Big Apple Comic Con

October 16-18, 2009  

Pier 94 Manhattan



            We left early Thursday morning to begin our all day long trip from 93 degree Florida to the much cooler environs of mid-town Manhattan. I was last through New York in 2002, on my way to Long Island to see Roy Scheider for the final time. I had always liked visiting the city. I stayed across the street from our Big Apple Con hotel (at the Sheraton) in 1995.

            Friday David showed up right when he said he would. We hugged and kissed hello, compared flights and got down to business. I found a good place to hang David’s jacket, scarf, and umbrella that he taken off and once David saw how I had them, he put them there himself for the next two days, leaving the back table clear to display our wares. The only problem I had with my black wool scarf was that it blended with the side drapes. I should have brought something like David’s bright orange one. I could find his.

            It didn't take long for us to make out first sale. The attendees were eager to meet David and buy his autographed pictures. The fans brought him all kinds of items to sign from movie books about The Fly, to Seaview models to con program books. Someone even brought him a Fly laser disc. ‘Blast from the past,’ he called it.

            Our neighbors for the three days were Erick Avari (Stargate, The Mummy and Heroes) on our right and Tom Noonan (Manhunter, Robocop 2) on our left. Both gentlemen were extremely nice and great neighbors. Tom had help, but Erick didn’t, so John and I looked after him. We found Erick coffee and food (from the green room) and snagged water for him when the con came around and asked if we wanted any.

            David had hardly sat down when Tony Amendola (Stargate SG-1) dropped by the booth to say hi. One of his very first TV jobs was the TV show Partners in Crime in 1984 and Tony told David how much he appreciated that David (as the guest star) was so kind to him when they did the episode together. David was pleased to be remembered and they chatted briefly about Linda Carter, whom they both liked.

            I spoke to Tony again on Sunday and told him what a great performance he turned in the finale of Stargate SG-1. Typical actor, he said he was working on getting hired by then again. I told him I’ll pull for him. Nice guy.

            Our next visitor was Loretta Swit (MASH). She was an old friend and David was very glad to see her. In fact, she came over twice. Kathy Najimy also came by to say hi. She is really good friends with David’s daughter, Alexandra.

            On the other side of Erick was Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos). He came over, too, and told David how much he had adored Voyage when he was 12. David gave him a signed picture and he went back to his booth very happy.

            I sold more Fly books that I expected to the first day. David and I had fun signing them together and I sold every one I brought by the end of the con. I certainly did not mind on bit not having to drag them home on the plane.

            David had set me up with an interview with Luciana Paluzzi, his Five Fingers co-star and very famous Bond girl, the day before we both left for New York and she gave me a really good interview for our forthcoming book. One of the first things David wanted to know was how that went. I gave him a big thank you kiss; told him she was very forthcoming and that it was a terrific addition to the manuscript.

            The big event of the day on Friday was taking Adam West’s picture by the Batmobile. He drew quite a crowd. The only comparable flash bulb moment I saw was Brent Spiner at booth 800. It looked like heat lightning, there were so many flash bulbs going off, totally lighting up the area behind Brent’s head. William Shatner was only there for a couple of hours, so I never saw him, but David mentioned that he had. You had to walk right by booth 800 to access the bathroom. Not sure if that was planned… or not.

            I did see Nichelle Nichols. In the green room, swapping war stories about their respective teenagers with John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard/Smallville). So I had my snack and listened (quietly) to their raucous discussion that involved the whole table of celebrities.

            When it slowed down in the late afternoon, I went over and paid the cast of Warehouse 13 to sign their cast photo. I have watched Sal Rubinek for years and have taken to both Eddie and Joanna watching the first season of the show on SyFy.

            I talked to Joanna first. She was really nice; we talked her acting in the series. She told me I was well versed in what actors did. I admitted I had been talking with David for 25 years. She was a little surprised, saying I didn’t look that old. I then mentioned that my first celebrity con - George Takei was the guest - was thirty four years ago.

            Sal and I rejoiced that he was (finally) after all these years, a series regular. I told him Artie was a great character and I loved his mysterious back story. Eddie was great fun. They praised their writers for the show’s success and I replied that good lines needed great delivery, too.  They were as happy as I was they had been picked up for a second season. It’s a really fun TV show.

            John explored the con in the late afternoon and came back and told us where everyone was and what was going on, he particularly like the Asian spoke models who were posing with the Back to the Future Delorean car. One of them came by our table on Sunday and posed with John.

            David asked me to go get him a program so he could find out where his friends’

booths were. I found him one and we looked through it, but what he wanted wasn’t there. I asked him who he was looking for. He told me, and I directed him where he needed to go. Off he went. I had passed by her booth when I was looking for the bathroom…

            David and I chatted about his trip to London, Spain and Italy after he came back. They and their luggage got totally drenched in a rainstorm trying to take the ferry back from Capri. It’s an island, either you take the ferry back, or you don’t get back. They spent the entire evening back on the peninsula drying their clothes, so they would have something to wear the next day.

            They took Alexandra – who had joined them in Spain, to Positano, Italy, for her first time and gave her the tour. This is where I met your mother; this is where I first kissed your mother; this is where I proposed to your mother (a year later).

            David was grinning as he told me the story and then he winked, saying he did not tell his daughter everything. I was glad he had such a good trip. He really loved Spain – it was his first time there. He said the architecture in all the cities he visited was absolutely fabulous. He especially loved the construction of one 13th century mosque, in particular.

            Amanda Kelly came up from St. Louis to meet David and brought her friend Brynn. They had a total blast meeting and chatting with David. Amanda bought several pictures and got a great hug from David. They then floated off to enjoy the rest of the con. David was also popular with the press corps, which was there en masse on Friday.

            Debbie and Darleen showed up about mid-afternoon. They had come up from New Jersey and were making up for missing David on Sunday last year at Chiller. Debbie used to work for a photo dealer in New York City and has quite a collection. She gave David two photos from The Fly and The Enemy Below that were not common. David was particularly taken with the Fly photo - which was an outtake of him holding Charles Herbert while taking direction from Kurt Neumann. David said that photo “really took him back.”

            Another female fan was so excited to (finally) meet David; she couldn’t stop bouncing up and down. The more attention she got from David, the more she bounced. She finally stilled when he put his arm around her for a picture. Then she bounced off, totally thrilled and happy. David said he wished he had more like her.

            David saw my net book for the first time on Friday. It was slow, so I brought it out so he could check his e-mail. He couldn’t get over how small it was (10 inches) and wanted to know how it worked. I think he wants one. I didn’t bring the power cord as I had no place to plug it in, but I assured him the net book worked the same way as his larger Mac.

            I made him tea. I brought him half and half, which was all my hotel had and he used it, but he wanted milk. So Saturday I made sure I found him milk. Actually, you don’t make David tea, you go find him hot water (and milk), steep the tea (he only drinks Lipton – so I usually bring that, since I can’t always find it) for five minutes before you hand it to him, then you give him one sugar and the milk, stirrers and something to dump the tea bag in (a second empty cup) and let him fix it.

            David said he really needed the tea on Saturday. It helped him get through the long afternoon to six PM, when he left to have dinner with his daughter. I had showed David I had food for him. He asked for one of my chewy granola bars to have with his Friday tea, so I let him pick one out of the bag. Saturday he brought his own bar (for lunch). It was very impressive. Handmade in San Francisco, the wrapper proclaimed. My granola bars came from Target. David ate them anyway, with his tea, all three days.

            I asked David if he was happy with the contract that the Screen Actors Guild had finally agreed to. He said it was a start and he hoped that the negotiations next year would go better with less acrimony. I had to agree with him there. I enjoy talking to David about his work. We had a really good discussion Friday about many things in the late afternoon after business slowed down.

            David told me he had begun his work (again) with the Foreign film committee for the Oscars. There are four groups that screen entries for the foreign film nomination and that he had picked his group for this year. In fact, David missed a screening to attend the con, but will make it up. He said he will probably watch at least 20 films between now and the end of the year.

            Speaking of the Oscars, I was pleased to inform David that the Academy library had purchased a copy of our book, The Fly at Fifty. I teasingly told him that someone at the Academy must really like him, because they would have no idea who I was (the author). David’s been a member of the Academy for years, I wasn’t that surprised when I saw their location listed as owning our book. He also said the Actor’s Studio West was starting up again and he was looking forward to working with the young actors. I also plan to keep David busy finishing off our book on his Five Fingers TV series by the end of the year.

            Saturday we were there bright and early, but a lot of people were in line with timed tickets and we had to wait for the lines to go down before we started selling. David had a good mix of Voyage and Fly fans.

            UFragTV came over at 11 AM, as promised and took David down the floor to be streamed live from the con. They wanted him, for the interview, it looked like they were Bond fans. We got a few, they mostly brought their own items to have signed, but I did sell a few on the really nice Felix portrait David has. We sold quite a bit more Fly than I expected to, there was a lot of interest there. I would often sell both a photo and a book, or they would one of David’s lobby cards. One fan brought David a picture taken at the Boston con last year and paid David to sign it. Another brought him three different Irwin Allen cards, including the card that a swatch from one of his shirts in it.

            There was a very polite brother and sister pair who stopped to buy a Voyage photo for their father. They assured David that their Dad was a huge fan. So David writes on the photo, “Why aren’t you here?”

            David wore his hearing aids on Saturday after doing without them on Friday. So he kept telling both John and I to “pipe down” as he could hear us now. He was nice about it, telling us he has to remind Bridget to stop yelling at him, too. He said she says, “Oh, you have your ears in” and then lowers her voice. It took me a little while to modulate mine. I’m used to talking up to him. The wrestlers had a megaphone down the row from us and David hated the feedback he got in his left ear from both that and the PA system.

             John came back to the table around three 3 PM and said the Fire Marshall was controlling entry now; the building had maxed out. It didn’t seem that crowded to me, the only place there was gridlock was around the exit – where (you guessed it) – the Star Trek guests (and the bathroom) was...

            David was flipping through my Fly book late in the day. Since I knew he had already read it, I promised to bring him my “airplane” book to read on Sunday. I had Heat Wave by Richard Castle with me. I figured it David could read The Da Vinci Code; he wouldn’t have any trouble with this one.

            I let him check his e-mail again and we chatted on and off between sales until time for him to go to dinner. I tried to help him on with his heavy pea coat, but he shrugged it on himself, picked up his umbrella and was off, saying he would find his own cab. David is very self-sufficient. Most of the time he wants to do everything himself.

            David introduced me to his agent Saturday afternoon. Nice man. I was about to say hello, when, naturally, someone wanted a picture signed. So he got to see firsthand how we work. I apologized and then introduced myself. David asked the agent how he was going to get home. He said he’d walk down and catch the bus. David commiserated that the con hotel he was in wasn’t near that bus and he was stuck taking cabs.

            I waited until the guy left and turned to David. “You ride the bus?”  David looked back at me and said, “I love the bus.” I have to admit, having ridden the bus in New York City several times, they do have very good bus service.  

            A photographer from Wikipedia came up to the table and told David he didn’t care for the picture someone (from the San Francisco con) had posted up there and asked if he could take a better one. David took off his glasses for that one. It’s up on Wikipedia now and looks quite good. David also had his picture taken by contactmusic and wireimage. The con was covered by all the major news outlets and wire services, including AP and Reuters.

            The weather was slightly better on Saturday, it was cold and windy, but not raining all that much, so the people standing in line waiting to get in weren’t that miserable. It was fine, if you dressed for it. It was warmer on Sunday, but the wind and the rain were worse. Go figure.

            We found out Saturday not to wait until the con closed to find a cab. There were none to be had, so we walked the 8 blocks back to the hotel. We decided to have Italian food for a change. It was good, if expensive. Then again, it was New York.

            We showed up when the doors opened on Sunday to cover the table for David, who we told not to come until noon. The con was filling up by the time he arrived and we started selling. Dori showed up about 1 PM for her visit with David. He was glad to see her. She bought one of our new pictures and I gave her another one of a kind shot for her to have him sign for her restaurant wall. Dori was glad she only had to drive two hours to see David this time. She has driven much further in the past. It’s always good to see Dori.

            It was cold and drafty in the hall on Sunday and David wanted his scarf. I draped it over his shoulders and he promptly took it off, folded it deftly and swung it around his neck. He explained that he didn’t want to look like an old granny.

            I then gave David my book to read and he was content to do so, until he had a customer. I tried to take a picture of him reading and he asked me, without looking up, what I was doing. I asked him not to move and let me finish taking the picture. He notices everything.

            David stayed until it become apparent business was not going to pick up. Most of the autograph area participants had already left, when we bundled David into his pea coat and said good-bye. I walked with David to get a cab. He saw one pull up out the door and decided to grab it. I never thought I’d be running after an 82 year old! But by the time we exited the hall, the cab had left with someone else. So I stayed with David until another one pulled in. David gave me a good hug goodbye and I let him get settled in the seat, before I shut the door. He had told me he was going uptown to meet an old friend.

            When I got back to the table, Amanda and Brynn were there. They had seen us running for the cab and decided not to get run over. I told her, next time, ask him to stop.

So you can, at least, say goodbye to him.

            So Amanda stayed a while and chatted, while I put out the autographed pictures David had left for me to sell. I sold some. Then Liz came by and we chatted until the con was over. Liz wanted to talk fanfic with me and it was a great way to close out the con. I sold all my books and some additional photos for David. I had a wonderful time signing books and helping David.     


Diane Kachmar