Vulkon Convention Orlando:
November 18, 2000
Okay, guys. I’m not great at writing nonfictional accounts, but I know you’re all itching to hear about any kind of personal encounter with Bruce. So here goes, along with notes about other guests and the event in general.
I arrived at the Orlando North Hilton at roughly 2:30 PM, and the vanload of Klingons heading for the entrance gave me a pretty good idea I was at the right place. *g* I turned in my reserved seating receipt, got my ID badge, and proceeded with the lost-patron wander by which I usually begin a new experience. My next action, of course, was to buy pictures of Bruce as Jack and Jefferey Combs (a favorite of my father) as DS9’s Weyoun, whom I looked forward to seeing.
On the con in general: What an… interesting atmosphere. I’d never been to one of these before, but I have to say it was no more or less than I expected. There was quite an array of costumed attendees. Klingons were en vogue, but that may have been due to the "Klingon Dance" to be held that night. I didn’t notice any Vulcans or Bajorans, but there was a very well-dressed Ferengi couple, a few Borg, Starfleet officers of various types and even a Babylon 5 psi cop (quite nicely done too). And on the ladies’ side, there were a couple of Xenas, as well as a woman dressed as B5’s Delenn who was a very close match for the character. There was also a guy with an "alien baby" in one of those baby-carrier harnesses. But my favorite character (and one who posed for my camera) was a woman dressed in a full Cats-type feline costume and makeup.
The one I think you all could most appreciate was the guy dressed as Ash, circa AOD. He was very thorough and accurate in the details, from the dirt smudges to the chain-saw hand to the midriff shirt rip in exactly the same spot. (Though he looked nowhere near as good as the genuine article, of course!)
I do have a nit with the Klingons and other Trek aliens. Great costumes, but how about covering over those prosthesis lines with a little makeup? If you’re going to go to that much trouble, you might as well go all the way.
I’m kind of surprised I didn’t run into my dentist—who runs a completely unique practice called Starfleet Dental, which has a total science-fiction theme and has even served a number of scifi stars. He usually attends local cons dressed as Data. *g*
All of the con guests were, of course, getting jabs in at the presidential election/recount crisis in Florida, resulting in some classic groaners.
Anyway, when I found my way into the conference room where most of the action was to take place, a man I didn’t recognize was on the platform speaking. I decided to lean against the wall at the back until he was done. There was a table of water pitchers for the attendees there, and a guy in a bright orange shirt was buzzing around the area; even having watched SeaQuest, I didn’t quite recognize Ted Raimi at the time.
As for the speaker, it was Dirk Benedict. Having enjoyed reruns of Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team, I’m rather sorry I didn’t arrive in time to hear him fully; what I did hear was interesting and at moments amusing. Naturally, I was intrigued to learn that he considers writing to be his true calling. People got quite a few giggles about his remarks on wanting to write "a sort of autobiographical cookbook".
Once Dirk left the stage, I took a seat some half-dozen rows back from the stage. My preregistered seat number really didn’t seem to have much meaning, because the room was fairly small to begin with, the seat numbers were hard to find, and people pretty much seemed to be sitting wherever they wanted to anyway.
Ted Raimi was up next, and I’m very glad I decided to come in time to hear him, because he was terrifically funny. He had lived here in Orlando while starring in SeaQuest, when it was filmed here (in fact, a huge amount of the show’s leftover props and costumes were sold at local memorabilia shops for a long time afterward). He evidently liked the city a great deal, a point he kept coming back to, and he was quite familiar with the area, which I find inexplicably pleasing. He also kept fielding jokes about his shirt, which made him look much like an escaped convict!
His first action was to drag three fans up onto the stage and make them sing the Joxer song. He also asked early on not to be videotaped, and then settled into the chat.
One of his anecdotes described how, while he was living here and working on SeaQuest, he was awakened in the dead of night by three stern men in UEO uniforms on his doorstep. Apparently, these gents had gotten rather tipsy at a scifi convention taking place, and had come to take him back with them!
He was also highly comical in some tales about his big brother Sam, Darwin the dolphin’s love of knocking his legs out from under him in waist-deep water—thus sending him back to the makeup chair—and the monster costumery he wore in Evil Dead 2 (which I have not yet seen). He lamented that it took twelve hours to apply this makeup… A remark which would become the joke of the day, as you will read later.
At one point, soon after making his request about videotaping, he nearly fell off the stage—a misstep which went right into the topic, as he jokingly complained about "Ted Raimi, right before he died" pictures showing up on eBay.
As his time was nearing a close, he was interrupted at one point by a chastising voice from the side of the room, telling him to get it over with. Bruce Campbell had stepped in to deliver the admonishment, much to the amusement of us all.
Ted looked to be quite enjoying himself and not eager to leave the stage, as he remarked when it was indicated he had to go, "The hook has come for me". He left the room, and with Bruce to enter immediately, I hastily moved to the third row where I was actually supposed to be. (Sort of, at least; my seat was at one side of the room, but I chose an empty spot near the center, where the view was perfect.)
And so the main draw of the event, Bruce, took the stage. He looked good. His hairstyle was, IMHO, halfway between Jack and his X-Files character—and he was wearing glasses, which I hadn’t expected. He was dressed in a muted off-white sort of Hawaiian shirt and grayish or brownish pants… Which he had bought here in Orlando, as his luggage had been lost! He was nevertheless cheerful and ready to talk.
There was a smattering of Xena/Herc, Brisco and other questions, but the majority focused on the Evil Dead movies. Sadly enough, I was apparently the only person with JoAT in mind.
I wasn’t as shy as I would have expected about raising my hand to ask a question. And when Bruce indicated for me to speak, I stood up and spoke, not stumbling on my words quite as badly as I could have.
I mentioned being a member of the JoAT message board, expressing our collective appreciation of how he’s posted there to keep us informed. This he was most gracious about, saying that with the way rumors fly, he thought everybody should know how things stand. I gave him a general question about working on the show and about its cancellation, to which he gave roughly the same reply he had in the recent chat: that to him, cancellation had its bad but also its good sides, and that JoAT had been a hard show to do but a fun one. When I mentioned involvement in the letter campaign, he expressed how he saw both good and bad in that, too, saying that in a way the fans just tortured themselves trying to change a decision that was already made. (I like to think, however, that it was at least good for our own morale.)
I exchanged a couple of other comments with Bruce during the course of his answer, which in fact made our interaction one of the lengthiest of all. It was also just about the only time JoAT was discussed or even touched upon.
Like everybody I first meet, it seems, Bruce even succeeded in embarrassing me. When asked about the possibility he’d had of starring on X-Files, he gave a few reasons it didn’t happen, but one of them was because he was still legally tied up with JoAT. And how did he teasingly put it?
"Because your show" (pointing directly at me) "wouldn’t let me go!" he said with an evil grin. There were some ominous groans from the audience, and I received a few pitying glances.
Early on, Bruce was led into discussion of Evil Dead 2, and made mention of Ted’s makeup job—which he said took five or six hours. When told that Ted had claimed it took twelve hours, Bruce responded with, "That liar, it did not! Twelve hours…!"
Thus the line "And it took twelve hours" became a running joke for the rest of his talk. Whenever a length of time was about to be mentioned, someone would say "And it took twelve hours," provoking laughter all over again. This interplay was one of the greatest gems of the con, and if Bruce and Ted plotted it, they deserve a great deal of credit for making it seem completely spontaneous.
He too had plenty of anecdotes about Sam Raimi—the director who likes to throw ideas at the actors without warning, until half a take is taken up with (according to Bruce) "Huh? You want me to say what? Okay…"
One topic he curiously enough latched onto was the subject of horseback riding. He was asked if his work with horses had made him want to have any (the answer to which was no). He went on at some length about the five different horses used for his horse in Brisco, each with its own purpose and neuroses, and it was all most amusing. He related that while Raimi had just told him to get on the horse and do the shot, he was made to relearn his horsemanship for Brisco.
He also laid flat on his back on the stage at one point, to describe how a shot had been filmed sideways to get adequate force out of the fake blood he was to be sprayed with—another one of Sam Raimi’s reckless experiments. Bruce’s description of Raimi’s gleeful reaction, when a test droplet hit him smack between the eyes, was a real giggler.
While Bruce was allowed to talk the longest, it was still all too soon when his time came to leave the stage. A large number of attendees left the room as soon as he did, but a fair number stayed around to listen to actress Tracy Scoggins, who played in the final season of Babylon 5.
With apologies to her fans, I wasn’t happy with her being on the show, and I don’t think she added anything good to it. Perhaps if B5 had stayed syndicated, her character could have been better presented to fans of the series—but with TNT running it into the ground anyway, her presence only made things worse. At any rate, all the same, she wasn’t terribly uninteresting to listen to. Among her anecdotes: getting drunk and climbing a water tower with Dean Cain while she worked on Lois & Clark; falling through a fake wall into a scene being filmed on her first day working on B5; and faking an English accent for Highlander, which left people believing the Texas native really was British.
People really didn’t have much to ask her, so at one point as the room was awkwardly floundering for a question, I stood up and asked her about the episode of Crusade (B5’s failed spinoff) which guest starred a favorite actor of mine, Edward Woodward. I was the one left feeling awkward when she replied she hadn’t been in that episode—which I hadn’t seen it recently enough to know. Fortunately, I was able to turn it around and ask about Peter Woodward, Edward’s son, who had starred as a technomage on Crusade. Her response was amusing: "Peter was great. He was…" (pause) "No, I can’t say that." (grin) "All the ladies liked Peter."
She also expressed great admiration for Martin Sheen, who had played a rather extraordinary and moving character—a young (by their standards) and inexperienced Soul Hunter—in the B5 telefilm River Of Souls. She related how, after he pulled off a full-page speech on the first take, people were left hoping they could make it through their one line without flubbing it!
Her mother was also in attendance—81 years old, according to Tracy, and 16th in the US in her age group at the sport of tennis. Tracy herself came from an athletic background in swimming and diving.
She seemed to take a shorter time than either Ted or Bruce. When she was done, the con employees announced that the room was to be converted for the autograph session (whilst Jefferey Combs popped in, and did a little cavorting at one side of the room). They laid down some ground rules. Bruce would sign for two hours only, and would not personalize items, but would sign two items per person. On hearing this, I went out to get a second photo of Bruce. Soon after I returned, they started calling groups of fifty (by the number on one’s ID tag) to line up. As #262, I had a while to wait.
The autograph session began at five, with Bruce at one table and Jefferey, Tracy and Ted at the other. There were two separate lines. The ridiculous thing was that, at 6pm, they closed off two-thirds of the already small room with a partition, because they had to prepare for the banquet to be held in the same room! I managed to squeeze into the corner as I waited for my group to be called, though, and finally was able to step into line for Bruce.
It was a real assembly-line deal, unfortunately. Photos were handed to Bruce, and he signed them quickly, offering a "Hi, how you doing" greeting. I did manage to mention being Jordi of Governor Croque’s Study at this point, to which his reply was, "Oh, so you’re still keeping that going?" — A remark which quite surprised me. I don’t know if he meant the memory of JoAT, or my site specifically, but if it’s the latter I’m impressed that he knew of it. As I retreated, I commented that yes, I hoped to write some more fan fiction eventually (a reply which could answer either meaning).
At any rate, that was the extent of my contact with Bruce. I went on to the second line, which was now out the door, and eventually made it to the second autograph table.
Jefferey Combs was quite charming. He signed my photo of Weyoun (with the phrase "Long live the Dominion"), and when I mentioned it was for my father—a fan currently down with a bad cold—he asked for my father’s name so he could put it on the autograph.
Tracy Scoggins was next, and in politeness, I gave her my autograph book to sign. The odd thing was that she flipped through the pages in search of my name, instead of asking me. Also curious was the line she wrote as part of her autograph: "Have fun first!"
Lastly sat Ted Raimi, still in his citrus-orange shirt. He too signed my book, and was quite nice in my very brief exchange of words with him—as all I’d really seen and could compliment him on was SeaQuest.
That was basically it. I wandered through the dealer rooms before they closed, but my goals had all been accomplished. I soon left, with autographs in hand and some unforgettable memories in my heart.
And that’s the story of my first meeting with Bruce Campbell—the Daring Dragoon himself.
Back to Governor Croque’s Study