SciFiUpdates – normal text / Cassandra Peterson – in italics
Hi, all kinds of phone problems,
Yeah, that’s what she (Cassandra’s assistant) was telling us.
Yeah, probably ghosts in the wire.
Normally happens that way!! I’m Chris, and I’m Amy, and we run SciFiUnited.com. We’re big fans of yours, especially Amy, and we’ve really been looking forward to this interview… I’ve loved you for years! And growing up, I swear, my brother – he wanted to marry you! I wanted to be you, no “next” Elvira, the original Elvira!!
Well thank you!!
Well we’ve got a few questions for you, and we are running you next week for our Profile of the Week, because you are the Queen of Darkness, or the Mistress of Darkness [Doh!! Chris gets slapped at this point!!], and the Queen of Halloween.
Make sure you say, Mistress of the Dark
Mistress of the Dark, yes ma’am! So you’re still using that; you’re not going to change over to Queen of Halloween?
Well, yes, I’ll still use Queen of Halloween, but, you know, I have multi-titles!! (laughs)
Well, I want you to be the Mistress of the Dark because that’s every day. You’re not just the Queen of Hallooween.
Yes, I know, I’ll never give that one up, because really I started out with that and I don’t want that to go away.
Good, because that’s been worrying me, when I read that you were going to be the Queen of Halloween instead, and some people have implied that the winner of the contest [The Search for the Next Elvira] would now be the Mistress of the Dark, and I thought “that’s just wrong!”
No, no they wont. No, I’m actually sitting here trying to think of what she is going to be called, but, something like Handmaiden of the Dark? Or Maiden of the Dark? Or Slave of the Dark? Something like that.
I read some of your past interviews, and I know that you and the costumer & make-up artist came up with the character of Elvira. But I’ve also read about your past history, how you used to wear costumes as a kid and all that, so what I want to know is: Was the Elvira persona in there all along, just waiting for the chance to come out, or was it really just born out of the character that you made to host the Movie Macabre?
Well, … I was growing up kind of in Halloween-world – I really did, because my mother and my aunt ran a Halloween costume shop that did most of their business around Halloween. And it was a party shop that also had all kinds of Halloween stuff, and that was the biggest time of our year. It was bigger than Christmas, it was bigger than anything! All my relatives and myself, everybody pitched in to work at the costume shop, because it was so insane there during Halloween. And, you know, I just grew up having the best costumes, because my mother and my aunt would make me the very best costumes. So I would, every year, when all the kids were wearing those dorky little plastic masks, you know those awful masks, I’d be decked out in something fantastic, you know? A costume of whatever television show was the most popular is what I’d be dressed as. I remember the first one, I was dressed as Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, you know, a can-can girl. And I won a $100 bond, and was just thrilled. So I think that might have given me the bug, you know, like “Wow, dress up in a costume and get big bucks!!” Halloween was always my very favorite holiday of the year, still is obviously! Also, I do think my personality – and I’ve just figured this out in the last few years – I decided that Elvira’s personality was me as a teenager, which is kind of a frightening thought – especially if you’re my parents! But I was very, very sassy and smart-alecky. Didn’t take any crap off of anybody, I was kind of a tough kid. So I really think that’s sort of where Elvira, the character of Elvira, came from. And then combine that with the costume background and there you have it!
And I know that Elvira definitely has that sexual slant, there’s no way around that, but at the same time she’s a good role model because if you think about when Elvira came out, she’s a strong woman and she’s not putting up with any crap, and a lot of girls needed to see that.
I think Elvira is a very, very good role model. I know it sounds a little twisted sometimes, because there she is with everything hanging out, but I think it’s important that Elvira is sexy, and she’s not ashamed of her sexuality or who she is. She’s a woman, and it’s kind of like “she’s got it so she flaunts it.” And she’s strong and confidant, and I think she really does make a good role model for young girls. I get tons of mail from teenage girls and girls in their twenties saying “You were my role model growing up,” and I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
I don’t either. I think it’s a good thing.
Assertive, strong, sexy personality, and I think you could certainly do worse as far as role models go. You could be into Britney Spears or Paris Hilton – that’d be worse!
Well that’s one question I had down for you too – it was down [for later] but since you touched on that: I noticed that your star rating has really jumped out and you’re really hitting close to number one. How do you feel about that – really reaching out to …
Where’s that?!? What rating??
IMDB – Internet Movie Database – They have profiles on thousands and thousands of celebrities, and they rank you, and you’re ranking has shot up sky high!
Well they always get my age wrong – which really makes me crazy!
Do they get that wrong? Well you might want to tell them!
Oh I’ve told them a hundred times – they never change it! They say I’m 58, and I’m 56 years old. And the bad thing that always embarasses me is that everybody knows I graduated in 1959, so that would not only make me old, but really stupid ’cause I would have graduated when I’m 20!
Well we looked on your starmeter, and of course every Halloween, you know it gets close to Halloween and your rating always goes up. But this year… You are way up there, so that means you’re reaching out not just to us, because I’m a little bit older, but to the new generation.
I tell you, I have noticed lately, when I go somewhere it is mainly the kids, teenagers and young kids, who are really into the Elvira character. It used to be people more my age, and I was going “Oh my god, my whole fanbase is gonna die off!!” And that’s kind of why I am doing The Search for the Next Elvira show, because I think that really the character has become an icon, and is very much engrained into popular culture, and anybody who’s under 30 has grown up in a world with Elvira, always, she’s always been there. So I think they think of her more like they think of Santa Claus, in a way; an icon that is synonymous with a national holiday.
I think it also comes back to what you were saying: You are a positive role model, and there are so many negative role models out there for girls right now. You are one of very few positive role models that is not boring by any stretch of the imagination! You’re postive and fun, and that’s a really hard combination, and when people see that I think they just latch on to it. You’re just a class act, and that’s something that is very rare today out in Hollywood.
[laughs] Well let me tell you, it’s hard for me to be called classy too. When I’m called classy, then you know the rest of them are really worthless! Yeah, now we’re in trouble!!
Well, yeah, but in the movies, Elvira is always such a nice person. Elvira’s never rude or witchy with anybody unless they deserve it. Elvira helps the community and all that.
Only to people who really deserve it. And she really does, even though she’s got this tough exterior, she really kind of does have a little soft spot in her heart, and does try to help out people when they need it, you know? And also, one of the things I’ve done over the years very very strongly and haven’t ever swayed from this, is whenever I do a project or a film or whatever, when Elvira really gets into trouble, she always gets herself out. Even though she’s always got a hunky boyfriend around, he’s never the one that bails her out, he doesn’t come and rescue her. She saves herself, and usually him too.
What is Elvira’s all-time favorite horror flick – you’ve seen them all!
Oh boy! Well those fall into different categories, you know? … I tend to like, the old, low-budget, kind of cheesy black-and-white films from the fifties and sixties. I really have a thing for those kind of movies. I mean, I love horror films too, but nowadays, I don’t know. There haven’t been a lot of horror films for a while that I really want to see. Certainly, I don’t think that movies like Saw II and Saw IV and Hostel or those types of movies are horror movies. I don’t think they’re what horror movies are supposed to be.
I call them “gore movies.”
I think they are their own category. I don’t what the hell you want to call them; maybe you want to call them the six o’clock news. I don’t know… To me, a horror movie is still kind of the old definition. And that’s like a fantasy, where there’s a fantasy character, or a metaphysical character, whether it has to do with ghosts, vampires, or any fantasy character, communing with the dead, zombies, that type of thing. A character that, if you go out in the street you’re not going to run into that character, and he’s not going to kill you, you know? So anyway, I’m going all off here, but in the cheesy world of film, I think my favorite, doesn’t get any better/worse movie, is Plan 9 From Outer Space with Ed Wood. I just love that film – I think it’s brilliantly bad! And as far as really good movies, good horror movies, I don’t know – I still like the classics. I like the [Bram Stoker’s] Dracula movie that Coppola did not long ago; I like The Hunger with Catherine Deneuve that was out I think in the early 80’s; and I still, I went and saw The Exorcist not that long ago, and it’s still the scariest damn movie ever! It just scared the hell out of me! I couldn’t even, I could hardly sit through it! And also I love Carrie – oh my god Carrie was one of my favorite favorite all time movies.
What do you think about all the remakes that are happening right now?
Well I haven’t seen one so far that I thought beat the original, that’s for sure. My favorite movie as a child was House on Haunted Hill, starring Vincent Price, and I went to the remake of that just because I love that movie so much, and I thought it wasn’t nearly as scary, nearly as exciting – nothing. It was just blah! The first one still holds up as really really scary and creepy. Even though it’s pretty cheesy by today’s standards, and pretty low budget, and no special effects to speak of, it still has this real sense of creepiness and dread! It doesn’t show much happening – it’s still scare-filled.
I agree – that and a lot of the Alfred Hitchcock movies were the same.
Oh yeah, I like those – I love television, but lately I’ve been renting Twilight Zone for some reason for my daughter. She’s 13 and she’s just getting into that now, and there are some damn scary ones! They’re so short, and low-budget, and no special effects, and man they can scare the heck out of you! I think that what’s happening is, films in general and horror films, they’re becoming about how much money can you spend, and how many special effects can you do? And it just becomes a special effects movie, which to me is just, whoop-dee-doo.
Sometimes the mind-scare is better than the special effects scare?
Yeah. What happens in your own mind is a lot better, even when it comes to a book, like, I think the scariest book I ever read in my life was [Stephen King’s] The Shining… And the movie, although I like the movie, didn’t get you half as scared as what the book could do, as it’s going on in your own brain… Your imagination is the best source for everything.
Can we change tracks now and ask about the show a little bit?
As if anyone could replace you and be the next Elvira, there will will never be a next Elvira in real life! But we’re gonna give these girls a chance – so whoever wins …
I’m not replacing myself! Definitely I’m still being Elvira, but I really am taking a cue from Santa Claus, and adding additional Elviras. It’s funny, because now when I go out to appearances it is unbelievable how many people, and again 30 years old and under, say “Are you the real Elvira?” Well, YEAH! So I guess they think there’s a hundred of them out there!
Well they have to! We go to the cons, and the big example where we see a lot of you is at Dragon-Con in Atlanta, Georgia, which is one of the biggest fantasy cons out there. And there’s a ton of people out there that dress like you – they’re Elvira.
Well I guess that people are starting to think that they’re like Santa Claus – they’re all over the place!
Will the winner of this thing – is this gonna be likely a permanent gig for this person, or long-term gig, or is this probably going to become an annual competition, where you have, say, an apprentice for the following year?
Well you know, this is, it’s really a test right now. And so we don’t know. This person will have a year-long contract. And I imagine she will mainly be working next October, that’s when most of the gigs will come in. And we will try her out at that time in different public venues and see how it works. One of the things I’m working on is getting a mall, a shopping mall chain, involved and setting up a little scene, a little Halloween scene with a throne, at various shopping malls around the country, and sending my various Elvira look-a-likes out to pose for people, for photographs for Halloween. Like they do with Santa Claus and even the Easter Bunny now… And it will still be the “official” Elvira – and you can’t do that now, you can’t set up your own little thing and put your own little Elvira in there, because … then you’re in my territory, because I own the character.
Are there any early cuts from the show that you regret – you’d like to bring them back from the dead?
There were some! There were some girls that I, honestly, the more I see the shows, I wish I would have kept! A few of them, and I can’t give away too much because the show, the final episode hasn’t aired but, there were definitely some that I wished I hadn’t axed so early on. And of course it wasn’t entirely up to me, it wasn’t 100% my decision, it was all kind of decided by committee. I wish I would have fought a little harder for a few of them, because now I see them and I go “Oh, I should have kept them!” There were a lot of really good girls. And guys!
Well we’ve been calling in every night!
You are? Who are you voting for?
We’re voting for Jenny – and what we’d like to know is, if she wins are you going to buy her some breasts?
[laughs] Oh god! I have my special super-duper steel belted radial bra that I think we can really fix her up without surgery! I don’t think that’s going to be a problem with her! I love all three of the girls [who are] finalists; they’re just adorable. Each one has a different thing about them that I really like. I kind of wish I could combine all three of them – there are things I like from each one – into one Elvira. Then they really would be Elvira! Each one has their aspect, you know, that’s really good. Hard for me to know which one – I would be happy with any one of the three, they’re all adorable.
Well … of course with us being a website, most of our audience has also logged on to your website, or to the show’s website and watched the clips [there] … in addition to the show. And they asked these girls two questions: one, who is your nemesis, or arch-villain? And two, what army of animals would you use to take over the world? Is there a correct answer to those questions?
My answer to those questions? What was the first one again?
Who is your arch-enemy, or your nemesis?
Hmm, my arch enemy?
And the girls ranged from “nobody” to “Mary Poppins.”
Yeah, well there you go. I was thinking, somebody like, oh gosh who would it be? Somebody like Regis & Kelly… Oh god, my arch nemesis? Some goody-goody-two-shoes, I don’t know if there are any anymore? (assistant – what about Barbie??) Well I don’t know if I should say that, since they are doing my one-of-a-kind Barbie this weekend!
Oh yeah, we better we leave that off!
Yeah, better not put Barbie down! We love her too much now that she’s dressing up like Elvira!
Hey she’s got the proper body for it. She’ll make a good Elvira.
Yeah, she definitely will. Yeah, it’s a good fit! But I was thinking maye Pee-Wee Herman? Then we can have a giant mud-wrestling thing and see who takes over the world – me or Pee-Wee Herman, I don’t know.
Well my god I wanna watch that! Sell me a ticket! [laughing] I’m ready to come to that – I love him too!
I love him too, he and I, we’re very good friends, so … I guess I he and being arch-enemies would be very funny! Yeah, Pee-Wee Herman. We’ll have the big mud-wrestling contest and see who comes out on top! And for the army of animals, mine would definitely be cats, no doubt.
Black cats I guess?
No – any kind of cats, I know they’re capable of taking over the world.
And I guess the last thing, and we’ll wrap up here, is what’s the next big thing for Elvira – what have you got coming up?
Well … as soon as I wrap up this Halloween, I’m starting to work on a couple of different feature movie ideas I have that I would really like to get going. And they may take a while – one is, it has to do with my first movie, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, possibly creating a sequel. And the second idea is a movie called Queen of Halloween, which I plan to do animated so it could take a long time, but with the animation I’m going to always stay looking good!
Tell us all about ELOM – who are the central characters in the story?
The … book deals with, [Geera, a child of the last Ice Age,]she is in it, she’s abducted, her thoughts and her beliefs that go with her, and the book really talks about the fact that she is the person chosen of those abducted to be the intermediary between those responsible for the abduction and the humans. And so, 15,000 years later, Elom is a controlled environment. The Medoras, which are essentially shaman type people, females, 24 of them, are the only ones who know for sure that Elom is not their native planet, that after 15,000 years the idea that there was an Earth is a myth… Geera … set these ladies, this system of the Medoras up, when she first came, and after she had her communication with the alien entity, to carry on the truth of Earth and history and so they know that they are there, why they’re there. …The book implies at the very beginning, 15,000 years ago, mankind was judged, and in some lines we came up short. And Geera was able to convince this entity to give us a second chance. So 15,000 years later, the Medoras are sitting down saying, “Who do we choose? How do we choose the people to go and represent us at the second judging?” And the story deals with the culture that is there, which is a culture that is being controlled, and a concentrating of the Traits, that are favorable to Shetow, the earth goddess that Geera believed in when she was abducted. In the society, there are 24 tribes, and [in] each tribe, the females choose who they want to be their mate.
So do the Medoras provide some guidance on who they should choose to concentrate those Traits, or are they free to choose anyone?
Well, every year there is a gathering, and at the gathering there are contests, and they’re mental, physical, and everything else. And the women are allowed to choose their mates based upon their standing in those contests. The males are more favorable to have children based on how high they rank in this, because not all the couples have children.
And is that based on a permission thing, who can have children?
It’s not on permission, it’s the fact that in the controlled society each person has a round dot on their wrist, that wrist we find out later is part of the control mechanism, each family, each couple, has two children, the first one is a female and the second is a male. Every now and then, when the Traits are strong in that family, there will be a third child, and I call it the first childs, the second childs, and it’s structured, the years that they’re born, what sex they’re going to be, and everything is going to be that way…They set the men and the women up on each side and the women choose, and I talk in great detail about why the women choose and not the men. Because the women will choose based upon ration, reality, and intelligence, not just looks. The men are always going to make their choices on looks if they don’t know each other. Because the tribes don’t intermarry, a person from this tribe does not marry somebody in their own tribe, they marry somebody from another tribe like old cultures did. The men will leave their tribe and go to the woman’s tribe. That’s the way it’s done for aborigones, and I’m using that context of how to do it. [But] the male can reject that choosing, one time only…. And I go through the idea that they stay together for twenty years, they go through the twenty years and then there’s a process called the Poo Tash. which is what I refer to as “happy time”. That is when they have fulfilled their duty to Shetow, the female goddess, and stayed their time and have raised their children. So they can leave, they can break up and go be with whoever they want to. Or they can stay together if they want to and re-confirm their vows. And I talk a good bit about that…. And there’s a lot of analogies toward divorce, a lot of analogies toward life, toward my society. And the story is about those contests, and the seven people that are chosen to go to represent humanity, to the second judging.
And I wrote the book for a purpose. It’s not just a story of, “gee whiz this is great, all these things happen.” I’m trying to lay down some social truths in the book. About life, about people, everything… I wrote the book essentially for my grandkids, who are all girls, by the way. Women in my life have always been strong. My mother was very very bright, both my sisters are very very bright, both my wives have been Phi Beta Cappas, my oldest daughter’s a Phi Beta Cappa. Women have always seemed very very bright. I will always go to the bright girl over the pretty girl, there’s got to be more to it. And I’m putting this across [in the book], that there is more to a relationship. One time the girls are talking among themselves in the book, and they don’t know how to deal with him [lead character Kalmar], and one girl says “Well my momma said just stick your hand down his pants and grab him, and you can lead him anywhere you want to.” And that’s the way men are. And I tell it like I think that life is.
But here again, the book is a what if? What if we had adbuctions? What if there are abductions, they should’ve happened all through mankind’s history. I’m saying they happened 15,000 years ago. And if that happened, why did it happen and who did it? And the story’s built around answering those questions. It’s simply, at the very end, a book about what’s the meaning of life? And it’s very deep from that standpoint, at the very end of it. You learn where life came from, and where mankind came from, within reason, what purpose there is for us to be here. And I’ve given a reason for why we’re here, and it’s not the old fire-and-brimstone Bible thing. It’s also trying to say that, I don’t believe anybody has the true lock on that issue. And if somebody tries to say, “you can go over there and read the Bible, it’s going to tell you everything you need to know about this and if you doubt any of that you’re going to burn in Hell.” My book’s saying, wait a minute, we don’t really know where we came from, why we’re here. I’m not saying that [all the religions] aren’t right, I’m just saying, “well maybe it’s this way. What if?”…
And my friend who’s an ordained minister -he’s not now, but he has been – he said I leave enough in there about something greater than we are, that I don’t completely smash the idea of a God or anything, I leave it open.
The more you tell me about the book … it just keeps sounding better and better the more I hear about it!
Well, the women characters are strong, a lot of inter-relational situations in it, there’s love relationships, there’s sexual relationships, and I don’t mean to say it’s a sex novel, but it’s a reality thing. [But] in this society; men are hunters, women are artists. They do painting, they do carving, they do everything else. And it’s part of the control mechanism, in this society, and it becomes obvious to you later in the book that that’s what it is. How do you keep a society in check for 15,000 years? And it’s done by progressions … there are seven progressions of being allowed to do things. And you keep the women from having to worry about other things by keeping them concentrating on these artistic things that they produce and they take those items and they trade them to a race of reptilian, not guards, but tradesmen, and that’s the way that they’re interfaced wtih the entity that put them there. And they trade these goods that they have manufactured, these artistic goods, for the things that they need, things they can’t produce themselves, medicines, certain metals, things like that… it’s got emotions in it, it’s got relationsips into it, and the women in it are toe-to-toe, if not smarter than, the men. But there is no sexism in it either though, although the Medora are female and they are the shaman of the group, and the ultimate sense of knowledge, it’s not because the men are inferior. It’s just that that’s not their place in the society. They [the men] are hunters.
So just the division of labor – somebody has to do each thing?
Everybody has their task.
So the idea of the stronger female god?…
There’s a lot of knowledge, and I bring that out in ELOM, the fact that our forefathers, and particularly for 25-30,000 years, God was a FEMALE. The whole society was set up on the female. And pretty much I think they were probably fairly equal in the relationship. It was only when man took and built the villages, started farming, and if people were going to steal their cattle and all that, “well if we’re gonna die for them, then we’re gonna be the boss.” And it’s sort of what the way of thinking is… [But] fertility,… I went into the idea that fertility was a thing that 15,000 years ago was what they figured, and men they weren’t really sure what they were there for, they took care of the women. They weren’t really sure what part they had in the [fertility].
How long have you been working on ELOM – your whole life??
[laughs] I actually started about 2002. The idea that the book would be published is something that was way off in my mind. I did not know a single writer when I wrote the book. I went to a couple cons and met a few writers, but I really didn’t have any feedback or anything from anybody. So it took me four, five years from the time that I started writing the book until it will be published… But I will say this, it is my first, second, and third novel. Because I literally sat down and read twenty books on writing as I did it, and everytime that I would read a book, I’d go back and change it… So I feel like I’ve written two or three books, but I was too engrossed in the subject to leave it alone and go for something else.
Is it easier the second time – are you just writing the second book once?
Yeah, the second book is very fast! I really enjoy it… Fairchance, it’s purely dealing with evolution, it’s telling about how man will evolve to the next level.
So this is going to deal with future evolution, not past evolution?
Correct – future evolution of mankind. And it’s based on the idea that evolution for mankind will not happen on this planet; it will happen on another planet. Because we, on this planet, won’t allow it to happen. We don’t allow the natural culling of the weak and the blind and the sick; we keep them alive. Fairchance is about a society that develops on a planet circling Alpha Centauri A, which is, Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to ours, and it’s really three stars; the two major stars are Alpha Centaura A and B. And within our lifetimes, our your children’s lifetimes, we will have sent a spaceship to one of those planets. And then, 3,500 years later, we send a second one, and it’s what has developed on that planet. And that book, because of infrastructure, the people who are there understand science but they just don’t have the infrastructure to repair it.
So they’re just left on their own for 3,500 years, abandoned?
That’s right, abandoned. And then, they were put into stasis, they go there in stasis and they come out of stasis in levels. The planet is so hostile that only a few of them are able to survive, and as they later bring others out of stasis those become the servant classes. So you literally have a royalty, swordfights, and using an indigineous species as sort of a dragon-like creature. So it has all the things that a fantasy would have, but with a rational reason for it being that way. And the book has to do with the idea that, the first lines of the book are “Sheldon always knew that he was going to be sold.” It’s based upon the ideas that the leaders of Earth are concerned about the genetic changes taking place on this new planet. And they want to make sure that the people there don’t get too far out, so what they’ve set up to do is, “we will bring you technological equipment and materials if you will let the people from Earth come and intermarry.” And it will keep the humanity the same. And if you remember history, when they would draft people, rich families would buy out, buy somebody to take their place. In this story, the story is he was sold and he’s gone to this planet to take the place of a rich person and everybody thinks that’s who he is. And the leader of this planet works it out by deception to get his daughter matched with him, because he thinks it’s going to be great for him[self]. But … that’ll be two or three years off!
I have to tell you that when I was trying to do a little research on you online, I can’t find anything. That’s why I wanted to know how you came up, where you grew up and what did you do before you became an author? What were you doing?
I have been many things in my life. I have an MBA… I am a person who has a business, political, and healthcare background. I’ve been a hospital administrator, I have been a politician, I have been a state senator, I travel widely – Europe, Asia. When I was 9 years old with my family, we drove into Mexico City, visited all the Aztec Ruins and things like that, to this day (starting about 25 years ago) I started collecting pre-Columbian art. I love culture that’s from the heart. Not from somebody that’s spent 5 years at Juliiard – although I like classical music, but I still like just the artistic things. And you know, there’s so much knowledge that the ancients had before recorded history. I went over and looked at Stonehenge, and you know how did these guys do it? How was it that when they built or made a pyramid in Egypt 4000 years ago, it was the tallest structure man made until the Eiffel tower??!!??
And you have to consider that it would be difficult for us to build that today, the stones were so heavy we don’t even do that type of thing today.
And they were able! I’m convinced that 50,000 years ago man was just as smart as he is now. He just didn’t have [as much of] the knowledge.
Do you have a favorite author yourself?
When I was young, I started reading science fiction at about 19. So I’m into [Isaac] Asimov, and [Arthur C.] Clark, and people like that, [Robert] Heinlen, to me they’re the gods. Everything I knew about science, how many planets there were, how many moons there were, how fast it was to get into orbit, all those things I learned from science fiction. And I think we’ve been getting away from a lot of that, in my opinion. So when you go back and look at those things, Heinlen and all those are really great… But I’ll [also] read things like The Moral Animal, which is Robert Wright, which is NOT science fiction but it deals with evolution: why people are the way we are. We men go after young women, and women go after older men. Why do we take care of grandma. All things that are explained in there, with evolution, it’s the modern Darwin stuff. I love to read that kind of stuff…
I’ve been reading science fiction 45 years, 50 years, and [ELOM] is different than anything that I’ve ever read in the sense that I’m trying to answer a question of why we’re here. You know, everyone writes about space wars and things like this, which I enjoy myself, but I often [wonder], you know, what’s the meaning of life? And um, I’m writing about the meaning of life.
Big subject to tackle.
I write about ‘what if’ type situations. And I think that today, every science fiction fan concedes the idea that abductions, and aliens, we can all believe the idea that there’s aliens in life, that some of us believe in abductions, I don’t know if I do but I don’t count out the possibility that it has happened. If it did happen, why would it only happen beginning in 1948? And my premises is the idea that there is abductions, have been abductions, one took place 15,000 years ago, and it took place for a young girl going through her rite of passage… [and] I thought it was really hard science fiction, until I find out that hard science fiction really deals with only things that are scientifically proven today. Well it’s definitely got stuff in there that’s not proven today!… And so, you know, it’s not fantasy in the standpoint that there’s no magic, there’s no dragons, there’s no things like that in it. The dragons and stuff are in my second book!
Seems like you had a lot of your research ready-made for you, just from the authors that you like to read?
Well I collect antique books. I have a first edition of Animal Farm, I have a first edition of two of Charles Dickens books, I have Little Men, I have some very very old books and some very new books, and I love books. But science fiction is what I read 80% of the time… I read 3 books at a time. I never read one book at a time. I’ll have a pile of books by my bed, and I’ll read whatever my mind is at the time. I never go to sleep without reading.
Born in Ghent, New York, in 1979, Kristanna began modeling at age 15, encouraged by her model-mother Rande. Her father Chris owns an apple farm in upstate New York, and also writes novels and screenplays. She’s been in a slew of movies covering nearly every genre, however, it’s clear that sci-fi loves her best. Her film roster includes Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, BloodRayne, Ring of the Nibelungs, Lime Salted Love, and the yet-to-be-released In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. She’s also the star as Painkiller Jane in SCI FI Channel’s new series, and she has appeared in guest roles on Star Trek: Voyager, Lois & Clark, Sliders, and The L Word. She was also ranked #3 on Maxim’s annual Hot 100 List in 2003.
Q1 – I’ve read that you worked 20-hours daily for T-3 to include physical training for the ‘birthing’ scene. Are you doing as much physical training for Painkiller Jane?
A -Since I’m working about 15 hours per day on set, it’s hard to find time for anything personal, even if it’s brief. However, the only time I ever find to do any working out is on the stationary bike while I’m learning dialogue.
Q2 – You also took mime classes for T3. Is that helping with PKJ as well? Are there any other special talents you are having to learn for this new role?
A -The speed at which we are shooting the show is mind-blowing. Coupled with the hours, it’s really the most challenging job I’ve ever taken on, along with the overall length of the production (8 months in total). You have to learn to work at a very fast and efficient pace.
Q3 – You’ve had quite a few guest appearances on some big shows, including ‘Law & Order’, ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’, ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, ‘Boy Meets World’, ‘Sliders’, and most recently a 10-episode run on ‘The L Word’. Aside from the amount of time spent on each, what is the biggest different between all the TV guest roles and PKJ?
A – Each role is new and different from all the others. Each character is a new journey.
Q4 – Had you read any of the PKJ comics before you were offered the role?
A – It was actually upon reading the comic book that I was convinced to take on the job.
Q5 – Is the TV series staying true to the comics, or is it straying slightly?
A – The TV series is an adaptation from the comic book.
Q6 – Apart from success, what are your hopes for the show? Do you want a strong fan-base most, or do you want the show to receive a lot of media attention most??
A – When you put out your artwork in any form, you never know for certain where your fan base or the acclaim you get is going to come from, so you’re just happy to receive it from whoever enjoys it.
Q7 – Couple of decent Sci Fi genre projects on your resume. Are you a fan of the Sci Fi genre yourself?
A – I’m not really a Sci Fi fan, per say, but I do appreciate the fantasy aspect of the creation process. It really frees you to not have to conform to any realistic guidelines.
Q8 – Did you see the PKJ TV-Movie back in 2005? Were you surprised when Sci Fi announced a TV series, or was it expected? Did you ever think “yeah, I could do that!” when you were watching the TV-Movie, or did you not think about it until you were actually offered the role?
A – I didn’t see the other Painkiller Jane
Q10 – Can you give us the inside scoop into the storylines of some of the episodes?
A – The writers have come up with very interesting ways to portray the Neuros and how we must go undercover to capture them. They have also created some very interesting through lines throughout the 22 episode arc of the first season.
Q11 – How is shooting going so far? Any funny, or peculiar, stories you would like to share with us?
A – Jimmy Palmiotti has written one of the episodes and was in Vancouver to baby-sit the script during shooting. His presence is always welcome on set. He is full of positive energy and excitement and good ideas.
For the complete bio, please visit www.neiljackson.net
Electricbolt: First, I’d like to thank you for doing this interview. It seems we have a load of BLADE related questions, so I’ll start with those today.
Zipper: Did you ever see the BLADE movies and where you a fan of them if you watched them?
Neil Jackson: I was a huge fan of the movies. And still think that the blood bath scene in the first one is one of the best, most original openers to an action flick I’ve seen in a long while.
Zipper: The main “bad guys” in the BLADE movies had a more physical role to them. Where you surprised that you didn’t have a more physical role in the series? Could you even handle a more physical role within the series?
Neil Jackson: I knew when we shot the pilot that Marcus wasn’t a physical character. We wanted to play on the sophistication factor, having Fritz and Chase do his dirty work. At that point the other episodes hadn’t been written. Nevertheless, I trained ever day in the 3 month gap between shooting the series to get my sword fitting and martial arts up to the best I could be in the knowledge that eventually I would have to fight Blade. Then, as each script came out and I saw that I didn’t have to fight I continued training. By the time I did my first fight in ep 10 against Damek I had been training with the stunt choreographer in swords, Kalhi Stick, and kicks for almost 5 months. My back ground is in boxing, so I already had an good base, but loved the training, and was a little disappointed I didn’t get to use more of it on screen.
Commodore MAC: Did you like the direction that your character Marcus took on BLADE THE SERIES?
Neil Jackson: This season was very much about setting everyone up and reestablishing the Blade world. We all hoped and expected that the show would run for a good few more seasons. I enjoyed the direction we went with Marcus in this season, but would not have wanted to play him the same had we gone back. He felt too restrained, to constricted, he was hungry for power and that would have been the natural extension of the character had we gone to season two. But alas…
Trekscaper: What was the funniest moment that happened on set of BLADE?
Neil Jackson: For me it was during the first Marcus/Krista sex scene after he’s just killed Damek. Jill had laid me on the bed and was doing her thing. She had to unbutton my shirt and lick the wound. So she unbuttons, the camera solely on her face, her reactions. She pulls loose another button, and another… then pauses. I had stuck a pair of fake breast to my chest. It was one of those “had to be there” moments!
Zipper: Do you think if Wesley Snipes played the role of BLADE in the series that it would have been more of a success then with Kirk ‘Sticky’ Jones?
Neil Jackson: Of course, in the same way as if it had been Stephen Dorff reprising his role it would have been more popular. But Marque names only go so far, especially in television. they may have brought a more instant appeal, but the show must stand on its own legs too…
Zipper: Could BLADE THE SERIES be coming back to life and if so would you want to continue with it in some way?
Neil Jackson: There is always a chance… to both questions.
Commodore MAC: Have you heard any official news that BLADE THE SERIES will be picked up by another network? Because the rumors about it have been flying!!
Neil Jackson: I’ve heard nothing.
Commodore MAC: If BLADE does make it on to another network or the adventures continue on a made-for-DVD movie, will you resume your role as Marcus?
Neil Jackson: Depends on several factors. but I loved playing him.
Commodore MAC: How was it to work with Jill Wagner (Krista Starr) and Jessica Gower (Chase) and do you hope to work with these ladies again?
Neil Jackson: They were both great fun to work with. And pretty easy on the eyes when you’re called in at some unGodly hour. That certainly helps!
Baal: What was it like to work on STARGATE SG-1?
Neil Jackson: I had a blast on that show. Khalek was so wonderfully evil to play that I enjoyed every minute of it. There was no humanity to him at all, no regret or consequence. And the guys were so friendly and helpful, making me feel instantly at home. It was a pleasure.
Electricbolt: Did you watch STARGATE SG-1 prior to your role as Khalek?
Neil Jackson: I saw the film, but none of the series. The producers gave me 10 DVD’s to catch up on the role and the show, and I must admit, after watching all ten I did ask them if I could have 11… 12… it was an addictive show…
Electricbolt: Did you find it a little difficult to be in the role of Khalek, knowing that he had prior history that you weren’t involved with?
Neil Jackson: Thankfully Khalek didn’t demand much prior knowledge of the show or Anubis for that episode. there was talk about bringing him back, which is something I would have loved to do…
Commodore MAC: Do you think that Khalek might have a role to play in the upcoming STARGATE: SG-1 movies?
Neil Jackson: I haven’t heard anything, but would love to do it. I met up with Ben Browder the other day and we talked a little about the show and the forthcoming movies. It’ll be like a great class reunion.
Electricbolt: Would you like to have another role in the STARGATE franchise?
Neil Jackson: Always open to the idea of work…
Commodore MAC: What projecst are you working on now?
Neil Jackson: I’ve just comp-leted a feature called “The Passage” with Stephen Dorff. It’s a thriller shot in Morocco that I wrote about a year ago. Should be in cinemas towards the end of this year.
Commodore MAC: What do you wish you could be working on? (could be your own idea or a for-real series or movie.)
Neil Jackson: I wanna be Jack Bauer’s bastard love child… I’ll be there in 15 mins (beep beep beep beep)!
Electricbolt: That is all the questions we have for you today, thanks again for doing this!
SFS- First, I’d like to thank you again for doing this interview. How are things going with production of the Painkiller Jane television series?
JP- They are going great, getting ready to start shooting the 5th episode this week and everyone and everything is starting to jell quite nicely. We couldn’t have done better with getting Kristanna as Jane, every day I see impresses the hell out of me. There is a beauty and grace to herâ€¦even when she is shooting a gun or taking down bad guys twice her size. I have been fortunate to spend some time with her and get to know her, she really is a extraordinary force of nature.
The cast and crew is top notch as well. I spent the first week on set and everyone treated me like familyâ€¦when you come in cold into a new world like this, there is nothing more exciting to witness the pure energy people have in doing the best show they can.
I have been in Los Angeles this past week working on the episode I am writing with the writers in the room and seeing to some promotion for future teases and such of the show with the Starz people. There are so many talented people working behind the scenes on this show I can’t even begin to list them without slighting someone else.
SFS- From what I’ve heard, you will be writing and directing episodes of Painkiller Jane. Can you tell us how that is going?
JP- The episode I will be writing has the working title “The League” and we are still hashing out the details of the outline before I sequester myself somewhere and get working on the script. As far as directing an episode, that will come after I have written mine, but I will be directing another writer’s episode, not my own. I think it’s a smart idea to do this so I don’t get nutty. It’s my first time directing anything longer than a short so I am really excited to get moving and get in there and give it my best shot.
SFS- What other involvement do you have with the new television series?
JP- Well, I am a consultant work with the writer’s room whenever they need me and I have been working behind the scenes on promotions, licensing and development on a lot of different levels of things. I am as involved as I can be and still have time for my other work.
SFS- What about the comparisons of Jane and the cheerleader in Heroes?
JP- That’s an easy one. Painkiller Jane was created a decade before Heroes was ever made and that question is better directed towards its creator, isnt it? I am glad it inspired them to create a character like Jane, but there is a world of difference between the two of them. That said, people who enjoy Heroes will love Painkiller Jane and get into the show easier.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, Is there anything you would like to change on the series at this point?
JP- Commodore, really all I can think about is wishing I had more time on my hands to do more with the show. The details of the actual episodes all go in front of me and get a look over and they have been fantastic. The writers on this show have the experience and imagination needed to keep Jane entertaining at all times. Anything I would like changed are silly things that would slip the show into rated R territory as it is now, we push the envelope as much as possible. That said, I couldn’t be more pleased with what I am seeing.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, Will we be seeing any Characters from other comics making appearances on PKJ the series?
JP- Not from other comics no, but characters are being created for the show, the whole supporting cast aside from Maureen and Seth are new and in the episode I am writing we play with a few more as well. No characters outside the books are being used yet, but it’s early right now and there is no telling if things like this might happen one day. I wonder who people would like to see Jane star with, hmmmm? Any ideas?
SFS- Will the Painkiller Jane television series follow where the movie left off, or will the story start off fresh?
JP- Totally fresh. Watch the first episode and you will understand why. The movie was a different version of the character than we ever envisioned and the new series is the actual natural progression of the characters from comics to tv series is always difficult but sci fi has made sure to understand what makes the character tick and understood why the series worked so well and took what it could from the book and worked it wonderfully into the series.
SFS- What other differences between the movie and TV series will we see?
JP- The difference is that Different actresses play Jane for starters. The sci fi series is so much closer to what we created for the characters in the graphic novel, that’s for sure. The series is set up to be about a lot of things with Jane as the ringmaster in a sense, the movie didn’t do it as well given the limit of time and the fact that neither Joe Q (Joe Quesada; Current Marvel Editor-in-Chief) and I were very involved which didn’t help. That said, the movie was better than I thought it would be, but with the series, they are getting it right.
SFS- What is your opinion of how the movie turned out? Is there anything that you would have liked to seen in the movie that wasn’t featured?
JP- Yes, a third act would have been nice and maybe a bit more understanding of the property, but that said they did a decent job and made a pretty good sci fi original movie. The series is worlds better in my eyes. What others thing remains to be seen. I wish the original movie never put her in the army, Jane’s character never did that, but I understood at the time why they felt that might work. Personally, it didn’t.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, Were you happy with the end results of the movie?
JP- I was happy it got made and it wasn’t bad. That said, I am much happier the series is getting made and once again, it’s more loyal to the property and getting everything right in my eyes. I am a fan of the movie and a huge fan of the TV series. For me, the movie was, in a way, like when they make Tarzan movies, some are ok, some are great . It comes down to who is making it and what they see. The TV series is nailing it in my eyes.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, Will the comic book change direction after the series starts or will it stay true to its current storyline?
JP- The comic book is going to stay loyal to the comic books world it is in. I feel if the tv show is offering something different that the comic its much cooler for them both to exist and not copy each other too closely. The comic book is for mature readers and featured graphic violence and sex. The TV show has sex and violence, but works within the limits of broadcasting. The fun thing for me is that I get to write a different part of the character in the books.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, what would you like to see from us the fans of PKJ?
JP- What I would love to see in the perfect world is the fans of the character and comic book give the TV show a good chance and watch it, and the TV fans give the comic book a try. With TV we get millions of viewers nightly. I would give my left arm to get a minor percentage of those viewers to give a comic book a chance. Either way, I would like everyone to check out the show in April. I think its unique in every way.
SFS- Commodore MAC asks, In the current flux of Comic Movies coming out, do you think that it is starting to dilute the Comic Book industry or as a boost in the years to come?
JP- A boost for sure. They are starting to show you can have this fantasy element of heroes worked into major motion pictures and the only limitation of them is the imagination of the people creating the film properties. We are in a great stage of superhero development and genre shows are doing great! My only wish personally is for more science fiction and westerns to make it out there to a large audience. Its happening though and each year will get better.
SFS- Worf asks, How did you become involved with the Painkiller Jane comic book?
JP- Well, I co created it and published it with Joe Quesada for a company we owned called event comics in the 90s. It’s really the best way to become involved with anything, creating it. I recommend it to everyone. Wolf, it really is an exciting thing to create anything and see it grow from such humble roots. Such is the case with Painkiller Jane.
SFS- Worf asks, How much work did you put into Painkiller Jane since you were a co-creator?
JP- Into the TV show, as much as I was able to. They have involved me in each and every single step along the way to finally making it to the small screen. Gil Grant, the show runner, has been unbelievable supportive and encouraging in all ways and the people involved with making the show have greeted me with open arms. My involvement, I hope, is making a difference. Like anything that is done by a group, it takes a lot of time and energy to get anything to where most people are happy. I couldn’t be happier with the end product of the show. It really is a dream
come true for me. As I stated earlier I am involved with the writing and will be in directing an episode. That’s pretty involved for any creator!
SFS- How are things going with Dynamite Entertainments run with Painkiller Jane?
JP- Pretty cool. I just finished writing issue #1 of the new series and an digging in with the issues after. The story is a wild one and will be teased with previews on Dynamite comics web site and Newsarama as well. They guys at dynamite are giving us complete control of the characters it should be.
SFS- Are there any trades available for the earlier works of Painkiller Jane? Will Dynamite Entertainment be releasing one for the new series?
JP- Yes and yes. They are solicited to come out soon, one collects the original run and the painkiller Jane #0 issue as well as covers and pinups, its quite a fun trade book. The new 3 issue mini series that just came out and sold out so quickly will be hitting as well. I think is my best work to date and am really thrilled to see it collected and available to everyone through comic shops and places like Amazon.
SFS- What other projects are you working on that you can share with us at this time?
JP- Well, any minute the GHOST RIDER video game I wrote with Garth Ennis will be in the stores as well as a regular barrage of monthly books out now and some hitting stores in the next few months.
We got from D.C COMICS the monthly JONAH HEX series, UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS, a new TERRA series drawn by Amanda connerâ€¦from WILDSTORM we got the FRIDAY THE 13TH series coming out and soon to come the SHANNA series coming from marvel comics.
From fox atomic we have written the HILLS HAVE EYES: THE BEGINNING, a prequel of the hills have eyes that explains how a town of miners got the radioactive end of the stick and mutated into vicious killers in new Mexico. The book will be hitting the day the sequel hits theatres and available at comic shops and book stores everywhere.
Justin Gray and I have also recently done a deal with KICKSTART entertainment to write an original screenplay for our horror film titled SPLATTERMAN, which is our take on creating something and watching it get out of control and not being able to do anything about it.
SFS- What other projects would you like to do?
JP- Really, at this point write and direct more Painkiller Jane, develop more properties in comics and film and continue doing what I love. I have worked a long time in this business and each day I still feel excited as hell about what I am doing and what’s ahead. It’s a great time to be alive [ as sniper bullet pops the top part of my head off and I fall forward and ooze brain matter into my keyboard causing a fire that incinerates me and the house and a wind takes the sparks and burns half of Brooklyn as wild dogs attack and eat the rest of the inhabitants till homeland security blows up all the bridges connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan. Yeah, remind me never to say that good to be alive b.s ever again! }
SFS- What is your favorite comic title that you have worked on?
JP- A few would be BEAUTIFUL KILLER, the MONOLITH, and NEW WEST. All out and available somewhere.lol.
SFS- Are there any titles you had a chance to work on that you missed out on due to other commitments?
JP- Yes, but looking back I am glad I passed on them. There is no “classic” that I passed on really.
Well folks, that’s the end of the interview! I hope you people have a fun time reading this one. I want to thank Jimmy Palmiotti for taking time off out of his schedule, which is quite busy now with the “PJ” television series now in production. For more information about Jimmy, please visit his website at www.paperfilms.com. To purchase the Dynamite Entertainment comics, please visit www.dynamiteentertainment.com. Jimmy Palmiotti may be doing another interview with us in the coming months, if his schedule permits, so keep an eye out!
Look for the new Painkiller Jane television series this April on Sci Fi!