Things I learned at FanExpo

Festival of Fear/Fan Expo is done and buried for another year. I attend not for shopping or autograph hunting but to see old friends, make new ones, and interview actors I admire as moderator for the celebrity Q&As. This year, I was also a Guest Author, promoting Encyclopedia Gothica, signing books and talking Goth on panels. But the highlight was surely hosting the Q&A for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve done these before but never with James Marsters, who played Spike — my long-time TV crush.

James Marsters does his best Sid Vicious snarl. I contain my fangirl delight. Juliet radiates, as usual.

It was Standing Room Only, with hundreds more turned away outside. James and his co-star Juliet Landau (who I interviewed at FoF 5 years ago) were funny and engaging and at the end quite appreciative of my efforts. It was super fangirl fun. Juliet even liked my book, which it that much more special. Apart from that, I tried to keep my mind and eyes open to new things. Here’s what I took away:

Spike and Dru are like Sid and Nancy. Or, more accurately, Nancy and Sid. Juliet Landau, who plays Drucilla,  claims she’s the snarling safety-pinned one. Her on-screen vampire lover James Marsters admits his character’s bleached blonde locks do make him closer to Nancy. I just like the fact I got to talk about punk rockers with them. Watch the entire 45-minute session below.

Nelsan Ellis is shy. The actor known as flamin’ short order chef turned medium Lafayette Reynolds graciously stepped up to do the True Blood celebrity Q&A alone when co-star Sam Trammel had to cancel his con appearance, and in front of the fans he was warm and funny but he’s actually a quiet Christian man who says he deliberately let his physique slide a bit so the show’s producers would not write in a nude scene for Lafayette. He was nice enough to call me a “bitch” though.  Watch an excerpt of the Q&A here:

Nelsan is not wearing a thong under that table.

T-shirts are made by dudes: For the third year in a row, I’ve struck out trying to buy a Batman logo T-shirt that fits a girl. I mean a grown-up woman. With boobs. There are T-shirt vendors with booths the size of my apartment building jammed with thousands of shirts and…nothing. I would have happily settled for the glow-in-the-dark Count von Count shirt I saw from an indie vendor but that too was the dreaded “youth” style girls’ T. I came home and put on my faded Dollywood shirt. Now, her people know how to design a shirt that fit girls with…girls.

There is coffee made from animal poop. I hosted Knoxville Girl April Snellings, who works for Rue Morgue and helps run the Knoxville Horror Film Festival at my lair during the weekend. She’s sweet and sassy and brought me Cherry Limeade and I miss her already. She also told me hipsters down South drink overpriced specialty coffee made from feeding the coffee to some animal then collecting/washing the beans in its poop. This is not a joke! It’s called Kopi Luwak.

Chivalry is alive and well in Frenchmen: When’s the last time someone carried your book bag? That’s not the only reason I was delighted to meet Fabien Delage, who runs Rue Morgue France on Facebook and was in town for the con. But it didn’t hurt! Fabien is a visual artist and videographer who also designs fonts, shoots photos and made a ghost-hunting TV show called Dead Crossroads, which explores haunted ruins and castles and such across France, coming soon on DVD. Vive Rue Morgue international!

Frankenweenie has a vampire cat: I’ve long bemoaned the lack of art on the convention floor. Yes, of course, there is artist alley but for the most part it’s all about selling plastic crap and obnoxiously loud gaming displays. But tucked at the back was a rather impressive exhibit promoting the upcoming Tim Burton film Frankenweenie, featuring original drawings, production notes, stop-motion doll parts and three actual stop-motion sets from the film. It’s the kind of thing you certainly don’t see up close everyday. For free no less. My ears perked up over a small illustration of a vampire cat! So of course I looked that up and behold, Vampire Cat is a character in the film. My attendance on opening night, October 5, is secured.

Thanks to everyone who attended my Q&As (even if you didn’t come for me), asked me questions on my goth and vampire panels, came by the ECW Press booth to get an autographed Encyclopedia Gothica, my pal Nice Cat Carol for the True Blood crib notes, make-up artist Kat Von Pire for Gothing up my eyebrows, and to Rue Morgue for putting on the best horror gathering in this city yet again. See you in 2012.

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