SurfWatch (SW): What brought you into Second Life (SL) originally?
Maja: SL used to advertise on Science Friday, one of my favorite radio shows on NPR. After the millionth time I heard the ad, I signed up. I was instantly captivated by the possibilities that exist in SL.......
SW: Tell me a little bit about Maja and why the title "the Very Modern Girl".
Maja: I created the character Maja to be a competitive fighter. There is an awesome fighting community in SL! Maja is American, with an African American father and Filipina mother. She grew up iin Quezon City and was a track star when she moved to California as a high school student.
My first name, Maja, stays the same but I change the last name all the time. At first, I was Maja Immaculate.... 'Immaculate' was a goal for me: pureness of heart and pureness of action....Unattainable for sure, but I was better off for trying! My second name was Maja Past Imperfect...a recognition of all the character flaws and personal deficits that exist in me despite the goal of being Immaculate. Now I am the Very Modern Girl as a tribute to Sleater-Kinney, one of my favorite Riot Grrrl bands. They have a really cute song called 'Modern Girl.'
SW: What is the history of the IFFF? How did you get involved in the IFFF?
Maja: The league was formed so girls could find each other to arrange matches and to train with each other, and just generally to promote the sport. They also hold competitive tournaments. The prize money is usually 49,000 L$! My friend and first trainer, Ronya (Rovaniemi), was a founder of the IFFF, along with my friend, Dimiona al'ankra. Ronya wanted me to fight in an IFFF tournament. Dimi makes the mats for us, which are really beautiful creations, and has a sim full of lovely places for matches.
SW: How do matches work?
Maja: We score points by fighting matches we arrange ourselves at designated sims. I get 4 points for a win but still get 1 for a loss. There are several different kinds of mats, and the menus have a really big variety of punches, kicks, submission holds, pins....all sorts of things. The fighters take turns emoting actions and responses to actions as they use the menu to illustrate the narrative. You have to be able to quickly write about what you are thinking, doing, and feeling, while working a menu with dozens and dozens of animations. There is a really high standard for the quality of the writing, the originality and speed of a person's response, and for avatar aesthetics, too. The winner of the fight is sort of mutually decided on by the fighters. Maybe you get your opponent in some hold she can't get out of. Or maybe you just did a better job writing your responses or responding in an original way. Both girls always seem to know who is the winner by the end, anyway.
SW: What did you have to do to become Champion?
Maja: I won the 2nd IFFF Tournament by fighting 78 matches over 3 months. Each match takes about 2 hours. So it is a really big time investment to win, but a girl can fight as much or little as she wants. It is so much fun! My record was 46-32.
SW: About how many people are involved?
Maja: There are over 600 people in the group, but I think about 100 competed in Tournament 2. So you get a wide variety of styles and ability levels.
SW: That is absolutely fascinating! How can readers find out about events?
Maja: I've never seen the events get posted in SL events list. The best way to find out is to join the IFFF or Steph's Scrappers to get group chat messages about when the events are. To join the tournament, contact Ronya Rovaniemi. All you have to do is join the IFFF group and get in a fight! It's super easy. People are very willing to help new girls.
Tauri and Maja, hitting the mat:
(captions courtesy Maja the very Modern Girl)
Warily steps onto the wrestling rug, eyeing Maja’s trim, athletic body as she squares off against her….Not entirely sure what to expect, but knowing full-well she can’t do a piece on the wrestler without a visit to the mat, Tauri smiles, running through a list of background questions……
Chats easily with the cute reporter, Tauri, smiling wide, helping her to feel at ease….. Then, Maja indicates it is time to get to the lesson, dropping her body into a fighting stance, weight balanced, bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet…..She waits until Tauri can duplicate the stance….Then, comes forward, slowly, methodically, lacing her arms around Tauri’s neck, then helping Tauri put her up her own hands around Maja’s neck…. The girls lock their bodies, and Maja lets Tauri test her strength by pushing her…..
Intuitively makes her body rigid….pressing against Maja as the former champion shows off a little of her strength….. Tauri grits her teeth, determined to be proud of her showing…. She decides to push her hardest and show Maja what she is really made of!
Waiting until Tauri is shifting her weight forward, pivots on one foot, grabbing Tauri by the head and pulling her in front….Maja skillfully slips behind, grabs hold of Tauri’s wrist, twisting her slim arm, wrenching it up her back hard enough to keep her on her tiptoes, but not high enough to really harm her…. “Ooooh, tiptoes! Did you study ballet….?” Maja taunts…..
Feels her eyes widen in surprise and pain as Maja slides behind her, getting her in painful hammerlock! Gritting her teeth, Tauri lifts her right knee….then SMACKS her heel back, catching Maja right in the shin!
Howls in pain and disbelief, also laughing at the brazen Tauri! Maja hooks her ankle around Tauri’s leg, then pushes her over….watching with satisfaction as the pretty girl flops face first onto the mat…. Maja keeping hold of the wrist the whole time…”Oh, good for you, girl! That HURT! We’ll make a wrestler out of you, Tauri!”, lavishing praise on the newcomer for her aggressiveness……..