William Shatner and Harrison Ford are the Lennon and McCartney of science fiction, and Charlotte’s Mad Monster Party has got one-half of that “Star”-crossed duo this weekend.
The third annual convention, which celebrates horror and science fiction films, TV, music, and cult-pop culture, welcomes the Enterprise’s original Captain Kirk on Friday and Saturday during the three-day event.
Though Shatner is a regular on the convention circuit these days, he didn’t jump at the chance when offers began pouring in during the early post-“Star Trek” years. At DragonCon in Atlanta in 2009, for instance, lines wrapped around buildings for his rare appearance with Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr. Spock. (Shatner enjoyed the experience so much he extended his stay and popped up at unscheduled panels with Nimoy.)
“I thought it was just enthusiastic fans and I didn’t go. As far as I was concerned, I thought it was long gone,” he says of early conventions.
“When I did go, I was in front of 15,000 people without any prepared material,” he says, referring to Q&A sessions he participated in. “I’m standing in front of 15,000 people wondering what’s going to come out of your mouth. It’s a bit frightening.”
His convention appearances sowed the seed for the one-man Broadway show he brought to Charlotte two years ago.
“After due practice at a number of conventions, I gathered I was able to hold an audience by improvising a story or an anecdote, and gained the confidence to stand in front of these large audiences and entertain them, which resulted in me being confident enough to do a one-man show,” he says.
Hence Shatner’s recent string of appearances. He’s out promoting the theatrical release of “Shatner’s World,” which will play in theaters for one day only, on April 24. In addition to the film, he’s working on a reality series with his wife, designing a watch and a motorcycle, and jetting from one locale to the next for appearances, speaking engagements, and shows.
Friday marks his first appearance at Charlotte’s Mad Monster Party. But it’s likely he’ll see some of the same faces at Mad Monster Party on the convention circuit travels. This year’s MMP guests include Henry Winkler, Elvira, Corey Feldman, Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and “Rocky Horror’s” Barry Bostwick, Little Nell and Patricia Quinn.
True to its name, Mad Monster includes stars of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Frankenhooker,” “The Fog,” “Gremlins,” “Halloween,” and “Friday the 13th,” as well as contemporary horror actors. John Schneider will premiere “Smothered,” a new horror film he wrote and directed, followed by a Q&A with the cast Friday. There’s also a weekend-long film festival, scaraoke, costume contests, burlesque, a pageant and an auction.
For non-horror fans, the biggest event may be the tag-team Q&A panel with Hogan and Piper, moderated by “Mean” Gene Okerlund.