SJFB’s Misadventures At Walker Stalker Con (Pt.2)

Ha! I bet you thought I was dead! Well, that’s one wish that’s not coming true motherfucker! I was momentarily delayed as I helped pen a screenplay and yelled at the Chinese government (no, I didn’t cause the whole Hong Kong thing, but I’ll take the credit if you want), but I’m still here and I’ve still got to conclude the clusterfuck that was my wandering through Walker Stalker Con! So here’s the epic conclusion that no one gives a shit about!

Right after I finished speaking to Melissa Hutchison, I was feeling pretty good. I mean, I was sweating the prior night’s alcohol and every part of me was screaming ‘go back to bed asshole!’, but I was feeling good! I managed to not make too much of an ass of myself, so I decided to try again. The guys from The Boondock Saints seemed to be pretty busy, so I decided to check them out later. As I turn around, I spot a booth I hadn’t seen on my first pass. The man I saw there actually made my nerves jump when I thought that I might be able to interview him. He’s also the only person there I actually wanted an autograph from. This man is Russ Streiner.

You might remember him as Johnny from Night of the Living Dead. He’s the one who uttered the now famous “they’re coming to get you Barbara!” (though I’m not enough of a dick to make him say it for my amusement like I’m sure he’s done countless times over the past 46 years). But his acting had nothing to do with what I wanted to ask him. Like every schmuck before me, my questions regarded what it was like behind the scenes (groundbreaking shit, right?) along with some all around boring bullshit. I mean, hell, when am I ever going to get the chance to talk to him again? I wrote it all down anyway (even the boring parts). That reminds me:

 

DO: Remain composed and still during interviews in order to exude a professional demeanor.

 

DON’T: Fidget enough to knock over a bunch of items on the table, then walk away without helping when you realize the interviewee didn’t realize it was you who did it.

 

Interview 2 – Russ Streiner

 

SJFB: What was it like working with George Romero on set?

 

Russ Streiner: Well, George Romero and I were business partners for several years before working on Night of the Living Dead, so he and I were quite accustomed to working with each other.

 

SJFB: What did you guys work on before that?

 

RS: We had a production company in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. We made TV commercials, industrial films, business films, promotional films, and while we had our business, we were accumulating film equipment. But we always wanted to do what we referred to as “a real movie”. We were in business for about four or five years before we accumulated enough equipment to make Night of the Living Dead.

 

SJFB: How long did it take to shoot the entire thing?

 

RS: The production was 30 production days and we broke it into two 15 day bursts because we had to go back to our other business and work for our paying customers.

 

SJFB: Were you suckered into doing all the location scouting  and such as well? Or did you go the Sam Raimi route where you made all your friends hold all the lights, etc?

 

RS: Fortunately, we had our own staff and equipment, but we did have people who helped out with firearms and that kind of thing.

 

SJFB: I’d guess you’d need that even back then, especially if you filmed in…where was it filmed again?

 

RS: In Evans City, Pennsylvania, which is about 32 miles north of Pittsburgh.

 

SJFB: I’ve only been to Hershey, Pennsylvania. I don’t know how far that was from Evans City. Did you ever get to visit Hershey?

 

RS: Oh sure, yup.

 

SJFB: Lovely place, right up until the wind blows the wrong way.

 

RS: Yeah! Then you get the aroma of chocolate!

 

SJFB: Oh, that’s the good way. I meant when it blows off the sewage treatment plant.

 

RS: (Laughs) I didn’t know that!

 

SJFB: You must have went on a good day. But tell me, besides moviemaking, what did you guys do for fun back then?

 

RS: We were pretty well consumed with what we were doing related to the film business, including making movies. We certainly enjoyed watching movies, that’s for sure! But we had our collection of friends and partied and hung out just like people now. In fact, we still get together. George and I are working on something right now!

 

SJFB: Is it another zombie thing?

 

RS: It is zombies, but nothing like you might think. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what is is even if I wanted to.

 

After my conversation with Russ, I figured it was about time to finally interview one of the guys from The Boondock Saints. The line for Sean Patrick Flannery hadn’t become lighter, nor did I really have anything to ask. I mean, the motherfucker has a resume longer than post tax evasion Wesley Snipes and Nic Cage combined! Without my notes, what the fuck was I supposed to ask? Since he was scheduled to be there all three days, I figured I’d move on to David Della Rocca and Brian Mahoney. My questions were basically the same for both of them, so all I had to do was strain really hard and remember what I wanted to ask. I walked up to Brian Mahoney with as much confidence as I could muster, all the while mentally screaming ‘don’t fuck this up! Don’t fuck this up!’

 

Interview 3 – Brian Mahoney

 

Brian Mahoney is a very kind and professional man. When I pressed record on my tape recorder and started blurting out questions, he took a moment to give himself a proper introduction for the audience at home. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the device was purely for my own notes and wasn’t going to be posted online since if I was conducting this interview for either my own, or the Slack Jaw Punk’s podcast, he would have saved my ass. Even as people started lining up behind me, Brian Mahoney allowed me as long as I needed to bumble through my set of questions.

 

DO: Always have your equipment prepared and at the ready.

 

DON’T: Fumble with your tape recorder because you listened to something else, then forget to hit the record button.

 

So, yeah, I’m unable to transcribe the actual interview because the concept of hitting a single fucking button was foreign to my feeble brain. Looking back, I can’t help but feel like a colossal idiot since I was holding up, and indeed moving around in order to pick up better audio, a tape recorder that was effectively off.  Luckily, I was able to scribble some notes in the hotel lobby when I checked the audio and found nothing there. I won’t reproduce those notes word for word since they were written hastily and contained scribbles that I’m sure were meant to be words but they relayed the gist of the conversation and since that’s par for the course by this point, I figured that would be good enough.

I started with some run of the mill questions, like “how did you get this role?” and “what was it like on set?”. He auditioned with a character in mind, one he crafted after reading how the filmmakers were imagining said character, and when all was said and done, he was more than thrilled when he got the part. It was a brilliant script in his eyes and he felt lucky to be a part of it. The cast and crew were tight knit. They worked hard each day they shot, but they made it a fun place to be each day.

Pretty much run of the mill stock answers that I knew I was going to get. But I didn’t want to just come right out with the next set of questions and seem like a complete asshole (that comes later).

My first groundbreaking question (there’s sarcasm there, you just can’t hear it because they’re words and words don’t let you hear things through your eyes…unless you’re on acid) regarded the use of racist and homophobic language in The Boondock Saints. One of the issues critics had with the film upon it’s release was the free use of terms that would get you killed in Harlem, or very passive aggressive comments in San Francisco.

True to form, Brain Mahoney explained that while he didn’t harbor any of the feelings of hatred that the language evokes, he felt that they fit the characters. He has no resentment towards anyone for race, gender, or identity. Any law proposed that tries to limit a person’s freedom, be it unfair wages for women and minorities or the right for any two people to marry, he fully opposes and will actively try to get others to strike it down.

Next we shot the shit about where we grew up. You see, Brian Mahoney grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts, which just so happens to be the place where I went to college, as well as lived for several years. After reminiscing about never going to the rich part of town (he grew up poor and I still being poor), I asked him about Boston (where I grew up and currently live now). Though we didn’t hang out in the same areas (he enjoyed Fenway Park and the North end, whereas I enjoyed the theater district and that area in Eastie were I wouldn’t be robbed), but I could say with certainty that is there was anyone who could play a Boston Cop, it’s Brian Mahoney. Knowing the places was one thing, but as we spoke, it was obvious that he knew the people and the culture.

This is where I was supposed to bring up my final question which would have tied everything together in a happy little offensive-free bow. All I had to do was ask, “Given your knowledge of Bostonian culture, could it be said that the language being used, for better or for worse, is an accurate presentation of the type of people you would find if you walked throughout the city? Just about every day I hear someone calling someone “retarded”, “faggot”, or some variety of racial slur, so personally, hearing a Boston character call another Boston character a “fag” is just a reality. Anyone who claims it’s just hateful and ‘not realistic’ obviously never walked the streets of my city and has no clue what the fuck they’re talking about.

 

 

DO: Always have a copy of your questions handy (see previous DON’T).

 

DON’T: Forget your question and awkwardly leave the celebrity hanging.

 

What should have been a bridge connecting the use of derogatory language The Boondock Saints uses and a knowledge of Boston culture instead turned into “Do you hate gays? Cool. Where do you hang out?” Needless to say, I probably looked like a bit of an asshole, but Brian Mahoney didn’t seem offended (I hope) and even invited me to come back if I remember what the last question was. That sure as shit wasn’t going to happen, and I slinked away as fast as possible, but he did invite me back, so that’s something!

 

DO: Take in what’s for sale on the vendor floor, but reserve making any purchases until after you’ve concluded all interviews.

 

DON’T: But so much shit that you’re balancing several bags while trying to reach your business cards.

 

After that cluster fuck of an exchange, I finally head for the place I’d been looking forward to since I asked Bub if I could cover Walker Stalker Con: the venders. If you’ve never been to a convention, then you’ve never seen the glory of the vender floor. Sure, they’re not always huge, but the treasures you’ll find would make combined orgasms of the cast of Storage Wars register on the richter scale. Walker Stalker Con’s is  a decent size, filling up the equivalent of a wedding ballroom your meth addicted sister managed to rent after blowing the manager of a Holiday Inn. The actual vendors were packed close to the middle, allowing for more celebrities to set up autograph booths on the outskirts. Since I couldn’t interview most of them (AMC wasn’t allowing any media to interview any of The Walking Dead’s ‘living’ stars, and since I’m not actually caught up with the show, I decided fuck it, it’s not like I’m getting paid to be here, and ignored them), I browsed the wares of the surrounding tables.

To say it nicely, the legality of some of the items are…questionable. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you. What it means to me is that I’m finally able to own a copy of Evil Dead: The Musical, a show that premiered off Broadway, then disappeared into the realms of fanboy memories and possible copyright infringement. Posters from every movie and TV show imaginable surrounded you at every turn, and if those don’t excite you, perhaps you’d prefer the booth dedicated to old comic books, or the one selling sharpened baterangs with the ‘BATMAN’ logo stamped onto the front that I’m pretty sure are illegal in Massachusetts (though, to their credit, they probably move with the convention, and throwing weapons aren’t illegal in all states.

After my first round, I noticed Emma Bell’s booth. Since someone told me that her character was already killed off (I couldn’t remember who she played in The Walking Dead), I figured I’d ask her a few questions. You’re probably asking, ‘What the hell could you possibly say to her if you can’t even remember her role in the show that brought here here? In fact, why didn’t you just walk back out the front doors you hack?’ The tenderness of my feelings aside (meanies), Emma Bell’s career doesn’t solely revolve around The Walking Dead. In fact, most of my questions revolved around her role in Frozen.

 

Nope, not that one. Stop thinking about the Disney one and go back to 2010.

 

‘The one with the ski lift?’

 

There you go!

 

As I approach, I make pleasantries with those behind the booth, Emma Bell who was all smiles and her PR rep, who looked like she was cosplaying Woodstock ‘69, shot daggers from her eyes at the fact that I had to make her look up from her iPad. I hand over my card to each and ask if I can ask a few questions. Emma looks like she’s ready to go, but the burning man reject told me that they needed to verify the site I worked for and whether or not it would be appropriate to do an interview. I gave them my phone number, told them how they could get in contact with me and gracefully left. I don’t mean the booth, I mean the building. You see, I’ve been rejected enough by the Hollywood type enough to know when I’m being told to fuck off.

I went to see a movie (How To Train Your Dragon 2, good flick, check it out), went home, went to bed, woke up for day two and found out that the little lady I live with, love of my life, lost my fucking badge (UPDATE: Found the badge! It was on 9/6/2014, but I found it!). Sorry this didn’t end with a bang, but rather a whimper, but I got what I wanted and you, dear reader, got to experience every up and down with me, so I regret nothing (though Bub might).

Despite everything, if Walker Stalker Con is in your area, check it out. I saw everything there was in a single afternoon, so unless you want to stand in all the lines to talk to your favorite actors, going all three days isn’t necessarily a requirement. There’s tons of shit to see and do, as well as many celebrities to chat with and have sign autographs. It’s a fun time.

 

And to you, my dear Bub, I could come up with excuses for all this dumb fuckery, especially the fact that I’m getting this out long after ANYONE who MIGHT have been interested stopped giving a damn, but why should I do anything when Clementine from Telltales’s ‘The Walking Dead’ can say it so much better than I ever could?

 

 

So there ya go.

 

Go to http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/ to find out more.

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