Friday, April 8, 2011

Interview with Cindy “Zig Zag” Babii of ZZ Studios

For readers of online comics one popular (or infamous) character is “Zig Zag,” the “blue movie” studio owner and head actress from “Sabrina Online.” In the strip, the title character reluctantly accepts a job as webmaster of the adult film company ZZ Studios after getting laid off. Some fans in Second Life set up a ZZ Studios here on the grid, which both produces exotic adult-themed media and is a social hangout.

The studio is owned and headed by Cindy Babii, whom plays the part of Zig Zag in the media, as well as being viewed as her in her unique tigerstriped skunkgirl avatar. I recently had a chance to interview her, and ask her about her and the studio’s beginnings, and how the place operates.

The interview began in Cindy’s office.

Bixyl Shuftan: So Cindy, how did you first find out about Second Life?

Cindy Babii: Well, a friend I knew from the online forum Gaia told me about Second Life. When I first logged on, my friend TPed me to “The Ark.” That first hour, I spotted a tigerskunk avie there at The Ark. I knew then what I wanted to do.

Bixyl Shuftan: Did it take long for you to get one of your own?

Cindy Babii: Someone donated a thousand Lindens the same day so I could get one. I’m still wearing the skin from that avie.

Bixyl Shuftan: So how long before you had the idea of bringing ZZ Studios to Second Life?

Cindy Babii: Well, my first intention was to just be Zig Zag in Second Life. But everyone kept asking me if I was going to make a studio. One thing lead to another, and I finally rented my first plot. I think it was 750 prims total.

Bixyl Shuftan: A little small compared to now. How long ago was this?

Cindy Babii: About three and a half years ago.

Bixyl Shuftan: So what are some of the challenges in running a "blue movie" studio in Second Life?

Cindy Babii: Hmm tough question. (pause) I find what we do here as fun and not as any challenge. The normal challenges would be getting sets made, costumes found, finding the right actor/actress, then setting a time when all can be on and we can film.

Bixyl Shuftan: Considering the fanbase the character Zig Zag has, I take it you got quite a bit of attention from the beginning?

Cindy Babii: (laughter) It hasn't stopped yet! I get fans daily who tell me how much they love Zig Zag and ZZ Studios (laughter) and some I have to explain that I’m not Max (Blackrabbit.)”

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) So some thought you were Max Blackrabbit or Eric Scwartz (the two artists associated with Zig Zag)?

Cindy Babii: *nods* I tell them my boobs are bigger than theirs. (laughs)

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) What have Max and Eric have had to say about the studio?

Cindy Babii: Well, I know Max has seen the studio in the early days and liked what he saw. As for Eric, I only have heard what others have said. I haven’t talked to Eric directly (not that I wouldn’t. I love the Sabrina series).

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds great about Max. When did the studio begin making it's movies?

Cindy Babii: We started soon after we had a building. We started filming there. I took the pictures for most of the first productions. The first one had no text at all, and the story was told with just pictures. Now the studio has many talented people making awesome pieces of work.

Bixyl Shuftan: Yes, I've seen some of them, some full time, some contributing. Any in particular you'd like to mention?

Cindy Babii: I would have to say thanks to everyone that helped keep the studio going while I delt with my Mom and her battle with cancer. She passed away in October.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oh, I’m sorry. (pause) It is good to hear your friends helped give you the time you needed.

Cindy Babii: Yes, it was along time, and they all did great. And they didn't burn anything down (grin) ... like that time I crashed a sim-sized blimp into the land owner’s house.

Bixyl Shuftan: Now that sounds interesting. What's the story there?

Cindy Babii: While the studio was on a different sim, someone wanted to show me this full sized Hindenburg blimp. And we all should know you don't show Zig Zag the cockpit. Well, things got touched, something moved, and next thing I know the blimp is crashing into the land owner’s house (he's a dragon, you know how they are) and it broke up into these huge pieces that started floating all over the place.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oops!

Cindy Babii: (Grins) It had to be the funniest thing I’ve seen in Second Life ever.

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckle) So Eric might draw something about that if he heard?

Cindy Babii: (laugh) I would like to think so.

Bixyl Shuftan: So what other funny incidents have happened at the studio?

Cindy Babii: (laughs) Oh my God hun, I could go on for hours. We always have a good time here, and you never know what you will see here. ... But I will say I have beat up Godzilla here.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oh?

Cindy Babii: (laugh) Yes he came in here, and I jumped him, and was surprised I won. ... Xerxes catfight. That’s what I used on the huge Godzilia. Luckily Ziba was standing right there and saw it, or no one would've believed me.

Bixyl Shuftan: I take it the DJ at the club played "Ultimate Showdown" the next few days. (chuckles a bit) yes lucky.

Bixyl Shuftan: Back to the movies, how has the way they're made changed?

Cindy Babii: We still do a lot the old way, with the addition of motion-picture films. We show them time to time in the theater, and have a few new ones being made as we speak.

Bixyl Shuftan: Are most today motion pictures?

Cindy Babii: We still do still, but with text and effects.

Bixyl Shuftan: About half and half?

Cindy Babii: No, about 80/20.

Bixyl Shuftan: About how many people apply for jobs every week?

Cindy Babii: I’ve passed that job onto other staff, but last I heard, we have averaged about 25 a week.

Bixyl Shuftan: Has finding reliable actors been a challenge?

Cindy Babii: Oh no, that’s never been hard. I’ve casted before and had over 300 show up for a part.

Bixyl Shuftan: So most of the applications are more or less serious and not jokes, the subject of "blue movies" having a giggle factor to some?

Cindy Babii: (laughter) We call them self-help movies. (pause) We find a lot just want the ZZ tag to show off, but most come here wanting to do anything they can to help the studio out.

Bixyl Shuftan: About how many people are involved in an average film, not that these films are average?

Cindy Babii: Well, we usually have the director/camera person. Then the set builders throw in some actors for the main shoot. And when done its off to editing. Then the writers, and finally the graphic artist for the finishing touches.

Bixyl Shuftan: About how long does it take?

Cindy Babii: It can take weeks to years, Cyber Angels took a year and a half.

Bixyl Shuftan: Were some of the staff involved offline for a while?

Cindy Babii: No, it just took awhile to have it the way we wanted it.

Bixyl Shuftan: So sometimes it can take a while to redo a scene until it's "just right?"

Cindy Babii: Well, that's all done in filming. What takes the most is the writing, editing and the artist work.

The interview was put on hold for a while when Cindy had to take care of real-life matters. When we met again, it was at the theater, which had a couple comics on display, as well as having a short Eric Scwartz film up, “

Bixyl Shuftan: So once a project is done, what does the staff do to celebrate?

Cindy Babii: We usually have a Premiere Night here in the theater.

Bixyl Shuftan: How many usually attend the premiers?

Cindy Babii: (laugh) Well, we’ve crashed the sim a few times on Premiere Night.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oops. (pause) What other events do you have here?

Cindy Babii: We recently had out yearly Valentines’ Day Tail Sale, and are going to have another Biker Night here soon. And we have DJs at least 3 days a week.

Bixyl Shuftan: A biker-themed party? I did hear one of the staff liked making bikes.

Cindy Babii: They’re a lot of fun and provide the studio with some rent money. Yes, Darke is the studios’ bike maker. She makes all kinds as a hobby.

Bixyl Shuftan: I recall she had a few comments about your own bike. (grin)

Cindy Babii: Oh what was that? (laugh)

Bixyl Shuftan: She described it as the primmiest one on the lot.

Cindy Babii: (laughter) Funny. I get the same with my avie.

Bixyl Shuftan: Getting back to the movies, I read that in real life the number of women viewing adult movies has been growing. About how many of the viewers of your media are women?

Cindy Babii: You would think so. (pause) I’m not sure about that, as I haven't really looked into that aspect of sales. I do know we have a large female fan base.

Bixyl Shuftan: Have you ever had trouble with griefers at the studio?

Cindy Babii: Only once or twice. We don't get a lot of griefer problems like other furry places.

Bixyl Shuftan: How does the studio get along with it's neighbors?

Cindy Babii: Oh, we get along great. Only time we had a problem was from a bunch of ninjas that lived next door to us on another sim.

Bixyl Shuftan: Ninjas? What happened?

Cindy Babii: You know hard it is to get ninja out of your fur?

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckle) Sounds like something interesting. Did everyone get along in the end?

Cindy Babii: (laughter) Yeah, it all turned out good. They thought we would like a bunch of ninja running around the studio. But became a problem quickly and turned into what we call the ninja wars (laughter).

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) "Ninja wars?"

Cindy Babii: (laughter) Yes. Just incase your wondering, furrys vs ninjas, furrys always win.

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckle) So is there going to be a ninja-themed movie from the studio?

Cindy Babii: We don't have anything planned at this time (laugh).

Bixyl Shuftan: Perhaps in the future, unless perhaps Max Blackrabbit draws some when he finds out.

Cindy Babii: (laughter) Cute. (pause) Here is what I used.

Cindy then brought a gun out of her inventory, a huge anti-tank rifle that would dwarf 50 caliber guns. She told me anyone close to where a round landed would likely be knocked over unless sitting down. This led to a few minutes of foolery and joking.

Bixyl Shuftan: Guess one really doesn't know what to expect here. That seems to be all the questions I can think of. Was there anything else you'd like to mention?

Cindy Babii: (laugh) No, you never do. Thanks for your time. Don’t be a stranger hun and look forward to seeing some new pic's.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some months ago, I had written to Max Blackrabbit and Eric Scwartz about their opinion of ZZ Studios. Max told me he’d get back to me, but never answered further. Eric did answer, saying he knew of the studio, and had no problem with it.

ZZ studios is located in Falcon Valley, the southeast corner of the sim.

Bixyl Shuftan