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Oct 12 2014
Paying Guests: An Expensive Trip To New York Comic Con Comments (0)

Matthew-Rettenmund-William-Shatner-Gillian-Anderson-Giancarlo-EspositoPic-with payola

I hit New York Comic Con for the third year in a row, this time waiting until the day-of to snag an $80 day pass via Craigslist. The boy who sold it to me in Port Authority (the transaction had all the earmarks of a situation that should end with cops appearing and shouting “swarm! swarm! swarm!” into their walkie-talkies) was supernice, and sure enough, the thing worked fine—I tapped in with no problem.

I arrived a little before the first of four (why?) paid photo ops I'd signed up for. I'd spaced them out enough that I figured I'd have tons of time between them to shoot cute, straight/bicurious boys in revealing leotards (Comic Con being to guys as Halloween is to girl = the perfect opportunity to dress like sluts). I figured wrong! Though the lines are miraculously well managed, the photo ops kinda sucked the air out of the room. (I'll post sexy boys in leotards in another post next week!)

ShatnerDon't tell George Takei.

First up was William Shatner, 83. By all accounts a bad person, he was actually supernice. His line  as enormous (ka-ching!), and we filed through the heavily shielded pro-photo tent so quickly it was the photographic equivalent of leaping from a moving van. After placing my $$$ camera in the able hands of a lesbian or lesbian-ready attendant—NO CAMERAS ALLOWED ANYWHERE NEAR THE STARS IN THIS AREA, FOLKS!—I stepped up to Shatner and told him quickly I was there for Twilight Zone, that he'd been in one of the best episodes ever. He thanked me graciously, a photo was snapped as soon as I looked up and then they were encouraging me to go-right-now. I'd wanted to ask him about being in SNL skits with the recently departed Jan Hooks, but NO EXTENDED CONVERSATIONS IN THE PHOTO AREA, FOLKS.

Shatner got my attention as I dazedly left, making sure to thank me for coming. I will just have to take all of his co-stars at their word when they say he is an ogre.

In line, I'd met and talked at length with Saeed Arjumand, an aspiring illustrator/artist who'd journeyed to the Javits Center from San Francisco. He was telling me this was his final convention as a fan, and that he was returning home to Dubai upon graduation and hoped to have his own table at the genre show his native country has just started hosting. Nice guy, and I like his stuff!

BatmanThe work of Saeed Arjumand, who was my on-line chat buddy...analog-style.

The next star was Gillian Anderson, 46. I couldn't care less about The X-Files and had no clue she was on something called Hannibal (there is so much quality TV on TV these days I feel I am about to be signed to a must-see series myself any second...they just never stop!), but did love The House of Mirth (2000) so told her that as we posed, slightly less awkwardly. She liked that and smiled big for me, but then returned to the exact, identical pose she gave in every photo I saw being taken of her: Hands clasped in front of her (which disallows hand-shaking and creates a nice, white line down her black dress), pretty, slightly sardonic grin. 

She looks beautiful these days and did stop the line briefly when a kookily-garbed man (he looked vaguely Elizabethan and was probably some well-known character, but I'm a three-eyed fish out of water in the sci fi milieu) if she could take his picture. “Yeah, for $70 bucks, lady,” I muttered. That is what she charged the hundreds who wanted her pic-with. Do the math, the truth is out-there.

Here is where I'll pause to tell you how mind-bendingly efficient things are when it comes to these mortgage-busting photo lines: Hundreds of people file through within 10 minutes, you get your photo snapped, and by the time you round the corner to the collection table, the photo is already printed out for you with a bar code in the margin. Then, you tap out of the area by showing the same receipt that got you into it in the first place and by allowing them to quickly scan the code on your just-purchased photo. BOOM. Done. Flawless and amazing.

Killing time, I next went for the only autograph I went for all day: Giancarlo Esposito, 56. I have never seen, nor do I have any interest in seeing, Breaking Bad, which I am sure is fantastic. I had never heard of Revolution until I overheard Esposito mournfully tell a fan it is not coming back. However, I am quite well aware of his body of work...and I had to get him if only because he had a small role in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), one of my all-time favorite movies.

Esposito

I was shocked that it took me an hour in line to get this man's autograph! I had no idea anyone would care. He was snazzily attired and very, very, very nice to everyone. I asked his helper (maybe a relative) if along with my autograph I could please snap his photo—of him, not with him (which I was going to get done professionally in a couple of hours anyway). She laughed in my face good-naturedly, the laughter that says, “What kind of a freak wants to take his picture?” then okayed it.

Giancarlo-Esposito-posedHe played the pivotal role of, um, “street vendor” in Desperately Seeking Susan!

I asked him my questions about DSS (find out his comments in Encyclopedia Madonnica: 20th Anniversary Edition in 2015!) and he posed for me happily.

He was my next photo op, too,  so a short while later, I was in line for him again. This time, he was over 20 minutes late, which stressed me out because I had to get Stephen Amell, 33 (can you believe he's that old?), right afterward, and his line was triple the size of Shatner's...it had to be close to 1,000 people. But Esposito arrived and we did our photos, again, like clockwork. He was nice this time, too, giving me the presidential, sideways-handshake pose.

Finally, as soon as I got my Esposito photo, I got in line for Amell. It was ungodly long, and I had to dash to get to my next appointment (meeting Don Bachardy, see here), so I was a bit nervous. I struck up a conversation with a sweet, 6'5" ginger boy who loves his Comic Con and was down from Poughkeepsie for it. Never met an asshole at Comic Con yet. Even the workers are generally very friendly. This guy was a riot, enjoying my habit of worst-case scenarioing everything and telling me that Amell had been supercool during his autograph session, but had put the word out that he would not do handshakes because he'd done a ton of handshakes at his previous event and injured his hand. I took this to mean he was secretly a germaphobe, which led to the inevitable Ebola conversation because it's 2014 and this is the year of the Ebola conversation.

As this was happening, a nerd volunteer drifted up to me, looked me beseechingly in the eye and informed me that Amell had requested no physical contact. Then he stared at me as if he were a young flyboy in the '40s who'd just told his best girl he was being shipped out to fight the Nazis and was awaiting my nervous breakdown. I just said, “Okayyyy...” and he moved down the line. It was hysterically funny watching him break his bad news, which I think was giving him an ever-so-slight woodie.

AmellCrotch included!

As we got closer to Amell, I dared the fangirls in front of me to up and kiss him for their photo, pointing out they could claim they didn't realize kissing counted as physical contact. Then, as if on cue, the volunteer returned and clarified: Absolutely no contact, no handshaking, no fist-bumping, no hugging, no kissing. I figured a quick rim-job would be frowned upon, so I resigned myself to stand a foot away from Amell so that our resulting photo would look like a before and after.

Lo and behold, when we got up there, he was drawing people in and slinging his arm over their shoulder. I guess he just liked being in control of things, like the 50 Shades of Grey fellow (Jesus-God, that movie trailer is embarrassingly bad...I smell a hit!). The fangirls gathered around him, SNAP!, then left, but the shooter realized someone had blinked and panicked, yelling at them to return.

Amell was visibly appalled. “Guys...settle down,” he urged the photographer and assistants.

My shot with him came out pretty great, actually, even if I didn't have a second to tell him I knew his cuz, Robbie. Interestingly, I believe I was shot by a different pro photographer for each of my four photos, and the quality did vary. I had to really crop some, because they'd shoot your entire body from head to toe and you'd wind up looking like some mid-19th Century portrait. Why do I need my knees in the picture?

My last photo done, I was ready to move on to Bachardy.

More on New York Comic Con this coming week, when I'll post some sexy boys' bulges, booties, underarms and nerdy-verging-on-erotic grins.

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