Sunday, April 25th
Sunday morning dawned, and after dressing, Steve and I went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast one last time. We were scheduled to catch the train out of Cleveland that evening (actually very, very early the next morning), so we had packed everything up, and were planning to stay through at the hotel to the final events of the convention.
FIrst thing after breakfast, Steve and I headed out for our photo op with Anthony Head. The back hall was a little warm, but the crowd was in a good mood, though I suspect a fair number of them were hung over from the previous night's parties. I met up with one of the people who had shared my table at the banquet the night before, and we got to chatting as we waiting in line. When our turn came for the photo, Steve and I stepped up to join Tony. He was wearing this pale pink shirt, and as soon as I got to him, he put his arm around me. I was in shock, and not sure what I should be doing with my own hands at that point. Taking my cue from Tony, I tucked my arm behind him, and hugged his hip. He was so tall compared to me. I was in absolute heaven, and couldn't stop grinning like a fool. I resisted temptation, and kept my hands north of his buttocks. I did notice that Tony's back felt awfully damp through his shirt. Since I doubt it was nerves, I assumed that maybe he'd just woke up and got dressed, and was still damp from his shower. It sounded a lot sexier in my head than the other possiblitly that he was just sweaty.
The photographer snapped the pic, and thus began the gueling wait of several weeks before I get to see the results. Steve said something to Tony as we were leaving. I didn't catch all of it, but basically he was complementing Tony on his work. Then were were ushered out into the hall again, where the line for Tony had grown considerably, and the one for those people waiting for Nick's picture was even longer.
Our next stop that morning was the Art Show room across the hall from the photo ops. I had to pick up all my pictures from the contest. I was very excited when I saw several ribbons. I think the Vulkon people gave ever entry something, so no one went away a looser. Even though I didn't win the Grande Prize of the Show ( a ribbon featuring signatures of all the convention's attending celebreties) , three of my pieces got huge, fancy ribbons. A pencil sketch of a vampire attack won the "Art Director's Choice", as did the portrait that I had done of Nick Brendon. My portrait of Anthon Head was selected by Mark Lutz as his favorite, and it won something called "Star's Choice". Needless to say, I was estatic. I told Steve that if we came back next year, I would definitely enter the contest again, and that I would seriously consider hanging some of my stuff with the "professional" show. People had actually bought things from the art show, and from what I saw, I could have easily sold either of my portraits if I had wanted. But I didn't. So I simply collected them, and all my ribbons, and then Steve and I headed over to the other side of the hotel for the morning autograph session.
Again, we all took our seats in the main ballroom so that we could line up and get our remaining free autographs. Since Nick hadn't been there the previous day, there was a bigger line for him than for Tony. Luckily, someone on the Vulkon staff quickly noticed that putting both celebreties at the same table wouldn't work, so Tony was packed up and moved across the room. He made a production out of it. I guess there was a picture sitting at Tony's new table waiting for a signature from Nick, so Tony walked back over with the photo and got him to sign it. When Nick was done, Tony waved the picture as he ran back over to his side of the room, and shouted "I got Xander!" like he was a star-struck fan.
It didn't take long for the Vulkon people to get things started. The next thing I knew it was my turn to go up and get Nick's autograph. I presented him with the portrait that I had done, and he signed the bottom of the matt for me. I don't remember saying much to him. I had the impression that he was still sleepy, but I could have been wrong, and he was just beginning to warm up to what would be a long day of smiling and kissing up to his fans. He was polite to me, but not at all talkative, so I just took my portrait and slunk away, happy and satisfied to have gotten a chance just to stand that close to him.
After going through Nick's line, I snuck off to the back of the room to check out how Steve was doing. My husband is one of those folks who seem to be able to talk with anyone, and he had already made some new friends with the women and kids sitting around him. I left my Nick pic with Steve, and then ran off to grab a bite to eat. I came back about fifteen minutes later, and Steve's row was just ready to go up to the front. I stood in line with him and talked, and when we got close to the front, I stepped out of line to speak with one of the promoters ( I think it was Sean ). I asked him if it would be possible for me to collect Steve's sutographs, so that he could take a picture while I was doing it. Once I promised that the shot would not be posed, nor would it involve a flash, I was told okay.
I then got back into line with Steve, and when his turn came they punched his card and I went up to Nick. This time he was a little more lively and talkative. I got his autograph in my "Once More, With Feeling"songbook along with Tony's, and then Steve and I moved over to join the other's in line at Tony's table.
I think my hands were shaking as I got up to the front of the line with my portrait. This was the big moment that I had been waiting for all weekend. I handed my portrait over to Tony's "manager". ( I really don't know what else to call the young woman. I don't know if she worked for the promoters, or for Tony himself, but she was always there, right beside him, looking over everything that he did, or was asked to sign). Tony took a look at the picture, and I swear he sat back and smiled. He asked where I got the art, and I told him it was mine, that I had drawn it, to which he responded "Very nice". He asked me where I wanted it signed, and I said on the matt, and he chatted on about sometimes people ask him to sign on the picture and he feels like he's mucking it up. I assured him that his signature wouldn't ruin my work, but that I was enough of an egotist to want only my name on the art itsef, to which he said "rightly so". I could see Steve out of the corner of my eye snapping a shot, and then Tony handed my portrait back to me with another "Very good" in complement, and I took off to let the next person in line have their moment.
( If you'd like to take a peek at what Tony and Nick signed, click here or scroll down to the bottom of the page. )
Steve and I went back to his seat and tucked all my artwork away safely. While we were hanging around in those minutes, I was approached by someone about doing a portrait of James Marsters. The woman was going to attend the upcoming Vulkon convention in Oakland, California in June. I said I'd think about it, and we exchanged e-mail addresses. If this works out, it could mean a little extra cash for me, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Steve took his lunch break then, and I went to escape the building stuffiness by hanging outside at the bench I had come to think of as my own. While out there, a couple other people joined me, and began milling around and talking and smoking. I heard the woman's voice gushing, and looked over to see Nick Brendon and two or three of his people standing there, about ten feet away. Again, like at the banquet, I was too inhibited to go up and make a nuisance of myself, so I just sat there and watched, trying not to stare to much. Nick started to go inside, and the woman kept talking at him, until he finally had to excuse himself and walk away. Then Steve came out, and I shared the news of my celebrety spotting with him.
After lunch, and some water for me (Lord, how I was dehydrating! I didn't feel uncomfortably hot, but I don't think the hotel's airconditioning in the ball room was working that great ), Steve and I returned to our seats inside and got ready for the afternoon's presentations with the stars.
First up was Mark Lutz. I've got to say right now, the man is just this side of certifiably insane. He must have been the class clown of his high school. I don't remember him saying one serious thing the whole weekend. On the flip side, I think we all got our entertainment money's worth out of him. He told lots of long, funny stories, including one about working with a crew memeber from Australia, and his introduction to a snack food called "Twisties". From what I heard, they're something like Cheetos, only not. Instead of being puffy and airy, they're more substantial and twisted, and come in various flavors such as cheese and chicken. Well, the crew member got this care package from home, and he shared a bag of chicken Twisties with Mark and Andy Hallet. This prompted a very long story from Mark about the manufacturing process of Twisties, which he surmised involved little old ladies twisting chickens into bite-sized pieces. Mark had everyone laughing hysterically at his pantomime of all this.
I don't remember much else that Mark mentioned. He did say that he and his brother were producing a movie together. I don't know if they started filming, and he didn't say who was in it, but it was about someone marginally famous in the field of athletics who was eventually killed in a car accident.
The other thing I recall is an audience member prompting a story about Mark being in "The Facts of Life" reunion movie. I think Mark said his character was dating either Natalie or Tootie, but I couldn't swear to that. The story did give Mark a chance to do his impression of Mrs. Garret, which was, as usual, hilarious.
After Mark came George Hertzberg. I applauded George as he got up on stage, feeling that after spending part of the previous evening with him, I liked him better that I did before. He repeated to the audience some of what he had said to us at the table, so a lot of what he said wasn't new to me. He's a very tall man, by the way, and up there on that stage, he simply towered over everyone. George seems like he's well grounded, and lives a comparitively quite life with his new bride. Like Robia, he has certain scruples, and won't take just any part that comes along. This means that he doesn't get as much work as he'd like, but those are the breaks when you work in a town like Hollywood. He did get a little preachy toward the end of his presentation, but not uncomfortably so. I think his session ran a bit long, so the person that followed, Morena Baccarin of "Firefly", didn't start quite on time, and they had to cut her piece short to get back on track.
This was Morena's second Question & Answer session. I had missed the one she had the day before, so I wanted to see what she had to say. She talked a lot about "Firefly", the series, and the upcoming movie as well. There were question about her role as a "companion", and she seemed in good spirits about the fact that she basically played a space whore, but one who was a legitimate business woman. She said that while in the series, the only mention the bad guys know as "The Reevers", in the movie they were going to show their faces. That got the audience excited.
I'm ashamed to say I don't remember much more of what Morena chatted about. I was too excited by the prospect that Nick Brendon was on next.
Right off, someone asked him to do the Snoopy dance. Then the audience wanted to know what projects he had ahead of him, and Nick said that he "wasn't really doing too much now". This prompted a confession in all seriousness where he admitted that he was presently in rehab, and had a little drinking problem. This explained his constant shadows, which had to do with his program recovery. He said he still had about two weeks left to go, and that he was going to sober up before he took any offers.
Again, Nick was asked to do the Snoopy dance, to which he grudgingly obliged. He went on to anwer a question about working with his brother Kelly, and he admitted that he really enjoyed that. There was a discussion comparing the ease of doing drama to comedy, and mention of his latest movie, "Celelste in the City". He talked about how the Buffy crew was supposed to film around his actual honeymoon, but then he got a call sheet telling him he had to show up early for the episode planned. He confessed that the episode he probably hated the most was the "swimsuit" ep, 'cause it was cold. Someone said he looked better as a vampire, which prompted another cofession that he "doesn't sit down well for long" and that he found out he was claustrophobic while they were putting on his vampire makeup.
Talk moved on eventually to a question about what Nick thought Xander was doing nowadays. There was mention that Xander had gone to Africa, and Nick surmised since they couldn't kill him, the must have sent him off to "building houses for sick children". An audience member said that he was there collecting slayers, to which Nick cheerily questioned if they were"for his own collection?", but he audience member said they were for Giles, and Nick nodded knowing, saying they were for "Giles' personal collection".
He mentioned that he used to worry about his brother Kelly getting lost when they were both young. Apparently, Kelly used to get back at him by hiding in the closet, and making Nick think he was lost. This had the audience laughing as he explained how that worked.
He also talked about an incident that happened to his brother, where Kelly and his then girlfriend were up near Yosemite at some fast food joint called "In and Out Burger". A bunch of schoolgirls came in a bus, all dressed in their little Catholic girl uniform skirts, and they got excited when they say Kelley, and started screaming out Nick's name, and "Xander!" Well, Kelly told the girls he wasn't Nick, but they didn't believe him, and started pelting him with french fries. Again, Nick had the audience rolling in the aisles.
He also talked about Kelly being his stunt double for the last three years. Kelly was doing his first stunt while Nick was in his trailer taking a nap, when someone from the crew came and knocked on his door and said "your brother's okay, but we have to take him to the hospital". It seemes he had separated his shoulder. So they took Kelly away, and then the producer fired him, but Nick talked to folks, they rehired his brother, and he went on for another three years.
When asked who his influences were he said Jack Lemon, Cary Grant, and Johnny Depp. He said he knew there were more, but he couldn't think of any. He mentioned getting into acting classes to get rid of his stutter, and went on to explain that he did tongue twisters to help retrain his speech pattern, but basically it worked out to having patience with himself.
Of course, there were plenty of questions about the different episodes of Buffy. He thought that his wardrobe attrociously horrible, especially in the first few seasons, and that emmys were won for female costumes, and not those of the males. Someone asked him what happened to Xander's skateboard. He didn't know, but said that he himself didn't skate, and that if they hadn't gotten rid of it he'd have spent seven seasons carrying around his skateboard.
There was talk about why Buffy never won any awards, and Nick agreed that he couldn't understand why. He personally thought the writing was great. He also said that it was difficult acting against a giant praying mantis that wasn't there, and that he'd like to see "The Sopranos" work with that! Nick had lots of nice things to say about Joss Whedon, and obviously admired his boss's talent. When asked if he'd done any work he didn't like, he joked there were "some home movies I'm not too proud of".
During a question about whether he'd read any of the internet stories about Xander, Nick confessed that he'd "never once once been on line", and had "never once used a computer". He doesn't even have e-mail. When asked if he should, the audience laughed and said "no!". Someone mention Spike and Xander being together in the stories, to which he remarked "how much time do these people have?" Another person brought up fanfic with Giles and Buffy, and Nick asked if it was "graphic", prompting the audience to roar as he said that was "awkward".
The last question involved which of the bands that played on the series was his favorite, and Nick fairly quickly replied he'd have to go with Cibo Mata, because they were just so funky. The crowd cheered him the whole way out of the room, and thus concluded Nick's portion of the presentation for the afternoon.
Tony's bit was the last Question and Answer session of the day. He had no sooner gotten on stage, than a female voice began singing "reunited and it feels so good". It was Robia La Morte. She joined Tony on stage, and began by launcing into a story about how at their initial interview for the show, she didn't know who Tony was, and had actually handed him the gum she'd been chewing so that she could read her part. She was surpirsed when she starting her reading, and Tony started reading back at her. Somehow, she'd got the impression that Giles was a little kid, so finding out it was Tony sort of threw her.
There were a few moments of chatter as Tony and Robia settled in. Intially, there had been only once chair on stage, which Tony insisted Robia take. Someone handed a second chair up, but Robia's stool was tall, and the other chair was very short, leading to some laughter and a few cute shots of the two of them hamming it up. To keep Robia from getting a sore neck looking down, Tony decided to stand, using the back of his chair to lean against. Later, someone replaced that chair with one that allowed him to see eye to eye with Robia, and the presentation got underway.
Quite a few of the questions were repeated from yesterday, though Robia kept up a running patter about "Giles and Joyce" kissing, and her jealousy over that. This eventually got into talk about the episode where Buffy and Faith switched bodies, and Buffy's reference to her mom thinking that Giles made love like a stevedore. Asked if he understood what that meant, Tony said that he knew a stevedore was "a geezer what works down the docks, just a heavy guy". An audience member then informed him that it's from the Spanish, and Tony translated for the entire room that it meant "crammed tightly", thus prompting the audience to howl at that one. Robia asked him who was his favorite now. Jenny had called him a "sexy fuddy duddy", while Joyce had used the term crammed tightly. Then Robia complained that Tony had said he'd never slept with Joyce. Tony answered that it didn't mean anything, and a comment from the audience said that he'd done it twice. This had Tony giggling as he replied it must not have meant much the second time either, to which Robia responded "it just kept not meaning anything."
Someone asked about Giles' girlfriend Olivia, and Tony said he didn't really know, but it had been kind of scary that the last they saw of her was her wheeling a pram around the graveyard, and then declaring vehemently to the audience that it wasn't his. He talked about Giles going through various changes, like his wardrobe and glasses, and how the writers could just kill Olivia off because that would be too cruel to Giles. Then someone asked him something like what was his favorite scene, or kissing scene, (I couldn't quite hear), and he said it was the moment when the kids looked into the library and found Jenny and Giles kissing that first time. Robia said she like the episode "The Dark Ages" when she got to throw Giles down. She liked crawling all over Tony. Then they turned the tables on the questioner, asking which was her favorite scene.
Someone wanted to know what year he played Frankenfurter, and Tony said he couldn't remember, and then turned to Loraine, the girl I thought of as his "manager" to answer that one. Things moved on to favorite bands (Robia picked Van Morrison, Tony said his tastes were eclectic, and ranged from Sara McLachlan to Cold Play).
Things slowed down a moment as a fan presented Robia with a gift, and then discussion turned to whose idea was it to introduce Tony's talents to the show by letting Giles have a musical side. He basically credited Joss, and said the writers wanted to have Giles perform in a coffe house, and from there history was made. Joss's only concern was to make it look good. He knew Tony could sing well, he just wanted to make sure things flowed naturally with the story line, and then he talked about recording his two songs for the show, "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Freebird". As an addendum, he also mentioned how for the episode "Restless" Joss brought him into his office for some good news and bad news. The bad news was that Giles was again stuck with the exposition. Good news? He got to sing it! That apparently pleased Tony.
Tony also discussed the difference between filming American TV, and British shows, but then said that Buffy had pretty much got the idea. He mentioned his experience on "VR5", and then someone asked him if he had another CD, he said no, but he was thinking about it, but he had to write some songs, and clean out his studio first.
The matter of Robia being a role model for witchcraft came up again, and Robia gave her pat answer about being vocally against witchcraft. Someone then asked Tony and Robia to kiss, but they sort of avoided doing that, saying it was just their characters that did that. Then someone mentioned how Giles told Buffy he could speak five languages, and was that accurate, to which Tony said he could barely speak English. He did write a song in French, and he said he did accents, and that he was available for summer seasons.
Another question was "if Jenny had been around for the musical, what kind of number did Robia and Tony think they would have done together. Tony promptly replied "a romantic one" and that it would be very "kissy". Robia thought it might be like a "Stayin Alive" number, where Giles would throw Jenny around, and he would wear a loincloth thingie. That got a lot of laughs. Tony suggested they could have done something like "Xanadu", and then went off on this small tangent about the movie, repeating several times "what were they thinking!".
Someone brought up "Manchild", and asked which character Tony though he was most like. Tony thought, and said probably James, because he's such an ass. He said there's a lot of him in the characters he's played, but so far as he knows, he doesn't have any dysfuntional parts, to which Robia chided that they'd "have to ask Joyce". Tony went on about the bit in "Manchild" where James goes to the doctor to see about having something done for his "problem" with his "member", and as a joke, Tony thought he would get a great reaction if he could show the other cast members something when they were looking under his towel at the work that James supposedly had done. The director went along with the idea, but unfortunately, the prop department dropped the ball ( a turn of phrase that got Tony's audience giggling ), and they had to make do with a last minute contraption that involved a propholactic, some stage blood, and sausage meat. Tony claimed the hardest thing was keeping it in place. The moment did make it to film, but Tony said he was so eager, he blew it and sort of gave it all away by laughing.
Somewhere around that point, Tony caught someone on their phone. He teased the poor lady, and told everyone to stare at her, but she quickly cut her conversation short. Talk moved around to Ethan being left in the desert, and why Jenny wasn't brought back as The First, then someone wanted to know if Tony got sick of all the British jokes when the writers poked fun of Giles, and he replied no, because "he is a British joke", and that the writers were pretty funny. This was interrupted as a group of people got up to leave, and Tony wondered what that was about, and asked if someone had done something back there. Then he got back to Buffy, and made a comment about Jaffa cakes, and how most of what Giles did was based on Joss's experience in England, so it was fairly accurate.
He also admitted that beacuse of the American/English language difference, he didn't always know what the writers were talking about on Buffy. He was also asked about his work on his "Dr. Who" audio CDs, and how he was voted by fans to be the next Dr. Who, but someone else got the job. He was also asked where they got all the prop demon books in the library on the Buffy set, to which Tony explained they were just regular old books, and if one was to be featured in use, the prop people would "tart" it up to look good.
The other thing one could find in the prop books were lots of Tony's lines. Apparently, he left himself notes all around the library, on the shelves, in the books. Tony was a firm believer, that if a charter was supposed to be reading, that he'd give a better performance if he really was reading what he was saying. Anyway, rather than struggle with line after line of exposition, he like to use plenty of notes.
Someone even asked Tony about his vegetarian diet. He confessed that he wasn't a strict vegetarian, he did eat fish, and he credited his change in diet to his partner Sara. Nowadays, he claimed there wasn't really any problem being a vegetarian, that there were always choices one could make. Even at the buffet the previous night there had been plenty of pasts. Both hot and cold. What he did find awkward had been the cocktail party. He'd been wandering around, nibbling on some veggies and discovered that, apparently, you can't talk to people with your mouth is full of broccoli. He then went on to say that when Mercedes came in, he offered her something (off his plate?), and she told him "I don't eat that. I don't eat vegetables." She claimed it was probably a reaction to her parents, but she just ate meat.
There were more questions about his performance as Captain Hook, and his philosphy behind how he approached acting the character. Someone mentioned that they were thinking of redoing "Rocky Horror Picture Show" for TV, and then there was a comment about the play he was in called "Rope". Tony said Hitchcock might have made a good movie, but it certainlly wasn't the original play that he had filmed. This segued into an explanation of how Tony played a part in the casting of Alexis Denisoff as Wesley.
Discussion then moved to the final topic, whether they'll ever get around to filming the Giles' spinoff "Ripper". Tony says he's talked on and off with Joss about the project, and that there are some good ideas being bantared about, but nothing difinitive.
And then the presentation was over. Tony and Robia left the stage to a round of cheers. It wasn't long before the room began to clear.
There was an annoucement made that Morena Baccarin was giving away free tickets to a screening of her movie, Way off Broadway. Steve and I talked about going. After all, we had several hours to kill, but the showing was well across town, and we decided we wanted to stick around the hotel instead.
We snuck off at that point to the dealer's room for one last cruise around the merchandise. There were a lot less people now, and you could actually see what was for sale. I didn't buy anything, but I did enjoy looking and talking with the people as they packed up their stuff. Then Steve and I headed back down the hall, where we caught up with some people we'd met and hung out for a while. I exchanged my e-mail address with a woman who's going to another convention in early June. She'd seen my Tony and Nick pics, and wanted me to do her one of James Marsters. I said I'd consider it, but was a little hesitant in agreeing outright. I wasn't sure if I could do a piece that quickly. Plus, I've never drawn James before, so it would be a first for me.
Then, a few minutes later, after she'd left and while I was still gabbing with another of my new friends, Steve nudged me and pointed across the lobby. There was Anthony Head and his entourage walking our way. Tony breezed out the door, heading for his limousine parked outside, and we all jumped up and ran to the lobby side door to watch him get in. I think I waved at him, or did something stupid, I can't really remember, but I know that he saw us, 'cause he looked right at us through the glass door. He buckled up, and then the car pulled out and drove away, leaving us all with one last farewell sigh as Tony departed the convention for good.
By now it was close to dinner time. Steve and I headed over to the hotel's restaurant once more. There we killed the better part of an hour just eating and chatting about the things we'd done that weekend. Later, we hung out for a while in the lobby. I spoke with a family that had helped out as volunteers at the Buffy convention. They were all looking forward to returning in August for the big Star Trek convention.
Buffy fans were pulling out right and left, and from our seats in the lobby Steve and I watched the mass exodus. The staff took down the sign in the lobby, and changed the phrasing on the marquee outside to something new. In the next few hours several of our fellow fans would pass by, and Steve and I got a chance to say our good-byes. Finally, the time had come for us to go the the train terminal, so we collected our bags and got into the taxi, and bid a fond farewell to Cleveland.
Well, that's pretty much it. As I've said elsewhere, I enjoyed my weekend, and would certainly not turn down a chance to do it again. Maybe next year. I'm going to keep my eye opened for dates, and as soon as the tickets go on sale, I'm signing up. Who knows, maybe this time I'll get a seat in the fourth row!