Svengoolie had been at C2E2 well before his signing time but with a mission. Certain events such as these warrant the host bringing along his entourage which includes a camera crew. These are the makings of his “Svengoolie on the Road” segments which always start with a cartoon Sven getting run over by a hearse. Somehow we intersected at the booth of the former pro-wrestler and current WWE commentator, Jerry”The King” Lawler though, at this time, His Majesty was away on break. Jim Roche, Svengoolie’s assistant, gave me a quick greeting but I could tell he was in the zone and in full business mode. This is my cue that while I’m permitted to stay close, I’d best stand out of the way. With but few moments to greet Sven, they quickly ventured back out into the crowd.
On Saturday, September 20th, I picked up John (a Brookfield Zoo keeper pal of mine) and headed up to The Squared Circle in Lincoln Park. Local fans of national horror host, Svengoolie, know this Chicago restaurant is not only owned by the beautiful pro wrestler, Lisa Marie Varon, but also home to the official “Svengoolie burger.” I think I’ve pretty much made it clear that his last visit there was the BEST Svengoolie public appearance EVER and folks, I oughta know. Even as far as a month before the big day was slated, I found myself smiling just thinking about it.
Tragedy, however, has no sense of timing.
The seeds of this event were actually sewn during Svengoolie’s appearance at “The Squared Circle” (covered HERE). I mentioned in that post meeting a couple of zoo keepers from The Lincoln Park Zoo; one of whom, Marisa, had arrived with local Chicago Red-eye writer, Elliott Serano. Elliott’s a fellow Svengoolie fan and had just written a big story on the host. He’d brought Marisa along that night so she could sign folks up for her zoo’s AAZK Chapter’s (American Association of Zoo Keepers) “Bowling for Rhinos” with Sven as one of their celebrity guests. Svengoolie has graciously assisted my own Brookfield Zoo AAZK chapter with our annual Vital Grounds fundraiser (providing opportunities for the New England Terror Dave, David Albaugh, to meet him as covered HERE and HERE) and accepted her invitation…even if appearing only as his mild-mannered alter ego, Rich Koz.
After spending most of our first night at the Fright Night/Fandomfest standing in lines we decided it was time to make our pilgrimage back to the main hotel and check out the dealer rooms they had there. There were two main areas for vendors; the Kentucky Convention Center where the big celebrities and photo ops were (which featured more comic book related items) and the hotel which centered more on horror.
This past Saturday was a day I both dreaded and anticipated with a flurry of events (none of which I wanted to miss) all converging at once. For starters, it was the weekend of G-FEST (Godzilla Festival) which I’ve attended faithfully with my kids since 2004. In fact, if you’re a Japanese monster fan, your entire calendar year pretty much revolves around it. Though it offers plenty of activities throughout the weekend, Saturday evenings are known for being the show’s climax with their highly anticipated costume contest.