Jaws, Chainsaws, and Ducks, and I’m Lonely
Mad Monster Party, Charlotte, NC
March 22-23 at the Blake Hotel
Sometimes circumstances dictate that I have to attend a con alone, and I’m fine with that. Other than having to get someone to snap my photos, I can go solo and function rather well. But this year’s Mad Monster Party will always stand out as the first time I ever ran solo with two of my best friends at the convention with me. Fortunately this didn’t affect either the experience or the convention, both of which were solid if not spectacular.
I should’ve predicted things would take this turn weeks earlier. It turns out X teaches the promoter’s daughter at high school. Through that back channel, X not only arranged our press passes again, but also accepted the invite to help out on the staff. That decision would knock X out of the DE party for just about the entire weekend.
I offered X the opportunity to write his own piece on the experience as convention staff, so I’ll leave that for him to discuss if he ever chooses to take me up on it. In fact, we had so little contact we might as well have taken different planes (I’ll get back to that later). But we did fly down together, with relatively little drama as I got some quality rest with some Rolling Stones after a long night at the job.
So everything appeared normal so far. Fasano came to pick us up, and I was thrilled to see him again. The last time we’d been in the same state was a year ago at the first MMP, and any time I get to see my best friend I dig it. Until he said he was going to take me out to a Chinese buffet. There’s one around the corner from my house, so this just wasn’t acceptable. It had to be Cici’s Pizza. “But I thought I’d take you there tomorrow,” Fasano explained. “Yes,” I replied. “And you’re taking me there today too.” With the hotel squared away, Fasano and I hit Cici’s like a nuke. Imagine my delight when I found out the staff would bring a full pizza to my table at my request. And props to the manager, Sal, who gave off that southern hospitality and kept me supplied with pies. Now I know that a small part of Heaven resides in North Carolina.
Back to the con, and here’s where I started to catch that feeling of loneliness. X started running around in his orange STIFF shirt, a nice play on words though I swear he had a hard-on every second he was wearing it. Fasano turned left down the JAWS exhibit hall. And there I was flying solo. This created some problems:
Problem # 1: The guest list This year’s list wasn’t nearly as enticing as last year’s, which was my first time meeting Chris Sarandon and David Prowse. Once I walk around the room a few times and scope out who I want to get autographs from and request for interviews, there are several hours left, over more than one day.
Problem # 2: O photographer, photographer, where have ye gone When X and I do cons together, he always serves as my cameraman when I meet guests. Without X, I was either trusting on the guy behind me or Fasano. Playing the percentages, as it were.
Problem # 3: The Free Auto Fiasco Somehow I got the same wristband as the VIP fans. Each was to come with one free autograph. Unfortunately, the con’s organizers hadn’t ironed out a system on how to implement the freebie. Fans were running around, confused. I wasn’t sure if Fasano and I were even part of this, given that we were press, and when I pressed X for info about it he got testy. Fasano never got to use his on Danny Glover. If he even had one, that is. So he doesn’t have a LETHAL WEAPON double shot of Glover and Gary Busey.
The free auto problem was just one of a small number of issues this convention still needs to fix. Though it ran more smoothly than last year, MMP is still growing. But that’s no excuse for why Fasano took a free picture with Bruce the shark on Friday, yet was charged $5 for it on Saturday with his daughter Bella. Or why I entered the cheapjack haunted house free with my wristband, yet the same night I was told I needed to pay unless I had a stamp, even though I was wearing the same wristband. And this year I couldn’t even find the speed dating.
Things weren’t all bad though. After all, I got to meet Lea Thompson.
Oh my God, Lea Thompson hugged me… Oh my God, Lea Thompson hugged me… Oh my God, Lea Thomps…
I’ve loved Lea for 25 years. I’m a huge HOWARD THE DUCK fan in part because of her. She’s the only redhead on the planet I would ever sleep with. She’s even more beautiful in the flesh. And she’s a great person. Absolutely the highlight of the convention.
I also got to meet a few others for the first time. Tyler Mane from the first X-MEN movie was pretty cool, and Mark Torgl, the man who essayed Melvin Ferd in Lloyd Kaufman and Troma’s TOXIC AVENGER was a little on the eccentric side.
But Torgl did provide one fun moment. He and his agent are making a pseudo-documentary about where he’s been since the first Toxie film, and I got to play among a crowd of crazed fans, which included Survivor’s Johnny Fairplay. Turns out a filmmaker was there promoting his online ghost series which starred both Fasano and Fairplay. Hey, what are the odds? So X and I and Fairplay, dressed up in an Uncle Sam outfit, are all in the same scene. And I did a mock interview about the whereabouts of Torgl. Hey, the world wants to know. If ever this thing gets released, I’ll be hyping it here on DE.
Torgl was also kind enough to do an interview. As doing interviews has become my favorite part of going to cons, this was fun, especially because he’s from the Troma school. Fasano had made fast friends with R.A. Mihailoff (we still can’t figure out why), so he set me up with that one. R.A. is great, this mountain of a man with an awesome sense of humor. The prize interview I got was Howard Sherman. The Romero Retrospective is the cornerstone of DE, and anytime I can add an interview to it, I’m thrilled. Thanks to these three men for their generosity and their time.
Oh, and I posed with a boa constrictor. For five bucks, it was worth having a DE pic that stands out among the convention reports.
There were other things to do that I passed on. I could’ve seen the premiere of the MANIAC remake, but it looks awful so I stayed away from it even though it was free. I didn’t catch the Bruce Campbell Q and A or get his autograph, though I’m sure both would’ve been fun and included a huge line. I also passed on getting Kirk Hammett to sign his book, though I did watch him sign for a bit (running out of things to do when attending a con solo; always an issue). I also passed on posing with a BACK TO THE FUTURE Delorean, though that would’ve been cool, and the money went to Michael J. Fox’ charity.
I did, however, attend a portion of the JAWS reunion panel. Ironic that this Q and A about a seafaring shark film was dry as the desert sand.
But that one wasn’t by my choice. As I had introduced Fasano last year to the convention experience at MMP, he paid it forward to his daughter by bringing her to this year’s fest. Bella is a huge JAWS fan from seeing the film’s opening every year on Shark Week, and Fasano brought her along to her first con. I bought her an autograph from Susan Backlinie, and both she and Jeffrey Kramer engaged Fasano and Bella in conversation about the wonders of the film. And nobody charged for a pic, even though it was Saturday.
X did kindly decide to cut in on my glory and get a pic with Lea Thompson (hmmm, I wonder how that didn’t make it into this report? I wonder…). And he also got an autograph from Godzilla.
No, not that Godzilla.
Haruo Nakajima, the guy who played Gojira in the very first flick. With or without Raymond Burr, I leave up to you.
And on the subject of without… People in the know said the promoters definitely won’t return to the Blake Hotel, and might not even hold the con in Charlotte next March. That would definitely put a damper on my desire to go, as a large part of the joy in this con is seeing Fasano. For now, MMP is planning a show for September, in New Orleans. I’d like to give it a look, as I’ve never been to the Big Easy, and X has already taken it upon himself to take the reins and show Louisiana how a convention is done right.
As for me, MMP 2013 was a solid convention with a decent guest list that left me a little cold. And more than a little lonely, despite the companionship of my friends.
THE JAWS EXHIBIT
(kind permission from Fasano to use these pics)