Now in its tenth year, the Supanova Pop Culture Expo is celebrating by bringing back some of the geek culture guests that populated its first outing. Among them is ’60s Batgirl and former Orion Slave Girl, Yvonne Craig. Tickets for Supanova on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, are on sale now from Foxtix.
“Well, she was spunky.”
That’s Yvonne Craig’s answer when asked to sum up the appeal of her most famous character, Barbara Gordon – better known as Batgirl – on the camp ‘60s television iteration of Batman. Introduced to appeal to two key demographics – young girls and adult males – Craig’s interpretation of the character remains iconic. So too does her role as the alien girl, Marta, in the original Star Trek series, a performance that led directly to fandom coining the term “green-skinned space babe.”
“It is amazing to me that people are still watching the show 40 years later,” Craig, now 75, says. “I still get people coming up to me in supermarkets who recognise me and say, ‘Oh I watch Batman with my little boy’. The little boy might only be three, and I don’t know how he recognises me, but it happens.”
Much more than a slice of spandex-clad cheesecake, Craig’s Batgirl was something of a feminist icon, with the duality of her librarian by day/crime fighter by night character striking a chord to such an extent that Craig appeared, in character, in an advertisement advocating women’s rights.
“They called me and said, ‘How would you like to do a public service announcement for equal pay for women?’ and I said I’d be delighted,” Craig recalls. “At that time they called Adam West and asked if he would do it, and he was going through that stage where he thought that Batman had typecast him and he was never going to work again, and he did not want to do it – although I chided him and said ‘The truth is, you don’t want women to have equal pay, Adam!’. Anyway, they got an actor to portray Adam, and the gist of it was that Batman and Robin were tied up and they were hoping that someone would save them, and I fly in on a rope. They say ‘Oh, thank goodness you’re here! Save us!’ and I say, essentially, ‘When I get paid what you get paid, you get saved’.”
Now mostly retired, Craig only occasionally ventures out onto the convention circuit, although she has made an exception for this year’s Supanova tour.
“I did the conventions for about 10 years,” she says. “And I would do four a year, and part of the proceeds went to women who can’t afford mammograms, and so I was doing them for charity purposes. But I think everybody should know when to get off, so I decided that I had done enough of them, and everyone who wanted to see me had seen me. So I quit doing them, but I’ve done a couple this year, and I’m doing the Sydney and Perth shows because it’s the tenth anniversary of Supanova. So it’ll be fun to see how it’s grown and progressed, and it’s always fun to meet people that follow the show and are watching it with their children.”