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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Chiller Experience #3 (October, 2009)

Would the third Chiller Theatre show at The Parsippany Hilton be as grand an experience as the previous two times that I attended? With a pretty decent guest list including two actors appearing at their first ever pop culture convention that I was eager to meet (Clayton Rohner from Just One Of The Guys & Lawrence Monoson from The Last American Virgin) and a previous member of KISS (Bruce Kulick) in the house, this show had plenty of potential.

I was able to get there an hour before show time on Friday, and was glad to notice that there wasn't much of a line to get in. I paid an extra $5 dollars for a special pre-show VIP badge which was kind of worth it. My brother, his fiancee Michele, my dad, and the legend of legends Ron Hart who would be making his return to Chiller for a the second time in a row were all going to come a bit later. So I was by my lonesome for the first two hours of the show. I found that being one of the first ones in the show was a benefit as it would enable me to have more access to the people I wanted to speak to, and if I played my cards right might be able to land an interview or two for my blog. Most attendees go immediately to "The Pit" to get a glimpse of the big name stars, but not me! I found my way to the smaller ballrooms first where the the lesser-known celebs that I would have more of an opportunity to speak with were sitting. Rohner and Monoson were sitting side by side in one of the room which would be awfully convenient. Although Royner got much older and Monoson was almost unrecognizable, they still looked great and were really excited when I started expressing my love for their work. Both told me they would be more than happy to do an interview with me. Because I'm such a good brother and friend, I told them I would have to come back later with my entourage to do the interviews, although deep down in my mind I was worried because if I didn't take care of them early, I might be shit out of luck. I then hit up Bruce Kulick in a different room and was able to use my negotiation skills to get a free photo taken with him. My brother would try to do the same thing two hours later, and was told it would be five dollars. It seemed there was a smaller variety of guests this time around due to being informed there would be no tent set up outside like there was at previous shows. My dad and Ron came about an hour later, and I waited with them in a line that moved rather quickly to get their tickets. I found my brother and Michelle a few minutes later patronizing Bruce Kulick just like I had done two hours ago.

Although there was a smaller amount of guests this time around, some really big names in the world of movies and television were in attendance including Oscar Winner Richard Dreyfuss, and living legend Mickey Rooney. Here's the rundown of who else was appearing for the Halloween weekend extravaganza: Pamela Des Barres (most famous groupie of all time), Marshall Bell, Linda Blair,Bowzer (lead singer of Sha Na Na), Traci Brooks (NWA Wrestling Diva), Jake Busey (son of Gary Busey and star of Roadhouse 2), Tia Carrere (Wayne's World & True Lies star), Julie Mccullough, Joanna Cassidy, Elvira (Mistress Of The Dark), Barbara Feldon (from Get Smart), Peter Fonda (legendary actor from Easy Rider), Lance Guest (the star of classic 80's movie The Last Starfighter), Danielle Harris (cute chick from the Halloween remake), Jenilee Harrison (Susanne Sommers replacement on Three's Company), Howard Hesseman (Johnny Fever from WKRP In Cincinnati and Mr. Moore from Head Of The Class), Kane Hodder, (the dude who played Jason Voorhees in the last few Friday The 13th movies), Davy Jones (legendary singer from The Monkees), Stacy Kamano, Sara Karloff, Dominic Keating, Brian Krause (from Charmed and Return To The Blue Lagoon), George Lazenby (the second James Bond), Stefanie Powers, Jon Provost (the original Timmy from the Lassie TV show), Ali McGraw, Lawrence Monoson, Geri Reischl (my new best pal!), Clayton Rohner, Joan Severance, Caroll Spinney (Big Bird from Sesame Street), Catherine Stewart (hot 80's actress from Last Starfighter, and Weekend At Bernies), Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard), Ann-Margret, Tara (wrestling diva formerly known as Victoria in the WWE), Dawn Wells (Mary-Ann from Gilligan's Island), Zacherly, Bruce Kulick, David Johansen


Perhaps one of if not the best pop culture experience of my life happened at the show. Clayton Rohner agreed earlier in the day that he would be more than happy to be interviewed by me for this blog. When I returned after meeting up with my entourage, I was worried that he had forgotten. No he did not! In fact, Clayton Rohner was more than happy to answer any of my questions about Just One Of The Guys, April Fools Day, and his other movies. I've already included the audio file and transcript of our interview which you can review in the archives section on here. We were chatting like long lost pals, and I'm sure if I pressed the issue, we could have hung out afterward for some beers. You always worry that you might have a bad experience when you meet one of your favorite actors, but it was not the case with Clayton Rohner. He did the interview with me and posed for a photo at no cost at all. I hope to see him soon on another TV series or perhaps a comeback leading to an Oscar nomination in perhaps a Quentin Tarentino movie?

Pamela Des Barres is kind of like the Godmother of celebrities known for nothing other than being hot and sleeping around. Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Lauren Conrad should pay homage to the woman who also inspired the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous. At a show like this, I'm not sure why she even was there as I questioned her appeal to horror and science fiction geeks. Because she was sitting there looking bored, I decided to greet her and hit her up with some obnoxious questions. Considering she is only known for sleeping around with rock stars, I didn't think there were any filters I needed to hide behind. I needed to know if she ever slept with Paul Stanley from KISS. Surprisingly, she indicated that the only member of KISS that she did the deed with was Gene Simmons. Pamela Des Barres also hinted an HBO drama series based on here real-life experiences was in the works, but couldn't say anything more than that.

While my brother and dad waited in line for Davy Jones, Ron Hart and I greeted the legendary Mistress Of The Dark, Elvira. On Friday, she was not in costume. Although her cleavage was not on display until Halloween the following day, she still is very hot without the costume. As a kid, I was kind of scared of Elvira, and didn't understand how television networks allowed her to appear on-screen with her noticeable cleavage. I had to pay homage to her breasts, so I thanked her for introducing me to boobies because hers were the first set that inspired me to want to play doctor as a kid. She laughed and told me I was more than welcome. I told her she must hear that all of the time, but she actually told me I was the first person to ever tell her something that personal but true.

I also had a great conversation with Lawrence Monoson. He looks like the type of guy you don't want to mess with, but he had a true heart of gold while talking with us. I told him how much I loved the final scene of The Last American Virgin and that I only wish there were more realistic endings to movies such as this one. For those who don't know, his character Gary had poured his heart and soul to assist a girl he had a crush deal with having an abortion. In a surprise twist, Gary gets screwed over when she goes right back to the asshole that got her pregnant. As he drives away from the party while Just Once from James Ingram plays over the scene and end credits, you begin to see that the nice guy usually always gets screwed over. I asked him if he still keeps in touch with Diane Franklin, to which he answered that he did not. While I was interviewing Clayton Rohner, my brother asked him more questions like if he kept in touch with the fat dude or Steve Antin of whom played his pals in the movie. Monoson indicated he was still good pals with Steve Antin (who you probably know better as Troy from The Goonies) but hasn't even heard from the other guy since the movie wrapped production. He would have also done an interview with me, but when I told him that the battery was low on my recorder, he seemed kind of relieved. I think my dad made his day when my dad (trying to be cool) told Lawrence that them Jews had to stick together (a line that he heard from Tony Curtis at the previous Chiller show) Because he could see that we were huge fans of his work, he agreed to take photos with us for no money. Another class act!

In terms of total bitches, Joan Severance ranks up there as one of the worst celebrities I've ever met. As a kid, I was madly in love with her thanks in part to her appearances in Playboy and her nude scene in the Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor 80's comedy, See No Evil Hear No Evil. She also had the dubious honor of playing Hulk Hogan's love interest in the 1989 cult classic, No Holds Barred. Michele simply took a photo of her sitting at the table, but Joan and the guy working her table got annoyed because she must not have been selling enough autographs at her table. Considering she is not at all the big star she thinks she is, I'm not sure anybody was going to pay $25 to take a photo with her. I guess she calmed down a little bit, so I started asking her questions. When I jokingly asked her if Gene Wilder really had an erection during the shower scene from See No Evil Hear No Evil, in a total bitchy manner she asked me what did I think? There was an awkward moment of silence, and then I just walked away. Maybe now I know why she hasn't appeared in any movie or Lifetime special in the past ten years!!

Blessed with the opportunities to have already met and gotten my photo taken with Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, this show also provided the chance to speak with and get a photo opportunity with the lead guitarist from KISS who was around when I first became a fan of the band in 1988. That man is Bruce Kulick. We had a nice chat for about ten minutes of which I had to ask his feelings about Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer wearing Ace and Peter's makeup and would he have done it if asked? Bruce replied that he was glad to have never been asked, but if the money was right he would have considered it. We spoke about the new KISS album as well as well as his new solo album which is scheduled to come out in 2010. His representative at the table tried to get my to buy one of his other solo albums, but Bruce knew per the questions and information I was throwing him that I already had them. Had he been able to sell his new album, I would have gladly bought a copy. Bruce said he would rather let it sell through the proper channels instead of hawking them at a convention. I sure don't blame him. I asked him if he remembered doing a clinic at the Ledgewood Mall back in 1989 where I actually met him and got his autograph. He vaguely remembered, but thanks to my bringing this fact up to his representative who asked if the mall was still standing and her knowing that I didn't need an autograph, she took the photo of me with Bruce and congratulated me for gaining a prize without shelling out some cash. Later on, I caught my brother talking to Bruce. He looked at both us and asked if we were twins, and joked that he wasn't sure who was more inquisitive (me or Scott?). All in good fun and I think Bruce was happy there were actually KISS fans or attendees in general that knew who he was. I must say, though, that Bruce has not aged well and with that thick New Yawk accent reminded me of an old Jewish guy (Kulick actually is Jewish, by the way!) Definitely looking forward to his new album BK3 which features guest appearances by Eric Singer, Nick Simmons, and even Gene Simmons. With Eric Carr and Mark St. John deceased, I only now have to meet Eric Singer, Vinnie Vincent, Tommy Thayer, and Gene Simmons to complete my collection.

Sometimes when I see a celebrity just sitting around with nobody at their table, I feel obligated to show some interest. I didn't know much about Brian Krause, but he had a big smile on his face so I walked over to see what he had appeared in. I saw that he took over for Christopher Atkins in the sequel to Blue Lagoon, a movie that I remember watching bits and pieces and absolutely hating. I simply shook my head with a smile on my face without saying a word, and he just laughed. He actually told me that Christopher Atkins was like a father figure to him, and that got us talking about Atkins and his appearance on the VH1 reality show he appeared on. I've been going to the gym the past few weeks, and reruns of Charmed are always showing on one of the television sets with Krause always on screen. Now that I know more about him, I hope to see his star rise soon in Hollywood.

Although I'm not as big a fan of professional wrestling or it is now called sports entertainment, I still have a place in my heart for the rich history of the industry and chatting with former WWF legends. Victoria who now wrestles in TNA as Tara was perhaps one of the nicest wrestlers I have ever met. We had a great conversation about the state of the industry and she was even asking us questions that we figured she knew the answers to. When Scott mentioned that Trish Stratus got a nice sendoff, she smiled and indicated that she was ticked that she never got hers. She 100% agreed with us that the current product WWF is producing is garbage and that womans wrestling they continually spotlight is god awful. She hoped that the rumors about Hulk Hogan coming to TNA as a booker were true (as we know this rumor did out to be true!) and that she knows a lot of current WWE employees who are miserable and want out. When Scott mentioned that Shane McMahon had resigned from the WWE, Tara asked if he knew the facts. We joked that she probably should know more than we did which got a big laugh. She was interested when I mentioned that her backstage shower skit as one of The Godfather's hoes back in the day with Eddie Guerrero was one of the scenes the media and politicians were using to spite Linda McMahon's current run for Senator. Although we probably could have gotten a photo with Tara, I didn't want to be a prick and take advantage of the situation. I also didn't want to pay $10 for a photo. I kind of like the photos Michele took of us in conversation with Tara. Tara/Victoria was really nice, and I'll also admit even better looking in person.

How many people can say they made an impression on a C-List celebrity? Mikey Hersh can. Geri Reischl was back for the second consecutive time which is a rarity for Chiller guests as I was later told that the Chiller promoters don't like to have the same guests at back to back shows. As you probably remember from previous blog, Reischl is known as "The Fake Jan Brady" per our appearance in place of Eve Plumb on The Brady Bunch Variety Show. As I approached her to say hello, she asked me if I was Mike or Scott, and if my dad Ike was also at the show. She gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek, and I must have looked important to the few people crowded around the table. She told me she would be more than happy to do an interview with me. When I left the show, I made sure to say goodbye to my buddy and express disappointment that I couldn't interview her due to my battery dying. She told me that she was moving to Saddle River, New Jersey and shoot her an email to set up an interview later on down the road. Although she emailed Scott and I right away we met her the first time and even included a photo of us with her on her personal Myspace page, she has yet to respond to schedule the interview. Oh well! Since I've already read an in depth interview with her done by the Pop Culture Addict that pretty much answers any question I would have asked, it's no big deal. Hope to see her again at a future show, as I'm sure she will always remember the Hersh brothers.

The guest that my brother was most anxious to meet was Davy Jones. This is the same guy who appeared on the infamous Brady Bunch episode with a brilliant performance of his song "Girl" which I wrote up a few weeks ago, as well as the voice behind such classics as Daydream Believer, and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. We usually don't shell out money for photos unless that person is an absolute legend, and Davy Jones is an absolute legend. He actually took a few photos with us, and was nice even though he seemed to be in another world as Scott and I expressed out gratitude for his work. Scott also told him that he and Michele had recently seen him in concert in Englewood Cliffs, and Davy joked that he didn't even remember it. But I guess he must have been paying some attention to what we were saying as he gave Michele a free album of his which was for sale to everybody else. As we left the table, in typical Ron Hart fashion, he proclaimed to Davy that he loved Head (which is an obscure cult movie the Monkees did with Jack Nicholson in 1968 that only a few people know about) which spelled the end of their career). Davy nodded politely, but I joked with Ron that he shouldn't have brought that up because that movie was critically panned and spelled the end of the Monkees career.

Another highlight is when Scotty Schwartz from The Toy and Christmas Story (as well as cameos in some adult movies) walked by us in the lobby. My dad who has no shame and always thinks he is cool when meeting celebrities got right in his face and shook his hand. I was sure that Scotty was going to throw a shit fit on my dad. Instead, he just got a little confused but gave off a hearty smile. Somebody told me that he actually knows about my brother and I because of friend of his who we used to work with, and asked about us at last year's National Show. Considering he looked right at us and didn't say anything, I think somebody didn't have their facts straight.

Usually I don't pay much attention to the smorgasbord of merchandise being hawked, but there was one piece in particular that caught my attention. Some lady was selling unique costumes, one of which was an actual WWF ring crew costume probably worn in the mid-80's. The price was reasonable at $25, but it was kind of small, and when would I ever wear it again besides Halloween? If only I had the minset to try it on and get a quick picture wearing it? Oh well! Obscure things that you don't see every day that you'd like to see more of always brings a smile to my face.

Another big name at the show was Tia Carrere, best known as Wayne's love interest in the two Wayne's World movie as well as the villain in True Lies. More recently, she was on the last season of Dancing With The Stars. Also didn't hurt when she appeared in Playboy a few years ago. I showed her my iPod mentioning I might be one of the only people in the room with Why You Wanna Break My Heart on it which was the song she performed in Wayne's World. She just shrugged. Although she was running the motions most celebs do at these conventions, once Michele started talking about her appearance on Dancing With The Stars that she came out of her shell. I joked with Tia by asking if she might show up in True Lies 2 should James Cameron move forward with the sequel. She indicated that the answer would be an absolute yes should James call her up with an offer. Did I also mention Tia looked amazingly hot? Guess I just did!

One of my first pop-culture crushes was on Julie McCullough, best known as a former Playboy playmate who appeared in a few episodes of Growing Pains as Chrissy's nanny/Mike Seaver's love interest. I also enjoyed her performance and nude scenes in Big Bad Mama 2. She was super friendly with the fans and with me. I asked her if she still kept in touch with the actor she worked with in Big Bad Mama 2, and she couldn't even remember his name. Now it was on her brain, and she was embarrassed at herself for not knowing his name. I joked with her that she had a sex scene with the dude for Christ's sake, how could she not remember? I asked her about Kirk Cameron and if she keeps in touch with him. She hasn't heard from Kirk since she had left the show due to the controversy of appearing in Playboy, and mentioned that he was a religious freak who wanted to distance himself away from the show due to his crazy religious views. I asked if I could get a photo with her, to which she proclaimed she would be more than happy to but would get grief from the Chiller staff. It kind of worked out later on when she was casually walking around the show and posed for a photo with my brother and my dad. Sucks that I wasn't around due to interviewing Clayton Rohner, but oh well!

Ann Margaret was hidden away in a separate ballroom. She refused to pose for photos even if you paid the cash to get her autograph, and you were also not allowed to take any photos whatsoever. I'm not quite sure why, because per a quick peek inside, she still looked good for her age. My dad was little bummed about this because she was one of the main attractions there for him. He could care less for an autograph, but would have liked a photo with her. I met another guy wearing a Steel Panther that expressed his disgust with not being able to get a photo with her. His goal was to pose with the star of movies like Bye Bye Birdie and Tommy while holding up his fingers indicating the infamous "Shocker". If you don't know what the Shocker is, you'll have to research it on Wikipedia or google it as it's a little too offensive for some of my readers.

Richard Dreyfuss probably has the biggest line of all the guests, and deservedly so since he was an Oscar Winner in 1977 for The Goodbye Girl and appeared in classics like American Graffiti, What About Bob?, Stakeout, and of course Jaws. I figured he would not be very friendly, but he actually seemed gracious and was posing cheek to cheek with the ladies who shelled out money for his John Hancock. I figured he would charge $100, but he was only charging $25 which was pretty reasonable. Per the youtube video below, I found out that the reason for his appearance was to take his earnings and donate them towards assisting schools to provide more information to students about politics. I'm not sure any other reason why such a big star like Dreyfuss would even have attended a show like this. Although I wasn't around when he made the speech seen below, based on what I have seen and heard about it, it didn't come as much of a surprise when he made a crazy speech to the attendees.

The fourth Chiller show is coming up in April, and I sure hope I can be there for another great experience. But my kid is due to be born around the time of the show, so I'm not so sure I'll be able to make it. I sure hope so because in this day and age when very little excites me anymore, I always look forward to another great time at these Chiller Theatre shows chatting it up with actors, actresses, wrestlers, and rock stars that have had been a tremendous influence on me and my love of pop culture!! I will do everything in my power to find a way to get there come April, even if it means only spending a few hours on a Friday night. Let's wait and see!

1 comment:

  1. Do you by chance know what Fonda was charging for autographs?