Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give It Up Death!

Peter Mayhew is the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies -- at 7'3" he said that all he had to do to win the part was stand up at the audition.

Chewie's alter ego still puts in appearances at Star Wars conventions, along with other Men Behind the Mask:
*
David Prowse / Darth Vader
* Kenny Baker / R2D2
* Jeremy Bulloch / Boba Fett

Back in high school I spent not a little time at the sci-fi/fantasy gaming conventions where these chaps still put in appearances -- it was part of my formation in things Tolkien. Just as gun collectors and automobile aficionados have their shows, readers of science fiction and fantasy, Star Wars and Star Trek geeks, and comic book fans and the like have their regular gatherings.

Last weekend a group of us gathered for Dave's birthday party -- he's a fandom cohort I've known since the early 1980s. Over dinner Paul, one of the other party attendees, related this account of one of Dave's con appearances.

About 12 years back Dave and Paul attended
Chattacon a few hours north of Atlanta. Like many fans of the various genres represented at the con, Dave went in costume: rather than imitate Chewbacca or Darth Vader, Dave struck out on his own and donned a long dark robe with an over-sized hood -- witnesses said it had a Grim Reaper aspect to it -- and meandered about, sans scythe but briefcase in hand.

Dave at Chattacon

One common activity at these conventions is buying works of art, either at an artist's booth or at auction. One painting caught Dave's eye, so he sat down in front of the auction room and proceeded to bid. Soon the competition was down to just Dave and another participant in the back of the room. Dave almost pulled it off, but the other bidder came up with an ingenious solution: she borrowed money from her friend, and when that source ran out, she approached other people in the auction room, and eventually she made her way into the hall to ask help from strangers, explaining, "Can you lend me a few bucks? I'm bidding against Death."

Poor Dave was up front and had no idea of what was transpiring in the back of the room, but Paul was well-positioned to see the whole thing. When it became apparent that enough people were willing to spot the second bidder enough cash to win the auction, one daring soul shouted out, "Give it up Death!"

By the time the bidding finished, a painting that had a $70 quick-sale value went for $200. The artist, meanwhile, invited Dave-as-Death to attend all his auctions.

1 comment:

Rose Blue said...

Assuming a good salary, that could be an interesting job. Dave may have stumbled onto a whole new career.