Rhode Island Comic ConI recently got a chance to attend Rhode Island Comic Con for the second consecutive year. Last year I just kind of took in the atmosphere, wandered around and see what the show was all about. There were dozens of vendors, celebrities and cosplayers. This year was no different as far as that goes, however, I did approach the show differently based on what I learned from attending last year, and as a result, my wife and I had a very unique experience that will never be replicated.

First off, this year I decided to check out a celebrity panel, and there were plenty to choose from but after one quick look at the schedule, I knew that there was one I absolutely HAD to get to; Tim Curry. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Curry, I have to ask what films you’ve watched. His resume includes the miniseries It, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name in which he played the titular It in the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, he played the butler in the film adaptation of the board game Clue, he played the literal Devil in Legend, the concierge in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and of course, perhaps his most famous role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I was initially saddened when I saw him in his wheelchair being brought up onto the stage, but those feelings quickly disappeared once I heard him speak. While a stroke might have robbed him of many things, it could not take his quick wit or sharp tongue or sense of humor. He was funny, he was charming and he was accommodating to his fans. He did some of the voices he’s well-known for (including the aforementioned Pennywise as well as one of his classic animated roles, Nigel Thornberry), spoke candidly about his feelings on films, remakes, lost roles, and his co-stars. He had the entire room – maybe 300 people- laughing and feeling nostalgic.

I was one of the lucky few who was able to ask him a question, and I asked him the same question that I’ve asked every celebrity at these conventions when I’ve had the opportunity: if there were conventions when you were younger, who is someone you would wait in line to see and spend your hard-earned dollars to meet? His response was immediate; Montgomery Clift. Mr. Clift is probably best known for his role in “From Here to Eternity”.

The other thing that I did differently this year from last year was my wife wanted a chance to have a photo-op with Tim Curry. Considering it was her birthday only about two weeks prior to the show, we decided that would be a really great birthday gift. The whole procedure took only a moment, but that moment contained within it a lifetime of memories. Knowing she only had a few seconds to interact with him she told him what his work as an actor meant to her and how grateful she was that he was taking the time to be with his fans, trekking from Los Angeles to Providence in November to give the people whose lives he’s touched with his art the opportunity to spend some time with him, even if it was only the briefest of expressions of admiration. He responded by telling her that she was beautiful.

I cannot put into words what this meant to her, and by extension to me. She managed to keep her composure until after the picture was taken, but once that was finished she completely broke down. Tears flowed due to the enormity of the emotion. She has been a fan of Tim Curry and his work since she was very young and his art has influenced her movie and music choices as she grew up. This small interaction, this handful of seconds, one of a million meetings that Tim Curry has had with his fans, this meant so much to her and the compliment he gave her will stick with her for the rest of her life. She will think of this every time that she sees him on-screen or hears his voice. Seeing how happy this made her also made me happy. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every last cent.

This is one of the most interesting things to have happened at any of the conventions I’ve attended. I know it isn’t cheap, but if you have the chance to visit with someone who means a lot to you, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and as today’s loss of Stan Lee showed us, you never know if the first chance you have to meet your idol at a convention like this will be the last chance you get. This is a way to keep them alive in your heart and your memory forever. You will not only have the shared experience of their art, be it movies, music, comics, television or whatever else they create that you have in common with all their other fans, but you will also have the specifically unique experience of the moment you shared with someone who has positively impacted your life. It’s something more meaningful than an autographed picture, signed DVD case, or anything else that you can purchase online. It’s not a tangible thing that can be lost or stolen or replicated; it’s an experience that you carry with you forever.

There is no price that you can put on that.

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