George Romero, Vinnie Vincent, Linda Blair, Adrienne King…Celebrity Convention Encounters!

2010_10160130

The biggest draw of any fan convention lies with the celebrities they feature. I find that there are few experiences more gratifying than seeing your idols up close and having an opportunity to tell them how much you appreciate their work. You can also get a small glimpse of what they are really like as opposed to the 2-Dimensional view offered by the small & large screens.

???????????????????????????????Meeting DAWN OF THE DEAD’s Ken Foree at the 2010 Indianapolis Horrorhound Weekend

Of course, this can be a double edged sword; Sometimes you gain a new respect for a celebrity like Ardriene King who, though not a horror fan, is happy to share her FRIDAY THE 13th memories while supplying unique genre items for fans to purchase. Other times you become disappointed, as was the case of when I met Linda Blair, who was so stand-offish I started sympathizing with the demon from THE EXORCIST.

img_0446FRIDAY THE 13TH’s Adrienne King at the 2010 Cyphan Convention

The success of a celebrity encounter, however, is not all centered on their behavior. There are things that us fans can also do to increase the chances of having a positive experience with them as well.

1) Mentally prepare yourself that you will be standing in line. We’re an inpatient society and we tend to want, what we want, yesterday! Like it or not, waiting in line is a fact of life and even more so at a fan convention (STAR WARS CELEBRATIONS being the WORST in that regard). Wear comfortable shoes and hopefully find a buddy to chat with. It will make the time seem to go much faster while offering an opportunity to make new friends. You’ll also be less of a crab ass when you finally meet the big headliner.

line

At last years Horrorhound Weekend I waited 4 hours to meet George Romero. During that time I chatted with a friend, did ample “people watching,” and later enjoyed a cocktail (brought to me by the aforementioned friend). By the time I met the Godfather of Zombies I was calm and in a happy frame of mind. I’m not encouraging alcohol consumption during convention lines (I’m not discouraging it either) but am merely pointing out that the situation can be a more “social” occasion as opposed to a tedious one.

img118George Romero at the 2010 Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis

2010_10160128Worth meeting again! Rock and Shock 2010

Everyone is conscious of how slow a line is moving while they’re standing in it. Unfortunately, this is quickly forgotten once you reach your quarry. Now, suddenly, you feel as if you can take all the time in the world and those poor saps behind you will just have to wait a little longer. Granted, you have earned some “one on one” time with the star. There are still, however, some things you can do to keep the encounter relatively quick while increasing its overall quality. This brings us to our next tip…

2) Have whatever it is you want signed OUT and ready to go! Some conventions limit the number of items that can be signed, or discourage photo taking with a celebrity. I find this to be unacceptable. The way I see it, if I’m willing to drop some of my hard earned, “non” celebrity money at their table (and willing to pay for each item) than I deserve a picture and having them all signed. At the same time they need to be out of their protectors and ready to be signed when the big moment arrives.

2010_10160004Danny Trejo signs items for David Albaugh

Likewise, if you’re purchasing one of the celebs own 8×10’s then choose your shot BEFORE standing in front of him/her. Most people are so transfixed watching them commune with the people in front of them that they don’t do this. Don’t use your time with a celebrity in choosing a picture, use it instead for…..

img123

3)…Meaningful conversation! Rather than a generic, “I just LOVE your work!” I try to be more specific. Pick the film or role you are most fond of in relation to the celebrity. Then, specifically talk about that film or facet of their work. Sometimes when you do this, they’ll give you some insights regarding “behind the scenes” or a particular co-star. Aside from Adrienne King, I also had great encounters with Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace, and George Romero. Through each, I was able to gain great insights as well as a greater appreciation for them as well.
img_8206Lance Henriksen: Flashback Weekend 2009

Be sure to limit that to one comment or question. This isn’t a lecture hosted by The Screen Actors Guild, this is a brief meeting between fan and star. Even if the celebrity is all alone, and with NO line, try to avoid the mindset that this is an opportunity to become their new best friend. Keep it short and sweet….not scary and stalkish!

4) Take the lens cap off! The simplest piece of advice is often the most overlooked. Get your cameras out and, more importantly, READY to go! Allow me a bit of “true confessions” as I share an embarrassing story that happened to me about 15 years ago. I accompanied a friend of mine to a small KISS convention here in Chicago. This was back before I had any monster friends and the thought of attending a horror convention would ever occur to me. My friend was (and is) a HUGE fan of the group and this event, while tiny, happened to feature one of the most elusive members of the group – Vinnie Vincent (he’s still alive but best of luck finding him today)!

11-1995-vinnie-vincentJason Lucas meets Vinnie Vincent – November 1995!

It was a long line and, like waiting for Romero, we decided to have a cocktail. Unlike Romero, however, we didn’t just stop at one. By the time we made it to Vincent, we were both two shades to the wind. As my friend posed with the guitar master himself, I stood holding the camera, joyfully snapping away. As I smiled (and swayed) in my drunken splendor, I was oblivious to the fact that everyone was yelling at me to take off the damn lens cap! Before the sounds even registered, I remember noticing the mob of angry faces, many mouthing the words “dumb-ass!”

When I finally got the message, I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself. Vinnie Vincent made matters worse by saying in a slow and  condescending tone, “Just so you know….when you take a picture….you might one to take off the lens cap.” Of course my friend thought it was hilarious but I was totally embarrassed. I’m just glad the situation revolved around HIS childhood idol and not mine. Now we both look back on that and laugh but, bottom line; limit your alcohol and take off the lens cap!
5) Don’t forget to pay! In many cases, this isn’t a free “meet & greet.” The attending celebrities are often not getting paid to do so. They are usually responsible for their own travel and room expenses and those 8×10’s they offer weren’t donated to them either.

img116

You may wonder why some of the bigger stars need charge at all since they are, by many accounts, wealthy individuals. Well imagine if you’re sitting at a booth and some guy asks for your autograph. You sign the picture and, later that week, see it selling on ebay for $50. You won’t get a nickle of it, yet it’s YOUR signature! The sad fact is that many people standing in those lines are doing so more for profit than out of devotion. Charging for autographs (with larger fees asked for bigger celebrities) is a way of deterring this practice.

img098

Many times when we approach a star we get caught up in the moment and forget to pay the fee. This leads to an uncomfortable “ahem” moment when you are politely reminded as you’re about to walk away. Best to hand the cash over FIRST and then enjoy the experience. After all, you don’t pay for the movie AFTER you’ve seen it, do you? Only in a restaurant do we get the pay off before having to pay for something in this world and conventions are no exception.
Hope my tips help you to have a great convention experience!  Should you see us Daves standing in line, be sure to stop by and say hello!
Dave Fuentes~
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s