Hello, everybody and welcome to my recap of From Dusk Till Con’s Days of the Dead II horror convention!
As was previously noted, I was extremely excited about Georgia’s first-ever horror convention. I used 36 hours of vacation time to be there just to be sure I didn’t miss out on what might or might not be an awesome event. I booked a hotel room for three nights. I was serious about experiencing this thing to the fullest. And I’m pretty sure I did.
The con was held in the Wyndham Hotel and Convention Center in Peachtree City. I had never been to Peachtree City before this past weekend. It is jam-packed with very rich people. The part of town I work in is pretty affluent. On my drive into work I see very large houses. Houses that make me wonder what the owners must do to be able to afford such large domiciles. And how large their families are. It seems like you would need ten people to make one of these houses reasonable to occupy. There are sidewalks everywhere, the lawns and roads are all landscaped and maintained. Barely a day goes by that there isn’t some sort of crew blowing off the roads or pruning the trees and bushes. People are out walking around for health and pleasure; not because they have to. And they’re well-dressed. All fit and pretty. Smiling at each other.
Peachtree City makes all of this look like a shanty town.
The houses are just ridiculously huge and the residents drive around in fucking golf carts. We stopped at a Target on the way to the Convention Center and they had golf cart parking. There was a golf cart overpass. I am not kidding. We saw all kinds of fancied-up, customized golf carts. From what I understand the kids all have their own that they drive to school. It’s crazy.
But not as crazy as the fact that we passed a church with a GIANT, LIGHT-UP, INVERTED CROSS IN FRONT:
(crap - don't have Mrs. Troublemaker's pictures yet - I'll post this Monday-ish)
We first passed that thing at night and I was so shocked I didn’t know what to think. Naturally, we came to the conclusion that all of the residents of Peachtree City came by their affluence through deals with the Devil. This must be where they congregate to sacrifice their firstborn or whatever to the Dark One. We stopped on our way out to take that picture. It would be closer, but as soon as we stopped in front an old man in a red jacket came out the door. I am not kidding. We took off and got our picture from the road.
Side Note: I found awesome toys at Target. I got Klaw from the new Marvel Legends, as well as two GI Joe figures I never thought I’d find – Airtight and Sci-Fi – and one I never thought I’d buy – Lifeline. Darth Pete can mock me all he wants for that one, but the figure just looked so darn cool I had to buy him. I don’t care if he is a sissy pacifist.
But back to Thursday night.
We arrived at the hotel around 8:30. There was a party at a nearby bar that started at 9:00, so we wanted to get there and have time to get in our room and pick up our passes for the con. Checking in was no problem and getting our laminates and wristbands was easy as well. The girl at the table was very pleasant and I have to say I was impressed with the fact that the con was providing lanyards. As big as Dragon*Con is, they don’t do that and it was a big pain in my ass last year. Now that I’ve got my trusty, Limited Edition Anthrax lanyard I’ll never have that problem again.
While we were taking our stuff to the room we passed a short guy with long, curly hair and a fairly impressive mustache. He was dressed in the garb of a metalhead and gave us a friendly greeting as we walked by. I remarked that he looked like Ari Lehman (who I was not familiar with previous to the con, but who played Jason Voorhees for about thirteen seconds in the original Friday the 13th), but that if it was he was late for his own party. I passed him again on the way back to the car and had a brief conversation about the drive into Peachtree City. Turns out it was Ari Lehman. He was very friendly.
Once we got our stuff up the unreasonable number of stairs between the parking lot and our room, we went back to the lobby to figure out the party situation. It was being hosted by the aforementioned Mr. Lehman at a place called Jekyll & Hyde’s; a reasonable-sounding location for a horror party. The event page had advertised Mr. Lehman’s metal band, zombie bikini girls, and other types of deranged revelry. We were pretty excited about going, but weren’t sure where the bar was located or the best way to get there. Mrs. Troublemaker looked up directions and found that the bar was 12 miles away. Twelve miles. So whoever set this up thought it would be a grand idea to get people from out of town to drive all the way out to this place, get liquored up, and then make their way back to the hotel. Not to mention the fact that I heard from many different sources that Peachtree City cops were extremely hard.
But not to fear – my wife spoke to the front desk and found out that there was a hotel shuttle. We could at least get a ride out there and call a cab for the drunken ride home. So we went over to the little desk where they keep the guy that coordinates the hotel shuttle and he laughed and said they would have to charge to go that far and we’d be better off taking a cab.
At this point we considered just hanging around the hotel, but dammit, we wanted to experience everything. Plus, I knew I’d be writing about it and this party seemed to have too much anecdotal potential to pass up. So I got the number for a cab company from the hotel guy and called them up.
Me – “Hi there! I wanted to see about getting a taxi from the Peachtree Center Conference Center and Hotel to a bar called Jekyll & Hyde’s.”
Taxi Shrew – “You already called! We’ve got a van on the way!”
Me – “No, I did not. I just got this number from the hotel.”
Taxi Shrew – “Oh. Well, the van we’re sending can hold eight or nine people. You can just ride with the other people.”
I hung up at that point. I figured we could go see who these other people were and then maybe call another company if they looked too sketchy. Thinking back, I’m wondering exactly how sketchy they would have to have been.
I had walked outside while on the phone so as not to disturb anybody in the lobby. Once I hung up Mrs. Troublemaker ran up and asked if I knew who I had just walked past. I said no because I was on the phone.
I don’t like to talk on the phone and do other stuff. I can’t focus properly. Mrs. Troublemaker can talk on the phone, do laundry, feed the dogs, drive a car, and cook dinner all at the same time; so she just doesn’t understand my problem. Obviously I’m exaggerating here – Mrs. Troublemaker never cooks dinner.
She told me that I had walked right past Sid Haig. I’m sure my eyes got all big and my bow tie spun around or whatever because Sid Haig was one of the people I was excited to be seeing that weekend. I ran back in the lobby and sure enough he was standing there at the back of a line of folks waiting to check in. I walked up and told him I knew the thing hadn’t started yet but I just wanted to say how glad I was he was there. He was super cool and said it was no big deal at all. Mrs. Troublemaker asked if we could get a picture and I made a big deal of being all, “Oh, don’t bother this poor guy! He just got here and is trying to check in!” But Mr. Haig said he wasn’t doing anything but waiting and a picture would be just fine.
Unfortunately a bunch of other people ran up right then and crowded all around him. I didn’t want to tell everyone to back up so I could get my picture. I knew there’d be plenty of time for that later. So I thanked him for being cool and we went outside to find these cab people.
The moment we got outside I spied a familiar face.
I am fucking terrible with faces. It’s a major flaw in my memory or whatever. Evil is amazing with faces and remembers every single person he ever meets. It’s how he is the reigning party machine and seems to have hookups everywhere. But I’m trying to get better, especially when I’m wearing the mask because I am extremely recognizable in that thing and don’t want to be snubbing people I’ve talked to before. It’s already becoming kind of a thing to have people recognize me (as you’ll see later on), so I need to improve my skills, stat.
So I was very proud of myself last Thursday night when I recognized a guy I had conversed with at the Atlanta Comic Con on Superbowl Sunday. He was a long-haired fella – we’ll call him Billy because we’ll be discussing over the course of the weekend how much Billy enjoys Staying Awake and I’m not one to publicly out anybody’s Staying Awake habit - and we had discussed the recent Anthrax show in Atlanta. I thought I might as well say hello.
Me – “Hey, man! Good to see you again.”
Billy – “Oh, hey brother! What’s going on, man?”
Me – “We’re just trying to get a cab over to this Jekyll and Hyde place. We’re ready to party.”
Billy – “Fuck yeah, man! Alright! We’re waiting for a cab. It’s supposed to be on the way now. Man, this shuttle bus looks like the vans they take us to set on. Are they taking me to the set? Shit, man. If they are I better be getting paid, brother! We are ready to party! Where do I know you from, brother?”
Me – “The Atlanta Comic Con. We were talking about that Anthrax show at the Tabernacle.”
Billy – “Oh, shit yeah! That was a fucking awesome show, man! Man, I was drunk off my ass on Jack Daniels and had done a whole shitload of Staying Awake and man – I had this moment, man. I knew Scott Ian from The Walking Dead, brother. He was on it as a zombie!”
Me – “Oh, yeah. He was a zombie in one of the webisodes. That’s cool.”
(I have no idea at this point just who Billy might be or what he has to do with The Walking Dead. I knew he was some sort of Guest at the Atlanta Comic Con, but I could probably be a guest there if I really tried. So I just go along with Billy, nodding. Sometimes that’s best.)
Billy – “Yeah, man. He was a zombie. So I was drunk as shit and had done a ton of Staying Awake and man – me and my buddies went all the way up front. Right in front of Scotty. And man, I had this experience. This thing that nobody else in the whole place had. I got right up in front of Scotty and he’s playing guitar and he’s doing his dance and shit and he stops and looks out in the crowd and he sees me and he points at me and I’m like, ‘What’s up brother!’ and he goes, ‘Billy! Glad you’re here, man!’ and I just had this moment, man. Just him and me where he totally acknowledged me and nobody else in the whole place had that. It was unbelievable.”
I kept my Anthrax story to myself. Also, I hope you’re picking up on Staying Awake.
Billy was with a few other folks as well. I’m not going to get too detail-intensive here, but let’s just say they were a colorful bunch of characters – three ladies and three fellas plus Billy. They were the ones who had called the cab company before we did and they were more than happy to have us share their conveyance. They were a friendly bunch of people and I dare say more than one of them was all hopped up on Staying Awake.
Eventually the cab arrived. It was a huge white van that Billy also identified as similar to a van they would take him to set in and that I identified as the ultimate molester vehicle. We once again verified that it was okay for us to share a ride with our new friends and then we all piled in. This was a seriously big van, so there was thankfully plenty of room. Mrs. Troublemaker and I were able to have our own seat in the back where we mostly just observed for the duration of the ride. Billy sat up front with the driver and was clearly in charge of entertainment. There was some debate as to how we were going to pay. It was $45 one way or $90 round trip to ensure the driver would come back and get us later. I decided it was very possible that some of us would be ready to leave before others of us who might be more fond of Staying Awake, so I was all about going for the one-way. But one of Billy’s friends went ahead and paid for round trip. I did my best to throw some money in but they weren’t having it. They said to just buy the guy a drink at the bar. That was pretty awesome.
The ride took a very long time. We arrived at Jekyll & Hyde’s about half an hour after we left the hotel and I have to say my enthusiasm died a little bit when I saw the bar’s exterior. I wasn’t in full-on journalist mode (like I ever am), so I didn’t get a picture; but imagine if every two-story block of offices you’ve ever seen had a glass door in the back on the first floor with a bunch of flyers taped to the inside. There you go.
Once we got inside, however, the writer in me perked up because the place looked like an absolute shithole. Shitholes make for good stories.
I’m not talking about a Clermont Lounge-style shithole here, though. I mean, the place was decent enough to eat in. I was just expecting something a little more grand for some reason. I don’t know why but I had pictured a place that was more like a fancy nightclub and this place was like a downscale Hooter’s with a big stage. Well, not so much a stage as a performing area.
When you first walk in you go down this enclosed corridor that looks like the entrance to a military installation in a 70’s horror movie. Once through the interior doors, there’s a large bar to the left with tables and booths in front, and beyond that a huge projection screen with a stage that is about 1 ½” off the floor. To the right is the kitchen with what appeared to be a hostess alcove in front. To the right rear is a more traditional dining area.
There were waitresses made up like zombies all over the place. Three were up on the bar dancing in a way that was entirely unlike that movie Coyote Ugly; in that they had absolutely no coordination and were having to step around a bunch of mugs and glasses, several were in the kitchen, and there were a whole gaggle of undead servers standing by the alcove thing. The sheer numb er of waitresses will be funny in a minute. As far as patrons, there weren’t many. I’d say when we first arrived there weren’t more than thirty people in Jekyll & Hyde’s.
Me and the missus headed for the dining area for two reasons: 1) We were both very hungry and wanted to eat before any significant partying ensued, and 2) While our new friends were very nice, we were not quite ready to be having dinner with them yet. So we sat down at a booth that was fairly separate from the rest of the place and waited for a server. I believe I already mentioned this, but both of us were very hungry.
We sat and talked for a few minutes and grew a little concerned when nobody came to the table. We did not need a repeat of the Tilted Kilt experience here. Especially since we couldn’t just leave and drive somewhere else. I eventually got fed up and walked over to the little desk that looked like some sort of hostess station. I stood there looking needy for a minute while all the chicks of widely varying degrees of hotness who appeared to be servers stood in front of the kitchen. Just as I was about to ask one of them why the fuck nobody was helping me, a girl back in the kitchen asked if I needed something. I said that yes, I needed some food and couldn’t figure out how to get it. She goes, “Has nobody come to take your order?” and I gave her the look I usually reserve for people that ask me if I would like to purchase an extended warranty. I told her we were in a booth and she said she’d send somebody right over. I still don’t know what all those other girls just standing in front of the kitchen were doing. It’s not like they were busy dancing on the bar or something.
I went and sat back down and a few more minutes passed. I was getting nervous.
Mrs. Troublemaker needs to eat when she gets hungry. Typically, you have about ten minutes from when she first states that she is hungry to find her some food or she is going to start being very mean and unreasonable. More than one server has been intimidated into putting a rush on the order to avoid what I like to call “The Voice”. I can’t quite describe it, but my dear wife develops this speaking voice that is half condescending math teacher and half Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer. It’s fucking terrifying. The closest thing I’ve ever heard to it is the thing from Skyrim. You don’t ever want to hear it.
So I got up again and went to the hostess station which I have clearly mis-named and as soon as I got there this prom zombie goes, “Oh my gosh, has nobody helped you yet?” and gave me a menu and said she’d be right over. I told her I had heard that one before. But sure enough, she came over and took our drink order and within a few minutes we had some food in front of us. And it was awesome. Seriously – the food was really great once we got it. And the waitress stayed on us the rest of the time. She did a good job. If you’re ever twelve miles outside of Peachtree City you should definitely stop by Jekyll & Hyde’s. Just plan on getting there about half an hour before you want to eat.
I wanted to buy Billy’s friend his drink before I got too drunk to remember I needed to buy Billy’s friend a drink. I went out to the main floor in front of the stage and found their group, already well into their beverages and probably additionally powered by the magic of Staying Awake. One of the ladies noticed me and gave me a friendly greeting. I told her I wanted to go ahead and get that dude his beer. She said not to worry about it. I asked if she was sure and she said he was already so fucked up he’d never even know. I honestly felt kind of bad, but I also wasn’t going to try too hard to avoid a free ride.
A little while after we got our food Ari Lehman’s metal band – First Jason – started playing. Well, let me correct that. Local personality Circus Envy introduced First Jason and they made terrible jokes for what seemed like a very long time. When I say “terrible” I don’t mean unfunny. It was just kind of self-aware, bad shtick. Eventually First Jason started playing and it was like this:
That’s Lehman on the keytar, who comprises a full half of First Jason; the other half being the drummer. It was an experience that I’m glad we saw. I wish I had more to say about First Jason, and you’d think I would about a metal band consisting entirely of one drum kit and one keytar, but Ari Lehman was very nice the whole weekend.
After First Jason’s set was over there was karaoke hosted by Circus Envy. I’ve been jonesing to do some karaoke for a while now, but Jekyll & Hyde’s was not the place, especially after this happened:
This is a Jekyll & Hyde’s zombie waitress performing the Slim Shady song by Eminem. There are so many things wrong with this scenario before you even get to the fact that it was the single worst karaoke performance I have ever seen in my life. First of all I absolutely loathe Eminem. Second, a young girl attempting to match Eminem’s undeniably fast and smooth flow is one of those things that is embarrassing to watch to the point where your butthole puckers up a little bit. Third, rap is not a very good format for karaoke. It just isn’t.
Once that awful thing started happening we decided it was about time to go. I went outside and called a cab, trying to make it clear that we were leaving early and the people that had actually paid for the round trip were staying. It did not surprise me to learn that we were the only group from the hotel. They said they were sending a cab.
We went outside and saw this:
And then waited a very long time for a cab. Mrs. Troublemaker went back in to find our friends and tell them we were leaving, something that had not occurred to me to do because I am a self-centered jerk. Naturally, right around the time I decided I was going to go and pee beside the bar the cab pulled up.
It wasn’t our cab. But the driver said he’s take us, he just had to drop off the other guy first. Cool. We just wanted to be on our way. The other guy eventually came out and he was pretty cool and very drunk. It turned out he was a soccer player and – living in Peachtree City – the sort of person who could use the phrase “My other house”. He was very curious about the convention, but I don’t think we quite convinced him that he should come hang out and buy us lots of alcohol.
After we dropped him off at his modest dwelling – a two-story house with a three-car garage set back behind what appeared to be a carefully sculpted jungle scene from Avatar – our driver took us back to the hotel, telling us how much the other cab company ripped people off and how slack they were. Once we arrived our fare was a paltry twelve bucks.
Then we went back to our room and what we did there is none of your business.
Come on back tomorrow for my St. Patrick’s Day special, and then please check in Monday for “Days of the Dead Atlanta Part 2: The Big, Red Eyes of Otis Driftwood”!