It’s the interview that we at StarTrek.com have chased forever but couldn’t snag. We begged. We pleaded. And we got nowhere. Finally, we received a mysterious offer from a secretive freelance writer who promised an exclusive interview with 1/8, the Dr. Beverly Crusher action figure that’s become an Internet sensation thanks to posts of her – in all manner of poses – on the site for Gates McFadden’s theater company, Ensemble Studio Theatre LA, of which McFadden is the artistic director.
So, today, StarTrek.com presents our elusive and exclusive conversation with 1/8, who explains what it meant to her to finally escape two-plus decades trapped in her packaging and in a storage unit and how she’s still kind of trapped by her boss, McFadden. And, near the end, a special guest joins the conversation.
Interviewer: Why 1/8th Bev?
1/8th: Seriously? BASIC QUESTION here. OK!! I'm plastic, right? I mean, thank God I wasn't a cardboard cutout; life would REALLY have been one-dimensional. At least I have the possibility of standing up on my own two feet without a stand.
Interviewer: Why go public now?
1/8th: Because I lived in a box for more than a decade, my friend, in a dark storage unit. That's a lot of time staring through cellophane with only a trading card for a companion. I'm talking YEARS of inactivity! My Paramount/CBS-licensed-existence was a complete waste of packaging, I'll admit it. Life was lonely in the dark.
Interviewer: How did you manage to cope?
1/8th: I became tougher. Rigid. It felt, like, if someone didn't move my legs soon, I would stay motionless forever.
Interviewer: What allowed you to change?
1/8th: My boss. Gates McFadden. I gotta say, she was my enabler. She needed me, so she gave me some responsibility instead of just paying storage fees. She literally opened up the box for me, and honey, I saw the light of day. We've both grown. Can't thank her enough… Wait... I take that back. I think I HAVE thanked her enough, but she's still making me work it off in the theatre. The world of plastic action figures is not for the faint of heart. You feel rigid because you ARE.
You show up at conventions ready to meet and greet the fans, but who wants to pay for such a tiny autograph? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG IT TAKES ME TO WRITE 1/8TH BEV ON A PHOTO? The pen weighs as much as my LEG and, without wrist joints, making the number 8 takes major core strength. I work hard at it. But you know the fans, they have no idea what the life of an action figure is really like. They imagine you flying first class, getting the best table at restaurants- lol. I live in the compartment in her purse while she’s on the king-size bed. I might as well be Tupperware in a uniform; a mime on the streets of Paris has more expressions. And forget about undressing. You feel like you are one of thousands, which is why I finally opted to have plastic action figure surgery. I was dying inside. I needed more plastic. Bigger boobs, longer legs, plastic hair extensions… or at least hair that moved. My flexibility is still compromised. For example, I can do splits but a pile' is impossible. But fans tell me my cheekbones have more definition.
Interviewer: Why travel with Gates?
1/8th: I think you should ask her. She's the big shot in our relationship. Whenever I try to go it alone, she's always there, manipulating me in some way. She and I are deeply connected in terms of identity, but sometimes, I want to separate. Look, I feel misunderstood. Fans don't get it. They want me to hook up with a plastic Picard figure, or a Riker or a Superman! WHAT GOOD IS THAT TO ME?! Call me crazy, but I WANT THE REAL THING! I want plastic meets FLESH! I want to go where no action figure has gone before. Plastic on plastic? No thank you. Save it for the Pez. Don't get me wrong. Pic-Pez is an awesome piece of merchandise. But the Queen didn't give an action figure knighthood; she gave it to the man. Enough said.
Interviewer: What kind of jobs have you been able to get?
1/8: Sadly no one will hire me as a doctor, so I'm an Artistic Director for EST/LA in Los Angeles.
Interviewer: That's Ensemble Studio Theatre Los Angeles, right?
1/8th: Correct. Gates uses me and she admits it openly. She leans on me to bring awareness of her theatrical activities. It's called non-profit theatre. EST/LA. But I call it action-figure trafficking; you and I both know there are laws against that sort of thing. But I have respect for what she, no, what we're trying to do. You might not think so, but developing new plays with important stories and themes -- just like the series -- it's hard work. It takes a global village, ya know? And she and I are, somewhat unfortunately, iconoclasts. Yeah, in some ways being an Artistic Director of a not-for-profit theatre company is tougher than my warp-speed job as Surgeon General of the Universe! Of course, that was another century, so it's hard to make comparisons, but I want to be clear: I fervently hope to make it back to the way my life was when I was first molded.
Interviewer: Gates, anything to say in response?
Gates McFadden: It was my idea to put my 1/8th Bev to work. Work keeps her mind off trying to get back to her life as it was in the future. She needs to stay busy, and be a part of something. When I received my first Beverly Crusher action figure, my son said, "Oh, a Mommy doll!" That made me feel uncomfortable , so I put 1/8th back into her original box from Paramount Licensing and then into a storage unit. She ended up spending 25 years there, and frankly, I think this made a big impact on her. She looked mint condition, but experientially, she was limited. I take responsibility for that. I should have let her have her own plastic life instead of holding on to her as memorabilia. And, to be completely honest, who knew the price of her action-figure would actually go down instead of up?
Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, Gates McFadden herself was gracious and game enough to be our guest interviewer and converse with her 1/8 counterpart. If you enjoyed the piece – hell, even if you didn’t – please check out her theater’s official site (click HERE), her 1/8 blog and also the ESTLA auctions on eBay, which raise funds for the theater group. Finally, Star Trek fans in L.A. should be sure to grab tickets for ESTLA’s upcoming benefit production of The Last Look Back, starring Brent Spiner and directed by McFadden, and set to run October 4, 5 and 6.
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