“Just go in there and enjoy a nice a conversation with Gene Simmons,” the staff person told us before leading us into a small room with a table of snacks (cheese and crackers) and non alcoholic beverages. There was a line of chairs set up in a half circle with Gene Simmons standing in front of them…no sun glasses this time.
Simmons: Come on in and make yourselves comfortable, that’s what this is all about. Feel free to grab yourself a refreshment. Ah…nice to see we have some women in the group.
One of them offered Gene a bottle of Snapple which he happily accepted (though he never opened it during this discussion). “See? This is why it’s nice having women!” he said. “Men just grab what they want and sit down but a woman will make sure you’re needs are met first.”
Before delving into what would become the most interesting and substantive celebrity encounter I’ve had to date…Gene Simmons at the 2013 Fright Night/Fandomfest…let me share a little background regarding my fandom of KISS.
So far as my fervor of the band is concerned I’m something of a late bloomer. Although I’d grown up during their zenith in the ’70s, they’d never been a part of my childhood as they’d been with so many others of my generation. Obviously I was aware of them and remember seeing their image on the back of comic books and on lunch boxes but that was about it.
Days of the Dead (associated with New England’s Rock n’ Shock) has a tradition of mixing up their horror related guests with notable rock musicians. Past examples include original members of KISS; Ace Frehley and Peter Criss – with Frehley slated to return this November for their Chicago event. The two interests do go hand and hand and, for further illustration, the immortal Gene Simmons will be appearing at the Fright Night Film Fest in just a few short weeks.
Still reeling from The Horror Host Hall of Fame, I went across the street with my friend, Russ Wrangler, to that gawd-awful Crown Plaza restaurant I mentioned earlier. It was Saturday and Horrorhound Weekend was now in full swing, though the lines seemed to be moving quicker (not quick, just quicker). We ate lunch while watching Dr. Destruction storm out again due to the service (for some reason that never got old) before Russ and I returned to the convention to do another walk through.
There was no question that the big draw for the 2011 FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST was John Carpenter. If you’re a horror fan, the prospect of meeting a legend such as this is one few could pass up. After all, this is the man who grabbed a few friends and made a low budget/independent film, not knowing all the while that it would become one of the grandaddy horror films of all time ( HALLOWEEN) and a cultural phenomena. Far from a “one shot wonder,” Carpenter would also give us ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE THING, and one of my all-time favorites – THE FOG. Like his fellow Master of Horror, Dario Argento, his best work appears to be far behind but is still one of the best film resume’s around.
The first official DAYS OF THE DEAD convention received a huge boost when it was announced that the elusive, Ace Frehley, would be its top guest. Frehley, of course, was the original guitarist for the iconic rock band, KISS, and a strong percentage of fans (who proudly count themselves as soldiers in the KISS Army) will quickly site him as their all-time favorite member.
If not for Frehley’s talent than certainly for his lack of conformity. With his inability to adhere to a tight schedule, coupled with his shaky relationship with sobriety, Ace would not only be a thorn in Gene Simmons’ dragon boot but, so far as many fans were concerned, become the living embodiment of “cool.” Ace rejoined the band when it reunited in 1996 then left again in 2002. Despite his replacement, Tommy Thayer, donning his familiar make-up for subsequent touring, the majority of fans know that there is only ONE “spacemen” and that will forever be Ace.
Day Two (March 12, 2011): We arrived around 10am and were joined by my co-host Johnnie 13. Johnnie got his hair cut. I guess because Justin Beiber got his hair cut too. Johnnie 13 and Justin Beiber’s fates are intertwined in some strange way and I don’t approve of it. Mr. Potent and Johnnie left the Monster Channel table to pay a visit to Norman Reedus and the Walking Dead cast. Norman Reedus was previously rumored to have dropped out of the convention but he made it and stayed til late Saturday afternoon. Word around the grapevine was that he was expected on set somewhere to film something. Believe me, Norman Reedus is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He was at Monster Mania last August jumping in pictures, walking around in the vendor room, hanging with his fans outside, I think it’s safe to say he loves his fans and he loves doing conventions. Johnnie and Mr. Potent delivered one of my t-shirts to him for me to which he had Johnnie pass along a personalized autograph to give to me. My morning started off great! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I caught someone dressed as V For Vendetta walking around. I blew kisses at him all day.