The Q Guide To Wonder Woman
In the summer of 2000, I landed an interview with Lynda Carter. I sat in her beautiful home outside of Washington, DC, and asked her questions about the impact of her role as Wonder Woman. She autographed a poster for me, and showed me the glass case holding her WW ephemera, including the golden lasso of truth used in the television series. The story ended up on the cover of the magazine I was writing the interview for and it became the highest-grossing issue for that year.
I thought I was the biggest Wonder Woman fan ever. Reading Mike Pingel's new book, The Q Guide to Wonder Woman, I stand corrected. For all the book's missteps and flaws, it serves as a repository for all the Wonder Woman-related miscellanea only a crazed fan like Pingel could want to know.
Pingel's glossy new paperback is a slapdash assembly of factoids about the life of actress Lynda Carter and the background of the television character Wonder Woman (as opposed to the comic book character of the same name). The book delves with painstaking detail into the costumes designed for Carter by the Academy Award-nominated costume designer Donfeld, from the 1975 original costume with stars and stripes all-American cape to the motorcycle outfit and aqua suit.
Equally detailed is the section cataloging each episode in the three-season run of the popular television show, from the early days at ABC, when the show was set after World War II, to the second season, picked up and "modernized" by CBS, to the final jump-the-shark third season. Wonder guests stars range from Wonder Girl Debra Winger to guests stars from Cloris Leachman, Red Buttons, and Dick Van Patten to "Morticia Adams" Carolyn Jones, and the real-life Black Dahlia, Christa Helm. "Lasso Tips" gives insights into Wonder Woman's abilities, while "WW Toys" catalogs the gadgets or moves used to escape captors in any particular episode. For example, did you know that Wonder Woman can mimic anyone's voice? And contact her mother, Queen Hippolyta, via the ruby on her golden tiara?
The author adds gravitas of a sort with the "Lasso of Truth" sections, brief interviews with Wonder Woman guest stars such as Stella Stevens, producer Leonard Goldberg, Douglas S. Cramer, S. Pearl Sharp, Joan Van Ark, and more. These insider peeks from series regulars and extras allows fans an opportunity to know, "stuff you didn't even know you wanted to know," as the book cover purports.
Pingel also queers the tome out by including brief interviews with local GLBT icons from my friends Julie Goldman of Logo's "Big Gay Sketch Show" and singer Josh Zuckerman, to drag icon Jackie Beat, porn guru Chi Chi La Rue, actors Reichen Lehmkuhl and Craig Taggart, and film director Allan Brocka, whose most recent release is the acclaimed "Boy Culture." The questions range from favorite episodes and most coveted powers, to most flattering Wonder outfits and accessories. The campy answers are a hoot, and the roundup of gays and celesbians Pingel queries is impressive.
The book also benefits from a fine bit of Pingel's personal snapshots of Lynda Carter, and an exquisite collection of pen and ink drawings of Wonder Woman and Carter by artist Glen Hanson. Pingel also supplies an extensive list of URLs fans can visit to get more information about Carter or her alter-ego, Wonder Woman.
Overall, the book could have benefited from a closer eye during copy editing, and perhaps a more restrained hand. But given the audience-crazed Wonder Woman fans-the level of detail seems forgivable. Pingel is clearly a lover of '70s TV, and his enthusiasm comes through in the book. "The Q Guide to Wonder Woman" may not appeal to everyone, but for the diehard Lynda Carter fans, it should prove irreplaceable.
"The Q Guide to Wonder Woman"
Available at Barnes and Noble