You said you have been with Star Trek since the first season of DS9 — what did you do?
I was hired by the Mickey S. Michaels, the set decorator, as a production assistant / shopper / buyer. I did his shopping for him so in general most of the decorating items like dishes, artwork, about half the furniture, the surrounding background, so to speak, was (mine). A lot of it was used throughout the whole series.
Where do you usually shop for stuff that looks like it came from the 24th century?
Usually Plummers, Pier One, Ikea, Crate and Barrel, some Pottery Barn, Z Gallery; places with unusual things. Thats the start, depending on what you need. A lot of flea market and swap meets too.
What’s your fondest memory of working on Star Trek?
First, meeting all the wonderful people who work on Trek. Its like a great big family. Most of the time its great fun. There are those spats and stress, but 90% of the time its wonderful, and last but not least, I met my new husband while working on the show. We had been friends for 8 years while working on DS9 until Denise Okuda quietly pointed out, after my complaints about not having someone in my life, that there was a perfectly terrific, single male that sat at the desk next to her and she thought we should get together. Till then, it had never crossed my mind. I just kept saying you think I should date Anthony? You really think I should date Anthony? Apparently he had had a crush on me all those years and was too shy to say anything. A year later we were married.
A happy ending. So how were you involved in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country?
Michaels hired me part time to help with the decorative light fixtures, which is what I specialized in at the time and the route with which I met him and became part of Trek. For example: the flashing lights in the Klingon corridor after the chancellor had been hit.
What are you doing now with Star Trek?
I am the art coordinator on (Star Trek) X.
Tell us something about Star Trek that we never would have known (that you won’t get in trouble over *grin*).
During the shooting of the Ba’ku village scenes in Insurrection, Michael Dorn had to be back at DS9 for shooting. He gets there and realizes his Worf teeth are missing — I have no idea how many people and drivers were actually involved in locating and retrieving those teeth and getting them to the set on time.
All Worf and no bite! How did you prepare the Star Trek: the Experience museum?
I took the request list from the Art Director of the Experience and for nine months located, scrounged and stored somewhere around 200 props and costumes for the museum.
What do you do as curator for the museum?
I now go there every 2 months and fluff everything, clean it, fix it, play with it, etc. I add pieces too as I get them from the warehouses. I just added a Son’a costume and head that Michael Westmore made, along with some of the weapons. I will be adding some wonderful Voyager items as well in the next few weeks.
As project coordinator for Star Trek the Magazine, what’s involved there?
The magazine, whew. I am the jack of all trades and master of none there. I get research, set up interviews for the editors or will do interviews with people behind the scenes myself. I type articles, answer fan letters, and the list goes on. I also do the same for the Fact Files which is done by the same publisher but that’s only sold in the UK.
You are the Star Trek archivist for the Paramount backlot — what’s that mean?
Backlot, whew again. I have been stockpiling since DS9 and trying to build the Star Trek archive wherever I could find space. Finally, 2 years ago, I managed to convince the backlot powers to let me have a room to store this wonderful source of Star Trek information. I (keep) any drawings that remain on the lot from any Star Trek show. I have models that were made for the directors, I have plexies that would have been thrown away, I have props that are waiting for use as research; I even have the 6ft salamander that Janeway turned into. Other departments are now finding out there is such a resource, so for example, the home entertainment department is using the documentaries being made for the DVDs.
I also keep inventories of the warehouse, like all the models used for shooting, where the set pieces are, and the props, as examples. This also comes in handy for the features and the work I do there as it all ties in. Since we use the Enterprise E, we still have all the drawings available from the last feature. This saves thousands in redrawing and rebuilds when it already exists.
As the archivist, I am also involved in the Star Trek exhibits that are set up all over the world
You were the Art Coordinator for the last four movies — what do you do as the Star Trek film’s Art Coordinator?
I work for Herman Zimmerman. I am the second person in the Art Department. To start, I am given an empty set of rooms or a bungalow and start from scratch putting an Art Department together. I get all the equipment, tables, blueprint machine, everything right down to the telephones. I set up interviews in order for Herman to select his team. I make the deals and then maintain the Art Department. I make sure the artists are taken care of and have all the comforts of home. I am also the liaison between the other departments of the feature. I am in charge of making all the blueprints that are needed which can run into the thousands (that’s a lot of ammonia). I keep budgets and help Set Dressing with their purchase orders, shopping, and other needs as well. At the end of the feature, I put everything back the way I found it, send all the furniture back, disburse copies of documents to the proper departments, and disassemble the Art Department completely. That’s the depressing part of the whole thing.
And to top it off, you were in two of the movies — as whom?
I was in Insurrection as a Baku villager. If you watch real close when they are captured and the bad guys are walking into the holding area, I am the short chubby Baku, the only short chubby Baku I might add, with the dark hair that’s leaning up against the wall, but watch quickly.
And in Generations, I am in several scenes, but the one you can see me in the best is when Dr. Soran leaves 10 Forward. I am by the door wearing the dark purple jacket, on the right side, with lavender pants. The funniest one scene is when Data gets that drink and says he’ll have another. They were shooting from low upwards to his face, therefore since I’m short the only part of me you see crossing behind him is my hair.
Lastly, in your spare time… you have spare time? In your spare time you run an organization called Paw Haven. What’s that?
Paw Haven rescues cats and kittens from all over. We have pulled them out of dumpsters, out from under abadoned houses, woodpiles, and especially from the kill shelters. We have people who watch for us and we try to pull the cats who are on the last few hours. That gets very expensive, about $50.00 eaCH and that of course is just the beginning. It would take a … novel to list the needs of rescue especially if you do bottle babies like we do. A small can of formula is $15.00 lasts only a few days and you usually have to have a baby on the bottle for at least one month or more. Then there are towels, laundry soap, rugs, blankets, carriers, traps, litter, litter pans, brooms, paper towels (we go through 15 paper towel rolls in about 2 weeks) bleach, sponges, bowls, and filtered water (LA water just causes great problems with gums and teeth).
We need building supplies as well so we can enclose … a sun room. Since we are close to cyotes, freeways and dogs, we cant let anyone outside. We need cat toys, catnip and pillows, heating pads and especially garbage bags. I could go on.
We show cats at PETCOs on rescue days and I do really well by placing cats in homes by word of mouth. People are welcome to come to my house where the cats are in a happy enviornment and people can see them in a normal state instead of in a cage if they would rather. Makes it easier for all. If at all possible I like the cat to pick out its family as well as vice versa.
I want to thank Penny for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to answer these questions for us and if anyone wants to donate either time or money to Paw Haven, feel free to contact Penny c/o Star Trek the Magazine, P.O. Box 5033, Westport, CT 06881, and she will let you know how you can help.