Ishka, daughter of Adred (nicknamed Moogie) was the mother of Quark and Rom, and was romantically involved with Grand Nagus Zek. She played a crucial role in initiating reforms which took place in Ferengi society in 2375.
Ishka was married to Keldar, a good man who didn't have the mind for business that was needed in Ferengi society. Ishka attempted to help her husband in financial matters, but he refused to listen to her because she was a female. When Quark and Rom were children, Ishka taught them to memorize their first copies of the Rules of Acquisition.
Following Keldar's death, Ishka began conducting secret business transactions in violation of Ferengi law, since as a female, she was forbidden to acquire profit in Ferengi society. Amassing a large fortune, Ishka was eventually discovered by the Ferengi Commerce Authority. Her son Quark was forced to travel to Ferenginar to handle the matter. Quark discovered that Ishka had earned far more profit than he expected, and that it would be impossible for him to make restitutions for her.
After much strife between mother and son, Quark finally convinced his Moogie to make a full confession so that she could avoid being sold into indentured servitude and his business would be saved. Ishka returned the money she made to the FCA, though only she and her other son Rom knew that she had only given one-third of the profits back. (DS9: "Family Business")
Ishka competed in the Global Tongo Championship, female division, in 2373. She began passing tips to Grand Nagus Zek during his games, helping him win the competition. The two began corresponding afterwards, with Ishka at first concealing her identity as a female. When she eventually revealed herself to Zek, he was furious until he realized that they were in love. Later, as Zek's mind began to fail, Ishka realized that his deterioration would cause the deterioration of the Ferengi economy. She began discreetly giving him assistance in financial matters, keeping the Ferengi business world going from behind the scenes.
Eventually, FCA Liquidator Brunt discovered their relationship and plotted for Quark to break them up, in exchange for restoring his Ferengi business license. Brunt hoped that, without Ishka, Zek would be deposed as Nagus, and then he could take Zek's place. After Quark discovered the state of Zek's mind, he reunited the two lovers. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs")
During the Dominion War, Ishka traveled to Vulcan to get her ears raised. During the return trip to Ferenginar, her transport was captured by the Dominion. Grand Nagus Zek commanded Quark to rescue her. Quark arranged a prisoner exchange on station Empok Nor, trading the Vorta Keevan for Ishka. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi") The exchange didn't quite go as planned, since Keevan was inadvertently killed moments before the exchange took place, but thanks to some improvised engineering by Nog and quick thinking by the others in the group, Quark was not only able to effect the transfer and save Ishka, but capture the other Vorta Yelgrun in the process. In gratitude for allowing them to use Keevan to conduct the exchange, Quark gave Yelgrun to the Federation for interrogation.
Under Ishka's influence, Zek began reforming Ferengi society in 2374. After an amendment to the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities caused Zek to be deposed, Ishka attempted to arrange his comeback. She set up a meeting with an important FCA commissioner on Deep Space 9. During a fight with Quark, she had a heart attack and was unable to attend the meeting. Quark posed as Zek's "other female financial adviser" and convinced commissioner Nilva to vote for Zek's reinstatement. Ishka recovered after receiving a new heart. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
After influencing Zek to pass even more extreme reforms on Ferenginar, Ishka and the Nagus retired to Risa in 2375. They stopped at Deep Space 9 to instate Rom as the new Grand Nagus. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")
Ishka was never a typical Ferengi female. She defied almost every tenet and taboo of Ferengi philosophy and law regarding women; she wore clothes, spoke to strangers, and refused to chew her children's food (Although she sometimes offered to "pre-chew" Quark's food, as a gesture of motherly compassion.) (DS9: "Family Business") Later in life, she made profit, left the Ferengi homeworld, both of which were things illegal in Ferengi society, and helped bring about the reformation of Ferengi society. Ultimately, she influenced Zek to choose her son Rom as his successor, ensuring that her reforms would live on in the future. (DS9: "The Dogs of War") It was Ishka's hope that one day a Ferengi female would take her "rightful place" as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance. (DS9: "Profit and Lace")
When it came to interacting with other people, Ishka was quite amicable and offered sound financial advice. Even while she was held prisoner by the Dominion, she had friendly conversations with the Vorta Yelgrun, informing him about such things as the importance of a diversified portfolio. However, she was also willing to stand up for herself and wasn't willing to put up with nonsense. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi")
Ishka loved her husband, who she felt was a good man, but he was unsuccessful in his commercial ventures, and while Rom inherited Keldar's heart, Quark inherited Ishka's lobes.
Rom and Ishka were very close when he was a child, and they remained close when Rom moved away from Ferenginar; however, Ishka and Quark quarreled constantly. He did not approve of her lifestyle and resented her for earning more profit than him. Additionally, Quark believed that the reason his father, Keldar, had been such a failure was because of Ishka's unorthodox ways, oblivious to her true financial genius. Nonetheless, Ishka always loved Quark, and she was still his "Moogie." (DS9: "Family Business")
The romance between Ishka and Zek blossomed because she was willing to open his eyes to life beyond profit. When Zek was deposed temporarily, Quark became furious with Ishka, as he believed that she had been using Zek to advance her feminist agenda all along. She had been instrumental in the emancipation of females, but she maintained that Zek had made the decisions. Regardless of Ishka's motives, Quark accused her of being the worst thing that ever happened to the Ferengi Alliance. As Ishka pointed out, Zek was lonely and miserable prior to becoming involved with her. In addition to enlightening Zek's mind, Ishka was responsible for helping the Nagus' failing memory run the Alliance until their retirement to Risa together. (DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs", "The Dogs of War")
The creation of the Ishka character represented another step in the process of developing the Ferengi on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. "I [...] thought it would be fun to see a Ferengi woman who did not fit the supposed stereotype," reflected Ira Steven Behr, who co-wrote Ishka's first appearance in "Family Business" with Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Ishka was nevertheless envisioned as fitting the mold of "a true Ferengi." For instance, though she was conceived as a women's liberation advocate, she was intended to be one whose actions went beyond those of a stereotypical activist. If she had been merely "screaming to end profit", Wolfe commented, she would not have been true to how the species had been established. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 240)
Finding a suitable performer to appear as Ishka in "Family Business" was extremely challenging. One option was for the character to be played by Wallace Shawn, the same actor who portrayed Grand Nagus Zek. "I suggested Wallace Shawn in drag, which didn't go over real big," remembered David Livingston. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 97) Rene Auberjonois, who directed the episode, explained, "It needed to be a comic performance, but by a really good actor. We had a lot of trouble finding the right balance in the people we saw." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 240-241)
Eventually, Rene Auberjonois himself suggested casting comedienne Andrea Martin to play Ishka. "I [...] thought she would have the right take on it," Auberjonois subsequently related. At the time, he mentioned Martin's name to the DS9 producers and "Ira just went for it," he later recalled. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 240 & 241) Martin was indeed soon cast for the role. "In fact, she didn't even read for the part," continued David Livingston. "We just offered it to her, and she delivered it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 97) Martin did, however, receive an immediate cautioning from Auberjonois about the extremities of makeup she would have to endure as Ishka. He later recalled, "I said to her, 'You've got to know that up front, so if you feel that you're not going to be able to handle it, then don't do this part, because it's going to be harder than anything you've ever done if you haven't worn prosthetics.' She decided to go ahead with it, I think really based on the fact that I was so candid with her." (Starlog, issue #222, pp. 29 & 31)
Because Andrea Martin is only about three years older than Quark actor Armin Shimerman, she was heavily made-up to appear as an older woman. Martin's old-age makeup required extra care. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241) She wore a head-piece which was based on that worn by Wallace Shawn as Zek, and was designed to look almost caricature-like, with drooping lobes and large jowls. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) "To make her head a little more wrinkly," recollected Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore, "we made a thin skin that went over one of our stock Ferengi heads. Then we made a new face for her, wrinkled, and did the backs of her hands." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241)
Since Ishka was planned to be portrayed as naked in several scenes of "Family Business", multiple parts of her body were crafted. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241) For a scene in which her knees are shown on-screen, Michael Westmore even designed drooping kneecaps. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) A camera take looking over one of her bare shoulders had to be reshot, due to the producers feeling that Andrea Martin's supple skin looked too different from the rest of Ishka's appearance. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241) Westmore didn't have time to create a proper foam-latex appliance for the scene, in which Ishka's shoulders and the top of her chest are exposed. The pressing time factor meant he resorted to a simpler method. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) "We literally took Kleenex, wrapped it up and rubberized it, and covered her back and shoulders," he reflected. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241) Westmore also laid the rubberized, wrinkled Kleenex on the upper portion of Martin's chest. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) According to Westmore, Martin wasn't amused or thrilled by the makeup. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241) Rene Auberjonois reflected, "[The rubber on Martin's shoulders] was not something she was prepared for. She was balking at it, and it was miserable and painful and uncomfortable, and she looked at me and said, 'Boy, if you hadn't warned me about this, I would be out the door.'" (Starlog, issue #222, p. 31)
The nakedness of Ishka in parts of "Family Business" called for those shots to be well thought out and created some technical problems for Rene Auberjonois. "It was very limiting, having to hide her behind things," he expressed. As an example, Auberjonois blocked portions of Ishka's body with a bowl of Ferengi fruit, in a scene wherein she finally imprints her confession. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 241)
Andrea Martin's portrayal of Ishka in "Family Business" was well received by the DS9 production staff. "I thought Andrea Martin was very good," remarked Ira Behr. Robert Wolfe agreed, "She was great." David Livingston enthused, "Andrea Martin [...] gave a fabulous performance." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 97) Shortly after the start of DS9 Season 4, Rene Auberjonois concurred, "Despite her discomfort, I thought she was wonderful in the role. The crew would have done anything for her." (Starlog, issue #222, p. 31)
Reprising the role
With the introduction of Ishka having been a success, steps to bring her back were put in place. Rene Auberjonois alluded to this possibility during the interview he gave at the beginning of the fourth season, admitting, "I'm very hopeful that the character will return." (Starlog, issue #222, p. 31) Indeed, straight after the making of "Family Business", the DS9 writing staff decided to bring Ishka back, with a story in which she was involved with Grand Nagus Zek, an idea that eventually led to the writing of DS9 Season 5's "Ferengi Love Songs". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 445)
Regarding the reappearance of Ishka in "Ferengi Love Songs", Rene Auberjonois noted, "Andrea Martin at the last minute couldn't do it because of some other business." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 34) Ira Behr agreed, "Andrea Martin was going to reprise the role, but had to drop out at the last minute." (AOL chat, 1997)
Owing to the unavailability of Andrea Martin, the role of Ishka had to be recast. "We started looking for another Moogie," recalled Rene Auberjonois, "and it was tough, because wonderful actors would come in and do brilliant takes on it but they would be so different from Andrea Martin. We and Rick Berman wanted it to be in the same texture and color." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 34)
One actress who tried out for the part of Ishka was Cecily Adams. She initially wasn't familiar with the role, never having played an alien before and not knowing much about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Conversely, Adams was aware Quark's mother had been established in an earlier installment. "Moogie was an amazing departure for me [....] I called Armin [Shimerman] to tell him I was up for the role and he was kind enough to lend me a tape of the show that Andrea Martin had done," Adams reflected. " I watched it and got an idea of the tone, the comedy, and the relationships." Adams, a natural mimic, was highly prepared to perform as Ishka when the actress arrived at the studio for her audition. "She came in," remembered Ira Behr, "and said, 'Do you want to hear this the way Andrea Martin would do it?' And then she just did Moogie." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 445) Rene Auberjonois noted, "[Adams] had watched Andrea Martin and she did her own version [of Ishka]." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 34) Although she was able to easily enunciate Ishka's vocal inflections, Adams encountered more difficulty, during the audition, with the character's vocabulary. "It was like reading in another language," she admitted. "During the audition, I didn't know what the character was talking about! [....] I felt like I was literally walking into another universe." Words which Adams struggled with, while auditioning for the part, included the names "Maihar'du" and "Tongo Festival". Nonetheless, her audience at the audition was so impressed by her take on the Ferengi mother that they decided to offer Adams the role. Concluded Behr, "We all looked at each other and said, 'Why the hell not!'" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 445)
Like Andrea Martin in the Ishka role before her, Adams was artificially made to look older than she actually was, as she was in fact over nine years younger than Armin Shimerman. "I'm younger than both Armin and Max [Grodénchik]," she said, "so it's fun to play their mother." On the other hand, the makeup requirements for portraying Ishka shocked Adams. "I was excited when I came in that first day," she related, "but then they put the headpiece on and glued it to my eyelids, and in that first moment I knew I was in for it." Following three hours in the makeup chair, Adams was dressed in Ishka's clothing by DS9's wardrobe department, then was taken to the set, where she had a single rehearsal before the cameras rolled. "It was sink or swim, and I had no idea how to move my face with all that makeup on," she conceded. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 445)
Fortunately for Cecily Adams, both her co-star Armin Shimerman and her director Rene Auberjonois helped her with the prosthetics needed to complete Ishka's look. "Armin said, 'Cecily, it's all in the eyes. If you're doing your work on the inside, it will show on the outside,'" Adams relayed. "And Rene encouraged me to go a lot farther with the character and trust that it wouldn't look like overacting. I said to him at one point, 'I'm just afraid that I'm gonna look like a cartoon character,' and he said, 'Cecily, have you looked in a mirror? You are a cartoon character!' I was like, 'Oh. Yeah. Okay.'" In retrospect, Adams found the situation funny. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 445)
Cecily Adams reintroduced the role of Ishka in "Ferengi Love Songs". Rene Auberjonois commented, "By the end of the shoot she had made the character totally hers, which was great." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 34) Adams also reprised the part in all subsequent appearances of the character.
Although the original version of DS9 Season 6 outing "The Magnificent Ferengi" featured Grand Nagus Zek being kidnapped by the Dominion, Ishka ultimately replaced Zek in the script, after the writing staff learned Wallace Shawn was unavailable. Cecily Adams consequently made her second appearance as Ishka, a role she loved and was extremely proud of. "I feel very fortunate to play her," Adams stated. "She's made me grow as an actor and as a person." In the case of "The Magnificent Ferengi", Adams felt she had to deliver a performance that was as good as every other actor in the episode and was impressed by Ishka's indomitable spirit, even giving financial advice to her captor, Yelgrun. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 518 & 517)
From the moment the sixth season episode "Profit and Lace" was conceived, Ishka was imagined as part of it. Cecily Adams approved of a scene, once it was reshot, in which Ishka collapses. "I laugh my head off every time I watch Moogie fall over," she remarked. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 573 & 574)
While Cecily Adams was in a crowd on the set for Vic's lounge during the last day of production on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (filming series finalé "What You Leave Behind"), David Weddle didn't recognize her as having played Ishka, as the actress wasn't wearing her Ferengi makeup. Adams replied, "I'm Moogie." Both she and Weddle thought the situation was extremely funny. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 715)
In a retrospective interview, Ira Behr spoke with pride about Cecily Adams and her part in DS9, as Ishka. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 67)
Ishka's age was never revealed, but in "The Magnificent Ferengi", she said her lobes hadn't been "this firm in over a century."
Academics Robert H. Chaires and Bradley Chilton commented, "Of the female characters who are semi-regulars of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark's mother, Ishka, is one of the most interesting." (Star Trek Visions of Law and Justice)
Ishka appears in numerous stories that are set after DS9. These include Doors Into Chaos, "Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed" in Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Rules of Accusation and I, The Constable. The character also appears in the Star Trek: Terok Nor novel Dawn of the Eagles, which is set before DS9. Ishka is still alive as of 2409-2410, the setting of Star Trek Online, and is mentioned as being a financial advisor to her son, Grand Nagus Rom.