Sunset Thomas Gets Bounced From Roller Derby

Joanne Cachapero
LAS VEGAS — Adult performer Sunset Thomas has been banned from presenting the 2007 championship trophy at a roller derby event scheduled for April 19, between the Bay City Bombers and the Brooklyn Red Devils.

Just last week, Thomas announced she had been invited by American Roller Skating Derby (ARSD) President Dan Ferrari to present the trophy to the Bay City Bombers, who are the current champions.

However, a backlash of disapproval from the roller derby community has caused Thomas to be banned from the event after the ARSD received hate mail and threats in protest of the adult star’s appearance.

“I thought it sucked because no one was giving me credit for being a sports personality on with my ‘Hottie Handicapper’ show,” Thomas said.

“I have provided sex advice for Esquire Magazine, starred in HBO’s hit series ‘Cathouse’ and just last week, I was giving out boxing’s Female Lightweight Championship of the World belt to Layla McCarter after her knockout performance at the Orleans [Casino] —right here in Vegas. The opposition to my attendance is based on bias, prejudice and ignorance.”

Thomas has interviewed many well-known sports personalities, as well as appearing at several sporting events. She also made national news when a thoroughbred racehorse was named for her.

Negative response followed shortly after Thomas received the invitation to present the trophy, when Brooklyn Red Devils general manager Georgia Hase was interviewed on “The Hottie Handicapper,” and objected strongly to Thomas’ appearance at the event. To see a video clip of the interview, click here.

Old School Derby Association banked track manager and Corpus Christi Rolling Thunder owner Rose Colombo led the protest, writing an open letter to Ferrari that stated, “I would venture to say many will see your current promotional plan as being hypocritical at best, and just plain unacceptable and disrespectful of the sport, at worst.

“I urge you to re-think your new affiliation with the pornography trade,” Colombo added. “You risk further alienation and ridicule of the entire roller derby community by your shameful actions.”

Thomas’ husband and Vavoom Media vice president Kent Wallace told XBIZ, “[Colombo] is making a lot of judgments as to what is appropriate. The roller derby people, much like carnies, have always been outcasts in society and looked at questionably by most of mainstream society, just as adult performers are.

“If anything, they have an awful lot in common as far as being misunderstood and quickly judged,” Wallace added. “So, there’s a great irony, in my opinion. I could understand if it was Sunset singing the National Anthem at the World Series, maybe. Nonetheless, this is not Mom and America and apple pie — it’s roller derby.”

Bay City Bombers webmaster Tim Patten, who is also an associate of Ferrari, said that he also sees parallels between roller derby and adult entertainment. Though he has been involved in roller derby since the early ‘70s, Patten would like to see the sport updated to include new role models for women.

“It’s always been on the fringe, a very outlaw type thing, and it’s never really been mainstream,” Patten said. “Even though I think a lot of the fans would like it to be mainstream and respectable —it always is on the lunatic fringe.

“It’s always been all about women’s empowerment and changing the perspective toward women in our society,” Patten explained. “It was always pushing women’s role models in terms of athletes, back when women weren’t athletes. I personally think that Sunset represents a new role model for women who want to have an independent career.”

Though Patten pointed out that much of the protest coming from the roller derby community was based on ensuring that the event would remain suitable for families with young children, he said also that Thomas would be there only to present the trophy and sign autographs, and that she would be fully clothed.

He attributed much of the opposition to wild rumors that said Thomas might skate around the track naked, and also said that many of the athletes might feel jealous of Thomas’ stealing some of the attention from the event.

Colombo, who was contacted through her MySpace page, issued a short statement saying, “Thank you for your interest, but I have clearly stated how I feel about the situation and there really isn't anything else to add.”

Ferrari was unavailable for comment.

An online petition drive has been launched for fans and supporters of Sunset Thomas who would like to see her participate in the trophy ceremony, to be held at Kezar Stadium, in San Francisco. To view the petition, click here.