Apollo Smile scares me. Pig tails, pink bows, ultra blond hair, skintight white vinyl, holster and laser-pistol... she has no idea... no idea what she's doing to me. Her very existence confronts me with secret, unfulfilled desires that I thought I'd long since buried. The low-angle shot of Wonder Woman sitting in her invisible jet; the lithe She-Ra running alongside He-Man, on her way to wail on Skeletor; the now defunct Samuree comic... all of these images and their corresponding emotions wash over and threaten to overwhelm me.
I felt comfortable with most animated and comic-book girls because I knew, with utmost certainty, that they did not exist. I could deal with them, unlike their real-world counterparts. As much as I wanted to think that I might bump into Psylocke or Lady Death at the local deli, I was forced (at around the age of twenty-two) to accept that they were only figments of balding, sexually frustrated, forty year-old men's imaginations, and nothing more. But now, my meticulously constructed fantasy world is crumbling around me. Here, in vivid reality, is the ultimate geek dream girl!
As I speak to Apollo Smile, an amazing thing happens: I find that this surreal siren is actually a geek herself! And she knows her stuff; from her fave show Babylon 5 to the anime she is so fanatical about, she speaks with the intensity and fervor of a hard-core. Her early influences were not the standard girlie fare such as Vogue, Barbie, and Michael J. Fox, but things I thought of as mine - comics, action-adventure TV shows, and cartoons.
"I'm a fan!" she boldly proclaims. "I've always gone to Trek conventions and sci-fi shows, and I've always been into going to live shows of acts and bands and performers that were a little more on the weirder side."
When I express my surprise at hearing a girl say these things, Ms. Smile laughs and tells me more about her youth." I got into a lot of stuff through X-Men. I just loved that whole Mission Impossible idea of really creative, unique people, mutants and otherwise, getting together and specializing in their own capabilities and being a team and working for the greater good."
These early influences are very apparent in Apollo Smile's work. As the world's first and only Live-Action Anime girl, she has created a whole mythos based on her favorite things. "The character of Apollo Smile is my own way of being able to express myself in the media that I love... through music, dance, sci-fi, action cinema, female heroism, and, of course, comics." Instead of following the old-line mentality of creating a fantastical woman and squeezing a girl into the suit so that she can make the rounds plugging the comic at conventions, Apollo has done just the opposite. She decided to create a super-hero based on... who else, but herself.
As a truly multi-media performer, Apollo is involved in almost every aspect of the entertainment industry. From music (where her 1991 self titled debut album garnered a great deal of critical attention) to her Apollo Smile manga comic, as well as the numerous live club performances and appearances at conventions and comic shops on the East Coast, she has quickly become a cult figure with a wide-ranging group of fans - most of which, surprisingly enough, are not guys.
Apparently, she is not the only girl interested in geekie stuff. Recently, this boy's club of entertainment culture has been over-run by the ladies. "Over the last year, I've seen a huge growth in the girl turnout. Chicks are really getting into the stuff." She goes on to explain that "there's a lot of girls who really want to live through the fantasy of comic books and anime, but up until very recently it's been perceived as such a male dominated fantasy. But I feel like it's changing quicker now."
With her second CD in the works, along with her ongoing manga title, Apollo Smile is working harder than ever to bring her geek-dream to the masses, boys and girls alike.
Apollo Smile fan mail address:
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