If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. If Darryl Riots, We All Die.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Shows & Shoots.
The ‘Ugly’ – Pre-Show:
On a pretense of working the Horror Hound convention, I decided to hit the road for a week. I really just wanted to do something fun, make a little money, shoot something artsy and see friends. Cincinnati was a new venue for HH and close to Louisville, so it all came together pretty nicely.
Except for the actual dealing-with-the-convention part.
“Are you sure you’re going to be in Cincinnati? It’s not on their site.” After several of these emails from fans and only a month to go, I started to contact HH, asking if they needed anything else from me since I still wasn’t being advertised.
I’d appeared on many other Horror Hound conventions before, so I was surprised that I had a very hard time dealing with whoever was running this show. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, since the fan reviews were pretty harsh and a few regulars I know of that work the show gave up trying to get in touch with them. This is a shame, because the convention looked spectacular. The lineup of guests was absolutely stellar. After being booked several months ahead of time through Pickle Press, my comic book company, I still wasn’t listed as a guest on the HH site. Eight emails, seven tweets and three weeks later, they finally added me – to the vendor page. You know – the page no one looks at other than the vendors. More emails ensued. I got a curt reply telling me they’d been busy with their Horror Hound magazine and “being on the site at ALL is a privilege.”
I recoiled, because I’d never heard anything so inane. Really? Don’t people still pay a good chunk of money to get in? So I wondered if it was personal. That’s the only thing I could possibly think of that would elicit such a stupid, smug comment. I asked, and was assured that it was not personal. I did not buy a table, so I was completely clueless as to why I’d be listed on a vendor page instead of with the others who also earn a living in FRONT of a camera.
Frustrated, I worried that investing a lot of time and my own money into this trip to work with my comic book company wasn’t going to be worth it. Sometimes the bigger the show, the less worthwhile it becomes because fans exhaust themselves on the huge names.
Wizard World. Chiller Theatre. GlamourCon. Con-Tamination. Every other Horror Hound convention I’ve ever worked…no one had a problem adding guests to their site since the general modus operandi is to bring in every last fan you can over the span of a single weekend. And, website additions don’t cost a dime.
I normally try not to say too much about bad experiences, but this is how fucktarded it was dealt with – especially since I should have been listed with my co-worker Rhino. We were the ONLY two wrestlers on the convention in what is a pro wrestling heartland. Since I used to tour in that area and hadn’t been back in a while, I was especially annoyed but figured I’d advertise it on my own and hope for the best. (That turned out to be mostly fruitless. My free weekly newsletter tops out at 11,000 subscribers before kicking people off…my Twitter is around 17,500. Facebook is 6,000. Yet for some reason, most people either don’t read or don’t pay attention to anything other than the actual show advertisement listing.)
THIS is why it bothered me:
When I’m brought in for conventions, situations vary depending upon the show. Usually some (or all) of my expenses are covered by the promoter or vendor and I’m paid a guarantee. For Horror Hound, I eat my expenses because I’m working with my comic book guys to promote ourselves, our books and Pickle Press (HERE-> http://pickle-press.livejournal.com/). It’s a very small budget. We have fun and I’ve always done well enough in sales with being advertised that it’s been worth it. HH is fully aware of this, so that’s why I’m so upset about how unprofessionally it was handled.
I’d love to have an agent who dealt with this kind of thing, but I’ve never been able to find one who can book me better than I can book myself. I stay busy and handle everything myself as far as shoots, shows and conventions, so that’s why I get to deal with more bullshit than most entertainers are subjected to. I’m also pretty sure it’s why I’m crazier. Quite frankly, with running two sites, several social networks, doing video and photo editing, writing assignments, bookings, emails to return, shoots to plan and traveling to book…I don’t feel like dealing with the petty stuff. Paying someone a percentage would be VERY worth it if you can find one with real contacts who will actually work for you.
The lack of business sense and professionalism in money making situations never ceases to amaze me with its arrogance and stupidity.
Enough complaining. I could only hope it all worked out.
The ‘Bad’ – Day 1, Thursday:
The plan: Fly into Louisville, drive to Cincy, work myself ragged over the course of the weekend, then head back to KY to stay a few extra days visiting friends. Because I was staying a week, working a convention, doing photo shoots AND there was still a need for heavy clothing, I had three grossly excessive bags.
Flight delay. I decided to track down food during the interim. A guy sat across from me. “I like your hair color. What did you do to your knee?”
Sigh. I’d been hacking away at a bun-less Nathans hot-dog since it was the only low-carb, sugar-free, dairy-free protein I could find in the airport. I hate telling people what I do. I wear my knee brace to pre-board on Southwest since it tends to act up from traveling, I get to board first AND it’s pretty much the only perk of being a beat up pro wrestler. This allows me to get on the left side of the plane thus avoiding drink carts and being seated between two 400 pounders. Neither of which is good for knees.
I forced a smile, made polite chatter and then excused myself to find a charging station. Sitting at the same gate I used to call Mom from to tell her I was on my way every other week for over a year…you just don’t realize the habits you’ve formed until they’re not there any longer. It felt weird. Empty. I hadn’t flown much since she’d died a few months earlier, so I haven’t really been back to this terminal. I was so exhausted for her final year and a half, but I would give a hell of a lot for just one more trip.
Mom would sometimes come to the airport with my uncle, or wait at the window and excitedly throw open the door before I’d gotten out of the car. Hugging me with a big smile and an alarmingly frail body, she’d attempt to grab one of my bags. I’d laugh and hand her the little carry-on knapsack I keep my travel pillow in. That would satisfy her. This was always how it happened.
-Except for that last time.
It’s funny how you miss the strangest of things. The unapparent. The little routines. I could always find her in the airport pretty quickly because she dressed in bright colors. Mom loathed dark colors (“They’re depressing,” she’d say, wrinkling her nose)…and that’s pretty much all I usually wore when I traveled. It was easy to mix and match. Everything went with black. I began rooting through my drawers to pack purples, blues, reds and pinks for those trips just to make her happy.
Random visions hit me out of nowhere. For her entire life, Mom had planned to donate her organs when she died and was devastated to learn that she couldn’t due to having been through so much chemotherapy. I can still see her eyes sadden when she told me everything in her was poisoned.
Friends text. My phone doesn’t ring anymore. I have no one to call. My Gram had just died six months before Mom did. Grandmom was a night person like I am, so I’d call her every evening to chat about nothing. She was nearly housebound without much going on, so I’d either ask her about her stories growing up during the Depression or we’d play a game. “What are you doing tonight?” “Oh, I’m going dancing,” she’d say. “Are you? Did you get new shoes?” “Oh, yes…I found gorgeous stilettos.” And so on. I got Mom started on the game. It was a funnier version because the chemo made her a bit loopy.
Me: “Whatcha doing? Going to a party?” Her: “Oh yes!”
Me: “Who is your date?” Her: “I met a tall, handsome man at the bank last week.”
Me: “Oh, nice! What are you wearing?”
Her: “A red dress. With ruching.” Me: “‘Rooshing?’ I thought it was ‘rucking’.”
Her: “Oh we’ll be fucking. Definitely.”
See where I get my fun side from?
There was no one else left. I looked down at my head-to-toe black travel clothing. I hid in the charging station, dabbing at tears that kept welling up, letting my hair fall around my face to hide. Most of my friends were polite about it all, but no one seemed to take an interest in how I was really doing (not well) or understand the sheer exhaustion of running a business out of Florida and traveling every other week to Philadelphia to take care of my dying family. This was a bit of a shock since everyone in Philly had been going above and beyond in being supportive. The absolute worst feeling in the world: When you can’t fix someone you love no matter how desperately you want to. When you are helpless to do anything other than watch them suffer and die.
People I thought would be there for me weren’t exactly going out of their way to cheer me up back in Tampa, other than Jordan, who was really great the entire time. At home I’d reach for the phone to call Mom…then the split second gutting reminder that I could not do that any longer would hit, and I’d crumble. Each occasion was spent with the ever-present knowledge lurking in the back of your head that this will be the last. The last Christmas. The last birthday. The last Easter. The last Mothers Day…what can you do, other than make it as much fun as possible and take lots of pictures? And that’s what I have left. Memories and pictures. Somehow, it’s not quite enough.
The ‘Good’ – I arrived in beautiful Louisville. I’ve had several places I’m happy to call home. Philly, Boston, Alabama, Tampa, Louisville. I’d missed it here. I’d thought Kentucky would be just a brief stop for a year, and ended up staying for four. It stole my heart and I love going back.
My friend, Joe Mays (Here -> https://www.facebook.com/AlienTwilightPhotography?fref=ts ), a photographer of the erotic and artistic nature, had arranged for me to stay at a “visiting artist apartment”. Located on the top floor of a house found in the historical district, it was an adorable little place. Gorgeous, really. A cozy third floor walkup (carrying 149 lbs of luggage up protesting, creaky stairs) which opened up to hardwood floors and huge ceiling windows with a breathtaking view. There was a tiny single bed, an even tinier bathroom, a plush red ottoman and a record player with a stack of vinyl ranging from Michael Jackson to Nina Simone.
Cheap But Honest Plug: Open Gallery – (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/thegalleryisOPEN?fref=ts ) a hot new gallery that just opened on Floyd Street near Papa John’s in Louisville was rapidly becoming known for its art showings with cocktails, live music and scantily clad models. They house their artists, which enable those who reside there to work part time, allowing them to have more time to spend on creating. Brilliant, yes? I highly recommend a visit.
The lovely apartment was Allison’s (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/rodney.paintings ), a pretty, redheaded artist from Alabama. (Yes, we grow on trees down there.) She had stocked the refrigerator with coffee creamer, eggs, apples, almonds and cans of starbucks double-shot coffee. The place had a neat energy to it…exactly what my fragile mentality and soul needed at the moment. Warm, pretty, solitude. I’m one of those weirdo’s who loves being alone. I always wanted to buy something like this in a city to have on the side as a retreat.
Day 2, Friday: The Lovely Apartment had very few electrical sockets, half of which worked and a dodgy heating system that roasted you alive. Icicles set in between blasts. The bathroom wasn’t heated and was so narrow; you had to turn sideways to pee in order to fit. Plus, there was just one sad, deflated pillow. But the view of the city was amazing and the coffee pot worked. Joe arrived to collect me. My 149 pounds of luggage and I clunked down the three flights of stairs and onward to Cincinnati after a brief stop at Waffle House, of course. Everything is better after scrambled eggs.
I checked into the hotel and lost my key in approximately 18 seconds flat…a record, even for me. In the time it took to walk from the office to the car, it vanished faster than prom dress at midnight.
I re-keyed, changed into a little black strapless dress and headed over to Horror Hound. I’d wanted to say hello to Norman Reedus whom I’d met several times at various conventions over the last few years. Being a huge fan of the show, I wanted to see if I could a get a photo with some of the other Walking Dead actors, like “Herschel”. I figured it might be best to do that before the insanity hit. Not realizing to what extent that Norman had become The Man, I also didn’t realize how hard it would be to just say a quick hello. Luckily, the staff pushed me to the front of the line, his agent knew me and I got to chat with him for a couple of minutes. His wait time would be so incredibly long; he’d end up staying until 1 a.m. every night to finish signing for all who had waited. I observed him hugging kids, patiently retaking photos that didn’t turn out and chatting amiably with fans. Star status had clearly not gone to his head. His female fans, Dixons Vixens, had signs that said “If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. If Darryl Riots, We All Die.”
Most of the others weren’t there yet or were still filtering in wearing dark glasses and baseball hats to avoid getting mobbed, so my fangirl moment came to an abrupt halt. I’d be working wit some of The Walking Dead cast on the Mid Texas Comic Con on May 4 & 5 (HERE –> Please note how excellently they advertise all the guests! http://www.centexexpo.com/index.html ), so I could be a fangirl then. Joe wanted a photo with John Carpenter, so we took one together. (They Live, ya know.) Carpenter, didn’t seem quite as cheerful. Michael Madsen, on the other hand, was always smiling.
I would have loved to have spent more time walking around and saying hi, but I felt obligated to get back to my booth. It was nearly 5 p.m. and the doors would be opening to the public. On the way out of the room, a chorus of people said, “April! You dropped something!” Indeed, my pass was on the floor. I laughed and waved. “Thank you!”
“Hey,” hollered a guy in line. “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” Sigh.”Yep, come see me later!”
I shouldn’t have bothered rushing back, since the line to get in stretched around the parking lot. Fans stood outside in freezing temperatures for 2-4 hours (then queued inside for autographs another 2-3 hours).
Many waited only to be turned away at the door, as passes had sold out. Nearly everyone I talked to drove quite far to attend because of the amazing caliber of guests brought in.
I was joined at the table by my haiku and dirty comic book writing friend Nik, along with his sharp witted wife for the weekend. Plus one of my favorite artists in the entire world, Jay Fife.
Stripper Viking 2 debuted (Here-> http://www.aprilhunter.com/store/), as did Jay’s new Scooby Doo “Daphne” print (Here-> https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jay-E-Fife-Illustration/215290038586) and both were wicked NEAT.
Our section of the convention remained empty until about 8 pm. A blonde stopped by and admired my 8×10’s. “These are really cool pictures. Are you in any of them?” The entire table snickered. Insert dumb blonde joke here…maybe along the lines of “all redheads look alike.” As we were cleaning up to leave at 10 pm, a PA blared announcing that HH was staying open an extra hour. I had a photo shoot early in the morning before the convention, so I groaned. I also groaned over the handfuls of people who stopped short at my booth and exclaimed, “April Hunter! I didn’t—“
“Yeah, I know. I’m here.” Thanks, HH.
“Yeah! If I had, I would have brought the WEW DVD I have.” Awesome! Maybe I’ll sign it when I’m back in the area again-in two years. I don’t like to work a certain area more often than that. Meanwhile – get yer ass on my newsletter. It’s free. HERE: -> http://bit.ly/ahnewsletter Or twitter (@AprilHunter). Or my facebook (AprilHunterOfficial). Because I’m really good about letting people know when “I’m going to be there.”
My freshly issued key didn’t work.
FOR FUCKS SAKE.
I walked for what felt like a half mile to the front office with hurting feet in whore clothes lugging my huge bag of shit in 34F degree weather. Somehow, I managed to be nice when I got there. Yay, me. This trip is full of firsts.