On July 9, I braved the summer traffic and took a ride down to one of my favorite venues – Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Pt. Pleasant, for a special appearance by Maurice Benard, the General Hospital star not seen on the east coast in over five years. In the past, you could not have paid me to attend Maurice’s events, which then resembled cattle runs. However, I knew Dino & Linda would put on a great show as always, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.
I knew Maurice’s line would be impassable at General Hospital Fan Club Weekend, as it always is, so this was really the best chance for me to see him in a relaxed, non-rushed setting. He was really cool, posed for photos, and signed two items per person. And I am sure that if I had more, he would have signed them. This was the best I have seen Maurice at a fan event in years.
As always, thank you to my friends Dino from Uncle Vinnie’s and Linda from Coastal Entertainment, and Maurice, Paula, and their family for making the trek to New Jersey. It was a great event, and we all look forward to Maurice returning to the east coast in the future.
Time to play catch up. On June 13, I made another successful trip to Bookends to see former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Any time Newt visits Bookends, I try to make it down there. Political differences aside, Newt’s a good man, and makes every one of the attendees feel like an old friend. You can strike up a conversation with him in regards to almost anything, and he speaks in a smooth, comforting tone.
The last time I saw Newt, there were maybe two dozen people in line. This time around, thanks to a plug from Sean Hannity, there were around 100. Not good for me as I was feeling ill, and desperately needing to go to the emergency room. I was hoping this would be a quick event, I was there for over an hour. But as always, Newt was great, and I got a great photo op out of it.
As always, a huge thank you to Walter, Dave, and everyone at Bookends for a great night. I look forward to the day when they welcome Newt back, which I am sure will be real soon!!!
East Coast Comic Con is a show that has been around for a while, but despite being just 25 minutes from the house, was never really on my radar. That all changed when “Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells was added to the lineup. Dawn could go a local show every weekend, and I’d line up for her each time. So, on Sunday, April 30, I headed down to the Meadowlands Expo Center for my first East Coast Comic Con.
Dawn had no line, so it did not take long for me to get her, which is when I moved on to the cast from “Lost in Space“. I’ve seen this ensemble at shows numerous times over the years, but other than Mark Goddard, never got any of them. They all had $30 combo prices, so I finally acted on it this time around.
Luckily, I was able to get the Lost in Space cast all in a matter of 15 minutes, before their 11:30 panel. I had literally just walked in the door, and still had plenty of cash – so I decided to get photos with two attendees that I had previously only obtained autographs from – Ernie Hudson and Kevin Nash.
I was in and out of this show in an hour’s time. The vendor items were not of much interest to me, although I did spend time looking for a standout piece, but given its close proximity to the house, reasonable prices, and no lines – I would definitely consider returning to East Comic Con in 2018!!!
My 15th Chiller Theatre Expo came and went fairly fast on Friday, April 21. Despite having purchased a pre-show ticket for Friday night, work held me up and I didn’t arrive at the Hilton until 7 PM, two hours after doors opened. With a somewhat lackluster lineup of guests, and a growing cancellation list, I would find myself finished by 9:30 PM, and quite a bit of time was spent socializing, touring the newly updated Hilton, and grabbing a couple of traditional convention hot dogs.
Upon arrival, I was frustrated with the layout, and hastily began getting to work in what was formerly the pit area at this property. The pit has since been filled in, and the stars were really out in the open. I heard other attendees remark about the lack of security, and several even bragged that they didn’t purchase admission, as wristbands were not being checked anywhere.
Both Max Gail and Bowzer charged $50 for combos, the norm for Chiller’s main room stars for the past few years. At this point, out of my other “pit area” wants, George Hamilton had taken a break and Tom Berenger’s line was long – much longer than I ever expected it would be. So, I decided to seek out some of the more budget friendly stars, and low and behold, there were actually plenty of them. I didn’t keep great track of the pricing this year, but I can tell you that none of the following names were more than $30 for a combo.
And then it was back out to price gauging heaven where I would score the remainder of my combos for the night. Hamilton’s line looked longer than it was, as it weaved in between Barbara Hershey’s and Dolores Hart’s. Berenger’s showed no signs of slowing down at all – but he moved quickly, making it a short wait.
By the time I was ready to leave, Barbara Hershey’s line had dissipated and there was only one or two people at her table. Having spotted a Hoosiers photo earlier in the night, I was quick to hand over the cash and score the headlining star prior to leaving.
Probably my fastest Chiller, and possibly my smallest – just 13 stars – Number 15 was in the books. I even came in under budget and brought money home with me!!! As always, a huge thank you to Mr. Chiller – Kevin Clement – for putting together the largest show on the eastern seaboard. I look forward to this all year, and am impatiently awaiting the guests for the October incarnation.
Leaving the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I headed straight for Bensalem and the inagural Nostalgia Fest Philly – featuring favorite stars from the 80s and 90s. The lineup was small featuring just a dozen stars – Gary Busey was the headliner and appeared behind a curtained off section of the room.
When I arrived I found what resembled a carnival type atmosphere outside, however once inside the venue, I found a quiet, almost abandoned banquet hall. All 12 of the talent sat along a wall in the front room of the venue. Not one of them had a line, and I quickly moved down the line obtaining my wants.
David Faustino, Dustin Diamond, and Dennis Haskins also appeared, but I’ve seen them in the past. Overall, I think I may have spent a half hour at this show. During the brief time I was there, I was one of less than a dozen fans collecting combos. The actors and their handlers outnumbered the collectors. It’s a shame that this show did not garner the attendance that it rightfully should have. Combo prices were extremely low – half of what they were over in Oaks, and a fraction of what they would be a few weeks later at Chiller.