Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews with various people we have had the pleasure to meet

An interview with New Orleans burlesque beauty and naughty nerd – Xena Zeit-Geist!

Xena Zeit-Geist as Batman in her Bat-Jammies at the opening of "Arkham ASS-YLUM!"
Xena Zeit-Geist as Batman in her Bat-Jammies at the opening of “Arkham ASS-YLUM!”

Intro: Xena Zeit-Geist is the stage name of a popular New Orleans artist, dancer, Burlesque and Nerdlesque performer.  Catch her as Princess Leia on 12/30/2016 and next weekend at Wizard World in New Orleans January 6-8, 2017.

John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for agreeing to an interview with me Xena! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Xena Zeit-Geist (XZG): Thanks for having me, John! Well, I’m a full-time New Orleans burlesque performer and producer, and I specialize in producing, writing, directing, and performing in satirical burlesque plays with pop culture themes. I’m the Founder and Artistic Director of The Society of Sin, New Orleans’ premiere nerdlesque troupe, and I basically spend my time creating and embodying live-action fan fiction.

(JNC): How did you get into the performing arts? Burlesque?

(XZG): I’ve been interested in performing since I was really young — one of my earliest memories, maybe from age 3 or 4, is going to see the Rockettes with my family and running up onto the stage to dance with them. I loved the show so much and thought that the dancers were so beautiful that I wanted to be apart of it more than anything. I took acting classes when I was young and wrote a lot of scripts that I’d force my sisters and neighborhood kids to be in. I got into burlesque when I was about 23. I was working a day job at an advertising agency, occasionally picking up shifts as a dancer at local strip clubs, and working on my creative writing in my off hours, but I was feeling pretty unfulfilled, creatively speaking. My partner at the time suggested that I look into burlesque and introduced me to one of the big New Orleans burlesque producers & performers, Trixie Minx, who started hiring me to help out with her shows, and I loved it immediately. Within a couple of months, Remy Dee (who I now refer to as my “burlesque fairy godmother”) hired me to play the part of “Lock the Demon Trick-or-Treater” in her Nightmare Before Christmas burlesque show, and the rest is history.

Nerdlesque image

(JNC): What is Nerdlesque?

(XZG): Nerdlesque combines the classic art of the striptease with nerd culture. In a typical nerdlesque act, a performer will choose an iconic character from one of their favorite fandoms and use costuming, dance, props, and striptease to tell a little of the character’s story. You don’t have to necessarily portray a character, for instance, Sailor St. Claire does a beautiful fan dance as the ship Serenity from “Firefly” and Franki Markstone has an award-winning nerdlesque act where she dresses in Gryffindor colors with a Snitch in her hair (which she catches in her mouth at the end of the act). It’s a lot like fan fiction or cosplay in that it allows performers to play with their favorite fandoms while bringing their own artistic expression to the table.

(JNC): What inspires you and gets your creative juices flowing?

(XZG): Oh gosh, so many things! With any movie, TV show, stage show, book, or other piece of creative material that I consume, I try really hard to pick out what is done well and what isn’t and what I can take away from that and apply to my own work. I always carry a notebook and pen with me and have been known to jot down notes or little sketches whenever I see or hear something interesting. Some people don’t like it. I think they think I’m not paying attention to them when I do that, but I promise, I am. Maybe too much attention, even.

(JNC): Tell us about your current projects.

(XZG): Well, I’ve been putting a lot of time into creating all of The Society of Sin’s shows for Wizard World next week and have been putting a lot of time into my new Sailor Mars costume for The Crystal Cabaret show 1/6, but today, I’m focusing all of my attention on preparing to host The Society of Sin’s Star Wars Burlesque show this Friday. I’d been planning to host the show dressed as Princess Leia, since both the character Leia and the actress/writer Carrie Fisher are two of my lifelong heroes, but now that Carrie Fisher has passed away, it’s even more important to me that Friday’s show be spectacular. I really want to honor her memory and put together a big celebration of her life, and I know the rest of the troupe feels the same way.

Society of Sin Wizard World Kickoff
Society of Sin Wizard World Kickoff

(JNC): Do you have any future plans or dreams you would like to let us in on?

(XZG): I’d love to tour someday, perhaps with a comic convention like Wizard World, and bring my nerdlesque shows all over the country, or even the world. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for a little while now.

(JNC): Can you tell us something weird and wonderful about yourself that your fans might not know about?

(XZG): Last year, I wrote and performed in a sketch comedy Youtube series with my friend Alana Torres called City of No.   Alana recently moved to L.A., but City of No is still online  and we hope to figure out a way to keep making things together, even if it means some traveling.

(JNC): Do you have anything you would like to add? (Upcoming performances? Website? Facebook? Twitter? etc?)

(XZG): Upcoming performances: This week I have 12/30 at 8p & Midnight “The Mos Eisley Cantina Cabaret: A Star Wars Burlesque Revue” at Eiffel Society, and then every Saturday at 7p at The Dragon’s Den I have “Talk Nerdy To Me: A Weekly Nerdlesque Revue” with The Society of Sin (entry $10 cash at the door). Next week, Jan. 6-8, I’ll be back at Wizard World Comic Con manning The Society of Sin’s booth by day and providing nerdlesque entertainment by night. We’ve got “The Crystal Cabaret: A Sailor Moon Burlesque Revue” Friday 1/6 at 8p & Midnight at The Willow, Talk Nerdy To Me Saturday once again, and a very special show to close out the convention featuring the best of the best in New Orleans nerdlesque entertainment, which you should be on the lookout for more information about.
Facebook: Facebook.com/thexenazeitgeist
Twitter/Instagram: @xenazeitgeist

(JNC): Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I am looking forward to seeing you at Wizard World New Orleans!

(XZG): Thank you again for interviewing me! I can’t wait!

Stephen Manley on gothic horror film “Ghost Hunters” and beyond

Stephen Manley - Photo by Ruco used with permission
Stephen Manley – Photo by Ruco used with permission
Stephen Manley has been in the entertainment business for over 40 years in movies and on television.  His credits include classic shows as “All in the Family“, “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Love Boat” and movies such as playing the young Spock in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” when he was 17 years old.  When Mr. Manley started following our writer’s @weird_review twitter account, he checked in with Mr. Manley and requested an interview.
John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for following me on twitter and for agreeing to do an interview Stephen!
Stephen Manley (SM): My Pleasure, thank you for having me.
(JNC):  Over the years you have accumulated a pretty impressive set of credits, being in some of my favorite shows.  What led up to your becoming an actor?
(SM):My Grandfather, Stephen E. Soldi, got his start in the silent era. His first job was as a Roman soldier in D.W. Griffith’s film “Intolerance.” He stayed active as an actor and stunt man until 1966. He lived with my parents and I after his wife passed and since I was an only child I spent most of my time with him. Much like the relationship between the little boy and the projectionist in “Cinema Paradiso.”  He taught me how to read with film scripts, showed me the enchantment of theatrical makeup, I would study all of his still pictures from the sets he worked on. When I obtained my SAG card (with his help) and was fortunate to be taken by a wonderful agent, Dorothy Day Otis, I had a grounding of the life I was headed into along with a wonderful work ethic that he instilled in me. He unfortunately passed in November of 1974 while I was escaping the crash of “The Hindenburg” at Universal Studios on that huge feature film. However i carry his spirit with me on every audition and job that I book.
 (JNC): I watched the trailer to your new movie, “Ghosthunters” – and it looks great.  Mind telling us a bit about it as a sneak preview?
 (SM): “Ghosthunters” is a wonderful true Gothic horror film written and directed by the talented Pearry Teo. I play Dr. Henry Tanner, whom along with his colleagues Neil, played by David O’Donnell, Jessica, played by Liz Fenning and Neil’s girlfriend Amy, played by Francesca Santoro, attempt to truly capture some agonized spirits that inhabit a beautifully shambled tudor/ gingerbread house. Actresses , Anna Harr , Crystal Webb and Phyllis Spielmann are also there to help us. Everyone gave standout performances.
 (JNC): From the trailer it looks like an excellent choice casting you in it.  Other than that, why would you recommend readers drop what they are doing and watch this movie?
 (SM): Thank you. Though it is produced thru The Asylum, “Ghosthunters” looks to be the company’s first true gothic horror film . The movie is played straight, no camp, no farce, no tongue in cheek. The material Pearry gave us read like a wonderful play. Very character driven and all the actors and actresses brought tremendous depth to their roles. I think your readers will find the film a welcome change. Aside from the performances, the house location itself presented a wonderful stage to work from. A Gothic, Tudor gingerbread built circa 1903-5 located in the historic West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. The ambience reminded me of a throwback to the British Hammer films of the 1960’s-70’s but with some Steampunk infused elements that are unique to Pearry’s design and style. There are also some genuinely frightening moments, set in the context created, they should chill people.
"Ghosthunters" July 5th on Vimeo and Amazon
“Ghosthunters” July 5th on Vimeo and Amazon
 (JNC): The trailer shows some pretty creepy looking sets and it really looked like the kind of movie that those who were weak of bladder might want to wear Depend® undergarments.  Was it all Hollywood magic or did you have any weird experiences on the set.
 (SM): There were rooms in the house that nobody in the cast and crew wanted to go in. One was a windowless, pitch black Octagonal study in a remote corner on the lower level of the house that was accessed by a small set of stairs that led down to it . It reminded me of a tomb. I chose this room as my “rehearsal/prep” room when I needed to “go to that place” and “get in character” on my own. Our lovely production assistant Shelby was walking past it when she heard “voices and whispers” emanating from that room. She stopped and terror stricken she crouched to peer into the darkness. As I slowly emerged from the darkness I saw her go white with fear, recover with a “…whoa….oh god..” and head to the production office completely bugged out. So much for method acting. However my 9 year old daughter Morgana visited the house after the shoot and told me she saw a small boy in a vintage little league uniform who smiled and waved hi to her…!!
 (JNC): What else do you have coming up?
 (SM): Following Ghosthunters later in the summer or early fall Rogue Warrior, Robot Fighter starring Tracey Birdsall and directed by Neil Johnson is released. I also play a tormented doctor in this film, but this is a science fiction spectacle. Lasers blasting, dystopian future, great fun and Neil and Tracey are wonderful people, looking forward to RWRF. Also in the works is filmmaker Kris Krainock’sThe Idiot” loosely based on it’s namesake.  I play Joel Wolcott who is a devout optimistic “Panglossian” who is thrust into a corupt set of circumstances……hard to play as I am a lot more hardened than poor Joel but a wonderful opportunity to play against character. I also have a part in writer/actor London Boyd’s “Dealer”, directed by Adam Zielinski, which just made it’s debut at the Las Vegas Film Festival.
 (JNC): Do you have any closing comments?
 (SM): Thank you for the opportunity to speak out. I hope your readers will enjoy these films. Ghosthunters , released on Amazon and Vimeo on July 5th, I believe will be sure to please. Shelby is still recovering…! Please keep up to date with me on my sites:
Stephen Manley on IMDB
Stephen Manley’s Personal Website
Stephen Manley on Facebook
(JNC): Thanks again for getting with me Stephen!
(SM): Your welcome John, keep in touch my friend.
(JNC): I will!

An urgent appeal from Aurelio Voltaire

It is rare when a man speaks well of his ex-wife and even more rare when he will reach out on her behalf to assist her.  Today the message of a remarkable fellow, singer, song writer, artist, author, Aurelio Voltaire, popped up on Facebook with such a request:

“Can I have your attention for a moment for something ACTUALLY really important that will change lives in a VERY real way???

My ex-wife and very dear friend, Jayme is selling the wedding dress she wore at our wedding. She’s been to India several times in the last couple of years and was affected very deeply by the phenomenon of violent attacks against women there. Many of these women have no education, no vocation and presumably are waiting for the day when they will meet theright man for whom they can be a devoted, loving wife and mother to their children. The problem is, when they are then sexually attacked by no fault of their own, no man will ever marry them. They are left futureless. Jayme, desperate to find a way to help, decided that she’d round up supplies and teach these girls to cut hair (Jayme is a licensed cosmetologist). That way, they’d have a means to support themselves and a future, much brighter than begging in the streets. Absolutely 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the dress are going to making this endeavor a reality. And incidentally… the dress is GORGEOUS!!!! Won’t you please have a look and if it’s not something you’d be interested in, will you please take a moment to pass it along to someone who might enjoy owning this amazing dress… At the same time, the future owner will truly be making a difference in the lives of some young women who simply do not deserve what has happened to them.

Thank you! There are much better photos on the Ebay page!!! Here’s the link

Later he posted another link for those of use who are not interested in buying a dress.  So if you are not interested in buying the beautiful wedding dress that was worn by Voltaire’s ex-wife but want to donate, check out her Gofundme campaign!

For more about National Geek Culture Examiner and creator of the Join The Parade card game, John N. Collins, find him on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook.

Mathew Bailey reviews The League of S.T.E.A.M.

The League of Supernatural and Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management better known as The League of S.T.E.A.M is a steampunk paranormal pest control service or better know as the “Steampunk Ghostbusters” based in sunny, Southern California. They are a performance art troupe who regularly attend conventions throughout the U.S. promoting their successful, YouTube web series.

The League of Steam - ©2015 Curious Josh Photography
The League of Steam – ©2015 Curious Josh Photography

The League’s original concept grew from Robin Blackburn’s desire for a one of a kind, glowing, ghost costume for the 2008 Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball in Hollywood, California.  Robin’s husband Nicholas, a costume and prop maker, was more interested in steampunk and he decided to play off her idea.  He made a “steampunk Ghostbuster” to match her. With the help and collaboration of friends like Scott & Gail Folsom, James Lavrakas and Aimee Chaouch their outfits were a great success.

So what do you get when you take a group of prop makers, clothing designers, and people with way too much imagination and an affinity for steampunk? That would be the League of S.T.E.A.M. Their wacky misadventures on their web series chronicle their shenanigans with ghostly monkeys, dastardly curses, mighty leviathans, beautiful valkeries, and even a captivating musical for their final episode in the third season which will be airing in December 2015.

The group is fantastic and amazing to meet and watch. There videos are very well done and are amazing quality. They even won the Best Costume Design and Best Makeup/Special Effects categories In 2013 for IAWTV. But to give a glimpse of how top -notch they are all you have to do is look at a collaboration they did with the band known as Panic! at the Disco and their music video ” The Ballad of Mona Lisa”

The League had a large part in the music video from the full ensemble being there as well as a good number of the props used in the videos including the working Net Gun. They have also had a plethora of stars and guest appearances on other youtube channels. The second season includes guest stars like Mythbusters’ Grant Imahara and the great Doug Jones!

While they produce a great, professional quality show, there is one caveat. The breaks between episodes are too sporadic, leaving fans hanging and waiting for the next spurt of shows. It really is that good that my only criticism is that I just can’t get it fast enough.

Watch the The League of S.T.E.A.M. and next time you are at a convention where they are featured, make sure to stop by their booth!  They usually will have a good chunk of their working props that you can hold for a photo while getting backstories on the items. To get up to date information on the League make sure to check out their Facebook page and the League of S.T.E.A.M. website.