Photograph by Brian Malfant

‘Con Job’ is part of a multi-post series where the writers of Some Nerd Girl share their convention stories – whether they be good, bad, or ugly!

Monster Mania is a horror convention in New Jersey that introduced me in to the world of conventions – in a less than conventional way. My first con experience was as a model in an attempt to recruit extras for an independent zombie flick that never actually happened. Back in 2006, cosplay wasn’t quite the culture it is today, so seeing zombies wandering abut in 50s garb was a pretty unique treat. A startling number of people wanted pictures of being bitten.

Thanks, Walking Dead. Now it's NORMAL.
Thanks, Walking Dead. Now it’s NORMAL.

The next year, our friends were working on getting a production and prop replica business off the ground. While my friends were running around as Sexy Evil Ash and Zombie Wolverine and Spider-Man, I opted to keep to the booth running and sell the various replicas and curios we had brought with us. Pirate Aztec Gold, a bust of Leatherface, even a replica of the possessed phone from Nightmare on Elm Street were all yours for a price.

The Ghoul School had actually done a great job making these props – which were promptly sold and then autographed by people who had been in the movie. By Sunday, I was tired and Sexy Evil Ash (aka Peaches) was tired of running around. We’d hardly spent any time together that weekend, so when our “boss” announced he was going to take over the booth so we could actually enjoy the convention, we were delighted. We told him we were going to go over and check out the table with the guys from The Devil’s Rejects – Sid Haig and Bill Moseley. “Yea, well, go give ‘em backrubs and have fun,” he joked.

These guys.
These guys. Sid left, Bill right.

Peaches and I looked at each other, mulled over the thought, and, for some reason, concluded; “Yea, let’s totally do that!”

And so we did. First, we went to Bill Mosely. Because the guy who plays Otis Firefly is probably not terrifying at all, right? And he wasn’t. Actually, he was wearing a kimono-style silk robe.

How could we do this? We decided to go with Rule #1 of How To Do Things You Are Probably Not Allowed To Do – act legit. We grabbed a few of our friends’ flyers and headed towards the signing rooms. Admittedly, our execution was not perfect. It started with a hesitant and stumbled suggestion, complete with nervous head-scratching and foot shuffling. “We’re… uh… we’re with one of the vendors? We wanted to, y’know, offer the signers, a, uh… a back rub? To say thanks for coming.”

Bill Moseley shrugged and said “Cool, let’s do it.”

My approximate reaction.
My approximate reaction.

At first there was a totally panicked, wide-eyed moment of amazement. Did that just happen? Did he, this totally famous and terrifying monster, agree to a back rub? In a silk robe? In a second, Peaches was behind the table and going to town on his shoulders. There were a few attempts at chitchat, and the occasional person came up for an autograph and Peaches would duck out of the way. After a few minutes, Peaches announced she was done and that we appreciated meeting him. He held out a $20 bill and offered it to her. Blushing, she said she couldn’t accept it, we were doing it for free!

But she’d love if he gave her a signature, if that was ok?

Bill promptly picked up his sharpie, signed the $20, and handed it to her.

Did that really just happen??
Did that really just happen??

After that, we fled to the smoking area outside. Giddily puffing and smoking away the nervousness, we recapped the whole thing, looked at the pictures I had snapped, and completely geeked out. Once the nerves went away, we paused.

Could… could we do it again?

If one person was totally cool with it… would the others be as well?

Turns out, celebrities *love* back rubs. While waiting in line to talk to Sid Haig, I stared at an adjacent table. There, beside a very polite and bored assistant, was the one person I’d wanted to meet all week. Could I do this? I sidled up beside the assistant and slipped her a flyer. “We’re with the Ghoul School Production table. We’re offering back rubs to the signers? I didn’t want to interrupt…” I trailed off, looking at the line of eager folks waiting for autographs. The assistant assured me that she’d pass the flyer along.

A moment later I heard the most amazing, smoky, intrigued voice of Jason Mewes say, “Really? Where is she?”

This glorious bastard!
This glorious bastard!

In a flash, I was looking at Jay Mothaf*cking Mewes, explaining the free awesomeness we were providing. A moment later, I was touching one of my gods, and he liked it. By this point, Peaches was attacking the massive stature of Sid Haig, who was practically asleep at her touch, and we were gleefully snapping pictures of each other whenever we had to step aside so a fan could get a picture. Finally, I knew I had to be the best-best friend a gal could have, and help out my homie.

So I say, “Listen, Jay, I give good back rubs. But Peaches over there? She’s an artist.” Jason happily agreed to have her come show him her skills. By the time she was done, he was basically a puddle on the floor.

What was really interesting was the way different celebrities reacted. Many offered us free autographed pictures – even a few whom we had offered back rubs to but declined. Some acted as if us offering back rubs was the very height of rudeness. I even gave a back rub to a production manager, who had been feeling a little left out at the attention of the celebrity whom he had accompanied. It was a story for the ages – two college kids pretending to know what the hell they were doing when really it was all almost a total scam and a way to meet celebrities without having to wait in line.

What I considered our level of cleverness at the time.
What I considered our level of cleverness at the time.

The absolute best result of our mostly-unauthorized solicitations, however, was the one day at a comic convention 2 years later.

Peaches was wandering about, again in her Sexy Evil Ash costume, when out of nowhere a voice cries out, gravelly but urgent, “PEACHES!” Confused, she looked around for the originator of the ruckus. And there he was, was Jason Mewes, frantically waving at her. “I NEED A BACK RUB!”

Barb2Barbie O’Havoc has been considered a nerd since the first time she pissed someone off for having a weird opinion. Since then, she’s been spending her time indulging in the surprisingly expensive habits of reading trashy vampire novels and hitting people while playing roller derby. Both of her main hobbies have led to a love of terrible puns, much to everyone’s dismay.

Barbie O’ also loves coffee and local restaurants, and occasionally rambles about both on the Johnstown Food Blog.