Chapter 12: Flashback to WCW, Year 2000.

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Touring with WCW (January 2000)

(This is an older blog I’d written about my very first weekend in the wrestling business. I was recruited into WCW through Playboy and not the least bit trained when I was hired. (Thankfully, my parents raised me that me that you introduce yourself to people and shake their hand…which is probably part of the reason why I’m the ONLY girl of the six originally hired still in the business. That, and insanity.) These were my first impressions when I started working in wrestling and my first of many WCW Tour Diaries that are on my site now.)

Why is wrestling so popular? It now gets better ratings than Oprah and Springer together. Maybe it’s the classic good versus evil, larger-than-life super heroes who battle it out in the name of right against wrong. A world where tough, sexy, muscled babes live whose chest proportions defy what nature intended. Where the winner of the fight gets all the girls, glory, belt and lives happily ever after until needed or challenged again. Sex and violence rolled into one big happy two hour time slot of fantasy. This is the stuff every comic book is made from. And when it’s performed live, it’s called wrestling.   

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I’m going to start from the beginning, and you can come along for my ride. All that worrying and stress for nothing. When I got back from England just in time to start with WCW, I ended up having an absolute blast — and can’t wait to do it again this Monday night. I wish I could be as detailed as I’d like to be, but it would go on too long and I’d get into trouble spilling things I shouldn’t. So, I guess you’re just going to have to wait for the biography for the fill-ins. Until then, here ya go…

In my years of flying, I’ve come to two conclusions. First being that the airlines deliberately try to make you so freaking uncomfortable, they’re attempting to force you to spend triple to go to first class. And secondly, that people on these flights are disgusting. They cough without covering their mouths, pick their noses, eat like pigs, drop their seats back without any concern for the person’s kneecaps behind them, and become demanding to top it off. And each year, people seem to be getting fatter and fatter. My seatmate this time was no exception. He graciously allowed me to have half my own seat for the 4 hour trip to Buffalo on this fully packed flight. And he was sweating. Ick. (Sometimes I wonder: are humans like goldfish, able to grow as large as their environment will allow them to? That would explain why the English are so slight and Americans are so bloated. We have to fill out our homes, 3-lane highways and SUV’s. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t care if someone is heavy. Eat all you want. Hell, you ain’t making a living naked, so go for it. But when it cuts into my own personal space, like coughing or smoking, and I didn’t ask for it, then it’s just fucking wrong. And I just might smack you in the face, depending on my mood and how much sleep I’ve had. You understand, right?)

And lastly, how the hell is the seat being in the full upright position (not that I recline it, because I hate having it done to me) going to save my ass any quicker were there to be a crash?

I checked in, and was impressed. Classy hotel! The nice thing about being on a Per-Show pay scale with WCW is that they pick up the travel tab, where if I were under full contract, I’d have to pay hotel and rental car expenses. Those really add up.  In every other pro sport, costs are paid by the team and medical expenses are covered. Except pro wrestling. Then again, in every other pro sport, they get an off season.  

I don’t understand how this business can be drug tested like a real athletic sport, but not given a SAG card like in real entertainment.  You’re self employed, so you have to pick up the tab on everything, but still have to work the schedule you’re told.  People make fun of it as if it’s fake, yet wrestlers limp around with some of the worst injuries and no off season to heal.  With few places to work, you literally have a 20-70% higher chance of becoming a film or TV star than nabbing a coveted spot on the few hours of aired wrestling TV each week.

 It’s the most unfavorable of everything. You just have to love it…or be completely crazy.

 The first thing I did was look out my hotel window-wow. Huge fleets of TNT trucks are right outside. Sid F’N Vicious was on my flight and checking in with me! The reality of what I’m about to do sets in… 

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Getting up early on Monday, I called Kim and Tylene and we decided to meet at the tiny hotel gym. One of the Nitro girls was there doing cardio. She pretended we didn’t exist. I’d heard the Nitro girls were quite standoffish, but was surprised nonetheless.  Meh. Whatever. I was just here to have fun and work. We showered and headed to the arena by 1pm. First things being first, we were dying to check out what the ring was really like. All of us jumped around imitating wrestlers and did cartwheels for a few minutes like three dorks. It was harder, smaller and higher than it looks on TV. (Sounds like a bad porno description, huh?). The ropes (actually cable wrapped in rubber tubing) were very stiff. And the mats on the floor were pretty damn thin. In other words, I wouldn’t want to take a fall on this. My respect grew even  deeper.

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Another thing I noticed were that the wrestlers looked a lot healthier and leaner in person. Most were pretty cool and not much like the character they portray. I particularly liked Meng, Booker T, Buff Bagwell, Medusa, Asya and Bret Hart. Admittedly, it was sort of strange to see all these people who I’d been watching on TV for so long in person and being that down to earth. I mean, there I was, in the middle of the N.W.O. and working next to the legendary Terry Funk! After reading so much about him in “Have A Nice Day” (by Mick “Mankind/Cactus Jack” Foley – I highly recommend this book to everyone, even non wrestling fans will enjoy it) and seeing Bret Hart’s tape, it was very surreal. I even got to see Jimmy Snuka fly off the cage my very first night.      

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It came time to get into makeup. We had a pre-taping to do. The story was something along the lines of Steiner having a birthday and we were the ‘hoochies’ brought in as a set up to get him drunk and weaken him with good loving so he’d be too weak to win. All the backstage stuff you see is pretaped around 4 or 5pm before the show starts. We didn’t even have a script until shortly before that. It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of show where they post the night’s matches on an erasable board in the back, and they seem to make it work.  (Kind of.) When the guys do get the script, they’re all in the hallway with the writers, working out last minute changes. Many ad lib live. It does take a lot of talent to memorize, spew, and pull off unrehearsed moves with another without much thought or time. And to do it LIVE. The arena was PACKED. I almost froze when I saw the amount of people I was to walk out in front of. All I could think was to not trip over the grate in high heels and I hope a boob didn’t fall out. I also couldn’t get over the amount of kids in the audience. As someone who has catered to a mostly adult 18-35 male audience in my varied careers, I found kids to be a little strange.

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Tylene, Kim and I were seriously given the once over in the back by some of the other girls. And on our first night, we were lucky enough to get quite a lot of airtime, something that increased the tension even more when we got back into the ladies locker room. If ya know what I mean…

When we left that night, we were giddy from having so much fun. Being the only girl from the northeast, I was elected the driver. The west coast girls (where I currently lived as well) weren’t used to the highway on ramps and aggressive drivers. Of course, I proceeded to get us extremely lost in downtown Buffalo. We decided to go the hotel restaurant for a drink and dinner. Apparently, so did everyone else. Fans and wrestlers alike. I was most impressed with Diamond Dallas Page and Buff. Both were hounded relentlessly for autographs all throughout dinner to the point where they couldn’t even eat. And both handled it graciously, signing every scrap and napkin placed before them. Even Tylene and I were stopped in the hotel hallways by a few guys and kids and asked to sign. I couldn’t believe it was starting that fast.

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The next day we got up early to start the drive to Erie, Pa. Hellish. Snow and ice held us back and we arrived an hour late. I asked around for the script, but no one had it yet. And no one could tell me what the plan was. When I explained my dilemma to someone, they just patted me on the shoulder and said, “Welcome to the WCW.” Kim had left her wallet at a rest stop somewhere along the way from New York and was freaking out. Believe it or not, a guy called the arena (she’d told him where she was headed when she asked for phone change) and drove the wallet all the way to her, with all her money in it. My faith in humanity was restored. Since I couldn’t find out what was going on, I sat in the arena, asked the crew questions and watched them set up for the night’s Thunder show. Did you know they have four different stage set ups, with a different ring for each? One for Nitro, Thunder, WCW Saturday Night shows and Pay Per Views. I found the backstage people very interesting, and realized most of the show ran as well as it does because of their time and expertise.

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We soon found out we weren’t in that night’s script. Damn. Hell and high water to get there, but no show time. Sort of like getting the roses, doing the foreplay, rolling on the condom and then being DENIED. Ah, well.

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Packed up again and headed out. Steiner, being a decent guy, helped us carry our bags. He seemed sort of bummed our bouncing breasts wouldn’t be making a second appearance on the show that evening. When we got to the garage, we found kids surrounded the building. I mean, SURROUNDED. Even from that far away, they spotted him and started screaming, “Steiner, Steiner!”

It’s fun playing a bouncing hoochie, but I hope they let me play something a little more badass and bitchy eventually. I know I have to work my way in and get my feet wet first, though.  But for me, I’d need more than just a paycheck to be happy here. I’d need to feel like it was a challenge or fun.  I’ve never been a “just a paycheck” kind of girl, so I hope this isn’t that kind of place.

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(As history proved, it sort of WAS that kind of place.)

You can read the entire series of WCW diaries here: http://www.AprilHunter.com

 

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Chapter 11: Missed Moments…

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We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. 

Sometimes someone will come into our lives when we need them the most. Even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. One such situation comes to mind…there’s not much to the story and it doesn’t have a lot of substance BUT it changed my life. Or rather, my outlook on life.

I met a man in Japan once. He lived in China. He was slim and athletic with a strikingly handsome face, fun sense of humor and dark eyes that were almost black.

Half Mexican, half Anglo, he was a stuntman in the Japanese movie I was there to film. We were paired so he could train me for some intensive martial arts, and as the only two people there who spoke fluent English we ended up talking quite a bit after the longs days were done.

When you’re in a foreign country and you find someone you can talk to after days or weeks of exhausting broken English and hand-gesture communications, it’s not uncommon to open up about things you wouldn’t normally talk about like a dam that’s burst. Just like how much easier it is to spend foreign cash, because it doesn’t feel like ‘real money’. Perhaps you speak freely it’s because you think you’ll never see these people again.

I was at a very low period in my life about many things, and he showed me another way of looking my situation. One of which was my age; hitting thirty and still chasing a dream, wondering if I should be opting for the ‘American Dream’ of having babies, stability and house of my own instead.

He said something like this: “The people who do have all of that think YOUR life is far more interesting. Age is just a number. My mom had me at 40, I was her first child. I know someone else who had her first baby at 44. No issues. So don’t stress.  It doesn’t matter how old you are.  Live your life.”

In a nutshell, that was it.

And, it was profound. As a female having to choose whether to continue pursuing a crazy career or stop and have children…going home to America…feeling like a failure for not having the house with a white picket fence…the way he spoke to me about our societies’ narrow way of thinking opened up my mind.

One night after training, he called me at my hotel in Shinjuku and we chatted for hours. He invited me to visit where he was currently staying in Tokyo, giving me the complicated train instructions. I was in the midst of a bad relationship back in America that would soon end terribly. That was part of why I was staying in Japan so long; for a much-needed breather. I said I’d see how I felt and let him know.

It was getting late. I looked up the train schedule; there were only a couple left that evening. I sat on the edge of my bed and watched the clock tick.  

And I sat.

The last train pulled out of the station.

I called him back, saying I didn’t feel well.  

A lie.

I was afraid. Because I really liked him.

He was one of the most positive people I’d ever met. I left Japan and stayed in touch with him via email, but eventually, life got busy for both of us & we lost touch.
We had never so much as hugged, but for many years, I thought about him.  His love for life. How much his outlook had personally affected me.

What IF.

Regrets vs. remorse. Regret is for something you did. Remorse is felt for something you did NOT do.

I always felt that I’d missed the boat. Literally and figuratively.  I think he would have been good for me, and I could have learned from him. I’ve made a lot of bad choices in relationships and have created monstrous turmoil in my personal life. I think my career would have gone better had I a more stable or positive home life. I promised myself not to ever let that train leave again.

We don’t always remember what people SAY, but we always remember how they make us FEEL. In this case, I remembered both.

 

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I later found him on Facebook and finally got the chance to tell him how grateful I was for his advice & how it changed me. He remembered us hanging out, but had no idea he’d told me all of that or how I’d been affected. I was happy to have the opportunity to thank him…and still have him as a friend.

Chapter 10: There is no “I” in C*nt. But there is a “U”. Pt.2

Continued from Part 1: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

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HorrorHound Comic, Pop Culture & Horror Convention

Cincinnati, March 22-24, 2013

The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

Day 3, Saturday: The alarm went off after what seemed like a short nap. Lying there, I realized that there is no ‘I’ in cunt. But there is a ‘U’. With that nugget of intelligence, I hauled myself out of bed for a god-awful hotel breakfast and even more tragic coffee. ‘Coffee’. I had a laborious makeup job to become Poison Ivy, a redheaded character from Batman. I was told spirit gum would hold the winged eye pieces on. They fucking lied. To my dismay, they kept peeling back. Out of desperation, I tried eyelash glue. This worked. So well, in fact, that it ripped part of my eyebrow off later that night when removing them.

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I’d found an artist on Etsy and had the Ivy outfit custom made when fans kept requesting me to do the character. Steven Griffey arrived, with a huge Starbucks skinny vanilla latte. Huge brownie points. HUGE. I’d met him in Indianapolis when he shot a model I knew. His photos are artsy and incredible, so I was really excited to work with him. (Stephen Griffey Photography-> https://www.facebook.com/StevenGriffeyPhotography?fref=ts )

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He set up a ‘studio’ in the room and clicked away. It was snowing green glitter from my costume everywhere. I’d worn the skirt kilt-style (without undies) to avoid lines, so I ended up with a glittery jay-jay. But, in a nutshell, the photo shoot kicked ass.

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The idea of emerging from the hotel wearing nearly nothing in 32F degree weather wasn’t thrilling. We headed to the convention a bit late and the line was wrapped around the building. “Hey, are you Poison Ivy?” Insert a new blonde joke here. I smiled and quipped, “Nope. Today I’m Jessica Rabbit.” Confused look. Jesus. Just go away. Or buy something. Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” clearly never dealt with people.

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I saw a variety of cameras…including the disposable film camera. “I bought the last one at WalMart before coming here.” Really? Did you find them next to the 8-track tape players and Betamax video recorders?

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There was a guy standing in front of my booth. “Hey, I was there the night that you and your roadie kicked that guys teeth in when you were doing a show at Alley Cats. I remember that clearly.” Holy shit. So did I. Touring as a burlesque act, it was a rather interesting career at times. “Were his teeth really kicked in? We didn’t stick around to find out.” “Oh, yeah. I was with that bachelor party. Hey, don’t feel bad…he deserved it.” Yes. He did. The ‘roadie’ – my ex husband – was a laid back soul. Not much ruffled him, and he let me handle my own issues. He knew I was much quicker to punch someone in the face and break their nose than he was…and, unlike him, I would get away with it. But we had a signal…and on that particular night, he’d been on edge with the wild group that had been seated at the stage. That is a whole ‘nother story, detailed in the Behind-The-Scenes Diary section on my site. (HERE-> www.AprilHunter.com)

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Two batman’s (batmen?), one cat woman, Bella Dementes the giant dirty nun and many smiling fans later, the convention ended. I had fun. Thank you so much to those who follow my twitter and newsletter.  Also, thank you to the fan who forwarded my info to www.WrestlingFigs.com. A little help from my friends never goes unappreciated.

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Here’s a little video diary from Saturday:

I had a shoot for the latex booth across the way after the show. They’d asked Steven Griffey if he would shoot me for their catalog, so we planned on doing the funky masks and jewelry after dinner. We headed out for Japanese restaurant, figuring it was a healthy choice.

When I got back to the hotel, my room looked like it a giant fairy had a party and left glitter dust everywhere. As I got ready to shoot, I realized too late that the food had been loaded with MSG. It causes me to puff like blowfish. I was pretty much ruined for the shoot, but we did our best to work around it and managed to get some neat shots the latex people liked.

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It was LATE, and I’d literally worked from 7 a.m. til midnight. I jumped into the shower and lazily decided to stick pink sponge rollers in my hair instead of blow drying it & crash in bed.

Day 4, Sunday:  I stumbled down to the office to grab Yucky Breakfast with no makeup and a head full of pink Grandma rollers. The room had been empty on the previous day, but was bustling that morning, packed with fans and vendors. SHIT. I tried to shrink inside myself and go unnoticed.

Nobody look at me, nobody look at me, nobody–“Hey, April!” Crap. Everyone turned; Nik was calling out to me. I waved and ducked out.

I packed for my check-out and then added a stolen pillow into my bag. Lovely Single Girl Apartment desperately needed it. On second thought, I unzipped the bag and threw in a blanket, too. For what they were charging for these rooms and the terrible quality of coffee and breakfast,  they should give us pillows out as a consolation prize.

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Sunday was fairly uneventful at the con other than signing and selling a lot of new Stripper Vikings. People love dirty comics, especially this one. It was also Stupid Question-less. I walked around and snagged some photos. The car from Christine..pet a duck…admired some quirky and gruesome art…said hello to Rhino. He told me he’d quit caffeine. Clearly, he’s more man than I’ll ever be, because I rely heavily on it.

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After looking back on the slew of snapshots I took posing with others, I apparently like to do that “ooh, yeah!” thing with my hand in most of them. Not sure what that was all about. Maybe I was trying to pull in more energy.

Unfortunately, the money in sales for all three days added up to what I normally make on just a Saturday at other shows. That was exactly what I’d been afraid would happen. There are times when I really hate being right…this was one of them. While it’s GREAT that so many fans support independent artists, movies and music, I think things would have be happier for all if there was more organization involved.

I’d also missed a Shine Wrestling iPPV (where I was involved in a hot story line  and a Slammin Ladies custom videotaping for this and I could have earned the same amount staying home.

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But I would not have gotten to see friends and done kick ass photo shoots. So, hey. Speaking of, Joe arrived and we hit the road for Louisville before the predicted snowstorm hit.

He entertained me with this story: “So, I was in the men’s room washing my hands. The dryer wouldn’t turn on. I waved my hands in front of it…nothing. I waved them again, no luck. So, then I stepped back and waved them under it one more time, wondering if it was broken. It still wouldn’t come on. Suddenly I realized it was one of those dryers that I had to push the button to turn on. Geez. This is what technology is turning us into.”

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142 lbs of luggage lugged back up the creaky stairs. Evidently, I sold 8 lbs of DVD’s and photos. I tried to calculate in my head exactly how many photos would make up 8 lbs…but after a few hours sleep over the course of three days I couldn’t figure out jack shit.

Eat. Shower. Bed. I snuggled down with my newly stolen comforts in the chilly apartment. Until I remembered I had to get up and go out into the front hallway to shut off the only bedroom light. Balls.

Day 5, Monday:  The newly acquired pillow made life just a little bit sweeter. Translation: it was exceedingly difficult to get up early for a photo shoot.

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Hotaru is one of my favorite photographers. She’s a stunning half Japanese, half Filipino former model herself with a fun attitude. Very easy to work with. I’ve always enjoyed shooting with model-photographers. Julie Strain was probably the most well-known that I worked with. She would shoot me topless, barefoot and in boxer shorts…then throw a wig on and jump in for photos herself. (I appear in a couple arty coffee table books she published.) Former models tend to create differently from male photographers. Sadly for YOU, Hotaru kept all her clothes on.

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Freezing floors. Filthy stairs. Dirty door jams. Anything for art. We created some cool stuff. Everything I am has been created from NOTHING. Photos, video, comics, matches, writing, my site…it only exists because I created it. It’s one of the things that I love that about my career. Made In America! Buy American! I do – as much as I can. From buying my costumes to having my hair done in a privately owned hair salon, I put it right back into our economy. It’s extremely appreciated when those of you who are fans purchase anything from me, and it truly matters.

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I knocked a few custom videos out and then I was done. Ahhh. Sitting on the comfortable red ottoman, trying to relax, I still had that “I need to be somewhere or be doing something with my time” feeling.

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After thinking hard about everything, I emailed a very honest letter to Horror Hound, telling them how disappointed I was with the lack of professional courtesy. Then I asked Nik if he knew any others shows in his area, figuring that people hate honesty when it’s pointed at them, so I should probably find other work options. That’s something else I really enjoy about being my career: the freedom of having the option to say, “you should have handled that better” and going somewhere else to work. If I had all my eggs in one basket, I would literally be a basket case. It doesn’t exactly offset the lack of benefits, non-existent health insurance or long hours working without weekends or holidays, but there are a few upsides.

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Joe picked me up and we headed over the one of the best Indian restaurants in the entire world, Dakshin. It’s the Indian place where Indians eat, located in…Louisville, KY. Go figure.  I won’t eat in ethnic places where their own people aren’t present. It’s a bad sign to go into a Japanese place and not see a single Asian. We had a hard earned naan-tastic cheat meal. Their slogan is “Try us once and be ours forever.” It’s true. It’s damn true. (Dakshin -> http://www.mydakshin.com/)

Day 6, Tuesday: Five days without exercise guilted me into bundling up for a walk. With cutting wind, it literally felt colder than Canada did at Christmas. I walked around the University of Louisville campus, ran stairs and then made my way over to Quills Coffee for a cappuccino and Hunter S. Thompson quotes. “Let’s get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?” Hunter was from Louisville (and one half of my namesake). This is the thing Louisvillians; they will always let you know who is from there. And fairly quickly, as if clawing for the recognition they deserve but don’t quite receive. Abraham Lincoln. Larry Flynt. Tom Cruise. Muhammad Ali. Thomas Edison. Diane Sawyer. I hear it’s a now legal obligation for every Louisville resident to see all Jennifer Lawrence films…punishable by death. Kentucky has given us a little common sense and a whole lot of crazy. Crazy makes the world more interesting. “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” I wonder who said that…and where he was from.

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After years of driving by the consistently incomplete bridge to Indiana from Kentucky, it was finally open to walk. And I wanted to before I left. As in, it was on my Bucket List. Not high up mind you. It wasn’t ranked like ‘cruise to Barcelona’, ‘speak Spanish flawlessly’, ‘walk the Great Wall of China’, ‘live in a tree house’, ‘buy a mountain cabin or tiny Lovely Apartment with nothing around’ or ‘eat a snail’.  It was more on the level with seeing an IMAX movie. (The Hobbit! I finally went this year!) Nonetheless, it was on the list. After several not-so-subtle nagging texts, a couple of the artists from Open Gallery came over, scooped me up and we all proceeded to freeze our asses off for the walk. Music blared at the halfway point. It was pretty neat. I always thought the bridge views into Louisville were stunning. I also think the artists took  me so I’d leave them alone. 😉

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Back to the Lovely Apartment for my final night of solitude and more carb-gasmic Dakshin Indian food.  I was exhausted, but also felt happy and accomplished. I loved all of what I did: the con, shoots, who I worked with, seeing fans, visiting friends…so nothing was a burden.

Day 7, Wednesday: I scrubbed up Lovely Apartment and fluffed up Stolen Pillow. Thank you, my friend. Enjoy your new home. 142 pounds of luggage down three flights of stairs. Airport. A solid frisking courtesy by TSA without so much as a kiss. Oddly enough, I flew out of the other gate I used to visit Mom from. Landing in Tampa. Straight to the gym. That is all.

I know it’s hard to believe, but the Horror Hound email was never replied to. Shocker, huh?

Perhaps it’s the situation of bad convention once, shame on you. Bad convention twice, shame on me.

A huge thank you to Open Gallery! If you’re in the Louisville area, be sure to check out this little art gallery gem!

 

See Part 1: If Darryl Dies, We All Riot – https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/04/27/chapter-9-if-darryl-dies-we-all-riot-if-darryl-riots-we-all-die-pt-1/

Chapter 9: If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. Part 1

If Darryl Dies, We All Riot. If Darryl Riots, We All Die.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Shows & Shoots.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

(TO BE CONTINUED HERE: https://aprilhunterblog.com/2013/05/11/chapter-10-there-is-no-i-in-cnt-but-there-is-a-u-pt-2/