First, let me apologize for the long gaps between posts. I’m editing a book which has left my eyes and brain bacon sizzly, and I’m only able to focus on things like sports and Real Chance of Love 2 at night. Occasionally I’m able to squeeze in an episode or two of Real World/Road Rules: The Ruins, The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance, but––
Hmm? Sorry? Did I hear you say something? No? Okay, let’s move along.
Once the Expo opened up its arms to me, I felt alive and free to express my true self and tore through its fabulous layout like a flimsy blouse. Wait, let’s try that again––once I began moving around the many interesting booths at the Festival of Fear end of the floor, the patience I managed to display throughout my long journey was finally rewarded. Among the prized attractions was nightmare photographer Joshua Hoffine‘s modest booth that really should have been at least as prominent as the one where you could take photos with a few actors hired to look like none of the characters in “True Blood”. Below, please find one of his latest unpublished works that he rolled out for those who had made the trip.
Josh himself wasn’t there when I stopped by, but I pledged to come back when he was and have him autograph a print. Please check out his blog when you get the chance (a sequence of photos documenting the creation of the shot above is among some of the cool things you’ll find there). Trust me, you won’t be disappointed––which is more than can be said for me an hour or so later, but let’s keep moving, k?
The next order of business was to have a look at the row of celebs set up on stages that made them look a little like judges for an AKC dog show. If this was to make us feel like properly leashed bitches, I’d say for the most part it worked. The majority of the esteemed guests were relatively easy to access, but the line for Bruce Campbell might have been the line to receive properly sterilized hand release such was its length and width. You almost couldn’t make out the row of judges behind it unless you cut through. Among them were Mary “Snap a Pic without Paying for it and Get Sent Out the Air Lock” Mcdonnell , Udo “Yes, I’m Drunk, So What?” Kier, Linda “C’mon, Terminator Was a Hundred Years Ago and I Don’t Believe in Plastic Surgery” Hamilton, Tom “You Know Anyone Else Who’s This Famous for Making People Look like Linda Hamilton” Savini, and lastly, the woman who inaugurated my prepubescent formative years and is therefore responsible for why I’ve traveled all this way, Barbara “I’m Signing as Fast as My Arthritis Will Let Me” Steele.
Please, good readers, remember that we here at ScottStories make it a habit of exaggerating the truth for comic benefit. I assure you the luminaries I mentioned above are more than worthy of their elite status for both their bodies of work, and in most cases, their ageless charisma and beauty. To be totally honest, I’ve rarely seen any of the starlets at these conventions look better than they do in person. That includes Erin Grey, Dee Wallace Stone, Linnea Quigley––the list goes on and on. And I must add that, completely separate from their star power, is almost always an inherent star quality that only a few people in this world are lucky enough to possess. Whether this is me being sincere or just a good doggie, I really can’t say. But it’s how I feel, and having breathed their air for approximately one entire month, I believe I speak from an informed position regardless of how fleeting it was.
Sadly, as wonderful and beautiful as Barbara looked, yours truly never got the chance to meet her. This is one instance where the fault is all my own. I did observe her from a satisfyingly stalkery vantage point before approaching and what I saw gave me pause. Ms. Steele was pre-signing photos at a blistering pace and rarely looked up when someone approached. The scene reminded me of one of those carnival freak show exhibits where some shill in front sells the lark and blocks your view as you try to get a good look at the drooling “wonder” behind him. In this case, the shill was a convention volunteer who collected the loot and received you as a potential threat. It’s not always their fault as they’re dealt a lot of responsibility, and in this case, his was to protect the one woman that really deserved her likeness on a denomination of horror currency. So after deciding my title of Mr. August was too lowly to warrant eye contact, I took one last look at the fabulous star of The Mask of Satan, silently wished her well, and went off to find the next bit of royalty on my list: Max Brooks.
Max is the son of Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. That alone is enough to warrant a quick “hello”. What makes him worthy of braving hordes of the unwashed is he’s the author of the excellent The Zombie Survival Guide and the utterly stupendous World War Z, the latter being adapted for the screen with plans to be released next year. Earlier this year, I purchased the book at a New York City Borders Book Store where he had recently done a signing, and was fortunate to find a signed copy in a pile of those unsigned and for sale at the regular price. Now, I’m not a rabid autograph hound despite the impression I might be giving here, but Max lifts my authorial spirits. To know that someone of such prestigious stock applies his very prodigious talents to horror––and zombie horror, no less––makes me feel like I’ve got the right planet after all. I suppose you could say he’s an inspiration, so when I learn where his booth is from one of the Rue Morgue staff (who was kind enough to work up a map of the floor for me), my professional bones grow sturdy. It would be no problem navigating the masses to find him at the other end of the expo. No one could explain why he’d been relegated to the comic section, but no matter: I was on a spiritual mission. So, onward I forged, map in hand…
I walked for an HOUR. That’s three-thousand and six-hundred seconds of weaving in and out of lines, scouring booths and dodging supervillains. Alas, Max was nowhere to be found. There wasn’t even a sign for him. I asked a comic book artist where he might be and the guy looked like he wanted to punch me. “Do you know how many people have asked me that in the last ten minutes?” he squeaked. “In the meantime, why don’t you look at my work, some of which can be found under the bag you’ve rested on my very expensive rental table.” I had to admit he had a point, so I looked at his stuff, found it well done, and walked away. As an aside, ever been hit with a pencil? I guess the odds of getting the eraser end are pretty much the same as the pointy end, right? Or is there a technique to assure one or the other? I’m off to experiment but if anyone knows, see “comments” below. Cheers.
At this point, I’ve worked up a savage appetite. Unaware there was a food court accessible via teleportation (or so I assume since it was hidden so well they might have been enriching uranium), I pushed against the tide in search of an exit.
The above photo should give you some impression of what confronted me, but fails to capture the octopussian layout of the Expo center wherein every escalator looks the same and every door leads your sorry ass back to a giant, rampaging Pikachu. I literally found myself outside by accident, as they had closed the way I came in due to something no one could effectively explain. Once out in the open downtown Toronto air, I walked a few blocks until I found a bar/restaurant showing the Arsenal game. The place was called The Loose Moose, and its name perfectly described how I felt. Minus the moose part, probably. Although I felt like I could eat one.
Food, beer, and Arsenal FC up 0-1 against Man United: these are things that, if experienced collectively, can make for a powerful, nirvanaesque sensation. In fact, I was in no hurry to return to the madness of the convention despite having achieved exactly zero percent of my goals. But I would soon be introduced to someone who had actually achieved a lower percentage, and he would be the man who’s demo reel I posted earlier. Andy Powell never even got in. His table, paid for and on which he would have surely enthralled his share of conventioneers, remained empty. For all either of us knew, people were being sent there to meet Max Brooks. But due to the expo center being filled to maximum capacity, neither of us would ever find out. To be honest, Andy could have easily been added to my goodness list as he was one entertaining chap with mind-boggling talent. It didn’t even matter that I missed Max, Josh and Barbara or that Arsenal ended up throwing away their lead, I got the opportunity to talk shop and break bread (the yeast, hops and barley kind, mind) with a real professional in a great city and the night was only just beginning. Fair shakes, Toronto, and cheers to you, Mr. Powell.
The only thing left to do was get my ass to the official party of the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear, otherwise known as the Dance of the Deadites. So after dropping off my fliers and throwing a little water on my face, I left the hotel, grabbed a cab, and directed my driver to my destination. You know how you can tell when someone is a really good person just by the vibe he or she exudes? That was my driver. And he certainly went on to prove it. It didn’t matter a whit that he had never heard of Revival Nightclub or that he couldn’t even pronounce it, he was determined to aid me in my travels. So we drove around Toronto for awhile in a nice tour that only occasionally repeated itself, and he made several phone calls to a number of colleagues, each with their own interpretation of the locale. I tried to get him to let me off so that I could grab another cab, but dammit wasn’t he so obsessed with helping me that it almost seemed like he was pretending not to hear. That’s just the way he rolled, I guess. Personally, I felt paying the extra fare for such a regal demonstration of personal responsibility was more than worth it. You can’t buy that kind of karma. Well, actually, here’s hoping you can.
You’ve already seen a video of the band Psychocharger, and that’s pretty much what you got once they let you in and the beers got flowing. What you can’t see, however, is the true, horror-loving atmosphere of everyone there and how sweet the most evil-looking people can be. Udo made an appearance and did his drunken best to add a touch of class to the festivities, and I think I speak for everyone in attendance when I say he was terribly successful. Which is really the best way to describe the entire trip, I think. Did I get what I went there for? To some extent, I could say I did. But as I waited out another flight delay and looked through my various pieces of swag, I realized the reason I love the horror genre and all the wonderfully frightening things that come with it is partially because you rarely ever do. In fact, much of the delight comes from the unexpected and the challenges so often attendant with the experience. I suppose the ultimate question is, “will I go again?”
You know what…I don’t know. But I’ll say this: my Stud of the Month reign may be over, but my love for the world of horror grows stronger and deeper with every effort I make to know it. There might be a lesson in there somewhere. You may choose to look for one or you may not, but like horror’s greatest monsters, chances are one will find you.
And lastly, this is for you Joshua.