(C. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, July 23, 2012)
Is Michele Ivey the biggest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan in the world? VH1 thought so. The now-33-year-old Ferndale resident was featured on VH1’s Fanatic in 2004 and is a regular face at anything have to do with the four pizza-gobbling, Shredder-fighting, green-skinned, half-shelled Ninjas. She’s been behind the scenes at shoots, been a hit at conventions, and even communicated with folks who have worked on the show. She is, devotedly, a fan.
And while her collection and videos may attract some haters, Ivey is past the point of caring what anybody else thinks, recognizing the power of fictional characters to inspire and bring people together.
One of the lessons TMNT taught her was the group dynamics of bullying. In a blog from earlier this year, Ivey wrote “Growing up was very hard for me, though my family life was great, school was a total nightmare with all the fights I had to go through. People would gang up and attack me, and when asked why, it was always “because my friend was doing it”. Most of the years I would not even attempt to hit back. I hated pain and it would go through my head, if I hate it why cause others to be in pain? So instead, I would drop down and let them beat me up. Most superheroes taught you that you needed superpowers or gadgets to be able to defend yourself. So the idea of fighting back for defense did not come to me till I became a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“For me, fighting back started when I read the novel of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. In there, we see Casey Jones who was originally without a weapon, get confronted by a large amount of the Foot. He gets into the fight with their lead warrior and wins the fight with the gang watching him. After he wins the fight, one of the boys yell “What are we standing here for? Let’s get him!” but before anyone could move, Casey points at the boy and says “Do you want to be next?” at that moment the fight was over.
“In this lesson, I learned if you take out the leader the fight is over. So I started to focus on the leaders and this worked. The fighting kept going, but I was hurt a lot less. Though what I really wanted was for the fights to end completely. For sixth grade, my mom switched me to another school and the fighting did end. This was the best school year of my life, where I had that awesome school birthday party. But seventh grade I merged back with the kids that use to beat me up. The fighting started back up and my mom decided enough was enough.”
In the video blog she goes on to talk about martial arts classes, inspired by the Turtles, that helped her become stronger and better equipped to handle the bullies both mentally and physically.
Personal stories like that are part of what makes Cowabunga Corner unique. It’s an honest and human look at how superheroes can inspire the under-dogs. Ivey takes care to include the experiences of other fans as well.
The web show is dedicated to her love of Turtle Power. There are product reviews, personal stories, clips of the show and movies and the behind-the-scenes perks of being the biggest Turtle fan. The web show is less than two years old, but has fans from around the world. As her fame as a fan grows, so does her access… and her collection. Ivey has thousands of NMNT items, including original costumes and artwork.
After being on Fanatic in 2004, Ivey faced ridicule much like when she was growing up and in school. She again refuge in the strength and teamwork of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo.
The negative reaction to the series led her to create her own series as a way to dispel the myths about her fandom. “I do not eat pizza every day,” she says in her introductory video to Cowabunga Corner.
Ivey is looking to make the show bigger and better, and has started a Kickstarter page to raise money for new equipment, and to help fund a trip across the country to interview people associated with the Turtles.
Donations as small as $1 can help her towards her $4,000 goal. Find out more at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1809096659/cowabunga-corner-season-5.