Josey Ramoan

© Marc Henwood

© Victoria Van den Broek

Josey Ramoan hangs her helmet in Saint John with the Fog City Rollers. Within the Port City’s league, she plays for the Scarlet Swarm.

After knowing about Josey for years through many mutual friends, I sat to watch one of the recent Slay of Fundy II bouts with her. Through this, I wanted to make her one of my first Q&As due to her affection for three things: derby, photography and drumming.

So… a-one, a-two, this is #1234!

Pepe LePunch: How did you get into roller derby?

Josey Ramoan: I remember going to the very first meeting three years ago, at a hole-in-the-wall bar uptown, to get some photos for an article for HERE magazine. I didn’t know anything about roller derby. I ended up bumping into some people I knew there, who explained the game to me, and I basically wanted to sign up immediately. But I had an extremely hectic work schedule, and knew at the time that I couldn’t commit. I became a super fan, though, and went to every home game every season after that. This past year, my work life has calmed – the schedule, not the stress, mind you – and so I went for it!

PLP: What’s your athletic background?

JR: I played some varsity volleyball in junior high, but then I discovered cigarettes… These days, I’m a pretty dedicated runner, and definitely don’t smoke anymore.

PLP: Tell me a little about your team, the Scarlet Swarm.

JR: I’m a rookie, and am having a blast getting to know these girls. They’re the underdogs, having gone through a lot of changes over the past year. In the few months that I’ve been skating with them, there have been broken bones, pregnancies, girls who have left the league, and a coach who decided he could no longer put the time in. But through all this, they still show up for every practice, and are itching to play every game. They are all heart, and throw every part of themselves into this game, into this community, and that is really inspiring.

PLP: What’s your favourite position to play, and why?

JR: I love being a jammer. I get so nervous that I want to barf, but scoring points is awesome!

PLP: What’s your strength or best attribute/move out on the track?

JR: I don’t even know… My teammates tell me I’m sneaky. And I think I’ve gotten pretty good at hopping around on my toe stops. 

PLP: What aspect of your game do you want to improve? 

JR: Um, there is so much. I used to think I was fairly strong, until I started playing derby. These girls hit effing hard. When I played my very first game, during my very first jam, I got a big ol’ booty block to my ribs and went down hard. I couldn’t breathe. I was so mad! At myself! I need to toughen up, I need to hit way harder, I need to skate faster, and I probably need to practice patience, which may be the most challenging for me.

PLP: You’re from Bathurst. How did you get to be living in Saint John?

JR: Things have fallen into place quite well career-wise for me. And that is kind of a rare thing for a kid who went to art school to become a photographer. Even before finishing my degree at the [New Brunswick] College of Craft and Design in Fredericton, I started freelancing for the Daily Gleaner and the Canadian Press. From there, I moved to Toronto for an internship with The Star. When that finished, a photography position opened up at the Telegraph-Journal, and I’ve been there ever since. I have amazing friends, I’m part of an über-talented music community, and I met my darling of a husband in this town. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing, even if I could.

PLP: I’ve known about you for a long time via your interests outside roller derby. Can you tell me about your photography (recreational and professional)?

JR: I’m a news photographer, and have been doing this job now for 10 years. 10 years! Damn! So, I get to shoot a lot of different things… portraits, spot news, sports. I like the variety that comes with my work (I get bored easily) and still get a little jazzed when I see my photo on A1 (dork!). A few years ago, my photog co-workers and I had a show at the Saint John Arts Centre. I hope to have another gallery show in the near future. I don’t do much photography just for myself anymore, except for Instagramming pics of my dinner or my cats. (Yes, I’m one of those people. Frig off.) 

PLP: Your derby name, Josey Ramoan, hints at musical interest. I saw you drumming recently with Foreverband during its awesome B-52s cover-song show. Your bandmate Chuck Teed told me that “Kâté is a solid drummer, nails down the groove, and works hard at her craft.” How did you get started with this talent?

JR: I don’t know if I would call it a talent…I pretty much just try to keep up with the rest of the band. For real, I kind of feel like a fraud. My whole life, I wanted to be a “cool musician” type. And I do try really hard when I’m playing with people, but practicing on my own is something I don’t really have the discipline for. I started playing the drums a few years ago with Tune in Tokyo, an all-girl band. We were together for a couple of years and played shows around the Maritimes. I’ve also recorded with my husband Chris, and we always talk about playing more together and touring Canada. Currently, I’m trying to get a project started with a couple of friends. It’s in the very early stage of “Hey, let’s get together for some jams and see if we can get something to make sense” kind of stage. 

PLP: Thanks for your interesting and fun answers, Josey! To finish up, here’s my “5 in 25.”

• 5 in 25 •

Questions? 5. Answers  25 words.

PLP: (#1) Can you tell about a couple of your hobbies or after-work activities? 

JR: I really, really love to garden, but I totally suck at it. My flowers die a lot. 

PLP: (#2) What’s something derby players don’t know about you?

JR: I have severe road rage.

PLP: (#3) What is a peeve of yours?

JR: Bad drivers (see above).

PLP: (#4) Which artistic figure do you most admire?

JRDiane Arbus. Her photos are so full of empathy and beauty. Her subjects let their guard down for her. It’s hard to look away.

(#5) What is your favourite food and drink? Least favourite?

JR: I love pastries: doughnuts, turnovers, pies. All that. All of the pastries. And red wine. I hate meat, and haven’t eaten it for 17 years.

PLP: I was interviewing Lawrence Gowan a long time ago and some college kids interrupted with, “If you could be any kind of pastry, what would you be?” I thought he’d ignore it but Gowan said, “I’d be honey cruller.” I didn’t get it but a few seconds later he added, “Because I’m so TWISTED.” Strange animal, Gowan. And quietly brilliant.

Okay, bear claws all around next time we meet. Thanks, Josey!