–where was the best place to put 1,000 DARK SHADOWS fans who were eager to meet the stars and have merchandise signed? Right here in this hallway! Yikes!- (photo taken by Kasia Karol)
–Sharon “Sarah Collins” Smyth-Lentz’s autograph station-
-Marie “Mad Jenny” Wallace’s autograph station. Not sure who left their coffee there! Not me! Promise!-
After the last auction for charity, the autograph session was ready to begin! Needless to say, there was some mass confusion as to where the lines were supposed to start! Some of the festival workers told us that the autograph lines started from the hotel lobby and worked their way into the hallway, and (unknown to me at the time) some were told to start at the end of the hallway and work their way towards the lobby. As you can imagine, nearly ONE THOUSAND DARK SHADOWS FANS crammed inside one hallway going in opposite directions and trying to talk to the stairs equals a hot mess!
Unfortunately, this did lead to a lot of line jumping and some fans turning a little pushy with each other at times. I couldn’t really get pictures during the autograph session because we were so packed together in the line I was in, and my arms were pretty full with goodies that I wanted to get signed! I was so excited!
I was lucky that I had some great people in line to talk to while we made our way through the madness of the autograph lines. I met @KasiaKarol, a super sweet fan who was so much fun to talk to and has a beautiful eye for photography! Some fans I saw, but didn’t get to talk to until later, mostly on Twitter and Instagram. Among them were @Collinsportgirl, @emmythewriter, @heavymetalwifey, and @dccd (David Caruso) from the amazing DARK SHADOWS LIVES! fan group I met the first day I was there! They are all fantastic follows, by the way!
All of the stars had their own individual tables set up, and were selling items like 8×10 photos and merchandise such as books they had written and DS audio CD’s that they were featured in! My funds were limited, but I got some great 8×10’s in addition to the items I had to be signed! I tried, the night before, to sort my DS treasures into four of my favorite items that I wanted to be signed. Some of the items I picked were for one star only, such as a book I had for Lara Parker and Josette’s music box for Kathryn Leigh Scott. I gathered them up and put them inside my DARK SHADOWS coffin box! ( I emptied the DVD’s out before leaving home so that I could carry it around with my goodies inside!)
The first person I came to when I finally made it was Sharon Smyth-Lentz. She hugged me and was so sweet as always! I told her how much I enjoyed her ghost stories and how happy and lucky I was to have met her. She is a truly adorable person inside and out! I chose this picture to be signed by her!
-Sharon was so sweet!-
Next, I made it to Kathryn Leigh Scott! She had so many goodies on her table! I had a special item for her to sign for me, and, of course, this 8×10 of her really stood out to me. (All of her pictures were gorgeous, but I really loved this one most! Kathryn was very nice too, but I didn’t really get to say much unfortunately because there were three lines of fans standing to meet her! She is absolutely gorgeous!
-a picture taken during filming of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS!-
-my music box was signed by “Josette” herself!-
Kathryn’s website is now being managed by one of the people I mentioned in an earlier post, Patrick McCray, the founder of the Collins Foundation fan site, and you can click HERE to view Kathryn’s site and visit her store to purchase merchandise from her that she will sign to you for FREE!
Next in line was someone who can always make you laugh and smile just by her smiling at you–Marie Wallace! I said “Hey!” to her, and she held out her arms and said, “Heeeeyyyy!!!!” and she held out her arms and gave me a big hug! She is so much fun, and she brightens up an overcrowded hallway like nobody else in this world could ever do! She had different pictures because her book was already sold out, and I picked one of her and Jonathan Frid together! She starred in the only production he had ever directed, LION IN WINTER, and this was a picture taken during its production in 1993.
-Marie is such a classy and fun lady, and she personifies a “great big smile”! Even when she’s not smiling, she still is.-
Marie was wearing the MPI Barnabas Collins ring the whole weekend, too! She started talking to me about how much she loved being there in Tarrytown, and that she had been listening her favorite radio stations there all weekend. She said she was really happy that one of them had mentioned the festival and played a segment of her, Kathryn, and Lara singing “Friendship” earlier that afternoon at the luncheon!
I was so happy to have met Marie, and I think of her energy and smile often if I ever get the blues.
Next up, was…-bows-…. the Queen of witches herself, Lara Parker!
Lara had several lines of fans pushing and shoving forward to meet her as well! Again, Lara was so wonderful and so gracious! Those eyes just make you melt. They were really twinkling as fans were talking to her. She was talking to some fans that she was really familiar with, and she would stand and hug them. One of the things that really impressed me about Lara: no matter how many people were waiting in line, she gave everyone equal attention and was so friendly with each one. When it came my turn, she recognized me from meeting her that first night in the lobby.
She said hi to me and smiled, telling me that she was glad to see me again. She asked if I was having a great time at the festival, and, of course, I told her yes. I also thanked her for coming, and I told her that I was so happy to get to meet her, and that I really enjoyed everything that she had done that weekend. I showed her my things that I had to sign, and she smiled at one particular item I brought with me.
I have a hardcover book of ANGELIQUE’S DESCENT that I bought from a local guy, and I had never seen another one like it ever. A security volunteer standing by Lara also paused and told me that he had never seen one of those in all the years he had worked the festivals. Lara proudly held the book up and showed it off to some nearby fans and gave me a big smile. She said this was a very rare book to have in hardcover, and that I was very lucky to have one!
-besides being a fantastic book, I will treasure having this if nothing else for the memory of Lara’s smile and reaction when I showed it to her. She was impressed that I had one, and she said they were very limited had not seen one since the release!-
Since I love the character of Victoria Winters, I chose a picture from Lara’s table that had her standing in front of the Salem Witch museum in Massachussetts, a site where she visited for researching for her upcoming novel for next year about Victoria Winters! Lara said she was really excited about writing it, and she really hoped that I would love it!
-Lara gives the best signatures! “Love and curses”, and “Best Witches”-
RIght now, if you go HERE to Lara’s website, you can order her books, autographed photos, and audio dramas from her (specially-priced bundles are available, too!), and she will sign them to you for FREE also!!
Unfortunately, by the time I left Lara’s table, the other stars, David Selby, Christopher Pennock, and James Storm were no longer at their tables. People who had started on the other side got to meet all of them, but everyone in my line had received misinformation about where to start. We missed out on the three guys who were there.
David had left because he had to catch a flight back to his home in CA, and Christopher and James were leaving to do interviews for the Collinsport Historical Society’s podcasts. If you would like to hear these interviews, click RIGHT HERE FOR JAMES STORM and RIGHT HERE FOR CHRISTOPHER PENNOCK!
As luck and fortune had it for me, I was able to meet James in the hotel lobby as he was getting ready to meet with the CHS interviewers. I shook his hand and told him that I was so happy to meet him and, along with Angelique, he was my favorite villain in the show. He appeared not too long after I began with the show, so, to me, he was one of my favorite original characters that was part of my endearment and first exposure to the show. He gave me a hug and shook my hand, and we talked about music for a few minutes. He was talking about what kind of guitars he liked playing, and he mentioned that he was a fan of older folk songs and country music from the early days. He asked me if I had stood in the autograph line madness, and I told him that I had, and that I wasn’t able to catch him in time.
James asked me if I wanted him to sign what was in my hands (I still had everything packed inside my coffin box), and I was absolutely thrilled. I didn’t want to ask because I knew he was busy, and I let him know that, but he said that fans always come first, and that he owed his being there to fans and his whole life. He had a suitcase with him, and he opened it up and took out a sharpie and signed the inside of my coffin box and another special item that I had each star sign that I could. James saw the interviewers coming, but he posed for a picture with me, hugged me again, and told me that he really enjoyed talking. He shook my hand and told me, “God bless you, Mark. Take care, buddy” as he left.
James was fantastic, and was all about fan service. He was one of the friendliest and most genuine people I’ve met. He was so down-to-earth and very approachable. From my small-town experience, he’s kind of like the guy in the neighborhood that everybody would walk by his house just to stop by and start talking about anything and everything. The guy knows no strangers at all.
-James is the coolest guy ever. He’s got a genuine appreciation for his fans, and he’s one of the nicest people you’ll meet-
For the 50th anniversary next year, I really hope to meet David Selby this time, and, hopefully, get a chance to talk to Christopher Pennock some more! I hate that I missed a chance to get their signatures on the next two treasures I have below, but maybe next year I will have them!
-Sharon Smyth-Lentz, Marie Wallace, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and James Storm signed my coffin box!-
-this is truly one of “my most prized possessions” This is a shirt from 1971 that was made during the last months of the TV-show’s run. The shirt was signed by Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Marie Wallace, James Storm, and Sharon Smyth-Lentz. If you look above the letter “a” and to the left of the collar, there is a silver smudge. Lara made that when she was trying to get the silver sharpie to work! Here’s hoping to get Chris’s and David’s signatures on this shirt and the coffin box next year!-
I met with @WeepingVictoria after the madness had died down, and we started packing up our things from our hotel rooms to get ready to start on our way towards home. We compared some of our goodies, and she really did well, too! Sometime this summer, I am going to interview her about her amazing DARK SHADOWS collection! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen!
For now, it was getting time to say goodbye to Collinwood and the HOTEL OF DARK SHADOWS for me for two more years. All the way home, I kept thinking about how fantastic and fun this weekend was! I thought about the great people I got to meet and how much I enjoyed meeting and having goodies signed by some very special stars of DARK SHADOWS! Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about on the way home!
Next time, I’ll be sharing some of these afterthoughts and leftover pictures for the grand finale of this series!
COMING NEXT TIME: “SOMEWHERE IN THE AFTERGLOW”, the grand finale of HOTEL OF DARK SHADOWS!