By Mark Edlitz, Jedi Junkies
George Lucas once famously told Carrie Fisher “there is no underwear in outer space.” The implication is that there is no need for underwear because men, women, aliens, Wookies and Womp Rats alike presumably don’t have genitalia that needs covering. As we all know from our biology classes here on planet Earth, if you want to procreate it certainly helps to have genitals.
However, if you’re Anakin Skywalker and you’re born on the desert planet Tatooine then there’s a decent chance that your mother didn’t require intercourse to get pregnant. Instead you were magically conceived. As a result of all this space chastity sexuality in the Star Wars universe is almost non-existent.
Sure, Carrie Fisher looks stunning in Return of the Jedi in her “slave bikini” outfit. But just how alluring she looked is not really the point. (Along those lines it’s probably not a good idea to consider why Jabba the Hutt wanted her in a skimpy outfit in the first place.) Her courage and daring are what’s important. Leia is a strong, brave, heroic woman and unlike other cinematic heroines (like Lara Croft, Wonder Woman and Batgirl to name a few) how good she looks while saving the galaxy is irrelevant.
Eroticism in Star Wars is decidedly beside the point. While the films themselves might be nearly asexual, the fans who watch them certainly are not. In fact, they take great joy in infusing sexuality into their fandom.
I recently made JEDI JUNKIES, a feature film about the most extreme Star Wars fans I could find, and some of them find release in bringing their sensuality to their interpretation of Lucas’s universe. One such fan is Jamin Fite, the creator of “Leia’s Metal bikini”, a website devoted to collecting and displaying dozens and dozens of photos of fans dressed up in Leia’s memorably skimpy slave bikini provided to her by the apparently lecherous Jabba the Hutt. Jamin and his website celebrate just how sexy all types of women look when dressed up in the iconic outfit.
One fan who takes the whole Leia bikini thing even further is Amy “Kitty” Brown who performs a Star Wars themed burlesque routine. First dressed as Leia in her all white dress and then stripping down to the metal bikini, Amy reenacts and reinterprets some classic scenes from the saga. She incorporates the imagery of the virginal Leia into her routine in an artful and humorous but provocative way. She takes something without apparent sexuality (Star Wars) and combines it with something irrefutably sexual (burlesque). It’s the incongruity of combining sexuality with the innocence of Star Wars that makes her act so memorable in JEDI JUNKIES.
While Amy doesn’t always feel sexy in her outfit she’s cognizant of the power it can have on others. Amy explains, “I can wear the costume (like at a convention) and not feel sexy on my own, but when I see the reactions and the way people respond to ladies in the costume it makes you realize it is a sexy costume. Not just because it’s skimpy, but because it’s part of pop culture as a fanboy fantasy costume.”
Then there’s Cosplay (costume play) model Candy Keane, who has made a name for herself in the Star Wars fan community by wearing the famed metal bikini at dozens of conventions. Candy found enough success as a character model (taking photos as different characters) that she’s been able to open her own boutique selling those same outfits to other women who also enjoy dressing up.
In JEDI JUNKIES we also meet Flynn, the founder of the NY Jedi, a group of light saber wielding enthusiasts. Flynn and his crew get together to use light sabers in tightly choreographed martial arts demonstrations. Flynn’s unwavering mission is to make being a Jedi desirable. He’s self aware enough to know that when most people hear about his organization “their eyes roll back into their heads”. But he’s savvy enough to know that once you put a light saber into even a skeptic’s hand that any feelings of being self conscious will be dwarfed by their rekindled childlike sense of play.
Flynn is so successful in making wanna-be-Jedis hip and sexy that supermodel Tyra Banks put him on her show and declared that his “Geek is the new Chic.” And when a Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret cover model declares that you’re sexy you get bragging rights with your friends. Of course, Tyra just figured out what fanboys have always known – – being a Star Wars fan has always been, and will always be, cool.
While talking with Kevin Smith and Stan Lee, Mark Hamill confessed that Star Wars doesn’t belong to him anymore. Hamill’s point is that over time the fans have taken ownership of the movies and turned them into something else which may or may not have to do with George Lucas’ original intent. They’ve taken the films and used them as springboards to fuel their own interests and passions.
Underwear in outer space or not, the Star Wars films are the gift that keeps on giving to the dedicated fans who find personal inspiration from George Lucas’s incredible vision.