Transcription by Colette Arrand. Hire her if you need things transcribed!
Mary Phillips-Sandy: I did something today that I almost never do. I went to the gym.
Carnage Electra: That’s great!
Mary: Are you proud of me?
Carnage: I’m so proud.
Mary: I was like, I am about to sit down with one of the buffest, toughest ladies in New York City, I can’t show up without having gone to the gym. And you know what? It felt pretty good.
Carnage: It does, afterward. You get hooked on that and you keep going back and you keep going back.
Mary: Well, let’s not get carried away. But you know, we’re not here to talk about fitness, although of course fitness is good and important. But you know what we’re here to talk about, right?
Carnage: I think I know what we’re here to talk about.
Mary: Ohh, let’s talk about cats!
Carnage: Let’s talk about cats.
[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]
Mary: Hello, and welcome to Let’s Talk About Cats. I’m noted cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy. My cat’s name is Grendel. She weighs 10 pounds and is great for bicep curls. And I’m here with the one and only Carnage Electra, who is a captain of the Diamond District team from the Gotham Girls Roller Derby League, perhaps the most famous roller derby league in the country.
Carnage: Well, I mean, you know?
Mary: No, I do know, and I looked it up, and you are.
Carnage: [Laughter.] Yeah, we’re a pretty big deal. So we’ve been around for many years now, over a decade, and during that time, we’ve managed to pick up a bunch of world championships, so—
Mary: Oh, casual drop! Casual—
Carnage: You know?
Mary: Okay, let me pick that up.
Carnage: I just dropped something there.
Mary: Yeah, okay, okay.
Carnage: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Mary: But when you’re not out winning world championships and whatnot, you are home with a cat named Steve.
Mary: Okay. So we like to get to know our guests’ cats with a five word memoir. It is a very low impact way of getting to know our cats, which I know low impact is not your speed, but you’re going to go with it for right now, Carnage. So please, in five words, tell us about Steve.
Carnage: He is handsome, he is smart, he is funny, he’s mysterious, and he is affectionate.
Mary: Wow. I think a lot of people are wondering right now, is Steve single?
Carnage: Steve is single, but unfortunately he’s also neutered—
Carnage: So I don’t know if anyone, you know—
Mary: You know. I mean, for some people not a problem. It’s, uh. [Laughter]
Carnage: Fair enough.
Mary: Thank you for that.
[UPTEMPO, GUITAR DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC WITH FEMALE VOCALS]
Mary: It’s time for our Cat Quiz. Carnage Electra, how much do you know about the multi-talented Carmen Electra, her 28-year career in the entertainment industry, and cats? Are you ready?
Carnage: I am very ready.
Mary: The rules of the Cat Quiz are simple. There’s five questions, you cannot screw around, you’ve got to give me an answer. There’s no timer, we don’t have a clock, I have no idea what time it is, or I actually don’t even know what day it is right now, but nevertheless, I’m going to read the questions, you’re going to give me an answer, we’ll see how you do. Are you ready, Carnage?
Carnage: Got it. Ready.
[CAT QUIZ MUSIC: FAST DRUMS AND RUMBLING PURR SOUNDS.]
Mary: Question number one. In the late nineties, Carmen, who studied dance since she was five years old, joined a star-studded burlesque cabaret act called what?
Mary: It’s a cat quiz.
Carnage: Yeah, she joined the Pussycat Dolls.
Mary: That’s right. That’s right. Okay, one right. Okay, number two: True or false, Carmen once caused a minor scandal when she hit her Hollywood Hills neighbor’s cat with her car on her way to an early morning photoshoot. True or false?
Carnage: That is true.
Mary: It’s false! Carmen would never do that.
Carnage: Oh, it’s false. She would never.
Mary: Never, never, never.
Carnage: I meant false.
Mary: Alright, one right, one wrong. Here we go, number three: Carmen, as we all know, starred on season eight of Baywatch with David Hasselhoff, and as some of us may not know, on May 11, 2012, the Hoff competed on a British gameshow called Eight Out of 10 Cats, which took its name from an advertising slogan for which brand of cat food?
Carnage: Um, for Fancy Feast.
Mary: Oh, I’m so sorry. It was for Whiskas.
Carnage: Oh, that was my next guess.
Mary: That slogan was “eight out of 10 cats prefer Whiskas.” One out of one cats in my household has never eaten Whiskas—
Carnage: Same. Same.
Carnage: He doesn’t like it.
Mary: Well, you can’t believe what you read in the ads.
Mary: Okay, number four: For Halloween in 2014, Carmen wore a blue wig and a cupcake bra to dress up as which cat-obsessed pop star?
Carnage: Katy Perry.
Mary: Katy Perry, correct. She has two cats, and that is literally the only thing I know about Katy Perry. Final question. This is a good one. A few years ago, Carmen Electra launched her very own fragrance with an unusual bottle design. The top of the bottle resembles the ears of which kind of cat? Is it a leopard, a tiger, or a white kitten?
Carnage: It is a leopard.
Mary: [Gasps] Oh my gosh, you knew that! You’re right! You’re right! You win the Cat Quiz.
[Cat Quiz music stops.]
Carnage: I’m so glad I win!
Mary: Alright, your prize is—this is, here, please—
Mary: Now, describe for the people what I’m handing you. It is lingerie.
Carnage: It is.
Mary: Sexy lingerie.
Carnage: It definitely is. It’s green. It definitely does not have black sleeves, because lingerie does not have black sleeves.
Mary: No, it does have black sleeves.
Carnage: It does have black sleeves.
Mary: It’s a nightshirt. It’s a cotton nightshirt.
Carnage: It is. It’s green and has a lovely cat face on the front, and it says “Cattitude.”
Mary: I think that is exactly what Carmen Electra sleeps in every single night.
Carnage: I think you’re right.
Mary: And now it’s what you’re going to sleep in every single night.
Carnage: [Laughter.] I can tell you, it absolutely is.
[FAST ROCKING AWESOME GUITAR MUSIC]
Mary: Alright, and now on to our Hot Topic debate. We are going to resolve an important feline related issue once and for all. We’re going to put it to rest. Roller derby: It’s not an Olympic sport, many people think it should be. Uh, but it’s not and it probably won’t be for some time, so since we don’t have roller derby in the Olympics, should cats be allowed to participate in the Olympics, and if so, in which events?
Carnage: A cat Olympics would be something I would absolutely love to watch, and there’s a bunch of reasons. First of all, the puppies get the Puppy Bowl.
Carnage: You’re leaving cats out, and cats are so naturally competitive and graceful and just lend themselves to athletics. Cathletics.
Mary: Cathletics. Yes!
Carnage: So I can’t really picture them doing any kind of winter sports.
Mary: Right. Yes, I guess they would have to be more in the Summer Olympics.
Carnage: They’re more into the summer games, and I’m thinking maybe the gymnastics, of course.
Mary: Uh, yes. Yes.
Carnage: Would be like, absolutely the go-to. But I feel like there is things that we haven’t considered that they might be good at, like maybe fencing.
Mary: Boxing. Some cats can box.
Mary: Some cats are very quick with the hook.
Carnage: I can see it.
Mary: I think that’s not a bad idea. You know, I was thinking of equestrian events. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see cats and horses interacting, but there’s a real special bond there, and I feel like cats and horses, whether it’s a jumping event or, you know, just a cross-country type of thing, like, imagine, little kitties with helmets riding horses.
Carnage: It’s fantastic.
Mary: Also, skateboarding. Did you know this? I found this out. Skateboarding is going to be an Olympic event in 2020. Cats on skateboards.
Carnage: Cats on skateboards.
Carnage: They’d be so good at it.
Mary: They would be so good at it. And NBC, I don’t know if you’re listening—I hope you are—but ratings gold!
Carnage: And I also think that cats have a determination.
Carnage: Like, they have a single mindedness. Like if a cat decides that a cat wants to compete in a floor routine, the cat’s going to do it.
Mary: Yes. Yes. And you mentioned gymnastics, and I think specifically rhythmic gymnastics, right? That’s the one where they just kind of roll around on the mat?
Carnage: Oh yeah. And then the twirl with the ribbon?
Mary: Yeah—they do that anyway.
Mary: Why not just give them medals for it?
Carnage: Exactly. I completely agree.
Mary: Um, you know, I was also thinking—and again, this is just sort of my bias about my cat—I know Grendel personally would dominate at a sprinting event.
Mary: But only if it took place at like 3:00 in the morning—
Carnage: Sure, yeah.
Mary: And all the spectators were trying to sleep. That’s when she really gets the speed going. That gives her that extra boost of energy she needs.
Carnage: Steve would be good at that too, but only if you could also scream while you do it.
Mary: Oh, it’s like Monica Seles. You’ve got to grunt when you hit the tennis ball.
Mary: You’ve got to scream when you sprint.
Mary: That’s part of the athleticism.
Carnage: It really is.
Mary: I think we’ve answered this. So International Olympic Committee: Hello! First of all, roller derby, think about it. Second of all, Cat Olympics, get on it.
Carnage: Yup! Absolutely.
Mary: Okay, great. Looking forward to 2020, everybody.
[TRIUMPHANT GUITAR FLOURISH]
Mary: It is now time for us to lace up our metaphorical brain skates, as it were. Let’s talk about your cat, Steve. Um, how did you and Steve meet?
Carnage: Oh, Steve. I was leaving work one day, and there was this kitten outside that had been there for most of the day. This was like 2013 I think. And this cat, this little kitten had been there for most of the day, and it had been pacing baf around the building, and there were these people trying to pet him, but he kept kind of trying to run away. So I said, it’s 1,000 degrees out, this poor little guy, his mom is nowhere to be seen, he’s been out here all day. I’m going to grab him and I’m going to bring him to one of my teammates, my leaguemates, who actually runs a cat rescue.
Carnage: So I’m like, this is completely perfect. I’ll go, bring this cat. So I corner him by like this building and I pick him up and it looks like he has no eyes.
Carnage: I know, that was my reaction. So I’m holding this cat that is filthy, weights absolutely nothing, and has a cold so bad his whole face is just gross. So I was like, great, I’m going to bring this home, and my husband—who was my boyfriend at the time—was going to be like why are you bringing this poor, sick animal home when we have a dog in the house? Totally did not end up happening that way. I bring Steve home and call my cat friend, so she’s like, I have antibiotic for his face, come on over, and hang on to him because I have no room in the cat shelter. And I was like, no room in the cat shelter? So I hung on to Steve for a little bit and in that time, Dan completely fell in love with him and convinced me that we needed to keep him. And I said alright, fine, I can’t think of a good name, though. And Dan was like, he looks like a Steve. So you fast forward, and he put on weight, and he’s a big, healthy, grown tuxedo now.
Mary: Has Steve ever attended a bout?
Carnage: When I did buy a cat leash, I brought him outside, he immediately dropped to his stomach and army-crawled like 15 feet. And I said, this is a bad idea, he’s remembering his bad times in the streets, let’s just go back inside. Steve, we can stay in here. I mean, I’m trying to think of what it would be like if someone put like, you know, a parachute harness on me and like pulled me through a door into another dimension. So I definitely can understand—I mean, I would army-crawl, too.
Mary: Right. When you put it that way, it does seem like a very reasonable response, actually.
Carnage: It’s like existential terror.
Carnage: So I understand, Steve. We don’t have to go back outside. So he hasn’t come to a game, but you know, skaters definitely have brought their dogs before. And we have one skater who actually used to bring her pet ferret.
Mary: Alright, you mentioned that cats have certain attributes that might sort of appeal to derby players. I’m going to read out some attributes of cats. You are going to tell me which of these attributes are also important for a roller derby player, okay? Quick reflexes.
Carnage: Oh, derby, yeah.
Mary: Okay. A good sense of balance.
Mary: Okay. Sharp teeth.
Carnage: You probably would go through mouth guards pretty quickly. Yeah.
Mary: Oh, okay. I hadn’t thought about that.
Carnage: So I would probably recommend that if your teeth are abnormally sharp, maybe roller derby is not for you. Mm-hmm.
Mary: Okay. Um, flexibility.
Carnage: Yeah, Mm-hmm.
Mary: Okay. Strong leg muscles.
Carnage: Very important.
Mary: Very important. The ability to lick your own butt.
Carnage: Um, it’s not so important. Maybe in some other sports, but definitely not roller derby.
Mary: Okay. Okay, good to know. So cats listening out there, uh, you know, think about it. Weigh your options. So do you think Steve would make a good derby player if he had the opportunity?
Carnage: I don’t think so.
Carnage: No. He’s not particularly aggressive.
Mary: No, and you do need to be aggressive.
Carnage: You need to be aggressive, and you also just like—he has more of a destructive impulse than a self-preservation, because even as I was chasing him as a kitten down this street in Flatbush, he was trying to get away from me and then he would kind of run back over and meow, and then he would run away. But he doesn’t know self-preservation. I think self-preservation is important with roller derby, too.
Mary: So in other words, he doesn’t really have a strategic mindset.
Carnage: He doesn’t.
Mary: And you need—a lot of it is strategy.
Carnage: He’s smart, but he’s smart about things like home décor. Like this pillow would look better in the kitchen.
Carnage: Yeah, he’s—
Mary: He redecorates your home.
Carnage: He redecorates, yeah. He does things like that. He likes to pull blankets off the couch and move them to different rooms. That’s where his smarts are.
Mary: Wow. I think Steve needs his own home makeover show.
Carnage: I’ve been saying that. I’ve been saying it to Dan. We need to like, take some pictures of this, because I think he’s trying to tell us something.
Mary: I mean, yeah, maybe he’s like, guys, come on, this place looks awful! I’m trying to help you here!
[FAST, DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]
Mary: I want to talk a little bit about derby names, because I know that is such a big part of the sport, and I love it because they’re always very fun and punny. But I know that also it’s not just a name, right? It’s like an alter ego. Like, you are Carnage Electra. When you put on those skates, that’s who you are. So does he have an alter ego of his own?
Carnage: I mean, he doesn’t really have an alter ego in the same way as derby goes. Like, I think Steve is the kind where he’s kind of proud of his accomplishments, you know, like when he plays with his band, you know, because he has a band.
Mary: What is Steve’s band, and what does he play?
Carnage: Um, I don’t know. He won’t tell me what they’re called. I think he’s just waiting until they record something to tell me about it. Before I can even get to Steve’s band, I can tell you about how Steve went from being homeless in the streets to a model.
Mary: He’s a model?
Carnage: Yeah, he is.
Mary: Please tell me.
Carnage: So there’s this wonderful photography book by the photographer David Williams, and it’s called Men With Cats.
Mary: I’m aware.
Carnage: Uh-huh. And Steve is in it.
Mary: [Gasps.] Steve!
Carnage: Yeah, Steve and Dan are both in that book. So Steve went from being this starving little kitten to, you know, being photographed and put in a book. He’s the American dream. He’s the Brooklyn dream, from the streets, and that’s Steve.
Mary: So do you know how old Steve was when you rescued him? Or, I don’t want to make it sound too paternalistic, but how old was Steve when you encountered him on the street?
Carnage: Sure. I found Steve on the street, and he was so little his eyes were still blue, and he had a tail that was just like not—you know how kittens have that not a real tail, it’s like a little placeholder tail? Um, that’s how old he was.
Mary: So he was too young to have been away from his mom probably.
Carnage: Yeah. When I was wiping his face, he was, like, trying to nurse on the towel.
Mary: Oh yeah.
Carnage: So he was like, when I brought him to the vet for the first time, he weighed less than a pound.
Mary: Oh my God. So he’d been out on—wow.
Carnage: He was, I guess like six or seven weeks maybe.
Mary: This is upsetting to think about.
Carnage: It’s okay. It’s like—he’s got to have like seven lives left.
Mary: Yeah, at least.
Carnage: Yeah, and I mean, I got him before he was doing things like selling Metrocard swipes. And you know, now he’s got this home in Queens where he can work on his noise band.
Mary: And now he has a band.
Carnage: He has his band, too. He’s been practicing his singing. Yeah.
Mary: Oh, is he the lead singer?
Carnage: I don’t know what he is, because it’s a lot of screaming.
Mary: Who else is in the band?
Carnage: I don’t know.
Carnage: He’s been a little secretive lately.
Mary: Wow, this is a very punk rock household.
Carnage: He needs some buttons for his tuxedo jacket, I think.
Mary: Wow. Okay. Well, if Steve ever does get around to releasing an album of like experimental screamo music—
Mary: Please let me know. We’d love to premiere it here on the show.
Carnage: Thank you. I absolutely will.
Mary: Uh, as long as it’s like, not too long, I guess.
Carnage: He has a short attention span.
Mary: Um, I do want to know though, if Steve had a derby name, what would it be?
Carnage: I don’t know.
Mary: Can I tell you what I thought of on the way here?
Carnage: Yes, tell me.
Mary: Stone Cold Steve Kitten.
Carnage: It’s good.
Mary: It’s pretty good, right?
Carnage: That is pretty good.
Mary: Or uh, Steve the Cleaver.
Mary: Steve the Cleaver, because that’s kind of fearsome. But you know, I think I like the idea that—we’ve talked about this on the show before, that cats have names that we don’t know. So he might already have his own derby name and we just don’t know it.
Carnage: I was just going to say that.
Mary: They name themselves.
Carnage: They do, yeah. I think maybe he could be like, Stevel Dead.
Mary: Stevel Dead. Oh, that’s good. That’s really good. I actually kind of want all of the derby players with cats to come up names for their cats and then make a little booklet with their pictures, you know, because you guys have those great portraits on the Gotham Girls website.
Mary: Where you all look super tough and cool with your names.
Mary: And then have like a page on the website with your cats with their names. I mean, not to like, not to give you guys a marketing strategy or anything, but—
Carnage: I know. I know. I would love to see it.
Mary: Just something to think about.
[ROCK GUITAR FLOURISH]
Mary: I know that nerves must be a thing. You’ve been doing this for—how long have you been doing derby?
Carnage: I’ve been doing roller derby for 13 years.
Mary: If things don’t go well, if you lose, if you just have an off night, it happens, right? When you get home, is Steve your confidant? Is he the one that you go to to let it all out with?
Carnage: Yeah, he’s good like that. You know, he listens, he’s got that deadpan face, like your dog is just going to smile at you and it’s like, this is nothing to laugh at, buddy. Like, I’m telling you some serious stuff right now. And luckily, Steve, he doesn’t do that. He just looks right at me, um, tries to eat whatever it is I’m eating, and then, you know, just goes on with his night.
Mary: Does he help you with your training?
Carnage: Yes and no. Um, he did force me to get out of the apartment for a lot of my workouts. I was working out at home a lot, and it’s hard to do when you’re on the floor. It’s like, oh, I noticed that you’re down here. Let me climb on you. Um, he also has destroyed I think two yoga mats.
Carnage: So he has some strong opinions about yoga, I guess. I’m like, I’m not really sure, we haven’t really talked about it. But you know, having to explore opportunities for flexibility that are not connected to yoga.
Mary: He’s more of a Pilates guy.
Carnage: He’s more of a Pilates guy. He’s like, go to the gyrotonic thing they told you about, just go do that.
Mary: Um, have you ever gotten hurt doing roller derby?
Mary: Like really hurt?
Carnage: I’m definitely not physically the same as I was when I started. Like, I’ve sprained both ankles, like I hurt my knee and I was out for a season. You know, of course things still happen, but.
Mary: Sure. Whenever I—I don’t play sports, I mean clearly. But I do sometimes injure myself just because I’m pathologically uncoordinated.
Mary: And um, whenever that happens, you know, Grendel is always very concerned, and she looks at me with this very anxious little face with her mouth kind of open like, oh no! Oh no! What do I do? And there’s nothing she can do, but she’s concerned because she knows I’m hurt. Um, does Steve give a shit if you’re hurt?
Carnage: None at all.
Mary: Oh, okay!
Carnage: No, if you’re sick, if you’re, you know, if you’re in any kind of feeling of desperation, it’s like, you know, he will step on your face as you’re on the ground on the way to his food bowl. And I kind of admire that about him. You know, he’s there to listen if you need to talk, but when it comes down to it, he’s got to get to that delicious food.
Mary: He’s a stoic.
Carnage: He is.
Mary: Steve really is reminding me of an old-time movie star here, like, you know, just handsome and mysterious and like, you know, he’s not going to stop for anybody, and he’s just going to swagger off into the sunset and play in his screamo band.
Carnage: Yeah. And his little walnut brain is full of decorating ideas and like, dreams of wet food, and that’s it.
[AGGRESSIVE, HARD-DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]
Mary: You are the co-captain of the Diamond District team, correct?
Carnage: Um, 2019, I am no longer captaining.
Carnage: But I have captained the team for four of the five years that it has existed.
Mary: Which is very impressive.
Carnage: Thank you!
Mary: Very impressive. Um, do you feel like being a cat owner made you a better leader?
Carnage: Yeah. Absolutely. I feel like any time you have a pet, or any time you demonstrate some kind of sensitivity and kindness to something that is vulnerable and dependent on you, I think that it makes you a better person. I think that it makes you more patient. I think it makes you more empathic. I think like all of these good qualities that make us the best of humanity. So, you know.
Mary: So when you’ve got a player who’s not doing well and you’re about to yell, you’re like wait—you picture Steve—
Carnage: I do.
Mary: In roller skates—
Mary: And you’re like, no, no, no, no. I wouldn’t yell at Steve.
Carnage: Yeah. You know, Steve fills your life with light, and you just put that light out onto the world.
Mary: Can I ask a personal question?
Mary: I’ve just been asking personal questions. Um, do you have any cat tattoos?
Carnage: A cattoo?
Mary: Cattoo, yes.
Carnage: I do have a cat tattoo. Have you been tipped off?
Mary: No, I’m just looking at you and had a feeling.
Carnage: I do have a cattoo. Um, I have a lovely Valentine heart with a banner that says Steve.
Mary: Oh my God.
Carnage: Everyone assumes that Steve is my husband. I seldom correct them and usually respond. Or they assume that Steve is my child—also fantastic. It’s partly because I got a cat and I drank the cat Kool-Aid that we kind of all get as soon as we get a cat, but it’s also because it’s hilarious.
Mary: Our final question, what would you like to say to Steve, who is listening at home?
Carnage: Steve, I support you and I believe in your dreams. I think your band could be really great, and I just think that you need to let people in more. You need to care when people are sick. You need to not destroy yoga mats. You need to follow your decorating dream, and just let people into your life a little more.
Mary: Steve, that is some good advice. I hope you take that to heart. That’s good advice for all of us, I think, but especially you, Steve. We have some listener shoutouts to do. Today we are saying hello to Sophia Catrillo and Dorothy Zbornicat, who are listening in Nunhead, London. I love international cats, and I love those names. Sophia and Dorothy, your owner has a message for you. She says, thank you for being my friends. Of course. Of course. If you would like your cat to get a shout out on an upcoming episode of Let’s Talk About Cats, it’s very simple: All you have to do is email email@example.com, tell me your cat’s name, and where you live, and any message you would like included. Before we go, Carnage Electra, if people want to find out more about the Gotham Girls, where should they go on the Internet?
Carnage: Well, our season generally runs from February/March-ish all the way through September, and you can check out gothamgirlsrollerderby.com. We also have our Instagram handle as @gothamderby, and I recommend there because you can even get tickets directly through our Instagram.
[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]
Mary: Woo! Alright, cool. I definitely am going to get some tickets and come out this spring. It sounds fantastic, and I think everyone listening should do the same. You know what else I think everyone listening should do? I think you should subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts. I also think you should rate and review it. That’s just a thought. I think it would be nice. It would make me happy, it would make producer Lizzie happy, it would make our cats happy. It would be great. You can also subscribe to the Let’s Talk About Cats newsletter at our website, letstalkaboutcats.com. You can follow us on social media, it’s @ltacpod—that’s @ltacpod on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Alright, that does it for now. I’m Mary Phillips-Sandy, our producer is the bonecrushing Lizzie Jacobs, our theme song is by Poingly with additional music by the English Muffins. Our show logo was created by Julia Emiliani. Thank you all for listening, and I’ll talk to you next week—about cats. Bye bye.