The Boot Of The Baroness...
of the most popular booths last summer at ComicCon belonged
to Hasbro. In a pretty clever gimmick, the toy company had
set up giant packages for their Star Wars and G.I. Joe action
figures that attendees could get inside and pose for photos
with a variety of weapons.
all took turns with lightsabers before turning the corner
to G.I. Joe. And there we saw Hasbro's most diabolical weapon:
The Baroness. Life-sized, breathing, and snugly clad in spandex.
she pushed us around a little and the appropriate photos were
taken, developed, and held for later blackmailing purposes
-- come on, Goodson, give me the negatives -- we wandered
off. But whenever the Con had started to lose its luster,
we wandered back for a quick pick-me-up.
during the filming of Creative Light Entertainment's Comic
Book: The Movie, the woman we knew only as The Baroness showed
up as another character.
time, emboldened by press passes, we dared ask her name. Then
we asked if she'd sit for an interview later at her hotel.
(We're smooth.) And she agreed.
please, meet the woman behind those evil glasses and spandex:
Gina Gatto. There's a kind of a back of the throat glottal
thing to that "a" in Gatto that I can't figure out
how to reproduce in print. Suffice to say that it sounds very
met Michael Goodson and myself in the bar of her hotel, where
we talked about becoming a life-sized toy, and the opportunities
that come with the gig. It was a long, pleasant talk, so we'll
be running it in two parts.
Is this your first time as The Baroness?
Gatto: This year, yes. I did it in Chicago.
So you're officially Hasbro's Baroness? Do you go around to
a lot of trade shows in character?
This is my second one. I have an agent, and she hooked me
up with Toy Fair this year. And then she ended up getting
me an interview, an audition, basically, with Hasbro. They
were looking for a Baroness figure to do the trade shows.
It was between myself and another woman, based on what we
looked like. I think I looked a little bit more like her,
and I got chosen.
You seem to have enjoyed your work so far. How much of that
is what Hasbro wants you to do?
Hasbro didn't tell me anything. Basically, they didn't tell
me anything about the character. I saw a picture of her in
a comic book. From looking at her, I heard that she was a
villainess, a bad woman. They don't want to say terrorist.
She's a villain. And I took her to my own extreme.
When I first started this in Chicago, people came up to me
and I put the gun up to them. It just started out one way
and then it led to another. People started asking, "could
you put the gun to my head? Could you put it in my mouth?
Could you do it executioner style?" Can you do this? Can you
do that? And I just took it to another extreme. I put my foot
in their face.
I started asking them, do you want the nicer me? Do you want
a nice picture or a mean picture? A lot of people would turn
around and say they want a mean picture. I give them what
I've had people come up and ask me, "could you spank me while
I do this?" (laughs)
Have you complied with those wishes?
Some of them I have. I've had some people, in Chicago I was
able to put a gun to their head, their mouth, the back of
their head, which I did, and it was okay there.
I was told not to by Hasbro. Because there's more press here,
and Hasbro is supposed to be for children. But the majority
of the people I get who come to take pictures are not children;
has their fetish that they like. And most of the people that
like The Baroness are a little more hard-core.
How do you feel about that? You're going to walk away from
this convention, and you are The Baroness to way too
I try not to judge people. People pay a lot of money to come
down, pay a lot of money to pursue their collections. Why
should I not make them happy for what they want?
I first started doing it, I thought oh, my gosh, I can't believe
people want this or that. Why are they doing this? But the
more you get to see the people come in, it's actually kind
of exciting. It's nice to know that you can do something they
want. They get so excited, it's like "Oh, my God, you look
just like her! Oh, my God, it's The Baroness!"
I'm guessing you never watched the show growing up.
I don't watch TV. (laughing) I'm an actress and I don't
watch TV. I mean, I was watching upstairs. When I'm in a hotel
I'll watch the news or I'll rent a movie or a DVD, which I
have at home. But I don't really watch TV that much.
So it's kind of a phenomenon that you didn't…
Well, I knew who G.I. Joe was. I had some kid when I was taking
photographs say "are you married to Destro yet?" I was like
"who's Destro?" That's supposed to be my love interest.
Our real expert (Mish'al Samman) left. It escapes me, too.
Goodson: For the record, that's the guy with the bald
Really not my type. What's so funny about it is that I'm so
against guns and violence being around children. I do believe
in self-defense, being able to defend yourself.
Do you anticipate being The Baroness for a while?
I don't know. It depends on Hasbro. What happened is Hasbro
didn't want to pay for certain things, which is fine. It started
out small. And my manager is, like, well, let's make this
something bigger. Let's build it into something. As an actor,
or anyone who is an entrepeneur, you find an opening somewhere
and you work it to see how far you can take it.
it started out as you're going to be standing and taking pictures
in front of people and just be pretty, so to speak, and then
it turned out to be, well, where can you take this?
has the following. They could get the money easily to do a
series. 9/11 happened. G.I. Joe is going to be popular.
And it is.
Then I spoke to a few people who worked at Hasbro, and they're
looking more toward animation because they're more for the
boys and the toy industry. But now with other people, and
seeing what's going on, and how much impact I've been having
towards them, everyone's thinking well, maybe we should make
her a little more, like on the packaging. See where else we
all just talk at this point. It depends on what Hasbro wants.
out and did a photo shoot in the outfit and gave those away.
And people are saying I should have sold them. But Hasbro
owns the rights; they own the trademark. I couldn't sell those
photos, so I guess it's like here's $500 that I just gave
away to all those people out there.
my own money, which is fine. I gave people autographs; I was
shocked that so many people wanted those autographs. When
I was in Chicago, people would take pictures and then come
back for me to sign them.
thing that I find difficult, that's tiring, is taking pictures
over and over with the same person. Because you do get people
coming like three times in a day, five times, every single
day, for five days. "Weren't you here?"
Wearing a fake mustache…nobody's tried that?
It's not that I dislike it. You just find that you're so exhausted,
and you have all these people, more people coming to take
pictures of you. I'd really like to know how many pictures
of me are out there on the internet. Quite a few, I'm sure.
Okay, there's one on our site right now.
This guy brought me photos, and I said, oh, my God, that's
disgusting, I look awful.
No you don't.
part two of this interview,
Gina tells us how she ended up playing two different characters
at the same convention, where she hopes to go as an actress,
and proves that there's a little bit of geek in all of us.