I'm Not One for Celebrities But...
This year was certainly the busiest one for me in terms of people: general chatting, introductions, requests for interviews and interesting propositions for future shows or projects (many of whom are waiting for some sort of email from me, and if they are reading this, I hope they'll remain patient. There was a family emergency and I'm out of town. I didn't even get a chance to unpack from the show. Poor Yetch is surrounded by the mess I left in my wake).
As a rule, it's these interactions I'm most excited about as my anticipation grows each August. Celebrities are fun to see, but it's all the different people I meet (fellow artists, horror folk and - dare I say it - actual fans of my work) who make the weekend so great. I also feel guilty leaving people to man my table for too long, so it's been 3 years since I've lined up for or attended anything at the convention.
Of course, every now and then, there's an exception.
There were a number of celebrities there whom I like, from Robert Englund, to Martin Landau, to Malcolm McDowell to name but a few. But none that sent my heart a-pitter-patter (or made me reach into my wallet and fork out $30 or more for an autograph).
Then on Sunday we got a text message from a friend, asking us if we knew that Guillermo del Toro was making a surprise appearance, but only for 1 hour, from 11:30 to 12:30, at the Rue Morgue Booth. If that wasn't enough, he was signing posters and giving them to fans.
I checked my watch.
All I said to Yetch was "I have to go".
It took me at least 5 heart-pounding minutes just to find the end of the line (which, ironically, snaked back to within sight of my table).
One of the FanExpo folk came to our part of the line, informing us that they would try to get everyone in, but Mr. Del Toro had a car waiting for him, and he was leaving precisely at 12:30. We were then informed that we were probably at the cut off point in the line. This was not encouraging, as I had just heard a story of someone else who had made it to the front of the line for a different celebrity, and was turned away within arm's reach of them. Out of time. Game over. So sorry.
The line of people snaked through one side of the convention floor, and there were breaks in the line to let people through the aisles (breaks where I later learned people had simply snuck in). We made it to one of these breaks when a FanExpo employee put up a barrier just in front of us (3 people ahead of me). The girl at the front was told if there's time, they might come back to get her so she can have an autograph, but to wait there. Then he walked off.
Now let me be clear: I am a play-by-the-rules girl. I feel guilty if I throw away something that can be recycled. But I knew what that barrier meant (especially after hearing the story of the fan that got to the front only to fall short), and there was no way I was going to let some arbitrary placement of a barrier get between me and one of the greatest - if not the greatest - maker of monsters ever.
There was a gap between the end of the barrier and the exhibit we were near. A gap a person could easily slip through. I stepped to the side so the young woman whom the guard had told to wait could see me and said "You need to move forward and join the line on the other side of the barrier". The man in front of me agreed.
I continued "If we move forward, we have a chance to get the autograph. If we don't, they aren't going to come back for us. I'll go ahead of you if you don't want to move. But you need to move now before the guy comes back."
I looked at my watch. 12:25. Five minutes left.
"If they come back and give you trouble, you can blame me. Say I bullied you. Say I even threatened you. I don't mind. But it has to be now". She decided to move forward.
Two minutes later, the FanExpo guy came back, didn't even glance at us, and extended the barrier behind us so there was no more gap.
At 12:31, I met Guillermo del Toro. I waited for him to finish signing the poster and make eye contact with me. I thrust out my hand (which he took with a smile) and said "Thank you for making monsters beautiful".
To this, he leaned all the way back in his chair with a joyous laugh, beaming a smile at me, exclaiming (and if I get the Spanish masculine/feminine wrong here, excuse me) "Ah bonito! Beautiful! Thank you, thank you". The reaction was so big and genuine, it was as if no one had had ever referred to his monsters as beautiful, which I don't think is possible.
I think I partly walked, partly skipped back to my table, clutching the poster to my chest to protect it from people around me.