A GODZILLA-sized Welcome for SVENGOOLIE at G-FEST!
When I say that it was a dream come true for National Horror Host, Svengoolie, to be a guest at the quintessential Godzilla event, G-FEST, I am really not kidding! I rediscovered that Sven was back on TV in 2003 and went to my first G-FEST in 2004 – wondering for the last 8 years why the two had never joined forces. After all, this was the Horror Host who helped cultivate my love of these films back in his “Son of Svengoolie” days. He’s also family & fan friendly, and there are few other events that capture that spirit like G-FEST does.
Then again, perhaps there was no better time than now. With Svengoolie having gone National (as well as some parts of Canada) last year, there was good chance that not only Chicago fans, but many of the G-Fans who travel from far and wide each year to attend this event would be familiar with him now as well. This was another reason I was looking forward to this appearance much more than his previous ones (and its been a banner season for Sven, folks, with two prior stories still unpublished). I was interested in seeing how genre fans outside of Chicago city limits would take to him. Today was chance to see first hand…
I was also concerned how Godzilla fans in general would respond. I don’t believe that J.D. Lees, publisher of G-FAN Magazine and creator of G-FEST, had much familiarity with horror hosts. I also knew that J.D. cares a LOT about G-Fans and is very concerned that they are not teased nor poked fan at for their interests. He has ALWAYS maintained that G-Fest is the place you can unabashedly show your love for Japanese monsters without the fear of ridicule many of us have faced in the outside world. Horror hosts do often make light of these films but I hoped that this experience would show that, despite his hilarious parodies and kaiju-related schtick, Svengoolie is a fan of these movies too (which we will illustrate further in an upcoming Sven/Godzilla interview).
Not only that, like other Horror Hosts around the country, Sven had also helped cultivate a new generation of Godzilla fans by airing these films in a fun way. I guess the formula goes; if the host is good, you’ll sit through whatever movie they’re showing and, if you sit through the movie, there’s a chance you might actually like it. Think of it as “The Green Eggs & Ham” approach to fandom.
Supporting Svengoolie (and later myself during a forum I was conducting at G-Fest later) was my friends Ron & Angela Urban and Jamie Lee Cortese & family. When the time for Sven’s arrival drew near, fans began assembling in droves to see him and turned to Angela and breathed a “sigh” of relief!
After Sven began greeting people, I walked up and down the line asking if anyone was from out of state and were new fans of Sven. The answer was a resounding “Yes” as I encountered people from Michigan, Indiana, Boston, and Albuquerque eager for the rare opportunity of seeing their new favorite celebrity.
Naturally, there were plenty of locals too!
But one of the most unexpected moments came when a longtime fan of BOTH Svengoolies, Tony Kapsis, arrived and showed Sven some hidden Horror Host treasures he’d kept for 40 years! More on that story SOON!
After a rigorous two hours of signing and greeting fans, Sven then stopped by Ballroom 2 where I was giving a forum on “Horror Hosts & Godzilla.” Yes, folks, you got a wait a bit before I share the details of that one as well. Let me say that it was an undeserved honor sitting next to Svengoolie and his showing up to support little ole me, illustrates what a great guy he truly is.
In the mean time, I’m gonna bask in the experience of having my childhood Horror Host appear at one of my favorite events! I won’t forget this day…and I imagine G-FEST won’t either!