This month we’re spotlighting our favorite Nerdy Bird, Jill. Faithful PoP!-Cast listeners will recgonize her name, as will faithful GEN and CBR readers. So let’s sit down and get to know Joisey’s favorite daughter a little bit, shall we?
Name: Jill Pantozzi
AKA: The Nerdy Bird
Location: New Jersey (not New Joisey)
Marital Status: Single, I mean, Heartbreaker.
Favorite Movies: The Fifth Element, Clue, Return to Oz, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Rear Window, Supergirl, Kill Bill, Back to the Future, Legend, Love Actually
Favorite TV Shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, House, Battlestar Galactica, Seinfeld, Doctor Who, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lost, Batman: The Animated Series, My So-Called Life
Favorite Video Games: Altered Beast, Supermario Bros. 2, DuckTales, Super Metroid, Golden Axe, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the LEGO games, Wizards & Warriors, BioShock and Batman: Arkham Asylum
Favorite Music: B-52′s, A Perfect Circle, Nina Simone, Nine Inch Nails, The Dresden Dolls, Garbage, Muse, Depeche Mode, Fiest, Metallica and I LOVE ’80s music!
Favorite Comics: Secret Six, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Identity Crisis, Supergirl, pretty much anything that involves the Bat family, pretty much everything DC puts out come to think of it, Locke & Key, Buffy, Mouse Guard, Fables, Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse.
Favorite Books: The Hero and the Crown, Sunshine, Harry Potter, Omni: History Begins, The Looking Glass Wars, Crooked Little Vein.
Turn-Ons: First and foremost, intelligence. If I can’t hold a conversation with you, what’s the point? Not only to be funny, but to also have a good sense of humor is definitely a turn-on, forearms, classic Mustangs, tolerance, kindness.
Turn-Offs: People who are too lazy to use their brain once in a while, Internet arguments, bad teeth, ignorance, prejudice.
OK, enough of the silliness, now it’s time to play hardball!
PoP!: You went as Supergirl on Halloween in kindergarten, yes? What was it that gave you the bug, exactly? What started you down the path of geekdom?
Jill: Well, I’d say you hit the nail on the head right there. I’m pretty sure it was my mom’s idea to dress me as Supergirl that year. She probably thought she was a good role model, which she is. Believe it or not, that costume was actually pajamas! The original Superman and Supergirl movies were some of my favorites when I was growing up. I think the aspect of them being able to fly was what appealed to me most at that young age. I also grew up surrounded by people who loved Star Trek. My mom watched the original series when it first aired and turned my oldest brother onto it with the repeats. I saw all of the movies with them, and when Next Gen first aired, I was hooked. I have three older brothers and I think they all played a part in shaping my geekdom. From seeing posters of Doctor Who on my brother’s wall in college to acting as password keeper for the original Metroid, it was pretty much assured I’d be a geek for life. Not to mention the old Star Wars and Battlestar toys that got mixed in with my Barbies…somehow.
PoP!: You’re writing all over the web these days between your blog, CBR and GEN. What made you move from mere spectator geeking to the real deal?
Jill: You’re right, I feel like a writing machine at times, haha! But I love it. At school I created what was called a contract major for myself. Under the general umbrella of Contemporary Arts I got to pick and choose which aspects of communications I wanted to study. My main focus was on television so I took several different voice and on-camera classes as well as production, but I also leaned toward journalism and other forms of writing like TV, radio and film. I didn’t think I had interest in straight-up news writing but it turned out I was pretty good at it and I took a few more of those courses just for fun. Right after graduation I landed a job in radio and writing basically fell by the wayside. I felt like I needed to get back into practice so I started my blog, “Has Boobs, Reads Comics.” I have a lot of fun on there, but when I would go to conventions or other events I decided why not do formal reports on them? Now that I’m writing for other sites and doing some video work I feel like all of my schooling is finally coming together and it feels great. Now if I could make it onto G4 my life would be complete.
PoP!: You’ve got a pretty sweet day job in that you’re a radio DJ. Thrill us all with some tales of radio hijinx, won’t you? Everyone knows morning DJs are wacky!
Jill: Morning DJs ARE wacky! And I should know, one of them is my boss. I actually served as producer for our station’s morning show a while back. The hours killed me but those were fun times. It’s great just being a DJ, but it’s 10 times more enjoyable when you can get on air with other people and have an actual dialogue. We had this segment we did once a week called “The Pet of the Week,” where the Monmouth County SPCA would bring in a dog or a cat and we’d give their story and try to get it adopted. I’m a big animal lover so that was always my favorite. Well, one day one of the cats got spooked and managed to squeeze itself underneath our boards. There was absolutely no way to get to it without taking the entire thing apart which we couldn’t do on air obviously. We sat there for almost an hour until the poor thing came out. I bet you expected me to astonish you with stories about celebrity scandals didn’t you? The funny thing is now I’m on 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., which is right before the morning show comes on but somehow that schedule works so much better for me. It’s the listeners who never cease to amaze me though. Since I’m all over the Internet I take emails from listeners instead of phone calls and I’ve had a few, shall I say, interesting proposals. I will never understand people. Most of them are great though; it’s nice to see that they like what we’re doing and appreciate meeting us at events.
PoP!: It was your involvement with the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) that got you the job, right? How long have you been involved with them?
Jill: I was first diagnosed when I was 2 and a half so MDA has been part of pretty much my entire life. I really got involved when I was the New Jersey State Poster Child when I was 7 and 8. I traveled the state speaking at events and meeting people. It was so much fun. That first year I was invited to open up the New York portion of the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and have appeared every year since. Next year will be my 20th Telethon! Of course being around TV studios my whole life and getting the chance to do MDA Research news segments on the Telethon is what first got me interested in wanting to be on camera as a career. The Telethon after I graduated from college I was interviewed and talked about how I’d love to work in TV or radio. My boss’ (the morning show host) parents saw that interview and told him he should invite me to the station. He figured he would just show me around and let me see what it was like but his co-host happened to be on vacation so he let me sit in with him for a while. He had no idea I would be any good and was blown away at how easy it came to me. He got calls and emails from listeners, too. It just so happened the night shift was about to open up and after a few days sitting in with him I was offered the job. I couldn’t have been more surprised. So yeah, you could say I’m thankful to MDA. Very thankful. Not only for that but for all of the wonderful people who work for them and volunteer and all of the hard work they do year round. I don’t know what my family or I would have done without an organization like MDA.
PoP!: So did you actually get to meet Jerry Lewis?
Jill: I have not yet met Jerry. Although I used to watch old shows with him and Dean Martin when I was younger and laugh my ass off. Jerry actually hosts the national broadcast out in Los Angeles and I’m always on the East Coast in New York. I have very much wanted to go out there for many years now but it hasn’t happened yet. Since next year will be my 20th Telethon I think I’m going to make a big push to get there and meet the legend himself. However, I did get to meet Sammy Davis Jr. many, many years ago when he hosted the New York show and Tony Orlando used to back then as well. He’s been back the last few years and is an absolute sweetheart. I love him dearly.
Jill: This is a really hard question to answer. I love all of my costumes equally! Like children! No? OK fine, if I have to pick one I’d have to say Poison Ivy. That was my first serious cosplay and a costume I’d wanted to do since I was a little girl. Having red hair, Ivy was always one of my favorite characters and I vowed that if I was ever going to attempt it I was going to make it look amazing. I was really happy with how that one came out. Unfortunately soon after, I dyed my hair black and then cut it short so no Ivy costume for a while. I’m not a fan of wigs. Close second would have to be the costume I just did at my first ever San Diego Comic Con. I went as a Red Lantern complete with my very own Rage Kitty, Dex-Starr. Red contacts, vomiting blood, the whole bit. It was awesome and I got a lot of compliments on it including Geoff Johns and Shane Davis who did the Rage of the Red Lanterns arc for DC. Dex-Starr totally stole my thunder though, haha! Dan DiDio had him up on the podium for the DC Nation panel and pretty soon people were asking to take pictures of just the cat! They also wanted to buy him, but he is completely one of a kind. I was told there is a possibility DC will make a Dex-Starr now though considering the fan reaction to mine. How awesome would that be?
PoP!: What costume do you plan to tackle next?
Jill: I’ve got so many costumes I want to do, the only question is which to pick next. I think the Red Lantern costume is going to be hard to top but I’d like to try one of the other Corps as well, maybe Blue or Orange. I also have the idea to cosplay two other redheads once my hair is a little longer. One is Misfit from the Birds of Prey and the other is Cyclone from the Justice Society. Their costumes are both really cute and relatively easy to pull off, which would be a relief for me, haha. One day, probably a while from now, I want to attempt a major Batgirl costume. I’d have to have that made for me though because it’s going to involve my scooter. I plan on making it into her Bat-cycle.
PoP!: Your cosplay landed you in Elle magazine, right? How’d that go down? I mean… It’s friggin’ Elle!
Jill: That was huge. The writer of the story contacted me via MySpace after coming across my blog. I was very skeptical at first because I thought, “There’s no way Elle magazine wants to do a story like this.” I did a little research and sure enough, it was for real. I wound up having a really long conversation with the woman and actually helped her out a bit. She didn’t know much about comics or even what cosplay was so I got to school her in a bit of geekery. There’s no picture of me and she only used a few of my quotes but I am over the moon excited to be in Elle. I have like five copies of the issue and those things are chunky!
PoP!: I’ve been to more than my share of conventions and I have to ask, how in the hell do you maneuver your scooter around the floor at those things? Do you have a cow-catcher on the front? Does it just pop-up like the one on the hummer in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra?
Jill: Hahaha! You have NO idea how difficult it can be. If it’s a small con usually there’s no problem but SDCC was almost impassable. Obviously in crowds like that people are mostly shuffling along anyway but the scooter takes up much more space than one person and sitting in it I only come up to people’s midsections so most don’t tend to notice I’m there until the last second and walk right into me. I also tend to run into people a lot when they stop in the middle of the floor abruptly, for no apparent reason. I’ve gotten many offers to add things to my scooter to help with “crowd control.” Everything from yes, cow-catchers, to spikes to most recently, some sort of electrical device for shocking. I haven’t taken anyone up on their offers yet but I’m close.
PoP!: What are your current Fangirl obsessions?
Jill: I’m pretty much drooling over Blackest Night from DC right now. The entire story behind the different colored Lanterns is freaking unbelievable and the miniseries has so far exceeded my already high expectations. Doctor Who and Torchwood are also obsessions of mine and since I saw both panels at SDCC and their latest shows just aired it’s fresh in my mind. Those Brits really know how to entertain. Does True Blood count as a fangirl item? Because I’m SUPER obsessed with that right now. I caught the first season after it initially aired and fell head over heels for it. The second season has been outrageously good. I can’t get over the way Bill says, “Sookie.”
PoP!: What is the most Fangirl-ish thing you’ve ever done?
Jill: Does getting the tattoo Leeloo from The Fifth Element has count? Yes, that.
Jill: I’m usually pretty good about not geeking out over stuff I love. I mean, at least not majorly. I get super excited whenever a new Harry Potter book or movie comes out, stuff like that but I did finally have a MAJOR geek-out at SDCC this year. Let me preface this by saying, I am cool when it comes to meeting awesome people I adore. After all, they are just normal people like you and I. Unfortunately I completely lost my mind when I met John Barrowman, who plays Captain Jack on Doctor Who and Torchwood. Like, completely. I randomly found him signing at a small booth on the show floor and immediately freaked out. No one was with me at the time either so I couldn’t get out my excitement by screaming to them. I took a few pictures of him first and then finally got the nerve to tell him how much I enjoyed Children of Earth. He looked at me with his beautiful eyes, smiled and said, “Thank you very much.” That’s when I lost the ability to think or form words coherently. And I’m not even exaggerating here. I wanted to say something about his acting work on the show specifically and the words would just NOT come. I was screaming at my brain to work but it just wouldn’t. I eventually wound up telling him I thought he was “ecstatic.” Excellent, amazing, brilliant, anything else would have been nice but my brain just wasn’t having it. It was either say the absolute wrong word or sit there mumbling uh’s and ah’s at him for the next five minutes. It was the day I was in the Red Lantern costume too so I’m sure I looked like a complete crazy person to him but he was extremely warm and gracious and didn’t make me feel like the idiot I knew I was at that moment. He said thank you again and I booked it out of there out of embarrassment.
PoP!: Do you have any weird geek traits or talents?
Jill: I’ve got an awesome talent! I can speak the Divine Language from The Fifth Element. Well, not the entire thing of course but pretty much all the lines Milla Jovovich says in the film. Come to think of it, you should never watch the movie with me at all; I can recite the whole thing. As fair as traits go, I guess you could say I have a little crush on Batman. Actually, I’m in love with him. You don’t even want to know how far that obsession goes.
PoP!: How has being a Fangirl affected other aspects of your life?
Jill: It’s certainly shaped part of my career, which is a turn I never expected it to take but that I’m so grateful for. The only tough thing about being a fangirl is getting respect from a small percentage of fanboys. Some of them don’t believe girls like me exist or are into this stuff for real. For the record, we are and we do.
PoP!: Where can people find you online?
Oh…I don’t know. EVERYWHERE. I’m seriously all over the Internet, it’s getting out of hand. TheNerdyBird.com of course, MySpace, ComicSpace though I’m hardly ever on there, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Comic Book Resources, the Girls Entertainment Network where among other things I write my weekly column “DoubleDCoverage.” I review two DC titles each week and rate the rest of my pulls. It’s a lot of fun.