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Shakespeare subdues Sprockettes, but the show goes on

Posted by on July 18th, 2008 at 1:21 am

The Sprockettes and Officer Smith of the Ashland Police Department.
More photos
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Sprockettes’ Operation: Bike Nation Tour got off to an eventful start today.

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On the bus.

The engine in their converted school bus overheated before they even got out of Portland, they got a flat “about 100 miles north of Medford” on I-5, they left behind one of their crew after a rest stop (they went back and picked her up), and their performance in Ashland almost got derailed by the Ashland Police Department.

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The show went on.

Their flat landed them at Les Schwab Tire Center, where the ladies told me they ended up performing “Sexy on the Inside” (a Sprockette classic) for the employees. Half way through the song, the batteries in their boom box wore out so one of the Les Schwab guys slammed the CD in his truck’s stereo so they could finish.

Before they left, one of the employees exclaimed, “You guys are the best customers we’ve ever had!”

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The crowd.

They rolled into Ashland (a gorgeous little town near Oregon’s southern border) several hours late and Officer Smith of the Ashland Police Department showed up to tell them their performance permit had expired.

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Ashland, he explained, is all about the Shakespeare Festival this time of year. That means no amplified music after 4:00pm (the town doesn’t want anything to compete with their signature attraction). Officer Smith also was not keen on the “fire dancing” portion of the plans.

Last year, The Sprockettes rolled up unannounced and the cops pulled their plug before they finished their routine.

They had a permit this year, but because they were late, it took some major cajoling and a few compromises for the show to go on. So, with only a boom-box (instead of their full sound system) and sans fire, the road-weary ladies went to work in front of a curious evening crowd in the city’s Main Plaza.

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Ashland is a splendid place. It’s full of beautiful, healthy people, independent businesses abound, trails, creeks, and the amazing Lithia Park are just steps away from downtown. And bikes? They’re everywhere.

Unfortunately, besides a bike lane on some of the multi-lane main streets, there aren’t really any designated bikeways downtown and all the pedestrian paths are labeled, “Pedestrians Only”. It seems like this town would go crazy with bikes, if they were just given a bit more room to breathe (by removing some car parking or narrowing a few lanes perhaps?).

But regardless, a steady flow of bike traffic streams through the city. I saw families, older folks riding without helmets, kids on mountain bikes, and so on.

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Steven Eliot is riding to his new
job as a chef at Crater Lake Lodge.

Speaking of not having room to breathe, today I met Steven Eliot and Zack Mindiola at a rest stop north of Roseburg. These guys were riding from Eugene to Crater Lake (190 miles) via I-5! Riding on that highway shoulder doesn’t seem like much fun to me, but these two didn’t seem to be phased by it.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow, the girls and I will head into Marin (north of San Francisco) to see some family and then meet back up with the Sprockettes for some practice before Saturday’s main event — the New Belgium Tour de Fat at Golden Gate Park.

— See more photos in my Sprockettes on Tour photo gallery.

[And by the way, what’s with all the stop sign running and bus window bashing in the news up there?!]

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

  • wsbob July 18, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Not the Partridge Family, that\’s for sure. Cute photo with the girls, bus, and the cop. After having to deal with the nekkid girl from Cali that wanted to crash the city\’s 4th of July patriotic parade, he was probably relieved to greet this show.

    \”Ashland is a splendid place. It’s full of beautiful, healthy people,…\” Maus

    And \’conservative\’ people!

    Well it seems you\’re all doing a good job of turning it into a good time…keep it up and have more fun!

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  • JP July 18, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I love this part:

    \”Half way through the song, the batteries in their boom box wore out so one of the Les Schwab guys slammed the CD in his truck’s stereo so they could finish.\”

    What a nice guy! Did his truck have a hemmy? Maybe a Wench too? The girls should adopt this guy to bail them out of all their mechanical disasters. By the way, I don\’t know how to spell wench or hemmy.

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  • wsbob July 18, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Ashland now has wenches to go along with the whole Shakespearean deal? Swell!! Thanks Schwabe!

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  • nuovorecord July 18, 2008 at 8:43 am

    It\’s \”hemi\” and \”winch.\”

    Although, he may have had a wench as well…

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  • SkidMark July 18, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Ashland is also the home of United Bicycle Institute, or Bikeschool, which which is where you go if you want to learn professional framebuilding, and bicycle mechanics in general. You would think they would be a bit more friendly to bike-related events.

    Shakespeare is chock-full of sexual double entandre\’, I guess the Sprockettes are too overtly sexual for Ashland. Maybe that number with the black bird-wing costumes would go over better there.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Hi Jonathan and Sprockettes,

    On your way through Marin…if you all need a pitstop at a bike friendly place to stop (they give bicyclists a discount)…ask for Amanda (ex Palo Alto bike planner/ Bikestation board member)or Ken…check it out


    88 Bear Valley Road at Hwy 1 (there is a camp ground next door with laundry)


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  • ambrown July 18, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Check out the bike amenities in Marin County; they received a federal grant for $20 million back in 2005, and they are about halfway through the timetable for their pilot project. Portland should work hard to get a huge federal grant in next year\’s 2009 authorization bill, I hope people are working on this. (I\’m preoccupied putting the proposal together for up here in the Twin Cities). Rails to Trails are going to lobby for as much as $40 million per city to the freshly minted democratic congress (and democratic president, and Sec of Transp. Earl?)…

    anyway. Off topic. You should see what you can find out about Marin\’s adventure with federally funded bike improvements.

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  • Bill July 18, 2008 at 10:23 am

    FYI: The Ashland Parks & Rec Commission is a \”Titanium\” sponsor of the BTA:




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  • gabriel amadeus July 18, 2008 at 10:32 am

    HAHAHA! Ashland hates the sprockettes 2 years in a row! Go bike fun!

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  • Matt Picio July 18, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Go Sprockettes!

    As for Eugene to Crater Lake – well, Cycle Oregon did Crater Lake to Cottage Grove last year, but despite the lack of car traffic on that route, I\’m not sure I could recommend it to those guys because of the steepness of the grade (10% going up). We came down the same grade during Cycle Oregon and people were riding the brakes so long on the way down that a few individuals had their tire bead separate and crashed. It was bad.

    OTOH, I-5 kinda really sucks for bikes. I limit my I-5 shoulder travels to getting across the Willamette River in Wilsonville. Then it\’s back to the low-traffic streets.

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  • Thom July 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Ashland is a super easy place to get around by bike. The only two \”big\” roads in town have bike lanes. The rest of the place is all small secondary streets and a bike path that runs the length of the town. The stuff downtown that is pedestrian only is never more than a block or more long. Not to hard to navigate around. Besides, those places are usually cluttered with tourists not paying any attention to anything and wandering about in every direction.

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  • erin g. July 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Awesome photos, Jonathan!! Love it!

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  • Phillip July 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Makes me wish I still worked at the schwabster, but I\’m sure I would have worked at the wrong store

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  • Boo Boo July 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Is it me or are the Sprockettes way overrated? I\’ve seen three shows and, frankly, they aren\’t very good. The shtick wears off fast. As a dance troupe they need to get back to the basics.

    Don\’t mean to be rude, but, I kind of think they get this huge \”pass\” for just incorporating a bike somehow.

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  • r July 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    have not been to ashland, but if the traffic lanes are wide enough that they could be \”narrowed\” by striping bike lanes, they are wide enough to share without striped lanes, and (in my view) the wider, shared lane is usually the better choice. getting rid of curbside parking is almost always a good idea, though.

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  • wsbob July 18, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    \”…and, frankly, they aren\’t very good.\” Boo Boo

    Really? sly, happy, cute girls (is it alright to say that?)+in (modestly)revealing outfits is good as far as I\’m concerned. Boo Boo, maybe the kind of \’good\’ you\’re looking for is on America\’s Got Talent, or Star Search.

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  • Jeff M. July 19, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Ah, my home town… Ashland is, what it is. Most importantly it\’s the most culturally and artistically developed town in all of southern Oregon. It is also very strict when it comes to enforcing local laws for the sake of tourism.
    I almost commented yesterday about getting a permit, but alas the Sprockettes already had one. Unfortunately, unforeseen events changed their plans. I\’m glad that they proceeded with their show despite the lack of sound system and fire. (once upon a time some famous punk bands performed on that same plaza in the 80\’s)
    As far as Les Schwab\’s goes, I\’m sure they were quite happy to provide service for the Sprockettes. The Ashland Schwabie boys have had a long reputation for exemplary service towards women with tire distress. My Dad always sent my Mom for rotations and flat repair knowing the wait would be much less.
    I hope that the Sprockettes continue with a safe and mechanically sound trip, and that they include Ashland again next year (third time\’s a charm!). Ashland has a very active \”first Friday\” that would be a perfect time for the Sprockettes to perform, as well as a large local fire-dancing community. It\’s not something the local police are against, just something they are well used to, and versed at shutting down.
    As for bike lanes, I agree with Thom #11. Jonathan, I\’m guessing that you didn\’t get to see the MUP that goes the entire distance of Ashland offering access to all parts of town with very limited traffic interaction.
    Here\’s to a fun and safe trip!

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  • Boo Boo July 19, 2008 at 9:39 am

    #16, \”…maybe the kind of \’good\’ you\’re looking for is on America\’s Got Talent, or Star Search.\”

    EXACTLY. That\’s the kind of wholesome talent I was hoping the Sprockettes would live up to.

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  • Mr DeJerk July 19, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Ashland cops don\’t like girls…

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  • SkidMark July 19, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    BooBoo: I think your expectations are skewed, if expect a group that performs \”Sexy on the Inside\” to be wholesome. I\’d stay away from Roller Derby too.

    Maybe there is a nice local church social talent show that you can check out.

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  • Boo Boo July 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    What\’s wrong with wholesome, family-friendly dance troupes? Look at the Osmond family.

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  • Ken Woodside July 19, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks Boo Boo for shooting yourself in the foot. Go Sprockettes

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  • wsbob July 19, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    \”Look at the Osmond family.\” Boo Boo

    Funny! Yeah, consider the Osmonds; talented, pretty good looking, and kind of a neurotic mess. Yet they\’re \”…wholesome…\”?

    Sprockettes. That\’s a parody of the name and Rockettes, isn\’t it? And, isn\’t their performance and choreographic caliber supposed to be a parody of the Rockettes impeccable precision dancing?

    Boo Boo, you\’re supposed to be having fun watching the Sprockettes. If you can\’t, then possibly go flagellate yourself or read the bible. How about if a wholesome new family friendly precision dance troupe was introduced, based on those activities? Now presenting!: Jesus Rockin\’ Christ and His Dancing Disciple Cyclists!!

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  • r July 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    plus they have these cheesy costumes that don\’t even match, and these low-end bikes. and they use canned music and they perform on these crappy little parking lots \’n shit. what gives?

    and what about the insanely high ticket prices?

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  • Boo Boo July 19, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    #24, wsbob. I think it would be way cool if the Sprockettes or another \”real\” dance troupe incorporated bikes and the bible. Wholesome and earth-friendly fun all in one! Come on Sprockettes, try to incorporate a good Christian rock tune. You reach a larger audience too.

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  • Refunk July 20, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Wow. This thread has taken a turn for the surreal.

    Jonathan — who empowers us by timely dissemination of news about bicycle life in our hometown, along with a forum to discuss same — he goes on vacation and people start talking smack about his (and his family\’s!) choices. On his site. Seems kinda rude.

    Less time online and more time in the saddle, huh? Buy someone a beer. Ride beneath the full moon. Enjoy the summer.

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  • Bad Times July 20, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I like the Sprockettes, but when I saw them last I felt they got upstaged by the Derailleurs.

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  • Colae July 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    My hometown too…the longer I\’m away (going on 12 years) the more I realize how artistic, progressive, friendly, and community aware Ashland is. It\’s not ALL about the Shakespeare Festival, Ashland loves the arts. Don\’t be fooled by the plethora of tourists this time of year.

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  • steve July 20, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I too think the Sprockettes are a sad joke that needs to fade away.

    Or at least get a different description. \’Bike dance troupe\’. They can not dance, and they do not ride their bike shaped objects. It is a shame, as most look like they could use the exercise.

    They look like a bunch of bad strippers to me. The only way they draw a crowd is by wearing revealing outfits. Kinda sad really.

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  • r July 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    yes, let\’s get rid of camp in all of its manifestations. and then irony next. after that, humor.

    forward, to a humorless society.

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  • SkidMark July 20, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Hey steve does your wrist hurt from looking at all that internet porn, cuz we all know you\’re single with an attitude like that.

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  • Hip Hop 'pototamus July 20, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    What kind of rapping name is steve?

    … steve?

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  • Zaphod July 20, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    steve, your comments have always been negative and uninspired. Now you can add rude and hurtful to the list. Perhaps you\’re just throwing words out on the internets [sic] because you are entertained by reactions that you might get. Perhaps this very post adds to your enjoyment, I don\’t know nor care.

    Some of us are having a dialog about the many facets of cycling and cycling culture. Please stop posting unless you are adding valuable content to the discussion.

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  • jamie July 21, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Back up! SkidMark brought out the internet porn card. ZINGER!


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  • revphil July 21, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    the best of of cycling with these ladies is their indomitable spirit. Broken bus, stupid laws, police, internerd haters… how can any of these things matter when you are enjoying yourself so much dancing with your friends and sharing the bike love?

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  • D.R. Miller July 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Amen, Rev! And to the haters: maybe go make some fun-love-music contribution of your own then? i.e. s*%# or get off the pot.

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  • Cruizer July 21, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Somebody should write a movie script based on this road trip. It would make an awesome movie!

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  • Spanky July 21, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Ashland is where the rich folks are. I won\’t generalize about where many of them come from, but it is the state to the state to the South. They can afford to be \”progressive\” etc….

    The people who actually work for a living live in Deadford. Ashland\’s Disney-esqueness wears thin after a couple of hours. The park is nice (except for the rampant poison oak) and last I was there, there was a pretty good Thai restaurant there.

    And it is fazed, not phased. Phasing happens on Star Trek. Nice article though.

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  • Colae July 21, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Spanky: It may seem that people \”that work for a living\” cannot afford to live in Ashland, therefor live in Methford. I must object. My father has built a landscaping business over the last 28 years living in Ashland, and works his butt off. My mother (in her 50s) rides her bike 15 miles each way to teach at the one High school in Ashland. They have a farm which supplies their dairy and produce with a whole sale nursery on-site. They are far from rich. My point being, don\’t judge a place based on brief first or second impressions.

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  • Moses July 21, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    The only real problem i have with the Sprockettes is that i am in love with every one of them.

    i just came off two years in A-town and the place has some redeeming unique-i-ness, but bikickily speaking, it friggin\’ sucks. What i mean is that the infrastructure is pathetic. And while there are good people in town who are dedicated, it really ain\’t \”happenin\” . . . At all.

    The town has a reputation for being populated by spiritually advanced seekers (most of whom DRIVE back and forth all over that 3X5 mile hamlet).

    Sure is good be back in Biktland.


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  • Jeff M. July 22, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Yeah, seriously Spanky. Plenty of working class folks all over Ashland. Pull your head out…The people that have been there their whole lives aren\’t necessarily happy with all the California transplants (oh no I said it!), but at least they can embrace it for what it is and let their town benefit from it.
    Portland is growing so fast I can\’t remember the last time I met an Oregon native. Seems like the first question people ask each other here is \”where are you from\”.

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  • Donna July 22, 2008 at 7:52 am

    There are police enforcing the stop signs (and other laws) in Ladd’s Addition right now. Beware and be alert!

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  • Thom July 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Stop hating on \”Methford\”! It\’s not a bad city to live in. If you like to road ride, it\’s alot nicer than Ashland, which is at the tail end of the Rogue Valley, meaning all of your rides all start and finish on the same roads. Medford puts you in the center of the Valley and makes the riding options much greater. It also gets you closer to the Applegate and all of it\’s awesome mountain biking. As far as the town, I appreciate having a yard for my kids to play in and a house that isn\’t an overpriced shack. I\’m one of those people who \”can\’t afford\” Ashland.

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  • Refunk July 22, 2008 at 10:45 am


    What? Why should there be any change in behavior among bicyclists this morning?

    THIS short post (#42) perfectly illustrates what is wrong with how WE operate our vehicles. MOST PEOPLE (yeah, caps: I\’m shouting here) only respect POWER.

    People are concerned to observe law when they fear repercussions, not because it provides a civil framework whereby we can relate to one another. Motorists speeding, turning carelessly, cyclists blowing all manner of traffic control, both traffic types oblivious to their definite effect on other road users\’ blood pressure (if not property or life) — this occurs in violation of that thing which separates us from a society run by the group with the most Kalishnikovs: LAW, which we as citizens have the option to make changes in without the use of firearms, u-locks or 5,000 lb. rolling weapons.

    Why do people care whether there are cops around? They fear tickets more than being flattened or rudely discomporting fellow travelers? Do they really think they\’re saving any significant time or energy by blowing traffic control? Simple math says they\’re wrong. Ya ain\’t gainin\’ but a few minutes or seconds overall by speeding in a car or running lights and stops on a bike.

    For what it\’s worth, I\’ve seen cops all over this morning, all of \’em ticketing automobiles (not been thru Ladd\’s). And in every case, a motorcycle cop was clearly visible sighting down a radar unit on approach to each activity. Must be some kinda budgeted sting day.

    Do the goddam math, people. You\’re not saving time, you\’re just demonstrating that you don\’t play well with others.

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  • Colae July 22, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Hey, sorry Thom.

    Medford is a good city with plenty of good people. It just sucks that these small towns get so stereo-typed (I admit I do it myself) and get a bad rap. What matters is that we encourage what we believe in, bike all the time, and accept differences. I solute Medford\’s emerging bike-ability!

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  • Agent Trouble July 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Wow everybody. Just a little shout out from the road! Ashland, SF, & Santa Cruz have all received us warmly. We challenged Santa Cruz to create a bike dance team last night & I really think it\’s gonna happen within the year. (!)

    You are all our community & it is our intention to \”support & interact w/ the community around us\”. Thank you for your support, love, time, concerns, opinions, and especially …. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR RIDING YOUR BIKE!

    operation bike nation tour! the time is now!
    bikes & props!
    agent trouble & the sprockettes

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  • Eileen July 26, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Boo boo, are you saying the sprockettes aren\’t family friendly? My 7 year old daughter adores them and they are the sweetest, friendliest ladies who gladly posed for a picture with a young fan. I think they are great role models as far as girls who can be girls while still demonstrating strength and athleticism. And the fact that they always seem to be having a total blast is what makes watching them so fun.

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