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Best of the Valley
Vixen Tequila - Beneficent Roller-Derby Bruiser
November, 2012, Page 128
Photography by Tara O. Photos; Hair: Angie Alamilla; Makeup: Sabina Chowaniec
Vixen Tequila’s roller derby name is supposed to sound like “I’m fixin’ to kill ya,” if you say it fast. And yes, it’s meant to be intimidating. Tequila is a roller derby girl, or just “derby girl,” as those in the community say. Derby is the bone-on-bone competitive stepchild of roller skating, in which hard-charging hotties zoom over an oval track with the goal of lapping the other team – often by throwing elbows, administering painful body-checks, you name it. The hazards range from broken fingers to concussions to sprained ankles to dislocated knees. And the girls and spectators love it.
The sport is enjoying renewed popularity after fading away in the early ’80s. When the Arizona Roller Derby was founded in 2003, it was only the second derby league in America. Today, there are more than 1,200 leagues worldwide from the U.S. to Canada, London to Australia. For the most part, the sport is dominated by women, though there are a few all-male and co-ed teams. “It’s amazing, really, to see younger girls come to our games because there’s not that many all-women sports,” says Tequila, a five-year veteran who starting competing to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution. When asked if she was athletic before derby, she laughs: “I used to do yoga.”
Though roller derby requires athleticism – practices run two hours a day, three or more times a week, and Tequila says she lost 20 pounds after joining – the women come from all walks of life. Teachers, social workers and nurses, ages 18 to 41, all wear skimpy outfits and have scary-sounding nicknames.
“It’s kind of like an alter ego,” says Tequila, aka Kim Susmark. Her day job: interior designer. She’s also the seven-team league’s business director, in charge of fundraising for an all-star team called the Tent City Terrors that will head to California soon to compete in the regional roller derby championships; it’s the first time Arizona has qualified. She also makes sure the league is involved in the community: They’re big supporters of the Phoenix Pride Festival, and frequently host fundraisers and donate money to the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, Lucky Dog Rescue, and Ronald McDonald House Charities, and participate in walks and skates for groups like HopeKids and Riah’s Rainbow, which provide activities and support for children with cancer.
For more information on watching – or joining – the bouts, visit
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