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Interview with Jackie conducted by Pat Rothfuss.

Jackie is almost twenty minutes late to the restaurant where Iím supposed to meet her. Iím just starting to get antsy when a car pulls up, this petite, red-haired woman pulls herself gracelessly from the passenger side and hops up to the entrance. I catch a glimpse of Teagan as she drives off, then look up as Jackie enters the room.

Folks, if thereís one thing I have to tell you about Jackie, itís that she is drop dead gorgeous. I donít know what they do to her to make her the harried plain Jane weíre used to seeing in print, but in person, sheís a complete knockout.

Then I stand up, and find sheís still only five and a half feet tall.

Jackie: What? I look taller in my pictures?

PR: ....huh? Ubbbah.....

Jackie: [eyeing me up] Do I need a translater here? You DO speak English?

PR: Yeah! No, yeahóIím sorry uh...please have a seat!

Jackie: [smiling] Thanks!

I try to look organised, but I canít break away from her gaze. She has the brightest, clearest eyes Iíve ever seen. It really isnít fair.

Jackie: So whatícha got for me?

PR: Well uh...what attracted you to this comic?

Jackie: Like, whyíd I sign on? It was just odd enough. I like the conceptóitís very basic and very limited, but BJ had some good ideas of how to work within the limits. He seemed to relish the fact that there were boundaries to deal with. That, and he promised [the cast] almost endless creative input. I like that. Weíve all done at least as much work fleshing out our characters as BJ has. You donít get that chance very often. Well...ever.

PR: So what have you brought to your character?

Jackie: Welllll..... A lot of the little things. The motorbike thing was mine. The Mac ĎNí Cheez running gag was my idea. I convinced BJ to bring Caryn and Teagan on board.

PR: I was going to bring that up later, but since you mentioned it: Whatís up with Teagan?

Jackie: Sheís gonna be in the comic! Sheís nervous as hell, but once she gets used to the idea of dozensó[she breaks off and rolls her eyes, making quote marks in the air with her hands] I mean "millions"óof people a day looking at her, she should be okay.

PR: No, I mean in real life.

Jackie: Ooooo....this might ruin the mystique. [she pauses, then shrugs] Fine by me. If I could marry that woman, I would. Well, three more years and I wonít have to bother! [laughs]

[Editorís note: Wisconsin state law supports a common law marriage, meaning that once a couple have lived together for seven years, they are considered married by default.]

PR: So you two really are an item.

Jackie: Yeah. Oh yeah. Wouldnít trade her for the world. We try not to parade the fact around, though. I mean, I donít care being out or not, and neither does she, but we donít wanna go Ellen on everyone.

PR: As in...

Jackie: Well, itís like...you start beating people over the head with your own personal crusade, then pretty soon everybody starts seeing your crusade instead of your face. If Teeg and I start hitting gay march after gay march, then our jobs as comic characters are compromised, and nobodyís interested in us as actors anymore. Just as figureheads for Crusade X. See?

PR: So itís like Ellen versus Rosie.

Jackie: Exactly! When Rosie came out, of course it grabbed a few headlines. But then it all went away, because she had already established such an extensive, enviable career. Nobody cared what her preference is because that has nothing to do with the Rosie everybody knows. Ellen just sat and soapboxed. That always does more harm than good. Well, check out the political strips we did that earned us such an uproar! I think BJís still stinging from that one. So thatís why Iím gonna stop right now. [laughs]

PR: Okay! But just one more question before we move on.

Jackie: [rolls her eyes again] You sure youíre not with the "Examiner"?

PR: No, but this is a hot topic of discussion. It looks like BJ is dropping big hints that Jackie in the strip is a little confused as to which way she swings.

Jackie: Yup. Thatís all intentional.

PR: So which way DOES she swing?

Jackie: Keep reading the strip. [laughs] Seriouslyóitís yet to be decided. Weíre just throwing everybodyís hand on the table, here. Weíre setting up every combination we can, so when it comes time to choose a direction, we can go wherever without compromising all the foreshadowing.

PR: But heís already said that Teagan will be aboard after a while. Will art imitate life?

Jackie: You mean will we pair up and be all smoochy and stuff in the strip? Who knows? It goes back to the soapboxing. I mean, weíve already introduced Caryn, whoís gay. We donít really need more lesbians running around helter-skelter. Besides, thereís the Victor angle. Wouldnít it be nice to see a more traditional relationship? Maybe one that actually works? [she starts doing a groovy sort of shoulder dance] Yíknow? Me and Victor? Me and Shannon?

PR: You wouldnít mind your character dating a guy?

Jackie: Nah. Teeg knows Iím not the wandering kind. Besides, Vicís very cool. Iíd rather play opposite him than like....I donít know, Russell Crowe. [laughs] I couldnít stand all the poetry!

PR: What if it doesnít go that way?

Jackie: Oh, what if this what if that. Maybe [my character will] hook up with Caryn. Maybe Teagan. Maybe Victor. Or Shannon. Someone suggested Brandy! Who knows, who cares. I donít know if Iíd want Teeg to get introduced and then [have her] run right into Carynís arms. You can bet Iíll be pulling for something else, if that comes up. But like I said, weíre just leaving the options open for now. Weíll nail it down eventually. In the mean time, have fun with the mystery!

PR: You mentioned earlier that you enjoy the creative input you have.

Jackie: Oh yeah. All of us [in the cast] get to boss BJ around. Heíll come in with the scripts, weíll read Ďem over and just rip Ďem up in front of his face, laughing. Then heíll go and rewrite them, and weíll rip Ďem up again. Itís to the point where we donít even read the first few draughts. Most of the time the comicís in the can by the time he comes back with the real script.

PR: Youíre putting me on.

Jackie: Yeah, I am. [laughs] Really, though, being on the setóitís not like real work. The characters we play are so close to ourselves that we can usually nail a scene in a couple takes and spend the rest of the day horsing around. I mean, weíll pull in different directions sometimes. Iíd like my character to be even just a little self-confident. I mean, come on! Sheís downright pathetic at times! Iíd like to see her relax a little. Imagine what I could do with her then. BJ says itíll all come in time, but sometimes I want that time to be RIGHT NOW. Iíd also like to see her get her hands dirty.

PR: How so?

Jackie: Sheís such an innocent wimp. Iíd like to siphon off some Lou-karma into her. Give her something to hold on to.

PR: Can you do that without changing the character? Will the readers accept it?

Jackie: I think so. "Jackieís Fridge" readers are a pretty sharp bunch. They get a lot of the subtle things we do, and theyíre good at filling in blanks. Theyíll even read some pretty sublime stuff into the strips that we never thought of. I think if we change my character, itíll go over well. We just canít have her like, whining about how insecure she is one day, then have her bungee jumping naked the next.

PR: Iíd like to see that strip.

Jackie: [laughs] I almost believe youíre joking, you perv! Look at that face!

PR: Oh, come on, like Iíd be the only one.

Jackie: [blushing] All right, thatís enough out of you. [She hits me in the arm. It hurts.] Shame!

PR: Ow! Okay, Iíll leave it there for now.

Jackie: What? [She threatens me with a backhand] Thereís plenty more where that came from!

PR: Parting questions, really quick: Whatís your favourite food?

Jackie: Pizza. Thereís a place in town called Billís Pizza, and itís to die for. Thin crust with tons of topping and some kind of really cool spice. Teeg hates it, but Iím in heaven.

PR: Whatís in your CD player right now?

Jackie: Ah! Iíve got a five-disc-er. Ummm.... Big Wreck "In Loving Memory", BiGod 20ís "Supercute"óI finally found a copy and itís so cool. What else is in there? Oh yeah, a defunct Bay-area girl-pop group called Julie Plug. "Starmaker" is the album. Local band from Green Bay called Vacuum Scam, and I think they just had the album "Resume"ógood stuff. And Neo-Tekís "Brain Over Muscle".

PR: I havenít heard of any of those.

Jackie: Yeah, I kind of have to dig for my music. Itís all college rock or industrial. Big Wreck is the most radio-friendly band there. Youíve gotta hear the Pluggers and Vacuum Scam, though. Iíll get you copies.

PR: Iíll hold you to that. Umm....Last film you saw that you really enjoyed?

Jackie: The remake of House on Haunted Hill. Seriously. Donít look at me like that! I was told it sucked, and it does, but itís got such a sense of fun I really liked it.

PR: Okay, how about the coolest 80s television show that never should have been cancelled.

Jackie: Um...I donít know. This oneís pretty important, let me think. [she thinks for a bit, then gets a really wicked smile on her face] I know. Automan.

PR: What?

Jackie: Automan! They made like a dozen episodes, but it was so cool! He was like a computer generated guy who glowed in the dark, and he was perfect at everything. It was so cool! If I saw it today, Iíd probably hate it, but when I was little, that was the coolest show! Automan. And he had a little cursor that would float around and build him things. Very Tron-esque. Waitócan I change my movie to Tron? I just bought that new 2-disc DVD, and that movie is so much cooler than I remembered. Tron. Forget House on Haunted Hill. Yup. Tron.

PR: All right. I think Iím more comfortable with Tron, anyway. I have a few more, but weíve run pretty long. How about we call it quits for now and wait for the readersí questions?

Jackie: All right. But Iíd like to restate for the record: Tron.

PR: Once you make up your mind, youíre pretty positive about it, huh?

Jackie hit me again. Iíve still got a good sized bruise on my arm. Next: Ada

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