When/where was your first convention experience, what got you into the scene?
I was already riding my bike to the comic shops once a week, scanning TV Guide for old monster movies and was a first generation American Doctor Who fan from the Tom Baker PBS days so I think I was always ‘in it’. I was AWARE of conventions but the closest I’d gotten was that episode of Wonder Woman that took place at con (before he passed I had a fun discussion with Rene Auberjonois about filming that episode) and it just seemed like a circus that was never going to come to my town. In 1983 my mom was thumbing through the newspaper and came across an article about a science fiction convention going on in Miami called Omincon with a pic of a guy dressed as Tom Baker’s Doctor and she asked if I wanted to go, she was a passive fan of all that stuff and I think she was as curious as I was. We went and had a blast, saw Peter Davison the 5th and then currant Doctor Who at the time. I also got HIRED shortly after I got there, mind you they had me go through the hotel sliding flyers under the doors but my first con experience was also my first con gig as well.
When and how did you first get into hosting panels, and what was the topic/theme/guest of your very first?
Between doing standup at cons with the Geeks Of Comedy & doing discussion panels with the crew of MarkWho42 (a Doctor Who podcast) I just always told promoters I was available if they needed any help, eventually some moderator got stuck in traffic and I got thrown on stage with Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy and I lucked out because he really is such a kind man and after that experience I felt encouraged to keep dabbling with it.
Are there any questions you’ll never ask a guest?
I’m not there to pry into personal psyche of the guests as much as celebrate their professional achievements with their fans, so I never ask personal stuff but… I’ll give your readers this: I don’t ask original casts of movies/TV shows what they think of re-makes and I don’t ask the cast of a re-make what they think of the original, I think it’s a very uncomfortable question. I’ll also never ask “Did you know XXX was going to be a success while you were making it?” If an audience member asks that 99% of the time the answer is ‘no’ but I’ll usually follow it up by asking “So when did you begin to realize that XXX was exceeding expectations?” that usually sparks some interesting recollections.
Attendance wise, what’s been the biggest live panel you’ve moderated so far (please include what show it was at and who it was with and throw in a little detail about it)?
This may be a cop-out but I’m also an emcee and I host a lot of the main event costume contests for my clients and those tend to be the ‘biggest’ in terms of audience energy. I adore hosting the contests because you have ALL the fandoms: anime, sci-fi, comics, movies, western animation and everything else in one giant room celebrating their fandoms as well as each others!
What’s been your most memorable guest panel moment so far?
As I said earlier in 1983 my Mom took me to Miami to see Doctor Who on stage. In 2017 it was my turn to take my Mom to Miami to see me on stage WITH Doctor Who and that hour with Peter Capaldi was wonderful!
During many live panels there are question and answer segments, which you also moderate. What are some general rules or protocol all attendees should know when stepping up to the mic?
I invite audiences to ask their questions, but I also remind not make requests for stuff like hugs, talking in cartoon character voices, shout outs, endorsements, reading your spec script, sampling your home made hot sauce etc. If I have more than one guest one stage then I’ll ask the audience out of respect to direct their questions to the entire panel and not just an individual. I also remind them that since I’m down there holding the mic and I’ll gladly help them expand their question to fit the whole group if they are stuck trying to phrase it.
What sort of panels do you like attending when you aren’t working?
I like to haunt discussion & lecture panels focused on topics considered obscure even by con standards. For decades people have always asked me what I look for at cons and my answer has always been: “I’m looking for things I never knew existed!” whether in the panel rooms or the vendor halls I love learning about the new & the weird!
During the pandemic with in-person shows postponed and canceled you ended up shifting to an online Zoom-type version of online panels. Tell me about that transition in some detail. Were you doing any online ones pre-pandemic? How many have you done so far?
There is a reason I introduce every virtual event with “Welcome friends and fans to Galaxycon Live, where we are bringing the convention experience directly to you!” We do a free online LIVE Q&A with autograph options including the ability to send in your own items as well as one-to-one virtual chats with the celebs! This not only filled the void for folks who missed the physical shows but also allowed people GLOBALLY who don’t have access or the ability to attend conventions to have this virtual experience. It’s also given me the opportunity to work with large cast reunions that logistically couldn’t work for in-person shows and to host convention guests on the virtual platform that do not require hosts on physical stages such as William Shatner and Jon Barrowman.
Are you making a living at panels now, or is there a day job aside from panel hosting, and what other projects or hobbies are you into these days?
I now have have a day gig with Galaxycon in an office capacity along with being an event host. I was an Equity actor at Disney World for 14 years doing the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor show & did some Imagineering projects. I was the scratch track voice of C-3PO, for the Disney parks. I’m the voice of Benny the Spider Monkey, the official mascot of the Kalihari Water resort chain and they sell merchandise of him so I can claim to be a plushy! Hobby wise? I collect action figures from various IP/franchises I enjoy but I’m not a completest and I take them out of the box to play with…wait…I mean DISPLAY!