Ready to Roll
Filmmaker Tyrone Dixon has a mistress -- a harsh, unforgiving, but ultimately satisfying mistress.
It's an affair he cannot stop gushing about. It's a love that he just can't keep bottled up. It's a passion, a desire that he has had since he was seven years old. It's a romance he wants to share with the whole world. What is it, you ask? Why, it's roller-skating.
Excuse us, but isn't this the 21st century? The last time roller-skating was considered a cultural phenomenon, Michael Jackson was black, Saturday Night Live was funny, and the only desperate housewife on TV was Mary Hartman.
But from the way Dixon tells it, roller-skating's still going strong, as evidenced in his new documentary DVD, 8 Wheels and Some Soul Brotha' Music. The shot-on-video film has him gliding through 16 cities (including Houston), filming men and women well versed in the roller-skating arts.
"I was thinking about how interesting it would be to tell this story," says Dixon, 38. "At the time, I was producing this show called Cool Women, with Debbie Allen. That TV show was a documentary series showing stories of extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. If I could apply that concept to the skating world, then I thought maybe I could find some extraordinary things going on "
Dixon, a hometown boy and graduate of Texas Southern University, has been wheeling and dealing in Hollywood for 11 years, doing assistance and accounting work for such movies as The Players Club, Boogie Nights and How Stella Got Her Groove Back -- he was Taye Diggs's assistant on that one -- and also directing music videos. (He shot a video for the Dallas-based rap group Ghetto Life last month.) These days his name can be seen in the credits for Roll Bounce, that roller-skating throwback comedy starring Bow Wow and Nick Cannon. Dixon, who serves as the film's associate producer, says it was his 8 Wheels documentary that inspired Roll to, well, get rolling.
With both Roll and this documentary out there, Dixon hopes that people will realize that roller-skating is alive and well and didn't go out with Jordache jeans, pet rocks and unprotected sex. He says there are still good, family-oriented rinks worth checking out right here in Houston, like the Lockwood Skating Palace. (Several of its veteran skaters also appeared in Roll.)
"The number of roller skaters in African-American communities is large," says Dixon. "By me bringing this to the attention in the media, roller-skating is now getting some notice. Now, because of Roll and the documentary, the black skating community and the white skating community is coming together as a whole. I'm saying that roller-skating now has truly crossed a barrier."
And hey, why not? It's a great way to meet people, the music is always jammin', and in terms of health and fitness, it's still better than sweating your drawers off at the gym.
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