And it IS an experience, let me tell you that right now.

(Click the image above to be taken to a small set of images from the session.)

OK, so here's the way it worked. After much hemming and hawing, I went ahead and got a one-day ticket to C2E2. I wasn't sure I wanted to go this year, except that Barrowman would be doing a question-and-answer thing, and his sessions at cons are legendary for their spectacular inappropriateness.

A reputation well earned, let me tell you right now.

So I got there about half an hour early, and I thought, Hmm. Should I go to the session area and hang out for half an hour, or should I go take a quick look at the con floor? After all, it's a big room, lots of chairs ... nah, let's go to the session early. Which turned out to be a sort of good idea. I didn't want to sit in the middle of everything, because, well, it was the middle of everything. People were cosplaying right left and center. There were more people dressed as the TARDIS than you could shake a stick at. (No, not as the Doctor. That goes without saying. As the TARDIS. Complete with functioning flashing lights on their head. As you can imagine, this gave them a certain ... height. As they were mostly clustered in the middle of the room, staying away from the middle looked to be a good idea.)

There was a small momentary stampede near the beginning of the talk. Apparently, they'd been holding a block of seats for some VIPs who never showed. The seats were released, and there was this sudden baffling surge to the front. But eventually everyone settled, and it was time to start!

First, there was someone from the Reed Conventions staff to introduce the introducer, Misha Davenport, who does a lot of TV and genre column writing for the Chicago Sun-Times. Misha came on stage to introduce Barrowman, a wonderful fulsome introduction that made much of his history having been born and brought up in the area. And then Barrowman came skipping out to take the stage!

...No, that's not an exaggeration. He was skipping.

Approximately two seconds after Barrowman took the stage, Davenport completely lost control of the situation, if he'd planned to even try to exercise any. First, Barrowman started sort of flirting with some guy in the front row, then brought him up on the stage so they could compare biceps and show them off to the audience. There may or may not have been an indecent proposal, which Guns Guy's girlfriend may or may not have urged him to accept. (This was something of a theme, by the by.)

Shortly thereafter -- you know, ten, fifteen seconds later -- Misha started asking a few questions that had come in through the Sun-Times or C2E2 website. The whole gay thing came up, via a question asked by a woman, and he was talking about being out and proud and glad that he could be so, and proud to be a "gold star gay" (look it up if you don't know, that's all I'm saying) at which point I'm thinking , Oh, BOY, is this going to be a RIDE!. Somewhere in there, he talked about clothing, and that even though he wasn't dressed up, he was still gay enough that he had to wear something sparkly, and he stood up and showed everyone his silver and (I think) rhinestone-studded belt buckle (and, perhaps incidentally, his groinal region), and, well, we'd been off and running since he got in the room, so... (He also apologized for using the F word. No, not THAT F word ... which, in fact, I do not believe was mentioned -- he even said "frickin'" a couple of times, believe it or not. No, he apologized for calling himself a theater fag, but, as he put it, "I am one, so I say it a lot.")

That said, I think there may be some method to his madness, although I'm not entirely sure how intentional it is. After all, he manages to completely blow you back with WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL in the first few minutes (another question was about how much Cap'n Jack stuff he has, and does he play with them, and he said something about playing with his six-inch action figure, and sometimes his twelve-inch action figure, and sometimes one turns into the other, depending on how often he plays with them in a day), so when he starts being a bit more serious, you're more than ready for it.

THAT said, I wonder if maybe it's gotten a bit out of hand. People were asking questions -- not specifically about his sex life, but close -- that were really a bit ... much, and having started out there, he could scarcely decline to answer them. (At some point, his husband disappeared, I think because John kept referring questions of that nature to him to answer, and he wouldn't. Granted, most of the questions of that nature were women volunteering their men for sexual services, and he kept saying they'd have to ask Scott if he could accept.)

During the more serious portion, he talked a bit about his upbringing and his career, as expected. He mentioned that they've filmed the pilot for Gilded Lilys, and he'll find out about 10 days after he goes home from this tour -- he's doing a couple of other things after this, I gather -- whether or not they're picked up to go to series. He says the character he's playing is technically a bad boy, although he doesn't see the guy that way, and that, well, "he was not a stretch, let's say that." He's hoping that Cap'n Jack gets to meet Matt Smith's doctor (there were several questions about the possibility of him kissing Smith's doctor, since Smith was in Christopher and his kind and seems to have said something about kissing boys being quite enjoyable), but there's nothing planned as yet. It also seems that, while they're planning to have a big thing about the 50th anniversary, that it is not yet planned, and they don't know what it's going to be. He hasn't been contacted about being in it yet, but he has hopes.

Regarding Torchwood: Starz itself recently said that they'd be open to another series. (Really? I mean... really?) However, because Davies has kept control of Torchwood and is currently distracted by his partner's cancer -- about which Barrowman declined to say anything at all -- and other work, there's nothing on the table. That said, he and his sister have written a sequel novel that is scheduled to come out late this year, giving one possible post Miracle Day option. He thinks it would make a great movie, but nobody's thinking about those options right now. He thinks it's called "Access Code" currently, but as he noted, it's changed title five times, and plot points keep changing, so whenever he has a meeting about it and starts saying something, his sister leans over and says, "Pssst! We changed that bit."

He and his sister have also written a novel called Hollow Earth (due out here in October, but already on sale in the UK), which is apparently being marketed in the UK as a children's/YA book, which ... well, this is the part that gets confusing. On the one hand, he said that that wasn't the original intended audience; on the other, he said that they wrote the sort of book they'd like to have read at the age that the protagonists were, and they're both in the 10-12 age group. Either way, it sounded pretty interesting, so I'm looking forward to seeing it when it comes out here.

During the question-and-answer portion, he steadfastly refused to answer questions about which roles or productions or songs were his particular favorites, because he didn't want to slight anyone. He did, however, talk about pulling pranks on the set, although he didn't get specific, with the exception of one thing. During the shooting of Miracle Day, for the big romantic scene with Angelo, the other actor had never kissed a man before. As Barrowman put it, "I've kissed men, I've kissed women, I've kissed everyone and I don't have a problem with it, so I asked him if there was anything I could do to make him more comfortable, and he said he was fine." The actor's girlfriend was on the set that day for moral support, I guess. So he would have this makeout session with John, and then between takes, he'd go over to kiss his girlfriend. John and the director conspired to have take after take after take, and as he put it, "That poor woman's face was completely chapped by the end of the day."

He also talked, unspecifically, about doing things to crack up Eve Myles during the close-ups where they're shooting over his shoulder to focus on her face during a conversation, and how that had an unintentional payoff. He was in the audience during her play with Zach Braff, and one of the lines was about Charlton Heston, only the character mixes things up and calls him "Charlton Moses." This, for some reason, struck him as incredibly funny, and he started laughing, and he was close enough to the stage that Myles could not only hear him, but could tell who it was. And for some reason, that got her going, which kept Barrowman going, and poor Braff is trying to deliver this deadly serious speech, and she's laughing her head off. She later told Barrowman that now she can't look at Braff during that speech, because she keeps remembering that, and it'll get her started again.

(He did NOT talk about the "brown eye" incident. Given that this audience had pretty much been given carte blanche to go any damn place they wanted, I suspect that most people either didn't know about it, or felt that talking about it would be a bit much even for them. So they offered their husbands to him instead.)

There were a lot of questions and comments about gay rights and issues, as well as charitable causes he was interested in. (He does a lot for a trust that rehomes dogs, and mentioned that he is now forbidden by both acts of Parliament and of Husband from going to any shelters, because every time he goes to a shelter, he comes home with a dog. He also talked a bit about his dogs, their very gay spaniel, the one that he described as friendly but kind of ... not very bright, and the Jack Russell that's a complete brute and owns the place.) In the statement he said was going to get him in so much trouble, one of the things he liked about Jack was that he was a sort of gay guy that you don't see on TV in the states much, an action-adventure hero type.

Someone else asked him what, if anything, he'd taken off the Torchwood/DW sets. He mentioned that he may have (ahem) "borrowed" one or two things that just happened to follow him home, and that he also had a copy of Jack's "hero coat" that he had made. Turns out that he and Tennant both went through several of the coats in a season, because their coats were so long that they kept tripping on them and falling and ripping them. But for both of them, there was something called the "hero coat", a very specific length and weight, designed to blow in the wind like a long cape. He'd had one of those made, and it was apparently VERY expensive; he also had a couple of weapons, one he'd taken from the set and then gotten given a replica. He also had every magazine with him on the cover, as well as every action figure.

He also talked about being in the film of "The Producers" (he came in singing "Springtime for Hitler", of all possible things). He mentioned that he'd gone blond for that, though apparently that was a wig. It was being filmed at the time when Torchwood was beginning to hit, and he was attracting unwanted attention when he went out, and they let him keep the wig during production. So he'd pop on the wig, pop in the blue lenses and go out in to the world unrecognizable, and he says that it's true that blonds have more fun, and for more information about that, we'd have to ask his husband. (This was the point at which he'd realized that Scott had left the area.)

Near the end, there was one terribly sweet moment. A woman came to the microphone to ask Barrowman if he remembered doing "The Dreamer's Academy", and if he'd done anything like it since. Apparently, when he first started to make a name for himself, Barrowman would come back to his old high school and do a two-week academy for performing artists, focusing on dramatics and song. He actually remembered the woman herself from the academy, and how well she'd done, and asked after her, and it was just one of those really nice moments.

And then at the end, he sang a rousing chorus of "The Doctor and Me".

To be sure, I wasn't -- and am not now -- a Barrowman fanboy. But, that said ... he does come across as the sort of person you'd like to get to know.

By the by, if you were wondering, his favorite superheroes are Captain America, Iron Man and Superman.

"i always wondered if the carpet matched the drapes. Now I know."

...Eh. The rest of the con was OK. After all, I only had the one day pass, and didn't attend any other sessions, so it was just the con floor and artists alley, in addition to the Barrowman thing.

One truly weird thing: people kept wanting to take pictures of me. (Well, ok, three people, but still, that's more than at the last two combined.) I honestly have no real idea why. Apparently, it's slightly related to the coat I was wearing. Apparently, it's somehow A Thing. I forgot to know this. People would ask to take my picture, and the first thing I'd say was not , "Thanks", but "WHY?" I don't think I'd have let anyone else if asked.

I've noticed that, entirely without intent, my buying habits at the con have fallen into loose themes. The first year, it was "weird comics". (Which led, as you might imagine, to spending a LOT of money.) Next year, it was a few weird comics and a LOT of gay comix. This year, it was mostly comics by minorities. Not sure why, but that's the way it worked out. (Kind of glad, actually. Not that I wouldn't have wanted to purchase stuff, but, as is now usual, almost all the gay comix were in the Prism Comics booth, and Prism has behaved Very Badly Indeed of late, so I'm kind of glad not to have had to thrash between giving them money and being too pissed off to give them money.)

There was also one really notable exhibit in Artists Alley that I'm kind of surprised was allowed to stay up. Artists display different art pieces to get you to come buy their stuff. (There was one guy who, if the pieces had been anything other than weird pinups, I'd have loved to buy. Lovely art nouveau styled stuff. Unfortunately, I didn't see it until after I'd seen "Boobs! and Babes" and "Booty Babes" and "Barbarian Babes with Boobs and Booty" [and so on and on and ON] sketchbooks everywhere, and I just could not even try to deal any more. Artists Alley is quite quite breastacular. But I digress.) This one guy had a drawing of Barbara Gordon .. as Robin. With a thought balloon saying, "Boy wonder, indeed!" Um ... OK, whatever. But that wasn't the notable part, oh no no no. NO. No, the notable part was that the costume had been ripped to shreds. She was holding it so it just barely hid the nipples. It was also ripped lower down so that it revealed ... how to put it ... well, just read the section title. That's what one of the con-goers said when they were staring at the image.

Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks that everyone should be protected from sex and nudity ... but that said, there is a time and a place, and that didn't feel like either. I'm surprised that neither the con organizers nor the DC people (they had a booth for signings) came over and said, "Yo, dude, not cool. Everyone else has managed to be pubes-free for their public display pieces, so why can't you?"

Anyway, that aside, an interesting day, and I'm glad I saw Barrowman speak. And I picked up a few -- just a few, for a wonder -- intersting things that I'm looking forward to reading.
Well. Did not see that one coming.

I wonder what that means for next season. They surely can't function in that state.

Really was one hell of a left hook of an episode, especially for a show that, despite everything, never led you to expect they could deliver something like that.
iainpj: (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2008 12:54 pm)
All's I got to say is, I love me a comic with a short lead time. I wonder how this works out for newspapers, though. (And you know you would SO pay to go see that if it were a real event. Just for the sheer "I was there" factor, if nothing else.)

You know, that just can't wind up anywhere good. Though maybe it wouldn't be all that bad, after all.

After I saw this, for no apparent reason, the theme song for the cartoon "Muppet Babies" keeps going through my head. (Also ... since when does Gareth David-Lloyd have a permanent suntan? Though the constant weepiness is a nice touch.) (Also, Certain People, naming no names, will probably appreciate greatly the end of Part One.)

Not so much the "apres-vie" as the apertif, it would seem. (Certain Other People, still naming no names, might also appreciate this viewpoint.)

Artist's block.

But is anyone ready for it, really? That's the question.

You know, this might have saved me two years of pointless agony, at one point. Then again, perhaps not.

That would explain so much, wouldn't it?

This is so wrong. So very very very very wrong.

And now all I can think of is an old Electric Company skit, where the actor plays an actor who keeps blowing the line "I smell ... Danger!". Given the age that the Electric Company was aimed at, the viewers would likely have appreciated the result.

The hazards of being Bond and why he needs to be very very careful about some things.

This would explain so much... (I'm guessing this is also the reason for the "you must! you must! you must increase your bust!" spam, as well.)

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft...
I tell you what: this show has generally gotten stunningly lucky with its guest stars. The woman who played Beth was very very good, I thought, and the mass murdering guy managed to sell some serious cheese and make it play.

here be spoilers. Yes, spoilers. No, really, plot will be vaguely discussed. Abandon hope all ye who click here. )
So, a mostly spoiler-free, parenthetical-filled and brief(ish) comment: upon further review, that was cracktastic fun!

Understand: I'm not saying that it was good, exactly; I'm saying that it was fun. Not in the "let's pick apart everything they did wrong" way, but in the "they have seen the enemy's horrible tacky awfulness, and it is them, and they have embraced it" sort of way.

Here's the weird thing, though: for all that it was pretty much the producers and writers saying, "Why are we writing pretty men kissing? Because. We. CAN! We are the biggest fanboys de todos! We don't care if it's good, we just want boys kissing!" it was kind of ... shockingly tightly plotted. That terribly silly beginning also signalled that things have changed dramatically; there aren't as many secrets as there once were. (And the original opening after every first season episode's credits, where Jack declaims the purpose of Torchwood from the top of the Millennium Centre is gone, which is good.) One scene between Gwen and Jack was solidly in the "WTF? What planet did that sail in from?" realm -- there was really nothing in season one to set it up, and certainly nothing earlier in this episode -- but even that scene served to impart some character information that would otherwise have been hard to work in. (And I'll bet what was implied never gets mentioned again, either.) Everyone even had something more or less useful to do in the story, plus Owen Comedy Rapist was kept to a minimum. (I really do think they hamstrung the character with the way he started the series; they just plain didn't think about how playing Alien Pheromone Roofie Rape for Fun would come across. Unfortunately, he's stuck with it. Add to that the fact that the character's written prickly and somewhat dislikeable, and ... well, as I said, he's stuck with it.) If they can alternate, say, a well done horror episode -- and the horror was the stuff that mostly landed last season -- with fun (if periodically violent and gory) stuff like this, then that'll be about a perfect season. And judging from the press release about the first five episodes, the fanboy crack levels will be impressive this season. About the only thing missing was the producers saying, "Oh, and we'll be making sure that all of our men show up naked at least once each this season." Though if Owen will kindly keep his clothes on, I'll gladly foresake seeing everyone else naked. (Last season's Naked Rhys was cute, though ... What? What? He was.)

Also, judging from this episode and the "coming this season" bit, Ianto gets all the fun lines.

There's still a mild structural problem that there's nothing they can do with -- there's no good reason for Toshiko or Ianto to ever be out in the field, and Ianto's role within Torchwood remains profoundly undefined. I think he's supposed to primarily be the operations manager, but by definition, your operations manager stays behind to coordinate your operations, which severely limits what they can do with him dramatically. Thus, he goes out into the field for no good reason.

I will note that the only bit that stuck out as Really Terribly Stupid was that thing with the blood at the end. And, while it would have gotten your average earth human Extremely and Unpleasantly Dead, I'm willing to give that the "alien biology works different" handwave. I'm a bit less willing to believe that a device that had been clamped on that long could be confused so easily by so little, but again ... whatever. Not enough to ruin the fun.

Really, the only thing that would have made this episode any more fun is if they'd played out Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang over the end. (No, of course it wouldn't have made any sense. That's not the point.)


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