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Profit and Lace (episode)

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"Profit and Lace"
DS9, Episode 6x23
Production number: 40510-547
First aired: 13 May 1998
145th of 173 produced in DS9
145th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
523rd of 728 released in all
Quark as Lumba
Written By
Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler

Directed By
Alexander Siddig
Unknown (2374)
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For the DS9 episode with a similar title, please see "Profit and Loss".

Grand Nagus Zek is deposed after he begins to promote female rights; Quark changes his gender temporarily to prevent Brunt from becoming the new Grand Nagus.


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Quark is in business negotiations with Aluura, one of his dabo girls, when Rom makes him aware that Ferenginar cannot be contacted in any way; the two begin to believe that the Dominion invaded their home planet. Shortly afterward, the shuttle of Grand Nagus Zek requests permission to dock at Deep Space 9. The Nagus and Ishka, his beloved and the mother of Quark and Rom, had to flee Ferenginar because Zek was deposed by the FCA Commissioners for granting females the right to wear clothes with an amendment to the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities. Zek is to be replaced by Brunt, who has taken over the government as Acting Grand Nagus after financial chaos shook the entire Ferengi Alliance.

Zek declares Quark's quarters as "the headquarters of the sole legitimate government of Ferenginar;" their plan is for Ishka to convince the Commissioners that Ferengi females are, indeed, intelligent. Quark, Rom and Nog agree to help Zek by sending messages to all FCA Commissioners, requesting a conference for Ishka's "demonstration." All the Commissioners decline – save Nilva, chairman of Slug-o-Cola, who is a conservative man with a lot of influence.

After Acting Nagus Brunt appears on the station, the plan to convince Nilva is in jeopardy, especially since Ishka has a heart attack after arguing with Quark. As a female is required for their plan, Quark agrees to have his gender and appearance altered by Doctor Bashir. But Nilva arrives early on the station while Zek and the others are busy teaching "Lumba," as Quark is now called, female behavior.

During dinner with Lumba, Nilva is convinced of the opportunities that Zek's feminist approach presents. The main argument of this approach being that clothing includes pockets, and females will thus want to make more money in order to have something to put in those pockets. His change of heart is no doubt because Nilva fell in love with Quark. Brunt somehow figures out that Quark has turned into a female and tries to tell both of them otherwise. After showing his female body to both men, Nilva is convinced and agrees to do everything in his power to support Zek's suffragist Bill of Opportunities amendment "because that is what Lumba wants." Brunt still proclaims Lumba is still a man, but it gets him nowhere.

Memorable quotes

"A Dominion invasion of Ferenginar?"
"Think of the terrible repercussions to the Alpha Quadrant."
"I cannot think of any."

- Sisko, Rom, and Worf

"Now, tell me something. Doesn't wearing all those clothes make you feel like a deviant?"
"Not really. And I'll tell you why. Because under all these clothes, I know I'm totally naked."

- Nilva and Quark

"That female happens to be my mother!"

- Quark

"They're ALIVE!'"

- Rom, when Ishka and Zek's shuttle arrives at Deep Space 9

"Moogie! I was so worried."
"You're a good son."
"I was worried too."
"And you're a good liar."

- Rom, Ishka and Quark

"Nagus, you remember my son, Nog, don't you? He's the first Ferengi to join Starfleet."
"I'll try not to hold that against him."

- Rom and Zek

"His name is Quark!"

- Brunt, to Nilva who is smitten with Lumba

"And when you sit, make sure your knees are touching, and don't forget to relax your shoulders, but keep your bottom tight." (Everyone stares.) "What?"
"He's the one that should be wearing the dress."

- Rom and Quark, on the former's imitation at how a "female" walks.

"It's these earrings, they're killing me. Do I have to wear them?"
"No woman is complete without earrings. (Everyone stares.) Why does everyone keep looking at me?"

- Quark and Rom

"Marry me!"
"Uh, I don't think your wife would approve."
"Who cares. She hasn't touched my lobes in months."
"I can tell."

- Nilva and Lumba (Quark)

Background information

Alexander Siddig directing 'Profit and Lace'

Alexander Siddig directs Henry Gibson on the set of "Profit and Lace"

Story and script

  • The original idea for this episode came from René Echevarria; "We were all at lunch, talking about doing an episode about Moogie, the feminist movement, and giving Ferengi women the right to vote. It was a very preliminary discussion, and I said, 'I have this feeling that Quark ends up in a dress. I don't know why, but I think somehow Quark and Rom have to masquerade as women in order to pull something off." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Echevarria's idea was seized upon by Ira Steven Behr, although he knew that the proposed episode carried risks; "The idea was to do a character comedy. We wanted to take this misogynist character and make him into a woman. But it's very difficult, for a lot of reasons, to get people on board with stuff like this, and when they do get on board they tend to go too far, or too broad, or they lose the reality, or they're not comfortable with it. And if any of those things are true, it won't work." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • Armin Shimerman reportedly hated the script for this episode, as he felt Quark did not learn anything from his experience as a woman. Indeed, the original script had Lumba crying a great deal, but Shimerman refused to play it that way as he felt is was a negative stereotype against women. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Shimerman watched both the 1959 Billy Wilder film Some Like It Hot and the 1982 Sydney Pollack film Tootsie for inspiration on how to play a woman; "The difference between those two films is that Tony Curtis was always winking at the camera, as if to say, 'I'm, playing a woman, but you know I'm really a man.' Dustin Hoffman's performance in Tootsie was, 'I'm playing a woman and I believe it.' And I decided I wanted to do the latter. I tried to be as feminine as I could." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The production staff had high hopes for it during preproduction; indeed, after Behr sent the script to Michael Piller, Piller returned it with a memo reading "this is going to be a classic". In the end however, the episode garnered terrible reviews. In fact, the poll run in 1999 by Sci-Fi Entertainment which saw "In the Pale Moonlight" voted as Deep Space Nine's best show, "Profit and Lace" was voted its worst, followed by "Move Along Home" and "Let He Who Is Without Sin...".
  • It is generally accepted amongst the writers and cast that the main problem with the episode is that while the writers wrote it as high-farce, director Alexander Siddig and actor Armin Shimerman saw it as a much more serious piece, in the tradition of "Family Business"; a comic episode with serious undertones. As Shimerman says of Siddig, "He wanted to make it less of a comedy and more of an exploration of the relationship between a bickering mother and son. He tried to push the envelope and take Quark into an area that Quark isn't used to going in. I applaud him for it, although we reshot some of the scenes, like the heart attack, because he had a much darker vision than the writers had imagined." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Cecily Adams also refers to the heart attack scene when discussing the episode; "Sid wanted to explore how people who love each other really can hurt one another. Quark and Moogie have a very complicated relationship, and they each have access to that place in the other where they can cause hurt, and they both use it. The first time we shot the heart attack scene, it was very dark and the pace was slow. It was actually disturbing. We wouldn't have played it any differently had we not been wearing rubber masks. Armin and Sid really liked it, but when I watched it in dailies, I didn't like it. Even though it was an interesting exploration of the dark side, I didn't think it was exciting enough. And apparently the producers felt that way too. They wanted it more humorous." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In the end, according to Shimerman, the reason the episode ultimately failed was because it was half serious/half comic, and the two halves didn't gel; "It could have been a more serious dramatic piece or it could have been funnier. But it was neither one nor the other." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In retrospect, Ira Steven Behr sees this episode the biggest disappointment of his entire time at Star Trek; "If you look through the list, "Profit and Lace" was really the last Ferengi show. "The Emperor's New Cloak" is a mirror universe show, and the Ferengi portion of "The Dogs of War" is only the A-story or the B-story, depending on how you look at it. So this was the nail in that coffin." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • This episode continues the Zek/Ishka/Brunt arc seen in the episodes "Family Business", "Body Parts", "Ferengi Love Songs" and "The Magnificent Ferengi". In "Family Business", Ishka is introduced as a female keen on earning profit, and Brunt is the FCA liquidator sent to investigate her. Then, in "Body Parts", Brunt takes Quark's business license away from him for backing out of a contract. In "Ferengi Love Songs" it is revealed that Zek and Ishka are seeing one another, and Ishka is actually helping him run the Empire. At the same time, Brunt tries to expose Zek with Quark's help, and he returns Quark's license in an attempt to get his support. Brunt's plan fails however, and he is subsequently fired from the FCA. A year later, in "The Magnificent Ferengi", Brunt helps Quark rescue Ishka from the clutches of the Dominion, and is rewarded by Zek with his old FCA job.
  • Despite the negative reaction to this episode, it did make history on Star Trek in terms of how the franchise dealt with issues of sexuality. Quark, disguised as a female, kisses Nilva. Consequently, this is the first ever male same-sex kiss in Star Trek history. (The first female same sex kiss took place in the episode "Rejoined".)
  • The title of this episode may be a play on words from the second season episode "Profit and Loss".
  • The events of "The Magnificent Ferengi" are mentioned in this episode. Leck and Gaila are also both mentioned.
  • Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #94 ("Females and finances don't mix")
  • Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) does not appear in this episode.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars

Special guest star



21st century; algae; Alpha Quadrant; artificial heart; beetle snuff; Chairman; Chamber of Opportunity; Clarus; Commissioner; Dabo girl; Deep Space 9; dessert; Dominion; earring; Eelwasser; Ferengi; Ferengi Alliance; Ferengi Bill of Opportunities; Ferengi Commerce Authority; Ferengi shuttle; Ferenginar; Gaila; Grand Nagus; handkerchief; heart attack; hologram; holosuite; hormone; Hupyrian; Infirmary; latinum; Leck; Liquidator; lobeling; Lumba; ice; Irtok; medical log; Milky Way Galaxy; mirror; Moogie; nightmare; oo-mox; Oo-mox for Fun and Profit; percent; PADD; Quark's; Replimat; Slug-o-Cola; snail steaks; Starfleet; subspace transceiver; tongo; tube grub; Tower of Commerce

External links

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
Next episode:
"Time's Orphan"

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