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GRRLTalk: the women of Strong Female Characters

By Cher Martinetti, Courtney Enlow & Preeti Chhibber
Strong Female Characters GRRLtalk

Women's History Month is a sacred time here at SYFY FANGRRLS. This year, we've got a brand-new series to bring to the table: GRRLTalk. We sit down with some favorite ladies to learn all about their relationship to fandom. Today, let's get to know the hosts of Strong Female Characters!

Cher Martinetti, Founding Editor, FANGRRLS
Courtney Enlow, Associate Editor, FANGRRLS
Preeti Chhibber, Assistant Editor, FANGRRLS

What are you currently FANGRRLing over?

Cher: I just ordered the complete collection of Wimmen's Comix. I was researching that collective for my book and after reading some clips of the It Ain't Me, Babe comic and learning more about Trina Robbins, I became obsessed. That whole late '60s/early '70s underground comix scene in NYC was super tied to the East Village art and punk scenes in very unexpected ways. Plus, she's in a Joni Mitchell song, used to hang out on the Sunset Strip and designed clothes for The Mamas and the Papas and others. Anyone who knows me knows that anything that involves rock music, clothes, and nerd sh*t is basically my fantasy land. If you told me she ran a dog rescue, too, she would be my real-life superhero. She may be the coolest person I've ever heard of. I need to meet and talk to her before I die.

Courtney: She's in a Joni song?? *googles* OH DIP! She's a lady of the canyon!

I am presently on a big horror kick, even more so than usual (my resting state is MURDER) and working through all the horrific offerings streaming services can provide. Ted Geoghegan's We Are Still Here is a DELIGHT. A burning corpse ghost DELIGHT.

Preeti: While Courtney and I are usually on polar opposites of this game, I am pleased to say same, kind of. I, too, love burning corpses! Wait, no. I love playing Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in which my dopiest soft boy monster hunter in charge, Geralt of Rivia, loves burning corpses. I've been playing this game for two straight months and according to my PlayStation, I am only 47% complete and I am so thankful. It is the best, I love it desperately, I hope it never ends. (But when it does, I will go directly to the Archives. The Archives of Our Own.)

Cher: I love the Witcher games and I've had that one for *checks notes* ever and haven't played it as much as you have since you started 10 minutes ago.

Preeti: Oblig: late to the party I guess, ha! As with all fandoms, come on in when you want! The [bath] water's great.

What was your first fandom?

Courtney: My first massive, major, completionist fandom was Mystery Science Theater 3000. That show was my introduction to online fandom, thanks to the then Sci-Fi Channel (*sniff* our little channel's grown up so) and its Dominion (what they called the website) BBoard (what they called whatever it was we were doing over there). In addition to finding a web community, I also found the sneaky means to procure every episode on VHS (this is the most dated-sounding paragraph I've ever written), doing as the show implored us each week: to keep circulating the tapes.

Preeti: Why does that not surprise me at all!! Wee bebe Courtney watching MST3K and message boarding about it.


Preeti: If that's the barometer, though, then my first big fandom was… OK, outside of boy bands?

Courtney: BSB 4 lyf *sign of the cross*

Preeti: KTBSPA!!!!

Cher: Excuse you both, NKOTB are the OG and put some damn respect on my boys from Beantown's names, thankyouverymuch. I just right now, this very moment, realized a disturbing pattern with me and things I like. Carry on.

Preeti: Harry Potter. I spent an embarrassing amount of time on boards reading theories on RAB and Dumbledore's death (spoiler alert!). Which led to a, frankly, obsessive Naruto phase that has not ended, not really. (Not ever.)

Cher: I wanna say Star Wars, but now that I think about it that was probably my second fandom. My first was definitely The Muppets. I still love the Muppets more than anything other than my dogs, and they're all named after Muppets.

When you were a kid, what was your most prized geek possession? Do you still have it?

Preeti: Ooh, this is a tough one. If we're going way back, I had this Aladdin toy that was Aladdin on a flying carpet. He literally flew-ish. It was like air hockey tech, so there was a fan or something underneath that let the carpet glide and I friggin' loved it. But after several moves across state lines, I am sorry to say it is long gone. (I found one on eBay though!)

Cher: I have a tie:

1. A Fisher-Price Miss Piggy hand puppet. I loved her so much, both Piggy AND that puppet. I have no idea what happened to her, but a few years ago, my sister-in-law found one and bought it for me — that one I still have. I don't even remember when or how I told her about this thing, but the fact that she remembered that conversation and bought the puppet is literally one of the best things anyone's ever done for me.

2. My grandfather used to buy me these Disney Read-a-Long books that came with cassette tapes. They used to beep when it was time to turn the page. I would spend hours with these. And I couldn't read, yet. But after the stories were over, I would go back to the beginning and start making up stories and doing different voices out loud for the characters, kind of continuing the story myself. I found out years later that my grandfather used to sneak into the room and record me. Anyway, that was definitely when I knew I wanted to be a "storyteller" or a writer.

Courtney: I had every single Goosebumps book, then graduated to every single Fear Street book. Again, completionist, I had to have THEM ALL and I was that kid who, if I loaned you one, would begin asking for it back on the daily, like, a week later. Don't borrow things from me, it's insufferable. I still have two that I love dearly and cannot part with, both by R.L. Stine: Twisted (spoiler! She's her own evil twin!), and Broken Hearts (spoiler! The sister is pretending to be the evil twin!).

Who was most instrumental in getting you into geek culture?

Cher: My one older brother is a huge geek and was hardcore into Star Wars. He's eight years older and legitimately had every single Star Wars thing you could have back in the day. I used to always steal his Leia and R2-D2 action figures.

Courtney: My little brother Eric and I fed each other's geekery. I was more the film and TV geek, he of the book, gaming, and comic type. Together we were... largely unsocial... but also UNSTOPPABLE. And my dad, who is a massive Trek fan since the beginning. In eighth grade, we went on a retreat and our parents wrote us letters, and my dad ended his with, "To paraphrase Mr. Spock, I have been and always will be your daddy."

Preeti: My… mom? She showed us Star Wars before I was old enough to remember watching Star Wars. She sat us down and made us watch Carl Sagan's COSMOS. And don't even get me started on Star Trek. My mom, all the way.

What are you geek-curious about?

Courtney: I have never been a big comics reader and I want to remedy that but I worry about that aforementioned completionist streak. WILL I NEVER BE SATISFIED?

Preeti: Hi, let's discuss. I can give you LIMITED RUNS. ….That sounds worse than it is.

Courtney: Hey at least the runs are limited?


OK, I am desperately curious about tabletop gaming?? I came up with a character a few years ago but never got a chance to play an actual campaign. So my poor halfling rogue (named Chibi Sidleleaf) never got to do anything.

Cher: Same with tabletop gaming! I really want to do a D&D campaign and I've definitely asked friends about Settlers of Catan.


Cher: Don't threaten me with a good time! But seriously, why… isn't this a thing we do already? Why am I asking that as if I'm not the one that can make that a reality?

Courtney: My tiefling paladin, Trhulq (it's infernal for "trying") is so down for this.

Do you collect nerdy stuff? If so, what?

Baby Yoda
Preeti: FUNKO POPS AND BABIES YODA (baby yodas?). Then I make things.

Cher: I refuse to look at the link of what you make, because if it's a pic of the thing I want and you won't give me, I will rage.

I don't know if I "collect" things with the intention of collecting them. I have a couple different R2-D2s — sadly not a life-size, functional droid, though. I have a lot of cool nerdy t-shirts that either look like concert tour shirts or something other than the standard nerd tee. And I have a lot of geeky mugs. Oh, I lied, I have a lot of vinyl records and will literally drag people to vintage stores with me in any city or country I'm in — Courtney will back this up. So, if I find a vinyl version of a sci-fi soundtrack, like the Star Wars: A New Hope soundtrack I bought in Chicago, I will definitely buy it.

Preeti: It's not the thing you want, Cher! It's better.

Cher: Lies. How can you possibly top the unnameable thing?

Preeti: Because nothing beats a sh*t post.

Courtney: I collect a lot of vintage stuff, largely mugs and art, but if I find a geeky thrift treasure (like the Star Wars lunchbox I found at a shop in Chicago I used as a purse for a while), I MUST HAVE IT.

Do you cosplay? Follow up: If yes, what's your favorite that you've ever done? If not, what would you dress as?

Cher: I cosplay as someone that's outgoing almost daily. Does that count?

Courtney: If that's cosplay, we are all cosplay masters.

I've never played the cos officially, but I bought a lavender trench coat because it looked like the 13th Doctor's coat so pass me some cropped gauchos and army boots and I'm HER.

Preeti: Two words for you all: comfortable cosplay. (The word "lazy" is implied.)

Preeti Chhibber as Spider-Man

Courtney: You turn pajamas-but-cinematically-accurate into an art form.

Preeti: *takes a bow*

What's something geeky that you will always spend money on?

Courtney: If I see a pin I can put on my backpack, which is now more pin than backpack, I will always do so. And cool fan art. I just bought two HOLY PRECIOUS SAINT CARRIE, LADY PERPETUALLY OUT OF EFFS TO GIVE prints for my bedroom so she might watch over me, middle fingers blasting.


I will always spend money on… I guess experiences? I won't buy a lot of knick-knacks, but I'll drop a chunk of change to see The Lightning Thief on Broadway, or to meet Luke Skywalker, my baby boy himself. So if the experience is worth it, I'll probably spend money on it. (If I have money to spend. Obviously.)

Cher: I mean, I'm a very good shopper so it's not hard to convince me to spend money on something I really want. But despite that, I'm also very... specific? Picky? I tend not to want to buy things that everyone else will have or is super basic.

If you could do a TED Talk on anything fandom-related, what would it be and why?

Preeti: Leonardo DiCaprio movies from 1993 to 2004 because I was 13 years old when I saw Romeo + Juliet. Also Backstreet Boys discography for the same reason. Also Spider-Man. Because I have terrible luck like Peter Parker.

Cher: You're Preeti Parker.

Courtney: I could do a three-hour discussion and weekly follow-ups on how Grease 2 is better than Grease and how its heroine Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a feminist icon. Also I have done this. Also I will keep doing this. Additionally, I am a massive DVD commentary track buff (even in a geek space, I feel like that is the geekiest thing about me) and I could spend an entire TED Talk listing FUN FACTS about the Kevin Smith canon or the making of Cannibal! The Musical.

Cher: I feel like I could definitely give a TED Talk on why Rey never should've been a Palpatine in any way. J.J. gonna J.J.

Rey in Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

If a studio came to you and said they would adapt anything you wanted, what would it be and why?

Courtney: If I could do absolutely anything, with a budget as big as my dreams, I would make my very own completely bananapants bonkers film or television version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, his musical about rollerskating train people inside the imagination of a child, also it's implied the trains have sex. The problem with Cats is that it wasn't bonkers *enough* and this would go FULL ROLLERSKATE.

Preeti: I have not gotten over Cats and I haven't even seen it. I am not ready for ALW's live-action roller skating omg.

Also this question is so hard, my answer changes minute to minute. But I guess right now, at this moment in time on March 6, 2020, I guess it has to be a live-action version of The Ocarina of Time because we deserve a Link who would never say "Well, excuse me, princess." (If they're going for accuracy we might deserve a Link who only speaks in grunts and hems and haws.)

Cher: I need someone to make a Muppet movie starring The Muppets and Chris Evans and maybe give his dog a cameo, too. How about a Pigs in Space movie? Oh! Or remake Flash Gordon with The Muppets and Chris can be Flash Gordon — or should he play Prince Barin? No, definitely Flash so Piggy can be Princess Aura and is uncomfortably hitting on him the entire movie like she used to do to some actors on the OG Muppet Show. And let Foo Fighters do the soundtrack. If anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, that's it. (I just channeled my inner Brodie from Mallrats right now.)