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You Meet The Nicest People In Burbank

April 27th, 2012

There’s an annual event in Burbank called “Monsterpalooza,” a convention for people associated with horror movies. Actors come to sell signed photos, makeup and special effects artists network and demonstrate their scare skills and there’s even a museum dedicated to the craft of monster creation. The halls are teeming with thousands of fans, mingling with dozens of fabulously costumed monsters.

I had lead roles in one horror classic (“Suspiria”) and in a sorta-horror cult movie, a rock-and roll redo of “Phantom of the Opera” titled “Phantom of the Paradise.” So I have been invited to attend such events before but have always declined. But this time, I had a brain flash: I would do it to raise some quick bucks for PXE International, my favorite non-profit group.

I went to the Burbank Marriott on that Saturday morning with a bit of trepidation. I mean, who knows what might happen in a building packed with horror fans? (Not to mention monsters, who are not known for their social skills. ) The event had great potential for turning gnarly.

I had a rep, Carol, who meticulously set up my table, arranging a variety of photos of me in various damsel-in-distress poses,. At the next table was Caroline Munro, a gorgeously fify-something actress who appeared in horror flicks but is best known as a Bond girl. (Think Roger Moore.) Carol explained that Caroline would sell hundreds of pictures based on that pedigree alone, her buyers being mostly middle-aged men with lingering crushes.

On my other side was Chris Sarandon, and beyond him many tables dedicated to the cast of “Fright Night.” Jon Landis was selling a new book (“Monsters”) and other actors and directors sat at tables beyond him.

And the fans poured in.

99% of them wore logo-printed tee shirts, usually black ones. This seemed to be the uniform of the day. Many of them bought photos, but many brought other things for me to sign—DVD jackets, original soundtrack LP covers and random posters. Some brought gifts: a painting of a scene from “Phantom,” a plastic replica of the mask the phantom wears in the movie, and a beer glass with the phantom’s masked face etched on it.

The fans ranged in age from five years old to seventy-something, and they were, without exception, gracious and respectful. Each one expressed interest when I handed them a PXE postcard and helped them pronounce pseudoxanthoma. All were touched and pleased that their money was going to charity.

It’s always reassuring to be reminded that one can, even in the most unusual settings, depend on the kindness of strangers.

Other highlights of Monsterpaloza: 1. Meeting Boris Karloff’s daughter. 2. Having my picture taken with the most fabulous monsters I have met, well, ever. 3. Watching a makeup artist transform an ordinary fanboy into Schreck. 4. Going home Sunday feeling like Scrooge McDuck carrying a bulging sack with a $ sign on it.

Next time I do this, I think I’ll try selling a picture of myself with my head photo-shopped on a scantily clad, Bond-quality body. I’d certainly double my take.

P.S. Please also see my post on William Finley, my co-star in “Phantom,” who passed away last month.

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3 Responses to “You Meet The Nicest People In Burbank”

  1. Scot Colford Says:

    Awesome, Jessica. Sounds like a wonderful time. I’m jealous that you got to sit next to Chris Sarandon! He’s married to Joanna Gleason! (And now I will rush off to his blog to say how lucky he was to sit next to the actress with the best voice ever recorded.)

  2. Lloyd Says:

    Hey Jessica, great pictures and article. You still look great with that wonderful smile of yours. I saw Phantom of the Paradise when it first came out years ago at a theater in Santa Monica, your song Old Souls made me a fan of yours for life, I love that deep voice, and of course I love Suspiria, that’s why I sent you the post cards to sign. You’re great and you seem like such a real person, as opposed to other celebrities. Thank you for your blog and the pictures as always.

  3. Ivan Lee Livingston Says:

    GOOD BYE,Mr Finley.

    I often go to You Tube to listen to you sing because of your haunting voice that speaks to my soul.I have often said that I wouldn’t want to live in a world without art.Your art has touched myself and other’s for a lifetime.

    Jesica,thanks for your art and thank you for this tribute to Mr. Finley.

    I hope his wife or son put up a FACEBOOK page for his fans and family.Lately I have noticed people doing this and it is thearputic for family and friends to write to their loved ones.The down side of FACEBOOK MEMORIALS is that doing this really pisses off the funeral home people :0(…..It’s a FREE MEMORIAL SERVICE and they don’t like that kind of talk in the business… LOL I hope MR.Finley might have a sense of humor about this idea ?

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