I’ve been to a few conventions in my time spent as a nerd. It’s been a long while since I’ve been to one and I don’t foresee going to one again anytime soon, but I wouldn’t rule it out. The smaller ones are still kind of fun. Or, going to a larger one on an off day is okay. Last time I went to Wizard World in Chicago, it had just gotten too packed to be enjoyable.
These cons are frequented by sci-fi genre stars, past and present. An old friend of mine gave me a blank book which I could use to collect some autographs and sketches.
My first convention was a Star Trek con in Chicago when I was a freshman in high school. There, the special guests were Nichelle Nichols and Marina Sirtis. During her talk, Marina Sirtis complained about being thirsty. One of the other guys I had traveled up to the con with had a mad crush on Counselor Troi. So, we all tried to convince him to go back to the complimentary table of water and get her something to drink. In order to egg him on, I told him that if he didn’t, I would. So I did. In the middle of her talk, I ran up and gave her a cup of water. Later, in the autograph line, she signed my book, “To the water boy…”. Proud nerd moment there. Nichelle Nichols was also very nice and I have her autograph as well.
David Prowse signed my book “David Prowse is Darth Vader” in case I forgot who he was. He was nice enough and told me all about how he trained Christopher Reeve for the Superman movies. He did seem a little starved for attention and I did try to avoid his table as the day went on.
At one convention, Claudia Christian was sharing a table with Robin Atkin Downes. My wife and I splurged and bought a signed photo of Claudia Christian’s. She was extremely nice and that might have been largely due to us shelling out the dough for the photo, but still, that’s hard to fake after sitting in the stinky room for hours. We observed a sad Downes trying to sell not so much photos of himself, but photos of him with other people. “Here’s a picture of me with Bruce Boxleitner. He’s already signed it.” I don’t think he really understood that people largely hated the character he played enough that having him in the picture with Boxleitner only ruined what might have been an already good picture.
Walter Koenig was at Wizard World one year as one of the higher-billed guests. He wasn’t charging for autographs, but was charging for photos. They were nice glossy photos of him as Chekov or as Bester from B5, but they were $5 each. So instead, I went into the dealer’s room and found someone who was selling a $2 photo of him as Chekov from Star Trek II, just before the worm comes out of his ear. Perfect, because I love Star Trek II. I buy the photo and then get in the autograph line. When I finally reach Mr. Koenig, I hand him the photo and hear him mumble something under his breath as he takes the photo. I thought he might be asking me a question, like “Who do you want me to make this out to?” as often celebrities will do in that situation. But I didn’t hear what he said so I asked if he could repeat it. He signs his name and flings the photo back towards me and exclaims, “I did not say ANYTHING!” Thankfully, I’m secure enough in my nerdhood for that to not shatter my nerdity.
There are other sci-fi “has beens” I’ve seen at the cons but haven’t talked to, among them Erin Grey, Peter Mayhew, and the guy who played Uncle Owen in Star Wars. I once had a brief conversation with Lou Ferrigno. I didn’t get his autograph or anything. The man is huge. He’s the size of about two and a half CTs. I’ve never seen Gil Gerard in person, but a former co-worker saw him one year. Also about the size of two and half CTs and was sweating just as much as all of the other nerds in the room.
My second biggest regret was not making more of an effort to see Mr. T one year while he was promoting a comic book he was starring in. I don’t mind admitting that I was intimidated by him because his schtick consisted of simply yelling at people who walked by. I should have walked by so he would have yelled at me, but the guy was so intense, I thought he might snap me in half. While not con related, my biggest regret was not making a greater effort to see Bruce Campbell when he came to town last year. I attempted to use my loose press credentials to snag an interview with him. That didn’t pan out and car trouble kept me from going to the event.
Other actors I’d like to meet: Bruce Campbell, anyone from the cast of Firefly, Jonathan Frakes, Mark Hamill (not from a Star Wars perspective but just because he seems like a great fellow nerd), Nicholas Brendon, and any surviving members of the A-Team, even Frankie, just to name a few.