This is my friend Effie Liu (left) and me (right). We're Jeminists. Jeminists are people whose particular brand of feminism is based largely on the tenets of the Saturday morning cartoon show Jem and the Holograms, which ran from 1985–88, and was created to help promote a line of fashion dolls sporting new-wave styles and holding instruments. This past Thursday we attended an amazing Jem party created by Interview Magazine, Sephora, Manic Panic, Wildfox, and a bunch of other companies that make Jem-based merchandise being released to coincide with the release of a supposedly terrible new movie. Parties like this are never good, but this one was really, really good.
Here's Effie at the entrance to the event, which was inside a converted carwash.
In spite of being essentially half-hour animated doll commercials, the Jem TV show was pretty great. The show centers around a young woman named Jerrica whose father has just died while she's dealing with a multitude of problems. Her foster home for girls needs money and her father's ex-business partner is trying to claim ownership of Starlight Records, which should rightfully be hers.
When all seems lost, she gets these scientifically miraculous earrings that contain teeny tiny projectors that shoot out realistic holographic images. Her father also leaves her a cool car and some instruments and, most importantly, a holographic fairy godmother named Synergy. Jerrica dons the persona of the glamorous rock singer Jem, who looks and sounds exactly like her except that her hair is longer and pink. Somehow, nobody except her bandmates realizes she's not the same person. In the show, she dates the orphanage's groundskeeper, Rio, as both Jem and Jerrica, which leads to her singing a song about not knowing which version of her he likes better.
At a time when it seemed like all women in children's cartoons were female versions of male characters (He-Man clone She-Ra) or secretaries or moms, it's cool that there was a show about a woman who was a glamorous rockstar, a powerful CEO, and a socially responsible lady who took care of orphans. An ex-girlfriend used to tell me that Jem set unattainable goals because she has magic earrings to help her, but I still think it was neat to have a multi-faceted female lead character.
This lady was wandering around at the party with a cigarette girl tray, passing out free candy. She got really mad when I grabbed more than a few things. Maybe her pay for the night was getting to keep any candy that wasn't claimed?
The party hosts were projecting a Jem highlight reel from the show outside the event. Effie and I had shown up ready for some corny baloney, but it was a Jem fan's ideal party. All this neat stuff was happening before we even got inside the building, and Effie and I were already freaking the fuck out at how good everything was.
They were giving away cotton candy with flashing glow sticks inside them. Hooray! I believe the shirt she's wearing was made to promote the new movie, which the Onion AV Club slapped with a D rating. They tried to modernize Jem, and you can't modernize Jem—the character can't be separated from the new-wave aesthetic and pastel 1980s color scheme.
(By the way, I also think that TV show about Sherlock Holmes in modern times is misguided, for similar reasons. As much as the Arthur Conan Doyle stories are about a genius detective and his friend solving mysteries, they're also a portrait of Victorian England.)
This is Darian Darling and her friend David doing a sort of loose interpretation of Jem and Rio Pacheco.
Hasbro was giving away free light-up earrings, modeled here by Mischa Golebiewski. Now every woman can holographically project a more glamourous person onto themselves.
When we actually entered the party's interior space,we you did it through an image of Synergy, seeming to suggest that she was making people look glamorous and beautiful upon entering with her holographic magic. It must have worked because everyone inside looked great.
In a major Freeman and Lowe rip-off move, they created a store inside this carwash named Jem's Closet, in which nothing was for sale. I thought this was so rad. Everything inside the party was pastel and neon colors and shimmering chrome shining in the darkness.
When I got inside Jem's Closet, it was a lot like being back in my house.
For some reason the Pizzazz doll on display is wearing glasses. Who's the smart-aleck who put glasses on Pizzazz?
I liked the dark hair/light outfit, light hair/dark outfit dichotomy these two had going on.
Everyone at the party looked good. These two are sisters and, surprisingly, it's the sister on the right who is the bigger Jem fan. One of the cool things about Jem is that it's set in a world where everyone who isn't a mustached businessman is fully new-wave. Everyone has crazy-colored hair. It's a place I would like to exist inside of.
Everyone was trying to buy the clothes, but it was a fake store and nothing was actually for sale. I want this shit so bad.
I would also like to wear this.
In the past few years, Hasbro started producing expensive Jem dolls for adult collectors. They cost a lot of money, but the Hasbro PR people said they'd give me dolls. I really want some fancy Jems, but I can't spend $140 on a single Jem doll! These dolls were up really, really high, presumably so that I wouldn't be able to steal them.
At the rear of Jem's Closet was a salon where ladies were getting their hair and nails done.
I thought this room was kind of like what heaven will look like and smell like. The room wasn't very well ventilated, and I got pretty light-headed off the fumes.
This lady from Vanity Projects had a little snack attack before she painted my nails.
This is how my nails came out. I went with pink with a single new-wave accent finger. I don't look happy because all my brain cells had just died from the fumes, but I was very, very happy.
Contributing VICE cartoonist and hitchhiking Belgian person Nina Vandenbempt got a gold and blue lighting bolt.
This is Candy, who came all the way from Cincinnati just to be here. I keep trying to get VICE to send me to Jem Con, but they keep saying no. "No, Nick, nobody cares about Jem!" they bark at me. I care about Jem! I care a lot!
Wowie Zowie, this is a strong look.
Samantha Newark, who was the speaking voice of Jem on the show, came out with dyed pink hair and performed a few songs. This was pretty stellar.
Ms. Newark signed my Jerrica Benton doll on the leg and signed Effie's pink microphone. We were pretty starstruck.
This lady was one of the makeup artists who has a really good Edie Sedgwick look going on. The short aquamarine hair, the simple black shirt, and the tutu are a strong, strong look.
The most popular attraction at the event besides the free booze was this Starlight Express van, which was also a photo booth. Here are two women who look cool waiting to climb into a thing that looks cool. Also, the lighting is cool.
All the neon pink and mirrors made a lot of sense to me.
This Jem looked all tuckered out. Is this what a modern Jem would be like? "In today's episode of Jem, Jem won't get off her phone and all her friends hate her now."
As we left, we noticed that they even made a Starlight Records billboard. I came home and scrubbed off my makeup and looked back on what a neat time it was. I hope I get lots of free Jem stuff and meet lots of other Jem fans because of this article. I also hope other feminists don't tell me that they think Jeminism is offensive and stupid. That would really be a bad trip. I really, really hope my editor doesn't throw in the phrase "truly outrageous" into this article. That's would be the lamest thing ever to say about Jem.
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