Dragoncon 2003

by Diane Kachmar


After what happened in Memphis, I decided to check in with my publisher before I left for Atlanta, to see if they were selling books at Dragoncon.  The answer was yes, so we scheduled a book signing for me at their booth on Friday, the first half-day of the con and I received guest credentials when I checked in on Thursday - as an author.  


My husband, John, found out from one of other Bond stars when David was arriving.  (Friday evening).  I shopped the dealers’ room when it opened at 1:00 PM, prepared for my book signing at 3:00 PM and sat at the McFarland booth until almost 5:30 PM signing books.  The time went by very quickly.   John came about halfway through the session and took some pictures of me at the booth.  When my signing was over, we went in search of David.  


Found David at his table in the Walk of Fame talking to Alan Prigge.  Linda Delaney noticed me standing patiently off to one side waiting for David to finish his conversation.  She came over and introduced herself.  We chatted for a few minutes.  Linda urged me to interrupt and let David know I was there, but I didn’t want to.  We looked up again and David was no longer chatting with Juliet Mills, he had left.   Much as I had wanted to say ‘hi’; I knew I’d see David the next morning.  I re-introduced myself to Alan, we had met in Florida in 1997, talked to Linda some more and then we bid each other good night.


Saturday morning, John and I walked over to the Hyatt and had breakfast in the green room.  We ran into Alan on the way back and helped him lug his posters into the lobby, where he was meeting David.  We went down ahead of them to get the table prepared.  As guests, John and I were allowed to go down before the Walk of Fame opened each morning.  I plopped into a chair with my items for the table and waited.  David came down, carrying his pictures.  He was dressed in a very nice dark blue shirt.  I stood up and said, “Hi, David.”


“Diane!”  David came over to me and gave me a big hug ‘hello’.  He wanted to know when I got there.  I told him Thursday, because of my book signing on Friday.  I told him the signing had gone really well and that I had been by yesterday evening.  David got disgusted.   I should have let him know I was there.  I reiterated that he was busy, I didn’t want to interrupt and it was okay.


The Bond row had five stars sharing four tables.  David was 2nd from the left – next to Tanya Roberts - and then there was George Lazenby, Blanche Ravelec, and Richard Kiel.  David had to get up and go around Tanya to have any pictures taken.  Because of the limited table space, I put together a standing sign for David with his prices.  I gave

David a supply of cold bottled water - the hotel provided it for free - and something to snack on.  I helped David put out his pictures, he lined up his markers and was ready to go.  David also wanted tea, once he knew I had what he liked.  I told him I’d keep the tea, make it in the pot in my room and bring it down each afternoon. 


Tanya Roberts swept in and began pushing David’s markers aside to make room for her photos.  I helped David move his stuff out of her way.  Then David asked me what episode his color Voyage picture was from.  It was a headshot of David in his Russian Sentry outfit from Time Bomb.  


The con was collecting for charity.  I showed David the two extra Lobby cards I had – one from The Fly and one from The Lost World – and the copy of an unproduced Voyage script called The Living Death.  David graciously autographed all three items.  John found out where to drop them off as David’s donation.  All three items sold and made $60.00 for the Lupus charity and a copy of my book (donated by McFarland) went for $15.00.  John attended the auction on Sunday, so we’d know.


John decided to check out the Art Show.  I put out some book flyers on the freebie table.

I posted up signs with David’s picture that he was signing in the Walk of Fame on the column by the entrance escalator so people coming down would know he was there.

I had two “Fly” t-shirts that I wore during the con.  David noticed the black tee (with his picture on it - in the fly mask) on Saturday and liked it.  I wore a 007 Licence to Kill t-shirt on Sunday.


David was very happy with the signs and other promotional material John had made on our computer.  He invited us to ‘have a drink’ with him Sunday night as a thank you.  David asked us to meet him in the hotel bar.  I had been there and knew it was too loud to have a decent conversation without shouting.  I suggested we go up to the club lounge on the 42nd floor – since my room key had access.  David agreed to 6:30 PM, an hour before he was going to dinner.  We accepted his generous offer to spend time with us.


David asked me to give a sealed envelope to Juliet Mills, who was a table away from him, behind the center pillar.  I wasn’t to tell Juliet who sent me.  I’m wearing a David Hedison button and the black t-shirt with “The Fly”emblazoned on it in large red letters.  I said, “David, she’ll know,” and gestured at my shirt.  I unhooked the button and put it in my bag, hoping now it would not be so painfully obvious … (yeah, right).


I found the end of Juliet’s line and waited patiently for my turn.  I extended my hand and said I’d been a fan since I was 12, when I used to watch Nanny and the Professor.  I was a Richard Long fan then and it was a shame he died young and had such demons.  I teased Juliet about her panel being scheduled at 2:30 AM in error on the web site instead of 2:30 PM.  She assured me she wouldn’t be there at 2:30 AM, either.  We had a good laugh.  I told her I was interested in hearing about her role on the NBC soap opera, Passions.


Juliet mentioned there was a picture she wanted in the dealer’s room.  I told her it was probably at Ohlinger’s and I’d be happy to go buy it for her.  She looked at Rick, her manager.  How much?  $4.00.  Rick gave me $5.00 and described the picture.  I assure them that I’m not doing anything at the moment and it’s no trouble.  As I turn to leave, I say, “ I was told to give you this,” hand Juliet the envelope and walk away.


Whatever is in there, I leave her to open it.  I find her picture at Ohlinger’s, buy it and bring it back to her.  She and David have obviously talked, because when I came back to his table, David gave me a thumbs up and told me I did it perfect.


I snapped a few photos of David signing pictures before I left because I couldn’t take the temperature in the Walk of Fame area any longer.  There were way too many people in the room for the air conditioning they had.  John told the con people to get some fans going down there to move the air and they did.  The room became much more bearable with the fans on later in the day.


I came back with tea at the designated time and let David fix it.  He told me I was an angel.  He had been there for six hours at that point.  It was the least I could do.  I assured David it was no trouble, happy to do it and left again so he could sign more pictures.


I took a moment to lean against the pillar down by Richard Kiel at the far end of the table to watch David enjoy his tea break.  David brought out the can of almonds I had given him for a snack, uncapped the plastic lid and offered some to Alan.  David then extended the can to Tanya Roberts, who ignored it.  David brought the can back to Alan.  They shared for a while.  Then David offered to Tanya again.  This time it registered and she took some. David extended the can past her to Karine, Tanya’s manager.  Karine took a few.  Watching all four of them munching away was my favorite moment of the con.

When I came back later for a last pass, David had packed up and gone to dinner with Juliet Mills. 


Sunday I had a couple of errands to run before David opened and barely made it down before he did.  I asked David to show me his table set-up.  He instructed me which plastic picture folder he wanted where and which folders got stacked in two neat piles for the fans to look through.  David put License to Kill on the left, then Live and Let Die and Voyage was on the right.  His headshots were stacked.  David wanted the plastic envelopes clear side up with the strings underneath and untied.  I flipped a few envelopes over a couple of times during the day that customers had left strings side up.


Linda Delaney came by.  We took a few pictures, told David we were going to have a cup of coffee together and left him to sell.  Linda and I went up to third floor, got coffee and water and chatted.  Linda came up to my room on the 43rd floor to see some pictures of David I had.  I took her down to the 42nd floor and showed her where I was going to bring David for a drink.  Then we went down to her room to see her pictures, where her daughter Caitlin was finally awake to meet.


I came back to the table where I was given a piece of sour apple hard candy.  David confirmed that we were to meet him at 6:30 PM – to give him time to go up to his room, wash his hands and get ready.  Alan was coming, too.  


John went up to David first thing Sunday morning and told him that he understands Tanya Roberts handled John’s nuts yesterday.  David did a slight double take, rolled his eyes at me and asked me, ‘where did I find this guy’?  At a Dr. Who convention, and yes, he is like this most of the time.  John and David got along great.  John told David bad jokes all weekend. 


David disappeared for a while on Sunday.  I found out he had gone with George Lazenby - who had to check out by noon.  David let George keep his suitcase in David’s room until he left at 4:00 PM. 


Tanya took a long lunch.  David signed a Voyage script for me while she was gone and we chatted for a few minutes.  David was impressed I’d had the script for 20 years.  I showed David a couple of other older items I had – an original Enemy Below paperback and a 1958 Photoplay magazine that had publicity for The Fly (Halloween in Hollywood).  With the caption, “The Fly will get you, if you don’t watch out.”  Tanya never told David when she was coming back, so he had to handle her traffic even though he didn’t know what to tell them.  I told David I thought that was rude.   


David and I talked about some of my fan encounters at the con.  My book has been out about a year and a half and I’m not very experienced as a con guest yet.  David has read my book and he has been really supportive and encouraging at the two shows we have done together this year.  I enjoy book signings and answering questions about my book, but I’m still not used to people coming up and telling me they like my book or that it’s interesting or thinking I’m someone famous because I wrote a book.  I’ve been watching David talk to his fans at various events for fifteen years.  He has always been a role model for me, someone I have looked up to and admired for his unfailing courtesy and patience.  I try to be as gracious and kind to my readers as David has been to me and all the other fans he has met.       


I went up to my room to make David tea, brought it down and left again.  I needed to find John and get cleaned up for happy hour.   John was back in the room, told me all about the charity auction – I had wondered where he had disappeared to – as we both dressed for drinks with David.  At last it was 6:30 PM.  We had to wait for Alan to come over his hotel.  David’s phone rang.  It was Alan in the lobby.  David told him to come up.  So we sat with David and discussed the merits of several Voyage pictures for future shows until Alan arrived.  


I had a copy of my book with me for Alan - his son wants to sell a book to my publisher – and gave it him as we all went up to the lounge on the 42nd floor.  The room was very nice, with thick padded chairs, glass tables and lovely picture windows to look out at the skyline.  It was a cash bar, but our sodas and the hot hors’douvres were free.  David didn’t know about the lounge or how one was admitted so I spent the first part of our time together explaining Marriott Rewards and how that worked.  


I brought David over to the bar and told him Joyce - the club manager (and bartender) - would make him anything he wanted.  David wanted a very dry martini and Alan ordered Tanqueray and tonic.  I ordered a diet Pepsi for John and ginger ale for myself.  David knows I’m on prescription medication, so I don’t drink.  He teased me about ordering a Shirley Temple in Memphis and wanted to know if I wanted another one on him.  I told him the ginger ale was fine.   


Joyce took one look at him and said, “I know you, you’re David.  They told me you were in the hotel and I was hoping you’d come up here.”  Several other con guests had been in the lounge with us since Thursday, so Joyce was well aware there was an event going on.  David was very cordial and charming.  Joyce was quite taken with him.  She knew quite a few of his credits.  David was pleased she knew his work


Joyce said I need a room number for the drinks, so I signed the chit and told Joyce to give David and Alan anything they wanted.  David carried his martini over to the food table, discovered there was food he liked and filled a plate.  I took a plate as well.  Joyce kept telling David not to knock his Martini glass off the food table, so I picked up David’s glass and moved it over to our table.  I told David the dinner place was pay by the dish and you didn’t get that much, so they might as well have some appetizers. While David was relaxing with his martini and food and encouraging me to eat more, John and Alan talked about Alan working for Bob Hope. 


I asked David about his work for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, specifically how he became a member of the Foreign Film committee.  David explained to me how one did work for the Academy and voted on Oscar nominations.  He remarked that every foreign movie he had given his highest rating hadn’t made the final ballot, but he had enjoyed watching all the different films.  David used to do the documentaries as well, but there were too many of them lately for him to have the time to watch them all, so he didn’t do them last year. 


We talked about films that moved us.  I ended up telling David about What Dreams May Come, a three-hanky fantasy film.  Robin Williams dies and goes to heaven and his wife commits suicide and goes to hell, and Robin has to rescue her from hell.  I was loath to recommend the film because it was so sad.  Robin did a great job in it.  I liked Dead Poets Society, too.  We talked about typecasting, actors who get pigeonholed and had this really great acting discussion until it was time to go down to the lobby for dinner. 


David insisted on picking up the bar tab for our table.  Joyce thanked me later that evening for bringing him in.  I winked at her and promised that I never bring anyone that wasn’t high class into her joint.


I offered to bring David back to the lounge Monday morning for breakfast, but he had other plans.  So we went down the last morning and helped him set up for the last day.  We took over two tables – Tanya Roberts was gone – and finally were able spread out everything David had brought with him.  David told us which envelopes he wanted where.  John found all the signage that David had not had room to display, put that up and then created a display of Voyage poster prints he had made on our computer.


David decided he wanted a Diet Coke.  I asked him if he wanted ice and a straw, and he said yes, so I schlepped up to the third floor Starbucks area.  I bought a can of Diet Coke, found the ice and a straw and took it all back down to him.  David fixed his Coke and was ready for customers.  


I mentioned that I remembered watching David on Voyage (in 1967) when I was 8, but that I really didn’t like him until I was 17.  I had to go through puberty or something.  David agreed that we’d call it puberty (a good word) and leave it at that.  I told David my best friend Lucy had called me up and raved about “this guy” and that I had to see “this guy,” so I watched Escape From Venice - one of the top ten Crane episodes) in 1976 and that’s how I became a fan.  Naturally.


Mary Anne Brennison, a former Vice President of the Hedison Fan Club showed up about mid-morning, talked with David for a while and took pictures of him.  I chatted with Mary Anne as well – I hadn’t seen her since 1993.  Mary Anne asked David his opinion of the California recall election.  We all agreed with David -- it was stupid.


We sold on and off for the four hours David was there until his van left for the airport.

John spent the morning trying different table layouts.   He and David tried to hang David’s poster on a piece of tag board.  Then they tried to hang it on the easel, but it still wouldn’t hang properly, so they gave up and put it back in the tube. 


David signed pictures for us to take home.  I told David to sign it anyway he wanted to, but since it was a dark picture I wanted it in silver sharpie.  David rummaged through his markers, came up with one he had to shake and said that was the best one to use.  So he signed my Live and Let Die picture to Diane.  I was very pleased with it.  I laid it down on the very back of the table behind John’s display to dry thoroughly before I put it away.  


John had David sign one of the computer Voyage pictures John had designed – we sold three that morning, which made John even happier.  David took the remainder home with him to sell in Toronto.  At Dragoncon, they either bought Bond or Voyage, except for one woman Monday morning who had to have a more current picture.  David had a good latter day headshot, so she went home happy.


John found some Bond trading cards in the dealers’ room he wanted, so John sat down at the empty side table and began opening the card packs.  If John found a card he thought David should see, he’d show him the card.  John also took David over to look at the camera set up they had for taking pictures with James Marsters (for $50.00).  John is into photography so he could point out equipment.  


It was time for David to go.  We helped him pack his pictures and I was given a great good-bye hug.  I told David not to worry; John and I were still on the 17th anniversary of our honeymoon.  We were going to hot tub, eat in the lounge and generally wind down until our early flight out Tuesday morning.  I told David I had deliberately chosen to fly out on Tuesday.  If I came back on Monday, they’d expect me to back to work on Tuesday.  This way I didn’t have to go in until Wednesday.  


John pulled the table out so David could get out with his suitcase.  We decided to walk David to the airport van.  David handed me the poster tube, which I gave to John.  We delivered David to the curb.  They gave him his black carry-on bag, loaded his suitcase and John turned over the poster tube.  We both waved good-bye as he went off to the airport with Walter Koenig.  


The End


If I have the chance to do any more book signings at shows where David is autographing in the coming year I will write those up for this web site as well.


Check out David’s next show Autographicain Coventry, England Nov. 22-23, 2003, followed by Memorabilia @NEC in Birmingham, England, Nov. 29-30, 2003.

He also plans to be at the 15th Annual Florida Extravaganza FX 2004, at the Orlando Convention Center, in Orlando, Florida Jan.10-11, 2004.