She’s called Smack Daddy for a reason. A star Roller Derby player and visual performance artist, Val Desjardins is a playa in every sense: sportswoman, competitor, performer, thesbian and artiste. Oh and did I mention she knows how to get around – the derby rink, women, and Montreal!
A crowd favourite, Smack Daddy (#XXX) is a top jammer/blocker in the Montreal Roller Derby league (MTLRD), a popular sport here, where cheeky bravado, burlesque and raw athleticism all collide. Desjardins doesn’t just stick to sport. In her solo show Peur Laine, she smashed ‘typical’ Quebec culture stereotypes and told her own story as a French-Canadian queer, and recently showed off her stuff in ‘Hot Hot Gossip,’ a multimedia lesbian soap opera.
If you don’t want to miss Smack Daddy in action (and you don’t!) be sure to check out the hot double-header derby showdown this Saturday May 22 (doors at 6:30 p.m. at Arena St. Louis, 5633 St. Dominique), when the New Skids on the Block confront Boston Massacre and The Sexpos take on Rideau Valley.
Who are you? I’m a lover and a fighter.
What do you do? I try my best to make people smile, inspire people to push their own limits and try to open minds. I like to Play and once in a while get super serious about super serious stuff.
Why do you choose Montreal? The girls, the bikes, the food, the boys, the fashion, the four extreme seasons, the art, free outdoor hockey in the winter, my family, my friends and my hot sauce girlfriend, Martika. Everything is HERE, it’s wonderful!
Café: My new fav is Café Neve on Rachel (151 Rachel E.), the coffee is amazing and the breakfasts are yummy (and only made with poached eggs, yay!). I make the obvious Olympico and Social club (180 St-Viateur W.) pit-stops on St-Viateur because it’s nice to see familiar faces and once in while, I hit Caffé in Gamba on Parc (5263 Parc), I love the random location.
Restaurant: M sur Masson (2876 Masson) because they’re all about the meat and I like to choose my side dishes individually. Sparrow (5322 Saint-Laurent) for brunch and the ribs when they are on the menu, best I’ve ever eaten. Barros Luco on St-Urbain (5201) for the barros Luco sandwich, and I’ve ordered St-Hubert BBQ almost every week for the past 15 years – it’s a family tradition. The filet and ribs combo is perfect fast food. I skip the fries and replace them with a ceasar salad.
Boutique/Store: I have a thing for bike shops, though I’m fully equipped. I like to go in and look at the gear and dream of all the bikes I could own. Bikurious on Amherst (1757) is rad. For unique clothes I step into OldGold on Mont-Royal (256 E.), it’s tiny so they select what they sell very carefully… they have cool shoes and jewelry that you won’t find elsewhere, plus the décor is edible (not literally, but still).
Bar/Lounge: La Petite Idée Fixe on Parc (4857) is my favorite local dive. It serves large bottles of ‘Labatt 50’ beer and has a free jukebox with tons of slow rock classics. For drinks and tapas I’ll hit Taza Flores, also on Parc (5375). Il motore on Jean-Talon (179 W.) is intimate and cool – they have a packed schedule of musical acts and parties. Checking out their website is a great last minute ‘what the hell do I do tonight’ option. I’ve discovered great little bands there.
Neighborhood: I’m a sucker for the Mile End. The vibe is relaxed, the people are creative and it’s all about the arts, the food, the fashion and ROLLERDERBY! All of my favorite things.
Place to spot an attractive local: Rollerderby!!! The fans and the players are all very delicious looking!! There’s a broad range of people, which means that there’s a little eye candy for everyone!
Derby vs theatre, who wins? Derby because it’s sport and theatre, 2-for-1!
Were you born to jam? No. I was born to win. So I’ll play whatever position my team needs me to play.
What do you enjoy about the spotlight? The tan.
Your performance art is about the body. If you could live in another body – it doesn’t have to be human – what would it be/why? A unicorn Pegasus because I would love to fly, have the strength of a horse and be gay (unicorns are gay).
Your favourite place in Montreal to take your mom? We do dinner dates at Lemeac at 1045 Laurier (classy French bistro). We start with a Kir Royal, split the ‘Pain Perdu’ for dessert then we walk it off on Laurier street while window shopping.
Smack Daddy’s advice to a visitor who wants to get the most out of the city? Rent a Bixi bike and ask people where you should go… We are friendlier than we seem!! Check out a burlesque event or a band at night but keep your energy up for the daytime and leave it all on the streets! Eat ice cream, sit on benches and people watch, take a cab up to the look-out on Mont-royal and of course, come to a Rollerderby Game!!!