A Chat with Twitter’s Sexiest Geek: Maria Palafox

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We recently had the opportunity to chat at length with someone who embodies the UnderScoopFIRE mission: Get the most out of life while you can and stay true to your inner child of the 80s. The 1980s were the greatest decade in history to grow up in, and those of us who were lucky enough to come of age in those years are proud of our respective childhoods.

Fellow children of the 80s can easily strike up a spirited conversation about Nintendo, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, TMNT, Thundercats, Fireball Island and much more. So many of these properties and pastimes have been re-booted, re-released, and re-imagined; proving that the 80s are the decade that will live on forever. We never forego an opportunity to relive 80s glory with a fellow 80s geek.

Maria Palafox was Crazy4ComicCon’s March 2011 Geek of the Week (which we can only assume is the highest of honors!) and is one of Twitter’s MVGs (Most Valuable Geeks). I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Maria, and I think you will too.

So… you’re hot. How did you end up being such a geek?

I think it was inevitable for me to turn out a geek. My parents are major geeks themselves. I remember having way more LEGOs than Barbies and playing video games even before my fine motor skills were fully developed. One of my earliest memories is of my parents taking me and my siblings to the Museum of Science & Industry on the weekends and fighting with my sister over who got to play with the giant eyeball first. When fighting didn’t settle a dispute, we would organize debates, giving ourselves a week or two for research. THAT’s how the Palafox family settled disputes.

As far as the hot thing, thanks, first of all. Like a superhero, I work hard to stay fit and get into those very tight and unforgiving spandex!

We’re thankful that your parents provided you with ample LEGOs and museum trips to cultivate a future geek! Since you brought up the tight and unforgiving outfits, tell us how you got into cosplay and some of your notable experiences.

I’ve been making my own costumes since I was an even teenier geek. My pride and joy was my She-Ra costume for the Halloween parade at school. I think I was in second grade. During the parade, I kept yelling “For the Honor of Grayskull, I am SHE-RA!” That was the coolest I’ve ever felt. My coolness peaked at 7 years old, I’m ok with that.

I’ve been going to cons for a few years, but never had the courage to go in costume. I’ve made many costumes, but only wore them for Halloween, or events at my LCS. I almost had it in me for last year’s NYCC, but got super sick and didn’t get to finish my costume on time. I’m convinced my nemesis plotted this against me (biowarfare?). I shouted to the heavens and made a promise to myself that I would finally go the following year. I did it! I finally got to wear some of my costumes this past NYCC. I wore my dream costume, Batgirl (1960s TV series) on Friday, and on Saturday I let my claws out and went as X-23. Cons are always a blast. You hang out with friends, geek out over awesome panels, buy way too much stuff, and ogle all of the awesome cosplayers. This time I got to be one of the cosplayers and never thought I’d have so much fun being ogled. Not only did I get to showcase all of my hard work, but I was able to bring to life two of my favorite ladies in comics. I can’t begin to explain how much fun it was to be in costume!

As far as peaking in second grade, we still think you’re pretty cool now- but we won’t argue with a 7 year old Princess of Power. It seems cosplay is an addicting hobby. What would be the next costume you’d like to make/wear?

It’s absolutely, hands-down, addicting! Right now I have high hopes for my next costumes. I plan on making a Gary from Spongebob costume, I think it’ll be super cute. I just need to find myself a Spongebob companion. The other costume is Huntara, from the old Marvel comics. I cannot wait to start working on her armor. I’ll be working with new materials and first time cosplaying a villain this time! I still want to give Huntress or Raven a try, but I might have to wait until next year for those two.

Talk a little bit about your love of video games and all things 8 bit. Any favorites, past and present?

When I first start dating someone, I let them know that I’m a gamer. What I don’t let them know is that I plan dates around my game time. I do talk about World of Warcraft and how I used to raid with one of the top 100 guilds in the world. They seem very impressed and interested. Slowly they begin to find out that my love of video games borderlines obsessive. I was once asked how many hours I spend playing. I began to add up all the hours and came up with an estimate of about 30 hours a week. Yikes! I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for about 4 years now. Currently, it’s my favorite game. I have a love-hate relationship with it. Meaning that I hate that I can’t stop playing, but I love to kill me some dragons.

When I can’t make it to Azeroth to slay dragons, I will happily struggle with my classic Nintendo, grab Super Mario Brothers 3, blow the dust out of it, jam it in the game slot, insert another game to keep it in place, press the hell out of the Power button, until I see that red curtain and black and white tiled floor. If I had to pick a favorite game of all time, it would hands down be SMB 3! I paid tribute to my love of this game by getting a P-wing tattoo on my shoulder blade. I’m also pretty much in love with anything 8bit, so I asked the tattoo artist to make it an 8bit tattoo. A few months passed and I could not resist the urge to pay homage to my favorite villain of all time, Blooper. I begged my tattoo artist to give me an 8bit tattoo of Blooper on my wrist. He finally did and I warned him that he needs to prepare for my next 8bit piece, Frog Suit Mario.

I love the simplicity of 8bit video games and images. As an adult, they make me nostalgic and take me back to my childhood, but also remind me that it’s not always about flashiness and realism. In the end, it’s about having fun and being creative.

As our readers collectively fall in love with you, tell us about your blog, Pretty Picante!

Oh no, don’t fall in love with me. I’m nothing but trouble. Instead, fall in love with my new blog, Pretty Picante! The blog is dedicated to celebrating Mexican food, through recipes, restaurant reviews, tips, and stories about me and my family. I decided to start the blog because I love to cook, especially Mexican food.

I dream of one day being able to open a restaurant, but right now it is still just a dream. I’m constantly volunteering myself to host parties and cooking dinner for friends to fulfill the need I have to share my food with others. I wanted to reach an even bigger audience, so I came up with the idea of a blog for my recipes. It’s been up for about four weeks now and I’m having a blast doing it. I’ve received a very positive response and even pictures from people who’ve made some of the dishes. I really hope that the audience continues to grow and that I continue to have such enthusiasm doing it.

I’m very proud of my culture and its cuisine. I want to give people insight into the flavors and history of authentic Mexican food, while being able to share stories about my childhood and experiences as a Mexican in New York City.

The dishes on your blog look amazing. We will be sure to help spread the word about Pretty Picante and we’re eager to watch your audience grow. You mention ‘podcasting’ in your profile. Should we be listening to you somewhere as well?

Yes! Well, actually the podcast is on hiatus for the moment. But, when we get it up and running again, people should definitely tune into it. The podcast is “I Hearth Geeks,” and it’s about World of Warcraft. I figured since I play that game so much, I might as well do something productive with all this useless information. I do the podcast alongside Russ Clarke, a dashing British fellow, and the beautiful and talented actress, Teal Sherer (you may know her as Venom on The Guild). The show focuses on our distinct experiences on different levels of game play. My role is more focused on end-game raiding and reminiscing about the good ol’ days. You’ll often hear me complaining about how much better The Burning Crusade expansion was than all the ones that followed. On the other side is Teal, who is new to the game. It’s a lot of fun listening to her perspective of the game and remembering what it was like as a new player. Russ is also a veteran player, but he doesn’t have quite as much time as I do to do end-game raiding. He brings us all the latest news and offers more insight into the lore of the game.

The podcast is a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to starting it up again.

 

Maria, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let us get to know you! We’ve developed a bit of a tradition in our short history- when we get to know a fellow child of the 80s, we like to dig a little bit into their favorite characters from the ultimate toy & cartoon decade. Before you go, we’d be honored if you would select your own UnderScoopFire Fantasy Task Force!

 

Thank you for giving me an excuse to talk about my favorite thing, myself. I kid! I mean video games, cosplaying, and my blog. I don’t think THAT highly of myself, so I will definitely need an UnderScoopFire Fantasy Task Force. My team would include She-Ra (of course), Tygra, Raphael, Robocop, and King Koopa.

To continue the conversation with Maria, follow her on Twitter @teenygeek and check out her blog Pretty Picante.

 

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