On Friday night, I attended my 14th Chiller Theatre Expo (I’ve missed just one since I began attending in 2009). It’s hard to believe there are now 14 in the books and that I’m a seasoned veteran, especially since I know there are folks out there who have been to 3x, even 4x more than I have. These intrepid fans are the real inspiration for attending. To think about just how many great stars the Chiller fans have had access to since 1990.
The evening started off on a bit of a sad note as longtime Chiller mascot, John Zacherle aka Zacherley the Cool Ghoul, had passed away peacefully the night before at the age of 98. While Zacherley was in everyone’s hearts throughout the weekend, there was still that never-ending buzz of excitement throughout the halls of Sheraton Parsippany. A rare appearance from Tim Curry, the return of Meat Loaf, Tony Orlando and Dawn together again, a Jaws 2 reunion, everyone’s favorite Jeannie – Barbara Eden, and a slew of TV and movie stars to span the decades.
I walked in the door a minute or two past 5, and began in the Skylands Suite. RK Sports Promotions had brought in three of my wants – Sasha Mitchell, Sonny Shroyer, and Dawn Wells, and I successfully banged out the three of them in around 15 minutes time. By the time I had finished with them, Ted Lange had arrived, and I crossed yet another name off my list. Despite pretty much being a “B-Lister” room, I think there were more household names in here than there were in the Living Room, and far more business transactions. All of the celebrities seemed to consistently have a customer in front of them.
I then moved onto the Livingston Room where the cast of Jaws 2 had taken up shop for the weekend. Other than Tim Curry, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Chiller. The guest lineup was lackluster, and while I always needed a good batch of name, none of them really excited me…until they added the Jaws 2 cast. One of my favorite movies, being able to see six of the cast members in one shot really made the 30 minute drive worth it for me. I was a little surprised with their pricing structure, $40 combos, but I bit the bullet and got them all.
I made a brief pit stop in the Morris Room to obtain some signatures for my buddy Wayne. He needed a slew of Bobby Rydell signatures, as well as May Pang.
The only guest I needed in the Living Room was Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau. Despite being a repeat guest, Landau had a reasonably sized line. After all, he is a living legend. The majority of the guests in the Living Room had absolutely no lines, and it seemed like most vacated their tables fairly early on in the evening.
At this point, I circled back through the hotel to get anyone who hadn’t been at their tables during my first spin around the block. Tonya Pinkins in the Skylands Suite, Telma Hopkins in the Randolph Room, and back to the Living Room for my main man, Caroll Spinney, who makes frequent appearances on this blog.
At some point, can’t remember exactly when, I lined up for the exclusive Tim Curry photo op. Tim was taking his time interacting with everyone, but the line still moved relatively fast and I believe I was done in about 30 minutes. I think the most frustration stemmed from the extremely long wait time for prints to be made ready for pickup. I think everyone waited at least 2 hours for their photos to come out. Tim had finished and gone back up to his room an hour before my photo finally came out of the printer. I’ve been to many shows where prints are available by the time you exit the photo area. Why this operation, helmed by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star Paris Themmen, is so far behind on the times, I have no idea, but Paris handled the crowd like a real pro. I guess it’s just hard for anyone to be mad at Mike Teevee.
At the end of the night, I had some time to kill while I waited for the print of my photo op. Cue the impulse buying. I obtained Kyle Labine and Kristy McNichol before the night was through, as well as laying down some money for a few vintage autographs in the Vendors Room.
Before I wrap up, I want to say how great it was seeing Mr. Chiller, Kevin Clement, back at the reign this year. We’re all extremely happy to see him “home” where he belongs. I look forward to attending the Chiller show every six months, and he’s the man to thank for it. And now I impatiently await the next one and the day the guest list starts appearing online…
With a free weekend on my lap and plenty of autograph opportunities in the area, I indulged myself. Competing with Chiller was The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, a large comic con event in Oaks, PA. While Chiller is predominantly adults and celebrity guests spanning the decades, Great Philly Con was geared towards family and included a set of celebrities geared more towards a younger generation. Needing a handful of names, I didn’t hesitate a bit and took the drive out there on Saturday, April 23.
First up was one of my first childhood crushes, Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Power Ranger. Amy Jo was the show’s special guest and was signing in a private room away from the main floor. Her line began forming prior to her arrival, but once she came in, it began to move quite quickly. She surprised everyone with table photos, but I had already purchased a professional photo op ticket, so I just got an autograph when I went into her room.
With about an hour left before my photo op with Amy Jo, I got the remaining stars I needed with no lines and plenty of time to chat.
Lastly, it was time for the Amy Jo Johnson photo op. Unlike the photo op operation at Chiller the evening before, the 8×10 prints of these photos were ready and handed to us within a minute of departing the curtained area Amy Jo was in. Very professional and accommodating for the fans, especially myself, who hit the road as soon as it was in my hands.
Overall, The Great Philadelphia Comic Con was a HUGE show, however, attendance was not nearly what I had expected. It was a fun time, and I hope that if it is held again next year, it is in my cards to attend. Now if you think that was it for the weekend, you have got another shock coming…
On Saturday, November 23, I took a ride up to Framingham, Mass, to attend my first ever Super Megafest, a show held annually. I only needed to see a handful of celebrities, so I knew this would be a quick visit for me. When I arrived, I was promptly checked in by show staff and all of us advanced ticket holders were herded into a dining room until doors opened at 9:30. I must admit that was a hell of a lot better than standing out in the cold.
I went downstairs to where I Dream of Jeannie stars Barbara Eden & Bill Daily were supposed to be. They weren’t expected to arrive until 10:30, so I went upstairs and caught up with a familiar face to the autograph circuit, Caroll Spinney, the man who has brought Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch to life on Sesame Street for 45 seasons. While I usually just chat with Caroll and get a picture, I bought one of his pieces of artwork, a holiday sketch featuring Big Bird & Oscar.
I then went over to Ronn Moss, the longtime star of The Bold and the Beautiful. Ronn, who attended the show with his wife Playboy Playmate Devin DeVasquez, played Ridge Forrester on the serial for over 25 years. He departed last year and the role will be recast with Thorsten Kaye in the near future.
I then headed back downstairs where legendary adult film star Ron Jeremy was setting up his table. A lot can be said about Ron Jeremy, but I’ll just let this innuendo filled picture do all the talking.
At this point, it was 10:30, and Bill Daily had arrived downstairs as expected. The only problem was that the 86 year old Mr. Daily was unaccompanied and lost as to where to go. I noticed this and quickly pointed him in the right direction. Much to the dismay of fans, it was announced that no photos would be allowed of Ms. Eden & Mr. Daily, but a photo op, taking place at almost 5:00 PM, was required. Having met both Barbara & Bill several times over the years, I found this to be an odd first, as both were always very photo friendly. Anyways, Barbara arrived around 11:00, and the line slowly began to move. I opted to purchase a $10 11×17 poster created by one of the members of Team Eden. The poster was limited to 100 numbered copies, of which I received #16. Both Barbara & Bill signed it, and were lovely & gracious as always. Bill was very apologetic about the ‘no photo’ policy. You could just tell it was breaking his heart and that he was ordered to do this by someone else.
I then headed upstairs to the concession area set up by the Sheraton Framingham staff. I enjoyed a couple of hot dogs and got to chat with fellow attendees before heading home. A very small show for me, I will most likely attend again in the future, despite some disorganization and a major lack of communication on the show’s part.