Monday, September 14, 2015

ScareFest 2015

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I made the two and a half hour trip to Lexington, Kentucky to visit the country's largest horror and paranormal convention---ScareFest! I hadn't been to ScareFest since before Luke was born, so I was really looking forward to it! ScareFest, which is owned and operated by Patti Star, the president of Ghost Chasers International, is in its 8th year. It seems like in the past, every time I wanted to go, we had something else planned that weekend or something else prevented us from going, but this year nothing was stopping us!

The trip up was pretty uneventful except for some rain. It cleared up for awhile, but as soon as we got out of the car at the Lexington Center parking lot, it started raining again. Getting soaked was NOT a great start to the day. Anyway, we got there around noon, with the first speaker we planned on seeing starting at 12:30pm. We planned on attending a talk by Ben Hansen, from SyFy's Fact or Faked, called "Profiling the Hoaxers: Eliminating the Hoaxers from the Truly Unexplained."

Unfortunately, Ben's presentation relied heavily on the PowerPoint presentation that he prepared and there was NO SCREEN in this particular room.  Apparently there HAD been a screen, but it was moved and misplaced the night before during a wedding rehearsal. Ben also had NO MIC, which wasn't a huge problem in this particular room, but a performance was going on in the lobby at the same time involving very loud music.  At this point, I was getting frustrated, so I can't imagine how Ben felt.  Still, he turned it around and pulled off a wonderful discussion. Even without the actual photograph/video examples his presentation was educational and entertaining as he spoke about his background, different investigations presented on the show, book recommendations, and how easily a hoaxer can be caught---just by talking to him/her IN PERSON. Ben really stressed the importance of interviewing people face to face, since so much of our communication is done non-verbally.

I was quite content with what was presented, but due to the snafu, Ben agreed to reschedule for later that evening, for anyone wanting to see the full presentation later on in a different room, which I thought was very gracious of him.  And, on a personal note---he's just as cute in person as he is on television!  He just seems like a funny, smart, and overall sweet kind of guy. I probably could have stuck around and fan-girled for awhile, but we had to move on to the next presentation.

We arrived at the American Horror Story panel a few minutes before it started, so we got stuck in the back. It made seeing a little hard and honestly I watched most of the discussion through the giant phone the chick in front of me was holding up, recording with.  Still, our location gave us a chance to get a first glimpse of the crew waiting outside the room to be introduced. Again, I felt a twinge of fangirl crop up when Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), Naomi Grossman, Matt Fraser, Jamie Brewer, Rose Siggins, and of course, Jyoti Amge came in.

I've been a huge fan of American Horror Story since the first season, but Aaron only started watching it with me during Freakshow and fell in love with little Ma Petite (Jyoti Amge). In fact, I think Jyoti was the big draw for a LOT of people, as most of the people we were sitting near were discussing her before the show.  I thought it was hilarious how she keeps insisting that people don't treat her like a baby, yet whenever she spoke (she had someone interpreting for her) the whole audience let out a collective 'Awww!,' me included, lol. You just couldn't help it---she was absolutely adorable and Aaron and I agreed that she looks much tinier in person. But, the entire panel was extremely interesting to listen to...and kinda dirty, lol. The orgy scene kept coming up, and apparently a few members of the cast had had some previous experience!

Naomi sort of led the pack, but each member present had plenty to say, and said it very well. Before Freakshow even aired, I was fairly familiar with most of the people on the panel, having read about them, or watched documentaries or other shows they'd been in.  Still, it was definitely cool to hear them in person discuss their experiences on the show, but also what they had been doing AFTER the show. One touching moment came when a fan asked about people with different disabilities and different issues relating to and looking up to the cast members and Matt told a story about a little boy he had recently met who had the same physical disability as he did.  He was able to connect with this little boy, but he was also able to talk with his parents and give them advice and tips on things the little boy would be experiencing, how best to deal with those things, and how to make day to day activities a little easier.

After that, we took a quick break for lunch in the convention center's food court. I had chicken strips and fries and Aaron had a hamburger from Sunset Strips. It was a disappointing meal, but was enough to sustain us for the next few events. Following lunch, we headed back to see Josh Gates, formerly of Destination Truth.

The line to get in to see Josh's presentation, which was simply titled "Destination Truth with Josh Gates", literally wrapped down one side of the hallway and down the next. I honestly didn't think we'd get a seat, but miraculously, there was plenty of room for everyone. Again, being seated toward the door, we got the first glimpse of Josh waiting in the hall to be introduced. In the past, I had heard that Josh can kind of be a jerk to people when he's 'off the clock,' but I guess since he was being paid at the time, none of that shone through, lol. He was actually a really likable, really hilarious guy to listen to.

His talk was set up as a Q and A session, and the audience had plenty to ask, especially about his many, many travels. Much of what he talked about I had either seen on his shows or read in his book, but his skills as a story-teller made it just a really unique, fun experience. And yes, like Ben Hansen, he was definitely a cutie in person.

Immediately following Josh's discussion, we headed upstairs again to see the Fright Night panel. When Aaron and I were looking over the schedule of events, planning on what to see and do, he mentioned that he really enjoyed the movie. I had never seen Fright Night, so we decided to watch it together...and I was hooked. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the film and it was a real treat to hear William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys talk about their experiences. As an added bonus, director Tom Holland was there via Skype. The crowd was a little thinner than it was for AHS, so our seats were good and Aaron even got to ask a question about working with Roddy McDowell that elicited a wonderful response from everyone on the panel.

By the time that panel was over, it was 6pm and we were getting tired and hungry, but we weren't done yet! We spent about an hour going through all the vendor booths and took home some awesome goodies. We bought Luke a plush Bat Girl and two t-shirts. I picked up a book from C-Bus Paranormal and a RHPS Riff Raff Funko figure. Aaron picked up a few gift items, and we got mom an answer mat to use with her pendulum.  The vendor floor was over double what it had been during our first visit over 6 years ago, but I think we at least got to see everything once. There were some really cool props, stilt walkers, plenty of people wearing crazy awesome costumes, tattoo artists and body piercers, celebrities, paranormal teams, and more.

Overall, I had a great time, even though things started out a little rocky. There were so many other seminars I wanted to attend and speakers I wanted to hear, but there just wasn't enough time to fit everything in. I also would have liked to have focused more on the paranormal side of the conference, but since I was with Aaron, I tried to make sure we did things that would interest him as well---and I don't regret it. Both horror panels we went to were fabulous.  Hopefully, we'll be back again next year!

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