Friday, 9 September 2011

Special Feature: Star Trek's Slave Girls of Orion

Rachel Nichols as the most recent incarnation of the Orion woman.
Today's Orion woman is in the military rather than a slave,
but she still has to gad about in her smalls. Of course.
I hope that you’re blessed with a strong constitution, because we’re about to go into the outer reaches of the universe and the women there do look rather peaky. I suppose warp speed travel will do that to you.

Star Trek was default mid-Saturday viewing when I was a student. It’s not that I’m really, creakily old – it’s just that weekend television tends to be repeats, and New Zealand TV had a more retro echo than most because it screened shows that were ancient even when Methuselah was teething. And so it came to pass that there are probably generations of kiwi men out there whose first crush was on a scantily clad woman with green skin and freaky dance moves: today’s post is all about Star Trek’s Slave Girls of Orion. (In a nod to the changing political climate they eventually became the ‘Women of Orion’, but they were still fodder for viewers who wanted to embellish their Lt. Uhura fantasies.)

It would take a stronger pop culture muscle than I possess to out-geek the Wikipedia entry on the Orions of Star Trek, so I won’t try:

Orions are a green-skinned, humanoid alien species. An Orion was first portrayed as an illusion in the original Star Trek pilot, but was not seen in the broadcast series until this original pilot was incorporated into the two-part episode "The Menagerie" in the first season. Orions have also been portrayed in Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. Rachel Nichols played Orion Starfleet cadet Gaila in the 2009 Star Trek film [but she did not dance – The Raqasa]. The Orion Syndicate is a criminal organization operated by Orions [No! Really? Operated by Orions you say? How fascinating! Do go on – The Raqasa]. The culture initially was shown with Orion males dominating and enslaving Orion females, said to be some of the most sensuous female humanoids in the galaxy. The reality is that the Orion females control Orion culture, with Orion males co-operating with their "mistresses" to promote the illusion. [The women] appear to exert their control through sex, and it is a rare male of any species who can resist one. On scant evidence, the Orion females appear to do this through telepathic rather than biochemical means, as do Elasian women (see TOS episode Elaan of Troius).
“The reality is that the Orion females control Orion culture, with Orion males co-operating with the “mistresses” to promote the illusion.” ^Throws back head and laughs long and loud^. Oohh, yeah. It’s just like how the real world operates, isn’t it! Gah. Anyway, if you think that rather desperate piece of apologetic revisionism was truly, outrageously far out then you ain’t seen nothing by way of truly, outrageously far out yet. Strap yourselves in:

Here’s Susan Oliver as ‘Vina’, the original woman of Orion, in the 1965 episode ‘The Cage’. (Vina is the ‘illusion’ referred to in the Wikipedia quote above.) Poor Captain Pike looks like Bambi at a barbecue where they’ve just run out of meat:

Jump forward four years, and things haven’t changed much in women’s fashions on Orion. This is Yvonne Craig as ‘Marta’ in the 1969 episode ‘Whom Gods Destroy’. I believe the over-used, vaguely patronising word we’re looking for is ‘feisty’:

By the time this episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, ‘Bound’, went to air in 2005, the Orion women have shed even more clothes and their dancing is distinctly Salimpour-esque – in my humble opinion. The featured dancer here is Menina Fortunato as ‘Maras’:

On the off chance that all that green skin hasn’t made you feel a bit queasy, you might want to challenge your tolerance level with the megamix:

If your lunch is still settled, you cast-iron gutted traveller, you, and you're feeling inspired to do your own cheeky cheesecake version of an Orion slave girl routine feel free – but you should know that you’ve been beaten to it by, among others, Amira:

AND Oasis Bellydance (seen here at BabelCon 2009, going completely OTT by fusing Star Trek with Michael Jackson’s Thriller):

AND too many other cos-playing, Comic Con attending femmes vertes to mention:
Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. Live long and prosper.


  1. ...cannot...stop...laughing. U r awsum.

    I think I sort of love Amira though, if she is the same fangirl Amira who bellydances as Princess Leia in *that* outfit!

  2. Whoo - Yes, it is her! I should totally post some clips of that next time I'm getting my geek on. I like her sense of fun.

  3. My friend mentioned to me your blog, so I thought I’d read it for myself. Very interesting insights, will be back for more! נערות ליווי בתל אביב