March 11-13, 2011 Cherry Hill, NJ

Monster Mania 17 Con Report
Cherry Hill, NJ March 11-13, 2011

Courtesy of Lori

Courtesy of Jim Foye

Courtesy of Paul and Kelly

We arrived on Thursday around noon – on a less bumpy flight than expected, as there was a storm coming in behind us. We hooked up with our shuttle van and got out to the hotel. I was more worried about David – who was coming in that evening.

Our room was still occupied. There was a high school DECA regional taking place in the hotel and they checked out at 2:00 PM. So we ate lunch. There wasn’t any con action. I saw Roy Thinnes (The Invaders) wandering around the lobby. We remained hip deep in high school students until the next morning, giggling and running up and down the halls until their 11:00 PM curfew.

I had given David my cell number. He was due in at 6:30pm. At 6:40 my phone rang. Not good. It was David. He could not find anyone from the con at the airport. I asked him where he was. Terminal E. I had come in there. I walked him over to the transport desk, told him to pick up a white phone and dial the shuttle company. David called me back five minutes later. They had given him #65 and were coming to pick him up.

We ordered take out Chinese for dinner. I was waiting for their call on my cell when the room phone rang. It was David. He was checked in and was down in the bar ordering dinner and he wanted to see me. So I slipped my cell into my pants pocket and went down. I gave him a big hug hello. He wanted to buy me a drink, so I hopped up onto a bar stool next to him and had a ginger ale. I’m on medication that prohibits alcohol. He asked after John. We were catching up when my cell rang.

I crossed the lobby, signed for my Chinese dinner order and went back to finish my drink. David eyed the large bag of take out and said he should have waited and ate with us. I reminded David he didn’t like Chinese. At that point his Reuben sandwich and fries arrived. I finished my ‘drink’ and was about to leave – David said ‘don’t let that take-out get cold’ – when she served me another ginger ale.

David said ‘take it with you’ and ‘to scram, he was tired, and was probably going right to bed.’ So I did. John drank the second ginger ale, when he found out it was from David. Getting into the elevator, with my food bag, I found myself standing next to Dina Meyer. I said hello, told her I was with David and that I would see her in the autograph room. It was her first con. I told her (as a first timer) she would make money. They usually do. Dina was very nice to me. So we had Chinese for dinner and that was Thursday.

Friday we got up in time to have the breakfast buffet. Then we packed everything to go downstairs for the table set-up. The Hotel had free Wi-Fi so I checked my email. A British guy wanted a Fly book signed for him by David. Send me a PayPal. He did and David signed his book Friday night. Amanda wrote to say her plane was delayed by bad ground weather.

Everything was supposed to start at noon and that’s when my cell started ringing. Linda Delaney called. I told her to skip Friday (not worth the trip) and come on Saturday when David had a panel at 2 PM. At noon we went to get our badges. They weren’t ready for us, so once we located our table, we came back upstairs, after being told we didn’t need badges for set-up.

I called David to find out when I could get pictures from him and tell him which ballroom his table was in. He told me he been tracking down his photo box. The hotel had finally found it and was delivering it to him. He wanted a few minutes to go through it and then he would bring it up to us.

So I decided to change the room; John wanted one with a handicapped bathroom; it’s easier on him. They offered me the room on David’s floor. I took it. I went back up and told John we were moving. He took half the clothes on hangers out of the closet and I took the other half and we went off to the new room. I tried to call David to tell him where we were moving, but he didn’t pick up.

There was a bellman in the hallway when we arrived. I asked him to help us move. Apparently he had delivered David’s photo box. So we threw everything in bags and suitcases and onto his cart and were done in about five minutes. The Elevator door opens on the new floor and there is David with the box of photos. We told him to follow us to the new room.

David didn’t understand why we changed rooms, until John showed him the bathroom. He wanted to find Dave Hagan and ask why he wasn’t picked up. Plus he hated the room service breakfast they had sent up and was going to buy his own “stuff’ at the hotel convenience store. I offered him juice from my refrigerator and some of my food. He only wanted a pack of oatmeal raisin cookies. Then David was off to “take care” of business.

We settled in, packed David’s box to go downstairs and I went down to drop off the keys to the old room. I found a message on my phone from David. He had found Dave Hagan (from my description), straightened out the pick-up and claimed the (empty) table next to ours for us. So I took some Fly book promo cards down for the freebie table and talked to Jeff, the monster comic dealer and our new neighbor. He was thrilled to be our end table.

John wanted to see the set-up, so this time when we went down our badges were ready. John had some questions for David, so I gave John David’s badge to give to him since he was going over there. After John came back, we went downstairs (again) to finally set up.

It took about two hours, but we had everything up and ready by the time David came down at 4:00 PM. I had his markers out, with his Purell, throat drops and scratch paper. David tested his markers to make sure they all worked. |

There were supposed to be early bird buyers, but we really didn’t get anyone in the room until 5:00 PM – then it filled it up. We filled the time signing pre-sales. I gave David his presale money in tens so he could make change. We began selling at 5:00 PM and were steady until 8:00 PM. I went up to check for a message about Amanda’s delayed flight and when I came back she was there. John said she and David shared a bear hug greeting. She had previously hit it off with David at the New York Con and was now back to have David sign sixteen photos for her. She paid him and he did a masterful job of giving her something different on all her photos. Amanda had a great time reading them and they were laughing and joking about what he wrote until David left at 9:00 PM.

David took one break at 8:00 PM and then came back. Lori came in shortly after Amanda and David signed her pre-sales and whatever she picked out of my one of a kind binder of photos that I sell in the David Hedison Facebook store.  And that was Friday.

I asked David if he wanted me to call him in the morning and he said yes. He said he was tired, so he kissed me and Amanda good night and left us to pack up.

We decided to do early bird on Saturday because David was going to lose an hour of selling time when he did his panel at 2:00 PM. So I called David. He said thank you, so I knew he was awake. We had the buffet and got ready. We went down to set up and the room was dark and deserted. So I propped the door open and started to set up. The con got someone to turn the lights on shortly after that. David showed up on time sans sweater (they had warned him the room would heat up) and no one was there.

But as soon as he sat down and we got his sign up, someone wanted a photo. So we sold him a photo and he got to talk to David. Amanda and Lori came down and talked to David. More people showed up to buy photos. So David may have been the only “early bird’ celeb, but he was also the only one who made money in that hour. It got busy after that. David had about five people in line in front of his table most of the day.

Lee Meriwether’s plane was late on Friday and she opened later than David, but she was very popular all weekend across from us – so our little corner (by the room exit) stayed busy the entire con.

Most bought a photo (Fly or Voyage or the occasional Bond) and paid to pose with David, but there were also many items that were brought in to sign. Fly posters – British ones, Spanish ones, in every color of the rainbow. There was the large green ‘C’ poster that Charles Herbert had signed at MM16 – like five of those. Herbert had signed it Help me, Help me… David kept saying that was HIS line and I think on the fifth poster, he actually wrote that on the poster!

I was the only one who accepted the offer of “really bad hotel pizza” from the con – that monster comic brought back for me to eat. I’ve had worse… David took another one of my oatmeal cookie packs and I made him tea after his panel, but he was so busy signing he hardly had a chance to drink any of it.

Dori came first. David signed her presales and she picked out some other photos for him to sign, but what she really wanted was for David to sign a Fly picture for her granddaughter Megan’s 4th grade school project. Megan had built a
drive in theater and it was showing ‘The Fly.’ So David sent home a picture singed by “The Fly.” Linda Delaney came next. She spent about 20 minutes chatting on and off with David – in between customers. Then everyone went across the hall for the Classic SF TV panel.

The panel went great. It was Lee, David, Roy Thinnes and Robert Colbert. David and Lee were asked more questions, but Roy talked about his con experiences (all positive) since doing the commentary for The Invaders DVDS and how he was cast in the X-Files. It was David Duchovny’s idea. Robert told his Maverick story – he replaced James Garner briefly at the end of the season. Lee was asked about her Catwoman costume – horribly uncomfortable and she told two stories about Buddy Ebsen – her co-star on Barnaby Jones. A truly nice man with old school charm and manners. David chimed in with two stories of his own from his guest stint on her show. Lee talked about being the first televised Miss America and how it changed her life.

Courtesy of Lori

David got asked his usual questions about working with Irwin Allen and their love/hate relationship. He was asked about the Fly–working with Vincent Price. He told everyone they were going to let him keep his custom Fly mask, but he didn’t want it and said no (groans). Lee said someone offered to give her Star Trek Costume and she said no, you keep it. (more groans). The four of them really rocked the house. Everyone was laughing at their stories and David kept encouraging this hilarity. He finally brought the house down with his “The Fly is Open” story. And yes, the Hollywood Motion Picture did print that headline and yes; they pulled it the next day. David had everyone laughing.

Back at the table, he looked at over at me and asked me how he’d done. I told him he did great and he grinned. David has done group panels before. He knows how to get an audience going. Lee almost fell out of her chair, she was laughing so hard. She didn’t mind having three actors sitting with her, and talking to her, fighting over who was going to push her chair in. Not one bit.

After the panel we were still selling briskly. About 5:00, David called it quits. He was tired. He had been getting up and posing with countless people all day. There was a possibility Serena might drive down from New York to see him, so he wanted to get ready for that. So we let him go and started packing up. We told him to come down at 11:00 AM on Sunday – as there is never any business first thing Sunday morning. We had our own dinner plans with Dori Martin so we needed to get everything back up to the room so we’d make the reservation. We told everyone who came by late and missed David to come back on Sunday.

About fifteen minutes after David left, Lee came over. She had forgotten to ask David if he wanted to get together with her and Robert and Roy later that evening. I told her he was expecting a call from his daughter, but I’d be happy to lend her my cell so she could call David and invite him. So I found his number and called him, then handed her the phone. David doesn’t pick up, but if you leave him a message, he’ll get back to you. So Lee left him a message and her call back number. We went off to dinner off-site with the Martins at a really nice Italian place I found on the Internet. I knew either Serena or Lee would take care of David. And that was Saturday.

I found out (coming back from dinner) that we had to change the clocks forward one hour. David had not asked me to wake him up, so I could only hope he was better prepared and more aware of the time change than I was. I don’t like switching to Daylight savings time. It messes me all up.

So Sunday we got up, had the breakfast buffet again – three different prices on three different days – depending on whose convention it was… and got ready to go down. I called David at 9:30 AM to be sure he was up and on the right time. I had to remind him he had an interview at 10:30 AM with an Internet radio station. I didn’t get him, but I got a voice mail a few minutes later, letting me know he did know about daylight savings time, and the Internet would have to wait because he was still getting ready and would be down as promised. This made me glad I called. And he did show up promptly at 11:00. We had one of the Saturday stragglers show up at 11:00 and ask John where David was and John said, look over your shoulder as David strolled into the room. That was a good one. The Internet radio guy showed up at 1:00 PM and got his interview. I’ll post a link when it’s up.

David immediately handed me his black knapsack to “fix” – the strap had gotten pulled somehow and was now too long. Luckily, my fingers are still nimble enough to get it back to the length he wanted.

Then we had to stow his suitcase under the table, as he was checked out. Everything had gone well with that. Then the con came by and reimbursed him for his food and airfare. I went and printed his boarding pass. So we settled in and started selling again.

It was busier than we expected and we sold steadily until about 2:00 PM, when I asked Amanda if she wanted lunch. David asked if I was hungry and then invited both me and Amanda to go to the hotel restaurant and have lunch with him. He had a late flight (7:00 PM) so I think he wanted to eat. Of course, we said yes. John graciously watched the table so we could go and David brought him back a hamburger. John always finds someone to talk to when he’s there table watching. He had some fans lined up and waiting for us when we returned from the panel.

I had the chicken, Amanda had hot wings and David wanted a rare cheeseburger. Amanda ordered a glass of wine and David said no, order this other wine, I had it last night with Lee and it was really good. So she did and it was great. David goes to Napa Valley when he has company from abroad – he took Bridget’s step-sister on a tour last fall and he told us a little about where they went and what they bought and what he likes.

I told Amanda that David had ruined me for store-bought spaghetti and instead I had to buy this Italian market brand (De Cecco), which I found out I can't pronounce properly, either. David then shared his favorite way to make pasta (oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovies). It was a great lunch.

We came back; David gave me my ten percent. He spent the last half hour saying good-bye to Lee and Robert and Roy. They exchanged numbers and invitations to come see each other and posed for group pictures. Then the con came and said David’s car was here. I handed him his jacket and his bag and rolled his suitcase out to the curb for him. David was the last one in what looked like a too small town car for whoever they had in there. I barely fit his small roller in the truck. The driver then had to stash several items before they could take off. But finally the car pulled out and they were on their way.

David had left me his pictures to mail out UPS, so I took care of that. We had dinner with Amanda and all of us flew home on Monday. A good time was had by all.

Diane Kachmar