5/2/02 - 5/5/02
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OK, now some of you may have heard tall tales of a little thing called SpatCon. What is it? Why was it held? How did it come to be? Got a minute? Let me tell you a little story...
A lot of people felt that Celebration 2 wasn't as much fun as it could have been. There were huge lines for EVERYTHING. To get an autograph you had to wait on a huge long line to buy an Autograph coupon, then you give that coupon to the actor in exchange for the autograph on an item you bring, or on the photo that the actor has been given by Lucas and Wizards to sell.
You couldn't even get into the Autograph area without a coupon. That means if you just wanted to walk through and see who was there, you couldn't.
Once in the Autograph area, you had to wait on line again to get to the actor.
Needless to say, some of the fans weren't happy.
On the actor's side, they worked really hard all day signing, were kept at a hotel 10 miles away from the Con, and only had a minibus taking them to the Con in the morning, and again when the Con was over. If they wanted to leave early, arrive late, or if they missed the bus, they had to take a Taxi which cost about $35.
Also, they were only allowed to sell photos that they were given. They couldn't sell their own photos, or photos from other films they may have been in.
Needless to say they weren't very happy either.
To make things even worst, there was really no Con Sponsored party at all that weekend. The only one that even came close was the one that the 501st sponsored at the Hyatt (which rocked, thanks guys!). So everyone spent the weekend complaining and wishing that someone would throw a cool party. Even I did.
Then I decided to do it. What did I have to lose?
Lotus wanted a nice chunk of change to open it's doors on Sunday. They want to ensure that even if no one shows up, they can pay the bar staff, the bouncers, the DJ and the electricity. When the bar covers that money, then we get our investment back. Anything the bar makes over that, they keep as profit, we make no money whatsoever on this party. Charles had came up with a plan that maybe MTV would sponsor it in exchange for exclusive filming rights, so we have a plan!
So I went around in the morning to all the actors and said that there was going to be an After Party at Lotus and asked if they'd be interested in going. Almost all of them complained that they were tired, and asked about how they would get there and get back.
I knew I could count on the 501st to pick them up, that wouldn't be a problem, but I didn't want to risk anyone driving home from the party after a few drinks, so I came up with a new plan...
Now, let me interrupt here for a second and remind you all that I still have no Nightclub, I have no vehicles, I have nothing. The only party going on is completely a figment of my imagination.
So I tell the actors that the members of the 501st have requested the honor of picking them up from their hotel and bringing them to the party, and that during the night, I'll have Limousines taking the actors back to the hotel whenever they're ready to leave.
I knew that the Club would only be open from 8pm to 1am (Indiana Blue Law closes bars at 1 am on Sunday's), so I knew it wouldn't be a crazy long night.
And remember, I'm still completely talking out of my ass.
Some of the actors say OK, and I get a call that MTV is looking for me.
On the way back I spread the word to all the fans, everyone I pass, that there's a party at Lotus tonight, and that a few of the actors will be there. I tell everybody that it's the "Official Unofficial After Party."
I bump into Alex (the filmmaker from the other night), and he asks about this party that everyone is talking about. He wants to know if he can film at the party. So I tell him about the MTV thing, but tell him that if they say no, would he want to invest in exchange for exclusive film rights? He agrees to it, but since I gave MTV first dibs, he has to wait.
So he comes with me to meet with Norm. I ask Norm about the money, and he tells me that the days of the huge expense accounts at MTV are over, and he can't do anything with the money without permission. He'd really like to, but his hands are tied.
So I turn to Alex and ask him if he's still interested, and he says yeah!
He coughs up half the money, I put in the other half (during the day, Keith and Lynn had graciously offered me some money to try and get it started, but I knew that God forbid the whole night goes to hell, they couldn't afford to lose it, so I gave it back to them. Alex and I came up with a few "just in case" deals for costumes for life if he doesn't get his money back, and while we're on the way to drop off the cash, Charles and Keith both basically agree that the cause seems so worthy that they really insisted that I take some of their money for this event. So, the sponsors of the night, in order of investment ended up being Alex, me, and Keith and Charles as equal partners.
So I call Matt over at Lotus and tell him that we're on. I have the cash, and we're all set.
Then I get cocky.
I tell him I want a Limo out there all night doing runs to and from the hotel. I pick the bartenders that I want (Kimberly, I also asked for Becca, but she couldn't make it), and I tell them that I need some good security for the VIP room.
He agrees, but tells me that if we don't cover an extra $500 over the initial investment, then I have to pay for the Limo. Fine.
So the party is on, now all I need is people!
I tell everyone! I tell everyone to tell everyone to tell everyone about this.
While in the Autograph area, one of the actors stops me and asks me if it's OK that he brings some of his photos and sells autographs? Sure.
So I go to the other actors and tell them that some of the other guys are bringing things to sell and that we'll be setting up a little signing session for them. That puts a few of the guys that were teetering over the edge and they agree to go. But of course, an agreement doesn't always mean a lot.
So I call on my good man Chris once again and ask him if he would mind picking up the actors and bringing them to the party. He agrees (THANKS AGAIN, CHRIS!!). I put together a VIP list as well as a Guest list of people who will get in for free.
I spread the word that it will be $5 at the door, unless you have an Associates Badge then you get $2 off.
Next thing I know, everyone is talking about the party. Some people canceled their flights, changed their plans to head home, rebooked hotels for an extra night, just so they could come to the party!
I headed over to Lotus, gave them the cash, made final arrangements, and then headed to my Office to relax a minute.
The party was set, and I did it all in 4 hours!
At 7pm I headed over to Lotus to do the final setup.
This is it, the home of what would later be called "SpatCon 2002"!!
Here's the sign they made up for us.
The guys and gals from the NEG showed up first. We were waiting outside, and I asked if any of them were willing to throw their costumes on for me. They were a little reluctant, considering that they had been in them working for God knows how many hours this weekend, but they agreed.
I got a call from Hillary, and she asked if I needed any help. I asked if she would mind being at the Marriott just in case we needed more vehicles. She agreed.
I went back inside to check things out, and when I came back out at 8pm, this is what I found:
The NEG gearing up. Photos courtesy of Jerry
Then the NEG showed up in costume for me. If any of you ever need a Kidney, just let me know. I'm O+. Just say the word!
Oooh, artsy shot. Photos courtesy of Jerry
They went to every bar within like 5 blocks and dragged everyone over to Lotus.
At 8:30 we opened the door and people started coming in. I recognized a lot of them, and on a hunch, went over to see the guest list. People who I watched go in, who knew they were on the guest list, still paid the cover to help out!
Jeff (the owner) comes out and asks if we have the Episode 1 DVD with us. We don't, so he gives one of the NEG guys some cash and sends him to a store to buy it. He shows Episode 1 on the screens in the club, and downstairs he plays the Episode 1 Soundtrack, and the NEG's Star Wars Mix CD!
Then I get a call from Dennis. He's at the Marriott with the actors putting them in the cars to get them over.
They arrive. We take them upstairs and set them up in the VIP room, but they pretty much all head to the bar to mingle with the fans, something they haven't had a chance to do all weekend.
At about 9:30 I head down and ask Jen (another manager) how we're doing on the money? She checks the bar computer, and we're only $200 short of making back the initial investment! And it's only 1 hour into the party! Don't forget, after the initial, I still have to cover the Limo which will be here in about a half hour!
Then I remember the door!
I head over and ask the guy what we're up to, and he tells me 102. I say, "Damn, still $100 short".
He says, "No, not 102 dollars, 102 people."
At an average of $4 a head, we're in. I let out a huge sigh of relief, head upstairs and have my first drink.
While up there, one of the actors comes up to me and asks about signing. Since I only really needed the top floor, the restaurant area is empty. So I head down and set up an Autograph area by the downstairs bar (which unfortunately had no bartender, it would have been a completely different experience had that bar been manned!).
I go up and tell the actors about the signing area, and some go down, while others tell me that they'll sign anything anyone wants for free. Great bunch of guys!
So downstairs, the actors ask how much they should charge? How should I know?
"What do you usually charge?"
"Well, usually $10 for an autograph, and $20 for a signed photo."
"Can you do $5 for a signature and $10 for a pic tonight?" I ask.
"Sure, but how much is your take?"
Take? They think I want a cut?
I laugh and tell them to knock themselves out, keep it all and enjoy.
I go back upstairs and start telling everyone that the actors are downstairs signing right now. By the time I went from the front of the club to the back, and then walked back downstairs, there was a line to get into the autograph room. I was shocked.
Someone walked up to me (and I wish I could remember who) and asked, "What is this, SpatCon?"
Why yes it is. A whole new concept. A convention with alcohol.
I open the rope for the Autograph area and let the fans in.
And here it is! Look at them go! Photo courtesy of Jerry
Jerry with Richard. What a pair. Do you think Vader is apologizing for that whole "choke" thing? Photo courtesy of Jerry
Mary with Julian and Ken. Photo courtesy of Mary
Here's Jeff (one of the owners and a HUGE Star Wars fan) with his girlfriend and Lori as Slave Leia.
A nice bar shot with Nalina chatting. Photo courtesy of Jerry
Another smokey bar shot. Photo courtesy of Jerry
Me with Ken Colley (Admiral Piett).
Ken came up to me and told me that he was tired and wanted to head back to the hotel. I told him to head out to the Limo, and I'd be out in a second to say goodnight, I just had to finish talking to someone.
I watch as Ken walks outside, looks at the Limo, then heads over to a mini-van and tries to get into it.
I run out and ask him what he's doing, and he tells me again that he's tired and wants to head back.
"So why don't you get into the Limo?" I ask as I point to the white Super Stretch sitting at the curb.
"You were serious about getting us a Limo? I thought you were kidding. Lucas didn't get us a Limo."
"Hey, it's what I do."
Then he hugged me and got in.
Me with Julian Glover (General Veers).
Julian was also overwhelmed by the night and thanked me profusely for putting this together.
I had a few of the actors come out to get into the Limo, and I asked them why they were leaving so early. They said they didn't want to miss the ride. When I told them that the Limo would be going back and forth all night, and that they could leave whenever they wanted, they suddenly decided to have another drink and take the next one!
The Chef, Peter from the restaurant across the street came by and asked if he could get in later with his girlfriend, because he was a huge Star Wars fan, so I put him on the list.
A little while later, some of the actors decided to order some food. So Joe from the NEG ran across the street, got some menus, and brought them back. Orders were placed and Joe ran back across the street to place the order. He came and found me a few minutes later and said that he was told the kitchen was closed.
So I ran across , asked for Pete, and told him that some of the actors were hungry. He took the order, made the food, and didn't charge for it. Nice guy. When he arrived a while later I took him around and introduced him. He was so ecstatic.
DustinCropsBoy with Amy. Photo courtesy of DustinCropsBoy
DustinCropsBoy with Hillary. Photo courtesy of DustinCropsBoy
In the Limo with Amy Allen (Aayla Secura), and Nalina Krishan (Barriss Offee) (both from Episode 2).
Once the signing area was closed, it was time to start the party, and time for me to actually spend some time upstairs.
Angus helping up Lynn after she almost fell. Hey, it could be what really is going on!
Travis, the other owner and Jen, the other manager, wearing the Vader helmet. Photo courtesy of Jerry
Lori stayed in that costume all night! She's the best! Thank you so much.
Han and Leia, party time! Photo courtesy of Jerry
A shot of the bar. Can you believe that it was full?? I totally forgot that it was Cinco de Mayo! Thankfully, Dennis reminded me, so we broke out the Tequila shots!
Charles looking pretty smug towards the end of the night.
Kimberly. Charles actually talked her into putting her glasses back on. I don't think she realizes how hot she is with the glasses on.
While hanging out with Bill, Richard and Angus, a guy walked up with is Convention badge out and asked for an autograph. One of the actors asked whose autograph he wanted, and he said, "Spat's."
I laughed, thinking he was joking, but he was serious.
So I took his badge, cocked my head towards him and asked, "And what's your name?"
Richard broke out laughing and said, "Oh, look at you, like you're an old pro now!"
So I told him, "Hey, I learned from watching the best!" and gave him a wink.
Hey, Chris, thanks so much for asking me, you really did make my night.
"Lookie what got caught in my teeth!" Bill Hootkins (Jek Porkins) laying his claim on Lori.
Then it was off to the VIP room to hang with the boys. Rachel, Alan and Dennis making friends.
Then everybody wanted some new friends! Poor Rachel, she looks like she's getting crushed!
Amy chatting with Bill. Photo courtesy of DustinCropsBoy
"No Pictures!!" Photo courtesy of DustinCropsBoy
About this time I started wandering around and spotted a guy with a really nice camera on a stick. I didn't think anything of it until I noticed that after he took a pic, a girl came over and had the person sign a release.
So I went over and asked who they were. "Star Wars Insider Magazine."
How the hell did they hear about this?
So I tell them that I'm Spat and that this is my party, so I bring them into the VIP room to get some pictures of me with the actors, they ask me some questions, and I give them a quick rundown on what went into this little party.
They thanked me and then headed back out to the party.
Then Lori got into the cage! Then things got freaky!
Ya know, I heard tales of her costume breaking twice over the weekend. But the one time she's in a cage, and we all want the costume to break, it stays on. What's up with that? Photo courtesy of Jerry
Maybe he doesn't know about the opening on the side?
Dennis claiming his trophy.
"You're no Slave Leia, but let's get it on!!"
Then Matt from Virginia showed up in his costume and started partying hard!
Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader) with Belle and Mary, two very nice costumed ladies.
Well, you know I had to have a pic with them as well!
"Who are you and why are you poking me in the ribs?"
Gotta ask this. Why is Charles carrying Alan.
Spat losing his mind!! Photo coutesy of Bathory
She really shouldn't bend over for the stuff by the floor, and he can't even see the bottles, let alone mix them, but I sure liked having them behind the bar!
Danny, the Limo driver with Lori. I really wonder how many people got pics with her that night?
Lori, exhausted by the end of the night. Photo courtesy of Jerry
"Why do you have a real glass, and I have to drink out of this plastic cup? I'm Admiral Freaking Motti for Christs sake!"
End of the night, starting to clear out. Photo courtesy of Jerry
The owner Jeff converted to the Dark Side, and he's Boob Grabbing his own girlfriend, which really doesn't count.
Let me take a moment to discuss Boob Grabs. Boob Grabs started out by accident while in the Bug suit. When I took a picture next to a girl and had my hands out as if I was attacking her, when the pics were seen later it looked like I was grabbing her boob. Since a photo is taken in 2D, it just looks like it. Soon it became a huge thing, and I had gotten pretty good at it. But again, remember that my hand was always a good 3-6 inches away from the girls body. In the last few cons I've been to, people all seem to know about the Boob Grab, and they've started Boob Grabbing me (and I assure you, I don't mind at all).
But this weekend, and especially at this party, things got out of hand. No pun intended. Boobs were getting grabbed everywhere, but they were being done for real! And some of the girls were getting a little upset. I tried to explain the concept to people, tried to teach them to do it the right way, but they didn't seem to care!
Me with Matt!
"Wait, the Admiral needs to be in this shot!"
"Now the photo is ready because I'm here."
"Changed my mind, I don't want to be involved in this!"
Bill showing off Hillary's new Tattoo done by Eric!
Dennis with Hillary.
Lynn with Hillary.
Lynn and Hillary Boob Grabbing Bill! See what I was talking about? Boob Grabs Must Stop!!
"Get the guy with the camera!" Photo courtesy of Bathory
Richard stealing my woman!
Lynn actually very happy because Richard's other hand is full!
Then things got wacky. Matt got on the back on someone's bike and they went up and down the street popping wheelies!
After they went by a couple of times, Matt got off the bike. A second after he got off, the biker gunned the throttle, took off, lost control and the bike flipped out from under him. He slid down the street while the bike got trashed!
LAST CALL!! LAST LIMO RUN!! GET IN AND GO HOME!!!
"C'mon, there must be some place open! Let's go, we have a Limo!"
The last few stragglers heading off home, and Dennis finally does a Boob Grab the right way!
Looks like Angus is waiting for Hector's bus!
I think Bill was actually trying to boob Grab me! But he missed.
And here it is. The guys that really made the night happen. Keith, Alex, Matt, Spat and Charles. I can't believe we actually pulled it off!
At one point in the night, someone stopped me, asked if I was Spat.
"And this is your... Party?"
"Yeah, who are you?"
"I'm from Wizards of the Coast."
My little world crumbled. I thought I was sued, screwed, you name it. I thought I was in so much trouble for doing this you couldn't imagine!
Then he continued, "I was wondering if you'd be willing to put together a party like this for us at GenCon?"
I swear it took about 10 seconds for me to even comprehend what he just said.
"Here's my card," I told him, "Give me a call, we'll talk."
"It's a great party, I'd love to know how you did it." He asked.
"Hey, it's what I do."
By the end of the night we had about 10 of the actors from the Con there, out of 30!! Not a bad turnout. We had over 350 people come out for a party that was planned in only 4 hours.
Some of the actors told me that they made as much money at the party as they did the whole weekend.
The fans all told me that they were so happy to be able to talk to the actors, to hang out with them, and to actually be able to meet them.
Some people told me that the party (called SpatCon 2002 by the end of the night) was the highlight of their weekend.
Check back here often, as people send me their pics of the night, I'll be adding them (I really didn't get the chance to take too many pics in the beginning of the night).
Let me jump in here and give my list of thanks. These are in no particular order, and if I forgot anyone, please don't be offended. I spent a lot of the night completely flipping out that this whole thing was going to crash all around me, so I really wasn't paying a lot of attention to what was going on around me.
First, to Charles, Keith and Alex for chipping in the money. Everyone at the Lotus for trusting us (Matt, Jeff, Travis, Jen, Kimberly, and all the bouncers). Richard, Bill, Alan, Angus, Michael, Julian, Ken, Amy, Nalina and Ian for coming down to have fun with us even after a whole weekend of signing autographs. Garrick for sending over "Thank You" photos for the Lotus staff and me even though he couldn't make the party. The NEG guys (Jerry, Joe, Bob, Lori, and the rest whose names I've probably forgotten) for all your help all weekend long and for donning your gear for the party. The ECG guys that were there. Lynn for being willing to part with money to help me out, hope your boobs recover. Natalie for dancing in the cage with Lynn and getting everyone excited. The 501st for spreading the word and showing up. Kimberly for always having a drink ready for me, and giving me something nice to look at when I was scared to death that this whole thing was going to fail miserably. Matt for dancing on the stage, riding on that bike, getting off before it crashed, and for driving Keith and me to the airport. Dennis for convincing so many of the actors to come down to the party. To the guys and gals of Garrison Carida, for all their help all weekend long. Chris for helping out driving the actors to and from the hotel on a moment's notice when needed. To Norm, Scott2, Charles and Charlie from MTV for wandering around with us, and for even giving us the glimmer of hope that they would host the party, without that, I probably would have just given up from start, and for letting me interview the actors (I just hope they don't cut me out!). To Scott and Rob for introducing me to MTV. To Albin for thinking so lowly of himself that he thought he needed me on hand to hand out awards to the actors (you're the Commander of the 501st Stormtrooper Freaking Legion, dammit!!). Frank and Hector for driving my Biker Scout Blaster to and from NY, even though I didn't wear the costume once! Hillary for jumping in and helping drive at the last minute as well. Chris from England for making me feel important for a brief moment. To Richard for actually talking me into going to Celebration 2 when I really wasn't planning on it. To whomever it was that coined the phrase "SpatCon". To everyone that showed up and made this a night to remember.
If there's anyone that I've forgotten, please send over a note, it's really late right now, I haven't slept in a bit, and I've been writing this story all day!
Special after thanks to Charles for the great banner he sent me for SpatCon!
And here are some links you may want to check out:
Shades of Blue
Dave's Celebration Pics
And don't forget to check out MTV on July 11th to see the "True Life" episode! Check your local listings for the time!
When I got home, Charles sent me an e-mail that I really think is the only way to end this story. So, here it is verbatim:
Just thought I'd let you know.
I had just gotten into my seat on the plane when from behind me I heard
someone saying something about "Spat".
I turned around to see Ken Colley, Mike Edmonds, Richard LeParmentier
and some others talking.
About 10 minutes later, we were told that our flight would be delayed for at
least an hour and a half.
We all got of the plane and the Star Wars actors headed over to the bar for
a beer and a hot dog.
One of them commented that from where they were sitting they couldn't see or
hear our gate.
I told them not to worry, I would keep them informed of the flight status
and to enjoy themselves.
Colley said "Thanks" and I said "Hey, as Spat would say" and they all chimed
in together "It's what I do". It was fucking hysterical.
After we finally got to Atlanta and we were getting off the plane, I told
them "Thanks for a wonderful time, hope to see you soon".
Leparmentier said "See you at SpatCon 2003".
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If you have any questions, E-Mail me. Spat@spat-nospam-cave.com