Fear In Texas: My First Texas Frightmare Weekend. By Cake Blissken
I received a phone call at exactly 3:33am, on May 4th, 2018. A man’s voice began rambling, telling me “I had to be in Austin, Texas today.” It sounded urgent. He had something to show me, that would change my life forever. I took down the time and place. I really do love a great mystery. I prayed it wouldn’t be another guessing game of “Who’s on the other side of the glory hole”. I was now on a mission. Not a mission from god, but the devil himself.
I left Phoenix, Arizona that morning, by airplane, headed to Austin to meet this mysterious man. A man with a past. A dark past. He said his name was Rainbolt and he told me a storm was moving in. A really bad storm. I asked “Just Rainbolt?” He replied “Yes, like Madonna.” Our mission was simple, drive from Austin to Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) to attend my first ever Texas Frightmare Weekend (TFW) and find the elusive Clive Barker.
The Texas Frightmare Weekend was celebrating its 13th year of all things horror. You don’t get to that point, unless you’re doing something right. Some of this years special guests included cast members from the new IT, Hellraiser, Child’s Play and the men that played horror icon Jason in the Friday the 13th movies.
We gathered our supplies and loaded Rainbolt’s car. A 1958 cherry red Plymouth Fury convertible. We had one suitcase between us loaded with 3 bags of Ketchup Doritos, 2 bottles of Slow and Low whiskey, 1 pair of black ankle socks, 1 toothbrush, 1 slightly used copy of Birdemic on VHS and a bottle of Brut Faberage for men.
Rainbolt pleaded to add his mouthwash, but I told him that’s what the Brut was for. Besides, there was no more room. Accompanying us, was Rainbolt’s handler, her name was Tracy, but they called her “One way.” She only did things one way, her way! She was a nurse who had an assortment of pharmaceuticals, a sailor’s mouth, a service dog named Peggy Sue and a .22 pistol with magnum rounds. We were all set. Tracy cranked up the radio and Debbie Deb started us off singing…Look out weekend, cause, here I come. Because weekends were, made for fun.
We hopped on I-35 and headed north towards Dallas. Morale was high, but lasted less than 15 minutes (That’s what she said!). We were engulfed by a massive storm. Hard charging rain, thunder and lightning pounded us nonstop. Lots of brake lights. Traffic slowed to a crawl. Off to a bad start!
We pushed through, eventually, the storm moved east and the sky cleared up. We played a game of cows and cemeteries. We discussed the odds of Kevin Spacey and Corey Feldman co-starring in a horror movie together. And then, we saw a giant beaver. We stopped at Buc-ee’s for gas and so much more! Beaver Nuggets anyone? Also, known on the street as Beaver Crack! You’re next addiction, guaranteed!
After hours on the road, we finally arrived. We entered the DFW airport through the tollbooth and proceeded to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Yes, TFW is at the airport! Check in was a breeze and the hotel staff was amazing. We grabbed something to eat in the lobby restaurant. Employees were dressed up as zombies, murder victims and cereal killers (yes, that cereal). Our waitress had a box of Cheerios with a plastic knife through it hanging from her neck.
Her name was Deb. She was a sweetheart. She was an older God fearing woman with short hair, glasses and a black bandanna tied around her forehead. She was at the end of her shift and worn out. She gave us great advice about getting room service faster. She would be working the early morning shift and told us we may see her if we ordered breakfast.
We headed down stairs to mingle. The frights didn’t start until 6pm Friday night. Fans were already in line waiting for the doors to open. VIP’s got in an hour early. Some cosplay characters began showing up, entertaining the guest with photo opportunities. A buzz was in the air. It turned out to be just a fly near my ear. Someone screamed “It’s happening people!”
The doors opened, and the convention rooms began swallowing the fans into them. We entered the Made In Texas Room first. You had booths for Tobin Bell and actor Costas Mandylor from the Saw franchise to the left. The room expanded into rows of booths including special guests, horror merchandise, carnivorous plants and artists.
Front and center were Austin’s own Mondo booth featuring another round of killer movie posters. Rob Jones and Mitch Putnam were on hand. And we can’t forget Matt “cool hair” Hardeman. A couple of guest artists in attendance were Sara Deck with husband Josh and Matt Ryan Tobin, who both had new artwork to sell. Next to them were artists Gary Pullin and Jason Edmiston who, I finally got to meet in person. Super talented nice guys!
As we mingled through the crowds, we saw actors Ethan Embry, looking jacked, Tommy Flanagan, the IT kiddies, Robert Kovacs Bronzi (Charles Bronson lookalike), Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince (Who I shared an elevator ride with), Simon Bamford and Barbie Wilde. We tried to find Clive Barker, but he was in a private room somewhere, from what I heard. But, the most important question I had was, Where the hell was Ashley Laurence? We also saw wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and of course Matthew Lillard, who’s very tall in person. Lots of guests, lots of fun!
But wait, there’s more!!! (Matthew Lillard saliva slurp).
We headed across the hallway where more fans began to saturate the area. More cool costumes! We entered the Enterprise Room and started things off with cast members from the Child’s Play franchise. There was Brad and Fiona Dourif, Christine Elise, Alex Vincent and more. We worked our way down the room, checking out more delicious horror swag and art. We ran into artist Timothy Pittides, who was selected to do the TFW official event poster this year. He was very gracious and a very cool dude.
We headed further down the aisles running into Rainbolt’s favorite smelling lady, Kitty Korvette. There was Shudder Horror, who promised their new film Revenge would deliver the goods! Next to them was the one and only Adrienne Barbeau. Yes!!! Looking amazing with a smile that lit up the venue!
And then it happened…Billy Zane!!!
Wearing a cowboy hat slightly tilted on his dome and what appeared to be old school BluBlocker sunglasses, he came across as one smooth fucking operator. I heard a girl tell her friend she got pregnant once by standing too close to him.
Something kept poking me from behind. When I turned, I noticed Rainbolt was now wearing a Chindo. He had the thousand yard stare, his mouth was open and he was drooling slightly. It sounded like he was muttering the name Cal Hockley from the movie Titanic over and over. He may have gotten too close to Billy. One way Tracy threw a pill in his mouth and he eventually stopped drooling.
We ascended upstairs to the 9th floor by elevator. Someone had abandoned copies of Hustler and Penthouse magazines in the hallway. Rainbolt decided it would be a good idea to put them in my room. I checked for any pages stuck together, smelling carefully and was a tad disappointed there were none. I threw them on my desk, not thinking of the consequences of my actions.
We ended up ordering pizza from Giovanni’s Pizzeria. It turned out to be a bad idea. Very disappointing! Rabbit turd sausage, really? Most surprisingly, was that I did not blow out my o-ring the next day.
We called it an early evening and prepared to get a good night’s rest for the big Saturday crowd. I woke up very early and decided to order breakfast. Service was faster than I expected. There was a light knock on the door and to my pleasant surprise, it was Deb.
Good morning she said in a very chipper mood. I have an amazing breakfast for you. She entered my room, walking past me with the tray of deliciousness. She asked where she should put it down and before I could answer her, she said “The desk.” She moved faster than I thought and as I watched her head towards it, I realized the nudie magazines were right there waiting for her.
Everything went into slow motion, as I raced to beat her there. She paused for just a second, staring right at a page of an extreme close up of a woman’s well manicured fingers spreading her vagina wider than the Grand Canyon. I said “Hold on, let me move those!” in a panicked voice, as I flung the magazines so hard, they hit the wall. She handed me the bill in silence and made sure she pointed to the tip line. Awkward!!!
We attacked day 2, shuffling from room to room, taking in more of the macabre. More art, more merch and more special guests! We saw the brawn of the actors who played Jason in the Friday the 13th movies, including Kane Hodder, C.J. Graham and Steve Dash. Clayguy.com had a bunch of really cool and unique figures for sale. Chris Garofalo, a newcomer to TFW and poster artist, was cracking me up with his unique sense of humor. Someone crop dusted near the Blade mannequin and Father Evil proclaimed “I can smell your sins!”
We saw the original Hellboy Ron Perlman, the lovely Shawnee Smith and Mischa Barton promoting two new films. Multi-talented Lyle Blackburn was hanging out with his signature black cowboy hat. Shane Miner was in the trenches, spreading the word on his new podcast, Death Locker. There were photo ops, guest panels, screenings and “how to” seminars. The fans were loving everything and I was loving their unique take on their favorite horror icons. My favorite of the day was blacklight Jason and the buffed speedo wearing Michael Myers. You just couldn’t look away!
Editors note*** The following may or may not have happened.
A kid dressed as the new Pennywise got in the way of Tom Savini trying to walk down one of the rows. His red balloons brushed against Tom’s mustache, causing a single hair to pop out of place. He paused for just a split second, then slashed his balloons with a switchblade he pulled from his back pocket. As he walked away, he muttered under his breath, “Don’t mess with Sex Machine, kid!”
Then things got really interesting.
A promo card for a new movie called Midnight Devils, co-starring Michael Berryman, who is known in the horror community from a bunch of movies, including the original The Hills Have Eyes, were being handed out. On the back, written in gold sharpie was Free Beer, Room 333, 9:30.
We headed over to investigate. We got off the elevator on the 3rd floor and to our surprise, no one was in the hotel hallway. We went down to Room 333 and knocked. The door appeared to open by itself. It was dark inside. A mans voice invited us in. A faint blue light came on under his chin. Holy shit, it’s Clive Barker!
I geeked out. “Oh my god, Mr. Barker, I’m a huge fan! Would it be possible for you to sign my Hellraiser poster I designed?” “Absolutely not, I’m more of a Florian Bertmer guy.” He replied. “Well, that sucks! How about a beer then?” “No, no free beer!”
“But, the card said free beer”, an annoyed Rainbolt said. Clive stated that it was a front to get people into this room. “You see, I’m dying and”…he paused, looking at Rainbolt curiously. “Is that a Chindo?” “Oh, is that still on there?” Rainbolt asked.
Clive then proceeded to tell us that he needs the flesh of others to live forever. He pulled out the Hellraiser puzzle box and began to manipulate it. The room began to shake. An ominous blue light began to light up the room. The sounds of rattling chains echoed in the distance. Then a loud boom went off, then another and another. The room went back to normal.
One way Tracy was standing there, her .22 pistol’s barrel was exhaling smoke. Peggy Sue still had her paws covering her ears. “Holy shit!” I screamed. “You destroyed the puzzle box and killed Clive Barker!” Tracy stood there for a few seconds, turned towards me and said “This ain’t my first rodeo! Besides, that’s only Clive’s signing double.”
We headed back downstairs for more drinks and mingling. We couldn’t wait to tell people about what happened in Room 333. The night came alive on the convention level floor where people gathered for the hit or miss sounds of scary karaoke. It was a fun crowd, mixing guests, artists, actors and people still in costume. The music was pumping and green lasers were flashing to the beat. Everyone was having a great time!
I stood on the dance floor watching a woman take it up a notch with a rousing rendition of Sir Mix Alot’s “Baby Got Back.” As the crowd got into it, dancing and singing along, a motionless figure caught my attention from the corner of my left eye. As I turned, it was a guy dressed as Michael Myers, still holding his prop knife, standing there perfectly still. No, not weird at all.
Then, without warning, all the power went off. We were in total darkness. A faint blue light illuminated the face of a man. You could here someone ask, “Is that Clive Barker?”
A huge thank you to Loyd Cryer for the last minute Press help and the rest of the Texas Frightmare Weekend 2018 crew for being so amazing again this year!
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