We managed to snag an interview with “Uncle George” – George Takei from Star Trek Fame. He’s releasing a new political app, and sat down to talk with us.
The app, which released this morning, is called House of Cats, a new political app sure to rile up the White House. The app combines what the internet loves best: cats and politics. Using cool new Pokemón GO-style augmented reality features, users can take the inaugural character “Trumpy Cat” out of the White House and put him anywhere they want, add outrageous dialogue—of their own or taken straight from the Tweeter-in-Chief—and share with friends. “This is, without a doubt, one of the most absurd and tragic moments in U.S. history. We should feel upset about some of the things that are happening, but we created this app so we can laugh about some of the more ridiculous stuff,” said Takei.
More about the app after the interview!
QSF: Hey George, this new app looks fun, and I love the spirit in which you are doing it. What do you hope it accomplishes?
George Takei: House of Cats is an app where ordinary citizens all around the world can join in on the lampooning of our administration. We live in perilous, upsetting times. We all could use some levity, and that’s what I hope House of Cats and its star Trumpy Cat provide.
QSF: LOL That sounds awesome. :)
You were always one of my favorite actors/characters on Star Trek. My mom and I used to watch it together, and it was one of the things that got me into sci fi in the first place. When you came out, it was an affirmation for all of us gay Star Trek geeks. What was it like for you in Hollywood, and with your own family?
GT: You know, I waited until 2005 to come out publicly, though many of my friends knew already. There was, of course, some speculation before that too. I had great fear, as an actor, that this would be the end of my career because no one would want to cast a gay person in straight roles. There were also examples of this happening, as with Tab Hunter, who recently passed. He was shunned after the gossip rags in Hollywood outed him, his career ruined. We gay actors saw that and became afraid.
But to my surprise and delight, my career actually blossomed after acknowledging publicly the truth of who I was. There is a liberating authenticity that is palpable when you finally decide to live your true life. I have since appeared in many roles, including in Allegiance on Broadway, which was always a dream I had.
My extended family has been largely supportive though there are, of course, some conservative members of the clan who would rather I not be so very gay and out. But we don’t discuss it much.
QSF: Yeah, we have a few of those too. I was so thrilled when you came out.
Speaking of conservatives, my husband and I have been watching the whole Supreme Court thing in abject horror. It’s easy to get dejected these days, but we have to keep our spirits up. Does Trumpy Cat (the app or the cat) address this issue in any way? Will he give me hope?
GT: While no app can change the course of the Supreme Court, we will have plenty of opportunities to use the app to criticize and bring some much needed humor into the dark days that may lie ahead. I imagine there may be some Supreme Court cats in the app soon.
QSF: Ruth Bader Ginscat? :P
You have become a poster guy for gay and queer rights, and I noticed you have been hi- lighting queer artists and other creative folks as well. Paul Richmond, the artistic director for one of my publishers, was recently profiled in one of your video shorts, and I was really impressed to see that. Where did your drive for activism and supporting the little guy come from?
GT: My new video series, George Takei Presents, is about finding creative artists and voices that might otherwise go unseen or unheard. My team works hard to find compelling stories and footage to share with fans. They have a mandate from me to feature people from communities that might not always have center stage. I’m glad that we can use the platform to amplify thesepeople and their work.
QSF: That’s fantastic. Paul is a terrific artist – it’s great to see his work being elevated for others to see.
Now back to your roots – do you think we’ll see you in a future Star Trek film or TV series?
GT:I’m ready if J.J. Abrams is. Maybe an Excelsior movie?
QSF: Oooh. * salivates * That would be awesome.
Are you worried your new app will put you in the (Twitter) line of fire? Our Dear Leader doesn’t take kindly to being mocked.
GT: I am already in the line of fire, and that is where I prefer to be. I’ve lived through internment, six decades of the closet, the AIDS crisis and five years in the fishbowl of social media. I don’t thinka few dust-ups with Trump or his minions is going to rattle me.
QSF: I’m glad you are willing to stand up to him. More of us need to.
So what’s next for you, after Trumpy Cat?
GT: I have a big announcement about a new social media venture coming out soon — and possibly an announcement about a new project we’ve been working behind the scenes. You’ll have tostay tuned to my Facebook page and Twitter, though, to find out.
QSF: Keep me on the list for those announcements. :)
Now for a question from my co-host, Angel Martinez – “Where do you see the brightest sparks of hope right now for the queer community?”
GT: It is in these times of turmoil that the strongest hearts are formed. I see it now, especially in the Trans community, which is finally stretching its wings and even leading us in our fight towards recognition and equality. The future leaders of our movement are in the Resistance today, and when we come out of this, we will be stronger than ever.
QSF: Agreed. At Queer Sci Fi, we have such a great diversity of folks, with many trans, enby, and gender fluid members, so that cause is near and dear to our hearts too.
Hey, any chance I could get you to join us on the Queer Sci Fi group or site someday? As a queer sci fi author, it would be awesome to hang out with you, or do an extended interview. :P
GT: I’m always up for a half-hour AMA if we can set it up far enough in advance. I am who I am today because of the fans, and I love interacting with them.
QSF: Deal. My people will be in touch with your people. Thanks for joining us today!
About House of Cats App:
House of Cats is the first political app that puts users in the center of the action so they can interact with world leaders and the latest news, whether creating their own funny short videos or just “enjoying” the latest antics from the White House.
The app features built-in animations and augmented reality, fresh content pulled straight from the headlines, and new dialogue straight from the POTUS’s mouth. With House of Cats, users can:
- Pick favorite crazy quotes and relive some of the funniest lines from the most hilarious animated presidential cat in U.S. history
- Watch Trumpy Cat interact with his family, friends and enemies in the Oval Office or—with a tap on the presidential seal—drop him into the real world in augmented reality mode
- Use the microphone to make Trumpy Cat say anything they want
Users can create, record and share videos of themselves and their friends with Trumpy Cat. The app will also keep users giggling with funny zingers and short skits that riff off the latest news.
‘Obama never got an app made about him, that’s for sure’ — Trumpy Cat
The app will launch with a small cast of characters—Trumpy Cat, Meowlania, Vladdy Putin and Lil’ Rocket Pug—but the world of the app will continue to grow and evolve with the politics of the day, adding new characters and satirical content in sync with world events and new features that enhance users’ ability to create their own content—like settings, clothing and props. New functions will also be added, like selfie mode and internal postings.
“House of Cats is fun, it’s engaging, it’s interactive, and it’s fresh, and there will always be new, timely political humor to enjoy. Best of all, everyone can participate! Laughter is powerful medicine, and it’s impossible not to laugh at the bright orange animal who lucked into a job running the United States,” added Takei. “I’m talking about Trumpy Cat, of course.”
The app is available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play for $0.99, and a premium content subscription version will be available soon, although not all features will be immediately available on iPhone 6 and older iPhone versions. A percentage of the net profits from House of Cats will be donated to Refugees International. For more details, visit houseofcats.com.
George and his team have provided us with a step-by-step user guide to the app – view it here:
Plus there’s a video guide here: