Ever met a childhood Idol? You were told it’s a bad idea, weren’t you? “Don’t meet your Heroes. They never live up to the image you have of them in your head.” We romanticize them. Write fanfic. But I’m not calibrated like the people who say that. I’d rather KNOW if the person I’m paying so much attention to, learning about, emulating is really as awesome as I think they are! Sure it’s disappointing if we build someone up to be more than human only to learn they only have one heart, but If you’re gonna idolize someone, you should make the effort to meet them and look into their eyes. You need to watch how they interact with people. You may think it’s easy to be fake version of yourself in front of others… go to a fan-con on a Sunday. By this time the celebrity guests have had possibly up to three days of signing autographs and hugging strangers. This is what we call a Grind. If they are still laughing and telling unsolicited stories to the fans, one fan or clique at a time, they are probably worth a couple inches on a pedestal. It’s hard to spend three days signing autographs and being ON and pretending to like everyone if you aren’t truly grateful of your support team and your fans. People are weird and clingy and smell funny. Some are better at being in public than others… I can’t stop talking. I think really fast. I have to take a really deep breath before I ask a question in interviews or you can’t understand me because I talk too fast if I’m jazzed about the subject! I’m kinda spastic. It works for me when I’m doing a freak show ballyhoo grind.
I was lucky enough to join the First Ambassador of the Nerd Nation, David Ward for my first whole weekend as a fan at a fan-con. I’ve been a vendor- which feels a lot like having a table at a fancy flea market. I’m used to naked pagan hippy phamily festivals. You take tons of munchies and who cares if you can’t decide what to wear to the party after the main ritual? Take all of your broomstick skirts and sarongs (or in this case trashy dresses 😉 )… not really necessary at a fan-con in the city! I still forgot all my hairbrushes. I spent three hours Saturday creating an Amy Winehouse worthy bouffant- with a six inch fine toothed comb from the front desk at the Hampton Inn!
I managed to channel a little Amy and a little Devine for a photo op with a childhood idol: Elvira. Yep. I met THE Mistress of the Dark! I know everyone else there did too! Shut up! I remember watching her on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before I started PRE-school. You couldn’t convince me that the Oakridge Boys weren’t singing about her. It was my name in Spanish 1 & 2 in high school.
I did my research. I read articles and interviews and watched YouTube videos of quick fan-con interviews. It was promising… just had to get past a publicist and a disinterested convention info czar. I bought a groupie with my PIC, Pequliermo and Elvira- I went right to the one I wanted to interview and since she dug my mode du jour she agreed to a short chat! She is TINY! I’m 5’7” flat footed and plus sized. I had on 4 inch heels with 1.5” platforms. I could have scooped her up and toted her away except her handler- who was fantastic, btw- may have been half my size, but she was a tatted and tanned black hair dying lean muscle rocking mama… who could’ve bent me ways I wasn’t engineered for if I’d tried to. So I restrained myself. She looks SO YOUNG. She’s trim and toned and taped into that iconic plunging black gown we all recognize. She’s gracious and said my name was cool! (I know she says nice things to everyone! Shut UP!) I got her autograph on her officially licensed Elvira Sleeping Mask. I do wear them. You think I’m a priss? SO? Lol. The only thing I don’t like about it is I can’t see what I look like when I’m wearing it.
My boots were not made for walking though… Why isn’t Dr. Scholl’s making patent leather knee high platform heels yet? After wandering around a bit we ran into Captain Stabtuggo and Maybelle, heading for the tattoo contests. They are the Cutest Gross Couple in America! A few minutes later we saw David heading to the same- of which he took first prize in portraits! Woohoo! I needed to go over my notes and pick which of my prepared questions I was going to ask Ms. Peterson the next day, so Pq and I rode out to Little Five Points (LP5) for something hand blown and to mock the jerk at the front cash register at Junkman’s Daughter. Go to their fb page and read the reviews. It’s a thing. Oh and we needed real food. We found the best Mexican joint we’ve ever been to down past the theater and it even had free parking. El Bandidos. Go there. Marvel at the well oiled machine.
I digress. We ate, we left. I spent over an hour in the bathtub trying to comb out all the ratting I’d done earlier in the day. I studied, packed, repaired the sink in the hotel room, fixed some buttons on my jacket and pretty much stayed up until 5 am with my nerves.
I got up and put on my best tacky journalist costume. OK, David would point out it took forever, but in his haste he left behind his Boomstick/Ash/Evil Dead tshirt, but I found it before we cleared the room and checked out. My time blindness saved his cool shirt! I felt vindicated. Time Blindness is bad, but [this time] it feels gooooood.
I got there. With THANK YOU, YOU ROCK flowers in hand (purple callas). She wasn’t there yet. I found the Darkside Bakery Booth and bought Nutella fudge. You can’t have it… it’s MINE. Too nervous to eat. Go back. Too nervous and courteous to get in line- I don’t want to get in the other fans’ way, or keep her from greeting them. Her assistant could give other celebrities’ assistants lessons in how to protect the brand while still being a relatable, respectful, and respected human being. (Captain Oblivious of Where he’s Standing was Chyna’s assistant. If he’d been standing at her table I’d have spoken to him first! He was behind C.Thomas Howell’s table, next to hers. He needs those lessons I mentioned.) Why is it that when I’m nervous I suddenly can’t work my phone and become some kind of grandma luddite? Couldn’t find the voice recording app I installed. Pq’s video camera failed… lucky I scrawled out some notes! I sit down next to an auburn beauty with a kind and gleeful smile. I give her the flowers and reintroduce myself- She remembered me from the day before- after gobs of people and changing my hair! *Breathe* *you remember how, right?*
I mention her family’s costume shop and ask her what her favorite costumes to play in were when she was a kid. “You know even as a kid I was into the sexy ones. The slinky black dresses or harem/genie costumes, black cat.”
With the new wave of feminism all over social media I was curious what it had been like starting out in Vegas and Hollywood during such chauvinistic periods and how she overcame it- A one woman show in a man’s world that has stood the test of time. Few Actresses are still sex symbols beyond receiving that first AARP invitation. She is still a sex symbol at 64. It’s okay to be a sex symbol. It’s subterfuge. If you’ve never seen her on Carson go to YouTube next. She uses her appearance on camera to psych everyone out and then wham! She’s the smartest, sharpest, punniest person on stage and the guys don’t ever whimper. No matter how fiercely she spanks them (verbally, with comedy of course) they are nipnotized. I bet she could charm free itunes out of Tim Cook and give him the finger at the same time and he’d offer her his iphone so she had a spare. She said that,
“It sounds like sour grapes when you start talking about all that- you sound like a bitch. People think you are a bitch, I don’t wanna be a bitch. You have to do like Ginger Rogers, ‘work twice as hard, be twice as good and be able to do it backwards in heels’.”
She went on to say that many of the male groundlings she’d worked with went on to more successful careers, but [most of ] the women didn’t get those opportunities, and that it was great to see creatives like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler doing so much.
Will you ever retire or are you going to keep working until you drop? “I think about it every day. I’ll get texts from like three friends with pictures from New York and Bridgeport and I just think, ‘Damn retirees! When do I get to have fun!?’ I can’t imagine how much more fun she’s had over the years because of her job!
Last question. There’s a line again. What’s next? “I’m working on a few [things] – just different projects. I don’t like to talk about them too much because sometimes you do and then it doesn’t happen. I don’t want to jinx them.” But she is sure of this one: new state of the art slot machines, ‘like 10 feet high with old horror clips and comments when you win. There will be a clip and then I’ll tell a joke.” They will pay homage to the old days of horror. There will be virtual slot games to follow. She’s interested in animation too, doing voice work. I could’ve popped. I love animation. An Elvira Cartoon… maybe Adult Swim could get back to producing something really cool.
I thanked her, like three more times, for her time and for being so freaking awesome. She and her assistant gave back warm smiles and kind words. I watched them both with the fans. It’s Sunday afternoon. They should be ground down by all the intense attention. It doesn’t seem to faze them. They are happy and energetic and chatty with everyone. And they hadn’t been into the edibles that some of the guests had been giving the stars! They are both truly appreciative of the fans. After all, without us they’d be out of work!