Wheelchair Sports Camp's Crip Life

If there were ever a moment for a queer, disabled rapper with a love for pot, jokes, and revolution to be a star, the moment is now

His name is Ryan Finger, and he works at JobPath on 38th Street, where he helps people with developmental disabilities find employment. He came to the show randomly with his JobPath co-worker, Erica Esper. "We saw the band name—Wheelchair Sports Camp—and we were like, 'That's fucked up.'" But it got them inside. "Then we saw them, and we were like, 'Oh, OK.'"

They loved Wheelchair Sports Camp. "The music has to speak for itself," Ryan gushes. "The draw can't be, 'Oh, I feel bad for her.' But the music is awesome, she was jamming, it was sooooo awesome!"

On next is Esnavi, a shapely Milwaukee-bred soul singer wearing gloves and a vat of facial moisturizer. Backed by an acoustic guitarist with a tall forehead and a soul patch, she overemotes as if this were a Glee audition, promises (more like threatens) that someday, we'd brag about witnessing her greatness in such an intimate room, patronizes the people who were in the audience by talking down to them, and deigns to thank her opener, "Wheelchair Sports Champs." Kalyn, Abi, and Jennah take turns rolling their eyes.

Wheelchair Sports Camp is saxophonist/vocalist Abi McGaha Miller, lyricist Kalyn Heffernan, and Abi’s brother, drummer Isaac.
PhotoRoadies.com; Adrian DiUbaldo, Ryan Martin
Wheelchair Sports Camp is saxophonist/vocalist Abi McGaha Miller, lyricist Kalyn Heffernan, and Abi’s brother, drummer Isaac.
One of the last times Wheelchair Sports Camp toured, everyone but Kalyn ended up in jail.
Photo Roadies
One of the last times Wheelchair Sports Camp toured, everyone but Kalyn ended up in jail.

Meanwhile, in the back, Kalyn explains why she uses words like "crippled" and "midget" onstage. "I feel like I have every right to say that," she says. "I deal with it on a daily basis. As much as I joke about it, I still know how serious it is: Obviously, like, when I'm the hospital. But I could be upset about that my whole life, be sheltered, and be in my room, and focus on the fact that people stare at me. A lot of [disabled] people do. But the way I was able to overcome all that was just to make fun of it. And cuss a lot!"

On the way out, Esnavi pushes a promotional flyer with her head on it at Abi, who politely declines, saying she'd already picked up one. Outside, Kalyn fantasizes about what she would have said. "'I'll take one," she snickers. "So I can WIPE MY ASS with it!"

It's now December. Miley Cyrus has released a video in support of Occupy Wall Street. SXSW has confirmed Wheelchair Sports Camp for 2012. Kalyn started writing an Esnavi diss track. Riggs sent Kalyn some beats. Last week, Kalyn and Jennah flew to Los Angeles on a friend's buddy pass, visited Occupy LA, and within 10 minutes, Kalyn found herself being interviewed three times. If there were ever a time for a disabled rapper with a love for trash-talking, jokes, and revolution to be a star, that time just might be now.

cdodero@villagevoice.com | @camilledodero

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4 comments
Gogaz
Gogaz

You are amazing.

Mikoe Wozz
Mikoe Wozz like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

kerrdale
kerrdale

@Mikoe Wozz wow im new to this site,never heard of most websites today,I have that O.I.disability also,yet I had a accident that has left me in a wheelchair too.I stopped to help some guy and was ran over by him,he was drunk and left me to die in a ditch with 64 broken bones,Im now unable to walk,and still fighting this fight to get better.

JewelzPdx
JewelzPdx

Re: last tour, and everybody ended up in jail...HOW da hell did Kalyn NOT end up in jail - was it the handi-pass? cause I KNOW she was talkin' the MOST ish! ha - that's my girl! Love ya -um, road trip back to PDX anytime soon? miss Ya

 
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