Crossing Swords (of Protection) with Erika Scheimer
by Terrance Griep


As every fan will remember, each episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power® concluded with a lesson, most often delivered by Loo-Kee, an Etherian pixie who remained perpetually in the background, unobserved by the other characters. Loo-Kee's voice and energy were supplied by Erika Scheimer—an integral player for the famed Filmation Studios, presided by her father, Lou Scheimer—and Loo-Kee's voice still echoes in hers today. Today, Erika Scheimer is stepping from the background of Real Life. This Prism exclusive marks Ms. Scheimer's formal coming out, and herein she talks about Andy Warhol's school days, gay fandom, and the upcoming release of She-Ra, Princess of Power, Season One, Volume Two.


Please tell us about the behind-the-scenes beginnings of She-Ra.

She-Ra was really exciting for me. I had just started at Filmation full-time, had been there about a year, and whole concept of She-Ra had come up. It was very important to my dad to have me very involved because this was a woman super-hero. It was a challenge to make her unique, but that was also what made it special. I wanted her to be a strong woman. I wanted her to be a role model—not just about doing good things but feeling the right way about things… where there was an interior dialogue going on with her. I wanted to make sure that the whole gal got out. Does that make some sense?

It does. You were the vocal director on She-Ra, too, yeah?

I was very involved in casting it. I actually came to loggerheads with my dad. In the nicest of ways.

[Laughter] Duly noted.

Okay. He had a core group of actors he liked to use. But it was very important to me to find a new voice for She-Ra. We auditioned—gosh, it seems like thousands but if was probably a hundred. Still, that's a lot of people. I wanted to find that warm, authoritative voice. It was kind of dicey with me and dad. What can I say? Ultimately, he trusted my instincts and that was rewarding on a number of levels. We got a great voice and great lady in Melendy Britt. But arguing with my dad wasn't something that came naturally to me. I was a strong female voice myself, and—guess what?—I happened to be gay. Does that make any difference about anything? I'll tell you one thing, it didn't matter, because Filmation was one of the gayest places in town.

Oh, really?

Oh, God! We're talking about a bunch of artists here! Oh, my God—it was a hoot and a half! And in terms of tolerance and in terms of creative freeflow, there was no sense of shame around any of that. It absolutely was really a kind of safe haven.

How was your family?

I grew up in an incredibly tolerant family. My dad's Jewish, my mom's Presbyterian, I went to Episcopalian school—how screwed up can you be? [Laughter] Not only that, but my dad went to school with Andy Warhol.

Really?

Yeah! All of that is to say that I grew up in a very tolerant, art-related atmosphere… so, when I was young, by the time I was twelve, I knew that I liked girls, too. I had feelings for girls and boys. Who I am is not my sexuality—however, I grew up in a really wonderful environment that allowed me to feel all my feelings and not feel they were wrong. My parents are wonderful, wonderful people, and Filmation was a wonderful stomping ground of life, filled with all sorts of characters, some of whom were gay. It was a very homey environment.

And now?

Now I'm with the love of my life. My dad is so excited—he's so happy to have a Jewish daughter-in-law. He tells everybody about his Jewish daughter-in-law, so it's a dream come true.

For everyone! Just like an episode of She-Ra…

[Laughter] Right!

In the episodes of She-Ra, did the lessons come first with the story following? Or was it the other way around?

That's a very good question. It was a bit of both. I'll tell you something very important. The lessons weren't just tacked on. They were integral to the story. There was a list of areas that were important to young people, especially young girls, since She-Ra's a woman. We did a lot of stories. Sometimes we would just do a story that said, \%\%You know what? Part of life is having fun.\%\% So we'd just do a fun story. It was always hand-in-hand in the sense that the story and the lesson came together. Both worked in tandem.

Was there any corollary between your creativity and your gender identity?.

You know, I was going to go into medical neurology, so I know something about this. I think there's a corollary between genes and creativity. I do. I think that my gender identity is connected to my creativity. Or maybe that's just ego. [Laughter] I do think genes are really strong stuff.

Has anyone else ever talked to you about their own gender identity and your work on He-Man or She-Ra?

I've had some wonderful, wonderful experiences at Comic-Con [International]. Last summer, a She-Ra action figure came out. There was a wonderful guy—I think he was in his thirties, maybe—who came through our booth and told us how wonderful She-Ra was. It was wonderful for him to finally have had a character he could identify with. This guy was obviously gay, you know? I run into women—they're usually between 25 and 30 years old—and they tell me they think She-Ra is great. I don't know if they're lesbians. I'm really bad at the gaydar thing.

And what're you up to these days?

I'm working with [video and audio supplier] BCI Eclipse. And they're terrific! They've digitally remastered the first season of She-Ra, and it's turned out great!

The sworn enemy of all aerobics instructors, Terrance Griep works as reporter, columnist, essayist, playwright, and comic book scripter. He darkens the airwaves of the midwest United States and western Europe as professional wrestler Tommy "The SpiderBaby" Saturday. The International Gay Outdoors Organization recently named him one of the Nine Toughest Gays in America. He can be reached at Sp1derBaby@aol.com.

She-Ra: Princess of Power®, Season One, Volume Two will be available for purchase April 3rd, 2007.


Article taken from prismcomics.org.

Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).

Prism Comics is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) creators in the comics industry, as well as LGBT themes in comics in general. Incorporated in 2003, Prism Comics publishes the annual resource guide, "Prism Comics: Your LGBT Guide to Comics."