One-Wheel Roller

King of the rink Leo White is ready for prime time, but is prime time ready for him?

But some feel that roller-skating is on its way back up.

"People are starting to notice those four wheels again," enthuses St. Louisian Auguste Moore, a 26-year-old recreational roller and poet who will be competing at WCOPA in the poetry category.

She's right. People are putting some serious muscle behind traditional four-wheel lines as inline skating fades into oblivion. Hip clubs such as the Roxy in New York City are sponsoring roller-disco nights, and Britney Spears recently signed a three-year contract with the shoe company Skechers to promote her own line of four-wheel skates.

But Americans are a fickle bunch with their nostalgic whims, especially when it comes to what could be termed "hip-decade roulette": The '70s were soin at the turn of the century. Then the '80s took hold last year, spawning a temporary bull market of royalties for Adam Ant and coke dealers. Now, with MTV's butt-rock revival being shoved down our throats, '90s slacker chic is allegedly in the offing, something that Ms. Spears and Skechers should be none too happy about -- unless baby girl plans on reinventing herself in the mold of Heather Graham's Rollergirl. Now that'd sell some skates, boy.

But assuming Britney doesn't go porn after her self-avowed six-month hiatus and Michael Eisner doesn't bump into White at WCOPA this week, perhaps the best way for the one-wheel roller to avoid a working-stiff fate like Calvello's is simply to move to Los Angeles.

Scruggs sees nothing wrong with this strategy.

"Here's the problem with St. Louis: It was an industrial town," explains Scruggs. "It was very good for my parents. My father worked at General Motors for 33 years. St. Louis wasn't a city that was adaptable to technology, to liberal arts. Newer cities, like Atlanta, were more adaptable. Unless you're a politician or have a big corporate job, people don't move to St. Louis."

But for a talent as quirky and underground as roller-skating on one wheel, Scruggs pins the tail on the Midwest mule.

"There's no Venice Beach in St. Louis. You can skate in Forest Park all you want, and all you're gonna see is local people."

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