Blog Archives

Beautiful Monsters

So in honor of the twentieth anniversary of my favorite childhood tv show Sailor Moon, a show I credit with keeping me sane whilst being teased by the jerk-faces I went to school with, and with teaching me that there’s beauty in everything…even monsters, but especially in feelings that I was told were “girly and wrong for me to indulge in” like friendship and gentleness, I wanted to highlight some of the great parts of Sailor Moon throughout the year in little articles and blurbs here and there. This is the first, and for this edition I wanted to showcase the oft-forgotten monsters-of-the-day. Though typically dispatched by Sailor Moon after being roughed up by her team within the span of five minutes, their lines, antics and aesthetics are some of the most memorable, well for me anyway (meanwhile, you’re like…’how do you even remember their names?’). So anyway… ever the champion of underdogs everywhere, I decided to list my top picks for most original and just plain fab monsters. Because…at the heart of every monster…is a diva!

NUMBER 1! Binah

From the very first season. One of the rainbow crystal carriers and a mousy-looking artist whose transformation into one of the Dark Kingdom’s warriors seemed to include a complementary fashion makeover. Either way, the white feathers and angelic motif provide a stark contrast to the bitchiness of Miss Binah. Her main line of defense included drawing objects into reality, which she mostly used to draw rocks and such…had she done what I would have and drawn a rocket-launcher instead, I’m certain she wouldn’t have been bested by Sailor Moon and turned back into Ugly Betty. Still, a lovely design. Ethereal yet evil.

NUMBER 2! Murido

I’ve always had a thing for dolls. I just love them and the creepier-looking the better. Murido starts out as a sweet, fairytale princess-type character and transforms (accompanied by eerie calliope music) complete with a 360 degree rotating head into a glam cross between Harley Quinn and Bride of Chucky. I just love the whole twisted fairytale theme, from sweet princess to evil queen in two seconds flat, with an army of animatronic woodland critters which she commands with her (I’m assuming poison?) apple. Maybe not the most original, but certainly a disturbingly eerie pastiche of other common tropes, spiced up with a dash of b*tch.

NUMBER 3! Reci

She’s lovely. She’s cherry blossoms. She’s kabuki. She’s…a tree. Sort of. Racy’s character design was another masterful stroke of contrast. Beauty, but also beast. She was a fierce Cardian who nearly destroyed the Sailor Team altogether by sealing them inside of trees… moving on.

NUMBER 4! Amaderasu

Another Cardian named after the Japanese Sun Goddess. She drew her powers from the sun and whatnot…obvs. I loved the orange on blue color scheme that was utilized for her. If there was a fashion show scene in Avatar, Amaderasu would be TURNING. IT. OUT. And also, using babies as human shields. This is what I love about Sailor Moon…it was so colorful!

NUMBER 5! Ryuax

I must admit, I have a thing for Arabesque fashions. Always have. So when harem pants came back in style, I seriously contemplated buying a pair until I realized how ugly they were. End of tangent. Seriously though, I love what the character designers did with this monster. She was a cross between 1920’s art deco and Arabian Harem Queen. Plus, those nails.

NUMBER 6! Chikuon

I’m a sucker for masquerade masks and anything with a cat-eye. Chikuon…well, honestly I can’t really remember what she did, but I remember thinking it was so awesome watching Sailor Moon go toe-to-toe with a snooty French noblewoman, or a monster that looked like one. If a gramophone were to somehow become personified by way of dark magic, I really think you could find no one to do that specific job better that Chikuon. But seriously, did the person who created her really believe that of all objects, a gramophone, given life would be able to defeat a bunch of super-powered, hormonal Japanese teenagers? I mean…at least choose something that’s hazardous. Like…a lighter, say. Or a thumb tack.

NUMBER 7! U-Tahime

The Songstress Daimon. I seem to recall, she was charging up to perform her ultimate vocal attack but forgot the words to her friggin’ song and got wiped out as a result. Still, the character design was on point. I detected 1960’s Motown diva mixed with…a Vulcan or something else with pointy ears. Elegant, poised, shrill…a perfect representation of Diana Ross…no just kidding, I love Diana Ross.

NUMBER 8! Mizugeiko

Honestly I can’t even recall what this one did…but her Geisha-inspired design was FIERCE!

NUMBER 9! U-Ikasaman

This shady, shady b*tch trapped all the Sailor Senshi inside playing cards because she CHEATED!! And it was up to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru to stop her. But when they did, she still wouldn’t let everyone go. What a heifer! But of course, Sailor Moon broke out her wand and dusted her. I must say, out of all the monsters, she was one of the more colorful ones and the “Playing Card Queen” look they gave her was indeed, a perfect fit.

NUMBER 10! Atsugessho

Having worked as a make-up artist at a department store, I can safely say that most of the women I worked with looked like Atsugessho…only overweight and much more dour. Either way, an overly-made up monster of a woman with a powder puff of doom and acid spittle who flew into a b*tch rage after Usagi refuted her claim that make-up is what makes a man fall in love with a girl is a winner in my book. Or a drag queen. Same difference.

And there you have it. You might say I have too much time on my hands, FALSE! Well…not completely I guess. Either way, these monsters were a part of my childhood and, in a childhood where you’re sometimes made to feel monstrous yourself just for being who you are, I came to sympathize with them a bit. Plus, they were campy as all hell…it was like RuPaul’s Drag Race…For Youngsters…the ANIME! And all the creativity that went into designing these outlandishly costumed characters (all of whom were, I believe, created solely for the anime), must be applauded and appreciated as a piece of hard work that contributed to one hell of a great show. There was nothing I looked forward to more during the miserable year of my life that was fourth grade than getting up extra-early at 6:30 in the morning and watching Sailor Moon and Co. beat the crap out of everything…in a positive way. So, thanks to character designers: Kazuko TadanoIkuko Itoh and Katsumi Tamegai and to Naoko Takeuchi herself, for creating such an amazing series.

TTRS – The “Transsexual Toy Replacement Squad” YEAH!!

Hi everybody! I wanted to post this tribute to my favorite toys and toys I wanted but never got because I’ve been feeling nostalgic recently, and because this was an important coping mechanism for me as a child, specifically as a trans-child. Imaginative play is integral to surviving a less than perfect childhood, especially when you’re dealing with ostracism from the other children and your mother’s confusion over your desire to play with her high heels. Anyway,  as a kid who just so happened to be transgendered, I grew up wanting toys I was expressly forbidden from playing with by my parents and society…Barbie dolls, dress-up sets, toy vanities, and most of all one of those lavish fully-furnished dollhouses with the tiny food for the tiny refrigerator and lamps that actually lit the f*ck up! I mean how could any child NOT want that? Dollhouses are boss; the popularity of “The Sims” proves it!!

So, what was a tortured little trans-tween to do with herself? Well, I circumnavigated my parents “toy rules” and made due with whatever I could get. So, my dolls were action figures, my Barbie mobile was a red corvette and my dress-up kit consisted of a pair of high heels I’d cut out of paper and taped to the sides of my ankles and a makeshift wig that doubled as my beloved blankey. Among the memorable action figures I salivated over were numerous characters most boys would probably not be interested in playing with, except for me! Mostly because they were marginally acceptable without pushing the envelope into My-Size-Barbie territory. Now, join me for a trip down memory lane as I review The Transsexual Toy Replacement Squad. I think you’ll get a kick out of it 🙂

1) Lwaxana Troi from the Star Trek The Next Generation Line

This was one of those figures that I couldn’t imagine any little boy begging his mother for. She had a gold metallic top with cut-out, a long gown, fabulous old-lady hair and a travel suitcase as an accessory. Intergalactic-glam all the way. Having been raised by my Star Trek nerd mother, I developed a fondness for the action figure line my mother forced upon me, simply because there was a plethora of female characters to choose from. Those Trekkie collectors are nothing if not completists, and the toy companies knew it!

2) Ravishing Reporter April O’Neal from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Line

Rooted hair, a mini-skirt and more caked-on eyeshadow than a Brooklyn hooker. This was my kinda gal. I like to pretend she was doing an expose on the lives of “career gals,” and this was her disguise. She came equipped with “Lipstick Nunchaku” and a “Katana Blade Curling Iron,” in case a John got overly-familiar. Even at that tender, young age, I suspected “Ravishing Reporter” really meant “Undercover Streetwalker,” and well, that was just marvelous.

3) Mary Jane Watson Happy Meal Figurine from McDonalds

Oh…my…GOD!! I remember dragging my mother to at least four different McDonalds just to get one of these. This b*tch had snap-on clothes! She was a Happy Meal Toy and she had snap-on, f*ckin’ outfits!! I couldn’t stand this redhead, she was so rad. But by God, I knew I wanted her in my collection…

4) Miss Yvonne from Pee-Wees Playhouse

Again with the rooted hair, I think my hair fetish is why I wasted three months of my life in hair school…but that’s another story. I was a huge Pee-Wee Herman fan, until the whole “masturbating in the adult theater” incident. After that, I remember seeing his mugshot on the evening news and being terrified he was hiding in the bathroom waiting to terrorize me. I had to beg someone to go with me for the next six months or so. Needless to say, Mother suggested we stop airing “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” at home, and my talking Pee-Wee doll was promptly confiscated for my own protection. Even so, for all my issues with Pee-Wee, I still adored Miss Yvonne and her bouffant. This picture of the figure is somehow less glamorous than what I remember as a child, but still…charming…no?

5) Trini “Power Rangers For Girls” Doll

Wow. Now this was THE one. I first spotted her at a glamorous Big-K (what they called K-Mart at the beginning of the 90’s, not slang for Burger King as some may think). Anyway I, like many impressionable children, was completely enamored with the adventures of the Power Rangers and although EVERY girl wanted to be Kimberly, I always favored Trini. Maybe because she was less popular and I identified with that, or maybe it was just because I liked the color yellow. Either way, this was an “action figure” I coveted for the longest time and finally got last Christmas from my boyfriend . Awww.

6) The Sailor Moon Adventure Dolls…all of them!

Yes, Sailor Moon was really what ushered in the popularity of anime for United States audiences…AND…it preceded Pokemon, so I don’t wanna hear it! Anyway, more than being the beginning of a pop culture phenomenon, Sailor Moon and her gal-pals were my early morning friends (in animated form). I laughed with them, cried with them (when I thought they all died at the end of the first season), and always woke up extra early at 6 in the morning just to hear Serena yell “Moon Prism Power!” So, naturally I wanted the dolls, too…but unfortunately they were notoriously difficult to find and once they become a bit more accessible, I was at that awkward age where playing with toys was passé. Luckily, I’m almost pushing thirty and don’t give a damn about anything anymore…so if I find a Sailor Mars doll, you’d best believe I’ma snatch her UP!!

7) Storm from the “Famous Covers” line

Storm was literally the only reason I watched X-men back in the 90’s…it was only later on that I realized it was a wonderful analogy for people who were different somehow and had to deal with being ostracized from the community and not letting their feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing turn them into bitter, hateful Mystique’s. I lived for her lines, “Goddess send forth the winds!!” “Power of lightning strike him down!!” Who wouldn’t live for this sh*t?! It was good, it was great and when I first saw this “action figure” with her retro-looking cape and headdress and the huge white hair I nearly wet myself with the “Raindrops of the Goddess,” or pee…whatever you want to call it.

8) Hexadecimal from Reboot

This chick had knee-high boots, a cape, long-ass red nails ON HER GLOVES and interchangeable facial expression masks. We all want a figure who can teach us the subtleties of going from 0 to bitch in five seconds flat…a useful tip for any young diva. Plus, the nails, girl…THE NAILS!!

So, in conclusion, what have we learned? Other than…wow I’m a nerd. Besides that, however, I must say the one actual doll I had…a Belle from “Beauty and The Beast” doll which I endlessly needled and begged my mother to buy me was my crowning glory. In retrospect, I suppose not being able to play with all the things bio-girls take for granted helped me appreciate the little I did have in terms of “female toys.” That doesn’t mean I encourage the type of censoring my parents used in regards to what toys I could play with…ON THE CONTRARY!! At the time, plodding through my dour childhood was made worse by being told what playmates I could invite over . For an unpopular, only child, toys were my only real playmates and I know it would have made a world of difference being able to play with what I really wanted to. My advice to any parents of trans-kids out there reading this…never sanction your child’s imagination. Let it take its course, encourage it, help it thrive. If that means buying a doll for your son, you buy that damn doll! And for the tech-savvy  kids out there who feel they may be trans and are dealing with this very same issue or the trans-adults who went through it when they were kids…don’t despair…the TTRS will always be there in some form or another to help you make it through 🙂