Hello Ghouls and Boils,
Long time no type to! I know how much you must have missed me, my wicked darlings. I am sorry for my extended absence, but my underlings and minions have kept up the place well I see. *pushes some cobwebs back* But I am back now and ready to bring you all the best in science-fiction, horror, and strange tales. I thought a lot about how I wanted to revive SNS. Well last weekend I went to the biggest (and newest) horror/sci-fi convention in the region, the Mad Monster Party! I want to make a few statements before I begin. 1) I had a seizure a little over a month ago, so my pain level was pretty high. 2) I did attempt to contact the convention chair and get their feedback. That wasn’t a very successful endeavor — as you will see below. 3) My thoughts were echoed ten fold by con-goers and special guests alike. Ok now that the full disclosure is out there — sit back and enjoy the ride. As always, enjoy my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
Day One – Lines, lines, and more lines… oh yeah — and frak you Corey Feldman
Ok… I am not new to conventions. I know that lines and ticketing can be problems and technical behind-the-scenes details can delay things. But getting in on opening day was a mess.
My hubby and I (along with our friend Lauren) got to the hotel across the road (Henry and I booked a room. We just figured it would be easier given my condition) quite early so we had time to settle in and grab a bite before we went to the convention. My hopes were high. I would be getting to meet a lot of my favorite people from the horror and sci-fi genres and a bunch of my friends would be there.
After (a pretty horrible) dinner we made our way over to the Con. (Now keep in mind I have been to a lot of conventions and film festivals.) It was approaching 5:30 when we went over to meet our friend Toohey. We figured that since the first panel was scheduled at 6:30 that that would be awesome timing. Give us some time to mosey on in and check out the dealers/celeb rooms before heading over to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Usually in conventions they open the dealers room anywhere from one to three hours before the first panel is supposed to start. At the least they start admission and processing before the first panel/event starts.) Oh boy was I ever wrong.
About this time I am thinking… hmmm… must be some kind of issue with ticketing or something. I remember those chaotic times at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival when some small glitch would happen and we’d have a line outside. So at this point I am not annoyed. I am pumped up on red bull and ready to go! I was very excited to get the lay of the land and I figured the line would get moving any minute and I could get down there AND go up to the tent (I wish I had an image of this, it was a a giant wedding sorta tarpy tent where they held all the panels — which no one bothered to mention on the website or programs by the way.) for the Rocky Horror Picture Show panel featuring Brad, Columbia and Magenta!
Time is moving at a snails pace because we are waiting for something fun. It was like kids before Christmas. I could her sighs and mutters all around me as it was approaching 6:30. (Doors were supposed to open at 6 — said the gentleman behind us.) At this point I am starting to get a little anxious. So as soon as I spotted a volunteer I went to ask about the line and panels. I expressed my concern about the timing and the volunteer wasn’t sure how to answer me. She came back out and said that soon they would be letting people in six at a time (WTF?) and that I shouldn’t worry they would be pushing the RHPS panel back and no one would miss it. I trusted this was true. It is a volunteer who gathered the information — I was assuming it would be accurate. It was not. First they don’t have separate lines for prepay and general admission. I think that might have helped. But I can only contemplate what happened and unfortunately I got nothing but “If they think these lines are bad they should see DragonCon or ComicCon.” from a grumbly security dude. We walked out and I happily pulled out my iphone with the scanner image for our tickets. Then the young lady asks what my last name was, looked on a printed paper and slapped on some cheapy con bracelets and sent us on our way with a map (because 1)She didn’t know where the panels were and 2)They were trying to push us through quickly). Something must have gone wrong with the scanning system, this could have caused they delay. Whatever it was it was super annoying and super tiring. After that exhausting process we were ready to get some instant gratification and check out the guests and treasures in the vendor rooms (where we finally found a volunteer who know what he was talking about and he told us about the tent). Me, the hubby, and Toohey make our first stop at Tom Savini‘s table. Don’t know who Savini is? Shame on you — give me back your horror geek card!
Now, after some thought, I am going to chalk it up to being the same sort of frustration the geeks, media, and staff (or “stiff”) were all feeling… but Mr. Savini was not the most approachable man. I mentioned having met him about 19 years ago or so and he just didn’t seem to want to chat and heck I can’t blame him. My husband and Toohey were getting anxious about getting to the RHPS panel. They decided to head up. But Corey Feldman was at the next table over and I was really looking forward to meeting him.
I was pretty impressed at first. He had on a dazzling jacket and looked just like I pictured. I used to be a bit of a Corey/Corey fan as a teenager. I will admit to having pictures of both of them on my wall clipped out from teen magazines. He was taking time to talk to his fans and they seemed pretty giddy with delight. So I didn’t mind waiting in yet another line to meet him. When I got to the table I told him that my husband and I had been admiring his jacket from afar. He joked saying now you admire it up close. He seemed pretty kewl. I had my copy of Gremlins out ready to be signed. At conventions it is fairly common for celebrities to charge for photos. Nowadays they will even charge for photos on your own camera. This is not a shock. Usually if you buy an item from their table or buy an autograph on an item you brought the celeb will do a photo for free or for a lesser charge. Corey double dipped! They charged me for the autograph on the DVD and then an additional $20 for a photograph. I was so taken aback. I just paid it and then headed off to the outdoors to regroup. So yeah, frak you Corey Feldman. Double dipping from your fan base is so uncool.
As I was headed out I spotted Henry Winkler! I had to stop myself from squeeing and jumping up and down. It was the frakking Fonz! So I had to stop for a photo op with him. He was such a sweet guy.
I sent a text to my husband and relayed my woes. He said they got into the panel and it had already started. Our friend Lauren was still waiting in line. No one will miss anything, huh? Yeah… that was a load of BS. He let me know they would be coming soon and would text when on the way. I decided to suck it up and get back to the dealers room.
I saw Nivek Ogre (Ogre, Ohgr, etc) and made my way to his table. I said hi and asked him if he remembered me from last year (I of course reminded him of my crazy hair falls (which you will notice later), and that I was wearing glasses). He said of course he did and greeted me with a hug. Ogre gives the best hugs by the way. I told him we saw Skinny Puppy when they came last month and we chit chatted a bit about that. I felt a lot better and after telling him I would pop back around later I decided to roam again.
Next I spotted Ken Foree! He is a favorite of ours. I got him to sign Dawn of the Dead and posed for some pictures (free by the way) joking how I was going to make the hubby jealous. He was just a genuinely nice guy and such a refreshing change from the arrogance I had seen on the other side of the room. (I totally forgot to tell him I used to hang out in Monroeville Mall)
Right next to the great Ken Foree was the adorable Sid Haig! I had a small stack of DVDs for him to sign. He was so great and down to earth. When he got to Spider Baby he told me that it had recently been preserved by the Academy Film Archive! I said how does that feel? He said great! When he got to the The Big Bird Cage disc, I told him that was my favorite of his. He chuckled and said it was a lot of fun to make. Then I got to snuggle with him for a photo op (also free by the way).
I was peopled out again though and had to go out for a smoke (yes I know… I am trying to quit). While I was out there I got to talking with Frankenhooker and some other people about how insane and packed and hot it was in there. By that point Henry and Toohey found me. We were getting ready to head back in when Ken Foree bummed a smoke from me. Yup, folks (the ones without their heads up their own bums) are just folks. We then headed in and dumped some more money on Ken and Sid’s tables. We decided we were going to wander around some more rather than head back up to the tent of doom. Toohey left to pick up Angie — we were going to dance since DJ Spider was supposed to be spinning in the bar. (Only to find out 15 minutes later it was not going to happen, some sort of sound ordinance and no one told her. Loverly.)
We made our way to the Rocky Horror tables and with a renewed vigor I prepared to meet an idol, Patricia Quinn/Magenta!!!
She was the sweetest lady. She was so interested in all my Star Wars geeky jewelry. We got her to sign our disc and my husband bought a great photo of her. Then we posed for several photos with her (free again). I relayed a message for from Ken Foree. She gave me a peck on the cheek for it. I was in geek grrl heaven.
We went outside for another little break. I wasn’t sure what to do since Spider wasn’t spinning. A gentleman outside recommended room parties. I don’t usually do room parties. But then he spoke about the ConCarolinas party. I remembered having a blast at last year’s party. Jada was running the shindig, and I wanted to see her – so bonus! We basically just milled about until party time. We met up with Lauren and headed up the elevators away from the sweaty hordes *phew*.
Exhausted after a long day we wandered on to the hotel after the party to get some sleep. Sadly I couldn’t sleep… strange bed syndrome. But I did rest my eyes and tagged some photos and watched some cartoons.
Day Two – We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat!
I thought Friday was bad. Thankful my convention was being fueled by the folks at Red Bull, I prepared myself for another day of confusion. I make sure I get to the Con super early because I prepaid to have a photo op with Elvira. Boy oh boy I wasn’t prepared for this annoyance. So we get there and go inside, because hey we already paid and would rather wait inside on a comfy chair. We show them our wristbands and go in. There is a volunteer standing at the escalator who informs me that we need to leave and go wait in line outside. Here we go outside again. There a different volunteer instructs up to go wait in line. While waiting there we find out none of these people have wristbands yet. So we ask yet another volunteer who instructs us to go inside. She pulls the head of security who then verifies what this girl is saying. I asked the guy if I could contact the con chair through the website, he said I should try the Facebook site (which I did later and gave them more than enough time to respond, the conversation will be at the end of this review). He made some excuses, none of which I can verify so I will not publish them. But let’s say he was trying to persuade me to not let the disorganization affect my review. I understand and listen, if it was just me I’d suck it up… but in general I heard varying levels of complaints about disorganization, lines, temperature, and more from every person I talked to. So, sorry security dude. I can’t ignore this. But listen, I am giving credit for the good stuff too.
Henry and I sit down and with a heavy sigh we start the waiting process. Then the same volunteer who kicked us out the first time tries to do it again. I looked him straight in the eye and said no! I told him if he had a problem to tell the head of security and we could all talk about it. Yeah… I can be scary. Especially when wearing a corseted top and skirt (which later earned me a compliment from Elvira – oh my Goddess)!
After we revived a bit, the hubby and I went to wait in line. We find out while standing there that the convention won’t open up until 11AM (first panel started at 11:11AM). Here I am after the news:
And the lines again:
Finally I start asking the volunteers about the photo op with Elvira. It took me four people before I got to someone who knew what was going on. Even then their directions were crazy. But I quickly found the line when I got there and luckily was towards the front of the non-RIP (their version of VIP treatment for con-goers who can swing the dough). I was aware I would be waiting more than an hour but there but I had no idea how agonizing it would be. The photo room was in one of the small conference rooms. It was also a small area to line people up.
It was super congested. It was so hot that con-goers were grabbing flyers and making makeshift fans to stave off the sweat. I felt like I was going to faint several times, which was scary given my recent health issues. Not only that. There were so many people in line for this photo-op thing that people who were differently abled were just having the worst time getting through. There were several times I used my booming voice to clear the way for a wheelchair or mobility vehicle coming through. There was also no place for the elderly or differently abled to sit. So standing in that enclosed space, with that many people (I found out later the line went outside), was just not in any way fun. I tried to fix my makeup like 8 times because it kept melting off. We were all quite miserable, but since misery loves company we had plenty to talk about.
The photo-op started at about 12:30 (it was scheduled to begin at noon). Ok, for $50 they take a professional photo with you and Elvira. They don’t tell you this would be from the waist up only. They don’t tell you they will put up a cheesy background via green screen. And you have no photo approval. Take what ya get and move along like good little cattle. They told us to pick up the photos in an hour or two. I think it was almost 5pm or so when they were finally done. I wasn’t happy with the way mine turned out at all. You could see the green screening. Ugh! So I made lemonade and scanned it in and edited it to black and white – voila!)
Afterwards I felt like I won some sort of battle and my reward would be outside… I ran to the nearest exit. Ah air and room to breathe. I bought a six dollar beer and didn’t even mind spending that much money because I was so hot and so thirsty. I had the hubby come grab me and I told him I couldn’t stand the idea of going back in there. So, we went to lunch. I immediately changed out of the corseted skirt and we sat down for a meal. Angie, Kelley, and her husband all met us at the restaurant
We decided to splurge a little at this convention so we went about looking at items (the vendor selection kind of sucked and it was sort of hard to shop because everything was so crowded in) and getting some things from our favorite guests. Feeling a bit better after the break (though I didn’t really eat) we decided to brave the crowds again.
First we stopped by to talk to the elegant Camille Keaton. She was so sweet and was sure to ask everyone their name… and she remembered them! I just adored her. If you have never seen the original I Spit On Your Grave, you need too!
My goal after that was to make a beeline to John Schnider‘s table. We geeks sometimes refer to him as Bo Kent. *laughs* I gushed about how he was the best Pa Kent ever. And he was just so sweet and thankful to everyone I saw him talk to. I had him sign the Smallville DVD which had the episode he directed, Talisman. And boy is he a remarkably handsome man. He looks fabulous.
Next on our list, the lovable Ed Neal. Don’t know who he is? Betcha felt a little silly after you clicked the link. I will say meeting him was one of the highlights of my weekend. I hope to snag an interview with him. He was amazingly friendly.
Oh and what is the fun of having a shot with Magenta and not one with Cloumbia! No fun, I say! And she was so sweet and so gracious. Loved Nell Campbell!
Last, but certainly not least on my list was Jeremy Licht. He was my favorite character, in my favorite segment, of Twilight Zone the Movie. I have been wanting to meet him since I was like eight. We chatted for a while and he agreed to do an interview with SNS in May! So look for that one folks!
After all the running around, through all those hordes or horror fans, Henry and I decided to go to the hotel and take a little nap. I was in a ton of pain and was very tired. A timeout was necessary. We made it back to the hotel just in time for the event I was most excited for, a regional premier of All Cheerleaders Die – the newest/oldest project of the great Lucky McKee! I will wait until I get this on DVD to give it a full review, but I will say it was funny, gross, scary, all the things I expect from Lucky!
We ran into Ogre in the hall and posed for a couple of pictures. He is such a sweety!
We went back to the hotel and discussed what we were going to do about the next day. The husband and I decided it was best to just skip day three. I guess we felt like the cost outweighed the benefit.
I did attempt to contact the MMP con chair here is the conversation in its entirety.
ME: Is there a way I could speak with the con-chair. I am doing a review of the mmp for my site and I had some questions.
Mad Monster Party: All the chairs at the con were property of the Hilton and they make for terrible interviews. Send any questions you have over, and I’ll get you some answers. Thanks!
ME: What was up with the lines??? The lines to get into the hotel were moving at a snail pace, if at all. It was opening day and after waiting nearly two hours I asked a staff member what was happening. She explained there was some kind of delay and they would be letting people in soon. I asked about the panels, which were supposed to start soon, and she assured me no one would miss a panel. Thankful for some news I waited, waited, and waited more and soon I was at the registration table, iPhone in hand – ready to have it scanned. Then the volunteer said she had to look me up by name on a printed out sheet. Oy. When I asked about panels, schedule and the like, the volunteers were not very knowledgeable. Lines again and also why is it that the staff and their frequent miscommunication? On day two we decided to get there early. The fist panel was at 11 and I had a photo op with Elvira at noon. So I walk inside the hotel, we bought the weekend pass. A volunteer demanded (rudely I must say) that we needed to wait outside. I found a volunteer I spoke with the day before. She informed me since I had purchased the weekend pass there was no reason for me to stand in line. She brought us back in and pulled the head of security who both solidly agreed we could sit in the lobby. I was relieved. I had a seizure recently and since then I have been in a lot of pain. Not 5 minutes after we sat down the same volunteer who demanded we go outside, did it again. I explained to him that the head of security said we could sit here and if the young man wanted to bring him over he was more than welcome to, I am not moving. Thankfully he left us alone. Lines again and this time inside… Finally I am waiting in line to meet the amazing Elvira (however fleeting the moment) and get our picture together. That line was so long. It snaked around covered hallways and I heard it even went outside. If a fire marshall had come in he would have shut the convention down. Also, I don’t know how many times I had to make people get out of the path of a fan in a wheelchair. There was no consideration for the disabled. You couldn’t guess by looking at me but I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and now whatever this seizure is. Sometimes I need to sit. Was there anywhere setup for elders, differently abled, and sick individuals?
I hate to sound so terribly nit picky. I do want you to know that I had some fun. Heck I met so many people I admire. And it is always amazing to be with so many like-minded people
MMP: When thousands of people try to enter a hotel lines form. We tried VERY hard to get into the convention center and the city didn’t think “our group” was a good fit so we were stuck with a convention center sized show in a hotel. The option was to not bring as many cool guests and the consensus seems to be it was worth the wait. We were not at all happy with all of our volunteers, but it’s always a gamble when you have to bring on so many new faces (to accommodate the aforementioned larger lines). Repeat volunteers were awesome (which is why we brought them back) but, as it is with all people, some suck. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
ME: One more question for the article… do you plan on trying for a bigger venue next year?<crickets for a week – then I wrote this>
Year three did not go as well as I had hoped. This convention is suffering some very serious growing pains and this venue simply wasn’t big enough and the staff wasn’t prepared for the crowd wrangling aspect, directions, or ticketing. I am pretty sure it was way above capacity that weekend. I did have fun though, because I had friends there and MMP pulled some awesome guests who were gracious and good with their fans. Will I go again next year? Most likely. I think this convention has potential and there isn’t anything else like it here in Charlotte. So, I am going to give this Con three ratings, to be fair.
Sarah L. Covert – Creator/Editor/Reviewer/Columnist/Reporter/Monthly Movie Tweet-a-thon Co-host