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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mad Monster Party 2013 Part One!

 




I had eyeballed the 2012 edition of this horror convention taking place in Charlotte NC - about a four hour drive from here - back in the late months of 2011, but ended up not going as I instead went and hung out with Adrienne King at the Ghost Hunt on the Battleship since it was right in my backyard here.



But as 2012 was coming to a close - I was feeling an itch to "go among my people" again (as my wondrous wife puts it) and I started websurfing the Mad Monster Party 2013 site. I noticed one particular celebrity guest - none other than this blog's Good Luck Charm -







My movie buddy Ray is a HUGE Gary Busey fan - and when I mentioned the MMP to him - he literally seemed to take no time even considering. He answered yes so quickly I thought I had accidentally added a yes to the end of my sentence. Then I remembered I don't have a Boston accent.




From there we'll just jump ahead - we got the tickets - splurging on the VIP level - (called RIP smirk smirk) We also secured hotel rooms in the same hotel as the show. The show was scheduled for Friday March 22nd- Sunday March 24th.


The Blake Hotel, Charlotte NC


The last few days leading up to the show were murderously long - we were planning to leave mid morning Friday to arrive early to mid afternoon in Charlotte and check in to the hotel - with the convention then starting at 5pm that evening. Those last few days, however, I visited the show's website and got nervous at comments that the hotel had been overbooked.



Now, I'll just say here that Ray had never been to any kind of convention or show like this - so he totally left the planning and such up to me - so when I got nervous and wanted to get over to Charlotte earlier to make sure we got our room - Ray was all about it.


We went from B to A.



Accordingly, we hit the road Friday morning at a little after 8. The drive was actually fun and went by quick as we indulged in another unrecorded episode of the Craig and Ray show - where we talk nonstop about any ol' damn thing that comes in to our minds.



We got to the hotel around 12:00 noon; got parked and checked in no problem. We grabbed all the stuff out of the car and took it to the room - then headed out to get some lunch. When we got in the elevator going down from our tenth floor room - there's a VERY tall man already in there. Ray doesn't recognize him - but I do. It's Tyler Mane. We've been in the hotel 15 minutes and we've already run in to a celebrity.


Tyler Mane




I initiated a quick conversation with Mr. Mane mentioning that I wish he could bring the horror movie he's touring in exhibition around the country to Wilmington. Tyler grinned and asked if I was the guy who'd been requesting that online. I admitted that was me. Sadly, they are locked with the dates and places they already set up - and their publicist is out with a severe illness - so it looks like Compound Fracture won't be having a screening in Wilmington anytime soon. They were doing a screening Sunday night after the MMP 2013 was over - but Ray needed to get back to Wilmington relatively early for work Monday (I took another day off to decompress) so we weren't going to be able to stay for an 8pm movie Sunday night with a four hour drive home.



Digression - if you'd like to read my interview with actor Muse Watson (I Know What You Did Last Summer), that talks about his role in Compound Fracture as well as his long acting career - go HERE.



But it was a pleasant chat - and I told Tyler I'd be seeing him later as he went off to do publicity for both the convention and his movie's screening.






Ray was astounded - that we ran in to a celebrity in the elevator - no security or entourage - that I recognized him so quickly and easily - and that Mr. Mane and I had jumped right in to an easy conversation about his movie.


For lunch we went to the Charlotte version of one of our favorite hangouts -







After that it was back to the hotel - because even though the show wasn't officially starting until 6pm (5pm for RIP ticket holders) - the hotel was bustling with activity and was already a fun show to watch.

The show area was closed off until 5pm - so we moseyed around the lobby area and finally gravitated to the pool bar for a beer. The bartender - Crystal - was a sweetheart - gorgeous, funny, and terrific at her job. I ordered a citrus backed microbrew they had called Shock Top - and Ray got a pale amber beer. I wouldn't normally go in to detail about such things - but it will become important moments from now.



So we're chatting with a couple who have also come to the hotel for MMP - oh, how did I know? Here's how:




They were great fun - and they started us off on a great foot - as we discovered throughout the weekend - anyone in costume was always happy to pose for a photo op!





Then, things started to get really cool when we sit back down - and Kane Hodder walks in and takes a seat four down from me around the curve of the bar. He and a buddy are looking for a bite to eat and a brew. They ask what we have - and we identify our beers - or should I say - Ray identifies his beer - and I mistakenly call mine Shock Boy instead of Shock Top. Crystal corrects me to Mr. Hodder who is looking at me with that wicked gleam in his eye - and he then proceeds to do that time honored tradition between guys - he starts "busting my balls." "Oh, Shock Boy, is it? Guess we know what you have on your mind!" He then asks Ray if we're sharing a room and did Ray know I was planning to come out of the closet like this? I laugh - enjoying the interaction and the non-PC nature of it - it's part of the Guy Thing - and this exchange starts off a freewheeling conversation between Hodder, his guy, Ray, me, and another guy nearby. It was a hella good time - and Kane kept the insults coming at me once in a while - all in good fun - and always with that twinkle in his eye. At one point I threatened to get director John Buechler to drop another porch on him - as happened in Friday the 13th Part 7 - and he grinned at that.




Kane stepped out of the bar - and Ray followed - and snapped a pic with him - a rare occurrence for this show as there were pre-scheduled green screen photo ops set up with several of the celebs - for a charge of course - and some of the celebs consequently wouldn't pose for cell phone pics. But Ray caught Hodder at the right moment - far enough "off stage" that he said yes to the pic.





I didn't realize he'd gone to do that or I would have joined him - but Ray was worried Hodder might flip out on him and have him ejected from the show or something - so he didn't want to risk the same thing happening to me. Nice thought - but only one of us has a pic with the guy now. Thanks, Ray.






This insult war burned up some time – along with meeting more and more conventioneers coming in and out of the place. I suddenly noticed it was 5:30 – and we were running late! As RIP ticketholders we were allowed to pick up our tickets at 5:00pm, the regular crowd would start filtering in at 6:00pm. So we ran to get our tickets. Everything was coded with wristbands and buttons – they advised to keep the wristband for the weekend as the volunteer staffer – called “stiff” – hee hee - wrapped it around our wrists. I immediately asked about showering and was assured the band was waterproof. We headed up from the ticket area to the main floor of the show. Here’s the show layout. You generally entered right into the room where the DeLorean sat – with the main ballroom for panels on the right, the Haunted Mill straight ahead, and the screening room, reptile room, and RIP lounge all in this same room.







Off to the left was a hallway that came to stairs on the left (which is where you entered after picking up your tickets down those stairs) and then the celebrity room was straight ahead. Off to the right was the dealer room. There was one hallway with more dealer tables on one side of the dealer room, and the other hallway was the Jaws hallway – nicknamed "Amity Aisle" - where the display items from the movie and the celebs from that flick were staged.







So we plunged in to the celebrity room and made our way around in a scope out. Mark Torgl (The Toxic Avenger) was the first person you’d see – then if you went left it was Lita Ford, and if you went right it was Linnea Quigley. At the back of the room – Danny Glover, Gary Busey, and Jake Busey. When Ray saw Gary Busey his eyes went wide as saucers. I asked one of the Stiff members how we would get the free celebrity autograph that came with the RIP ticket, and was told that would start at 7pm. It was 6:15pm. I told Ray he’d need to wait forty five minutes as GB was the celebrity he’d chosen – and he looked at me with a flat stare. “I’ve been waiting more than thirty years to meet him. I can’t wait another forty five minutes!” Okay, I replied – jump in line with some cash – we’ll get you Gunnar Hansen free after 7pm. (Those were the only two celebs I knew he was getting autographs from). Ray waited dutifully. Let me just say that we had some beer with lunch – you might even say we had beer FOR lunch – then had a few more at the hotel bar with Kane Hodder. Ray can drink some beer – and he was averaging three for every one I had – so by the time he was in line at GB’s table – with no dinner in our bellies – he was three sheets to the wind. I was planning to get Busey’s autograph too – so Ray wanted me to go first so he could watch. I stepped up, got my Big Wednesday poster signed – and took a quick pic with the man.


He was so happy to finally meet me!




Then Ray got his Buddy Holly Story poster signed, and he got a picture with the slightly cranky but mostly affable actor. Ray finished getting his pic, and starts to step around the table – I start to walk towards the other row of celeb tables – and look back, expecting Ray to be a few feet behind me. No Ray. I look back – and he’s back in line for Gary Busey. I step over and tell him “Hey, you already met him and got your stuff.” Ray looks at me with a wild look – “He’s going to speak to my girlfriend Allison on the phone!” He intoned. “Uh, Ray, he may not WANT to talk to your girlfriend Allison on the phone.” “HE’S DOING IT.” At this point, I make a snap judgment – drunk pal, known crazy actor, phone. I’m out. “OK!” I stated and stepped away, wondering if I could sneak a picture or video of Busey coming across the table at Ray.



Finally!




Well, eventually Ray makes it to the front of the line again, carefully holding an open line to Allison on MY phone (long(er) story). Busey recognizes he’s already met him and turns to look at the person behind Ray. Ray steps to the side of the table and asks if Busey will talk to his girlfriend. Busey says no. Ray stays. The next person steps up, gets something signed, and steps away. As soon as that encounter finishes, Ray starts to hand the phone to Busey again with a “Please Mr. Busey.” Gary slaps the phone hand back and tells his assistant “Will you handle this?” The guy moves Ray back a bit as the next person gets their item signed – but then the assistant goes to take a pic of that person with Busey, so as soon as the pic is snapped and the fan moves away – while the assistant is still out in front – Ray goes in again, trying to hand the phone to Busey. Busey slaps at it again, then looks at his guy “Handle this!” The guy gets Ray moved back – and as Busey signs the next item he and the assistant have a quick conference. “Charge him.” Busey mutters. The assistant says it will be “…mmmm….$15.” Ray hands him a $20 bill and won’t take the change. Finally, the assistant tells GB he’s paid and Busey takes the phone. He promptly calls Allison April, and chats with her for about 7 seconds. He thrusts the phone back to Ray who takes it and bounces off like a little kid with an ice cream cone.



Thankfully, some snacks and time passing brought Ray back from this precipice as the evening wore on.



We stayed in the autograph area for the next hour and a half or so. I got some stuff signed, and I reconnected with Vic Armstrong – who had directed second unit on a movie I was on called Radioland Murders. I had served as his production assistant for the whole three weeks of his shoot – and I stepped up, mentioning my name and that I had worked for him on Radioland Murders. “Ah yes – you were a big Bond fan!” he stated – remembering me after nearly TWENTY years. I liked him back then – I really like him now. He’d actually just been back to Wilmington – meeting with a producer about a new project he might be directing. We chatted and caught up. His wife Wendy was supposed to be there – she was a stuntwoman of some renown and I had met her interestingly on Radioland Murders (but that story will not lengthen this one – I’ll post it in my RM post later). Wendy had to cancel her appearance – and I commiserated not getting to see her again. Vic signed my Never Say Never Again poster – he and Wendy did the horse jump into water – Vic doubling Connery and Wendy doubling Basinger. I hope to run in to Wendy next time and get her autograph on the other side of the poster.



I next went to Amity Aisle to meet Jeffrey Kramer. I said hello, and went digging in my bag for the item I wanted him to sign. I told him I hoped to surprise him with this one - and his eyes actually lit up when he saw the DVD for Hollywood Blvd - the co-directorial debut for directors Joe Dante and Allan Arkush under the auspices of producer Roger Corman. Kramer played the romantic lead in the movie - and got to schmooze romantically with the late great Candice Rialson. Mr. Kramer signed the DVD cover happily - and we spent a moment lamenting the passing of Ms. Rialson. Then, as he got up to take a picture with me - he said "You just made my weekend bringing this one in, kid!" Very cool!


Jeffrey Kramer and a guy in a cool T-shirt.




At about 7:45 we started working on getting Ray his free autograph from Gunnar Hansen. I will start this off by saying Hansen is not in any way unpleasant, but he’s also not someone who can be approached haphazardly. Unfortunately the Stiff we got to help us mishandled the approach, so we went in to a loooong holding pattern waiting on an MMP higher up to come smooth the situation over. This ended up taking about 25 minutes, which pushed us past the 8:00pm start time for a special preview screening of the remake of Maniac starring Elijah Wood. Dammit.







After giving up on Maniac I took a stroll through the dealer room – noting that Ron Chaney – grandson of Lon Jr. and great grandson of Lon Sr. – was set up just inside this room. He’s a very pleasant man and people enjoyed speaking to him – so it took a while to get to chat with him and not feel like I was interrupting a conversation. He’s very cool – keeping the family legacy alive and doing fun projects like House of the Wolfman – a small indie flick that is the spiritual child of the original Universal Studios Monster Movies. Great guy.







In addition to this kibitzing with the celebs – Ray and I both were having a grand ol’ time simply people watching our fellow MMP-ers. They were a wildly diverse and yes, wild gang – older professorial types in blazers and sweaters flanked by tiny little twenty something girls tattooed everywhere skin touched air – and that was a lot of skin touching air in some cases. There were also the guests in costume – like our bar zombie pals – and these ranged from street clothes and a little face paint to a guy in a full on seven foot tall Godzilla costume with tail. (!)

Ray and the Grady Twins from The Shining - contemplating some redrum...

A couple of lovelies, at least one of which was born the gender on display...

It's just a jump...to the left...


We hung around just taking it all in – and I noticed that while the show was supposed to close for the night at 11 – there were still celebs hanging out in that room until 11:30 or so. After that it was to the other hotel bar for some drinks and “Scare-e-oke.” Finally, at about 1am we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner and were starving, so we ordered a pizza and took it up to the room at about 1:30am where we wolfed down a couple of slices each and crashed.




Enjoying some "Scare-e-oke."






Excellent first day!







And I realized I nattered on enough about Ray’s drunken assault on Gary Busey that it might be a good idea to split this into a two parter – so this will end Part One – we’ll pick up with Part Two and Saturday morning's shenanigans very soon!







Until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


21 comments:

  1. I think Ray could've taken him. Lol

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    1. I don't know...he was pretty plowed...

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  2. It was great seeing you there. This Con was the high light of 2013 so for for me. I hope it was for you!!!

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    1. It was a hell of a time - and it was awesome seeing you there too!

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  3. gotta say gary is usually a total douche good for your friend to try and stand his ground even though it wasnt handled the right way . I have seen many stars do a new voice mail for free on your cell

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    1. That's a good idea - voicemail request - may add that to my list next time! Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  4. What an awesomely good time Craig, and I can't imagine meeting Gary Busey since I'm sure he's not as crazy as reality TV makes him seem.

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    1. Maurice - I actually think he might be worse.

      Cheers!

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  5. What you've documented, Craig, looks fantastic. I'm happy for you and also for Mr. Busey who was given the fortunate honor of meeting you.

    Keep up the great posts :)

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    1. Thank you Matty! It was a lot of fun - maybe you should spearhead a more artistic version where people come and screen Eisenstein and meet people like The Coen Brothers and Daniel Day-Lewis!

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  6. Love me some Hollywood Blvd!

    I want to know what the stiff did to cheese off G. Hansen.

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    1. Hollywood Blvd rocks the world!

      Basically, the unsuspecting Stiff just approached him and basically told him he needed to sign Ray's autograph for free as it was a factor in the RIP ticket. Mr. Hansen said no, he knew nothing about that and anyone getting a signature would need to pay the asking price. That sent us into the waiting tailspin that took about 25 minutes to work out - but in the end, Ray did get his TCM repro poster signed for free!

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  7. Awesome, Craig! What a blast! Love the photos!

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    1. Thank you Mark! Always a pleasure to see you!

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  8. Oh my goodness, I can't believe your friend walked away with all his teeth after the Gary Busey thing! He's got balls!

    These things look like such a blast - I'm so going to Texas Frightmare Weekend now! I think I need to go be amongst my people for a weekend, too, and now I'm totally looking forward to it! I was really hoping Kane Hodder would be at the con I'm going to, but no such luck (Tyler Mane will be there though) and I can't believe you just sat around and drank with him - awesome! Seems like a cool guy.

    Great pictures! Can't wait to see what happens in Part 2!

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    1. Michele - it was so funny that you posted that call for votes on whether you should go to that Texas show moments after I returned from the best convention experience of my life! Glad my post pushed you over into your own adventure - cannot WAIT to read your posts about your trip!

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  9. Oh my God!! I cannot believe you met Tyler Mane and Kane Hodder. That is just so unbelievably cool. I think my eyes would have been big as Jupiter. What fantastic pics and I so cannot wait to hear more. Love that Gary was on the phone with Ray's girlfriend. and how wonderful that Vic remembered your fondness for Bond.

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    1. It was spectacular, let me tell you! Everybody was very warm and pretty pleasant - and a grand time was had by all!

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  10. Wow! Wow! Wow! Awesome write-up, awesome pics, awesome trip! Jealous!!!!

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    1. I truly wish you could have been there - we would have gotten into so many hijinx!

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  11. I enjoy going to horror conventions, but it sounds like being someone who's able to hold conversations with the celebrity guests makes the experience even cooler. Damn my social anxiety.

    - Cody

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