Category Archives: Television Shows

James DeSimone Make Guest Appearance on A&E’s “Storage Wars” As a G.I. JOE “Super Collector”

Bottom Line: In this 2-minute clip from an episode of the A&E program, Storage Wars, one of the show’s contestants(?) purchases a storage locker for $750, then discovers it contains a 1985 GIjOE USS Flagg aircraft carrier. She then takes it over to James DeSimone for his professional, expert estimation of its value. There are some quick, fleeting views of the assembled ship, plus a few shots of James’ RAH figures placed atop its deck and arranged around it for maximum display effect (making this an official “Joe Sighting”). The Flagg’s box is included as well, but it appears to be pretty banged up. Was this particular Flagg worth what James declares? YOU be the judge. Enjoy!

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1:6 Customizer, Gary Stair, Inspired By the Work of Wayne Faucher, Creates His Own Versions of Captain Action Battle Armor and 1960s Jet-Packs

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Creative Minds Think Alike— Inspired by the masterpieces of 1:6 scale wizard, Wayne Faucher, fellow customizer, Gary Stair (of Pennsylvania), combined another assortment of unrelated parts (including a set of Hulk Buster armor, a plastic Easter egg, a Star Wars figure and a Classic Collection GIjOE headsculpt) to create his own unique “B.A.D.A.S.S.” custom toy for use with his favorite hero—Captain Action. Out-STANDING work, Actioneer! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge (and drool).

Like birds of a feather, customizers of 1:6 scale do indeed, “flock together.” In today’s exclusive, generously penned and provided to us by 1:6 customizing expert, Gary Stair (PA), we learn exactly how the work of one creative genius can quickly influence the work of many others. In the following two examples, Stair reports how his own custom work (as of late) has become greatly influenced by that of fellow customizer, Wayne Faucher; even to the point of requiring him to jump in his car and race over to Walmart, just to buy an Iron Man toy that was going on clearance. According to Stair:

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Gary Stair (PA) (Photo: Gary Stair)

“I want to be Wayne Faucher in my next life. I LOVE his 1:6 scale custom stuff! So much so, I often try to emulate him in my own 1:6th creations. The recent Joe Report article describing his amazing Hulk Buster figure (HERE) had me out of my house in minutes and ZIPPING over to the local Walmart; where low and behold—I found one LAST Hulk Buster (HB) figure still sitting on the clearance shelf. Thanks to Wayne’s tip, I snagged it for a mere $11 bucks—with an additional 10% off!

The HB was missing its helmet, but that didn’t stop me. I found a plastic easter egg (clear on one side, yellow on the other) to serve as a replacement, leaving only a few additional items to make it complete. (Hey Wayne—Can you tell what I did over the weekend?) After multiple hours of painting and assorted customizations that utilized all sorts of miscellaneous parts and “do-dads” (to create self-balancing rockets and heat-seeking missiles), I’d soon created my very own Captain Action B.A.D.A.S.S. (short for what else?): the BATTLE ARMOR DEFENSE AIRBORNE SURVIVABILITY SYSTEM. I also intend to install an Iron Man-esque chest light, utilizing one of those 1:6 scale desk lamps I’d purchased previously at a Dollar Store (see HERE).”

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EGGX-cellant! Gary’s superb solution to his missing helmet dilemma was to create one of his own using a 2-piece plastic Easter egg. Absolutely ALIENS-inspired! (Photo: Gary Stair)

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Custom Armor-O-ACTION! Gary’s decision to go with a metallic blue paint job gave his custom creation a definite Captain Action twist. Sweet! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

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Built For Battle— The back view reveals there are few if any weak spots in the Hulk Buster armor. The possibilities for customizing this “suit” are practically limitless! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

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As seen from the side— Gary’s Hulk Buster armor sports one of Cap’s logo stickers (just so Dr. Evil knows who’s about to deliver the HURT on his squishy-brain head) and you can also see how Stair’s unique “Easter egg” helmet was painted and utilized. COOL! (Photo: Gary Stair)

“To further demonstrate how Wayne’s creations have been keeping me up at night, I tried to replicate his outstanding Lost in Space jet-pack (shown in a previous Joe Report article HERE). I also really love the scene in Thunderball where Bond uses the same jet-pack system to make his getaway from SPECTRE bad guys (see video clip above). Thanks largely to Wayne’s inspiring examples, I now have a Sean Connery 007 figure flying high in my toy room with a Wayne Faucher-esque jet-pack (or at least my version of it).”
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Do you own a 1:6 scale jet-pack system for use with your custom Lost in Space or James bond figures? If not, WHY not? Just like Wayne and Gary, you can make one yourself! Hey, Gary, where’s the helmet? (Photo: Gary Stair)

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Prepare for Takeoff— Gary Stair’s custom jet-pack was created from an assortment of, as he likes to call them, “odds-n-ends.” WOW!!!!! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

“I want to give major KUDOS to Wayne Faucher for all the inspiration he’s provided to me and other 1:6 customizers around the world. I hope The Joe Report will continue sharing examples of his amazing work of 1:6 seale ART well in the future. I know they’ve inspired MANY customizers to strive for greater achievements and help keep our beloved 1:6 scale “vision” ALIVE!” —Gary Stair, PA

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Wayne Faucher (Photo: WFT)

Bottom Line: Gary mentioned that he had grown up watching ARK II. We had never seen (or heard of) “ARK II” before, so we decided to check it out on YouTube today where we found the entire first episode (see link above). If you jump ahead to the 5:49 minute-mark, you’ll see the very same jet-pack system that Wayne and Gary have recreated so perfectly in 1:6 scale.

Wayne and Gary are both outstanding customizers and are leaders by example in our wonderful hobby. We hope these two “wizards” will stay in touch often, and that YOU too, will write in to us here at The Joe Report so that we can share YOUR creative projects with the world. Finally, a special note of thanks to Gary Stair for all his generous contributions to this article. Go, GARY!

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G.I. Joe’s Shocking Appearance on “King of the Hill” as the Decidedly Anti-Hero, “Joe Sixpack”

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You crashed a TRUCK? You WILL feel my wrath! A clearly perturbed Hank Hill (portraying God) lifts up a bearded AT GIjOE (portraying “Joe Sixpack”) and prepares to smite the Joe for his thoughtless, drunken driving. This rare “anti-hero” Joe sighting was discovered in a 1998 episode of Fox’s “King of the Hill.”

kingofthehilllogoBottom Line: I’ll tell you what… 12″ GIjOE appeared in a episode of Fox’s animated comedy hit, King of the Hill. And why not? It seems like a natural fit to us. But we have to admit, we weren’t prepared for the surprising casting twist the show takes with our 12-inch action hero’s typically sterling reputation. In Meet the Manger Babies, Joe’s cast against type as a decidedly “anti-hero” villain known as “Joe Sixpack.” Turns out, Mr. Sixpack is an otherworldly escapee (from Hell, no less), who enjoys luring innocent victims into his car and then killing them in premeditated drunk driving accidents. <Ick> It’s up to the show’s real American hero, Hank Hill, to come to the rescue of all concerned in the show’s final minutes. This is a truly unexpected and unusual “Joe sighting” on a major television program. You’ll love it. Enjoy!

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FLASH! Renowned G.I. Joe Collector, Kevin Bolger, Featured in New “Through the Decades” TV Show Hosted by CBS’ Veteran Newscaster, Bill Curtis

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Chicago area GIjOE expert, Kevin Bolger, in a screenshot from CBS’ Through the Decades

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Bill Kurtis, host of CBS’ Through the Decades (Photo: CBS)

We were contacted recently by the producer of CBS’ new Through the Decades show (hosted by Bill Kurtis of CBS News fame) who informed us she was going to be in the Chicago area (that week) with a production crew. She wanted to know if we would be available for an interview, regarding (of all things) “the history of G.I. Joe.” Regrettably, we had to pass, so she inquired if there was anyone else in the Chicago area whom we knew and could recommend as a bonafide “experts” on the subject. Hmm… “experts, eh..?”

We discussed the juicy topic over lunch that afternoon in our conference room, and (of course) many amazing names immediately came to mind. Over BLTs and Diet Cokes, we considered the varieties of collections and vast amount of knowledge possessed by of all the Chicago “Joeheads” we knew of (great guys and gals, one and all), but one name kept coming back to the top of everyone’s list; renowned GIjOE fan, advocate, collector, 1:6 scale hobbyist extraordinaire, and all-around “good buddy,” Kevin Bolger.

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Kevin Bolger checks the attendance list during the 2008 GIjOE Show in Algonquin, IL. All present, sir! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For those of you who’ve never met Kevin—

Bolger’s bulging GIjOE résume´ reads as long as your arm. Suffice it to say, he’s been a member of the Chicago Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club and a co-organizer of that club’s annual shows held in Algonquin, Illinois for many years running. A quick search of The Joe Report will bring up numerous articles featuring and/or quoting from Kevin, such as our coverage of one past Algonquin event (see HERE) and another article quoting Bolger’s pragmatic description of the struggling Chicago division (see HERE).

We contacted Bolger at his home and asked if he had any additional behind-the-scenes tidbits or exclusive intel he could provide regarding his recent appearance on TV. He kindly replied:

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“The G.I. Joe segment on the ‘Through The Decades’ TV show was on TV this week (February 2nd). It runs about 7 minutes. I was very pleased with the production and it was the first segment on the hour-long show. Kurtis narrated it, which, being a long-time fan of his from his anchor days on Chicago’s WBBM, made this experience especially enjoyable for me.”

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Unfolded GIjOE History— This is one side of the “handbill” that was originally created for use by Hasbro toy reps and distributed during the 1964 Toy Fair in NYC. (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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A few years back, I bought a number of pieces directly from…drumroll…Sam SpeersIf you watch the video carefully, you’ll see a shot of Hasbro’s ultra-rare 1964 Toy Fair handbill or ‘salesman’s catalogue,’ which I own. I’ve attached a couple of still shots (see above and below), and the closeup of side 2 reveals one of those elusive green camo shoulder radios and an early, prototype version of the MP outfit.”

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Prototype Peek-a-Boo— This closeup from the inside of the handbill reveals an especially early shot of GIjOE’s line of Army equipment and an “elusive green camo shoulder radio.” (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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“Through The Decades is usually on one of the CBS local off-the-air sub channels (i.e. Channel 2.2 in Chicago). They feature stories like ‘on this day in 1971, this happened, so & so was born,’ etc. In my interview, I give a brief history of Hasbro and the development of GI Joe. I also set up a bunch of vintage figures with 40th anniversary window boxes for the film crew.

The show’s website is www.decades.com, but it doesn’t look like they stream any of their programs, only the promos. I watched an episode (on TV) last week. They’re on M-F, a 1 hour show, that’s repeated a couple of times during the day). It looks like they’ll be using a lot of old CBS network news reports, 60 Minutes segments and other nostalgic stuff mixed in with original segments and features.”

Bottom Line: Through the Decades looks like a wonderful program and should appeal to all nostalgia and history buffs. Kevin’s segment on the history of GIjOE is absolutely wonderful and we were thrilled to learn that the show’s producer had taken our recommendation and ended up utilizing his expertise for the show. Our sincerest thanks to Kevin for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy his full appearance on Through the Decades by clicking the video link below:

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G.I. Joe “Sighting” in a 1990 Episode of “Cheers”

Bottom Line: In this quick “Joe Sighting” discovered recently by our doggedly determined research staff (i.e. ME, with my feet up watching TV) during the popular NBC sitcom, Cheers, fans don’t get to see any GIjOEs per se, but the high volume of Barbie dolls on display throughout the bedroom (combined with Ted Danson’s suggestive comment) are all viewers need to imagine what Joe would be doing IF he was there. The scene takes place near the end of an episode entitled, “Loverboyd,” and originally aired in 1990 during Season 8 of the sitcom. Enjoy!

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OOO-OOO! AAA-AAA! Catching Up With Mary Votava, aka “Monkey Woman,” from Syfy’s Hit Reality-TV Show, Stan Lee’s: Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

The Perfect Primate? Renowned actress/singer, Mary Votava, poses for a publicity still. (Photo: Mary Votava)

The Perfect Primate? Renowned actress/singer, Mary Votava, aka “Monkey Woman” from Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero? (Photo: Mary Votava)

Monkey Woman had it all. She was beautiful, fit, athletic and super-sexy in her skimpy jungle costume and go-go boots. What a character! (Photo: Syfy)

Monkey Woman had it all. She was beautiful, fit, athletic and super-sexy in her 2-piece jungle costume and bright yellow go-go boots. What a swinger! (Photo: SyFy)

Fourth in a Series of Exclusive Interviews with Contestants of the Syfy Channel’s Reality TV Show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?”

By Mark Otnes, 4-5-2015
Editor, The Joe Report

When Syfy TV viewers first caught a glimpse of Mary Votava, they could see right away she was fit, trim and beautiful. And muscular. And athletic. After all, her homemade “bikini-n-bananas” costume left little else to the imagination. But when Votava firmly planted her wooden staff, opened her mouth wide and suddenly let forth with a loud, piercing monkey scream, “Ooo-Ooo! Aaa-Aaa-Aaa!,” everyone else in the room (and everyone watching at home) could tell that this powerfully petite, modern-day female Tarzan was someone intent on making a STRONG impression on her competition—and she did!

As her fans now know, Votava hails from Kirkland, Washington and is a part-time actress and singer who’s appeared in numerous stage and theater productions as well as independent films produced primarily in her native Northwest. But it was 9 years ago, when her on-screen looks, performing talents and outstanding athleticism all fused together perfectly to help land her the role she’s STILL best known for today—a tree-climbing, vine-swinging, dog-fighting, banana-swallowing, superheroine wannabe, affectionately known as—Monkey Woman.

As seen in this publicity still, Mary's piercing green eyes were perfect for her jungle-bound eco-warrior superhero character, Monkey Woman.

We’re GREEN with Envy As shown in this superb “head shot” or publicity still, Mary’s piercing green eyes were perfect for a jungle-bred, eco-warrior, super-heroine character like Monkey Woman. WOW! (Photo: Mary Votava)

Votava and other contestants vying for a spot on Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" in 1996. (Photo: Syfy)

Va-Va-Va-VOOM! Votava and many other beautiful contestants vied for a spot on Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” TV show. (Photo: Syfy)

Votava debuted her Monkey Woman character back in 2006 on Syfy’s ground-breaking,“Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH) reality TV show (to great excitement and potential). But sadly, after only three episodes, she was unexpectedly eliminated by its host, Stan Lee. Despite an all-too-short foray into reality television, Mary’s appearances proved “wildly” entertaining and she left an indelible impression upon the hearts and minds of millions of fans. But whatever became of the beautiful Mary Votava after her untimely departure from the show? Where did she go? What did she do next? We were eager to uncover the fate of the Syfy jungle queen and contacted Votava recently at her home in Washington. She kindly consented to our request for this interview and also provided many of the its exclusive photos as well, most of which have never been seen by her fans before. Enjoy!

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The passing of the years have done little to dim the natural beauty of Votava, though she now seeks a life largely out of the limelight. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Before we begin, please allow me to thank you for taking the time to reply to our questions. I’m a huge fan of yours, of your Monkey Woman superhero character and of the show, Who Wants to be a Superhero? (WWTBASH). It’s been a genuine pleasure to conduct these contestant interviews and I’m sure your fans can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to since 2006.

TJR: Let’s begin by catching up. What most of us know about Mary Votava ends about 2007. According to LinkedIn, you’re now a “Product Marketing Manager” for Microsoft in the Greater Seattle Area. Congratulations! What have you been up to for the last 7 years and how did you end up working in that particular position?

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“Around 2008, I began seriously looking for a career change.  I explored the idea of going back to school to get another degree, and around that time began doing part-time marketing contract work with different groups within Microsoft. I found it to be a great fit for me, as I enjoy the intellectual challenge, the people and culture of high-tech, and I have always been a huge fan of Microsoft specifically (at one point, to illustrate my nerdy side, I even put on my Match.com profile that I get way too excited about a finely crafted Excel spreadsheet). One opportunity led to another, until I came into my current position on the US Office team.”

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A natural beauty Mary Votava at home in Kirkland, WA. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: What’s a typical day like for Mary Votava now, in 2015? Can you walk us through it?

“I pretty much live the Monday-Friday ‘American Dream’ now.  My boyfriend and I wake up and get ready for work together, I feed the cats, listen to NPR while sitting in traffic on the 405, go to a lot of meetings and write a lot of emails (and occasionally actually do work), go to hot yoga in the evening, cook and eat dinner with my boyfriend, relax a bit and/or work on assorted projects, go down to my secret lair and monitor Kirkland for any supervillain activity and intervene if necessary, etc.  You know, normal stuff.”

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Remember the Alamo! Votava and Sheppard during a recent visit to the historic battle site in San Antonio, TX. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: In previous interviews, you’ve discussed your childhood and family, but your fans know very little about your current personal life. For example, when we interviewed Chelsea Weld aka “Cell Phone Girl,” we learned that she was just about to be married. Is there any similar information about yourself that you’d care to share at this time?

“I share my life with an amazing man that I met on Match.com after moving back to my hometown, Kirkland, WA, in May. We’re both lovers of all things science (fiction or non), and enjoy quiet nights together on the couch with our Surfaces, going out in downtown Seattle, and outdoor activities. Re: the latter, Kyle has been introducing me to what Pacific Northwest has to offer, like sailing, snowshoeing, and wool socks at REI. We’re very happy together, and you can monitor my Facebook profile for any future relationship status changes of the Chelsea Weld variety!”

Votava in costume for a stage production. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Mary Votava in costume for Pirates of Penzance. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Your fans also already know that you’re an accomplished actress and singer, and that over your career, you’ve appeared in numerous stage productions (see a scene from The Mikado, above), performed live with an LA-based improv-comedy troupe called The Omelettes, and have acted in numerous TV shows and films. But we don’t know your performing arts goals and ambitions. Is it ultimately to be a television or film star? A singing star? Or something else?

“I did spend many years working in the performing arts, but found very little enjoyment or satisfaction in the process, or the industry as a whole. Luckily, I have found a place where I am happy and excited to come to work every day, so my professional ambitions are now very much about expanding and growing my career at Microsoft. I feel proud to be part of a company that is on the forefront of technology, whose philosophy is about empowering people. My work now aligns with what is of paramount importance to me, which is my own personal philosophy and how I live my life. My over-arching ‘goal’ is to leave the world a little better for my having been here, and have fun while I’m doing it; to be a good person, be kind to others, contribute to society, help those in need, bring a smile wherever I go, be easy to make laugh and difficult to offend, always wonder, always learn, always grow, always love. At the end of the day, if I can take inventory and feel confident I spent a little more time being this type of person vs. being a jackass, I am content.”

Silliness in a Furry Bikini—In this screen grab from "Space Guys in Space—Amazons" Votava portrays Goodah, an "ugly" alien Amazon who's eager to have "space relations" with the Earthlings. Shakespeare, it's NOT. (Photo: badmouth.net)

More Silliness in Fur Bikinis—In this screen grab from “Space Guys in Space—Amazons Votava portrays Goodah, an “ugly” alien Amazon who’s eager to have “space relations” with the Earthlings. Shakespeare, it’s NOT. (Photo: badmouth.net)

Comics legend, Stan Lee, enjoys his front row seat to Votava's fine-figured introduction of her Monkey Woman super heroine character. (Photo: Syfy)

Comics legend, Stan Lee, enjoys a front-row seat during Votava’s ear-piercing demonstration of her “Monkey Woman” jungle call. Oo-Oo-Ah-AHH!!! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: You’re clearly a very creative, multi-talented individual. Could you share your feelings and memories about your favorite show business moment to date?

“That is very kind, thank you! I must say that one of my all-time favorite memories from my time in show-business was hanging out with Stan Lee at Comic Con before WWTBASH season 1 premiered. Stan isn’t just a creative genius, comic tycoon, or celebrity – he is the type of human being I aspire to be. He exudes a vitality and kindness that is apparent to everyone around him. He was gracious and encouraging to each individual person he spoke with, and had incredible energy to boot! I have one vivid memory of walking through the halls of the San Diego Convention Center, following Stan as we went from a panel to the exhibit booth. I’m a notoriously fast walker, but at 84, Stan was easily outpacing me and everyone else. The security escort had him stop a couple of times so the group could catch up. I knew that’s how I wanted to be in 50 or so years.”

Zombies 'R Us! Surprisingly, Votava's least favorite show business memory had nothing to do with

This zombie-ized “fan art” of Votava was created by renowned graphic artist “Brett” and pays homage to her many appearances in various low-budget horror films. Absolutely FAN-tastic work, Brett! (Photo: bhold-designs)

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An Actor’s Life isn’t all Fun and Games— Having grown dissatisfied with her life as an actress, Votava has recently decided to switch careers. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Okay, then…what’s your least favorite show-biz memory?

“My least favorite memory would be when I was at a callback for a Crohn’s disease medication commercial. Unlike most gigs, this one paid well. So while I was doing my best impression of a woman thinly veiling the agony of impending explosive diarrhea while she greets her friend at a coffee shop, all I could think was ‘I NEED this job. I really, really NEED this job.’ That thought was soon followed by ‘Shit (no pun intended), is this really what I want to be doing with my life?’ Soon after— 

I began searching for a new career.”

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Votava’s singing and acting talents were BOTH called upon during her portrayal of Mabel, in “Pirates of Penzance.” (Photo: Mary Votava)

Gettin' Down 'n Dirty— Nowadays, Votava doesn't hesitate to shed her glamorous image in order to work on one of her latest passions—home improvement and remodeling. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Gettin’ Down ‘n Dirty— At home, Votava doesn’t hesitate to shed her makeup and show-biz past in pursuit of her latest passion—home improvement. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Well, it’s wonderful that you’ve found your new niche over at Microsoft, but your fans will be saddened to hear this news, nonetheless. Now that you’re moving out of the limelight, I’m curious… of all your talents as a performer, what did you enjoy the most and why? What truly satisfies Mary Votava’s creative soul?

“I definitely enjoy singing most. There is something about music that is both nerdy and magical for me; an art form based on the frequencies of sound waves emitted moment by moment, totally dependent on the flow of time for its existence. I like being a part of that, being a source of beautiful sound waves.”

TJR: Do you play any musical instruments? Have you recorded any albums or song CDs that your fans could buy? Are there any Mary Votava performance videos out there, other than the few currently up on YouTube?

“I play piano, and do some songwriting as well. However, I have not recorded anything yet. It’s on my bucket list, but right now not super high on the priority list. I have a lot of creative projects in the works that I’m passionate about – including stuff like DIY home improvements. But I’ll definitely let you know when I get bitten by musical inspiration again and start posting anything to YouTube.”

Holy, Superheroes! Votava snuggles with TV superhero icon, Adam West, during at break signing autographs at the celebrity tables at Comic Con. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Holy, Superhero Snuggles, Batman! Votava tries to stay warm in a bathrobe and by hugging fellow TV superhero, Adam West, as the two wait to participate in an autograph signing session at Comic Con. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: In previous interviews, you discussed your interest in superheroes, Wonder Woman, X-Men and Batman in particular. Are there any plans for a Monkey Woman comic book or graphic novel? And besides being on WWTBASH, what other effects have superheroes had on your life?

“There’s no plan for a Monkey Woman comic or graphic novel, but one thing the X-Men taught me is that even if it didn’t happen by puberty, superpowers can still kick in later in life, particularly after some kind of trauma. So just for good measure, any time I trip or fall down the stairs (Kyle calls it ‘pulling a Mary’), I check to see if I’m telekinetic. (Nothing yet.)”

Can it be True? Sadly, no. Despite this mocked-up cover, there are no projects planned for Votava's superhero creation. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Will Monkey Woman be swinging into a comic book store near you? Sadly, no. Despite this mocked-up cover, there are currently no such projects being planned for Votava’s Syfy TV superhero. (Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

TJR: Did you get to keep anything from the show? Your costumes? Your bed logo? Or..?

“I’m so bummed I didn’t think to take my bed logo – that would have been fun to have! I do have the poster of the cast with Stan’s autograph framed and hanging on a wall at my house. I also saved some of the marketing and publicity materials that came out around Season 1. Oh, and I *might* have the costume in a storage bin somewhere, maybe…”

MeOW, Mary!  In this exclusive photo (taken 3/2015) for The Joe Report, Votava redonned her original costume and posed holding this autographed mini-poster from Stan Lee. (Photo: Mary Votava)

MeOW, Mary! In this EXCLUSIVE PHOTO (taken 3/2015) for The Joe Report, Votava redonned her original costume and posed holding her autographed mini-poster from Stan Lee. (Photo: Mary Votava)

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Is that your jungle staff or are you just happy to see me? Votava’s appearances at comic cons always turned heads among fans and collectors. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Some of the other contestants from the show have attended comic book conventions in character. Do you ever participate in cosplay (costumed play) or attend comic conventions dressed as Monkey Woman (or any other character)?

“I went to a few conventions as Monkey Woman for a couple of years after the show aired. I reserve the majority of my cosplay for Halloween or Kyle now.”

TJR: The first time fans see you on WWTBASH is during an animated sequence wherein you morph from your street clothes into your Monkey Woman costume. In those comic panels, you’re described as “A Barrel Full of Heroics.” What were your thoughts when you saw yourself on the show? Did you approve of how they portrayed you?

“Hee-hee! ‘A Barrel Full of Heroics.’ I loved those opening panels! I think I felt fairly portrayed for the most part. One thing I was going for that maybe wasn’t apparent due to editing choices was a bit more tongue-and–cheek humor. Monkey Woman has a big heart and strong will, but she’s also supposed to be a bit of a cheeky monkey. I think I was portrayed as a little more serious than was my intention.”

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Jungle Power! Graphics from the show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” presented Votava’s “Monkey Woman” character as “untamed, unbelievable and UNDEFEATED!” (Photo: Syfy TV)

Votava poses over Stan Lee's Hollywood "Walk of Fame" Star with fellow superhero-wannabe, Matt DeMille. (Photo: Matt DeMille)

On the streets of Hollywood, Votava posed on Stan Lee’s well-deserved “Walk of Fame” Star with fellow superhero-wannabe, Matt DeMille. (Photo: Matt DeMille)

TJR: Your fans are also interested in what didn’t make it on the air, what ended up on the cutting room floor (and why). Were there many Monkey Woman scenes cut out of the show? If so, what did we miss? These are the sorts of “behind-the-scenes” stories fans love to hear!

“I don’t envy the editors tasked with condensing hours and hours of footage into a few 43-minute episodes. I’m sure time constraints are the main reason most of the footage ended up on the cutting room floor. I may have talked about this one at some point, but just before I failed the infamous restaurant challenge, I had an encounter with a homeless person who was crossing straight into my path as I was walking to the restaurant. Before the challenge started, the producer had made a big thing out of giving us each a $20 bill, saying “don’t lose it – you’ll need it for the challenge,” so of course as soon as I saw the homeless person, I thought for sure the challenge was going to be about charity or sacrificing our lunch money for a needy person.

So, in responsible superhero fashion (rather than just giving him the money to spend on any unhealthy substances), I asked him if he wanted something for lunch, and he seemed appropriately delighted at the prospect of getting a bite to eat. As I was asking him what he wanted, the director came running up and told me not to talk to the guy but to keep going to the restaurant.”

The Pain of Elimination— When someone had to GO from the show, it was never pleasant. Clearly a favorite of Stan's, it was difficult to have to cut her after only 3 episodes. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Clearly a favorite of Stan’s, it must’ve been difficult to cut Votava after only three episodes. (Photo: Mary Votava)

“I was a little confused at first, but the director was very insistent, and it slowly dawned on me that I was talking to an actual homeless person. I asked the director if I could buy him lunch anyway, since I’d already extended the offer. He said no, I needed to keep going to the restaurant and order food for myself. 

I felt awful for having promised someone lunch who was actually in need, not just a well-fed actor playing a bum. Before I continued on to the restaurant, I made the director swear to me that they were going to give the homeless guy a nice meal from the crew’s lunch buffet. One of the D.A.s later confirmed that they had honored that promise, so I was happy.”

Facing it Together! The show's unusual challenges required contestants to both work for and against each other, resulting in exciting and enjoyable television. Here, Votava poses with fellow Season 1 contestants Steel Chambers and Chelsea Weld. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Superhero Team Up— The show’s unusual challenges regularly required contestants to work both for AND against each other, resulting in some very enjoyable television. Here, Votava poses with fellow Season 1 contestants Steel Chambers and Chelsea Stams. (Photo: Mary Votava)

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No Speargun Required Votava’s real-life scuba-diving experience probably came in handy when she was asked by the show’s producers to “fight a giant squid” (in un-aired footage) for WWTBASH. (Photo: Mary Votava)

“There were other weird activities and challenges we did that were completely edited out of the show. For one of them, we were all taken to a neighborhood downtown (I can’t remember where exactly) and told we were supposed to run around ‘assisting’ as many people as possible, and that whoever assisted the least was going to be up for elimination.

So we all poured out of the limo and started running around with camera crews following us, frightening pedestrians (“ma’am, that purse looks heavy, may I carry it for you?”) and getting kicked out of local establishments because we weren’t purchasing anything, and weirdos in superhero costumes can’t just come barging into Office Depot offering to help customers find something when we didn’t work there. After about 10 minutes of feeling less like superheroes and more like a public nuisance, a few of us resorted to just picking up trash off the street. I guess the ‘garbage collection challenge’ didn’t quite make the cut.

One other ‘behind-the-scenes’ thing I remember is this exercise wherein we had to get onto a little stage in the lair and act out improvised scenes. Ie: “Monkey Woman and Creature Fight a Giant Squid.”  I had no idea what the production team were planning to use that footage for. And apparently—neither did they!”

Monkey Woman clearly has no fear of climbing trees, so Votava felt required to demonstrate her courage and skills on the show. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Monkey Woman should have no fear of climbing trees, and Votava felt it important to demonstrate her skills on the show. (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Stan Lee’s first challenge for Season 1 contestants was “changing into your superhero costumes in public.” Surprisingly, you decided to change your clothes—up in a tree. That seems like a VERY hard way to accomplish a simple task. You could’ve just stepped into a nearby porta-potty (like others), but instead, you climbed up a tree and reemerged later wearing your Monkey Woman costume. For an event where contestants were supposed to “change without being seen” (ala Clark Kent), it seems unlikely that you would’ve been able to find enough privacy in a tree to avoid exposing yourself in an “unheroic” fashion. We can understand wanting to stay in character as Monkey Woman, but what were the realities of that challenge? Were you embarrassed? Did it go smoothly? Or difficultly? Did you feel like you might fall at any point? What can you tell us that we may not already know about that event?

In her free time, the intrepid Votava actually enjoys climbing trees for fun—even at night! (Photo: Mary Votava)

According to Votava, unless you’re standing in the right place below a tree, it can be difficult to see someone perched high above. (Photo: Mary Votava)

The amount of privacy afforded by a tree is entirely dependent on the type of tree involved. Ideally, it would be a very leafy, deciduous tree with minimal ground visibility. As you noted, my main objective was to maintain Monkey Woman’s M.O. (you know, for artistic integrity).”

If you need someone to climb a tree for you, you know who to call. Monkey Woman! (Photo: Mary Votava)

Home Again— If you need someone to climb a tree—you know who to call! (Photo: Mary Votava)

“No embarrassment. I can guarantee you that the film crew saw a lot worse that day, and people not directly below the tree wouldn’t have had good visibility as it was fairly leafy from further away. Also, having worked in theater for years, I am quite adept at changing modestly with no coverage other than my own clothes.” 

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Clearly a “comfortable climber,” Votava still enjoys hanging around on neighborhood jungle gyms. After all, it’s important to keep in shape for crime-fighting! (Photo: Mary Votava)

No fear. I took gymnastics for a couple of years as a kid, and climbing trees was one of my favorite childhood activities. I used to climb to the top of a tree with my journal and write poetry as a kid. So I’m very comfortable “hands free” in trees.   

But here’s what you may not already know that went on behind the scenes: Once I’d climbed up the tree and started to change, I heard a “HOLD” from below. The park’s groundskeeper had come over and was talking to the crew. He wanted me out of the tree immediately, for park liability reasons. (Yet another superhero public nuisance).

So… I had to climb back down. The groundskeeper let us film one quick shot of me coming back down from the tree in costume. But what really happened was that I did most of my changing down on the ground, climbing back up again for that final exiting shot.”

As agile as her namesake, Votava performs a final flip out of the tree in the park. (Photo: Syfy)

As agile as her namesake, Votava performs her final flip out of the park’s “changing” tree. (Photo: Syfy)

In another EXCLUSIVE PHOTO taken for The Joe Report, Votava

In a second EXCLUSIVE PHOTO (taken 3/2015) for The Joe Report, Votava demonstrates she’s lost none of her beautifully fit figure. Only the faded stripes on her yellow go-go boots need a touch-up. WOW! (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: You’re clearly physically gifted as well as talented. In addition to your obvious beauty, you’re fit, toned and muscular. As a result, you quickly proved to be a leader among the show’s contestants, at least athletically. For example, climbing up that tree was the first indication of your impressive athleticism. Most woman would have struggled to accomplish that feat within a reasonable time (if at all), but you climbed right up—just like a monkey! Then later, when you ran past the crying little girl (D’oh!), you did so nonetheless, with the powerful stride of someone who runs regularly. What sports or other exercise activities do you participate in and enjoy? What is your typical health regimen? What are Mary Votava’s favorite “beauty secrets?”

“Thank you for all the compliments – I’m so flattered!  Throughout my life, I’ve always has some kind of regular (>4x per week) fitness practice. When I was a kid and all through high school, I was a swimmer (in addition to a masterful tree climber). In college, I started running regularly and continued this, or using elliptical machines at the gym, throughout my 20’s. For the past few years, yoga (now hot yoga) has been my main fitness regimen. On my off days, I stay active and have participated in a plethora of other athletic activities over the years, including soccer, volleyball, rock climbing, figure skating, and Australian rules football, to name a few.”

High atop a Hawaiian Volcano, Mary demonstrates her mastery of an elegant (and difficult) yoga pose. (Photo: Mary Votava)

High atop a Hawaiian Volcano, Mary demonstrates a difficult yoga pose. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Look out BELOW! Staying in shape has helped give Votava the courage and confidence to try numerous activities, including high cliff jumping! (Photo: Mary Votava)

Look out BELOW! Staying in shape has helped give Votava the courage and confidence to attempt numerous activities, including—gulp—cliff-jump diving! (Photo: Mary Votava)

“I’m also a healthy eater. I avoid all the ‘carb bombs’ like sugar, bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. I drink a lot of water. I wear sunscreen. I exfoliate regularly. I use anti-oxidants and moisturizers. I floss my teeth every night. I hang upside-down in an inversion table. I probably have about 40 good habits built into my daily/weekly routine that I’ve adopted over time. It’s all well-known stuff – there is no secret recipe other than doing them, and doing them more or less every day for the rest of your life. (I give myself 1 day off per week to be lazy and eat junk food if that’s what I feel like).”

TJR: In a later episode of WWTBASH, you famously revealed your strength and amazing physical endurance (again) during the “attack dog challenge.” That was the moment that many of us became life-long Mary Votava fans. Your determination and courage were VERY impressive to watch, even in the show’s edited-down, final form. After that challenge, Stan Lee himself commented:

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“Monkey Woman…I don’t know that I’ve ever seen ANYTHING like what you did today. Young lady, I am VERY proud of you.”

A frustrated Votava, vowed to take on the attack dog challenge head-on. The results of her convictions were inspiring, to say the least! (Photo: Syfy)

A frustrated Votava vowed to tackle the attack dog challenge head-on. The results of her attempt were inspiring, to say the least! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: We have to imagine that you were riding pretty high after that!

“Oh my goodness, yes – that moment alone made my entire experience on the show worthwhile. I’d felt frustrated for most of the filming because I didn’t know what was going on, or what the rules of the game were, or if there even WAS a contest taking place or if we were just being strung along like puppets. And I was pretty frustrated with my life at the time in general.”

Look in those EYES! Votava charged at the dogs like a linebacker, showing incredible courage and determination. (Photo: Syfy)

Look in those EYES! Votava hopped over the fence into the yard and actually charged at the attack dogs like a linebacker, showing INCREDIBLE courage and determination. (Photo: Syfy)

Back to Earth— Despite her bravado, the petite Votava was quickly brought down—and HELD DOWN—by the trained attack dogs. Time and time again, she would spun around, turned around, and dragged back into the yard. (Photo: Syfy)

Back to Earth— Despite her bravado, the petite Votava was quickly brought down—and then HELD DOWN—by the two trained attack dogs. Time and time again, she was turned and DRAGGED around the yard. (Photo: Syfy)

“But that day, I got to prove to myself what I’m made of. I figured I probably wouldn’t get another opportunity to wear a full dog suit and try something like it (YOLO, right?), so that challenge was a bit of a personal metaphor to me. I’d made up my mind that as long as I didn’t have a time limit, and as long as I wasn’t sustaining serious bodily harm, I was going to just keep moving little by little until I reached my goal—for no other reason than because I decided so.”

Almost There! After her painful and unbelievable "Dogs vs. Human" wrestling match, Votava found she had to push the dogs out of the way through sheer WILL. (Photo: Syfy)

Putting Her Head Down— After 9 minutes of a very painful and dangerous “Dogs vs. Human” backyard wrestling match, Votava eventually found herself pushing past the dogs through the use of sheer WILL. (Photo: Syfy)

 

“I’ll admit, when I got in there, it was a lot harder than I had imagined (those dogs were A LOT stronger than the goofball Labradors I grew up with), but I’d already made up my mind. So, for my own personal reasons, it was a very meaningful 10 minutes; to have Stan Lee witness and then acknowledge it the way he did was truly one of the proudest moments of my life!”

SUCCESS! By finally touching the back door, Votava had successfully completed the challenge.

SUCCESS! By touching the back door, Votava successfully completed the arduous challenge. At almost 10 minutes, her struggle was (by far) the most impressive and inspiring of all. (Photo: Syfy)

That Votava Energy

Determined If you need a poster-child for “getting it done,” we’d know who to suggest! (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: In previous interviews, you’ve said that the show’s producers thought none of the women would be able to make it to the door in the dog challenge and that they should all just try to “put on a good show.” Some did just that, but then YOU absolutely refused to quit. Your performance against the dogs had to be the single most inspiring moment on that show—ever—by ANY contestant. I don’t really have a question for you here, but if you have any other “behind-the-scenes” memories from that day or that event that you haven’t already shared, I know your fans would LOVE to hear about them.

No Contest? Fellow contestant, Steel Chambers, was a man-mountain of muscle and the two dogs did little to slow his progress. At one point, he actually lifts both dogs as he marched across the yard! (Photo: Syfy)

A Battle of Brawn— Fellow contestant, Steel Chambers (aka “The Iron Enforcer”), a man-mountain of MUSCLE, felt the two dogs could do little to stop his progress. At one point, he actually appeared to LIFT both dogs off the ground as he marched across the yard! (Photo: Syfy)

“Again, thank you so much for your kind words!  I’m so honored that my turn in the dog challenge resonated with so many people – as I said above, it meant a lot to me at the time, and the fact that it inspired other people as well is incredibly heartwarming and humbling to me!

I’d like to share something that happened behind the scenes that hopefully helps exonerate one of my fellow cast members.  Before the challenge, the dog trainer thoroughly went over all of the safety instructions with us.  He told us that the dogs were trained to grab you ONLY by the arms and legs, and pin you to the ground.”

Shocker— Chambers is pulled down and quits. (Photo: Syfy)

Shocker— Chambers goes down and quits! (Photo: Syfy)

“He was explicit that they would not go after your hands, feet, head, or anywhere near the neck. However, “Iron Enforcer” (Steel), missed this piece of information. So when the dogs knocked him down close to the door, he wasn’t certain they wouldn’t go straight for his jugular.”

What REALLY happened? The hulking, sulking Chambers made no attempt to hide his disappointment at failing the challenge and turned away to be alone. (Photo: Syfy)

What Just Happened? A hulking, sulking Chambers made no attempt to mask his disappointment after failing against the dogs. Votava believes it was simply a matter of miscommunication.  (Photo: Syfy)

“Another thing that I still think funny is what was going through my own head during the challenge. After failing the ‘lost child’ challenge (shown below, Ed.), I was hyper-vigilant for any twists or tricks.”

The LOOK of a Superhero— Watching Votava stride purposefully across the plaza (in go-go boots, nonetheless), it's hard to imagine her not winning the competition or at least making it to the final 3. THIS is what a superhero looks like! (Photo: Syfy)

Run, Mary, RUN!— As Votava strode quickly and easily through the city’s park plaza (in her furry bikini and go-go boots, nonetheless), she appeared to be a natural and top contender of the competition. However, WWTBASH creator Stan Lee had prepared some unexpected “tests” which soon tripped up Mary’s chances. Regardless of the outcome, THIS—is what a superhero LOOKS like! (Photo: Syfy)

“So while I was wrestling with 150-ish lbs of German Shepherd, my mind was racing with ‘is there someone in ‘danger’ in this yard that I’m really supposed to try to get to, like a fake mailman?’ or ‘is there something else going on here that I’m supposed to do besides get to the door?’ Even for hours afterwards, I was still on pins and needles waiting to find out if there was some other trick to the challenge that I’d failed. I really didn’t expect it to be straightforward, and was pleasantly surprised that it was!”

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Please help me! I can’t find my Mommy!— Sadly, Votava may have been TOO focused, because in the next regrettable instant, she ran right past the person she was supposed to help. (Photo: Syfy)

Staying in Character— In one telling scene, Votava was shown dusting the lair as only Monkey Woman would—while hanging from a nearby shelf! Such touches were entirely Mary's way of demonstrating her character's offbeat perspective of the world. (Photo: Syfy)

Staying in Character— Votava dusted the lair as only a “Monkey Woman” would. Hilarious! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: In one scene in the lair, you were shown hanging like a monkey, dusting some shelves. Was that your idea entirely, or was it some sort of director-suggested stunt? What else did you do on the show to try to BE Monkey Woman?

“That one was my idea. I vaguely remember a big rope hanging in the middle of one of the rooms that I climbed up at some point, too. I also snacked on bananas during the filming and pretended to pick nits from the other contestants’ hair and eat them!”

Maryvotava,com is no more— In a blunt admission, Votava has announced, "

Show-Biz Glamour Was Great— But the high-tech business world is where Votava prefers to live and work now. Sorry, boys! (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: At one time you had your own show business website, maryvotava.com, but it’s no longer on the internet. Have you taken it down for upgrades?  Or is it gone for good? Besides Facebook, what are your future self-promotional plans online? Perhaps a personal blog or performing videos?

“Maryvotava.com is officially retired. I don’t have any plans for self-promotion online, other than keeping my LinkedIn profile up to date. I’m solely focused on my career in the high-tech industry now.”

Yes, She's a Cat Lover! Votava is a longtime animal fan and currently takes care of fabulous felines. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Monkeys Love Cats? Well, Votava certainly does. She currently cares for two! (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: Judging by your photos online, you’re also quite the cat fancier. Can you tell us about your interest in animals, your favorites, etc.?

“I LOVE animals and support the Humane Society and ASPCA for the great work they do! My parents are great nature lovers, and I grew up with (not all at the same time) cats, dogs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, fish, and the occasional rescued crow or squirrel. We were always taking in strays and housing them until we found their owner. Many ended up staying.”

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It’s a Cat’s Life— And clearly it’s a loving one if you’re living with Mary. Purrrrr (Photo: Mary Votava)

“As far as my own pets go, I like cats because they are low-maintenance, high-yield, and self-cleaning (of course). My two babies, Piggy and Pie Face, both came from shelters. Piggy “sings” duets with me and stands up on his hind legs when he smells chicken or just wants to be petted.  Pie Face likes eating Doritos, and dragging laundry into whichever room I’m in as “gift” (and I’m grateful because laundry is definitely a better gift than dead things). She is curled up next to me right now, purring.”

In this third EXCLUSIVE PHOTO for The Joe Report, Mary gestures to some shelving she recently enjoyed building and assembling in her home. (Photo: Mary Votava)

SUPER Shelves! In this third EXCLUSIVE PHOTO for The Joe Report, Mary gestures to some new shelving she recently enjoyed building and assembling in her home—for FUN! (Photo: Mary Votava)

TJR: How about hobbies? Since you’re beginning to move away from acting, singing and performing, what do other activities do you enjoy participating in now?

“I am passionate about learning or trying out new things, ie: I recently took a few aerialist classes to learn some circus tricks. I always love geocaching (nerd alert!), especially when I’m traveling or visiting a new city. I tend to cycle through 1-off creative projects like knitting, sewing, building things (just built some custom CD/DVD towers to house our media until my boyfriend can digitize it), painting, cooking, or working on a piece of music.”

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Not Too HOT to Handle— Votava poses pretty on a fast-looking motorcycle while on vacation. Va-va-va-VAROOMMMM!!! (Photo: Mary Votava)

Which Side Was He On?

Superhero or Villain?— The reintroduction of (eliminated) contestant Steel Chambers as a villain called “The Dark Enforcer” was intended to put the remaining contestants on their guard. And it worked! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Turning back to the show… When the “Dark Enforcer” (fellow contestant Steel Chambers in a surprising return) first comes back up those stairs into the lair, you immediately moved off the couch and into a defensive position with your staff at the ready. Then, when he began insulting the others, and especially Tyveculus, by saying:

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“Tyveculus, you’re a joke!”

TJR: Were you worried tempers might suddenly flare between the two men and that things might get out of hand? Or did you feel it was all scripted and preplanned? What do you remember about that moment? Were you EVER worried that contestants were going to be called upon to actually FIGHT villains physically? What was the reality of that night’s tense situation? What was happening?

“LOL, no I was never worried we were going to be asked to physically fight or be put into any real danger. There were many times where we were directed to do something during the film shoot. Dark Enforcer’s entrance is a good example of one of those directed moments. No one was actually worried, upset, or angry.  Steel is a really good guy who was playing a part, and we were supposed to play along.”

NOW We're Talking!

Ba-Da-BOOM!!! In a show that portrayed mostly normal people trying to look and behave “super,” the first sight of Steel Chambers as The Dark Enforcer evoked one of those rare GOTCHA!-moments wherein viewers felt like they were finally seeing someone who could’ve REALLY been super-powered. Chambers’ height and physique were perfect and his appearance was ELECTRIC. Fortunately (according to Votava), we now know that his bluster was all for show—and FOR the show. Phew! (Photo: Syfy)

Looking Back—

Votava found herself inside a “handsome hunk sandwich” during the show’s premiere, posing with fellow contestants, Matthew Atherton (l) and Tobias Trost (r). (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: That’s fascinating! I don’t think many fans really knew or appreciated those aspects of the show until just now. Thanks for all of your insight. I know your fans also wonder about the other challenges of Season 1 and your VERY untimely elimination. As we recall, you were eliminated from the show for revealing your secret identity to a waiter during the “restaurant challenge” and for not disclosing to Stan Lee beforehand that you were (at that time) working as an actress.

As a result, and despite your obvious “super” potential and outstanding performance against the attack dogs, Monkey Woman was suddenly “history” after only 3 episodes! Looking back on your days on the show now, what do you remember the most? What would you have done differently? What do your fans NOT know about your experiences on the show?

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Diggin’ that Curvy Linework— Votava’s “Monkey Woman” character would’ve been a sheer pleasure to draw in comic book form, as the show’s talented artists were happy to demonstrate! (Graphic: Syfy)

Are you lookin' at Me? Well, YES, we kind'a are, Mary. WOW! (Photo: Mary Votava)

Are you lookin’ at Me? Well, YES, we kind’a are, Mary. Zinga! (Photo: Mary Votava)

“Other than the dog challenge, what I remember most about my experience on the show was the sense of sheer confusion around what was happening. I felt constantly in the dark over what was going on. The instructions we got day-to-day were generally vague or misleading.

For example, the producer once came into our bunk room at bedtime and told us to keep our costumes close by in case we immediately needed them sometime in the middle of the night. Some people were so concerned by this, they were going to sleep in their costumes. Nothing ever came of it, of course.

For the entire duration of the filming, except when we were sleeping, we were outfitted with body mics. Our interactions were always being overheard and possibly recorded. We spent most of our time off-camera just being ourselves, chatting with one another, or the production crew, or bystanders, etc. while wearing the microphones.”

A Somber Stan Lee listens as Votava apologizes (as we've know learned—in POST-production) before deciding her fate. (Photo: Syfy)

A Somber Stan Lee listens as Votava apologizes (according to Mary—in POST-production) about revealing her secret identity to a waiter and for concealing the fact that she was indeed, an actress. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: And what about Stan Lee’s disappointment and belief that you had lied because you hadn’t disclosed being an actress?

“I never made the slightest effort to conceal the fact that I was an actress. I talked about it constantly during the shoot, as per why I was discussing it with the actor playing the waiter in the restaurant challenge. The production company asked me to state my occupation as ‘real estate investor’ after I’d explained that part of how I was paying my bills (at the time) came from the recent sale of a house I’d remodeled. The ‘I’m sorry I lied to you’ line was recorded in post-production because they wanted stronger justification for my elimination. And so it goes!”

Facing the End— Votava stood stoically silent for most of Stan's "dressing down" of her during the elimination proceedings. Concerned contestants behind her listened intently to Stan's "charges" and appeared equally dejected. (Photo: Syfy)

Facing her Fate— After being called forward, Votava stood silently while an off-camera Stan Lee discussed her actions. This would be the end of Monkey Woman (on the show). (Photo: Syfy)

If I could go back and do anything differently, I would probably think about my role on the show from the perspective of the producer and just play along / have a bit more fun with it. I believe there was very little I could have done differently to stay on the show longer, and stressing over it added no value to my experience.”

Who Dat?—While we pictured Votava more as a Seahawks fan, she was clearly rooting for the Saints at this particular game. (Photo: Mary Votava)

Who Dat?—While we pictured Votava more as a Seahawks fan, she was clearly rooting for the Saints at this particular face-off. Sit down, Mary! It’s hard to focus on the game! (Photo: Mary Votava)

With the pressures of show business off her shoulders, Votava plans to focus on her new career with Microsoft. (That lucky Bill Gates!) (Photo: Mary Votava)

Still in the Swing— Monkey Woman and show business are behind her now, but Votava has even GREATER plans for the future. (Photo: Mary Votava)

One more "Beauty Shot" before we go. Enjoy, fellas! (Photo: Mary Votava) Click to enlarge.

One more beauty shot for the road. Enjoy, fellas! (Photo: Mary Votava) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Finally, what are your plans and goals for the future? Where can your fans see you next? How can they send you greetings or follow-up questions to this interview?

“If I ever end up in a public-facing role within Microsoft, I’ll be sure to let you know where I can be seen talking about technology. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch. I don’t spend a ton of time on social networks, but when I do, I love hearing that Monkey Woman lives on in the hearts and minds of my awesome fans!” —Mary Votava

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to the beautiful and talented Mary Votava for all of her help with this interview. She has clearly (and very happily) moved on to the next exciting chapter of what’s already been a wonderfully successful and amazing life. Stay tuned for the 5th in this, our series of exciting follow-up interviews with contestants from Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” —coming soon to the pages of The Joe Report!

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New “Thunderbirds Are Go!” Trailers Released

Bottom Line: This new Thunderbirds Are Go! show is looking MUCH better than we had ever anticipated. The sets, the ships, the characters, EVERYTHING seems to be getting first-class treatment from the animators. According to the show’s official website:

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“Thunderbirds Are Go coming to CITV Spring 2015. Thunderbirds Are Go is also coming to TV2 in New Zealand and Nine/GO in Australia this Spring – await news of further launches! When disaster strikes and there’s no one else to help, International Rescue answers the call! From their secret island base, this family of highly trained responders can reach every corner of the globe – and beyond – in minutes. With their remarkable cutting edge Thunderbird Vehicles, brothers Scott, Virgil, John, Gordon and Alan Tracy along with head of security Kayo and lead engineer Brains pull off amazing feats of heroism. No rescue is too big and no journey too far to save a life. When duty calls, Thunderbirds are GO.”

Once this new Thunderbirds program hits the airwaves, it’s a sure thing that fans all around the world will want to collect merchandise from the show. Hello, Hasbro? Take a hint from CITV and TV2. Imagine if their same superb animation skills were applied to a GIjOE Adventure Team program. You could be raking in the dough too, through renewed AT merchandising!

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Action Man Fans Respond to BBC2’s James May

Take THAT, James May! One loyal Action Man decided to share his feelings regarding BBC2's host of James May's Toy Stories. (Photo: Sierra1)

In Your FACE, James May! One loyal Action Man fan shared this photo to illustrate his feelings regarding BBC2 TV personality, James May, and his comments regarding UK’s 12″ action hero. (Photo: Sierra1)

After the recent airing of an episode of BBC2 TV’s James May’s Toy Stories titled “Action Man at the Speed of Sound,” fans of the iconic UK action figure from Palitoy were quick to respond. As we’ve reported previously, May’s repeated declarations that the 12-inch action figure had “never really done ANYTHING” rankled many, prompting the Unofficial Action Man HQ forum to light up like a Christmas tree. Here are just a few of the more eloquent examples:

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“ARE YOU A NUTTER?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Again, another snide-swipe at our hobby. You can’t blame Hasbro for not wanting to celebrate the 50th with all the negative polling that was shown on this programme, i.e. we don’t collect it—we are not interested in it—we dont want it.

It’s going to make our job harder in the new year when we resume discussions with Hasbro regarding our plans for the 50th. But in the meantime, from one P taker to another—This is what you get for dunking AM in your beer.” —Sierra1

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“It was clear from the PR guff on the B.B.C. website that the tone would be disparaging at best. I thought it was nasty as well as being grossly inaccurate about the success of Palitoy Action Man in terms of contemporary sales, awards and longevity. Action Man is remembered with fondness by many – not just us collectors – and was recently voted equal FIRST in a Leicestershire museums’ poll of the objects in their collection, reflecting the affection that people still have for the original Action Man, at least in this area where he was manufactured and where many former Palitoy workers live.

They are proud to be connected with this iconic toy and to have Action Man’s legacy ABUSED on primetime TV by James May for the sake of cheap entertainment will be hurtful to many. I have submitted my complaint to the B.B.C. and I hope other fans of Action Man will do the same.” —MrAction

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“The programme was passable viewing, but AM’s involvement in it was pointless. All but a few seconds worth of the AM collectors who took part seems to have ended up on the cutting room floor. Action Burt was missing completely!

My hope was that the show might rekindle a few viewers interest in VAM and that they’d rescue their childhood guys from the loft and join the forum but given the tone of the show I can’t see that happening.” —somekindajoe

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“I have to say that I usually find May’s toy programmes both interesting and a link back to my youth. However, James May has always been disparaging towards AM, and in this programme, he ignores to a large extent the fact that this is a toy that was extremely successful and that was not only something to be played with, but also something that allowed us as children to be the character that we invented for AM.

Let me explain. When I got the Polar Explorer outfit and figure as a boy back in the 60s, I also got the book that was issued at the same time. From memory, in that book was instructions on how to build a polar base station from a cardboard box. My memories of that are still with me, I built the building which my explorer returned to after his adventures, I kitted it out with all manner of things which I made from all sorts of scrap, not only did AM allow me to be a Polar explorer in my imagination, but I also learnt a lot of creative skills in the process, (I went on to attend Art College, and those early creative skills came in very useful).

This was always the case with AM, not only did I play with him, but I also took on, to an extent the persona and the character of AM in the process and I built and made things to enhance my play. This is how children learn and develop and toys like AM allowed us to do that.

As a child of the 60s, I (thankfully) didn’t have to live through WW2, but I learnt a lot about it through AM, when Fuchs went to the South Pole, I didn’t know much about it, but through AM I got to know much more. Through the AM climber, I became much more knowledgeable about the world and history of climbing. It’s such a pity that May didn’t produce a much more positive programme that dealt a bit more with the success story and the educational ‘tool’ that was and is, AM.”  —scaddycopper

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“I have two young sons and they play with my Action Men; what they do is make up stories and adventures for AM, dress them up in costumes, stage fights, rescues, exploration missions—which is what AM was designed to do in the first place. With all due respect to James May, who does produce generally excellent programmes about toys, he comes at them from a different perspective.

Look at his previous shows; he demonstrates how good Meccano is by building a bridge. He shows what Scalextric can do by recreating Brooklands motor racing circuit. Airfix kits; he goes and makes a life-sized one for school children to build. Lego, he builds a functioning house out of the stuff.

For May, it’s all about the practicality and engineering potential of toys but Action Man is a storytelling and imagination toy. This isn’t James May’s mentality. He likes toys which have defined functions that scale down real life functions. Action Man has scaled down real uniforms and equipment, but once you dress him up it’s over to the person playing with him to come up with the adventure.” —NickH

Other Action Man fans were quick to point out that May has a right to his own opinion like anyone else and therefore urged the rest of us to simply “Keep Calm and Let it Go.” For example:

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“I appreciate some peoples views, but they have to respect that this program was made for television and the masses, NOT Action Man fans exclusively (and certainly not self-appointed elitists).This had to be an entertaining program, not a factual Action Man hobbyists dream. He (May) was celebrating science and engineering with a nod to Action Man.

He said at the NEC that he was very fond of Action Man in his various uniforms but felt he was too old for him. Now seeing as he is just over 50 years of age, I would say this says more about James May than Action Man. He obviously doesn’t stimulate his mind in the way that Airfix and Meccano did.

Let the bloke have an opinion and just enjoy it for what it is, a quirky Christmas program that was NOT directly aimed at ‘quirky Action Man Collectors.’ All these letters of complaint (I feel) are just a bit sad and add weight to how James May sees Action Man Collectors.” —Danthecoat

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“Please don’t waste time writing to the BBC. You will only just add credence to the myth that AM collectors are just a bunch of sad old tw@ts. You’ll be doing all of us a huge disservice. Let it go. I see where all the points are coming from, but the show was made for mass appeal, not specialist indulgence.

Personally, I didn’t like it myself (as much as I had hoped to), but life is too short to get worked up about it to the point of writing letters of complaint. Besides, by writing to the BBC, you stand a very good chance of your letter never being seen by the shows makers, an independent called Plumb Pictures. Bother them if you really feel that strongly.” —doublecee

James May may not understand the attraction, but Action Man fans around the world surely do! (Photo: BBC/Anne Binckebanck)

He just doesn’t “get it.” James May may not understand the attraction, but for millions of Action Man fans around the world, the versatile toy’s appeal is OBVIOUS! (Photo: BBC/Anne Binckebanck)

Bottom Line: The Action Man community has spoken—at least for now. AM fans are clearly an outspoken and opinionated bunch, always ready and willing to defend the honor of their vintage action hero. And as we approach the figure’s 50th anniversary in 2016, it’ll be interesting to see how the venerated toy line is treated over in the UK and Europe. Will AM receive the same (lack of) attention afforded to GIjOE during his recent 50th? Stay tuned, for updates. Go, ACTION MAN!

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YouTube Takes It Down, DailyMotion Puts It Right Back Up———James May’s Toy Stories’ Most Elusive Episode, “Action Man at the Speed of Sound,” Is Once Again Viewable by Fans Online

bbc 2We’re not quite sure why, but BBC2 has been playing online “musical chairs” with one of its most highly rated episodes of James May’s Toy Stories; the long-awaited and yet surprisingly negative, “Action Man at the Speed of Sound.” We had previously reported on this controversial episode in complete detail HERE. As you may recall, after it had aired on Christmas Day, 2014, May’s openly derisive comments towards Action Man instantly upset many fans who were clearly expecting the show to be more of a “hero’s welcome” for the iconic Palitoy line. Instead, the episode unspooled more as an undeserved “roast” of the popular toy’s (perceived) failings.

British TV celebrity, James May, poses alongside a clear rocket containing an Action Man astronaut in this publicity still promoting an upcoming episode of his show, "James May's Toy Stories." (Photo: BBC)

British TV celebrity, James May, poses alongside a clear rocket containing an Action Man astronaut in this publicity still promoting an episode of his show, “James May’s Toy Stories.” (Photo: BBC)

If you haven’t seen it, the episode in question is enjoyable (enough), but it IS constantly (and unnecessarily) interrupted by May’s personal assertions that Action Man (AM) had “never really done anything.” After a while, his statements must’ve begun to grate on AM’s decidedly die-hard fandom and letters of complaint and comments to that effect began to race around the ‘net. BBC2 of course, had been expecting May’s Christmas Day episode to be a big hit with viewers. And it was. After all, the UK and Europe remains a hotbed of Action Man support. In fact, expecting to bask in further acclaim, the channel didn’t hesitate to post the episode up on its own YouTube channel, where it quickly began to rack up thousands of AM fan “views.” But after only a few weeks, the channel removed the episode without further comment or explanation.

BBC2 TV personality, James May, buying Alan Hall’s Action Man Guides at Birmingham NEC 2013. (Photo: Stephen Lees)

What happened? Why remove ANY program from YouTube that could help expand and increase the viewership of your “real” TV channel? While we can’t say for sure, it’s possible BBC2 was getting too many angry viewer comments from Action Man fans who resented May’s backhanded treatment of their favorite toy. It’s also quite likely that the channel eventually decided discretion was the easier path to take in order to quickly “settle” the matter with as little fuss as possible. Whatever their reasons, the controversial episode was promptly removed from public view and further fan backlash was averted. After all, out of sight, out of mind. Right? Well, maybe not…

As you undoubtedly know, the internet remains the “Wild West” in many respects, and it doesn’t take long for ANY photo or video to find itself a new home—on another server—somewhere. And in this particular case (as of the writing of this article), an anonymous Action Man fan named, “Helen” has uploaded a nice crisp copy of the Speed of Sound episode on a competing video website called DailyMotion (see clip above). As far as we know, Helen’s page is currently the only place fans can view the episode. For whatever reason, 2 months after it originally aired in the UK, Speed of Sound has yet to posted by BBC2 on the Toy Stories official website HERE or its sister Hulu page HERE.

Bottom Line: NOTHING truly ever disappears from the internet. There are always sites SOMEWHERE storing and silently archiving EVERYTHING we’ve ever posted. Most of it happens continuously and silently, in the background, in a faraway land, and we never give it a second thought. So when a “missing” episode suddenly reappears, you shouldn’t be too surprised. If you haven’t yet seen the Speed of Sound episode, take an hour to do so now. And remember, May’s opinions are wholly his own. Whenever he disses Action Man, just laugh it off. It’s a shame he doesn’t “get it.” But we all know that the TRUTH is out there. Go, ACTION MAN!

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Hang on, Fans! “Thunderbirds Are Go”———Again!

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Prepare for Takeoff! Fans of 1:6 scale dioramas and sci-fi adventure loved the intricate sets, machines and rocketry featured in Gerry Anderson’s “Thunderbirds” TV series and movies of the 1960s. Fortunately, the Thunderbirds are slated to return in 26 new half-hour episodes, not as “Supermarionation’ creations (right), but as CGI animations (left). The results remain to be seen. Cross your fingers! (Photos: ITV)

Fans of 1:6 scale drool uncontrollably at the sight of some of the Thunderbirds cockpits and other detailed sets. Imagine the adventures you could have with THIS one! (Photo: ITV)

Fans of 1:6 scale typically drool uncontrollably at the sight of some of the Thunderbirds cockpits and other ultra-detailed sets. Imagine the adventures GIjOE could have sitting in THIS one. Holy, WOW! (Photo: ITV)

Supermarionation is OUT.
CGI is (Apparently) “IN.”

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVED Gerry Anderson’s 1960s UK show called Thunderbirds Are Go! I have all the episodes on DVD and rewatch them regularly (the full-length film versions as well). I also own many of the playsets, action figures, vehicles, a vintage ’60s coloring book and scads more Thunderbirds merchandise. For ardent fans like myself, the recent news of a new Thunderbirds TV program is like throwing meat into a lion’s cage. I’m all OVER it! Here’s the intel released in today’s article by the UK Telegraph:

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“Thunderbirds are back. A new image of the Tracy brothers has been released by ITV, showing the puppets of old have been replaced by CGI characters with boyband haircuts and very tight trousers. The picture features [l-r] Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of Tracey Island. ITV’s ‘reboot’ of the 1960s show, called Thunderbirds Are Go, is a mix of CGI and live action, and will air this spring – 50 years after the first show was broadcast. Rosamund Pike will voice Lady Penelope. David Graham, the original voice of Parker the chauffeur, will return to reprise his role. Thomas Brodie-Sangster will voice John Tracy, and Kayvan Novak will be the voice of Brains.”

(Photo: IDW01)

The “stars” of Thunderbirds were actually the mind-blowing rockets, space planes and other far-out vehicles featured on the show. Our favorite? Thunderbird 2! Oh, YEAH, baby! (Photo: IDW01)

“An ITV spokesman said the series would ‘deliver a new level of action-adventure animation whilst paying tribute to the classic 1960s phenomenon.’ The original show was created by Gerry Anderson, who died in 2012 and had given the remake his blessing. The new version will be broadcast in 26 half-hour episodes and has been made by Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, responsible for special effects in The Lord of the Rings. 

Graham, the only original voice cast member to feature in the remake, said Anderson was ‘delighted’ that the show would be introduced to a new generation. ‘In one of the last interviews he gave on television, he said it was going to come back. We all who worked on it would like to dedicate it to his memory,’ Graham has said.”

This closeup shows detail of some of the equipment, uniforms and Tracy Island. (Photo: IT)

About Face! This closeup shows detail of some of the equipment, uniforms and Tracy Island. (Photo: ITV)

Bottom Line: Depending on your “take” regarding the Thunderbirds, this news will come either as a big deal—or no deal at all. For us, it’s a VERY big deal. Time to get out our Tracey Island playlet and launch Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 3! (For more intel, see first video clip below and website HERE.)

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