Warning: this is going to be long...
, I've met most of the Trek actors on the convention circuit, whether by travelling to see them or when they've come to Toronto (I was co-head of the Programming department for Polaris, formerly known as Toronto Trek, six times, and co-chaired it once). Now, I've never been a Guest Liaison, so while I've heard stories about some of them being less than perfect examples of humanity, I can't back them up with any personal experiences. Every one of them I've met has been friendly and wonderful.
One of our other projects that we do ("we" meaning the group that put on Toronto Trek/Polaris) is the Constellation Awards. I've been the stage manager for the ceremony since their inception. A couple of years ago, we decided to hold our ballot-counting meeting in a Starbucks downtown. This was the same weekend that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was doing "The Music Of Star Trek" with Robert Picardo and John deLancie hosting. Well, we walked into the Starbucks, got in line, and realized that the person in front of us was Robert Picardo... and he recognized one of our committee from the time he was a guest at the convention, and we all ended up chatting for about 15 minutes.
My all-time favourite interaction with an actor - and I've told this story at least once here before - was on the Monday afternoon following TT20. I'd decided to go home Sunday night and come back to the hotel Monday to help with cleanup. I'd gotten maybe four hours of sleep, so I wasn't at my most alert. I was alert enough, however, to help David Gerrold load his belongings into his car, and was headed back in when a call came over the headset that our hospitality suite was waaaaaay behind schedule in terms of clearing out of the room. So I dragged my exhausted ass to the elevator to go upstairs and help. I got into the elevator with someone from our Security department, and as the doors closed, someone jumped on. I concentrated on staying awake while they chatted, and then the Security guy got off at a floor below where I was going. The other person then turned to me...
Him: Are you checking out?
Me: I checked out last night. I just came back to help with cleanup.
Him: Oh, you worked on the con?
Me: Yes, I was one of the Chairs.
At this point I look up and realize I'm talking to Garrett Wang.
Me (extending a hand): My name's Lance.
Garrett: Pleased to meet you. (Shakes my hand.) My name's Garrett.
Garrett: You probably know that, don't you?
When I saw him at Dragon*Con a couple of years ago, I reminded him of this. He laughed and said, "Yeah, that sounds like something I would do."
My favourite non-Trek guest would have to be Ellen Muth, who played George on "Dead Like Me". I chaired the first convention she was ever at, the 2006 Gaylaxicon here in Toronto. (She's not gay, but she's played at least one gay character in her career that I know of.) I didn't actually get to meet or speak with her until the Sunday afternoon (I had a really good head Guest Liaison - the same person who did it for TT/Polaris, and who has worked for Julie Caitlin Brown at Dragon*Con, so I didn't need to concern myself with whether she was doing her job). She was signing autographs as her last thing before going to the airport, and I came in just as she was packing up.
Me: Oh, you're packed up? I was just coming in to get your autograph. I've been running around all weekend and didn't have a chance earlier.
Ellen: Yeah, I've seen you around a lot. Who are you?
Me: My name's Lance. I was the Chair of the convention.
Ellen: Oh, then sure, for you...
Then she took out a photo and signed it for me before she left.
About a year later, I was downtown on Pride weekend and started to chat with a guy at the bus stop after the bars closed. He asked if I was going to the parade, and I said I couldn't because I had a meeting that day. He asked what kind of meeting, and I told him it was for a science fiction convention. He responded, all in one breath, "Ohmigod, you work on conventions? Ellen Muth from 'Dead Like Me' was here for one last year and I couldn't get the time off work to go, and I'm her biggest fan and really wanted to go."
I said, "Yes, I know she was here - I chaired that convention."
It took him a few seconds to recover from that. Anyway, we actually ended up dating for a few months. I was in Atlanta for Dragon*Con during that period, and lo and behold, there was Ellen - and she saw me from across the room and waved. So I walked over and we ended up chatting for about half an hour in between people coming for her autograph. At a slow moment, I said, "I wouldn't normally ask this kind of thing, but I recently started dating someone who's a big fan of yours. He couldn't get the time off work to come to meet you last year, but if I called him right now, would you be willing to say hello?"
She said, "Of course!", so I took out my phone and called his cell - but it went to voicemail. She said she'd leave him a message, so I handed her my phone. She left him about a ten-minute message.
About half an hour later, I was outside when my phone rang, and it was him. His first words were, "Ohmigodhowdidyouarrangethat???"
Then, about a year after that, we had Ellen as a guest at Polaris. I was supposed to go to the airport to meet Jim Butcher (the author of the Dresden Files books), so I went to the limo with a couple of our Guest Liaisons. One of them said to me, "We're picking up one of the actors on this run too - is that okay?" I said, "Of course," and she handed me a sign to hold up - that said "E. MUTH".
I grinned and said, "I think Ellen will recognize me." Sure enough, I was standing in front of the exit doors from the Customs area, with one of the Guest Liaisons at either end, when the doors opened and Ellen came out. She saw me, made a beeline for me and said, "Hi! Remember me?"
I think that was the same year we had Kai Owen from Torchwood and Michael Hogan from BSG - both of whom spent a lot of time in the hotel bar mingling with the members. Actor guests don't usually do that, but they were both wonderful and I got to spend a few minutes chatting with each of them.
I've got one or two more stories, but these are my favourites involving actors.
Danger Ace wrote:
Least Favorite: Harlan Ellison
I do not wish him ill. He is a talented writer without question or qualification, but I just didn't care for the man.
I've got a couple of Harlan stories too... we invited him to be Author Guest of Honour once - I think it was TT19. He doesn't do email, so I'd sent him a letter. A few weeks later, I was at home (being out of work at the time) when the phone rang: telemarketer. 20 minutes later, the phone rang: telemarketer. Half an hour later: telemarketer. Six times, the phone rang, and it was always a telemarketer. The seventh time the phone rang, I picked up the phone and heard a rapid stream of words, of which I understood none.
Me: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?
Harlan: I'm going to speak very slowly. You're going to listen very carefully. This is Harlan Ellison.
Me: Oh! Mr. Ellison, my apologies. You're the seventh person to phone me today, and the other six were all telemarketers.
Harlan: In that case, would you like to buy a combination storm window/bidet?
Me: Um, no, I think not.
Harlan: Are you sure? It's a really good
combination storm window/bidet.
Me: (thinking, ah, so it's going to be like that
) Well, you see, I live on the 12th floor, so sticking my ass out the window to clean it could be dangerous.
Harlan: Oh, you live in a high-rise? What's that like?
So I spent five minutes telling Harlan Ellison what it's like to live in an apartment building.
It turned out we couldn't meet his terms, so he didn't accept our invitation. I met him a year or two later, at the 2006 Worldcon. I went to his signing and was in line, when he suddenly decided to get up and walk down the line instead of staying behind the table. He got to me and I was a little clumsy opening my books for him. He said, "That's okay, I surprised you," and signed my books, then continued down the line. I knelt down on the floor to put them into my backpack, and suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder...
"Oh, my God, a real dwarf! I know you prefer to be called 'little people' now, but I'm five-foot-five, and you're a dwarf!"
I have a couple of other stories involving authors as well... last year, when the Chick-Fil-A controversy was raging, there were numerous same-sex kiss-ins being organized around the U.S. David Gerrold mentioned them in a Facebook post, and I commented, "I'm sorry there isn't going to be one during Dragon*Con - I would participate, assuming I could find a willing partner." David responded, "Lance, I'll kiss you whether there's a protest or not." Now, I would never claim to be close
friends with David - we first met in 2004, and he's always said hello and we've chatted whenever our paths have crossed since then. And as I mentioned earlier, we had him as a Guest of Honour at TT20. But I never expected that he would remember having said that, two or three months later, or that when I walked into a panel room at Dragon*Con where he had just finished a panel, he would actually yell, "Lance! I promised you something..." and then walk over to me and kiss me. (He then invited me to go for a drink with him later, and we ended up hanging out for a couple of hours.)
Any of you still reading this who are Facebook friends with me no doubt remember the epic smackdown David gave to another of my FB friends a few months ago, when the other friend - who was at
TT20 - thought that it was funny that I was friends with someone who had the same name as a famous Trek writer. That was classic...
There was also the Saturday night at last year's Dragon*Con, when I was hanging out with my ex-boyfriend (not the one I mentioned in the Ellen Muth story) and were heading to a panel. I said, "Can we stop on the way? My friend Keith is just finishing a panel, and I haven't seen him all weekend. I'd like to say hi." Keith, of course, being KRAD
. We walked in, Keith saw me, yelled "Lance!" (that seems to happen a lot) and gave me a hug. We chatted for a few minutes, during which I introduced him to my ex, and then we headed off to the other panel. We no sooner got out the door when he turned to me and said, "You didn't tell me your 'friend Keith' was Keith R.A. DeCandido!!!"
This from the same guy whom I'd previously introduced to both David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer. He knows
I'm friends with several authors, so it surprised me that he was surprised. I found it adorable.
Okay, that's it for now. If any of you are still reading.