Yesterday, Bleeding Cool featured a story about the cosplayer and adult entertainer Alisa Norris, who attended the white nationalist Charlottesville rally last week with her husband, Jonathon Norris. There seemed to be a very strong disconnect between the characters she portrayed and her relationship with fans, friends, co-workers, and the rest, and this set of beliefs. And people had started to notice.
It also emerged that not only a long standing cosplayer, she was also George Perez's model for Supergirl when drawing an issue of the series back in 2012. Specifically #8, a few examples used to illustrate this article. Here she is reading the comic in question.
Norris did not want to talk about the issue when I first spoke to her at the time, but after publication, she agreed to talk to Bleeding Cool. But first she wanted to put a few things straight. She told me,
"First off, it was not a "march", it was a rally to protest the Monument removal by the racist vice mayor. I meant I was not at the torch march the night before. That video is after the permitted assembly was shut down and we had to walk back to our cars a few miles away."
That would be a reference to Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who recently resigned from the Virginia Board of Education after anti-white tweets of his from eight years ago were brought to light. I pointed out that people seemed to be brandishing white nationalist symbols, including Jonathon and chanting white nationalist slogans. And that Jonathon himself self-identifies as a white nationalist. I asked what degree she was part of that movement:
"I'm not. I was along for the ride. I didn't know it was anything more than a monument removal protest. I was not chanting, there were many many groups of all kinds."
I asked if she understood that being along for the ride for a white nationalist demonstration, which was what it clearly turned out to be, might be problematic for some, especially considering her association with Jonathon:
"Yeah, that's why I didn't mention it afterwards. I had no clue it was anything so big or so eventful."
I pointed out that at the time that video was taken, she was with a man chanting, "Jews will not replace us, you will not replace us." I asked what she would you say to people, her friends, fans, and colleagues for whom that explanation of being "along for the ride" would not enough and would not disassociate her from the marching and the rest of the marchers. She didn't have an answer for me at the time.
I also stated that even before Bleeding Cool ran anything, there was considerable social media coverage of her situation. That as it stands, she had taken down her Facebook, her Instagram is filling up with accusations of being a Nazi, and her adult entertainment site was taken down by the webmaster. I asked her what was going to happen with her and with Jonathon.
I asked how it made her feel when she saw people chanting anti-Jewish slogans, anti-gay slogans, displaying Nazi symbols, including your partner. Can anyone truly be "along for the ride" with that? Did you consider not doing it anymore or disassociating yourself with what was going on at the time?
I also noted that George Perez has stated she was his model for Supergirl (a famous illegal immigrant superhero character) and that they had had been longtime friends. I noted that she clearly had a diverse set of friends and colleagues, some of whom are clearly upset, and I asked: given that, how could she marry a white nationalist and quite literally stand by him while he made these statements and brandished these symbols, given her other relationships?
I was talking a lot, but Alisa wasn't answering. She told me:
"I'll speak in time. I don't have any more to say right now."
But today she had more to tell me — answering some questions, and ignoring others.
"They were saying 'you will not replace us' and I was not chanting at all. I was holding hands to not be separated and for safety during a terrifying ordeal. That was not a 'march' in that video and I didn't lie. I said I wasn't at the torch march the night before. I went to the rally Saturday to hear the scheduled speakers. When the rally was shut down and determined to be an 'unlawful assembly' before it was even scheduled to begin because of violence breaking out between the counter protestors we were thrown to, we had to walk back to the parking lot 2 miles away. That video was the walk back and not an official march. We were also chanting silly things like 'Harry Potter isn't real.'"
All other accounts specified that the crowd were shouting "Jews will not replace us," alternating with "you will not replace us," but neither went down well. Alisa had more to tell me:
"Of course there's a screen grab subtitled with whatever people decided I was saying. I don't have anything against Jews. I just don't like seeing American history torn down and I believe in tighter border control for European countries and for America. Come here sure, but do so legally."
She spoke about some of the consequences:
"And now I'm receiving death threats thanks to you and others who decided they know all about me and who I am. The thing I hate most of all out of this is how confused and hurt my non white and gay friends who have come to me are and having to explain to them what is going on. I don't care about all the random idiots and strangers hating on me but that has me down. I'll get through this just fine though and I have plenty of love and support from people who truly know me."
And she did have some regrets. Not the regrets some might wish her to have, but regrets nevertheless:
"I turned out to be wrong to be anywhere near this event, but you're also wrong for this. At the same time though I've had more outreach and love from all kinds of friends and fans than I have had in a long time. It's been nice to reconnect with so many people. Put this in one of your articles."
And I did. I expect I am supposed to note that the poster in question is a black man of her acquaintance. I repeated previous questions about how she reconciles her friendships with being married to a white nationalist and going to a white nationalist rally. I asked why she continued being along for the ride, if she didn't share such beliefs. I asked if she thought anyone could truly be "along for the ride" to such an event, especially accompanying someone brandishing those images and saying those kind of things. She had a pragmatic answer:
"I was already there, and 12 hours from home. I have friends of all backgrounds because I don't share the same exact political beliefs of Jonathon. He seems extreme but he has never broken the law or hurt anyone or advocated violence. His beliefs are his own to have."
I asked if there were people who are or were friends and colleagues of hers who no longer can be, because of Jonathon's beliefs, she told me:
"Yes, things are bad for me right now in that regard."
She told me she hadn't spoken to George Perez in years, but didn't want to cause him pain or strife, especially knowing his health issues. But I tried to bring it back to the matter in hand and why this situation may have blown up so much for her.
I mentioned that cosplay is often a very welcoming rather than exclusive past-time and, especially the superhero costumes, based on characters often created by American Jewish creators like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and many more. And to see someone dress up as Supergirl, be a model in the comics for Supergirl, and then attend a white nationalist rally sticks in the craw more than anything else. And that right at the beginning, Superman was fighting the KKK — and she attended a rally on the same side as the KKK. That's the disconnect I think that has caused so much outrage.
Alisa was clearly getting more annoyed and certain tropes seemed to start emerging. She told me:
"There were a couple of KKK members out of thousands. The lying press is labeling every person there a 'Nazi'."
I stated that the swastika flags didn't help. She told me:
"Most flags were American or confederate or white nationalist flags… Of course they only show the swastika… Nazi Germany is dead and doesn't even have anything to do with what happening today. It was stupid of those protestors to fly swastikas."
We may have been veering off the point. I didn't dispute what she was saying, but really didn't think it mattered, telling her I'd seen a heady mix. The white nationalist logos were far more prevalent, and the slogans as well, but this was still a problem. She told me:
"I don't stand by anti Semitism."
Which was nice to hear, but with all the white nationalist symbols and chants, her husband seemed to stand by anti-Semitism — and she was standing by him. People may find it hard to differentiate. And then we got to the hub of the matter. She told me:
"'Blood and soil' and 'you will not replace us' are about white countries having their populations replaced with mass immigration. It's wrong what is happening to France, Germany, England, etc. They deserve to exist in their own countries and not be over run and taken over."
Which, essentially, is pretty much white nationalist through-and-through.
I said that I was English and had never seen it that way — that I was part of a nation that has always had a history of immigration and invasion. The Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Normans, the Vikings, etc. And then I asked, when was the USA ever a white country?
That seemed to be it. I found myself Facebook-blocked in mid question. I still had more to ask. Specifically, if she saw a contradiction between that belief and the characters she cosplays as — Supergirl being a classic example of, in essence, an illegal immigrant in America.
Instead, I got Facebook telling me that Alisa wasn't receiving any more messages from me. To be honest, I'm not sure she ever was.