If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
EDITORS’ NOTE: When David came to us and
suggested going to Toronto’s Fan Expo 2011 convention in costume and doing a
gonzo piece on what it is like to attend such an event, we really did not know
the extent to which he was prepared to get into character. What follows is what
we managed to assemble from handwritten notes which had been faxed over to us…
“Safety…obscurity…just another freak in the
freak kingdom. We’d gone in search of the American dream, it had been a lame
f**k around. A waste of time. There was no point in looking back. F**k no, not
today, thank you kindly. My heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster
reincarnation of Horatio Algier, a man on the move, and just sick enough to be
—Hunter S. Thompson, FEAR AND LOATHING IN
It was not even 10 a.m., and already I was
in the grip of terror. Had I Done Too Much? Was I beyond human reason and
simply acting like some kind of base, craven animal? Was I about to present
this twisted, jabbering wreck before the luminaries of the horror, sci-fi and
It was bad enough when I was haranguing
bewildered elderly proprietors of head shops about cigarette holders; now I was
signing MasterCard receipts when I wasn’t the cardholder and grinning
sheepishly into the hardened eyes of the GO station attendant, begging her
silently not to call the fraud line on this poor shabby creep in a second-hand
So not only was I on my way to Fan Expo, I
may also have been on the lam with a reported stolen credit card and a head
full of bad news. I consoled myself with the knowledge that many great books
were written in prison. Matters only got worse as I entered the snaking line
for the bus to Toronto and quickly surmised there was no hope of me getting a
An assortment of onlookers, most going to
the baseball game but some also headed for the Expo, were openly amused,
disgusted and irritated as I desperately waved my press badge at the driver.
“I’m a goddamn journalist! This is a press
It’s a sad day for democracy, ladies and
gentlemen, when an accredited member of the press corps is treated so shabbily
by our civil service. It goes without saying their sympathies were not on my
side, and you can rest assured, gentle reader, there will be an exposé
forthcoming from this journalist on the clear abuses of civilized protocol by
our public servants.
“I’m a Doctor of Journalism, you brutish
I shook my fist and slunk off to
contemplate my next move as the bus packed with sporting fans pulled away.
Two buses later, and I was finally on the
road and on course for Fan Expo, the third largest convention of its kind in
North America. My cabinmates on the bus were a motley assortment of nerds, more
baseball fans and, for some reason, what appeared to be a convention of date
rapists all around me. I cannot say for certain, and it would be irresponsible
of me as a member of the press to say these young men had actually date-raped
before, but I can say with full confidence they had rape faces.
You know the face I mean.
It was a ride of terror as rape-tension
mounted and one of the frat boys had to urinate in a bottle as we were
ensnarled in horrific traffic. Wondering as to the source of the traffic, I was
reminded it was Canadian political icon Jack Layton’s funeral that day, and
came to the grim realization that at some point I would have to choose between
his funeral and a public appearance by John Waters.
These are the times we live in, fellow
Getting off the bus and onto the crowded
streets, I was constantly aware of the eyes on me. Many were mildly bewildered,
others showed appreciative recognition. The self-consciousness began to sink in
again, and threatened to pull me into some hardcore introspective death-trip
about “What it all means, maaaan…” and how the costume is
a way to suppress my day-to-day personality and permit me to project and act
out in ways I would not otherwise if I wasn’t empowered by the character I was
assuming. I looked deep in the eyes of some other costumed folks and wondered
what it was they were getting out of this.
Was it just fun for them? Were they
escaping some dull day-to-day personality? Did the costumes empower them the
way it did me? Did they feel that pull to behave as their characters?
After my first time attending an event like
this, I described it as the Internet exploding out into a small segment of real
life for a weekend, and that is really kind of what it’s like. It’s easy to
have contempt for some of these people, easy to think, “What a bunch of dorks”
and pretend you are some higher form of nerd. When you are in the thick of it
all, though—and in costume among them—you realize these events are a chance for
so many people to transcend their daily lives where they are often mocked and
looked down upon. Where normally the Internet is the safe place for them to be
who they are, these events create a real physical space that is safe, and where
they are not only able but encouraged to just be who they are and indulge in
all their deepest, dorkiest desires.
It’s inspiring, in a way, to see the
wallflowers becoming the belles of the ball, and their pleasure at being
somewhere they “fit in” is infectious. There is a beauty in seeing people
flower like that in front of you, and for all my self-hating nerdiness where I
have looked down on convention weirdos, I can say these people changed me that
weekend through our shared experiences being freaks in the freak kingdom.
There was a moment where the baseball crowd
and the convention crowd had to pass by each other, and normally you might
expect the con people to shrink from the baseball types. Not today. They
marched by with confidence and let their freakishness fly. The sport fans were the
ones who looked displaced and confused, suddenly in a world they no longer
really understood. That was a little slice of magic.
Once the gauntlet was run, press
registration was quick and friendly; however, amenities left a bit to be
desired. I was bounced back and forth looking for the promised press lounge
until I was sure this room was a cruel “snipe hunt”-type joke laid upon us poor
professional journalists covering the event for the first time. I can assure
everyone my editor will hear of this shabby operation.
I took a moment to indulge in a private
pleasure and waved my press badge as I walked past Security, never breaking
stride and mumbling “F**k off” in that signature style. Upon later reflection,
I felt like a creep for making some poor security guard getting minimum wage
part of a joke he will probably never understand his role in, always wondering
about the weird guy with the irrational dislike of his profession. Maybe he’ll
become a cop one day and abuse the rights of some guy in a funny shirt because
of this. Maybe I’ve set the stage for future tragedy.
Who am I kidding? He’ll never become a cop.
He’ll fatten up on rent-a-cop desk duties and year after year lament his missed
opportunity at professional thuggery.
It was inspiring to see that people like
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark still respect the pros, though. We shared a nice
red-carpet moment as I warded off the juicehead goon who was walking her to her
booth with my press credentials.
“Mistress! Mistress! David Pace, FANGORIA!”
“I love your costume, very funny! Love
I want to take this moment to answer the
question my readers are no doubt asking themselves when it comes to Elvira. I
know it was on my mind. How does she look in person? She looked fantastic. I
have no idea what kind of Faustian bargain she has struck, but she is in
supernaturally good shape that surgery alone cannot account for.
It wasn’t long before I found exactly what
I was looking for in coming here. I wanted to see the indie side of this
convention. The focus is always on the big celebrities and the big studios and
their fancy booths, and I wanted to see what the indies were up to, what the
Long Live the New Flesh people were doing here.
That’s when I met the crew at the Ottawa
Horror and Zombie Info booth: a ragtag bunch of basement filmmakers, writers, artists, entertainers
and horror fans making their own scene and carving their own path in the world.
The traffic at their booth was huge. So many people were interested in work by
people just like them—work by people doing it for themselves and for the love
of the craft.
This is what it takes and what I’d been
looking for. The True Grit. The real indie spirit, the love and the passion for
what you do that drives you up and out of the basements and garages, off the
Internet and out into the world and connecting with others who share that same
passion and are tired of the stale fare the mainstream world offers them. The
revolution is happening, folks, and it is people like this who are the first to
become mutants, the first to be changed by the power of the New Flesh.
I spent a lot of my time there with this
group and with people like Lloyd Kaufman, people who have that drive and spirit
and are putting themselves out there. The Ottawa Horror crew were kind enough
to give me a DVD of horror shorts produced by local filmmakers, and in the
weeks to come in this space I will be reviewing and showcasing those films and
filmmakers. I also plan to get the crew to share their story of their
organization and attending the con, and how that kind of risk has impacted
them. Was it worth it to make the trip and spend the money on a booth? How do
you market your indie projects? All things we will get into in the weeks to come.
For now, safe to say I can barely remember
how I escaped the Expo that evening, or what kind of horrible jabbering I did
at the celebrities kind enough to speak with me. I returned home exhausted, and
collapsed into exactly the kind of introspective hell I feared earlier. Was I a
journalist cosplaying as a journalist, or just some guy with a press pass and a
blog pretending to be a journalist and hiding behind a costume of a journalist
to hide his inadequacies? Grim thoughts that only tequila shooters
and downers could repel as I drifted off to sleep and dreamed of girls in
Wonder Woman costumes and what the success of groups like Ottawa Horror means
for the future of media.
This weeks film I found via Twitter (you
can follow me at @davepacebonello). It’s called STITCHES, and it is presented
by indie short-horror collective Bloody Cuts out of
the UK. Well-shot, well-paced and well-acted, with a creepy vibe that builds to
a shocking conclusion, it’s superbly done, and worthy of being part of the New
Bloody Blogs -
Long Live the New Flesh
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment