Arguably one of the most popular first-person shooters is Overwatch; the more concisely dubbed “hero shooter” was released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows, in October 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, and just this month the massively overhauled “sequel” Overwatch 2 was released for free on all major platforms.
The game divides players into two teams of six, with each player choosing from a large roster of characters with unique abilities. These teams work together to complete map-specific objectives in a short amount of time. But one of the things that makes the game unique and has attributed to its popularity is the astounding cast of voice actors that give life to the large cast of characters.
Of these characters, one of the most iconic is that of Pharah, a highly decorated soldier who soars through the air in a Raptora combat suit armed with a launcher that fires high-explosive rockets. Actress Jen Cohn has been the voice of Pharah since the game’s release in 2016 and, along with her co-stars, has been a darling of the Con scene ever since. Jen was gracious enough to join me in a conversation about her career, her love of the gaming community, and her upcoming new projects.
Entertainment Writer G.A. Lungaro: Jen Cohn seems to be the title. Do they actually call you Jen or is it just Jen Cohn?
Jen Cohn: Isn’t that hilarious? You know what, I’m very lucky to have this like short staccato two syllables, like bah-bam name. So people, when they address me, tend to call me Jen, but I think that the “Jen Cohn-ness” works, so I’m down with it. Jen Cohn is good; that works. It’s very funny.
G.A. Lungaro: Works good, right? I’m, GA, Giuseppe, whatever’s easier for you. I like all my names, so it doesn’t matter to me.
Jen Cohn: Giuseppe is a fabulous name. That’s a very lucky name. Yeah, I mean, Jen Cohn is basically the John Smith of Jewish girls, so it’s like, seriously, like we’re all named Jen Cohn. I went to a Jewish sleepaway camp. Every third kid was Jen Cohn, and we all got our sleepaway camp packages crossed and the mail, and, but most of those Cohns are Cohens, C-O-H-E-N, so the only differentiating factor was the no E.
G.A. Lungaro: So you’re East Coast?
Jen Cohn: I live in New York; I came in from LA this week. But I’m New York City most of the time.
GA Lungaro: So I read that New York was a kind of breeding ground for voice actors. How did the community help you in your career and influence your work as a voice actor?
Jen Cohn: Oh God. Well, so a very smart voice actor by the name of Mike Landry, years and years ago, I mean, God, almost how many years ago? Almost 20 years ago, he explained it to me as that there’s a much greater pool of voice actors in Los Angeles than there are in New York, but the tight community of New York voice actors are all better. So, this smaller community where everyone is amazing, whereas in LA, it’s a much bigger community where there’s like more variety of who’s great right and who’s not. That was his read on having done both. And now I, as someone who’s bi-coastal, I can’t really say because the way that it used to work was we were all in rooms together.
When I started out in voiceover, you would go from appointment to appointment to appointment at casting houses all day. And so you’d spend your whole day running around and so you knew everybody, like you knew everybody who you could potentially be up against and you could be reading within your age range, who the other people who did character voices.
There tends to be more commercial work in New York and more animation and gaming in Los. Now it’s much more mixed because everything is done online and everything is done virtually. So it’s possible. But back then it was like if you did ads, you mostly If you did ads, you were in New York. If you did animation, you were in LA and that was where you saw it.
And everyone knew everyone. And the best thing about the voiceover community, in general, is it’s really all for one and one for. Because once you get into the room and voiceover, it’s any man’s game. Like the hardest thing is getting into the room is getting represented, having great agents, and having casting directors know you getting called in.
Once you’ve made that hurdle, literally anybody could get it because everyone is really good and it’s good enough, and it’s just a matter of perspective. So you were able to genuinely. These lovely relationships with everyone and you all could root each other on, and everybody was friends. And you could go out to lunch with people after your sessions and after auditions.
And when you have a baby, you bring your kid to the audition, you leave your kid, and someone else is laughing, come back out. Like your kid knows all the other voice actors. Yeah. And. It’s a magical thing, and it’s very different than TV or film or theater auditions where you can walk in, and you can feel the tension, and everybody’s eyeing everyone else, and everybody’s nervous.
And there’s this real discomfort from the people who are uncomfortable. There’s none of that in voiceover. I mean, it’s genuine happiness to see everyone, and doing voiceover, you have to take very specific direction and be both a technician and easily directed, which means you should be very smart.
You have to be smart and technical-minded, and voiceover actors tend to have a lot of stuff going on and tend to be very smart. So it’s a very cool community; I feel I have a lot to thank the video community for.
GA Lungaro: The amount of, and I know this comes with any kind of creative job, the amount of rejection you have to go through to break in, it’s hard to get that first break. So as far as you, when you first started out, what was your first gig as a voice actor and how was that?
Jen Cohn: I love this question. I have to tell you, I auditioned for years before I got my first big animation gig, and I got rejected for years before anything happened. My first voiceover job, which was when I sort of got bitten, was when I was in college. I went to college in Boston, and I was working on this show outside of school. I was a theater major, and I did an ad for BayBank. I think I was 19 or 20, and I did a BayBank ad and I loved getting to do it.
It was really fun. I’m a good listener, so I liked getting directed. When I moved to New York City and doing these terrible, off, off-Broadway in the gutter, horrible place, I kept on having producers come up to me and say, your voice is great. I got pulled into the studio, and I remember hearing, as I was walking in, through the sound system, I could hear a very familiar commercial voice. This man’s voice (mimic’s voice), like one of those kinds of voices. And I was like, oh my God. I was imagining this brylcreemed besuited man would be in the booth when I came in. And in fact, he was sweaty and wearing a tank top, and it was stained.
I was going, oh my God, like voices don’t sound anything like what they look like. It was this eureka moment to me, even though I’d been doing character voices for years and I knew to change it, but the reality that I could look like anything and sound like something very different was incredibly creatively freeing. That led to my first real job that I got paid decently for. I did Rooms To Go, this furniture company in Florida. I did their ads and I was like, whoa, this is great.
I did a bunch of, before I joined the union and was well known, small commercial ads. And then I did all of these ads, you know, like when you’re watching late-night cable, and there would be commercials for albums coming out. I’d be like, you know, ‘the new album by Lenny Kravitz,’ blah, blah. I would do those things. They were great, and I just loved the idea that I could wear anything. I could look like anything. It was really fun. I had to think about timing. I learned quickly that I was good at shaving a second or you know, or stretching, you know, a half a second or doing those things.
And what I love also, particularly about doing commercials, is it’s the canary and the coal mine for culture. You can see how culture moves. I found that very inspiring because ads are always being produced by young producers; you sort of understand where the culture is going before it officially is declared that way.
GA Lungaro: That kinda gives you that flashback to Mad Men and the ad agencies of the sixties on how Draper seemed to have the pulse, and the older guys in the firm just couldn’t get it or understand what they were looking for.
Jen Cohn: Right. And they’re always trying to bring in new blood to have somebody to tell it. In my career, I had the moment where we would do these very vocally demonstrative ads. Suddenly the direction kept on being, no matter what you were reading for, make it flatter, make it flatter, make it less emotion, make it flatter, and that was the transition. When people were going from talking on the phone to texting, and so it was like young people; if they heard a voice with too much inflection, it sounded fake.
It sounded weird because they were used to typing; they were used to reading it. It was things like that are really interesting. Those trends keep popping up. You see it in animation as well, and in gaming, I mean gaming so much so, but I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it from all of these different perspectives.
GA Lungaro: Personally, I was really excited when I found out I was able to talk to you because I’m a gamer, not a hardcore, huge gamer, but my gaming started, obviously I’m older I’m not the younger journalist you usually might run into, with the Nintendos and stuff like that. I would play World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI and stuff like that.
Then I took a break for a little while, but Overwatch was one of my first big counsel, PlayStation, games that I really started playing, and Pharah was my first character because the thought of this armored-clad woman flying in the air, shooting missiles down, I’m like, this is a cool character. I think it’s fair to say that most people know you for voicing this iconic character. How did you get into doing voice acting for gaming specifically and then eventually doing Pharah?
Jen Cohn: Amazing. Um, I had, so I’d been doing a bunch of animation and those kinds of things for years. My first big animation gig was for Avatar the Last Airbender, where I was Ursa, Zuko, and Missoula’s mom, in that, that was my first big gig and I had no idea what it was, but I’d done a bunch of gaming.
Over the years, I’ve done a bunch of, handful of GTAs, and I had done a few gigs for Warcraft, so the people at Blizzard, Andrea Toyias, knew me. At that point, I’d done a bunch of other animation jobs. I’ve been the utility player on a handful of shows and both posts, and so I was told that I was requested to audition for a new project for Blizzard.
At the time, it had a code name, it was called Prometheus, and Pharah had a code name as well. When you do this as your job, as your main job, you get a bunch of auditions every day, so I’ve always had a trick that I do with myself that I immediately forget what I’ve auditioned for. If you ask me what I auditioned for yesterday, I will have absolutely no idea because this way, I never attach, and I don’t think about it. I have as much fun as I can doing my audition, get as into it as I can, and then I just completely wipe it from my mind, and then if I book something great, and if not, then I didn’t remember doing it anyway.
Anyway. I knew I got requested, I got these sides. I remember thinking it was a villain. I thought that this was some villain character from the description, and so I send in this villain audition, I send it in, and I completely forget about it. Maybe six months later, five months later, like that long, I get an email from my agents that I have booked a game called Overwatch, a character called Pharah, and I have a session on my birthday.
And I’m like, well, that’s awesome and great, but I never auditioned. I looked back through my files. I never auditioned for anything called Overwatch. I never auditioned for anything called Pharah. They must have gotten the wrong Jen Cohn! We’re back to that.
GA Lungaro: You’re like, which Jersey girl did they get? It wasn’t me.
Jen Cohn: Right! I assume that there’s some Jen Cohn in LA that I don’t know about and that they’ve mixed us up, and my agent assures me it’s me. And I’m like, dude, but I didn’t. I said, okay, you know what, whatever, I’ll show up. It’s on my birthday. I’ll show up. I go to the studio, and I have everybody from Blizzard in my headphones, and I go, guys, look, I’m so sorry, but this is totally a mistake because I didn’t audition for this, so you got the wrong one, and they’re like, no, no, no, it’s you.
I’m like, no, but I really, I looked, I didn’t audition for this, and they play the villain audition for me. That’s when I went, oh wait, I remember this. This was fun, cause I really liked it. They’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s this. I said, oh, that’s awesome, but they say, but look, she’s not a villain. Think of her as being like Captain America, and I was like, all right, okay.
That was the first session where they showed me an animatic of what she looked like, and we found the voice, and we did the justice line, and after the session, my agent wrote me and said, I think this is gonna be a big deal. I’d done other projects that were “big, big deals” before, and I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.
Write me a letter. I didn’t think anything of it, and it was maybe; I’m trying to think how much later, it was almost a year later when I realized how big a deal it was. That was when crazy things started happening where people, like, where whenever I was on a movie set, it was always like the sound department, it was always the grips or whatever they would like come out and like suddenly be all weird around me.
I’m like, why are they being weird around me? And they’re like, “we were playing beta on Overwatch and we just saw the ID that you’re Pharah!” And I’m like, wait, oh my God, this is a big deal. And then I went to a family Thanksgiving where one of the mothers there, they had like 12-year-olds.
There was a group of 12-year-olds in the basement, all playing games. And she’s like, Jen, you are in voiceover, right? You? And I said I was Pharah on an Overwatch. She told the kids, and they literally turned white as sheets and turned around and went back downstairs. And then they came back, and they’re like, “no, no you’re not!” No. I’m like, I swear I am. They go back downstairs. Then they come back and, like…
GA Lungaro: Do it, do it, do it.
Jen Cohn: Yeah, so then I had to do a bunch of lines suddenly I’m like, oh man, this is a big deal. I did not realize this, and that was when I realized that none of my social media pointed back to who I was. I also am a trend scout and a fashion consultant and have done that for years. All my social media was under that business name it wasn’t under Jen Cohn and, identifiably, my voice actor self.
No one could find me. Then I started getting these weird letters through my agent of like people trying to find me. So I opened a Twitter account, and within about an hour, I had 5,000 followers, and all these voice actors from Overwatch are saying, “we found her, we found her!” I had no idea that this was all happening. Like in, in the world without me knowing about it. Yeah. It was just really wild.
GA Lungaro: Overwatch really transcended. I mean, all voice acting is great and crucial and important and valid work, but all of you guys, your voices maybe because it’s just interspersed throughout the game and you’re hearing it constantly while you’re playing that there’s just like such a demand to see you guys and hear from you guys compared to other games.
Jen Cohn: It, I’m so grateful that it happened this way. I can’t even tell you. I think it has to do with the diversity. I think it has to do with the fact that the hero that you tend to spend the most hours in is someone who you choose because they were a reflection of a part of yourself that you’re investigating and you’re, you’re trying to, you know, be one with, and so you are relating to that character.
It’s sort of you being your best self for all of those hours. It’s you and your team. And so that voice is you in your head, and I think that that’s why people attach to it. You know which hero is, feels like you. Who feels most like you. I think that’s psychologically why, and it helps that by some freak, lucky, wonderful accident, everybody who is cast is awesome! It’s such a great cast. Like, I love these people. We are all genuinely great friends.
GA Lungaro: And it’s really recognizable too. Soldier, obviously, it’s Clint Eastwood. We know where Soldier’s voice comes from. I mean, though they’re obviously unique, yet also previously iconic voices brought into it, but made new in this, in this video game.
I am also a Star Wars nerd. My Youtube channel is Star Wars, obviously, I like Star Wars, so I do know you also did voice acting for Star Wars, and it was as Darth Zash in Star Wars the Old Republic game.
Jen Cohn: That was so fun. I can’t even tell you. That was like Shakespearean working on that. Yeah, I had the best freaking time doing that.
GA Lungaro: I don’t know if you can see it, but I have my own 3D-printed Darth Revan mask that I made myself as well too.
Jen Cohn: I love it!
GA Lungaro: I love that stuff. So that was earlier on with the Old Republic. Was, was that experience any different than how it was with Overwatch? You, you just mentioned Shakespearean, when, when you did that.
Jen Cohn: Yeah. It was definitely different because I didn’t know anyone else working on it; there wasn’t this sense of a cast in that like we were not a cohesive cast. We were each individuals working on it. That said, the acting in that game was so satisfying and so much fun.
I would look forward to those sessions so tremendously because getting into that character and getting into that character’s psychology was such a party. I would have a blast doing that. The way, I mean, with any character that I play, it’s all about, you know, where I am physically and how they carry themselves.
But I remember doing the scene in the Old Republic where Zash has the apprentice and wants the apprentice to be blended with the Dashade. And I remember just having chills the whole time acting. That scene just, just, it was so delicious. That character was so delicious. Getting into the meat of that character, it was just so much fun. I loved it, and I loved my voice directors. I was blown away by how that writing team wrote that storyline and how they would blend it all. I couldn’t get over how the storylines would play out depending on what move you made. It was just, it was amazing.
GA Lungaro: That’s the thing with Star Wars too, especially the Old Republic; that’s why so many people are screaming for Disney to do an Old Republic story and bring it to life because it is, even more than the other movies, like you said, Shakespearean is the good word for it.
Jen Cohn: It was!
GA Lungaro: Because that’s the feel you were supposed to get from it, you know? It was this grand old time in the Galaxy. It was, you know, truly amazing. I’d love to see it. And we see in like the newer Fallen Order games where you see the Inquisitor, and it’s something about those female dark side users or female Sith it’s power on another level, with their voices.
Jen Cohn: Yes! And it was so funny. The way that they wrote her was so funny. She was skewing things, I had such a good time. That was really my first experience of understanding what video game character development could be like, I hadn’t understood, you know, because I, too, am old school with games, and I didn’t know that there was this room for that kind of character development and that kind of performance and that kind of identification with a character in a game. I felt very cutting-edge when I was doing it. I’d never had an experience like that before.
GA Lungaro: You mentioned it, you know, it was a different experience because those were individuals, and with Overwatch, it was a cast. Seeing the cast of Overwatch at the cons and social media, it seems a big sense of friendship between all of you. Are you guys all as close as it appears on the surface?
Jen Cohn: I mean, so Widowmaker just came and stayed over for a few days at my apartment. Lucio is coming in two weeks to come stay over. Mercy and I are best besties. I have a constant text going with Symmetra and Sombra. Yes, so the answer is a resounding, tremendous yes. We all genuinely love each other like we’re. We’re really all in each other’s laps; we all are constantly checking in with each other.
It’s true blue, and it’s such a great group. I just adore this group. I feel so lucky. It was an unexpected thing, you know, you sort of find yourself thrust into this cast, and then they end up becoming like this friend group, and you have these adventures together outside of the rest of the world. We all go in packs to the cons. I have one group that we all have an adventure together in the Philippines, and then another group where we all had the adventure in, I don’t know, Detroit. It’s just been very special and really fun and a fabulous time.
GA Lungaro: I did notice with you especially, there was a lot of social media. Actually, you brought it up with Lucie Pohl, who’s Mercy.
Jen Cohn: Oh my girl, I love her.
GA Lungaro: Yeah, and your interactions with her are absolutely adorable. So is there a little woman’s club there too? In the middle of all? Is there a little woman’s club in the middle of the Overwatch family as well?
Jen Cohn: Chicks Club in the middle of it? You know, I guess I don’t think it’s official. I think it’s an unofficial club because we’ve got lots of other people who are in it. My husband and I just had dinner with Hanzo and his husband, and then, you know, we were constantly talking to Zenyatta and his wife; we have all of the different members of the crew. We are not a girls-only club, but we got everybody. We got the whole gang.
GA Lungaro: To piggyback off of that, we’ve been talking a lot about gaming and stuff, and from everything I’ve seen, you have like an amazing connection with the gaming community, a community that over the years and varying degrees has kind of gotten a little bit of a bad reputation for its interaction with women in the community. How’s your experience been, and what’s made that connection so wonderful compared to, you know, perhaps some other people that had a lot of negative experiences when it comes to the gaming community?
Jen Cohn: My experience has been so the opposite of that; it has been so not remotely bad with the gaming community, I have found. I think maybe part of it is because I’m frequently the adult in the room, maybe that’s part of it. I have found the gaming community to be totally welcoming and totally available and open. I found people are very vulnerable. I think there are a lot of situations where the gaming community doesn’t have a trusted adult to talk to. I think that that’s probably what leads to a lot of the unpleasant interactions.
GA Lungaro: The mommy in the room.
Jen Cohn: Right. Well, maybe not even necessarily a mommy in the room because I don’t think that I’m; although I get called bird mom often, I don’t think that it’s about being policed by a mom. I do think, though, that just to have someone trusted who’s an ally, who, like, I’m so palpably rooting for everyone, and I so want everyone’s success, and I’m so on my fan’s side, I think that they can sense that in their interactions with me.
I find people are very vulnerable and very available, and my experience of gamers is that they’re incredibly creative. They’re incredibly open to different lifestyles, to different ideas of creativity, to different styles in general. I’m constantly being inspired and introduced to new things by my gaming audience and by my gaming community. I am incredibly grateful to have gotten thrust into this, this universe, and I’ve really fed and groomed this relationship because I love it.
GA Lungaro: We know those negative things are there, but we, you don’t wanna necessarily have that highlighted because there is a lot of positivity and a lot of good things in, in the gaming community as well. And while you don’t want to ignore the bad things that happen, they need to be addressed at the same time. You don’t want them to take over.
Jen Cohn: It just hasn’t been my experience. Like I know, I know because of what I’ve heard, and I know because of what I’ve read, but in terms of my personal experience and I’ve found it to be amazing. And even when I’ve had, there have been, you know, a thing that I might say or, and there’s been a disagreement, I found that that can be very reasonably discussed and resolved. I found the community to be incredibly open and very interesting and interested. I’m taken aback with how creative and open and exciting a community it is. So that’s been my experience.
GA Lungaro: And that’s, and that’s how it should be. That’s how it should be for everybody, and that’s a great thing. That, at least in your neck of the woods, you’ve helped foster that kind of amazing community.
Now I felt I had a pretty good knowledge about you in your career, but I didn’t know you have a Twitch. I had no idea about it until I started researching for this article. So it kinda incorporates your connection with the gaming community, and you mentioned earlier your love of fashion. How did that come about?
Jen Cohn: It’s such a crazy thing. For many years I was this voice actor who also had this fashion consultancy, and I’d go to Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, and I would find new brands and connect them with showrooms and stores. I would consult and connect; this was my other thing. And both were these two very different and separate passionate pursuits of mine. I loved them both, and in each field, the other thing made me extra interesting; my fashion clients were fascinated by my voiceover work. My voiceover clients were fascinated by my fashion work.
It just sort of all worked, and I always was able to go to the fashion weeks with microphones and gear to be able to do the jobs. I. My studios that I’d worked with in each city. It just always worked. And then when Overwatch took off, and I started doing conventions, it really bit into my time because I’m also a wife and a mother, and I do lots of other things. And to be able to do the cons and do the fashion stuff became really overwhelming.
I had to slow it down and like sort of downstep my fashion stuff, which was disappointing. However, I found at these conventions, when I’m having these conversations with these fans, they’re all asking me what am I wearing and how did I find that?
Because I have a very individual sense of style, I have great style, if I may say so. It’s very individual, and it’s very much mine, and I kept on getting asked and not just by, you know, cisgender women, it was across the board all ages. How did I know where to find this? How did I know to put things together? I had this eureka moment of, oh my God, there’s this enormous community with no direction. And they’re so specific, and they’re open to everything, and the fashion world doesn’t know how to talk to this audience. But I do. And I know how to talk fashion, and I know how to talk gamer.
I didn’t know how to put that together but then a fan who then became my producer who goes by the name of ProNessNess. Ness had invited me to be a guest. I’d been a guest on a few Twitch streams, but I was a guest on their Twitch stream, and they just started asking me about music I liked, and they put on the Rocky Horror Songbook, and I started singing the entire Rocky Horror songbook on their Twitch stream.
And that was the moment I realized that I could do anything on Twitch, that there was an opportunity to do anything on this platform. That’s when I said, oh my God, I can bring these designers and this style content too. And so right before the end of 2019, the beginning of 2020, I launched my Twitch stream where I started covering New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, bringing gamers to specific designers and then connecting them.
I was cherry-picking designers that I thought would speak to this audience and they could be connected and purchased directly from these designers from all over the world. Pandemic hits, not everyone wants to necessarily be shopping, but people still are caring about connecting and expressing themselves, and this then sort of broadens the breadth of the Twitch stream to not only doing style streams but doing styling streams, how do you shop for yourself? How do you pick your stuff? Then how then can we go do virtual visits to different people’s studios? People were asking me all these questions.
As I said, people have been very vulnerable with me, and so I started doing these bird mom streams which were these real talk, which are these real talk advice streams where we would really get into it about things going on in people’s lives and talking to them about how to handle and cope with all the things happening. So basically, the Twitch channel became a place where we could talk about style, about self-expression.
We could connect with other gaming personalities. I would bring other gamers on. We’d do closet games where I’ll go into somebody’s closet and make them go through and explain what their favorite things are. We did all of these really fun streams all about style and self-expression, and anyone else who seemed to be someone who was creatively doing things that touched on the gaming world got incorporated into it.
GA Lungaro: Yeah, sounds like A&E meets G4.
Jen Cohn: It was like, oh my God, here we go! This is how I incorporate all the things that I do.
GA Lungaro: Aside from that, I did I just heard about this. So I guess you have some other little new thing coming out, a Hulu series.
Jen Cohn: I have a few things. I have a few things coming up!
GA Lungaro: A few things, but the big one I noticed was the Hulu series, Welcome to Chippendales, right? With Kumail Nanjiani.
Jen Cohn: Yes! I get to play his lawyer,
GA Lungaro: She’s like, I’m a Jew from, I’m a Jew from New York, and I have to play a lawyer. Right?
Jen Cohn: Yes, of course. I have to be his lawyer. Perfect, because of course I’m his agent or his lawyer, of course. Yeah, it comes out on Hulu and on Disney Plus next week, on November 22nd. So excited about it. This series is freaking fantastic. It manages to be really entertaining and fun and funny and political and timely and hits on a bunch of interesting social issues that are very important right now at this moment. Kumail’s performance is sensational as is. I mean, all his performances are fabulous. The show is just freaking great. We’re so excited. We just had the premiere in LA two nights ago, and it was so exciting, and everybody really loved it. So yeah, we’re like, we’re all very excited.
GA Lungaro: Chippendales has been around for a long time, right? We’re not talking about something that just, you know, popped up, you know, we’re talking a while ago, late seventies, right?
Jen Cohn: Yeah. It was founded in late seventies by an Indian immigrant.
GA Lungaro: Yes, Somen “Steve” Banerjee. Which, when you think about the time period that it came out, it does seem to be fitting that, you know, showing it now because a lot of people don’t realize that there were people of color and people of different areas tackling things in a time period that you don’t think it would happen in because you have a person of color of Indian descent leading sex work, and not only sex work, but male sex work.
Jen Cohn: Which was a totally revolutionary idea, right? Nothing like that existed. He had this idea and he hit it. His hero was Hugh Hefner and he had this idea of making this very classy, amazing empire and then once this came together and he created it, it sort of got away from him as it got bigger.
GA Lungaro: As goes a lot of things in the seventies seems to happen quite a bit. , it got real big and gets away from them. I did notice I was looking through IMDB when I was researching for this show that Lucie (Pohl) is there with you too. It seems like Lucy has
Jen Cohn: Lucie has a cameo in it, Jeannie Bolet, Echo, has a little cameo in it. Zenyatta, Feodor Chin has a cameo in it. Oh yeah, it’s been all great. I love, I love that. Oh, I forgot. I didn’t even say! Jonny Cruz, who is Lucio, he’s one of the dancers in it. This is why he got so extra shredded. He’s like super extra shredded now because of his getting ready for Chippendales. That was the greatest, seeing him on set in his thong; he’s amazing.
GA Lungaro: Fabulous. Are we now, are we gonna need a Lucio skin now? Is that, is that, that what’s gonna happen?
Jen Cohn: Oh, he totally needs a thong skin. That’s next, yeah.
GA Lungaro: Oh my God, I’m going to watch this, this; it looks like it’s definitely really fun. The last thing I’ll talk about just for funsies since we just talked about Chippendales and sex work and Lucio in a thong…
Jen Cohn: I love this.
GA Lungaro: Everything in our world gets sexualized. We know it’s just, it’s a natural thing. It ends up happening all the time. But Overwatch has a very significant sexualized, porn kind of community.
Jen Cohn: I wasn’t gonna say, but that was one of the moments when I realized that it was a big deal. When I saw the porn, I was like, oh my God, look at this.
GA Lungaro: Yes! Do you have people bringing it up or asking you about it at Cons when it comes to this kind of ancillary stuff?
Jen Cohn: “All the way Pharmercy!” I love it. I love the Pharmercy community. You know, my, my queer fam, that makes me so happy. I love it. I’m all in favor. I love all the shipping, I love all the subtext. That was one of the first time I had somebody try to like this; this group of people was offering me some tremendous amount of money to record some whole Pharmercy script for them. Like, guys, I cannot do that. That’s like totally not like, no, I will not be recording off-license Pharmercy texts, sorry.
GA Lungaro: No, lawsuits in the making there.
Jen Cohn: Yeah. No, no, no. Sorry, not happening. But, uh, but I, I love the lore. I love the backstories. I love that that’s built into it. I’m super into it.
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