StarTrek.com wracked our brains recently, trying to come up with a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – and then it hit us. Let’s catch up with everyone’s favorite green beauties, the Orion Slave Girls. And so we reached out to Menina Fortunato, Crystal Allen and Cyia Batten, who, in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Bound” so memorably portrayed Maras, D’Nesh and Navaar, respectively. The timing for this group chat was perfect, as the ladies are will make a rare joint appearance at the Hollywood Show, an autograph event to be held April 8-10 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles; go to www.thehollywoodshow.com for details.
All three are actresses, models and dancers with a diverse range of credits to their name. Fortunato appeared in episodes of MADtv and in the film Poseidon, and she served as Jennifer Garrner’s stunt double in an episode of Alias. She’s also a mom, a frequent guest judge for dance events, and is producing films and videos. Allen starred in the film sequels Anaconda 3 and 4, the Trek fan film Of Gods and Men, and has guested on such series as Prison Break, The Sopranos, Sex in the City and Haven, and will soon be seen in the upcoming series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Batten was a member of The Pussycat Dolls, has her own jewelry line and has appeared in such films and shows as Crossing Jordan, Charlie Wilson's War, CSI: Miami, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Trek fans will recall that she also guest starred on Deep Space Nine (Ziyal in “Indiscretion” and “Return to Grace”) and Voyager (Irina in “Drive”).
Below is part two of our two-part conversation. Go HERE to read part one.
Had the three of your known each other, or even bumped into each other at auditions, prior to doing Enterprise?
Fortunato: I’d never met Cyia or Crystal prior to working together on the show. Cyia and I have a lot of mutual friends in the dance world, so I was surprised we had never crossed paths until then.
Allen: I’d never met the other two before that shoot day!
Batten: Oddly, no.
Cyia, what interested you about Navaar as a character?
Crystal, what intrigued you about D’Nesh?
And Menina, what elements of Maras appealed to you most?
The three of you played sisters and had the dancing to do. How did you work together to create a sisterly bond and to coordinate the dancing? You couldn’t have had much time prior to the shoot to do that, so how much improvising was done on set?
Batten: We worked with a respected choreographer named Travis Payne, who set all of it. In my experiences working on Star Trek, when it comes to physicality and movement, there isn't much room for improvisation.
Fortunato: We had the pleasure of working with two amazing choreographers, Travis, who Cyia mentioned, and Stacy Walker, who created the routine. We spent seven days in rehearsals exploring new movement until everyone was satisfied. That time allowed us to get to know each other well enough to create that chemistry. Nothing was improvised on set. Every move from the angle of our heads to the detail of our fingers and every formation was choreographed.
How did you enjoy working with the Enterprise boys? Any amusing anecdotes about trying to seduce the guys?
Fortunato: All the Enterprise actors were very professional and pleasant to work with. We did a lot of laughing between takes. I did feel like all eyes were on us while on set. It’s not every day that you see half naked green girls.
Batten: Everyone was lovely and very respectful.
William Lucking had a key role as Harrad-Sar. What was he like to work with?
Batten: He was a total gentleman who knew very well how to make a woman feel beautiful.
Fortunato: He looked intimidating in costume, but was a friendly giant in real life.
We’ve got to ask, of course, about the makeup and costumes. For each of you, take us through your fittings and makeup process… and what was it like to see yourself in the mirror just before you went out on set?
Allen: The makeup was insane. It took five hours to put on and two hours to take off. There's a whole process of head to toe airbrushing, standing there basically nude, and then there's the full-on eye makeup, lips, sparkles on top of the green and then the treacherous, disgustingness of taking off the makeup off! I won't go into detail.
Batten: The makeup took a few hours to do. Our makeup was done separately in a room covered in plastic sheeting and we were sprayed green by a car sprayer. My makeup artist was male and he was very kind, thankfully; I would expect no less given the circumstances. It was probably just as uncomfortable for him as it was for me. The only difference was that he wasn't naked and freezing... and we had 4 a.m. call times! The makeup felt really gross after a few hours and it took about two hours to remove, but I found this makeup to be easier than DS9's.
The fitting process was also interesting. Any time your costume consists of very little, people become extremely sensitive. The Star Trek machine is extremely professional and despite me wearing so little, they made me feel comfortable. Additionally, as an original Pussycat Doll, I was accustomed to small costumes. Therein, paint actually made me feel covered up, too. Seeing myself for the first time was jarring but fun.
What did you make of the finished episode?
Fortunato: I thought it was well done and I was proud to be a part of it.
Batten: I was pleased with it.
Allen: I loved the funny part with the love scene I played with Derek Magyar, who was the engineer. The makeup artist kept having to wipe green and black makeup off poor Derek! Cyia, I'm sure you had same experience kissing Scott Bakula.
Batten: Actually, I didn't! Maybe a tad around the lips. But our scene was quite different.
Some people loved “Bound” and thought it was one of Enterprise’s best, most-entertaining episodes, while others hated it and found it sexist beyond belief. How surprised were you by the diverse reactions and can you understand why people had such polar opposite feelings about it?
Batten: Of course. Any time a woman's sexuality is used to her own advantage, it can be incredibly divisive. It depends on HOW exactly they found it to be sexist. Towards women? I totally disagree. Navaar was very much in control of her choices and her sisters; she wasn't being exploited by anyone. If a woman chooses to wield her sexuality as a tool, that choice is hers alone. Sexism is the discrimination against a person based upon gender. If anybody was sexist, it was Navaar, who assumed the men were weaker and vulnerable because of their nature as men.
Allen: I didn't believe the episode was sexist at all because, in the end, we manipulated everyone. And we were actually the ones in control. The women ruled!
Fortunato: I totally understand the controversy and can empathize with both perspectives. As a feminist, I would not like to see women as slaves. However, the twist at the end is amusing since it’s truly the women who are in control. Of course, I would never support roles like this is real life, but thankfully this is make-believe in TV land.
Manny Coto wrote the episode. He was big on bringing elements of The Original Series into Enterprise. What had he said to you about possibly returning for future episodes… if there’d been future episodes?
Fortunato: I don’t recall any talk about having us return. However, I would love to re-appear in future episodes of the new series if the opportunity came around. It would be fun to have us reunited again on screen.
Allen: As far as the green girls go, I believe they're still in the new movies. I'm sure they'll be in the new show and… Wow, that gives me an idea! I must notify my agent about the new Star Trek series, reminding them that I was in Enterprise.
Batten: It's normal for everybody to be enthusiastic about a given character, but those decisions are rarely made -- unless an arc has already been planned -- until the character and/or episode proves to be a hit. I remember how much they loved Navaar and the girls and there is always talk, but Ive learned to take the contracts as they come.
Cyia, you had previously played Tora Ziyal in the DS9 episodes “Indiscretion” and “Return to Grace,” and Irina in the Voyager episode “Drive.” So we’ve got a few extra questions for you. How did you win that first job in “Indiscretion”? What was the audition like?
Give us a sense of the makeup process that transformed you into a Cardassian?
Batten: Oh my, it was brutal! The makeup alone took about 5 to 5.5 hours. I had 2 a.m. call times on a number of occasions. It was itchy and uncomfortable and, at the end of the day, had to be taken off with alcohol, which was not good for my skin! I also detested my wig. It was SO heavy and so hot. Having said all that, I LOVED playing Ziyal and am deeply touched by how much the fans loved her then and still.
What do you remember most about your experiences on the DS9 set, bringing this character and her relationship with Dukat to life? Working with Marc Alaimo?
Batten: Marc Alaimo was simply the sweetest man on and off set. Such a pro. I just adored him and was so grateful I got to work with him.
Why did you only play her twice?
Batten: I believe Ziyal was ultimately in five episodes or so, but they hadn't yet committed to the arc or schedule. So, by the time episode three came around, I was booked on another show. I keep hearing how the fans wished I had finished the arc and I surely do, too. Ziyal was a joy to play.
You next played Irina in Voyager. Was that an offer or audition? Were they reluctant to cast you because you’d already done Trek, or was your previous work the perfect calling card?
How did you enjoy working with Robbie and Garrett?
Batten: They were great. Garrett and I spent more time together and we became friends. Such a nice guy. I saw him recently at a Creation show for the first time after many years and it was a nice reunion.
For all three of you… It’s almost 11 years since the last new episode of a Trek series aired. There’s a new show in the works. There’s a new movie. The 50th anniversary celebration is well underway. What does it mean to you to be a part of the Trek phenomenon?
Fortunato: It’s pretty amazing to be a part of the Star Trek family. It’s definitely a highlight of my career. I never imagined it’d lead to so many great opportunities to appear in other films, travel the world to make appearances, be featured in a comic strip, trading cards and even action figures. The fans are the most loyal, more than any franchise or brand. It’s pretty amazing how Star Trek continues to be relevant with so many TV series and films.
Allen: It's an honor being part of the Star Trek family. Like I said, the fans are phenomenal and loving and supportive. So I feel very lucky to be a part of it, and being part of the sci-fi world has opened so many other doors for me.
Batten: It's a wonderful universe. I found out at one of Creation's conventions that I am one of only six people to play three different characters in three different series in the 50-year franchise. I feel deeply honored by this and very grateful for the opportunity.
The Hollywood Show will be held April 8-10 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles; go to www.thehollywoodshow.com for details.
To follow Menina Fortunato, go to:
To follow Crystal Allen, go to:
To follow Cyia Batten, go to:
Humanity for Change