I’m starting to think that there are just too many conventions. Ohio, especially, has eleven dozen of them. The highly enjoyable MidOhio Con kicked off the season in February, and I for one was really looking forward to Frightvision. My superior-half, Amy Lynn Best, was booked as a guest, and just about every friend we had in the industry would be there. Amy was set to produce the video documentary about women in indie horror (“The Spicy Sisters Slumber Party” – an in-depth discussion of women’s roles in filmmaking set to star Jasi Lanier, Robyn Griggs, Ryli Morgan, Stacy Bartlebaugh-Gmys, Debbie Rochon, Brinke Stevens and Lilith Stabs… in their pajamas!). It was gearing up to be a fun show.
At least a month before, I started getting emails from worried out-of-town guests. Had I heard if the show was still going on? They were getting messages that the show had been cancelled; other folks had heard that the show had changed hotels, flights were being cancelled, etc. This had happened last year, too. Apparently, there is some bad blood between Frightvision’s promoter and that of another very popular show, Cinema Wasteland. Every year, the cons set up within a few weeks of each other, and there’s (rumored, rumored, rumored) in-fighting and back-stabbing between the show’s crews. This year, Cinema Wasteland and Frightvision were being held on the exact same weekend.
Message boards lit up across the internet. Who was going to which one? Was it a good idea to buy weekend passes to both and do a con hop? Some folks were swapping passes. Other folks were holding the usual “my favorite con is better than yours” flame wars. I tried to ignore all this. I had friends at both shows and was considering on hitting Cinema Wasteland, ninja-style, on Sunday, so I could catch up with Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley, Tom Sullivan, and Kyra Schon. But I did not want to get caught up in the (rumored) bad blood.
By the time the big weekend finally rolled around, Brinke and Debbie were without both plane tickets and hotel reservations. They wouldn’t be able to participate in the “Slumber Party”. Royally bummed, we forged on. The closer the weekend got, the more panicked emails we got. This person hadn’t gotten his plane ticket, this one got an email saying that the whole show had been cancelled—again. We didn’t know what to think. (Keep in mind, however, that they did not cancel. This is important.)
We sallied forth.
Cleveland is only a little over an hour from Pittsburgh. Yeah, it’s still in Ohio, but at least the drive is short. On our first trip to the show, three or four years ago, Frightvision was held in a different hotel, near the airport. It was impossible to get to. You either had to be airlifted in, or circumnavigate the highway until this seemingly magical portal opened up and your car found the entrance. Last year and this year, FV was located in a very nice Holiday Inn.
Cons are always chaotic. They’re like ant-farms for humans. Humans with merchandise. Amy and Jasi were, at first, to be set up in the dealer’s room, but they opted for a more scenic location on the second floor, just outside the main guest room. These ladies are brilliant. This prime real estate required that anyone on their way to see Sybil Danning or the screening rooms had to pass by their tables. And, of course, cleavage is the most powerful attractor on the planet…
The only problem with this mezzanine was the fact that it was going on seven o’clock by the time things really got swinging, and there were no lights on this walkway. There was a wonderful skylight, through which the full moon shone. Otherwise, we were virtually blind. Thank god for the monitors of our neighbors, showing, respectively, the Dyers Eve newest “Thorn”, the recently-completed zombie epic “The Dead Life”, and everyone’s favorite robot-vs.-nazi film, “Project: Valkyrie”.
When we started the evening, Sharon and Clayton Hill were sitting against the wall opposite the stairs. A few minutes later, they were gone, replaced by someone else. The next day, there would be new faces behind that table—Syn DeVil at one point, then finally Linnea Quigley. From what I understand, the dealer’s room was in a constant state of flux as well. So the gravity at Frightvision, it would seem, was less than fixed.
Looking back, the entire weekend was little more than a blur, which had more to do with the pace of things, rather than, for a change, my alcohol intake. We shot the first part of the “Slumber Party” Friday night after the show closed, and snagged a second section on Saturday with Linnea and Stacy Sparks joining us at the hot tub.
Now, if you’ll allow me an aside here: The purpose of this little documentary was to get a group of women who work primarily in the ultra- to no-budget film industry and allow them to discuss women’s roles in uber-indie filmmaking. Getting Linnea involved gave the perspective of the changing face of low-budget horror, etc. At the hot tub, Linnea, Stacy and Lilith Stabs were all dressed in slacks and blouses. Amy and Jasi were in the tub wearing socially-acceptable bathing suits. Just before we began filming, a male hotel guest—not from the con but, as it turns out, from a local church group—got into the hot tub. He stayed in his corner, I framed him out, we ran the mike, we began.
Fifteen minutes later, we’re wrapping up, packing up, and suddenly, hotel security guards are in my face, telling me to leave the pool area. It turns out that the wife of the man in the hot tub demanded that he get out and rejoin his family on the other side of the pool. He refused, she called security and said that our little documentary crew was filming a porno at the hot tub. The last topic of conversation caught on tape was the bias against women who do horror movies, and how it’s no longer required for women to do nudity in order to get good roles. In short, it was as far from pornography as you can get! (If it was a porno, who’d watch it? The women were all clothed and weren’t even touching each other!) Suddenly, other members of the church group were yelling at us from across the room. “They’re doing strip-teases in front of my fourteen-year-old daughter!” Jasi yelled back, “Your daughter’s wearing a thong, for Christ’s sake!”
The security guards were trying to be nice. Their official stance was that there were kids who wanted to use the hot tub and we were taking up too much time. As we were leaving, I got a shot of the sign that read “No On Under 17 Permitted in Hot Tub Under Any Circumstances”. And thus we were welcomed, first hand, by the moral majority of Ohio. Where “Tolerance” is to be preached, not practiced.
Get the rest of the story in part two of THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH: FRIGHT FIGHT>>>