Flying in with his red-nosed, rubber chicken, Sventa Claus dropped in on Fantasy Costumes last weekend to greet fans. I’d seen him there last October in his less festive, Svengoolie, persona and it was notable for attracting a large turnout despite inclement weather. In contrast, this December day was sunny and in the 60’s proving once again that, so far as the weather goes, Chicago’s always riding the Bi-Polar Express. This would mark the horror host’s final 2017 appearance and third as Sventa. Unable to attend the previous two, I made it a point to rearrange my schedule for this one. And so, with a camera strap around my neck and a poster tube under each arm, I made my way to Fantasy Costumes a.k.a. my 82nd Svengoolie appearance!
Last Saturday I was sitting at my work desk while gazing at the tempest outside. Since it was the weekend, I had the whole office to myself and decided to turn off the main lights in favor of a small one hanging over my computer. With the dark clouds and rain pounding on my window, it seemed to make the otherwise chaotic place cozier; something you could never accomplish during normal business hours. With Halloween only a couple weeks away, we Chicagoans can be sure of two things; the weather will be erratic and our local/national TV horror host, Svengoolie, will be amidst a busy schedule of appearances. In fact, it almost seemed like this year’s list of events rivaled that of his ultra-busy 2012. I’d covered almost all of those and remember being thoroughly exhausted by the time it was over. This year, however, my “Svengoolie-stalking” activities were clearly lacking as my schedule never seemed to be in sync with his. On this rainy day, however, he was slated to make two appearances with one starting just when my shift ended. I decided it was high time I broke out of my Svenertia. and braved the elements to see him at Fantasy Costumes – the largest costume shop in the windy city!
I purchased my ticket for the MST3K “Watch out for Snakes!” tour about ten minutes after they’d gone on sale. At the time, my trip to New England was winding down and I remember feeling grateful to have something new to look forward to. In addition to the general admission tickets, fans could also choose between two types of VIP passes. After reviewing the details, I opted for the cheaper one…and the operative word here, folks, is cheaper not cheap. When the big day finally arrived, my friend Nikki and I battled Windy City construction before settling in at a parking garage near Chicago’s Vic Theater. Although the garage itself looked as if it were being held together by spit and gum, it was a pretty neat part of the city that I’d never been to before.
As soon as I arrived for Day Two of the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), I made a mad dash to the autograph section while dodging hundreds of attendees. National MeTV horror host, Svengoolie, was signing at Table #25 and, per his producer/assistant Jim Roche, I was to meet the crew just prior to his 11 am appearance. Seconds after reaching the spot, I got swept up by the host’s television crew who’d been right behind me. For the last five years, I’ve been one of the luckiest Svengoolie fans around. Despite his growing popularity and adding a bevy of celebrity admirers to his fan base each year, he and his talented team have always been very gracious to us Daves and allowing close access to many of his key appearances. I get to play Jimmy Olsen to his Superman while offering some assistance whenever needed. C2E2 is one of those “all hands on deck” type of events where this often comes into play. Svengoolie always commands a huge line of fans but, at this convention, it would continuously grow the entire weekend if given the chance. While his Director, Chris Faulkner, and assistant director, Kevin Reisberg, are out gathering footage for the show, Jim has the arduous task of maintaining the crowd without being distracted. So it’s the perfect trade-off, I offer an extra set of hands and, in turn, get front row coverage of the host. It probably also helps that I’m built like a bar bouncer and can offer an air of “protection” should things get rowdy though, thankfully, that’s never happened at any of the Svengoolie appearances I’ve ever attended (and, for the record, this one was #76).
Last October, national MeTV horror host, Svengoolie, unveiled a fan-made work of art during his mail segment that really got my attention! While I’m constantly amazed at the creative items talented viewers are always sending him, this one brought along a wave of nostalgia regarding another one of my childhood loves, Wacky Packages! Best of all, it was just created by a random fan but one of the artists responsible for creating the real ones, Sam Gambino.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. One of the most iconic horror hosts in the history of horror hosts. So much so in fact that she became a household name even in homes that didn’t have access to her syndicated show Movie Macabre in the 80’s or even had any interest in the b-movies that she showed week after week.
I left work early last Thursday to attend the Roe Conn Halloween show in Frankfurt, Illinois. For those unaware, Conn is a well known, Chicago-based talk-radio personality who’s hosted national shows for over two decades. Although I’ve been familiar with his voice since back in his “Roe & Gary” days, I saw him for the first time at last year’s Halloween show which was at the same venue, CD & Me. Of course my attendance was based on the return of their special guest, Svengoolie, whom I hadn’t seen in almost a FULL week since Elgin’s Nightmare on Chicago Street. Talk about a dry spell! If only I could figure out a way to declare all my Sven-chasing gas mileage at tax time.