Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vintage Troublemaker - The Night I Met Bruce Campbell

Custom me by Ghouella DeVille! Ash bobblehead by NECA
I got confused about the days and realized at 2 AM we didn't have a post for today. Also last weekend was really lousy (work). I remembered that I had all of these articles that I went back and pulled off of my old MySpace blog with the intention of polishing and reposting here under the “Vintage Troublemaker” heading. This one required the least polishing of any that I looked at. Sadly I don't have the accompanying images from any of them.

For reference, “The Psycho” is my ex-girlfriend. I used to refer to her more than I do now, which probably shows growth or something.

What follows is my account of the night I met Bruce Campbell. There is a picture of me with him, but this was pre-mask era and also I look like shit because I was probably high and definitely dressed like a slob. That's what happens when you leave your house in a panic.

Hope you enjoy.

Before we begin, you should know that there was once an unholy trinity of famous-type people that I really, really wanted to meet. I don’t know why, or what I thought was going to happen when I met them; I just know these three individuals were cool enough that I saw a specific need to have a physical proximity to them and maybe say “hi”. Perhaps I thought some of their awesomeness would rub off on me. Maybe I thought we’d really hit it off and become BFFs. I don’t know. What I do know is that I met all three of them and underwent no radical changes as a result, aside from being significantly more awesome. I mean, how could you bask in the testosterone suffused glow of Kevin Nash and not come away a manlier man? How could you partake in a culinary discourse with the enigmatic Mike Patton and not emerge a more powerful engine of creation?

Those things can all be explained later. For now, we speak of the Head Honcho of Horror, the Genius of Genre, the King of B-Movies: Bruce Motherfucking Campbell! That’s right, you primitive screwheads, waaaaay back in September of 2001 (I think something else significant might have happened that month – I’m not too sure) yours truly spent as many as eighteen quality seconds with The Man (not Ric Flair – he just threatened to fuck my wife) at a book signing in downtown Shitlanta!

Once again I owe Gnoll a huge debt of gratitude (I really need to buy that guy a pony) for converting me from one of the uninformed to one of Those In The Know. I was sitting at home with the Psycho, probably contemplating ways to kill one or the other of us; when Gnoll called me up and asked me if I was going to the Bruce Campbell signing.

I’d love to. When is it?”

Now. At Chapter 11 by your store.”

At this point you could picture any one of a number of humorous cartoon depictions of an individual making haste. Everything from Daffy Duck leaving a Daffy Duck-shaped hole in the wall to that witch that wanted to put Bugs Bunny in her cauldron for some toil and trouble leaving behind a tiny cloud of smoke and several spinning bobby pins just hanging in the air. None of them will quite capture the speed with which I grabbed a couple of prized Campbell-related items and the Psycho and tore the fuck out of there to get downtown.

I got from our apartment in Smyrna to the Chapter 11 on Piedmont in about eight minutes.

I was expecting a line wrapping around the building, but when we pulled into the parking lot it didn’t even look like anybody was there. I was concerned. Surely everything couldn’t have wound down in such a short time. We went to the entrance and looked in and, sure enough, the store was full of people. I don’t really remember the Psycho being a bitch that night, so she must have wandered off while I was waiting in line; probably to blow some coked-up bartender. What I do recall is waiting in line, talking to other folks excited to meet The Man, and shutting down some jackass who was trying to give me shit because his 18” Ash was mint in the box while mine was loose.

Giant-Size Ash by McFarlane Toys
Why would you take it out? It’s lost all its value!”

Firstly, no it hasn’t because I really value it sitting on my shelf; second, you’re getting a box signed. How stupid is that?”

I think I might have actually made a better argument, but now that I’m really thinking back to the events of that night I realize that I might well have been sitting at home in a cloud of something that might cloud my recollections; if you know what I mean. It’s also entirely possible that I just grunted at the guy.

At one point, a kid in a wheelchair who looked to be in pretty rough shape showed up and we all agreed that he should go straight up to the front, I think at Mr. Campbell’s urging. He had already made it quite clear that he wasn’t going anywhere until he had spoken to each and every one of us. We probably would have agreed that Mr. Campbell could ingest one ear from each of us if he really wanted to. The guy was that awesome. One redneck lady did protest the wheelchair kid, but Bruce promptly cut her in half with his chainsaw hand. He really does have one! Or not.

After what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn to step into the presence of The Mighty Chin. I approached the man that I had watched battle demons, smite zombies and walk away at the end of Darkman. The Charismatic Chauvinist who had gone by such manly monikers as Brisco, Autolycus, Jack and… Ashley. The Living Legend from such classic films as Crimewave, Maniac Cop, and Menno’s Mind! I approached this Prolific Portrayer of Persons in Peril and said,


He smiled warily.

I really like Evil Dead. A lot. You’re kind of a hero to me.”

What a pithy commentary! If I hadn’t pointed it out, there’s no way Bruce Campbell would have figured out that I was a fan of his! Obviously I had been standing in line for the past forty-five minutes to buy a copy of the best-selling Tuesdays With Morrie and didn’t even realize that the closed store was full of people waiting to meet the handsome cad sitting at the folding table with a stack of books and a pile of pens! I am such a tool!

Signature courtesy of The Chin. Crack at base of saw blade courtesy of crappy toy engineering.
I’m not sure I was quite that stupid, but I was fairly star-struck. Mr. Campbell was incredibly friendly. He signed my book and my 18” Ash figure (which he said he hadn’t seen yet and was glad to be able to check out – take that, mint-in-box guy!) and did his best to have enthusiastic conversation with me. I just couldn’t speak. I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the occasion. I think Gnoll might have even had to tell Mr. Campbell that I wanted him to sign my Army of Darkness tattoo so I could make his signature a permanent resident on my leg.

He was highly amused by this. He asked me if I wanted his real signature or the “Zsa Zsa” he normally signs with, expressing his consideration for the fact that this thing was going to be on me forever. I was starting to loosen up a little at this point and asked him to just give me whatever his standard was. I wanted the fanboy special. He even dated it, which I really appreciate now because otherwise I probably wouldn’t recall exactly when all of this happened.

Tattoo by Mr. Richard Davis. I believe this was the third tattoo I got, probably around 1996.
I thanked Mr. Campbell for being so cool and told him how much we all appreciated him sticking around late to take care of everybody. The signing was advertised from 7:00 to 8:00 and he was there until 9:30 at least. Even now that leaves me stunned. He told me that without us – his fans – he wouldn’t be there anyway, so it was no problem. And then he thanked me. He also wrote down an e-mail address and asked if I would send him a picture of the tattoo after I got the signature put on. I was too embarrassed to tell him I didn’t have a computer, so I just took his e-mail and said I would. I never did. Until now. I lost that e-mail address a long time ago, but I figure I’ll send all of this to his website and hope he gives it a look.

A Halloween issue of Wizard magazine from a couple of years ago featured a short interview with Bruce Campbell. They asked him about weirdo fans and any experiences that stood out in his mind. I am proud to say that he related the story of this one big, tattooed guy that asked him to sign his leg so that he could get the signature tattooed on. I can’t tell you how fucking awesome it is to know that Bruce Campbell remembers meeting me just as much (if perhaps not quite as fondly) as I remember meeting him.

The guy was a class act all the way.

Thanks, Bruce.

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