Not often I’m in a plush ballroom facing four beautiful women, one of which volunteers not five minutes into the conversation: “I can have sex.”
Actually, Angela Rockwood is explaining one of the misconceptions about she and the women in their new show on Sundance, “Push Girls,” that depict their dynamic, glamorous lives in wheelchairs.
As the show makes clear, they are all in various stages of relationships. In D.C. recently as part of a promotional tour, they sat across a study table in a Ritz Carlton ballroom and talked about the show and the reaction they get form men.
“We get hit on,” says Mia Schaikewitz – who lost use of her legs due to a spinal malady. “People are just more creative about their pickup lines.
“It’s about what you put out there. If you act like the chair is a big deal, everybody will act as if it’s a big deal. Especially with guys,” says Schaikewitz.“People assume because we’re in chairs that we don’t have dates.”
The best dates look beyond the chairs, they say. But, Angela Rockwood says, “Don’t get me wrong. There are some who are focused solely on the chair.”
It can be a little strange – like the people who want pictures of their feet.
But it can be a plus for the guys who date women in wheelchairs – it makes them seem like nicer guys.
“I tell guys, You want to get a girl, take me out,” Rockwood says. “It’s like a guy with a baby or a guy with a dog: the guy with the girl in the wheelchair.”
Except for Schaikweitz, the other “Push Girls” were injured or paralyzed in auto accidents. And unlike other contrived reality shows, they knew eachother before the producer Gay Rosenthal came calling. She had previously produced series about people viewers may be curious about, “Little People, Little World,” about a little couple or “Ruby” about a morbidly obese woman.
The point says, Rockrood, is “to educate, to remind and to inspire.”
She feels she can release a spasm in public without passerby thinking she’s going into a seizure. Those who watch the show know it’s just something she has to do.
Same thing with lifting themselves out of their chair occasionally during the day, says Tiphany Adams, demonstrating it. “It’s a pressure relief, so you don’t get a pressure sore.”
But more than that, they can drive, they can work out, they can dance — in the case of Angel, professionally – and yes, have sex.
“The main thing is educating people that we still live our life,” says Rockwood. “Because people think when something like this happens to you, your life is over with.”