So, last weekend I went to a new comic con in town. It was a smallish affair put on by a guy who used to be involved in the bigger shows and wanted to get back his roots in old schoold cons. I wanted to support him, so I bought a ticket ages ago online. To be honest, I wasn't terribly interested in most of the guests, but again, I wanted to support my local geeks, so I bought a ticket. Well, that's not exactly true. I also wanted to see Ernie Reyes, Jr.
Who, you ask?
Ernie Reyes, Jr. Child star of The Last Electric Knight (a movie I was obsessed with) and Sidekicks (the TV show, not the movie), teen star of Surf Ninjas, and none other than Donatello (and Keno) in the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies of the 90s.
Oh, and did I mention he's a serious martial artist off the screen?
Because yeah, he is. I won't go into specifics, but Ernie has cred.
And he was scheduled to attend this con, so I was excited to meet him.
Sadly, Ernie had to cancel. He got work on a certain show [Spoiler (click to open)](The Librarians) and couldn't make it. I was a little bummed, but I was mostly happy because that means that Ernie is healthy enough to work, which matters since he has been on dialysis for nearly the past year. And since Judith Hoag (April O'Neill) and Kenn Scott (Raphael) would be there, and since I got to wear a costume, I still attended. The con was alright, if nothing too spectacular for me. I was brave and entered the costume contest because they only had a handful of participants. I didn't win, but I didn't expect to, as I wore Rey and had nothing prepared for the stage as far as performance (what do you even do for Rey?). But I was brave, so I'm calling it a victory.
But after the con? Well, that was a different story. I found out very late in the game that the local Alamo Drafthouse was doing a showing of the first Ninja Turtles movie that night, along with a Q & A with Judith and Kenn. I'd never been to one of Alamo's Q & A things before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I went.
I'm so glad I did.
I found out some fun trivia, like: Raphael is the tallest turtle because Kenn is 5'7" and they made an exception for him, as the casting call said the turtles needed to be 5'5" or shorter. Kenn was originally cast to be only a foot soldier (the one Mikey calls a "fellow chucker," in fact, and he still played that role because Raph isn't in that scene), but circumstances landed him as Raph, so the rules were bent.
But mostly I found out that the stars of this then little indy movie are still passionate about it, and that was great.
I learned more trivia that was fun. I won't share it here because some of it looks too far behind the curtain for everyone's taste.
And I heard a story that just made me so very happy and is the main reason for this post.
Once upon a time, when Judith was first cast as April, she was also filming Cadillac Man, with Robin Williams and Tim Robbins. She was a little embarrassed to admit her other project, as she had never heard of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (no one used acronyms until years later) and frankly found it hard to say.
But one day, one of the crew was giving her a hard time about always flying back and forth to some other location when they had a filming break and they asked her what she was working on. She mumbled her response and from across the set, Robin William's head jerked up like it was on a string (her words).
He ran over and asked, "THEY'RE MAKING A MOVIE?"
Judith just nodded, having never encountered anyone who knew was she was talking about. Remember, this was 1990. Turtles weren't big yet.
And then Robin asked, "ARE YOU APRIL?"
Judith confirmed this and Robin just beamed and proceeded to grill her on everything about the movie.
And that was one actress's introduction to fandom.
Not a bad way to meet a geek, I'd say. And not a bad way to be reminded that no matter what you're doing and how stupid you might think it is, someone else out there will get it and think it's cool. Really.
They showed the movie after about an hour of Q & A time, and I loved it as much as I did in 1990 and every one of the zillions of times I've seen it since.
And just like every time I've watched it, since I started down my martial arts road in 1989, I appreciated it as more than a kiddie comic film or cult classic.
I appreciated it as a martial artist, and no one disses the turtles to me. I won't stand for it.
Because I've said for years that one has to remember that those are real people in big rubber suits doing those things.
And now I have even more appreciation for that, as I learned that the martial artists carried computers on their backs in the turtle's shells with wires that went up their necks to TWENTY-SEVEN tiny servos in the faces to move the lips, eyes, and eyelids of the turtles.
Now, I can throw a pretty good jump sidekick, but to do so in a rubber suit, carrying a computer on my back, with twenty-seven little motors whirring around my face, making me even hotter?
Well, to quote my favorite tutle: Damn.
I went back to the con the next day just to chat with Kenn. I ended up chatting some with Judith, too, and I did appreicate the small con atmosphere for this reason. Kenn and I talked martial arts and Judith and I talked Pixar.
It was a lovely day, even if I forgot to tell Kenn that despite my love of purple and Ernie, my favorite Ninja Turtle has always been and will always be Raphael.