There is nothing in my own life that defines my childhood more than Wonder Woman. From receiving the now vintage Wonder Woman Mego doll as a Christmas gift (and crying hysterically when her tiara was lost in the wrapping paper frenzy) to having a complete Wonder Woman themed birthday party at three years old, the Amazonian princess shaped not just my childhood, but so many other young boys who were looking around and realizing how different they really were. As adults, Wonder Woman fans have an immediate kinship, trading stories, pictures and following each others victories on social media. When I encountered fellow fan Christopher Cooley, I knew he had a story. What I did not know, is that he had a complete Wonder Woman themed bar in his home, a space that had Wonder Woman memorabilia from almost every era. I caught up with Cooley for a sit down to talk about his love for Wonder Woman, why Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman is cemented in his life forever, and his ultimate dream for not just himself, but for Wonder Woman fans everywhere.
Michael Cook: You are without argument, one of the biggest Wonder Woman fans around; when did your love affair with our favorite amazon start?
Christopher Cooley: Wonder Woman was my childhood idol, and I just never outgrew it. I think I was five or six years old when I first saw Lynda Carter on television, she was absolutely stunning in that American Flag & high heels, my inner gay boy was forever switched on! She had me mesmerized, everything about her just spoke to me, she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and she had so much to offer, she fought for good, she taught me about the importance of truth, doing the right thing, and always helping others when you can. She was a goddess on my tv and I was instantly hooked.
MC: Your collection is massive and quite varied; what are some of your favorite pieces that you have added to your collection. Any wish items you have not been able to get your hands on yet?
CC: My all time favorite will always be my Mego doll from the 70’s, I literally took her everywhere that I went when I was a kid, her hair is a nappy hot mess now, her joints are stuck, the plastic is starting to discolor, she’s seen better days that’s for sure. She’s actually missing a foot, but you can’t tell when she has her boots on (she lost her foot in a bizarre invisible jet accident, don’t ask) She’s still my favorite toy though! I really love items that show her in a different light too, I have some great artwork of her depicted as plus size which I love, I wish they’d make toys or a statue of a plus sized Wonder Woman, I also love anything witchy or horror themed. I have a few pieces that are creepy, spooky versions of Wonder Woman which combines my love for her with my love for all things supernatural. I also love anything Invisible plane related! Toy makers, if you’re reading this, we need more invisible jets please! My favorite though will always be vintage items from the late 70’s & early 80’s.
It used to be what the bulk of my collection was made up of until 2008, when I actually lost my entire collection. When the housing market crashed, I was a victim of an unlawful foreclosure, long story short, I fell on hard times & had to sell it off piece by piece. It was really devastating and many of those vintage items that I had, I have never seen for sale again. I would love to rebuild my vintage stuff, but it’s becoming harder to come by and more & more expensive. There is a large 19′ tall telephone that was made by Microcommunications in 1979 that is my holy grail, she rarely pops up on ebay anymore but when she does, the price tag is just outrageous, I hope one of these days i’ll get lucky & find her at a decent price! I would also kill to have any props or set pieces that were used on the tv show, a pair of bracelets worn by Lynda would be a dream come true!
MC: Your love for the DC Comics queen is so dedicated that you have an entire theater dedicated to her in your home. Tell me about how that came about and the story behind crafting it
CC: I’ve been a collector for a long time, and something I think most collectors wrestle with is when to stop, where to put things, and how to prioritize what you display. Space always seems to be an issue, and eventually I had stuff just boxed up that I never saw. To me that’s a waste, yes, searching for & finding things is a big part of the fun, but once you have it, if it’s just boxed up it doesn’t bring you any enjoyment. So I knew when I moved that I needed a place that had a room for my stuff so that I could properly enjoy my collection. I also knew that I wanted a home theater, because I’m a huge movie & tv junkie, so when I found this house & saw the available space that used to be an office, I had a vision immediately of what it could be and I knew it was perfect for what I wanted to do! A lot of work, a lot of help from friends and a few years later, the “Wonder Bar” was born. There were several nightmare contractors involved along the way (one that I’m currently suing) but that’s an entirely different article….I’m just so happy it’s finally done!
MC: Lynda Carter is how so many of us fell in love with Wonder Woman initially; tell me about your love for this actress’ portrayal in particular and how she has reacted to your dedication as a fan.
CC: I strongly believe that Lynda Carter’s version of Wonder Woman came into my life at the exact moment that it was supposed to, at a time when I really needed her the most. I grew up in a dysfunctional family & Wonder Woman was always the one I could go to to escape whatever bad situation or family drama was going on. She was always there for me to get me through anything. I learned so much from her portrayal of her about honesty, truth, fairness, love, respecting others and myself, and sticking up for what’s right. For me, Wonder Woman is, was, and will always be the ultimate role model; she truly helped shape me into who I am today.
I’ve been very fortunate to have met Lynda many times now, the 1st time was May 3, 2007, it was my birthday and it was also her cabaret debut in San Francisco. She had just begun to revive her music career after a very long hiatus. I knew the show was at a small venue and this was before paid meet and greets were a thing. I spoke with someone at the door and showed them my tattoos that I have of Lynda, she then introduced me to Lynda’s manager who told me to come find him after the show. I did and he brought me into the green room where there were about 15 other people waiting to catch a glimpse of her. She came out of her dressing room and greeted me right away. She hugged me multiple times as we chatted, she was so warm and sweet, it almost seemed like she was more excited to meet me then I was to meet her. She autographed my arm (which I immediately had tattooed on) It was an experience I will always cherish and which actually led to many more meetings with her!
I’ve seen every concert tour she has done since then, one of which was even filmed for Oprah Winfrey network’s TV show Where Are They Now?. I was interviewed for the program and they showed clips of Lynda and myself, one in particular had her autographing a poster for me and I told her while she was signing things I also had some adoption papers for her. She had a good laugh at that! This was the first time that she remembered me by name and I freaked out a little. I was the first to have her tattooed on me and tattooed the autograph. She gets a kick out of it every time she sees me. She’s even mentioned me in interviews with the Washington Post, The New York Times, and on Access Hollywood. When I told people she was talking about me, no one believed me so when I saw her again in May of 2014 in Palm Springs for her ‘Walk of Stars’ dedication, she in fact confirmed on video that it was me she was talking about. She then challenged myself and a few other fans to a spin off. Not exactly something I was planning on doing, but when Wonder Woman herself asks you to spin for her, YOU SPIN! It ended up turning into a huge game and she made all of us spin for her, we had a blast and I took a great selfie that hangs up right behind my bar!
MC: You have received a great deal of attention for the collection and the theater. What has that been like?
CC: It’s been a little crazy! I guess this is my 15 minutes (LOL). When I finished the bar, I really just wanted to show it to my friends that also collect Wonder Woman stuff, it’s fun to share what you have with other fans who are also passionate about Wonder Woman. Other collectors ‘get it’ and I was proud of the work that I had done and I wanted to share it with them. I thought that would be the end of it, but then it started blowing up on social media, I posted a few things that went viral and I had to turn off notifications on my phone because I was getting so many. It was exciting but overwhelming, I guess I forgot that there are other people, LOTS OF THEM, who also love Wonder Woman like I do. I’ve done two interviews so far, I’ve also been approached by a web series and several other tv shows wanting to do features on me, someone from Paramount Pictures is trying to get Director Patty Jenkins to come to my bar for an ‘on location’ interview, and I’ve had several people reach out to me claiming to have connections at Warner Brothers Pictures & with Patty herself! They have all told me that they reached out on my behalf, which is really exciting to think that Patty & Gal may have actually seen the video of my bar! The ultimate goal would be to have a fan screening of the film in my theater, hopefully all the exposure I’m getting will lead to WB Pictures treating us die hard fans to a special screening of the movie. We’ve been patiently waiting for so long with delay after delay, we’ve earned this! I’m hopeful that they’ll see my enthusiasm for Wonder Woman & my excitement for this film & make this screening dream into a reality. I know it’s a long shot, but you never know!
MC: What have your interactions been like with (Lynda Carter) and fellow Wonder Woman fans?
CC: Obviously my interactions with Lynda have been such a huge thrill for me, she is such a real life wonder woman off screen! Last year another huge Wonder Woman fan, and friend of mine, had major heart surgery. I reached out to Lynda’s team to let them know about his condition and I was actually able to facilitate her calling him in the hospital to wish him a speedy recovery. She really loves & appreciates her fans, she’s an incredible human being who genuinely cares and it shows. I’ve met a lot of other Wonder Woman fans over the years, and I’ve made so many great friends because of our shared love of the character. Honestly that’s really the best thing to come out of all of this, the great friendships that I’ve made.
MC: What are your thoughts on the new Wonder Woman 1984 film and the addition of Cheetah? Any thoughts on future film incarnations and possible villains or characters you want to see added? Wonder Girl maybe?
CC: I’m BEYOND excited to see this movie! This is the version of Wonder Woman that I fell in love with, no sword, no shield, a vibrant bright costume and yes gawd, big 80’s hair! I am living for this movie already & I haven’t even seen it yet! Throw in a twirling costume change & a proper invisible jet & my top would pop like Mt Vesusvios! I’m also sort of a crazy cat lady, so needless to say I’m super excited to see her go up against Cheetah! None of Wonder Woman’s villains from the comics, cartoons or tv have ever really become well known or been given much attention, but Cheetah is the one to stand out and get some notoriety! It’s so cool that she’s finally getting the exposure she’s always been worthy of. I mean, who doesn’t love cats? As far as future movie installments, I would love to see more villains & characters culled from the tv show, can you imagine her teaming up with Andros to go up against the Zardor & the Skrill? I would lose my shit. lol. Sorry, nerd moment, fans of the show will get it …..
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) October 8, 2020
MC: What do you think it is about Wonder Woman that makes generations of little boys and little girls fall in love with her over and over?
CC: She’s a gorgeous crime fighter in hot pants, what’s not to love (LOL)? She has this quality that is unique to her, where she can find ways to use her power to resolve problems without resorting to a brutal tit-for-tat physical fight. She absolutely can kick your ass, but often doesn’t need to. She teaches you to think outside of the box & use your strengths in a new way to overcome your obstacles and I think that’s pretty cool.