrine) in Washington Square Park.  It’s all very cheesy in the best possible way, earning an appreciative smack on the butt for Morell from a rambunctious elderly pedestrian and probably plenty of grins from delighted viewers at home.


5. Mad Men

AMC

AMC

In the season seven episode “Lost Horizon,” Copy Chief Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and lovable Roger Sterling (John Slattery) find themselves the only two employees left in the deserted SC&P offices for different reasons: Peggy’s office at McCann-Erickson isn’t ready due to a mix up, and Roger simply refuses to let SC&P go. The two start drinking vermouth and reminiscing. By the end of the day, Roger is drunkenly playing the organ while a giggly Peggy skates through the halls. It’s a rare moment of fun in an otherwise heavy episode.


6. Austin Powers: Goldmember

In the third film of the Austin Powers series, our shagadelic superspy (Mike Myers) is forced to travel back to 1975 to rescue his kidnapped father, Nigel (a hilarious Michael Caine), from the clutches of gold lamé-loving villain Goldmember (also Meyers). When he arrives, he is greeted by a flawless, foxy, vision in gold: BEYONCÉ! Okay, fine, her name is actually Foxxy Cleopatra (a nod to Pam Grier’s Blaxploitation film roles), and she’s working undercover as a singer at Goldmember’s roller disco club. As she sings, the villain makes quite a…limber entrance on his skates that would be impressive if it wasn’t also a little repulsive.


7. That ’70s Show

That ’70s Show has made several references to roller disco, but our favorite comes from the season seven episode, “Angie,” where Eric tells the gang he’s taking Spanish lessons after school to cover up his secret roller disco obsession.  Kitty can’t help blurting out Eric’s secret to Fez who quickly tells everyone else.  The entire group, including a shocked Red, go to watch Eric née “Rainbow” perform with his partner. After being teased, Eric decides to quit roller disco for good wistfully saying, “You know, here I’m an average kid. But down there?  Down there I was a star!”


8. Rollerball

In 2018 (that’s just two years away, folks!), the world is a global corporate state, with large corporations controlling access to all goods. The only form of entertainment is a violent sport called rollerball, which seeks to show the futility of individualism — until star player Jonathan E. (James Caan) decides to make his last game a gladiatorial act of bloody defiance. Such is the premise behind this dystopian sci-fi flick, which may as well be the Hunger Games on roller skates set to Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” The movie overall is a little silly, but the rollerball sequences are pretty thrilling to watch. Stick with the 1975 original and avoid the 2002 Chris Klein-fronted remake at all cost.


9. Van Wilder

Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) is Coolidge College’s most popular student if not the most academically-minded one. A seventh-year senior, Van spends his time posing nude for drawing classes, organizing parties and generally avoiding class. When his dad (Animal House alum Tim Matheson) decides to cut him off, Van has to grow up and actually try to complete a semester’s worth of work in the last six days of classes. But not before he can throw a roller disco-themed party to try to set up his “personal assistant,” Taj (Kal Penn), with an American girl before he returns to India. Sadly for Taj, his attempts at romance are about as dismal as his roller skating.


10. Skatetown, U.S.A.

Like most of the films of the brief roller disco era, 1979’s Skatetown, U.S.A. doesn’t have much of a plot (rival skating gangs competing for a $1,000 prize), but it does have stars like Scott Baio, The Brady Bunch‘s Maureen McCormick (who spent most of the shoot high on cocaine, according to her memoir) and Patrick Swayze (in his film debut) strapping on skates and careening around a rink to a killer disco soundtrack. Ever the triple threat, Swayze predictably nails all his skating routines while sporting some seriously feathered hair and a bad boy scowl. After the success of Dirty Dancing in the ’80s, Swayze fans retroactively gave Skatetown, U.S.A. the nickname, “Dirty Skating.”

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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