The next time you attend a convention – be it horror, science fiction, comic book, hunting and fishing, whatever – take a moment to stop and look around. Pause during your browsing and look at the people around you. Now look through the ones who are just milling about, browsing and chatting like you. You’ll probably see a couple of folks darting back and forth through the rooms and halls, their faces a mask of harassment and exhaustion. Most likely, they’re on their way to put out a figurative fire – there’s a guest with a problem, a creep stealing from vendors; maybe some kids snuck in without paying, or there are parents upset that their toddler caught a glimpse of a photographed naked breast or a bloody video corpse.
These are the behind-the-scenes people, the con coordinators. Whether the show actually originated with them, or these are just the hapless volunteered help, these fine folks are killing themselves to make sure the convention runs smoothly. And no matter what they do, no matter how close to death they work themselves, there will always be some a*****e message boarder posting about how the con inevitably “sucked”. It’s a thankless task, putting on these cons. The misery begins months in advance, escalating to hellish proportions in the weeks prior, and culminating in something akin to the Spanish Inquisition during the actual days of the show. For the con cocoordinator, shows are equivalent of hard-labor chain gangs.
Despite all this, there sure are a lot of cons, aren’t there? And more coming every year.
I got to learn first-hand just what it takes to put on a successful show, and I wasn’t even the one in charge. Twisted Nightmare Weekend was conceived and coordinated by Robyn Griggs (formerly of NBC’s “Another World” who has since mired herself in the indie horror community), and Amy Lynn Best and I had been two of her earliest-announced guests. (Okay, there was some nepotism going on – at least on the part of booking me. I produced Amy’s feature-directorial debut, “Severe Injuries,” in which Robyn was starring. So making me a guest was a pity gesture on Robyn’s part.) Being wonderful people, we offered her an unending supply of assistance, having worked cons in the past. Eventually, Robyn took us up on the offer. Which just goes to prove the theory about that “no good deed” thing. By the end of the weekend, I was a physical and emotional wreck, a quivering shell of a man, ruined and devoured by the ravenous convention summoned forth by the necromantrix, Robyn Griggs. It was a “Deer Hunter” ordeal from which I may never recover.
I’m kidding, of course. I had a great time. A great time…
The story continues in part two of THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH: SURVIVING TWISTED NIGHTMARE WEEKEND>>>