Today I’m going to write about my personal history with Dragon Con.
Well, I’m going to try to.
Thanks to years of brain abuse, my recollection isn’t super and I’m not entirely sure about dates and years and sequences of events. But I’m pretty good back to 2005. It’s the years before that that are fuzzy.
So this is really more for my benefit than yours, though I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of some of what I’m going to say here. At the very least it might prompt some long-forgotten Dragon Con memories of your own to rise to the surface. If that happens, tell me about it in the Comments or head on over the Facebook and shoot me a message. I’d love to do a post full of other folks’ Dragon Con stories.
For now, here’s Dragon Con, as best I can remember.
The High School Years – 1993ish – I might have gone more than once during this time. I’m honestly not sure. I want to say I found out about Dragon Con through an ad in Dragon magazine or something similar.
The first time I went to Dragon Con was probably my Junior or Senior year of high school, though it might have been Sophomore. I only vaguely recall it. I know I hadn’t been downtown much and that I was definitely intimidated. I’m almost positive I went with my friend, Dan (not dan d., of whom I’ve spoken before).
I don’t think there were a lot of costumes and I’m pretty sure we only went into the Dealer Room. I was going through a vinyl statue phase at the time and wanted these Hellraiser statues something terrible. There were a variety of these statues there, but they were all just as expensive as they would have been at a retail store. I’m not sure why I thought they would be cheaper.
We didn’t spend more than a few hours there and I certainly didn’t get the full Con experience.
The Moron Years – 1996-1999 – I’m not saying these are the only years of my life that I was a moron, but these stand out as being particularly painful.
I went to Dragon Con at least twice during this time and there are a few events that stand out to me. I don’t know the proper order or which year was which, but here they are:
My friend Josh that worked at The Masquerade with me got me a picture of Clive Barker with all of the Cenobites from the first Hellraiser. He had Clive Barker and Doug Bradley sign it to me. It was super awesome and nice of him and I still have that picture, somehow. Unless I’m mistaken, Barker was only there for one day and I wasn’t able to go that day.
The day I could go down I went with the Head of Security, Kenneth. That was an overwhelming day for me. This was a year when GWAR was there. Kenneth and I were walking through what I believe was the Exhibitor’s Hall, though the Dealer Room might have been part of it as well. This was when it used to be in the America’s Mart, before they moved it to the Marriott and then back into America’s Mart. GWAR had this huge setup with all of their stage props sitting out. None of it was set up yet and there were some people in regular clothes sitting around the area. We started talking to one of them and he was really cool. We talked about horror movies and what else was going on at Con. I believe we even ducked into a hallway with him to smoke. After about half an hour or so a lady showed up with a bunch of sandwiches and the guy said it was time for lunch. It turned out the girl was Slymenstra Hymen and the guy was Beefcake the Mighty.
Another year (or maybe the same year) The Misfits were playing. I was with somebody – possibly Kenneth again – who knew a bunch of people that were down at Dragon Con for one reason or another. We met up with them and hung out for a while and I really hit it off with this girl that I can only describe as an Asian Goddess. She was all decked out in rubber and fishnet and was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen at the time. We hung out for several hours and went to The Misfits show together. I had no idea what to do with myself. If you want to hear the rest of this story and find out whether I went home with that foxy lady or not, you’re going to have to tune in to next week’s Needless Things Podcast. There might be two of them, so you’re just going to have to listen to both. You’re welcome.
Another year, when I was roommates with Darth Pete, Beth V, and (Mystery Men name) we went down with Beth V’s brother, Chris V. Now, Chris was a super nice guy and totally naïve in the ways of dorkery. He had spent the night over and didn’t have a clean shirt to wear. So I lent him my t-shirt featuring Dawn, knowing that it was probably the dorkiest thing I could possibly give him to wear.
Side Note: I had the shirt because it featured a hot redhead in lingerie. Which is actually a dorkier reason to own it than being a fan of the comic. I had never read the comic.
So me and Darth Pete and Chris V headed down to Dragon Con and me and Pete are just cracking up because Chris is wearing this (my) dorky-ass shirt and he doesn’t even know it. We managed to wait until we got back home to let him in on the secret, at which point I believe he ripped the shirt off and wiped his ass with it. At no time did he point out that it was my shirt in the first place.
Side Note: In retrospect, I realize this is the dumbest joke I have ever pulled. Sending somebody to Dragon Con in a Dawn shirt is like sending somebody to the Lilith Fair in a Tori Amos shirt.
Sending somebody to Dragon Con in a Dawn shirt is like sending somebody to a metal show in a Megadeth shirt.
The latter sentence was my first thought, but I decided the former was funnier. What do you think?
One year I met Tom Savini. He was one of my heroes. I was a fucking horror nut back then (I find I am not so much now, though I still love the movies I grew up with – but that’s probably a “31 Days of Halloween” post) and couldn’t believe he was going to be somewhere that I would actually be able to talk to him. He had worked on all of the best movies and was one of the first non-actor names I learned to look for and value. When I found his booth, I was absolutely shocked to see that there wasn’t a massive line of people waiting to meet him. It took every bit of nerve I had to walk up to him and to speak. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but Savini was kind of a dick. He barely managed two words. I was crushed, but I loved the guy so much I still bought an 8x10 and had him sign it. He turned his back as soon as he had signed and had his money. Maybe he was having a bad day; I dunno. It was hugely disappointing, but for some reason I’ve never really held it against him.
During these years I was starting to understand what Dragon Con was, but I still had no idea of the big picture. I didn’t attend panels and I didn’t track down celebrities. I did get a taste of the nightlife and start to appreciate the costumes.
Married Life – 2004 – 2007 – I met Mrs. Troublemaker when she was working at a comic book shop. She asked me if I wanted to go down to Dragon Con with her later that first year. For whatever reason, we were meeting up with Jeffistopheles at her parents’ house. I went upstairs to change clothes. I had planned ahead. When I came downstairs, I was wearing a Spawn hat, a Batman t-shirt, and one of those awful lounge shirts that has print all over it. This one was the X-Men. I think I managed to have some other piece of comic-related gear as well, but I’m not sure what.
Side Note: Once again, these were all my clothes. That fact is not lost on me. I did not, however, make a habit of wearing all of those items at once. It’s also worth noting that I have comic book characters tattooed all over me anyway, so I’m really not sure what adding a t-shirt on top of that is supposed to do.
I will never, eeeeeeeever forget the look on my future wife’s face. She obviously knew I was a dork by this time, but I looked like a real bozo in this getup (little did she know what was to come).
I remember having a wonderful time with her and Jeffistopheles. We wandered around and looked at everything. We admired costumes. I met Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, who I believe had just finished filming The Devil’s Rejects. They told me how different it was from House of 1000 Corpses. They were so nice and charming and willing to talk that my faith was restored from the Savini incident. I suppose it should have been restored by meeting the amazing and affable Bruce Campbell in 2001, but I guess it needed to happen at Dragon Con.
Since I was making retail money I only had enough to get one 8x10 signed and I had to choose between Haig and Moseley. I went with Haig because to me he was the star of House of 1000 Corpses. Of course, soon after I would see The Devil’s Rejects and Otis Driftwood would become one of my favorite film characters of all time (we named our dog after him). I regretted not scraping the money together to have Moseley sign something for a few years until I finally got to meet him again at Days of the Dead.
Speaking of regret, John Carpenter was there one year. I wasn’t the salty and experienced Con-goer that I am now and didn’t understand how the whole celebrity signing thing worked. I went to Carpenter’s table and there was what I thought was a long line. I figured if I waited a little while and went back it would dissipate (HAHAHAHAHA – I KNOW, RIGHT?). I went back later and it was stretched out along the wall and halfway around the room. Just for reference, that first line had maybe twenty people in it. Twenty people away from meeting one of my favorite directors – the only such opportunity I have had in my life – and I didn’t do it.
By the time I got back to that second line it was late and time to go or something. For whatever reason I didn’t get in that one, either.
By 2006 Dragon Con had its hooks in me. I went down on my own on Friday and returned on Saturday with the lady who was now my wife.
In 2007 I attended my first Dragon Con Wrestling show. The folks I was with were not wrestling fans, so I didn’t see the whole thing. But I’m pretty sure I did see Chip Day get pinned. 2007 was also the year I got the itch to wear some kind of costume. I knew I wasn’t good at making such things and wasn’t quite sure what to do. Then I found Ironman & Aries, this happened:
And from that came this:
And Phantom Troublemaker was born.
Well, in real life. Phantom had existed in video game form since 2001.
2008-Present – Phantom Troublemaker – Dragon Con 2008 was a year of firsts. It was the first year I wore a costume to Dragon Con, and also the first year I got a room. I hung out with Belligerent Monkey for the first time and reconnected with the DCW Hooligans – who were not yet the Hooligans.
I also had my first kidney stone!
I still remember how much pain I was already in when this picture was taken. And not just because that clown photobombed us.
Yeah. Saturday night – the one night we had the room – I started having back pains. I thought they were a result of the shoes I was wearing. They had no support whatsoever. Me and the missus went back to the room and I felt better as soon as I took the shoes off. Then we had some quality time and as soon as we were done the pain returned, and much more intensely.
Normally my wife is fairly astute with medical stuff. Unfortunately on this night she was what medical experts would refer to as “Toe Up” and in no condition to render a diagnosis.
Instead, she was running around the room, waving her arms and saying, “I don’t know what to do!” while I laid in a bathtub full of warm water. Because why not?
The pain was indescribable. Even though I felt like I was dying, I didn’t think I was dying because the pain just kept going. I figured if it was going to kill me something would eventually burst or I’d just start to fade away or something.
I finally acquiesced to Mrs. Troublemaker’s request to go to the hospital, though I wouldn’t let her call an ambulance. I got dressed after barely drying myself off and we went downstairs and took a cab to the hospital. Since there’s nothing you can do about a kidney stone other than wait for the jagged, crystalline stone to exit your body through your penis:
They just gave me painkillers. I slept a bit in the hospital and then we went back to the room and slept a bit more.
We took Lil’ Troublemaker back down on Monday. I had just enough pain-free time for us to wander around a bit and see some costumes. Right as we got back in the car the stone started traveling again and the pain overtook me. But you know what? I still had a great time at Dragon Con. Yeah - from midnight on Saturday until sometime next Thursday when the stone finally passed I was alternating between excruciating pain and exhaustion, but for the days leading up to that night and for those few hours on Monday all was well.
Check back later for another cool Guest Post about Kilt Blowing!