October 27, 2014
I LOVE the Chiller Theater convention. Twice each year in Parsippany New Jersey, hundreds of actors, artists, wrestlers, former child stars, musicians, and yes, even people involved in horror movies, come together and, when you factor in the huge dealer area, you get a convention that is always fun. I’ve been going for five conventions in a row, and despite Parsippany being a little inconvenient (would it be that hard to hold it in NYC?) it is worth the trip.
Before I go on, let’s check in on Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. In past years, though I am sure, absolutely positive, (I say that from a CYA legal perspective) that he was stone cold sober, he gave every appearance of being drunk. Was he? I have no evidence but, if he or his lawyer is reading this, I’m sure he hasn’t had a drink since dyed his hair black and tagged with the Honky Tonk Man as Rhythm and Blues. Though he looks perpetually drunk.
So how does he look this year? Pretty much the same.
The only difference is that I got up close to him, walked right by him, and his face, while looking exactly the same, looks ridiculously heavy, as if his flesh and skin weigh far more than normal flesh and skin and is about to slough off his face. Years of hard living will do that.
Brutus Beefcake was there and he just looked sticky.
But there were high points aplenty this year.
I met Joel “MST3K” Hodgeson and took a picture with him and Tom Servo, one of the show’s wisecracking robots. Joel Hodgeson may be the nicest guy I ever met at this convention. When I spoke, he listened and made eye contact. He didn’t try to rush anyone despite the long line. He said nice, positive things, smiled all the time, and was so sweet and earnest that I am sure he was out in the parking lot handing out tracts after the show.
True story: As I was entering the room where he was signing, we bumped into each other as he came out of the bathroom. This is now my second celebrity bathroom story.
Saarah and I also had a professional photo taken with Henry THE FONZ! Winkler. For a fee, you can have a professional photo taken with a celeb, with pro lighting and a pro taking the picture. I know from personal experience that Henry Winkler is a very nice man, very generous with his time, and he has a reputation for being good to his fans, so this experience struck me as odd and out of character.
There were about 20 people in line to take a picture with Winkler. The line moved ridiculously fast. When we got near the front, the assistant told us that, as soon as the guy ahead of us was finished, we should jump in and get ready for the picture. I was told that’s how he liked to work. I barely had time to put down the bag I was holding and get next to him. He stuck his hand out, I shook it, and I got five words into “this is a pleasure to-“ when Henry said “HIYAGLADGREATAKATAKA” and the director said “hold it!” and the picture was taken and we were shooed out. Seriously, maybe he had dental work, but though he was smiling a big, sincere smile, his teeth never parted and he spoke so fast I really have no idea what he said. And it is too bad, since I have a “seven degrees of separation” sort of legit connection to but never got a chance to tell him.
After that, there was the usual assortment of Godzilla actors, Debbie Gibson, and the cast of Good Times and although I couldn’t get close to him, Jimmy Walker seemed to be having a ball. (And yes, he was wearing that silly J.J. Evans hat.)
We were here on Sunday, only the second time I didn’t make it on a Saturday. My only disappointment was that they ran out of Chiller glasses the day before. Every year, the convention sells a commemorative glass with a horror personality on it. In the past they had the likes of Lon Chaney Sr. from London After Midnight and Bela Lugosi from White Zombie. This year’s glass had Edgar Allan Poe, which I feel isn’t that big a deal. It isn’t hard to find Poe stuff. But if anyone would like to like to sell me one so I can keep my collection intact, drop me a note in the comments below. But being here on Sunday had one advantage- much less crowded.
The guest list changes for every convention so, with the exception of some wrestlers, Zacherly (the Cool Ghoul) and some indy guys from some Sherriff Joe film (WHY? Not impressive.), the lineup for the April 2015 show will be nearly 100% different. It is a different convention every year. I’m already looking forward to the next one.