the secret art of fandom

Twelve or thirteen years ago, when my wife and I were still “rookies” if you will, we were introduced to the secret arts of a religious practice called “fandom”. Essentially, fandom is when you worship the stars, authors, musicians, artists, etc. from a certain television show, movie, book, work of art, etc. so much that it takes over a percentage of your life that you devote almost solely to that fandom.

My introduction to fandom came with the first concert I ever went to without parental supervision. I went to a festival concert the day after I graduated high school and ended up meeting some great musicians that I had been a fan of for a bit of time. I hadn’t ever had a real “fan and person they are a fan of” experience prior to that. I had been a part of the Children’s Miracle Network telethon locally when my sister was featured as a “spokeschild”. I met some professional wrestlers and local news personalities at that event, but no one I really cared about. I certainly didn’t “connect” with them.

Once I started down the road to fandom, I got a bigger push in the direction of “superfan” when on my birthday, depressed, in 1997, I found poe.org and met Poe, the musician whose debut cd I had just bought used at Haffa’s Records in Athens, OH for only $1, in the chatroom there. In April of that year, I went on a road trip where other Poe fans picked me up at a local Burger King and we travelled south to Richmond and Washington, DC for two Poe shows on the same day. I met a big group of Poe fans at those events including my future wife.

That’s right, fandom brought me love and happiness… that’s what this religious experience can do for you.

Once we started dating, my collective fandom (Doctor Who, Star Wars, comics, music, etc.) and my wife’s fandom (Buffy, VR.5, music, Bill and Ted, etc.) joined forces. This caused a major rift in the space-time continuum that has allowed us to show up in Los Angeles on the sidewalk in front of Golden Apple Comics today with approximately ten people in front of us, eight hours before a fandom related event. This being after driving all night from San Francisco after a full work day and checking in to our hotel at 2:30am. We’ll do it all again, less a lot of the driving when we come back via JetBlue on September 30 to see Vienna Teng at Hotel Cafe. We’ve done it countless other times as well since 1997. We’ve basically become professional line sitters and convention room campers. We’ve gotten very good at it.

This evening’s event is a Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles screening/meet and greet/Q&A. It is being advertised locally by Indie 103.1 and is being held here in Hollywood at Golden Apple Comics. Shirley Manson of Garbage, Thomas Dekker, who has the webmaster of Dekker_Daily in line ahead of us (He played in a television show called Heroes and has a band and other stuff), Brian Austin Green (the annoying kid from 90210), Garret Dillahunt (some dude that now plays a Terminator), Richard T. Jones (a really cool guy based on the Comic-Con panel, but I don’t know what else he has been in) and two other people will be here at approximately 5pm. We’ll screen Monday night’s episode (rumored to be an outdoor screening, which should be interesting) and then the cast member meet and greet and Q&A will occur. Almost all of this is things we’ve each already done before with similar casts and in my case, the same cast at Comic-Con just a month and a half ago.

We do this because we have built a connection to these people.

Since I started writing this half an hour ago, my wife has brought us breakfast from Pink’s hot dogs. I had a nice side of bacon (four pieces) and she had a Mulholland Dog. Three more people have lined up behind us. That makes us a lucky 14 or 15. I’m typing this from a Coleman Camping Chair on my EeePC, which the people in line ahead of us asked about and I politely demonstrated its infinite power.

Fandom caused me to wait in line last November 1 to get an EeePC the second it was released at Central Computers. There were only three of us, counting my wife and I, in line for that one. The store employees were very perplexed when they unlocked the doors and we burst in demanding to deplete their stock of the “underpowered and overpriced” by their own terms, computers.

Before we left the hotel this morning to make the long (1 mile) trek down N. La Brea to Melrose, I made a post to the Repo-Opera.com forum. Actually several posts, to try to get the Northern California fans to meet up next week so that I can distribute promotional materials to them. Another part of fandom is the commitment to spread the word to build the group of fans into a swarm big enough to get a movie in a larger amount of markets in the case of Repo, or to get a $90 million dollar motion picture greenlighted and in theaters, in the case of something like Serenity.

Serenity was a big deal for us a few years back. I posted a lot about it in this very blog, so I’m not going to bore you with the details. I will say this, Serenity/Firefly fans are not like your typical Joss Whedon (he also did Buffy, Angel, Sugarshock, Fray, etc.) fans. The “Browncoats” as they call themselves have this huge sense of entitlement. They feel that they are solely responsible for the above-mentioned $90 million motion picture event. In essence, they are. However, they don’t have to be so snobby and stuck up about it. I was a fan of Serenity. Saw it many times in theaters, ended up in a few frames of a promotional dvd for it, met some of the cast at multiple events, got my picture taken with one of the gods of fandom, Joss Whedon at Comic-Con and much more. We invested a lot of our time into Serenity. It was a fun ride.

The following year was the release of Only Revolutions, the second novel by Mark Danielewski, brother of Poe. We traveled all over the country as a part of our fandom and shared a lot of the experiences via YouTube and markzdanielewski.info.

Back in 2002, we also started devoting a lot of our time to an artist who has become an actual friend of ours because we’ve seen her so often. We discovered Vienna Teng through a friend who was on the Poe mailing list at Poe’s second to last concert, a charity event for RAINN. She mentioned Vienna’s name and a few months later, my wife recognized the name on a flyer at a local Borders. We’ve since seen Vienna on both coasts and places in the middle of the US. My family has seen Vienna more in the past five years than they have seen me. We work on web promotions, street teams and even got to record video and photographic footage while Vienna and friends were recording parts of her fourth album.

All of this is due to the secret art of fandom. We’ve mostly perfected it at this point and it will continue to be a part of our lives for a long time to come.

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