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Claudia Jennings, roller derby queen

Folks, I’m in unrequited love. Claudia Jennings, man. Awesome.

Up too late once again, surfing the cable box for some suitable mind filler, I came across a grainy image of a roller derby event in progress. I stopped, natch. Calling up the info box (how did I EXIST before digital cable?!?!?), I discovered I was watching a film called “Unholy Rollers”, made in 1972. Intrigued by the graininess, and the clear inevitability that I would witness some nudity, I watched for a bit. In short order, a woman was thrown on a pool table and stripped of her clothing by a bunch of other women. Hmm. Plot’s a bit weak, but this is a movie worth watching, I thought.

The dialogue was so bad, the gratuitous nudity so… gratuitous (in that really cool “every 15 minutes or so” sort of way), and the live-action roller derby footage so amusing, I just had to watch. From what I could tell, the protagonist was a roller derby ace and a bit of a wild child, over and above what it takes to find oneself in the roller derby racket in the first place. Prior to tonight, my entire exposure to roller derby was the one episode of “The Odd Couple” where Oscar Madison had a shot at a couple of roller derby girls, and they showed some footage. I forget the details of the episode, but I digress.

Turns out the woman on the pool table was one Claudia Jennings, and not only was she a revered B movie actress but she was also a Playboy Playmate of the Year, back in the days when silicone was for sealing. Yay! Even better, I discovered that she was also the blonde in that Johnny Bravo Brady Bunch episode. How awesome is that? Then I found out that she was killed in a car crash in 1979, in Malibu. Wow. She lived hard and fast (just like my erections).

I guess, owing to the movie’s boorish subject matter, I should find it no surprise that the screenwriter’s attempt at alliteration ended at “fusillade of fisticuffs”, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

It’s sad that she was killed in her prime, don’t get me wrong. I just wanted to share my discovery of another pop culture icon, one who is way more deserving of accolades than Brittney Spears, who as far as I know has not posed for Playboy or bashed broads on the roller derby rink.