Friday, August 2, 2019, 8:30 PM: When the Svengoolie 40th Anniversary panel ends, I rejoin Don Johnston and the crew before heading upstairs the room. Svengoolie and Jim eventually join us and the host gets to work removing his makeup so they all can leave. As it happened, Robert Englund’s panel took place right after his and the two managed to meet up in-between. They’re old friends who see each at Flashback Weekend just about every year. The challenge, of course, is finding a moment between their busy schedules to do so and this year it happened off-camera. According to Sven, Englund was very kind and shared tips on doing out-of-state conventions with him; a subject that came up during Sven’s Q&A. I must say, the idea of Svengoolie venturing outside of Chicagoland and meeting his newer fans is exciting to me. I’m always fascinated by seeing the impact he’s made on people since MeTV went national back in 2011.
Meanwhile, Chris and Chas remove the memory discs from the cameras and set up battery chargers. MeTV footage can’t be left offsite, so everything collected today must be returned to the station before they can go home. As they leave, Svengoolie asks if I’d mind him leaving his rubber chicken in the room. This prized poultry differs from the ones hurled at him on TV and is exclusive to his public appearances. Did I mind watching over the horror host equivalent of Thor’s hammer? Not at all! After they left, I stared at it transfixed for several moments before turning in.
11:20 PM: Fall asleep watching reruns of “Robot Chicken” on Comedy Central…kind of appropriate when you think about it?
Saturday, August 3, 2019, 9 AM: I meet with my friends, Ron and Angela Urban (Don & Bunny) down at the hotel restaurant for breakfast. They treated me to the buffet which was REALLY nice considering it was $20. Bunny pointed out one of Svengoolie’s most devout fans, Lynn, camped by the Photo Ops which we could see from the restaurant. Sven’s professional photos didn’t start until 1:45 which meant she’d be sitting there for a long time.
10 AM: Spend the next few hours perusing the dealer’s room and chatting with old convention pals.
1:00 PM: Jim Roche shoots me a text letting me know they’re on their way and to please have Svengoolie’s rubber chicken ready when he arrives. I laugh as I write this but back then it was serious business. I bring down the Chicken just in time for Svengoolie to walk into the lobby and have it in his hands before getting two feet. Everyone goes straight upstairs to the room to retrieve equipment and plan the day. This time Chas is off and a guy named Mike takes his place. I’d met him once before back at C2E2 2018.
1:30 PM: We go back to the Photo Op area where Lynn is no longer alone and standing at the head of a line twice as long as the one from yesterday. I also notice a second line on the opposite wall, winding its way to the elevators. The Svengoolie shirts signal it’s for his signing (which starts at 2). After forty years as Svengoolie, is it possible Koz is more popular than ever? You decide…(but the answer is yes).
1:45 PM: It’s still hot as hell but the line moves fast and I use a hard plastic sheath I bought to protect my picture with Svengoolie to fan myself. No goofy chicken outfit this time, just me and my Svengoolie shirt. This year the Photo Op company added a new stipulation that you can’t hug celebrities which were particularly important for Lynn who practically gave Svengoole the Heimlich Maneuver last year.
1:50 PM: I head back to the signing area and start setting up while cracking open a box of Svengoolie posters. It’s hot in here, too, and I start wishing I’d brought two fans! Shirt and poster sales start even before the host arrives. Jim would work the line and drum up sales. If someone wanted to make a purchase, he’d hold their place and send them to me.
1:55 PM: Svengoolie takes a seat and settles in. The first 5-10 people in line are inside the actual signing room.
2 PM: The signing begins and fans start making their way towards Svengoolie. At this point, everyone gets to work – Jim handling the line, Don Johnston taking pictures for the fans (with their own cameras), and me selling merch. Mike is standing behind Svengoolie filming for the show while Chris keeps an eye out for anything interesting they can highlight…and he doesn’t have to wait long. Someone brought along one of the coolest items One fan turned his Schecter guitar into Svengoolie 40th Anniversary work of art! The instrument featured a painted image of the host as well as skull knobs for adjusting the strings.
Another woman brought along a custom Svengoolie Funko-pop…a.k.a. something that NEEDS to mass-produced (with proper licensing, of course).
3:45 PM: The signing ends on time (nobody is more precise at cutting a line than Roche) and I’m instructed to escort Svengoolie back to the room to freshen up. A few moments later we’re joined by Don who chats with us in-between interruptions from his walkie-talkie – I wondered how the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont could ever function without him.
4:20 PM: We head downstairs to for the annual costume contest. And this year would prove the most entertaining of all.
But don’t take my word for it. Tune in for the next chapter and see for yourself!