Hello, dear readers. It’s Johnny Caps here. Because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which is still happening as I write these words, I haven’t published any interviews for Pop Geeks these past few months on the advice of several previous interview subjects who are SAG-AFTRA members. As my interviews cover the whole of a talent’s career, past, present and future, and as the present and the future can’t be discussed right now according to SAG rules, the interviews I was working on polishing before the strike went into effect are still in draft format, and I haven’t sent out any interview requests since the strike started.
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I had sent my latest interview subject, Lisa Fuller, an interview request last year. I didn’t initially hear back from her, so when I saw that she would be attending the April 2023 Chiller Theatre convention, I knew I had to not only meet her because I loved her work in movies like Teen Witch and Earth Girls Are Easy, but because I wanted to confirm the e-mail address I sent the interview request to was accurate. She checked it out a few weeks after we met at Chiller, and she agreed to an interview.
I once again paid a visit to the Chiller Theatre convention last month, and the April 2023 installment was the best April Chiller I’ve attended so far. I know I said that about the April 2022 Chiller, but I’ve come to find that every Chiller Theatre is better than the last one, and the last one is always fantastic to begin with. Join me as I recap the stars I met at the April 2023 Chiller.
In the cover photo for this article, you’ll recognize Marie Osmond and Barbara Eden, but you may be wondering who is accompanying them. The third party in this picture is my newest interview subject, Gail Ryan. Ms. Ryan is an accomplished hairstylist with credits going back to the 1960s. She’s worked with talents ranging from Dean Martin and Bob Hope to Demi Moore and Jim Carrey to Benicio Del Toro and many of the professionals on Dancing With The Stars.
I was first exposed to the work of today’s interview subject, sound designer Russell Williams II, when I saw the 1986 Cannon version of Invaders From Mars on WPIX, New York’s Movie Station, in the 1990s. Upon revisiting that movie as an adult, I could better appreciate what Russell was able to do considering Cannon’s stinginess.
Before I even knew the name of Deborah Jenssen, my next interview subject, I saw her dancing in music videos like Was (Not Was)’ Walk The Dinosaur and on episodes of Solid Gold I had acquired from a fan-to-fan DVD seller. Years later, I would discover Ms. Jenssen on Facebook, and I would find that she had transitioned from dancing to singing. With her many diverse talents, I knew she would have some fantastic stories to tell. We spoke last year, but today, you’ll all get to know her as I have.
My newest Pop Geeks interview subject, Stacey Q, is actually one of the very first talents I ever had the pleasure of interviewing. We were connected to each other by our mutual friend Shawn Winstian on MySpace in the late 00s, and I did an e-mail interview with her that was published on a short-lived website called Old School 4 Life. I was with that site during a brief period of time where I’d left my writing base, RetroJunk.
I was first introduced to Byron Thames, my newest interview subject, through the movie Johnny Dangerously, where he played the young version of Michael Keaton’s title character. I would later see his work in movies like Seven Minutes In Heaven and 84 Charlie MoPic, and from there, I would become familiar with his musical output with his wife Tricia Leigh Fisher, seeing them cover a diverse array of 70s songs.
I was in a very dark place in the 00s. Trying to figure out life as a twentysomething on the autism spectrum, I was frustrated and angry in many ways. Those ways often made their way into my sleep, so I needed a way to find a peaceful rest every night. Comedy CDs became the way I found that peaceful rest, or something close to it. That’s how I became familiar with comedienne Monique Marvez.
My latest interview subject, Debbie D, was first mentioned to me by our mutual friend Deborah Dutch when I interviewed her in 2020. Two years or so later, I would meet Debbie D at the Chiller Theatre convention, and I said I would reach out to her about an interview. When I saw her IMDB page, though, I was taken aback by her many credits, and I knew that I would need time to formulate the right questions.
Years before I knew her name, I first saw Wally Wharton as the character of Debbie in the Cheech and Chong movie Up In Smoke. Many years later, I saw her leave a comment on a mutual Facebook friend’s page, and I was so fascinated by her comment that I reached out to her with a friend request. She accepted it, and we hit it off so much that I knew I wanted to do an interview with her.
Twice a year, the Chiller Theatre convention is held in Parsippany, NJ. I go to both shows, the one in April and the one in October, and I always have fun at every Chiller I go to. I love meeting the stars at the show, and I’ve made a lot of friends in terms of attendees and Chiller staff as well. While the memories are still relatively fresh in my mind, I wanted to do a recap of the October 2022 Chiller Theatre convention.