A Super Time at the Megafest

20-Nov-07 10:33 PM by
Filed under Celebrities, Potpourri; 9 comments.

Despite my geekiness and enthusiasm, I've never felt the motivation to pursue the objects of my affection by attending a convention. But when Super Megafest promised to deliver a bevy of cult icons to my backyard, Hiphopguy23 and I couldn't resist.

My past experience with conventions came at the now-defunct Electronic Entertainment Expo, a trade-only show of the gaming software industry. Those events spanned multiple football fields and were packed with blaring televisions, free giveaways, and celebrity promotions. There, simply by standing in line for an hour each, I'd gotten the signatures of such stars as John de Lancie, Nicole de Boer, Robin Shou, and Wayne Gretzky.

I'd fortunately not been to E3 for awhile, as otherwise those experiences may've made for even more unrealistic expectations of the Megafest. This primarily sci-fi convention filled a large hall at a Sheraton hotel, its adjoining corridor, and one nearby conference room. It was a good size that required at least an hour to take in, but it was not anywhere that one could get lost. The variety of unique and exclusive products could entrap a fan for hours with DVDs, toys, shirts, guitars, and especially comics — but Hiphopguy23 and I weren't there to spend money.

Unfortunately, expense was another area in which E3 and Super Megafest differed. Whereas celebrities were paid to endorse a vendor's products, here their sole purpose was to supply fans with autographs… and so those fans became their financial backers. A personalized glossy of Adam West went for $50; other actors' costs were more reasonable, but charged extra for a photo of the fan and star. Though as a convention newbie I accepted the reality of the arrangement without much distaste, I still had to wonder why an actor like Ray Park, who currently has five projects in production, would need this income.

Ken Gagne & Ray ParkI hope this observation does not reflect poorly on the actors, as I was honored to meet each and every one of them. Mr. Park kindly took the time to talk to me about his work on The Descendants, a series he hopes, but does not expect, to see available next year. He even did me the honor of a free photo.

Margot Kidder was similarly amicable. Though no star had a line longer than five minutes, I was disappointed to see her so underwhelmed with fans that she had time to be reading a book about the history of the CIA. So I chatted with her about Superman Returns. "I liked it, though I think it wasn't aimed at kids," she commented, "so I think they missed the mark in that regard. But I liked it." Another fan, looking at the glossies of her work on the Christopher Reeve films, asked if she missed those days. Her answer was either self-evident or profound, depending on the age of the audience: "I don't have to miss those days; I remember them."

But it was the two other stars who were the highlight of my day. I hadn't gone to the event wanting Helen Slater's autograph, but of all the actors at the show, she was the least what I expected. Whereas all the other actors have gotten older since their prime, this former Supergirl, now singer/songwriter, has hardly aged a day. I was surprisingly nervous to approach her, as the last woman to make me bashful, another female celebrity, was a very long time ago. Rather than a color photo of her in Kryptonian garb, I chose to have signed a black-and-white glossy of Ms. Slater as she is today. I almost can't stand to have it mounted on my wall, as she far outshines the others I keep there.

Just as powerful an addition to my collection (of both autographs and memories), but in a very different way, was Larry Storch. I grew up on the comedy of F-Troop, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dobie Gillis, and others that were clean and funny, derived from true situational comedies. Nowadays, shows like Seinfeld are built on nonsense concepts with characters who are hateful, unrealistic, and insulting — but back when shows had theme songs with lyrics, the writing and acting were far cleverer. Larry Storch as Corporal Agarn was one of several people who exemplified for me the potential of acting and comedy, both of which I now pursue myself on theater stage. To shake his hand and tell him what he meant to me was a golden moment.

Hiphopguy23 did not get that chance with George "The Animal" Steele, who cancelled due to the popular affliction of wrestlers: poor health. But I think we both had a good time at our first such convention and considered every dollar well-spent at this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


[Hat tip to GeneD. for informing me of this event!]

9 Responses to “A Super Time at the Megafest”

  1. GeneD adds:

    Ken, even as someone with years of experience attending genre entertainment conventions, I had a bit of "sticker shock" with the rising prices for celebrity autographs. That said, you'd be surprised at how little many actors make on the residuals from shows and movies that are decades old.

    Fortunately, such events allow fans to pick and choose what they want to see. I'm glad that you also enjoyed meeting various people, and I hope that the cost won't dissuade you from joining me next year!

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  2. Ken M. adds:

    LOVE the batmobile!

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  3. Hiphopguy23 adds:

    You've mentioned John de Lancie's autograph five times to Hiphopguy23. Each time you mentioned it, Hiphopguy23 shrugged and replied, "Who?". Here you mention Wayne Gretzky's autograph. Now Hiphopguy23 is impressed! Why don't you start with mentioning the greatest hockey player of all time?

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  4. Ken Gagne adds:

    The average Showbits reader knows the name John de Lancie. I did not include his name in the above post because all he signed for me was a promotional flyer for a Star Trek computer game; I instead used Nicole de Boer and her framed photo to represent the genre.

    I'm not terribly concerned with "impressing" others, as my experience is that it means "to be held in higher regard for one's possessions than for one's character." Although I suppose it does have its uses:

    Wayne Gretzky's autograph I got for both my middle brother and for my manager at work ten years ago. A week later, I got a promotion. Coincidence?

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  5. Ken Gagne adds:

    Ray Park, featured in the above gallery, has been cast as the ninja Snake Eyes in a live-action film adaptation of the G.I. Joe franchise! Story at ComingSoon.net.

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  6. Ken Gagne adds:

    Check out the first photos of Ray Park in costume as Snake Eyes!

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  7. Angie adds:

    Great gallery…Sorry I missed it…
    At least I got to read up on what happened.

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  8. Ken Gagne adds:

    Super Megafest 2008 is on! Check it out in Framingham, November 22nd and 23rd. Special guest star: Jonathan Frakes!

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  9. GeneD adds:

    Also, there's the New England Fan Experience, formerly United Fan Con.

    I hope to get to both genre entertainment gatherings that weekend!

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