I DID A STARGATE CONVENTION IN ENGLAND
WITH RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON
WITH NO GUARANTEE
So in the fall there's gonna be a Stargate Convention in England @ a place called Wells. My boy, Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping, two stars of the show are gonna be Headlining It. It's gonna be the first time RDA has ever done one a these things, so there's gonna be a lotta SCIFI fans there! (Affectionately known as, the freaks.)
Freaks is a term of endearment. Plus, what else are you gonna call someone who dresses up in cheesey costumes from a cable SCIFI series. William Shatner once said they should get a life. But if they got a life, than a chump like me wouldn't have one.
RDA's not gonna know what to do with them, because he's never even known what to do with any of us. And we’re crew members who have actually worked with him for 20 years. He doesn't even know half our names. Kidding. Kinda.
So I figure an enterprising young buck like myself could cash in big time with some of the spill off. I can just smell some of that under the table cash. British sterling. Worth 2.2 x's ours. And, oh ya, I can give something back to the freaks, er, fans.
I'm the Stunt Coordinator, RDA's stunt dbl + have a recurring role on the show as lovable Sgt Siler, he of the big wrench. It should be more than enuff to grab some scraps from the big table.
The problem is, the Promoters don't want me. Or, more accurately, they can't afford to bring me over, because they've blown their wad on RDA & Amanda. The Promoters offer me my own table, where I can sell my own merchandise, do my picture signings, (Assuming anyone would even want a picture of me, signed or otherwise.) and sell my pictures taken with the fans.( Again, there's an assumption there.) But the Promoters can't/won't give me a guarantee.
I'd have to fly myself all the way over there + pay for my hotel, and maybe/probably come away with nuthin. Not even my dignity. But, my wife's a flight attendant, so I can get there on my own dime. And I lost my dignity long before my virginity.
In a perfect world I wouldn't have to go over there at all. Hopefully,there'll be a huge feature in town + we'll all be makin the huge bucks + gouging ourselves @ catering + crafty. But if not, it makes for a pretty good plan B. Actually it would perfect to do the Feature AND then hop on a plane + be adored @ the Con. Win win.
It's months later. I've been booked to do 88 MINUTES, an Al Pacino feature, as a stunt performer but it's been pushed 3 weeks in a row cause of weather. The Stargate Convention is this weekend in England. I'm trying get the Stunt Coordinator to confirm whether I work on the movie this weekend or not. Otherwise, I've gotta hop on a plane Wednesday so I can be in England by Friday for the Con.
I'd much rather stay in town & do the movie 20 min from my house with guaranteed feature dough rather than fly all the way over there for absolutely no guarantee. No flight. No hotel. No nuthin.
But the Stunt Coordinator can't guarantee it. Of course he can't. So I have absolutely no guarantees what so ever! For the movie or the Con. Just like in life! So to quote a famous actor with an even more famous voice. "Sometimes you've gotta get busy livin or busy dyin..." (Or something like that)
So I'm on the plane for Wells. Things are lookin up. I got bumped up to biz! A friend of my wife is workin the flight. I've got a cold beer + a bowl of nuts. Livin the dream!
I also have a huge bag of Stargate swag. I grabbed all the crap that had been sittin in my basement for years. Hats, coats, T shirts. Crew gifts they'd given us for years when we were a "family", before the Producers screwed us. Old scripts & revisions, art direction packages & storyboards that I'd never looked at. All official MGM property that I have absolutely no right to sell. Two 100th episode watches. (I usually score 2 of everything) Props. Fx gadgets. + my pix! Tons of em! Solid gold for the freaks I'm hopin.
Suddenly the plane shuts down & a cpla burly men come on board sporting ample Molson's muscles + Teamster smiles. The one shitter isn't workin. + it's Federal law that u have to have a certain ratio of shitters to sitters for International flights. They work, all hunched over in that phone booth with the porcelain phone for over an hour. I don't know why those guys don't bend they're knees when they bend over. Such a disturbing image. Ass crack #1 literally has to deplane + drive to Costco in rush hour traffic for supplies,while we sit with our asses on the plane. Ass crack#2 has his break, literally sitting but not shittin on the shitter.
This plane has to leave soon otherwise I'm not gonna make it to the Con in time. Also if this plane goes mechanical + we have to deplane there's no guarantee I'll even get on the next flight again cause I'm flyin standby. And I certainly will not get bumped up to Biz again.
I phone the Stunt Coordinator on set from the plane hopin to get my Al Pacino gig back. I figure I can pull my pants down over my ass crack and slip off the plane unnoticed. But he's not answering. Do they ever? So I text his Stunt Wanna Be Volunteer Ass'T who texts me back immediately that the movie has been delayed because Al Pacino insists that the whole crew stand DIRECTLY BEHIND CAMERA IN A STRAIGHT LINE SO THEY WON'T BE IN HIS EYELINE! (Actually that's not true but he did do that on Godfather).
But, luckily, "faster than the speed of scale" the 2 Ass Cracks literally Gerry-Rig/MacGyver something in the shitter with nothin more than a length of bailer twine + duck tape + we're off!
RDA woulda been proud!
Is it too much to ask to be @ Heathrow and not be jet lagged? I usually see that sign guy who recognizes me from the show + drives me right to the hotel. But, no guarantee, also means no ride! I tried to phone the promoters but you literally have to dial a gazillion #'s. Did I mention I was jet lagged? So I go to the buses + ask how I get to Wells.
My bus ticket seems a little expensive. That's because I've bought a ticket to Wales! Not Wells! Which is halfway to Scotland! These people sure talk funny.
Wish I could do a really cool bit about them drivin on the wrong side of the street. But they drive on the wrong side of the street, period. And it's weird.
Wish I could do a cool bit about the windshield wipers wipin like in a Coen brothers movie. Cause nature’s fx dudes did a great job with the rain towers!
The bus station in Wells is an empty parking lot with no lights & lots a rain. I couldn't see cause my glasses were soaked! ( I can't wear my contacs on the plane cause it kills my eyes.) My fancy clothes were drenched. (You have to dress up when you travel on a pass.)
Say, you're not a loser if you travel for 15 hours to a foreign land with no guarantee are you? Just throwing it out there. No guarantee that even 1 of these freaks'll want a picture taken with me. No guarantee that anyone will want any of my wet Stargate swag that I just lugged halfway around the world!
I'm the freak!
I wonder how Al baby's doin? "You're out of order!!" Wonder if crafty has brought out the juicy hot cross buns yet?
I saw some lights over the horizon. That must be Wells!
I arrived @ my hotel. It was literally Faulty Towers! The promoters had covered the room. Wahoo. The town was 1000 yrs old. The hotel seemed older. As I scaled the King Arthur type steps to my room, I swear I saw my shadow go from very small to enormous like it was Errol Flynn sword fighting Basil Rathbone.
I hit my head as I entered my room. The doorway was only 4 ft high cause that's how tall they were back then! I had a tiny b + w tv with rabbit ears , cause that's what they had back then! The connectors had 3 huge prongs as plugins. So much for charging my cell phone. I was totally cutoff.
I noticed another room with bailer twine (How many times can you use bailer twine twice in one story?) wrapped around a wooden latch. Maybe I've gotta suite. I opened the door + I saw an old couple in bed!
The old geezer looked like Mickey Rooney. (There's a camera move called a Mickey Rooney- a short little creep) He was wearing tight white gotch pulled extra high on his waist, ala Ed Grimley + a wife beater. The biddy, his significant ( but just as old) other, I swear was the nude Granny character straight out of Playboy from the 70's. He recognized me from the show + immediately sprung from the bed and extended his hand, without washing it.
Now I have to say right now that, old people give me the creeps! But I say that in a respectful manner.The extended cartilage and excessive hair protruding from their nose + ears make them look like Hobbits from the Lord of the Rings.Their skin is so dry. I feel like lathering them from a bottle of Vaseline to get some suppleness back in their skin.
And because they have no money, they're prone to thievery. After all, who were the wallet thieves in Dirty Dancing? Why the Schumachers, that's who. And they blamed it on poor Baby, didn't they. Plus,you could play a game of volleyball with this geezer's nut sack! Now I was gonna have to carry my valuables everywhere I went.
But I kid the old people...
I finally figured out the calling card thingy + actually dialed the gazillion digits on the ol
Petticote Junction phone they had in the room & called my wife @ home. I'm sure the old biddy was on the other line listening like Donna Reed's mom from It's A Wonderful Life. I told my wife that I must be a total loser to have travelled for 20 hours to a foreign land with no guarantee that I would even make one penny. I waited for her to say I wasn't a loser. I'm still waiting.
I asked her if she could see the 12 K's lighting up the Al Pacino set that was shooting 100 yards from our place.
I also told her that 3 hrs after call crafty brings out the juicy hot cross buns.
The next morning for breakfast I swear our waiter was literally the actor who played Manual from Faulty Towers. I wasn't sure if he got the TV gig because he could act like a waiter who screwed up people's orders or whether he literally was just a waiter who screwed up peoples orders. But the breakfast I didn't order was brilliant! Each egg from their version of eggs over easy was individually lathered in it's own pound of melted butter. The sausages filled with everything you could scrape off the floor tasted great!
Too bad we care so much about our health back home.
I entered the venue, of the Stargate Convention. An old community centre with tons of smelly old books. Nuthin quite like the smell of mouldy, century's old parchment.
The moment of truth had arrived. I slowly started to empty the contents of my bag onto my table. I didn't want people to look @ my gack + wonder why I hadn't brought stuff that people would actually want. I didn’t want their pity. But suddenly I had a crowd around my table!
"How much do you want for that Stargate book!?"
The Producers had given special crew gifts to those who had been with the show every year since the very beginning. This soft cover edition had only been given to about 10 of us. In fact only about 20 even exist!
" Ah, I don't know,...300...pounds?"
" Ah, I meant,... 500."
And I got 2 of em! ( I always manage to score a couple.)
Suddenly it's like the New York stock exchange! Or seagulls fighting over French fries! Or Teamsters fighting over donuts!
SELL! SELL! SELL!!
And these were the vendors!
The fans still weren't even allowed in for another 20 min!
Crew gifts! Hats! Coats! T shirts! Scripts! Stuff you could only get if you had actually been workin on the show! Stuff I was probably not legally allowed to sell.
There was a mass exit to the ATM machine!
In fact there 2 lineups. One for the ATM machine + one for my table!
Within minutes all of my stuff was gone!
It was replaced by this lovely British currency which was goin for a 2.2 conversion rate. Which meant everything was worth twice as much! Plus .2 o/o.
And I didn't have to lug all that crap back home again.
I immediately locked myself in the john. I emptied all my cash on top of the toilet and started to count all my money! I carefully organized all the Queen's heads in order. She certainly is a beautiful woman! I separated them into piles.
I looked down at my feet and noticed that my shoes were pointing inwards and slightly straddling the toilet so I could reach my money better. If any one came in they’d probably wonder what the hell I was doing in there.
But, counting my money on top of the toilet became my new favourite thing to do!!
In fact, 1 of the actors from an earlier Con had said the exact same thing! And when I entered the actors bathroom I saw all of the toilet stalls filled, with all the shoes pointed inwards and slightly straddling the toilet! So now at least I knew what they were doing in there. At least I hope I knew what they were doing.
I separated my loot into 2 piles and carefully slid them into the cargo pockets of my shorts! My cargo shorts pockets were symmetrical + weighted down by all that beautiful money!
I WAS OFFICIALLY NO LONGER A LOSER!
I made more in 15 min than I woulda made on the Al Pacino movie. And it was cash! Sweet under the table candy.
When they let the fans in they rushed to my table. I sold all my pix. Even the crappy ones.
RDA + Amanda weren't there yet. So I was all they had!
It was a feeding frenzy! I finally knew what those Black Bears felt like when all those salmon were fighting their way upstream! I just gouged myself with those beautiful greenbacks.
When RDA + Amanda did arrive, the fans left me faster than one of those vampires on the Twilight movies. But it was too late. My belly was already full.
I spent the rest of the day walkin around this beautiful old town. It was a 1000 yrs old with narrow cobblestone streets. There was the beautiful Bishop's Palace.There was a castle with a mote. I felt the sun on my face. I watched a swan floating slowly + elegantly around the mote. (Swan's are the white ones with the long necks right? I think Cranes have the long necks + long legs.)
I kept lookin up @ the castle half expecting a Monty Python Holy Grail dude dressed in period garb to yell down @ me in mocking terms+ dump shit all over me! Come to think of it that would be a good tourist gimmick. Actors throwing shit on tourists & yellin, " We've already got one!!"
Periodically I'd pat my cargo shorts pockets filled with money with a satisfied all knowing grin. Much like a Priest would pat the head of a young altar boy. Both pockets were stuffed. Much like a young altar boy. I knew I'd have to be carrying that dough with me the whole time cause Mickey Rooney & Betty White would have a field day with all that cash. Dumping it on their bed & rolling around on it naked, like Scrooge McDuck.
The rest of the weekend was pretty much like the Truman Show. Everywhere I went everybody knew me + everybody luved me. The town had literally been taken over by hundreds of Stargate fans.
I'd walk into Starbucks and they'd all turn, raise a tall nonfat latte + cheer! Walk into a pub, I'd have a free Pint of Guinness in my hand within seconds.
I'm not entirely sure what it is that celebrity's hate about this.
And yes, someone did interrupt me while I was eating. They apologized for interrupting + said how much they enjoyed the show. It took all of 2 seconds. Is this the huge inconvenience that celebs are forced to endure after bypassing the lineup + getting the best table in the restaurant? I survived it relatively unscathed.
RDA & Amanda couldn't be everywhere @ once. Amanda was keen. RDA, not so much. Surprise. I was concerned about how he would react if a fan actually wanted to talk to him. But his indifference translated into more scraps for me. Actually he wasn't that bad. But again, I kid the actors....
But Amanda's keen. She was always the first actor on set and was so nice. It was gonna be hard to out-keen + out-gracious her. She can be so annoying sometimes.
I basically spent the rest of the Con onstage doin Q + A & trying to out- nice Amanda with the fans. Smiling + feigning interest in their lives. Not calling them freaks to their faces.
Being onstage felt like an Eddie Murphy concert film. ( Sorry for the dated reference.) A Louis CK concert film. They laughed @ everything I said! Much like the way the Pretty Dept. types laugh @everything an actor says while going thru the works.I felt like Jerry Lewis in France. I felt.... talented.
Whenever I was onstage it created a buzz, so people would actually want to get their pic taken with me. Ka-Ching! Hello cargo pants pockets!
And then it was over. No more people being nice to me. No more pretending to be something that I'm not. No more fans laughing @ everything I said. Waiting on my every word. No more getting paid a lot of money for doin basically nuthin.
I felt like Todd Bridges from Different Strokes after the show got canceled. Good thing I couldn't afford drugs.
I'm gonna miss the freaks.
But, if you're ever @ Heathrow + you got your pockets full o cash, hit the Amex money exchange there. They'll give you the best possible rate. They have a woman there who deals out the money faster than a dealer in Vegas. And she luvs touchin money more than she luvs touchin herself.
I will never forget my weekend in that little idyllic town called Wells. (Not Wales.)
WELLS. OUTSIDE CASTLE. CARGO SHORTS POCKETS FULL OF SWEET CANDY
( NEXY WEEK. MACGYVER HOCKEY EPISODE. FIRST TIME I WORKED WITH RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON. NOT A DOG AND PONY SHOW. WACKY RAIDER GUYS!)