‘I pity the fool’ who misses the convention

As mentioned last week, I’m a person who frequents conventions for geeks of all types. And last weekend was no different. So whether you care or not, here is my coverage of Chiller Theater Fall 2005.

Chiller Theater is in its 15th year and has shows in both the spring and the fall. However, its fall show, which always falls on Halloween weekend, is by far the most popular. The main draw of this convention is the huge guest list. I’m about to rattle off a lot of names of people who were at this show in person signing autographs last week:

Barbara Eden. Larry Hagman. Adam West. Burt Ward. Jerri from “Survivor.” George Romero. Tom Savini. Captain Lou Albano. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Abdullah the Butcher. Gates McFadden. Daveigh Chase, the little girl from “The Ring” movies. Warwick Davis. Dwight Schultz.

If you don’t recognize at least one of the names from that least, then you, sir (or ma’am), are not a geek. And these were some highlights. There were literally dozens of guests from old movies and television series. And you could meet them all in person.

Who would want to do this? More people than even I could have imagined. Chiller gets such a large crowd that they need volunteers to monitor how many people are either in the ballrooms where the dealers are located or in the tent where the “celebrities” are located so that the fire code isn’t violated.

Even with this monitoring, the crowds are usually shoulder-to-shoulder, with lines literally stretching a mile or more to get in. Many people were fully prepared to wait three or four hours just to get inside the autograph tent, not including the additional time they would have to spend in the lines to get the autographs.

So, do you want to know how big a geek I was at this thing? I am a huge fan of “The A-Team,” and so when the opportunity to meet Dwight Schultz (H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock) in person presented itself, I could not hesitate. So I did what every skinny white fan of the “A-Team” would do. I dressed up as freakin’ Mr. T.

If you had told me that one day I would get to talk to Dwight Schultz about “The A-Team,” I would have said “Quit yo’ jibba jabba, fool!”

Instead, it happened. Mr. Schultz was one of the nicest celebrities I have ever met, more than willing to talk about all the fun he had on the “A-Team,” about how he and Dirk Benedict (Faceman) are still very good friends, about how he got to do some incredible things (he actually got to fly helicopters) and about what it was like to work with Mr. T (“He’s a man of few words”). I mean, the geek inside of me could not have been happier, and as thrilled as I was to get his autograph, I was even more thrilled to get my picture (did I mention I was dressed up as Mr. T?) with him.

Friends, do yourself a favor and seek out conventions like this. They are a lot of fun and you’ll get memories that will last you a lifetime.