When you’re best friends with someone for 25 years, you’re sure to have had some great times together. A quarter century is a lot of time, and there’s plenty of opportunity for sharing memorable experiences that will stay with the two of you for the rest of your lives. I’ve known Fasano since the very first day of 9th grade, when we met in Alpha home room to get our schedules. We clicked immediately, and he’s been there for some of the best of Phil Fasso’s times. Last weekend, Fasano and I added to the epic book of our friendship when I travelled down to Charlotte, NC and he joined X and me at the Mad Monster Party convention.
I’ll never forget a few years back, when, over the phone, I told Fasano I go to cons. His reaction was classic Fasano: “Oh, you’re one of those weirdos.” Fasano and I are very different people in some ways, which only strengthens our friendship, and so I wasn’t surprised by his response. To the outsider, cons can look like a freak show in which a bunch of lonely nerds who spend all day watching SAW in their basements come together to geek out about meeting horror “celebrities.” I can understand and even appreciate that viewpoint, even if that’s not an apt description of me. I also understand that going to cons the last 8 years has introduced me to: writing for Icons of Fright, interviewing some of horror’s stars, starting this very website, and getting a call from Joe Pilato of DAY OF THE DEAD, during which he told me he wanted to star in a movie I wrote. Outsider or insider, say what you want but that’s pretty cool in my book.
So Fasano’s reaction was in line with what I should’ve expected. The guy wasn’t a huge horror fan. We’d seen FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8 together, and the sixth NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and had a conversation about THE CAR (which in my memory years later was a total fog, as he recently pointed out), but that was about it. I never in my life thought he’d be at my side, taking pics of me at a convention.
But another great part of being best friends for 25 years is that your best friend can still surprise you. And Fasano did surprise me, when he told me he wanted to join me at the Mad Monster Party. Circumstances were perfect, as the stars aligned and a con would take place about ½ hour from Fasano’s home outside of Charlotte. At first, it looked as if things would go awry, as he and his wife Michelle were supposed to be in New York for the weekend, damning a rare chance for me to hang out with my best friend. But things didn’t quite pan out that way, and once the dust settled, Fasano cleared out his entire weekend for me. Michelle ended up heading to NY for her birthday, leaving the big man free from any constraints. And so from the moment he picked me up to our good-bye hug at the airport, it was our time.
The wonderment in all of this was I had no idea how Fasano was going to react. At first, it sounded as if he was just coming along to hang out with me—never a bad reason to do anything, mind you—but it turned out he was genuinely curious about the whole con experience. Leading up to the show, he’d asked me what the fans would look like. I sagely advised him there would be lots of chicks dressed in black, skimpy clothing; some of them hot, some of them who shouldn’t be wearing anything skimpy (later, Fasano would concur with me, as NC turned into the land of overexposed back fat in certain locales).
Not that he didn’t enjoy the attention of a few strippers, who were promoting their club (and in some cases, that aforementioned back fat). As X pointed out, they were on him like white on rice for a cash grab. But Fasano argued it was the legendary Fasano Allure that drew them in. I’ve seen the Fasano Allure in action for 25 years, and it’s hard to deny that my handsome best friend draws in the ladies with his mythic mystique. But X was right this time.
Fasano was also impressed once I sent him to look at the guest list online, especially by David Prowse. Which makes sense, since it’s impossible for any guy in my age range not to have loved Darth Vader and STAR WARS as a boy. Once he got to the show, and realized just how many name celebrities were there, he was in love with the con. He spent a lot of time taking covert pictures of the famous people. When I questioned him on this, he stated he spent much of his time as a NC cop doing surveillance. Hey, he had a good defense.
And when he met Dee Wallace, he was jazzed. Walking up to her table, he chose an E.T. 8×10. Dee commented that it’s nice to see a big, strong, masculine man proving he’s all sensitive by choosing that pic. When he noted it was for his daughter and that Dee should sign it, “To Isabella,” I said, “Don’t let him fool you. His name’s Isabella.” It got a laugh from them both.
Of course, no hang out with Fasano could ever come to pass without food. When I take trips like this, I always create a short list of things I intend to do. For Texas Frightmare Weekend a few years back, I had to try authentic Texan bbq and ride a mechanical bull. For this trip, Cici’s Pizza loomed. 26 feet of pizza buffet was calling, and when X decided he didn’t want to go on Friday and thereby cut it close with making it to the con on time, Fasano and I delayed it a night. When X wanted to pass on Saturday night as well, I cut him loose. Hey, I’ve only been friends with X for 14 years, and no man should ever get between me and a buffet. I’m a vegetarian, but that night it was high time to go off the wagon and indulge in a debauchery of beef as best my stomach would allow. Fasano’s buddy and former co-worker Chris joined us, which was great, because I realized something around plate # 4: I had lots of pictures from the weekend, but none of me and Fasano. His buddy did us the favor, as we posed in front of the buffet.
When you’ve been best friends with someone for 25 years, there’s a reason for it. Fasano and I have been that close for that long because we have times together that we could never have with anybody else. Last weekend provided a number of those times, memories we’ll talk about for years to come. I hooked him into his first con, and he’s already talking about joining me at Chiller next month in Parsippany. My favorite convention with my best friend… Life couldn’t be any sweeter.