Tonya Kay is already a real-life superheroine — she’s an actress, a stage performer, a raw vegan, a chaos magician, an athlete and activist — so it’s really no surprise she’s making the leap to comics, too. After being a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, this versatile personality gained a following of comic fans who will probably be delighted to see her in the upcoming November issue of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.
Kay is a sweetheart so it’s no surprised she happily answered the questions I e-mailed to her.
Comicsgirl: You’ve been involved with several comics-related projects since Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Have you always been a comics fan? Are there any comics you read regularly?
Tonya Kay: Do comic strips count? My favorite is Garfield. Now who’s the geek of geeks? I learned to draw that cat and gave mine a new character name an personality. His own adventures. You see, my Garfield was different though because he wore a bow tie and had no mouth. Call it: style.
CG: How did your appearances in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose come about?
TK: Conventions are almost cosmic intentional communities. Magickal meetings are mishapped upon and families are formed with afore strangers. I met a photographer from Germany named Steffan Volkmer when I was appearing at San Diego Comic Con in 2008. He followed my work and we kept in touch. The real life action hero things I do in my career and spare time include whip cracking, knife throwing, fire dance … you know, the fun stuff the other girls don’t do! Well, I had just modeled for LA photographer Dave Klingsick of Day Bright Studio with some weaponry my talented Hollywood film blacksmith friend, Dave Baker of Hollywood Combat Center forged. Seeing my recent broadsword warrior shoot, Steffan was inspired to introduce me to the owner of Broadsword Comics, saying we might be a tight fit. I sent one of the photos to Jim Balent and to my astonishment, he responded right away saying he was familiar with my character on Stan Lee’s original season of Who Wants to Be A Superhero? and more specifically, appreciated that I was open about my lifestyle, wearing a small upside-down pentagram around my neck on national television. Then Jim said he’d like to feature me this year!
I hardly knew what was in store for me at that point. Working with Jim Balent has become a powerful and fulfilling ritual! Through the year I’ve gotten to know Jim and his wife/business partner, Holly GoLightly and what extraordinary human beings, artists and business people they are. I’ve reference modeled for my character, offered personal life experiences for storylining, written a Chaos spell for the comic and have had much of my modeling work published as well. In July, I experienced a full circle, when Jim invited me to appear at the Broadsword Comic booth with him and Holly at San Diego Comic Con 2009. There I got to see Jim’s rendering of the cover of Issue #59 starring me! I almost fainted when I saw myself featured on the cover of the Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose comic. I also got to interact with fans, meet new friends and Steffan, the man who originally introduced Jim and I, even arrived to officially complete the circle – conventions really are cosmic intentional communities!
CG: Do you have any other comic-related projects on the horizon?
TK: I am available for comic reference modeling. I’m a real life action hero! And if you would like to see my heroism in action, look for me playing a reoccurring role on Comedy Central’s Secret Girlfriend this fall. Secret Girlfriend is a new series airing in the time slot right after South Park. I will be playing Cassidy, the lesbian burlesque dancer who beats up boys. I will be cracking whips, throwing knives, and grinding sparks off my metal warrior bikini – no kidding! I hope to continue combining my acting talents and action skills in unique roles like this. And I hope to continue modeling for comic artists, like Jim Balent.
CG: I think one of the most awesome things about you is that you’re a raw vegan. How did you get started on that path? Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to pursue it?
TK: I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years, 15 of which were vegan and the past 7 raw vegan. I got started on the raw vegan path, specifically, when I decided that I was one of the animals I wanted to take care of. Basically, I had been taking care of all the other animals and hadn’t discovered yet what it was really like to be a healthy human animal! If there is anything on this earth that makes a real super hero, it’s eating straight from nature. She’s never wrong and I don’t question her. I am fit, emotionally and athletically, I am connected to the seasons and can process higher levels of stress without problem, the people whom are drawn to me reflect the care I give myself — it is definitely worth working into your life as well.
For virgins who wish to experience a little of the raw vegan goodness, I’d suggest working in more and more raw food (how else?). What I mean is, I don’t suggest going 100% raw vegan over nite. Heck, if you look at my progression through dietary change, you could say it took me over two decades to make the transition from vegetarian to raw vegan. The good news is, you can work a smoothie in as your breakfast, 3 pieces of hand fruit in as your snacks, and a phat salad instead of your pasta or rice at nite and … for virgins, that IS increasing their raw food and they WILL feel a difference.
The difference just might be so easy and so rewarding that you decided to work more in in another six months. You started out as 40% raw and within 2 years you might find yourself at 70% without really having felt like you’ve made any changes at all.
Make raw friends now. Even if it is just on the internet at first. Get to know the community and how supportive it is. Make some easy recipes. Soon you’ll be the one inspiring people around you.
My first hero was Popeye, by the way. He said, “I YAM what I YAM”, dated a woman named Olive Oil, cared for a child called Sweet Pea and ate spinach to get those hulky forearms. He’s still my hero.
CG: And finally, any advice for girls or women who want to also be real-life superheroines?
It’s the perfect time to be a woman and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Not long ago, women weren’t allowed to attend University. As recent as my own mother’s youth, girls sports weren’t an option in the school curriculum. And today, women control 53% of the nation’s wealth! We’ve come a long way in a short period of time, grrls, and that’s not only because it’s right and it’s fair, but because our feminine energies are needed, now more than ever to balance out a structured civilization that got way out of hand. Over the years, women have learned a lot from our magnificent men. And now I see men thirsting to learn from us. Do not hold back, ladies. It is our diplomacy, ability to communicate, compassion for nature and sensuality that is being called upon to “save the world.” We are all heroes and heroines when we balance our male and female energies.
I have an unstoppable performance career. I am a female business owner. I am a green role-model, fitness expert and animal activist. I am a fun friend, good neighbor and devoted Lover. I do not feel like anything is holding me back and I’m going all the way. All I have to say to other girls and women who are budding real-life superheroes is … welcome aboard – we value you!