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Apr 28 2014
An Offer I Couldn't Refuse: Chiller Theatre Rogues Gallery Comments (0)
  *Andrew-Stevens-then-and-now *Shirley-Jones-then-and-now *John-Wesley-Shipp-then-and-now *Mary-Woronov-then-and-now *Sean-Patrick-Flanery-then-and-now
*Bob-McGrath-then-and-now *Alison-Arngrim-then-and-now *chris-sarandon-then-and-now *Costas-Mandylor *Paul-Logan-then-now

Having just survived the most recent Hollywood Show not long ago, I couldn't justify attending this weekend's Chiller Theatre horrorfest at the Parsippany Sheraton in New Jersey. That is, until I found out two of my all-time favorite hunks—Andrew Stevens and John Wesley Shipp—were going to be there.

Autograph Andrew-StevensI sure wish Andrew would've thrown in the towel.

The decision was made.


I drafted my friend John to join me. Though he's not particularly starstruck, he thought it would be fun to attend one of these things, and said he wouldn't mind acting as my photographer. I wonder how long it will be before he goes to another under any circumstances?

Chiller-TheatreThe voluptuous horror of Chiller Theatre...look at that massive crowd!

ClownWe arrived and lucked out (briefly), making it onto the shuttle from the train station to the hotel while several others had to wait for another trip. That meant we arrived well before the advertised 10 a.m. early-bird entry time, but it also meant we had even more time to stew in a long, uncertain line outside. The line for people with advance tickets was impossibly long—I've literally never seen so many people—but while our line (no tickets, willing to pay whatever it took to get in early) was smaller, it was also completely unknown to those running the event. We kept trying to find out when we'd get in, but every staffer had a different story. We were eventually told we'd only get in at noon, or two hours later.

Cloris LeachmanUnderstatement of the year

After attempting to enter several times, I finally was told we could simply walk in and buy early-bird tickets, which we did. By then, we were sunburned, which was the first thing I did wrong health-wise that day.

Inside, it was a swarm of stinky but excited  bodies, all milling about in stifling heat. I can't totally blame the show for being so popular—the appearances of The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus (will he be the '10s version of KISS in a few years?), first-timer Priscilla Presley and the cast of Sons of Anarchy were all major body-magnets. But it was so unbearably uncomfortable I felt like I was hiding in a sweltering closet while a psycho killer lurked just outside....


1 Rettenmund-Costas-MandylorLove don't Costas thing...except, like, 40 bucks.

Costas Mandylor (b. September 3, 1965)

John was surprised that, in spite of all the people, no one was approaching some of the stars. I told him that this was the norm—some of the stars would have consistent interest, others would spend long minutes ignored. But at a massive show like Chiller, even the less popular guests would make bank over the weekend.

I know that Costas has fans thanks to the Saw movies, but I've never seen those...or anything else in which he's starred! He's one of those hunks I used to see in Movieline and other unsavory places, and whose brooding good looks had made an impression. So he was our first get of the day.

Autograph-Costas-MandylorOne of a kind nabs a nice pair.

I selected the only shirtless shot he had on the table, and it was the last one. "That's one of a kind!" he bellowed. Apparently, his agent, a friendly dude who clocked me a mile away as a homo with an open-wallet policy and would soon capitalize on this observation, had put that one out at the last minute. "No one's going to want that!" Costas claimed he'd said. But I always go for skin or unusual if I have a choice. This was both.


2 Rettenmund-Paul-Logan DSC04839 3 Rettenmund-Paul-Logan-shirtlessIMG_6268Paul's top and bottom, Paul's bottom

Paul Logan (b. October 15, 1973)

I'd prepared in advance when I saw that soap actor Paul Logan would be at the show, buying a copy of his Playgirl cover on eBay. He was right next to Costas and shared the same agent. I asked if he'd sign his Playgirl (some stars won't sign anything nude or embarrassing...or will charge way more) and he said for sure.

4 Rettenmund-Paul-Logan-shirtless-solo IMG_6272I think Men's Fitness should use Paul's body for all those "muscular" cover stars they run.

"I'm just happy people have it and want it signed!" He then launched into a funny story about how his mom went around to all the local stores to buy it up when it came out, leading one cashier to give her a weird look. "No, no, it's my son!" she explained, which, for my money, makes it more, not less, weird. Very sweet guy!

Autograph-Paul-LoganTastefully avoids marring his abs

His agent immediately pounced on me, asking if I was staying in the hotel and wanted to do a private work-out shoot with him. I couldn't stay over, but it sure was tempting. "This is the first I'm hearing of it," Paul said good-naturedly. As a compromise, the agent had Paul strip off his shirt and pose with me like that on the spot, while the nearby Jamie Kennedy hooted and razzed him for it. What a good sport. Not a bad way to spend $40.


5 Rettenmund-Shirley Jones IMG_6274Jonesing for Shirley

Shirley Jones (b. March 31, 1934)

She just turned 80, is an Oscar-winning actress and was the mom on The Partridge Family, and yet nobody was going up to Shirley Jones, so I did. I'd brought a lovely vintage headshot ("It is a nice photograph," Shirley agreed), but as she began to sign it, her helper asked me to pay first before the signing and all the photo-taking. I was juggling stuff and was taken aback, so I handed the woman my wallet and said, "Hold this and I'll pay you after." She held it like it was dirty underwear (so everyone could see she wasn't ripping me off while I was distracted).


Shirley was happy to pose with me and for me. She looks great! I can't ever love her (Mrs. Marty Ingalls???)  like I love Florence Henderson, but she was a friendly and familiar face.

6 Rettenmund Cloris Leachman John Stanton IMG_6279How great does Cloris look with my pal John?


7 Rettenmund Andrew Stevens Smiling Bastard

Andrew Stevens (b. June 10, 1955)

Seated inside an even more sweltering room, just beyond odd tablemates Amber Lynn (pornstar) and Paul Petersen (Minor Consideration), was one of the main reasons I'd come, including not a few times during adolescence: supersexy sex icon Andrew Stevens. If only he'd been into male children in the '70s.

8 Rettenmund Andrew Stevens IMG_6284For all of you profile-philes

At an earlier Hollywood Show, I'd told his mom, Stella Stevens, to please bring her cute son next time. Unfortunately, she told me they were estranged. Major oops! But I made no faux pas this time.

Autograph-Andrew-Stevens-2I may have gone overboard...

Andrew was quite outgoing. He was jabbing his escort for not having come up with pictures as good as the original stills I'd dug up, which included a towel show from The Seduction ("Where did THIS come from?") and some fantastic headshots. But Andrew had lots of shirtless pics for sale, so I'm sure he did well.


9 Rettenmund Bob McGrath IMG_6289I was tickled to bump into Bob and not "Elmo."

Bob McGrath (b. June 13, 1932)

I'd never met a Sesame Street since "Big Bird," so saying hello to Bob was a thrill. He looks much the same, even if he's now way older than "Mr. Hooper" was when he died and when Bob explained that death to the kids watching at home.

Autograph-Bob-McGrathCheck out the Sesame Street graffiti all over this vintage still!

Bob was playfully posing with a couple of mega-fans for a long while before I got up to him, but he focused on me right away and even spent time chatting about his new Web site, something most octogenarians don't usually do.


10 Rettenmund-ALison-Arngrim IMG_6292Mean girls

Alison Arngrim (b. January 18, 1962)

I was excited to finally meet the infamous "Nellie Olesen," whose performance in that role ranks among the best in TV history, IMHO. Patty McCormack's Bad Seed brat would've been no match for this prairie schooler.

Autograph-Alison ArngrimWhoa, Nellie!

In person, Alison looks great and was perky, not easy in a room in which I felt I was slowly but surely melting. I told her of our mutual acquaintance and she brightenWideed further, but it was such a crowd there wasn't time to get into it about her delicious anti-Melissa Sue Anderson comments from her must-read memoir.


*Rettenmund-Chris-SarandonThe trouble with nibbles...

Chris Sarandon (b. July 24, 1942)

Was excited to get Chris Sarandon, who has canceled on this show a couple of times before. He looks great for his age; he was fist-bumping through a bandaged wrist and happily discussing his roles. He liked the Cuba pic I brought ("This is certainly different...") and was especially pleased when John brought up his wife Joanna Gleason.  He also wondered why Chris had no The Sentinel images, and while he confessed it was an error, he also said he didn't enjoy making that one.

Martin Balsam, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Arthur K ennedy, Sylvia Miles, Christopher Walken...what could've been difficult? (!!!)

Autograph-Chris-SarandonCuba hombre

Superwarm. Chris asked a lot about my camera and marveled at the new mini Go cameras he had been seeing. I told him he was probably lucky little, handy cameras were not widely available in the '70s and '80s, but the guy who gave one of my favorite sexy perfs of all time (Fright Night...grrr!) kept his mouth closed.


12 Rettenmund Ronee Blakley IMG_6303Wide awake with Nightmare on Elm Street's Ronee

Ronee Blakley (b. August 24, 1945)

Everyone was into Ronee for her appearance in A Nightmare on Elm Street, but I was more interested in her from her star-making turn in Nashville. She was seated under a cowgirl hat and next to a couple of hard-working box fans. Her helper seemed a bit timid of her, but Ronee was quite effusively friendly, having just been group-idolized by Michael Musto, Mickey Boardman and friend.

FansWe're your biggest fans!

What was funny, however, was when I asked if I could take a photo of her (as well as with her), she said, "I don't think I'm supposed to do that...Well, okay...Wait, did you already take it?...Let me think...I'm not sure I'm supposed to do that..." and back and forth until we gave up and I went to pay the handler. I explained what had happened and the handler seemed sure she'd so it, so asked again.

Autograph-Ronee-BlakleyThe original Nashville songbird

"Oh, for Matt?...Wait, are you two guys related?" she asked of myself and my companion. We mugged together but said no. Finally, she asked, "What's it for?" I assured her it was for my personal use only. "Don't put it on the Internet, okay?" and she extended her hand so I had to shake on it and give her my word that the solo shot would not go beyond my possession.

Heather Langenkamp NightmareNightmare's Heather Langenkamp (b. July 17, 1964)

So I'm honoring that, only using the shot I took of myself with her. It wasn't bitchy or annoying, it was cute, and she explained, "I'm self-conscious." I think she looks pretty terrific, less like a Nightmare and more like a dream.


13 Rettenmund-Sean Patrick-Flanery IMG_6319Was hoping for a little Powder sugar..

Sean Patrick Flanery (b. October 11, 1965)

I'm not sure what I most remember Sean for, but his biggest accomplishment was probably as the title character in the affecting drama Powder (1995). He's also beloved for having been "Indiana Jones" for a while. But I think of him more generally as a '90s hottie, and so I arrived to his crowded room (he was seated right next to Norman Reedus...what a zoo!) with my Playgirl in hand.

Autograph-Sean-Patrick-FlaneryMeanwhile, back at the raunch...

As we approached, Sean was leaning across his table on one be-denimed knee for each guest, all the better to lean in for conversation. He was rockin' a Keith Urban haircut that I eventually decided was flattering, and a white T-shirt that I knew instantly was flattering—great bod. I actually had no idea he was 48, and I'm pretty spot-on with celebrity ages. He looks great! He apparently had some work done in the past judging from unfortunate Internet photos, but everything's fallen into place nicely—he looks hot, handsome and healthy.

Just like Paul Logan, he was more than happy to sign his cover (even though Playgirl had hilariously called it "The Raunch Issue"—to them, BJs = raunch), and he even told us a funny story that had happened earlier in the day. An older lady fan had whispered to him, in reference to the magazine, "I had no idea you were so well-hung!" His impression of her was a hoot, and the comment is amusing considering he does no frontal nudity in the layout.

"I don't know which fuckin' veiny, throbbing boner she just arbitrarily assigned to me, you konw what I mean? I'm like thank you, because hey, they're all fuckin' horse-hung!"


14 Rettenmund-John-Wesley-Shipp IMG_6330Daddy hunt

John Wesley Shipp (b. January 22, 1955)

The other dude, along with Andrew Stevens, who had drawn me to Parsippany against my better judgment was the eternally hot John Wesley Shipp, a soap hunk from way back and later "Dawson"'s daddy on Dawson's Creek. I've just always found him to be hot as hell, and age isn't getting the better of him. He was (thankfully) in a cooler room and was also one of my coolest encounters.

Autograph-John-Wesley-ShippThe closest I'll get to going back to his place...

John liked that I brought unusual items not related to The Flash, the project with which he's most associated among the Chiller set. He told me the old fan-mail card I'd brought from his Days days was his first professional headshot, and he reminisced about the sleeveless-in-shorts shoot for TV Guide, from which I'd brought a fresh print from a slide I'd unearthed. As nice as he was, he wasn't game to recreate the pose.

Autograph-John-Wesley-Shipp-2Placement intentional

John was superfriendly, asking me to make sure I posted the photos and to tag him on his private Facebook page. Wish me luck; we're going to be best friends 'til the end, I just know it. Big thrill meeting him, so much so that it didn't even bother me that his big arm around me meant his hand was gonna rest on that part of your back fat you hope no one ever really touches/realizes is there.


15 Rettenmund-Mary-Woronov IMG_6337Twenty bucks only, and she almost didn't charge me!

Mary Woronov (b. December 8, 1943)

There are precious few Warhol stars around—I met Ultra Violet in the late '80s, and haven't met any others since—but Mary Woronov qualifies. She's a true cult-movie queen (and is proud of it), and as one of the stars of Eating Raoul, one of my favorite twisted movies (the hot-tub scene!), she was a major incentive to endure the crowds in Parsippany.

Autograph-Mary-Woronov"I was never considered 'sexy,'" she has said. Hello?

She was the last star we located, and from a distance seemed animated and fun. When we came closer, it became clear she was not animated, she was jumpy—they had to leave! I stepped up anyway and she asked, "What is it you need?" I was a bit intimidated, but I rattled off my usual request, "Autograph, picture-of, picture-with." She said of course (relieved!) and we raced through it. She looks strikingly good, very sophisticated and above the room. Wish I could have had more time, but those people in the hot tub probably wished they could've had more time, too.


Autograph-Abe-VigodaGo, "Fish!

Abe Vigoda (February 24, 1921)

It was 1:30 p.m. and we were already done, except I'd signed up for an Abe Vigoda pro photo at 3:30 p.m., so we had to take an extended lunch break. Abe almost killed me, because over that time I got steadily sicker—my cold was turning on me. I worried about giving Abe his last cold ever! When we finally got into the line it was as long as Abe's lifespan, I swear. As we got closer in, Paris Themmen ("Mike Teevee" from Willy Wonka), who was acting as Abe's agent, informed us that Abe—who had previously said no autographs—would, in fact, autograph the pro photos taken with him. Dammit! This was an offer we couldn't refuse, and would tack on more time to our day.

I said no more than hello to Abe as we sat next to each other, but he very politely said, "Thank you for coming."

Then we spent hours waiting for the goddamned photo to be printed and signed. It was chaotic and hot and I was woozy by then.

I did encounter controversial shooter Terry Richardson, who obliged me with a pic and said he was there supporting a friend and shooting attendees.

Terry RichardsonStill giving both thumbs up!

ChillerFinally got it and handed it to Abe, who print-signed his name on it. We immediately took off, caught the shuttle as it was about to leave, then stood around at the train station forever. By this time, my head was pounding, I felt feverish—it was bad. All for Abe, because if it weren't for him, I'd have been out of that hotel by 2 p.m. latest. Instead, I wound up arriving back in the city at 8 p.m., desperately sick. John helped me into a cab and I crashed at home with ice on my head and Tylenol in my belly. A temperate of 102 degrees! I'm still sick as a dog as I type this, but anything for...wait, what is all of this for again???