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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

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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

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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.