Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wonderfest Photos by Joe Busam

My friend Joe Busam had a birthday yesterday and, princely fellow that he is, he gave me a present: a disc of the photos he took at this past weekend's Wonderfest, and his permission to use them here.

First series of photos: Let's call this THE FALL AND RISE OF THE RO-MAN EMPIRE.

This year's "Doctor Gangrene" show at Wonderfest was devoted to the campy ape-in-a-diver's-helmet opus ROBOT MONSTER. Bob Burns brought the actual helmet used in the 1953 space oddity and agreed to don it in a new portrayal of the legendary space invader, Ro-Man. Uh-oh, the helmet's antennae needs repair and the show is tonight! Nashville-based artist Ethan Black was summoned to Gary Prange's Old Dark Club House to put things right!

Success! Ethan celebrates a victorious reattachment by trying the legendary movie prop on for size!

Then everybody in the room got into the act, starting with Joe Busam...

... and then Monster Kid of the Year, Michael Schlesinger...

... and, of course, the host with the most, Gary Prange...

... and finally, Larry Thomas, who gave a real Ro-Man Holiday performance!

Bob Burns had to come down to the Old Dark Club House and knock some heads together, but he finally got Ro-Man's helmet back in time for the evening performance. He later told me that he couldn't see or hear a thing when he was wearing the helmet, but the audience went ape anyway.

Here's a shot that Joe took of this year's assembled Rondo Award winners. That's Rondo founder David Colton at the lectern on the right, and next to him, going right to left, are Frank Dietz (Best Artist); Michael Schlesinger (Monster Kid of the Year); the legendary Bernie Wrightson (Monster Kid Hall of Fame); Tim Lucas (Best Book and Best Writer... they said); Professor Emcee Square (Mark Menold), who accepted the Best Fan Event award for the Monroeville Mall Zombie Walk, which he organized; the lovely Penny Dreadful and her loopy sidekick Garou (Best Horror Hosts); Son of Ghoul; the Frankenstein monster (Tim Herron); and the original Jason from FRIDAY THE 13th, Ari Lehman (accepting for this year's Best Magazine choice, RUE MORGUE). Hall of Fame inductees Cortlandt Hull and Dennis Vincent of the Witch's Dungeon were also present but couldn't attend due to food poisoning! They were honored the following night at the Cook-out on Clavius banquet.

It's an Old Dark Club House tradition to get the elite few admitted into this dark domain in front of a camera for a group photo. I must admit I didn't get everyone's name, but going more or less left to right, I can identify: Larry Thomas, Chris Herzog, Harry Hatter, Lisa Herzog, Tim & Donna Lucas, Linda "Nurse Moan-eek" Wylie, Mike Schlesinger, Gary Prange, ? in suit and tie, Carrie Galloway, Donnie Waddell, Mike Parks, Danya Linehan, ? in front holding the decanter and signed ashtray, ? sitting next to Joe Busam, Joe Busam, Ethan Black and Dave Conover. This picture was taken by Frank Dietz, who's missing from the picture.

It is also an Old Dark Club House tradition to have everyone make a scary face for the camera. Frank Dietz -- now a movie star, incidentally -- can be found in the position previously occupied by Joe. I love the way Mike and Danya, standing on the right way in the back, look literally fused at the neck into a single two-headed being.
And finally, in the you-hadda-be-there department, here's a priceless still from one of Donnie Waddell's funniest performances:

Hello?
Hello?
Is somebody there?
Why do you keep ringing my phone? Don't you know it's after eleven?
Hello?
Hello?

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