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Continuing the report that began here…
At 5 p.m. on Sunday. May 30, Crypticon Seattle officially
closed its doors for another year. A few stragglers still milled around,
chatting with vendors as they dismantled their stalls, endeavoring to keep
alive whatever fading wisps of con-magic they could still find—but for all
intents and purposes, it was over.
Some poor souls drifted about looking lost and forlorn,
others helped tear down the displays. Girls who had spent the better part of
the last three days 85 percent naked were now respectably covered up and on the
way back home to their “other lives.” A tangible aura of post-con depression
was heavy in the air, mixed with equal parts exhaustion and relief.
I’ll be honest: No one felt this more than me. Like so many
others, I formed wonderful new friendships over the weekend and further
solidified many that germinated the previous year. I’m digging my Seattle
friends very much. The city has become like a second home to me, and I enjoy
myself there so much that, for the second year in a row, I elected to stay the
Sunday night after the con so I wouldn’t have to leave halfway through the
afternoon to catch a flight home. Yes, I’m one of those people who try to
squeeze every last bit of juice out of the weekend before—as they say—the
circus leaves town.
So I sat in the hotel, witnessing the unsettling transition
from drunken groups of revelers with wild hair and horror-themed clothing to
somber families of four, killing off a layover before heading back to the
airport at some ungodly hour of the morning. Having a drink in the
near-abandoned bar, I marveled at how drastic the difference was between the
two shifts of customers. Straight is straight and weird is weird, and never the
twain shall meet.
I’m stuck somewhere in the middle, unable to get this
account written on Sunday night because I’m tired from walking the floor and
burned out from lack of sleep, and I’m missing my friends…
Despite my mettle-testing arrival, the actual three con days
were a blast. Despite my gradual zombification as a result of not sleeping
worth a damn throughout the entire weekend, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
I woke up at a ridiculously early hour Friday morning (thank
you, Mr. Time Change!), so I strolled over to the abandoned convention hall to
get the lay of the land. I found it hard to believe that the big empty space
before me would be ground zero for the wild rumpus that would begin just a few
hours later. Already I saw a vast improvement over the previous year: The venue
was large, clean and self-contained. I went to breakfast and puttered around on
my netbook until Bill Moseley walked past and asked me if I knew the way to the
convention hall. We strolled back down to the center to find that the vendors
were now arriving and beginning to pitch their tents. I wandered around and
chatted with a few folks, taking pictures of as many of the displays as I could
before heading back to my room to relax—but, hearing the tiny yet insistent
voice of another Bloody Caesar calling my name, I popped back to the
all-too-convenient bar-restaurant for a nosh and a beverage. Placing my food
order at the bar, I said hello to the beautiful Barbara Magnolfi (from
SUSPIRIA, pictured above with Aaron Smolinski and yours truly), who had just ordered lunch as well, resulting in our
sharing a table and our first of many wonderful conversations over the course
of the weekend. Lunch lasted until just before 4:00, giving us just enough time
to make it back to the main hall before the general public flooded the aisles
with Seattle’s own best of horror, sex and curiosity.
The first crowd of attendees to hit the floor was small but
steady. A lot of elaborate zombie makeup jobs shuffling past, obviously
attending the event with the intent oF being seen rather than seeing, adding
the “local color” that injects essential energy into these events.
There are different approaches/agendas that attendees take
at a convention like this. Some are here—as just stated above—to partake in a
Halloween of sorts. They enjoy the con as a place to dress up and either
titillate or become a horror-film creature for a weekend (or both). They pose
for photos with other attendees as much as the celebrity guests do. The main
activity at most cons is to cruise past the guest tables, engaging in brief
chats and procuring autographs, as well as hitting the vendors for rare and
interesting fright paraphernalia, be it DVDs, T-shirts or horror-themed
kitchenware. (I’m not kidding; there were two separate vendors selling
practical kitchen items covered in zombies and skulls, etc.)
The third element of any convention is the panels and
screenings, which pretty much ran nonstop at Crypticon all weekend, courtesy of
three Fango-connected gentlemen: Sean (“The Butcher”) Smithson, Thom Carnell
and Philip Nutman, who did an fantastic job and greatly impressed the guests
with their depth of knowledge and skillful handling of the interviews. I
personally heard Moseley say that his was one of the best—if not the
best—panels he’s been involved in. High praise indeed.
Friday night wrapped (on the floor) at 9 p.m. It was a long
day of walking in circles, spending money (hey—I’m a fan too) and shooting
photos. But it was hardly over for the evening. There were parties galore, both
official con bashes as well as hotel-room crashes, but as it was Linnea
Quigley’s (pictured above) birthday that very day, her “con neighbor” Barbara
and I elected to take her out to dinner at the hotel restaurant, where we ate,
drank wine, laughed and chatted until they gently turfed us out at closing
time. Impossible to envision a more perfect evening.
Saturday morning, the weekend continued as it began.
Attendees circled the floor like bargain sharks, many in costumes more
elaborate than I’d seen at any other con, despite the smaller size and
attendance. (One gentleman dressed as a necromancer had a gorgeous tethered
live raven on his shoulder!) I was under the impression that although there
were numbers enough to make the convention profitable as a whole, business
could have been a lot better for the guests. Although many people were happy to
pop by and have a quick chat, there didn’t seem to be many autograph
collectors—something I found surprising, as it is the guests that all
conventions depend on to draw the crowds. The vendors seemed to be doing a fair
business, so I can only surmise that in these days of a crushed economy, people
want to spend their dollars on something more “practical” than a signed still,
and getting a quick cell-phone shot with a celeb is good enough.
For the autograph hounds, a smaller con like this is
amazing, as it provides the rare opportunity to spend a lot more time with the
guests than the larger events could ever allow. Still, the lack of sales can be
frustrating for the guests who travel a long way to be there, and despite the
fact that they are very happy to meet their fans, most have to look at these
conventions as working weekends.
So naturally, I saw it as my personal duty to pick up the
slack all on my own by emptying the ATM in the hotel lobby and spreading it
liberally among the guests. Both Linnea and Jewel Shepard brought multiple
books with them that I’ve wanted to read for years. The very personable Smolinski had amazing stills of himself as SUPERMAN’s infant Kal-El emerging
from the crater that I absolutely had to get for my son. (OK, yes, for myself
too). I was thrilled to have my Corman Classics DVD of ROCK ’N’ ROLL HIGH
SCHOOL signed by Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) herself, and my FRIDAY THE 13TH
boxed set snagged the signatures of both PART VI’s Tom Fridley and PART III’s
David Katims (pictured above).
Barbara had copies of Blue Underground’s SUSPIRIA for
signing, and fellow Canadian Ryan Nicholson had a mittfull of DVDs I had to own
ASAP. And Moseley (pictured right)…well, I was missing a couple of his Cornbugs
CDs, so of course I had to scoop those up.
And there were more guests yet. There was the brawn: TEXAS
CHAINSAW MASSACRE’s new Leatherface, Andrew Bryniarski; C.J.
Graham (Jason from FRIDAY PART VI) and Frank Dux, the martial artist whom
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s BLOODSPORT was based on, plus grown-up CHILD’S PLAY kid
Alex Vincent. And there was the beauty (and trust me on this—beauty has never
been better represented elsewhere). In addition to the lovely ladies mentioned
earlier, the floor was also blessed with the presence of Elissa Dowling, KK
Ryder, Kelly Jayne La Patiperra and Shannon Lark (co-director/founder of the
Viscera Film Festival), all available for autographs and heartstopping photos.
In addition, there was a six-pack school of beauties who
periodically swam through the crowd leaving wide eyes and slack jaws in their
wake, known as the Gravestone Girls (pictured below). I wasn’t 100 percent sure
what their association was with each other, but I do know that they each appear
in their own projects in film and TV. The group consisted of: Beth Marie,
Krista Lovgren, Natasha Timponi, Mayan Lewis, Dara Davey and Alicia Rose
(managed by Jason Hawkins). Each young lady was as friendly and approachable as
she was attractive.
And then there was one of the most incredible appearances
I’d ever witnessed before, a combination of both brawn and beauty in the form
of a Seattle-based husband-and-wife real-life crimefighting duo. Yes, I said
“real-life.” Phoenix Jones and his partner Purple Reign (pictured left)
appeared in full armored costume, thrilling the crowd and blowing the mind of
this sheltered Canadian right out of his skull. Google them and check this
story out for yourself; it’s incredible.
Now, I’d heard that Saturday night boasted some pretty
awesome after-hours shenanigans. Based on the slurred but enthusiastic
conversations taking place in the hallways well past 3 a.m., things apparently
ran fun and late. There were morning-after reports of dancing, drinking and an
appropriately salacious booty-shaking contest. Although that would seem to be a
natural draw for any photographer worth his weight in saltpeter, I was enjoying
a much quieter evening of dinner and conversation, so although it sounded like
a blast, I was unable to partake. (No regrets!)
During the course of the weekend, different visual
spectacles were periodically offered on a dance-floor-sized clearing directly
in front of the head guest tables. Body-painting, makeup application, a
short-story contest award ceremony (yours truly was one of the judges), a
makeup contest and a group of bespeckled, bearded virgins whaling on each other
with Nerf swords. (Add to the mix just one real sword, and I would have been
far more engaged.) There was also an “extreme show” where people hung from body
piercings and banged nails into each other, but it was so well-attended that
the aisles were completely packed in all directions, preventing me from making
it to a vantage point where I could see anything at all, let alone take photos.
Sunday afternoon featured the very entertaining Seattle Thrillers
(pictured below)—a large group of talented dancers who recreate the Michael
Jackson dance routine verbatim, costumed in some pretty spanky zombie getups—in
the aforementioned space. This proved to be far more fun that I was willing to
give them credit for beforehand. It also proved to be the last hurrah of the
By early afternoon, some guests were packing up to leave
depending on their available flights. Linnea was an early casualty, and I was
sad to see her go. The absence of her bubbly, con-friendly presence sucked much
of the life out of the room, and signified for me the true beginning of the end
of the con. The attendee numbers thinned to the point where I was able to end
my weekend the way it began, sharing lunch with the enchanting Barbara, and by
the time we finished, only a few stragglers remained in the hall.
Then began the goodbyes. Tough goodbyes for me, because
other than cold contact through e-mail and Facebook, I would not be seeing my
Seattle friends again for another year. Charity Becker and her good man Born,
frowny Matt Faure and sketchy Nick Gucker (see what I did there?)—all very
talented people, all very cool cats. And despite mocking my Canadian accent
relentlessly for the entire duration of my visit, they’re the warmest and
friendliest folks I’ve met in a very long time, and I’m proud to know them.
To Mickie Bunnage and Troy Bowers: You ran a fine con. The
venue was perfect, the events were well-received, and it was well-organized
(beyond the unavoidable small bug or two). Also, the hotel staff deserves
special recognition as well. The prices were a little high in the
bar-restaurant, but the food was top-drawer and the service was some of the
friendliest I’ve ever experienced. Once the word of mouth gets around from the
people who attended this year, I’m sure the numbers next year will be much
larger. I know I’ll be back.
Barbara was the last person I saw leave. Before she headed
for the airport the way she arrived—in a hearse (it’s a Crypticon thing)—I
helped load her case in the back (beside a coffin), said my last goodbye of the
weekend to a great new friend and wandered back to the hotel bar on my own.
This time, my Bloody Caesar just didn’t taste the same.
What’s that? Zombcon—Seattle…in October??
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