The Horror Hound Weekend Part 1

Hey, folks. I’m not going to waste any time with preamble. You all know what we’re here for. I, DJ D, for real, this is not a drill, no kidding, actually met two of my biggest celebrity crushes last weekend. I FINALLY MET CHRISTINA RICCI…and FAIRUZA BALK!

The whole thing went down at the Horror Hound Weekend in Cincinnati, OH. I drove up on Friday night and crashed with one of my best buds, Brian of Review the World. The weekend was pretty eventful, and was full of firsts all around.

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Before we get to the main event, let’s talk about the drive. That trek through Tennessee and Kentucky is incredibly pretty. Being flanked by enormous mountains for much of it makes being stuck alone in a car for 8 hours go by a little faster. You’re also surrounded by loads of billboards advertising pure Tennesse moonshine. If you’re wondering right about now if I stopped off and got myself some moonshine…Oh, I got myself some moonshine.

About halfway into the trip, I popped into Thunder Road Distillery, where the folks there were kind enough to give me a lineup of free samples. I hadn’t stopped off for lunch yet and was kind of running on an empty stomach, so I took it easy on the samples, but I did partake enough to get a feel for what they have to offer. I was looking for the purest, strongest, non-flavored moonshine they had. Give me that hard stuff. I wanted my hair to grow hair. So they hooked me up with a small bottle of Dumpling Creek, and told me it was 100 proof. I’ve had the real deal before, straight from a still in someone’s back yard (South Carolina, y’all!), and I was told that that sort of thing is typically 120 proof or so. Close enough.

I put it to the test that night once I got to town. Brian, his new lady friend, and I polished off the bottle. She and I took it straight, but he had to mix it with some Orange Vanilla Coke to make it go down easier. I’ll never let him live that down, by the way. It certainly wasn’t as strong as the real deal that I’ve had in the past, but it did the trick. I actually enjoyed it. Considering how strong it was, it was surprisingly smooth, and can best be described as a high end vodka, turned up to 11.

We also hit up a burger place called Mad Mike’s that was fucking delicious. I haven’t had any other burgers in Ohio, but I’d be surprised if there’s a much better one anywhere.

Saturday morning, after a solid breakfast, we made our way to the convention. I actually got my first glimpse of you-know-who as I was standing in line to get in, I just happened to be standing near one of the back doors used by security when I heard someone yell, “It’s Christina Ricci!” I turned just in time to see security walking her into the building. The morning was already starting well.

Once we made our way inside, I was instantly hit with how huge this thing was. You guys know I go to a lot of conventions, so I’m no stranger to a crowd, but this was something else. I’ve also never seen a con laid out this way. It was not…ideal, but it got the job done, I suppose. More on that in Part 2.

Unfortunately, my garbage phone has a crap battery and it spent most of the day nearly dead, so I have very few pictures to show for any of it, but the costumes and vendors were pretty impressive. You’ll just have to take my word for it. You’ll also have to take my word when it comes to all the other celebs I met. But let’s get to why we’re here.

The lines for some of the more A-list celebs were INSANE, and there were so many people that you had to be handed a ticket to determine what time you were even allowed to get in line. People were broken up into waves and ushered in, 50 or so at a time. As a result, even though we arrived at 11:00, I wasn’t allowed to get in line to see Christina until 1:00 or so. I was actually told it was going to be closer to 5:30 (!), but after smooth talking the lady guarding the line, she snuck me in earlier, and I was one step to making a dream come true.

The enormous crowd in front of me made it impossible to see Christina until I got about halfway up there, but once close enough to spot her, I had to take this selfie. This is my “She’s right there!” face:

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So, you get up there and do the autograph/name thing with the assistant. I’ve been here plenty of times before. You give the assistant your name, pay a zillion dollars (in this case $50 for the autograph only), and they write your name down so Christina doesn’t have to even ask who she’s signing it for.

This is it. This is the moment we’ve dreamed of. DON’T SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT.

So, as she’s signing, I quickly tell her that I drove all the way from South Carolina just to meet her (even though the icing on the cake is that there were a few others I also was excited about). I also mentioned that I’ve been doing a countdown on my radio show to the big meeting and that my listeners have been excited about it too.

She looked up, smiled, and said, “Awwww, that’s so sweet!” You guys, I will have that smile burned into my brain forever.

As you can imagine, as these things go, the whole interaction lasted like 30 seconds; just enough to ramble on, shake her hand, and get ushered on.

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But Deej, surely you got a picture with her. That came later. It was a professional photo op that I paid for ahead of time. It’s done at a scheduled time and they herd people in and out even faster than I’ve described so far. Brian was in line with me for the whole thing and it was honestly kind of a clusterfudge. We spent quite a bit of time getting shuffled around to 3 separate lines, only to end up back in the one we started. Organization and communication wasn’t the best there, but once it finally got moving, it was fairly quick. Once in the photo op area, it literally goes, “Ok, pose, ready, GO!..and next!” You have just enough time to pose, take the pic, say 2 words, and you’re pushed out. But, it was just enough for me to shake her hand again and say, “Thank you, you’re so beautiful. I love you!”

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God, I’m such a goober. I’m also dead from stupid happiness. It’s all downhill from here.

But the day actually got better! Brian had to leave a little early, but I stuck around because there was still Fairuza!

Her table was next to Ricci’s. The line started out nearly just as long, but had shortened considerably by the time I got to it. Once up there, while she was signing the autograph, I told her all about my friend Laura. I may have mentioned her here before, but she was one of my best friends in the world, and unfortunately passed away from breast cancer a little over 10 years ago.

She was one of the funniest, bravest, and most stylish people I’ve ever known. She was also an enormous fan of Fairuza, and looked almost exactly like her. The two of us talked frequently about how we dreamed of actually meeting Fairuza, so I told her that the autograph I was getting was just as much for Laura as it was for me.

 

Fairuza was incredibly sweet about the whole thing, and gave me a giant hug and posed for four pictures. This is probably the best one of the bunch. I showed it to a friend last night and her first words were, “Oh my God, she could be Laura’s sister!” I tell ya, kids. a guy could have a LOT worse day than meeting his biggest celebrity crush twice, and then share a huge hug with another one.

But there’s still so much more talk about! Stay tuned for Part 2, wherein we go into all the other celebrity encounters from that day, plus my first trip to Jungle Jim’s, and a rad walk through a dead mall. Thanks for reading about me finally being a doofus with Wednesday Addams.

I MET CLIVE BARKER (and a load of other cool folks)!

Hey, would you guys like to hear about how I met my idol? Here we go.

I could go on and on about how important Clive Barker is to me and how much of an artistic influence he’s been, but if you’ve been reading this site or listening to Dark Entries: Goth Radio for any length of time, it’s hardly a secret. So when I found out that he and most of the cast of Hellraiser were going to make the scene at the Days of the Dead horror convention in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I made damn sure I did too. Here’s how it went down.

I’ve mentioned before when covering other conventions that I’m almost always there to see one guest. There’s always the BIG ONE that is worth making that drive, even if no one else shows up. But in this case, it was an embarrassment of demonic riches.

To avoid taking any chances, as soon as I arrive, I make a bee-line for the big one’s table, and get the autograph/picture thing out of the way. The rest of the day is gravy.

In this case, once I got to the hotel, I got my ticket and went straight to the table where you buy your celebrity photo-ops. These are typically more expensive than just paying to take a selfie with someone because they’re done by a professional photographer and given to you later on glossy paper. Unfortunately, Barker was just wrapping up all his photography for the day, so it was too late to do that. I was incredibly bummed out at first, but as you’ll see, it actually worked out in my favor. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway ($85 for just the photo, autograph not included). Gah!

Since Barker was unavailable for a while, I had some time before he would make his way back to his table. The thing is, when you’re Clive Barker, you don’t just get a table; you get your own room.

I checked out the room and was glad I did, because it was all but empty aside from his people, and it gave me some time to drool over all the stuff he was selling. The most notable things were his paintings. Tons of them. They were lined up along the walls, propped up, unframed. You could even see the perforations at the top where he had painted directly onto the paper and torn it out. I was standing in a room full of work that I would slice someone from groin to gullet to own. Aside from meeting him, having one of his originals hanging in my house is also a huge dream of mine. Unfortunately, it will have to remain that for the time being, as the prices ranged from $900-1500. Deej doesn’t roll that deep, folks.

One other advantage of going to the room early was that you could pay early for the autograph, so I did. This became useful later.

After taking advantage of a fantastic lunch buffet upstairs, I headed back down and got in line to meet Clive. By that point, a couple of lines had formed – one fairly long one and another one that was pretty short. The shorter one was for pre-paid folks (ME!) and VIP members. I bypassed all the suckers, slipped into that one, and 5 minutes later, it was Clive time.

While pre-paying, I also went ahead and selected which of his glossy pictures I’d have him autograph. However, his handlers made it very clear that when you get the autograph, that’s all you’re paying for, and you’re not allowed to do the usual at-table selfie. But, you can take a picture of him autographing it. HERE IT IS!

Because there were so many people in line behind me, the whole affair was pretty quick – just long enough for him to sign, and for me to shake his hand and tell him he’s my hero. I also thanked him for turning me on to Ramsey Campbell. And that was that…for now. Read on, because the day’s not done yet.

Time to meet some Cenobites. Most of the cast of Hellraiser was there, including Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde (Hellraiser 2), Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Ashley Laurence, and Andrew Robinson. It would have been incredibly cool if Sean Chapman, Clare Higgins, and the elusive Grace Kirby could have shown up as well (dream on), but I’m hardly going to complain.

First of all, I probably would have made that drive just to meet Barbie Wilde even if Clive hadn’t been there, and she didn’t disappoint. It was a major thrill to meet her and she was the sweetest lady ever. Throughout the day, we had a few conversations and I can’t say enough nice things about her.


I also can’t wait to dig into both her books. Check out my newest prize possession. I’m really digging the fact that Clive did the cover and that the Soska Sisters, who are equally cool, wrote the forward. Barbie and I spent some time talking about them and how amazing they are. They recorded probably the best promo that anyone ever has for my radio show. Tune in some time soon and you’ll hear it. I’m dying for them to call in for an interview. Speaking of that, Barbie and I also talked about her calling in, and if I could make that happen…dream come true!

I also had some great conversations with Simon Bamford and Nicholas Vince. Bamford especially is one I recommend meeting if you ever get the chance. We spoke quite a bit about surrealist filmmakers and the Dada movement. The dude knows his stuff and is a wealth of information on film history.

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Meeting Ashley Laurence (who apparently ages in reverse) was another major check off the Bucket List. I don’t know what box she actually solved and who she actually conjured, but I swear, she’s more beautiful now than she was 30 years ago.

Sat next to her was Doug Bradley, and we did chat for a bit, but it was near the end of the day. I’ve met him before and kind of already did the whole “try not to fan out on Pinhead” thing. Nice guy, though.

Across from him was a table that had a speaker which was blasting some enjoyable punk, which gave the whole experience a nice ambiance, but I don’t think Bradley was digging it. He’d been listening to it all day and looked like he was having none of it. I can’t believe how long it took me to even notice who was responsible for said punk blasting…

It was Eddie Furlong! We had a short but enjoyable conversation, mostly about music and doing conventions. I know he’s had a rocky career, but he came off to me as humble and just happy to speak to his fans.


Next up was Nancy Loomis (Annie from Halloween), and we talked for a bit. Nice lady. She was selling knit caps that had “Hey Jerk, Speed Kills” printed on them, and I’d have been tempted to buy one if I didn’t already own a t-shirt that said the same thing. Plus, these photo ops and autographs ain’t cheap, kids. At this point, my budget for the weekend was pretty much maxed out.

So, the day went on and I was getting ready to split since I had nearly a 3 hour drive ahead of me, but there was one last thing I needed to do. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of convention attendance, it’s that there are two prime times to talk to a guest: super early on before the line really kicks in, and near the end. That last hour or so before the whole thing is about to close up, the lines have usually completely died down, and they’re just kind of hanging out. They’ve tired, but they’ve maybe had a few drinks, and are more apt to indulge you into a longer conversation.

I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. I made my way back to Clive Barker’s room, hoping to have a conversation that involved something a little more than, “Hi, you’re my hero…something something about Ramsey Campbell, okthanksbye…”

And it went way better than I could have hoped! I did, in fact, get to have a decent conversation with him. I mentioned that a while back I did a birthday tribute to him on my radio show, which he seemed to be pretty amused with.

Guys, it was then that I heard Clive Barker, my hero, my favorite author and artist in the world, the reason why I nearly changed my college major to English lit, say the words to me, “Well, do you ever do international phone interviews?”

While inwardly, I lost all the shit I had, outwardly, I calmly said, “Yeah, that would be great”. So, I talked to his guy, emails have been sent, and we’ll see what happens.

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Wrapping things up, I made one last lap of the retailers and some of the tables I hadn’t visited yet. I got to have a fairly long conversation with PJ Soles, just about out lives and her grandkids. I’ve met her a couple of times before and running into her is always one of the big highlights of a con. I can’t believe that Lynda is totally a grandmother now.

Finally, the evening ended with a cool little encore. My phone, a total piece of 4 year old garbage, was dead at this point, so I needed to charge it before I hit the road. I made my way back upstairs, found a quiet spot with a comfortable chair and outlet, and waited it out. I’d brought my copy of The Hellbound Heart, thinking I might have Clive Barker sign it, but all autographs from him were $60 a pop, so…no. Having some time to kill while the phone was charging, I read the book from cover to cover. It’s not that long and it’s nothing I haven’t done before.

About 3/4ths of the way through, I see out of the corner of my eye Doug Bradley and his wife, hand-in-hand, walking down the hall. We’re the only three people around. I’m sat there reading the book, he looks over, gives me a smile and nod, and I give him one back. Talk about a day.

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Oh, and here’s the only costumed character I got a picture of. Kane Hodder was actually there in full Jason getup too, but all I got was old bag-head here.

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So another classic con was in the books and I came away with only one regret. It was not finally asking Andrew Robinson what in the hell “This is the night of the paper hats!” means while I had the chance. All these years later, and I still don’t have the first clue.