Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fan Expo, Mark Hamill, and Small Fish

Now that I've had a couple of days to try to get my head together, I have a couple of thoughts.

I'm exhausted from working all weekend; reading tarot for hundreds of people, giving three lectures, being on several panels, doing many media interviews, and in-between, not wanting to miss out on my only chance to ever see Mark Hamill in real life so running half a mile to his booth to look at him before running back to my own lines. It's a happy exhaustion!
I still get excited to see my name so close to Mark Hamill's in the program!

I Have No Gift to Bring
By Sunday, it occurred to me to give Mark Hamill one of my books. I wanted to do something to show him I'm a huge fan but I'm far too poor to get an autograph or photo. I had to borrow money just to buy the additional $15 ticket to see one of his live shows. And in fact, someone else had to buy me that ticket as I have no credit cards, and I paid back that person.

So, to give him $50 for an autograph or $200 for a photo was way out of my orbit. Again, I had to choose between groceries and buying The Force Awakens when it came out so I have zero luxury right now for autographs and such. I've been going through a really hard time for about six years now and I'm hopeful it will get better, but it wasn't in time for Fan Expo.

I figured if I gave him one of my books, he'd at least know "I care" even if he doesn't know who the hell I am or why someone would give him an erotic horror book when he's a comic book nerd. I have no idea if the handler gave him the book. I wasn't allowed to give it to him myself at that time. The handler told me to return at the end of the day but I had lineups for tarot readings and autographs of my own!!! And when I thought I might sprint over to check, yet another TV crew came by to  interview me, and it was one I'd been expecting so I couldn't exactly leave my own interview to go see if Mark Hamill might look at me. Then I had to choose between "Do I try to see if I can actually talk to him though I already gave the book to the handler so what the hell would I say anyway?" or "Do I run to where he's going to be giving his presentation to get a good seat?"  I chose the second and got the front row but then changed it to the second row since I felt too much like a stalker.

Rebel Pond Scum
As a small little fish in the horror pond, I have small privileges such as being able to grab a second row seat because I went half an hour early and was allowed in. At horror conventions, I can easily approach anyone from Peter Straub, Jonathan Maberry, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, and more, who I also count as my friends. I've met all kinds of famous people by walking up and saying hi. I met Daniel Knauf this year, the creator of Carnivale, and nearly had a heart attack, but I walked up to him in the hall in Las Vegas at Stokercon, shook his hand and took his picture and we joked and laughed and such. Later on, I sat at his table right across from him, for many hours of drinking while he shared Hollywood stories and his new wife/gf was there as well as many of us who also work in the horror field. But those horror writer conventions, they aren't Fan Expo.

At Fan Expo and other Comicons, you can't just walk up and talk to your peers as peers because the Hollywood "stars" are animals in a circus and you have to pay admission. And you know what, I say we're peers when we all work in the entertainment business with our goal to entertain other people. Some of us had massive good luck, some of us are still climbing the ladder and reaching for the star, some of us were  halfway up the ladder, fell down and are climbing back up...on it goes. I consider my peers as those of us who are working hard to entertain our fans. Again, I'm just a little fish but I'm still a fish.I'm also not slamming the cons, just observing the differences between the horror conventions I go to several times a year and how I am spoiled that if I go to a con, I can speak to and party with famous people and my idols as if we're all normal human beings. But the way the comic book/mass media conventions have evolved, there is no interaction except through lineups.

If there was a special room or BAR or party for guests like me to talk to Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, George Takei and so many others who were there this year, I was never told about it. So I can only observe what I experienced as a small fish "special guest." Which is basically, I did my work, and was left completely to my own devices to figure out whether I mattered or whether I could do anything extra like talk to Mark Hamill. The answer is "no."

We're Not Going to Take It
I saw a lot of backlash before Fan Expo and after about Hamill's prices. I think his were the highest ever in the history of Fan Expo. All the prices of the stars are insane these days. I remember we all used to think it was crass to charge $10 for an autographed photo. Now, $200 for a Mark Hamill picture and for the average working person that's a week's salary at a shitty job.  For Joe Average to get a momento for someone whom you've supported by buying their work for years or even decades, that is too much money. And it's so sad.

Fan Expo and other Comic/Cosplay Conventions ALWAYS reminds me of Tommy. Long before Mark Hamill. I've been a guest at Fan Expo many times over the years so I've had lots of time to observe. I'm not singling out Fan Expo. I mean, any of these comic conventions. They charge huge amounts of money to get in, more money for the big stars' presentations, and more money again for photos and autographs. The average person, especially these days, doesn't have a lot of disposable income. Many REAL fans can't even afford to get in the door, let alone pay the prices on top of the prices. Comic book conventions are for rich people. And that makes me sad sometimes. I myself am so grateful that I get to go as a special guest and get to see and do as much as I can while I'm working. I love these shows but they have certainly spiraled into a major expense beyond the grasp of many true hardcore fans. I am NOT slamming Fan Expo. I love Fan Expo. Thank you again for having me as a special guest. A very big thank you to Lance for bringing me back and having me do multiple presentations as myself, as Mistress Ariana, and for supporting my Horror Writers Association Ontario Chapter.

I say that I would never charge for photos and autographs. That I'm happy that people recognize me in movies or buy my books. But of course, I'm not at that level where people would pay for me (or I could afford to pay Mark Hamill!) so I don't honestly know the truth. When you've been starving and then hit stardom, I guess the lure is great to make as much money as possible while you're hot until the star fades again. Hollywood, fans, entertainment business is fickle.

Fan Girl
But I am not a fickle fan. When I become a fan, I'm one for life. My hardcore fan hit list has been the same my whole life. I've recently added two to the list, Adam and Finn.

Shirley Temple
Judy Blume
Roger Daltrey
The Who
Mark Hamill
Stephen King
Clive Barker
Adam Driver
Finn Wittrock

Teenage Wasteland
I was a Mark Hamill fan from the beginning when I saw Star Wars opening day when I was fifteen and never stopped being one. I had his pictures on my bedroom wall for years along with Roger Daltrey. I had my Daltrey wall, my Who wall, my Mark Hamill (note: not Star Wars but Mark Hamill) wall. I had a collection of news clippings and photos. I likely still have all of it, I'm not sure. I lost some of my boxes when I was trying to escape my second marriage. I've still not looked through all the boxes I still have to see what I have or not. I saw I had that Luke and C-3PO T-shirt from when I was fifteen. I remember when Hamill had his car crash and lost his starring role on Eight is Enough. He was always a huge comic book nerd and always talked about his favourite comic books. I read Howard the Duck and watched the movie when it was finally made because it was his favourite comic at the time in the seventies. I read many of his favourite comics that he'd mention in interviews. Let me tell you, hunting down some of his favourite comics wasn't terribly easy back in the seventies. He'd be in a magazine, so the news is already old, then to find comic books in square old London, Ontario was not easy at all and sometimes I'd have to travel to Toronto or send away or just not get to read them at all. And being a teenaged girl who liked Star Wars, comic books, horror comics, horror books, Logan's Run, and Stephen King, I was not popular at all. In those days, girls didn't like that stuff. So I kept a lot of my old nerd self hidden but I could play a lot of Star Wars music on my violin.

Modern Nerd Girls
This is one thing I totally embrace about modern times; girls can be nerds too! As we see on this blog and especially on my Instagram, I'm having huge fun embracing my inner child that I never got to embrace growing up and then being a mom and going through two broken marriages. Now I'm just playing because there's no reason I can see at all to be an "adult" and "serious" because it sure as hell didn't work for me when I gave it a shot. Now that I'm all alone, likely for the rest of my life since no one wants an old lady Star Wars loving horror writer nerd, why can't I play with toys and write more books and dream about the people who brought joy into my life?

Luke is My Home Boy
As I've said many times, I only went to see The Force Awakens to see what happened to "Luke," to see my Mark Hamill as "Luke" again. Which is why I was so fucked up when he wasn't in it. I'm still angry though it's great story-telling. I'll continue to be upset for the rest of my life that I waited decades to see Luke/Hamill and then still have to wait two years if I live that long. Well, one year has now passed and we're almost into Rogue One territory, but Mark Hamill won't be in it.

Anyway, all weekend, I tried to think about what I would actually say to him if I had a chance to talk to him.

What would I say that he hasn't heard a zillion times before?

Nothing new to say. Absolutely nothing original and unique.

So I don't feel like I missed any opportunities to stand at his table and cry.

Convention Connections
However, if Fan Expo was like a normal convention, I'd have a lot to say to him. Beginning with, "Let me buy you a drink," which would lead to us going to a bar and actually having a real conversation about real things and THAT would be cool.

THAT would be MYdream.

Not lining up at the circus to see the caged beast.

But to have conversation with a real man, not an icon, not a star, not a fictional intergalactic war hero, though perhaps we would touch on the forty year journey we shared as strangers.

I could thank him for the joy he has brought me as Luke and for all the recommendations for geeky reading. I'm really excited about his new nerd collections show and I could tell him that as well. In fact, on a show that I'm involved with, that is still under secret wraps, we too are having a nerd collection segment! I also play "Luke" in a small film homage we shot in the spring but it's not finished yet. But that's a story for another time.

I'm a Greedy Little Duck
I'm still thrilled about literally seeing Mark Hamill. I'm seriously content that I got to cross that off my bucket list. But being a greedy little duck, I just wish there was an opportunity to interact with him as a real person one day before I die! But that's not a bucket list wish, just a wish. And only because in real life, he actually seems like a really nice guy. Truly.

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