My Favorite Monkees Memories With Gina Ventola
Do you have a special Monkees memory or two (thousand!) that you want to share? I want to hear from you. Email me at Macwriter1@aol.com for future consideration on Monkees.net. Please be as detailed as possible in explaining your favorite Monkees memories. If your story is accepted, you must be able to provide photos from your collection and/or another with you and the guys.
Let me know!
By M.A. Cassata
“You want a Monkeemaniac? Here I am!” exclaims Gina Ventola.” I’ve been a fan, no, a fanatic, since 1986. I was obsessed for six crazy years.”
Gina is such a super fan that she has watched the TV show episodes so many times that she has memorized the lines! She maintains several scrapbooks and even writes Monkee fanfic. Of course what we like best about Gina’s Favorite Monkees Memories” is that she logs onto Monkees.net faithfully everyday to get her Monkees news fix.
“This 50th anniversary is seeing me more into The Monkees for a third round of fandom,” she says. “I’ve listened to the Good Times! CD over and over again. A lot of times I won’t take the CD out of the player and put it away, because I’ll just listen to it again soon! Yes, my fandom is very complex!”
Now, that’s dedication! Read on for more and if you are interested in reading or creating your own Monkees fiction, check out www.fanfiction.com.
Why are you so obsessed with The Monkees?
Although I love the music, the TV show is the reason I’m a fan. In high school, back in the late 1980’s, I suffered from severe depression. The Monkees’ TV show, with its positive characters that found humor in every dire situation encouraged me to go on. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good friendship story, and the TV characters are the best friends ever!
Tell us about your Monkees scrapbooks.
I filled six photo albums with pictures of The Monkees during my original run of fandom. I didn’t have the Internet back then, so I cut the pictures out of magazines and books. I called the results “The Monkees Family Albums”, because to me, the TV characters were family.
Do you promote the Monkees online through your Social Media or a personal website?
I’m looking into getting a personal website, but don’t have one yet. I just joined some Monkees groups on Facebook and like making meaningful comments to some posts. Not troll comments, and mostly not comments of the “Me, too!” variety, but a post with some meat to it.
What kind of friendships have you made with other Monkees fans?
I was already friends with my pen pal, Nike, when the Monkees made their big comeback in 1986. Nike got into them first and introduced me to the phenomenon. She’s not into the Monkees anymore, but I am! I also became pen pals with two different girls who were selling Monkee memorabilia that I bought. Though their interest, too, has faded, I’m still in contact with them.
Tell us about your Monkees Fanfic. That’s very interesting. What have you written and where was it published?
In the early days, I wrote adaptations of the episodes, like how author James Blish adapted the “Star Trek” episodes. Then I gave the characters new names and started developing them into somewhere between the Monkees’ TV characters and my own original characters.
What did you like best about the TV show?
I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw some of the episodes over a hundred times. I practically memorized them by rote! I remember just starting to let my homemade VHS tapes run and watch a scene here or there without watching the whole episodes. I also remember my first steady job was doing data entry at home, and I’d put the tapes in and listen to them while I typed. I’d watched them so many times I didn’t need to see what was going on! I liked, no loved, the characters’ positive attitudes and their friendship.
What new Monkees memories are being made with Good Times and the 50th Anniversary tour?
Well, unfortunately, the tour is not coming anywhere near Orlando, but I have the “Good Times!” CD and have listened to it many, many times. The 50th anniversary is a deliriously fun time in Monkees’ history. It’s like a celebration of both the real life Monkees and the characters they played on the TV show. It’s a party and everybody is invited!
Do you have a favorite Monkee and why?
I tried during my original fandom not to have a favorite, to love the Monkees equally. I relate the most to Micky, and I think Peter was the most gorgeous one. Even if Tork isn’t like that in real life, I also love the innocence and naivety of the Peter character. He’s not just “the dummy”!
How many times have you seen The Monkees in concert?
I have seen The Monkees twice in concert, and seen both Dolenz and Jones solo a handful of times, mostly at Epcot during the “Flower Power” series of concerts. My first Monkees concert was in 1986 or 1987 when Weird Al was their opening act. Both the Monkees and Weird Al put on great, multimedia shows. When I went to see The Monkees in 2001, I was disappointed because they had no screens showing clips from the TV series.
What are some of your favorite Monkees concert moments and why?
At a 1997 Epcot concert featuring Davy Jones, I was intent on meeting him and getting his blessing on my fanfic. I began to despair, and instead of taking a seat on the benches, plopped myself down on the ground and sulked. Little did I know I had seated myself on the spot where fans would gather in line to meet him between shows! I was (accidentally) first in line! I stuttered out something quick to Jones about how I was writing stories about a rock’n’roll quartet and could I have his blessing on it? He replied, “Sure! Have fun with it!” I went from despair to ecstasy so quickly!
Aside from your Monkees scrapbooks, what are some of your other favorite memorabilia?
I’m proud of my complete collection of Dell Monkees comic books. I used to ride all around town, searching every pop culture, comic, or music collectibles shops, hoping to find issues I didn’t have. I lucked out and nearly completed my collection at one convention; the dealer had many of the issues I was looking for! I was so pleased when the video for “She Makes Me Laugh” came out; I recognized so many scenes. I enjoyed reading the comic books. They weren’t very deep and only Davy had an individual personality, but they were new adventures for someone who’d watched the TV episodes a hundred times too many.
I heard you also collect Monkees show television scripts.
Yes, I have a collection of episode scripts—and the script for Head. The cast did so much adlibbing while filming that the scripts are almost like a whole new adventure for The Monkees’ characters! I highly recommend buying the scripts, though not all of them seem to be available.
What are a few of your favorite Monkees songs and why?
“The Porpoise Song” is so hauntingly beautiful. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the effect on me that it used to because I’ve listened to it too many times. I love “It’s Not Too Late” from the Justus album because it reminds me of a lad and lassie from another favorite TV show that I wanted to be together, but they wrote the female character off the series before they had a chance to “get together”. So when I listen to “It’s Not Too Late”, it gives me the power to imagine them living happily ever after.
Do you remember the first time you heard The Monkees on the radio or saw them on television? What did you think?
I remember vaguely riding to the airport to pick up Nike, who was to stay with us on vacation, and they played The Monkees’ version of “Daydream Believer”. I was familiar with Anne Murray’s version and I thought it interesting. (That was before the big fandom revival of 1986.) I look back on that and think that little did I know in a year or two I would be stone cold obsessed with them!
What other TV shows did you watch growing up?
Oh, I have so many other TV shows to love, but there are too many to name, and a lot of them were discovered when I was an adult. The Monkees is my all-time favorite, though.
What other music groups or artists did you listen to besides The Monkees?
I love Duran Duran, but for their music, not for their looks. I even have a hard time naming all the members of Duran Duran! Some songs from their heyday move me more than Monkees’ songs, but The Monkees have more variety in sound.
What do you think of Monkees.net and why?
I like Monkees.net—I surf to it every day to see it there’s any updates on concerts, events, or interviews.
We like to hear that! What other Monkees sites do you frequent?
Monkees.com, but they don’t update as often. Recently, I’ve been perusing Monkees’ stories on fanfiction.net. They’re about the TV characters, but some fans have really different interpretations of the characters than I do!
Anything more you would like to say about your fandom?
My fandom hasn’t been all “apples, peaches, bananas, and pears”. For many years, I was troubled by the differences between the TV characters and the real life Monkees. I see the TV Monkees as being innocent and inseparable. The real life Monkees have seen their share of naughtiness, and sometimes have gone for years without seeing each other, although the fact that they keep reuniting ism praiseworthy. In recent years, I’ve learned to love, appreciate, and accept the real Monkees for who they are, though I still see the TV Monkees as separate from them. The real life Dolenz might compare it to seeing Leonard Nimoy as a separate entity from Spock!