Welcome to my nightmare. Entombed in the Orange County Convention Center, I'm searching for "FX 2003 -- The Collector's Toy, Comic & Fantasy Convention" -- and rattling with anxiety. You see, if there are three words I would name my children as a curse, were I forced to reproduce, they would be "Toy," "Comic" and "Fantasy."
But I must shed my hatred of Asian sex-comics and sword-wielding dwarves, for I am to meet an icon. Ladies and gentlemen, Linda Blair.
My unlikely attraction to Blair faded sometime around "Roller Boogie" and the advent of Lisa Whelchel. But it has recently been relit by Blair's fantastic-beyond-truth episode of "E! True Hollywood Story." Rick James and Rick Springfield! Do you know what she did, your cunting daughter? (Due props to her "Exorcist" character, Regan, for turning "cunt" into a verb.) I have come to hell to meet Linda Blair. Only it's not happening.
Upon my arrival at what is essentially the Barbie Convention for Men, I'm greeted by a black-cowboy-hat of a man named Bruce.
"Should I just approach her people, then?" I fidget beneath his brim.
"Yes," he smirks, ominously. "I think you'll find her people very approachable."
Immediately, I'm pawned off on a vendor who doubles as the media director for the show, apparently because he's selling old copies of Rolling Stone Magazine.
"I'm the self-described 'media whore,'" he slimes.
No, that's me. "Um, do you have the Duran Duran cover from 1984?" I slip into convention zealotry.
"I already sold it," he frowns. "But I do have an autograph from the last concert they performed together as their original lineup, Live Aid."
Give me Linda.
But Linda's gone to lunch, presumably to dine on tofu and devil vomit (she's an avid vegan these days, complete with an unnecessary, instructional book, Going Vegan!). She perks back to the booth some 15 minutes later.
I lean toward a woman who must be one of Blair's handlers. Then I introduce myself as myself, only nicer.
"Great!" she chirps. "And this is Doug Bradley."
So I do the same song and dance to Mr. Bradley, feeling one step closer to Lady Linda. But Mr. Bradley's face goes white, and the rep laughs at me. "No, this is Mr. Doug Bradley, from the "Hellraiser" series of movies. He thought you might want to profile him, too!"
Well, um, no. But in order to stay in the vicinity of Blair's evil eyes, I agree. Except I haven't seen any of the "Hellraiser" movies, and short of making cheap acupuncture jokes to somebody named "Pinhead," I have no questions. Let's wing it, shall we?
"So, er, conventions!" I cough. "Do you chase these opportunities down?"
"No, I wait for the contacts to come to me. I certainly don't chase them," he acts all offended. "But I've been doing conventions now for, well, coming up on 14 years. And there's not a year gone by that I haven't done at least one."
I look over to Linda and swear that her head is spinning around while she's goo-gooing at a baby. Show off!
"Well, Mr. Bradley, do you still find yourself connecting with an audience so many years past the "Hellraiser" prime?"
"I felt about five or six years ago that it was starting to die down a little, but it's rocketed back up again in the past two years." Clearly he doesn't realize that the line here is for Linda Blair. "All he has is me."
By now Blair is climbing like a crab up the back wall, blue faced and hissing at frightened fans -- some dressed in Shazam and Spider-man costumes -- that she absolutely loves their affection "soooo much!" Bitch!
"And, um, Mr. Bradley. How long does it take to cover your head in pins?"
"It's getting faster. Early days was about five or six hours, then it settled down to about three or four."
Overhead booms superfluous news of the Tampa Bay football game occurring in another realm, wholly irrelevant to this one. Can you think of a situation in which game scores could be less important than a comic book/ horror-flick festival? Well, can you?
"Go Bucs!" burps Bradley, holding two limp fists up in what I can only hope is irony, although it could also be fatigue. "Uh, we just shot the seventh and eighth movies in Romania, and [getting pinheaded] is coming in at two hours now."
I wish I could tell you what Linda is doing now with the beloved crucifix, but it would just be too dirty! Just so you know, the words "fuck me Jesus" are involved. That's tame enough, right?
"Mr. Bradley," I exhaust myself. "Would you ever consider wearing your getup to one of these conventions?"
"No. It would be miserable."
I lean into the rep to gauge my chances with Blair, who by now is a frothing mess of post-coital, post-celebrity -- although still accepting $10 per autograph.
"Well, she's swamped," the rep lets me down easy.
Come on Toy, Comic and Fantasy! We're out of here!
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