Return of Contamination 2016, Fenton, MO.
This odd yet fascinating little horror con is going to grow! When your celebrities include the original Battlestar Galactica cast and Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects, including Captain Spaulding, you know this con is will soon be galactic.
Dead Hearts came on board late…just a few days before the con, I was graciously allowed to attend. Held in the Stratford Inn Hotel, Contamination Con infected more than Missouri, but brought in an author as far away as Delaware. Why? Because this con is about horror movies and actors of the genre, as well as sci-fi, fantasy and the apocalypse (my terrain) and that means it also includes an Book Fair at the same time. They even held a séance and as the inn is haunted, of course they had very scary yet fun results Saturday at midnight.
But let’s talk about actors, first.
Gary Graham of Alien Nation and Star Trek Enterprise is a gentleman. I had the honor of being on a Star Trek panel that commenced with the famous Gorn of the original Star Trek series. This old cowboy told stories about the original show and how many times he’d been an extra (the Gorn is perhaps the most loved and most seen monster on many TV series and movies that show the clip of his fight against Captain Kirk). Gary and I waited off stage until the cowboy Gorn was finished and then it was my turn to speak. Thirty minutes in to an hour panel, I wanted to keep my talk short, as Gary is a star, and as I wrapped up in five minutes, I introduced Gary Graham as “the cream of the con”. Gary graciously thanked me and kissed my cheek before he spoke; and I did stay to ask question about his life on Star Trek. After the con, Gary hugged me and wished me great success. Gotta love an actor who is this kind and polite.
Dirk Benedict of Battlestar Galactica. Did you know he is also an author of two books? I had the pleasure of speaking with him for more than an hour, listening to him tell me about his life as a father and rancher in Montana, to his days in Hollywood, and his vast opinions on life. I did ask him to start bringing at least one of each book to the cons he attends to let folks know he is also an author with many things to say about all topics under the stars. The funny thing is that the next day Dirk stopped by to make certain he hadn’t talked my ear off (he left me hyper and on Cloud 9 for 2 days)….and then he asked if I’d dreamed about him. Well, I actually had. I dreamed Dirk’s Montana ranch was haunted by ghosts and I came to help him out. I told him about this and he was delighted, and I think a little surprised and happy his fans still dream about him. By the way, Dirk is still Starbuck after all these years and he still smokes cigars!
Richard Hatch, a/k/a Apollo of Battlestar Galactica is the polar opposite of Dirk Benedict. He is a gentle, earthy man who is soft spoken and full of smiles. I remember him from the 1970s when he released a photo of himself barefoot and playing a guitar, not a hippie, but very grounded and very in tune with the world. And of course, he still looks like Apollo with a little gray at the temples and generates a soothing calm and smiles as he mingles with guests, vendors and fans.
There were more than 12 authors at the con. This is the first time at a con where all the authors chummed around with each other and it was delightful. Vince Churchill is someone to keep your eye on (horror); his personality is electric and funny and I’m sure his books which I’ve yet to read much match this dynamic man. My friend Dane G. Kroll (sci-fi/horror), who is an absolute delight and has an ongoing series you need to check out. Author Ray Wenck who writes many genres, but we had a panel on how to write about the apocalypse and his own series is dark and disturbing (a bit like move The Road but with more action). Do yourself a favor? Go to the Return of Contamination website and read the list of authors who were present at this con and then check them out on Facebook and buy one of their books. They were all marvelous.
Tip about authors: When you attend a con and you are there to buy books, don’t just buy one book but mingle and talk to the authors. Many authors are shy or introverts, until you ask them about what they write about and then they’ll tell you many wonderful things you’ll miss if you walk past because they didn’t flag you down or shout at you to come over to the table. If an author is attending a con this means they ‘want to be read’ and they have worked hard to publish and come to the event, so show them as much interest as you do the actors because authors need love, too!!!
Captain Spaulding a/k/a Kevin Hansen
an up and coming entertainer and moderator of panels is collecting fans like heads on a pike (or flowers). I can’t tell you how many times folks ran to the big, scary clown for a hug or a photo. It happens in public when he’s dressed in his costume as much as at a con. Captain Spaulding hosts the author panels at the con. He also mingled with the stars of the brilliant Rob Zombie’s films, The Devil’s Rejects and the House of 1001 Corpses. Actor Robert Mukes featured in The Devil’s Rejects is a giant teddy bear; love this guy!
Overall, the con was a blast! I suggest you go next year and mingle with the actors because they’re hands on at this con.
Now for photos!