Calendar Sidebar | Calendar | Chicago Reader

Calendar Sidebar 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Andrew J. Epstein discovered roller derby through his grandmother, who worked in it--"not as a player but as a concessions bookkeeper," he says. "We'd watch it together on TV." In the early 70s Epstein, a longtime Reader contributor, got permission to undertake a photographic study of the game. "Shooting from the infield"--or inside the track--he found his subject: Joanie Weston, aka the Blonde Bomber, the most recognized skater in roller derby history. She celebrated her 25th anniversary in the sport in 1973 and, after retiring in the late 70s, returned to the rink in 1996, at age 61, for one last lap. Weston died the following year of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (better known as "mad cow") disease. Recently Epstein retrieved his negatives--which he feared had been destroyed in a fire--and restored the images using a computer. The results are featured in his forthcoming book, The Blonde Bomber: Joanie Weston, Queen of the Roller Derby. An exhibit of photos from the book opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 10 at Paper Boy, 1351 W. Belmont (773-388-8811), and runs through July 16.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andrew Epstein.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30
Performing Arts
June 26

Popular Stories