By Steve Beard
A dagger went through my heart as I recently watched an NCIS rerun and was abruptly reminded how much I miss photographing roller derby. During the opening credits of season 6 and 7 of NBC’s top-shelf show, Pauley Perrette (aka Abby Sciuto) is wearing a Psych Ward Sirens t-shirt – one of my beloved Houston Roller Derby teams I have shot for the last eight years.
Ironically, fifteen years ago, it was my good fortune to spend a few hours interviewing Pauley at the Chateau Marmont off the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. She brought her rescue Chihuahua, Cece (the bungalows are notoriously dog-friendly) and I brought my best friend Troy. “In real-life, Pauley is every bit as engaging, inquisitive, and tattoo-and-mascara attractive as her character Abby Sciuto on NCIS,” I wrote. At that time, CBS bagged more than 17 million viewers every Tuesday with NCIS – a certifiable top-10 show.
It was an unforgettable few hours. “Her mind grapples with the big questions of life at a frenetic pace, producing both theories and uncertainties about life,” I wrote. “In the midst of the swirling notions, she still has faith that one day she will understand the pain and joy of humanity’s existence.”
The Psych Ward Sirens t-shirt was given as a gift to Perrette by one of the Houston Roller Derby players through her mom who works on NCIS. Pauley loved the gift so much that she pursued approval of the network to wear it on the show. The iconic design (created by Houston artist Wes Mitchell for the Sirens) was a perfect fit for her character. Apparently, other roller derby teams have sent her their shirts, but she only ever wore the Sirens shirt on the show.