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.
Johnny Caps and Christie Brinkley
The first guest I met was Christie Brinkley. I paid for the V.I.P, which got me five autographs, a picture with Christie, and front-of-the-line access. I’ll admit that I was a little taken aback to find out as I was at the front of the line that inscriptions weren’t free, but as I had the money, I paid for the inscriptions as well, and once I did so, I waited for my chance to meet the Uptown Girl herself.
Christie was very friendly to meet, and as I mentioned the inscriptions I wanted on each item, she complimented me on my creativity in coming up with them. I got four autographs for myself, and one for the Wall Of Fame at my friend Erin’s restaurant at Emerald Point. When talking to Christie, I had the chance to thank her for her 80s work and how it inspired me. I always make a point of mentioning that to the 80s talents I meet, either in person or in the interviews I do. If it wasn’t for them and their work, I don’t know where I’d be.
Johnny Caps and Karen Dotrice
The next star I met was Karen Dotrice, who played Jane Banks in the Disney classic Mary Poppins. Familial and health issues had precluded her previous appearances from happening, but she made it to this Chiller, and I loved meeting her. She was soft-spoken and friendly as I talked about the impact Mary Poppins had on me as a child. I also mentioned that I enjoyed her cameo in Mary Poppins Returns, which I found to be a worthy follow-up to the original. Karen was fantastic to meet.
Johnny Caps and Donnie Dunagan
Signing alongside her was another Disney icon, Donnie Dunagan, who provided the voice of Bambi before leaving the acting business and serving in the military. Donnie had a great signature, and he looked very well. It was a little difficult for him to hear me because of how loud it was in the Hilton, but he was able to hear a story I told about my dad, a man who, like Donnie, served in Vietnam.
I’ll share that story with all of you as well. My dad served in the Navy in Vietnam, and every night they would play The Star-Spangled Banner on the ship. It was an orchestral version, but one night, my dad took the orchestral record and put the Jimi Hendrix version in its’ place, leading him to get in some trouble. When I told Donnie that, he gave me a friendly slap on the back and laughed out loud. I thanked him for his service, and he thanked my late father for his as well.
Johnny Caps and Catherine Bach
I then ventured into the Ballroom, where I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine Bach, well-known as Daisy Duke in The Dukes Of Hazzard. I had her sign a bikini photo with the inscription, “Johnny, let’s go for a swim. Catherine Bach”, and when I mentioned that, Catherine was a little taken aback at first, but she rolled with it. I told her about how I liked Cannonball Run II and her work in it, even though a lot of people didn’t, and she told me about how she was driving John Schneider’s car in that movie, as well as his troubles in affording it. I plan on sending Catherine an interview request soon.
Johnny Caps and Missi Pyle
Also in the Ballroom was a Galaxy Quest cast reunion. Of the four stars from that movie at this Chiller, Missi Pyle was the one I was most interested in meeting because I loved her work in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. We talked about liking the music in the 2005 version because the lyrics were Roald Dahl’s, although I mentioned that I also like the music from the 1971 version.
I had her sign a photo from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory with the inscription, “Johnny, we both have lovely eyes. Missi Pyle”. I chose that because she has lovely eyes, and some say my eyes are my best feature. Indeed, Missi complimented me on my eyes, and it made me feel good to hear that. She wasn’t the only star I would have sign that inscription on a photo that weekend, but that’s for later in this article.
Johnny Caps and Debbie D
Next up, I met Debbie D again. I would see her several times that weekend, and at one point, she playfully pointed out that I was going to send her an interview request after the April Chiller, but never did so. However, I did e-mail her the day after the October 2022 Chiller ended to explain why I didn’t reach out sooner, and she not only understood, but has agreed to an interview. That will be happening in December as I have two interviews transcripts and one follow-up interview for Pop Geeks to work on in the month of November.
Also, yes, as seen in the photo with Debbie D, I did have a bit of an accident when using the men’s room that evening. A user on Facebook saw the picture and said, “I can tell by the wet spot on your pants you were really happy to see this one!”. A funny joke, but no, it wasn’t that kind of wet spot. I’ll just have to be more careful when using the men’s room at future Chiller events.
Johnny Caps and Deborah Dutch
Debbie D was at this Chiller as part of a Scream Queen reunion, and so was another returning guest, my dear friend and 2020 interview subject Deborah Dutch. I would see her every day of the show that weekend, and Deborah always had kind words to say about me and to me. We get along famously to the point where Deborah wants me to help write her autobiography. I don’t know how I’ll be able to pull that off, but I’m honored that a dear friend like Deborah has that much faith in my writing abilities.
Johnny Caps and Terry Farrell
After Debbie D and Deborah Dutch, I met Terry Farrell. I mentioned that I was a Facebook friend of hers’ until she deactivated her profile, and she told me she deactivated her profile because of how overwhelming it got to be for her. I told her I understood. I certainly get overwhelmed at times. I had Terry sign a vintage ad from her 80s modeling days, and she enjoyed seeing it. I talked about my fascination with the 80s and how it relates to my autism spectrum disorder, and she found that fascinating. I’m glad I’ve been able to get my ASD to work for me instead of against me.
Johnny Caps and Rob Ryder
I then met a current Facebook friend of mine in Rob Ryder. He played both a Punk and a Baseball Fury in The Warriors, and was one of several Warriors cast members to attend that Chiller. Rob recognized me from Facebook, and I enjoyed meeting him. He was very friendly to meet. I only wish I knew more about basketball as Rob is rather proficient at that game. I myself, though, can’t even dribble a ball, let alone make a slam dunk.
Johnny Caps and Craig R. Baxley
Another Warriors cast member at this Chiller was veteran stuntman Craig R. Baxley, whom I was more familiar with from directing the cult classic action movies Action Jackson and Stone Cold. I was going to get one of his pictures signed, but he told me all the pictures he had for signing were in his autobiography, so I had him sign that instead, and we got a picture together. That wouldn’t be the only book I purchased that weekend.
Johnny Caps and Cheech Marin
I turned in for the night after having taken my meds in the 7:00 PM hour, and was up early on Saturday for day 2 of the show. I started off by getting on line for Cheech Marin. I didn’t go for the inscription with him, but I did enjoy meeting him. The picture I had him signed was one that was already signed by Tommy Chong, who signed a bunch of them for Big Event NY, the bookers who brought Cheech and Christie in.
While I was talking to Cheech, I mentioned to him that I knew two former co-stars of his, my friends Kim Hopkins and Wally Wharton, the latter of whom he knew as Annie when filming Up In Smoke. He extends good wishes to the both of them. As to Wally, that interview hasn’t been published on here yet as she’s the talent I’m doing a follow-up interview with for Pop Geeks. You’ll all love her stories when that interview goes live.
Johnny Caps and Gena Lee Nolin
Returning to Chiller, another Big Event NY guest was Gena Lee Nolin, a Facebook friend of mine whom I interviewed on the red carpet of the Hoboken International Film Festival in 2019. She remembered me from there, and it was good to see her again. As she had already given me an autograph at the film festival in 2019, I just got a photo with Gena this time out, and she still looks lovely as always.
Johnny Caps and Shawnee Smith
The next star I met was one of several brought in by my friend, and 2021 interview subject, Sean Clark. I’d been hoping for a long time that Shawnee Smith would attend the Chiller Theatre convention, and that hope came true this past October. She was excited about attending Chiller, and she was very friendly to meet. I talked to her about working with the late Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote alongside another previous interview subject of mine, Ami Dolenz. She spoke fondly of Ms. Lansbury, and that was nice to hear.
Johnny Caps and Tom Atkins
Another one of Sean’s guests at this Chiller was Tom Atkins. He was there for a Creepshow reunion, but I had to get his autograph on a Lethal Weapon photo as that movie made a big impact on me in my younger years. I told Tom of how it was one of the first R-rated movies I saw as a 17-year-old, and what great fun I thought it was. I loved Tom’s inscription on the Lethal Weapon picture, “Kill them all”. Tom was very friendly, though.
Johnny Caps and Robbie Rist
Up next was another Facebook friend of mine, Robbie Rist, who was making his first Chiller appearance at the October 2022 show. As neither of us are Trump supporters, I told him one of my favorite jokes about Trump, and he laughed at it. He took the selfies for me, and we did several different faces together. I got an autograph of him and his many characters for myself, and I got my friend and fellow Pop Geeks writer Adam Pope’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 VHS cover signed. Robbie was very friendly to meet.
Johnny Caps and Judie Aronson
I then met another interview subject of mine from the 2019 Hoboken International Film Festival, Judie Aronson. I reminded her of that festival, and she remembered me. I had her sign a photo from her days working at a Playboy Club with the personalization, “Johnny, come back to the 80s with me”. I also told Judie about my autism spectrum disorder and its’ connection to my 80s fandom. We didn’t have much time to talk about that, but she told me of how she finds people on the autism spectrum fascinating. She meant it in a good way. The spectrum certainly is a fascinating one.
Johnny Caps and Ola Ray
After Judie, I met Playboy Playmate and actress Ola Ray. You’ll remember her from the music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, where she played Michael’s girlfriend. As with Christie Brinkley’s 1981 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover and Terry Farrell’s 80s photo, I had Ola sign a Playboy picture with the inscription, “Johnny, come back to the 80s with me. Ola Ray”. I’m a big 80s fan, so I often get 80s photos inscribed like that, and the stars I meet like the inscription as well.
Johnny Caps and Cathy Moriarty
The next star in the grand parade was Cathy Moriarty, making her first Chiller appearance since Spring of 2013. I had the chance to tell Cathy of the impact Casper had on me as it came out a month-and-a-half after I lost my father. She offered her sympathies and talked about her own father’s passing as well. I also told of her how I loved Raging Bull, and how I was surprised to find she wasn’t Italian. She cracked me and those around her up by saying, in regards to being Italian, “only by injection!”.
Johnny Caps and Henry Thomas
The October 2022 Chiller played host to a 40th anniversary reunion for E.T The Extra-Terrestrial. I had a vintage chlldren’s book called Letters To E.T that I thought would be cool for the stars to sign. I began with Henry Thomas, Elliot in E.T.. I found him very friendly to meet, and I had the chance to thank him for his work in making the movie so memorable. I also asked him what it was like to go from working with Hollywood’s Big Good, Steven Spielberg, on E.T to Hollywood’s Big Bad, Harvey Weinstein, on Gangs Of New York. Henry talked about the actor’s life when it comes to working, and mentioned that they all called Weinstein Harvey Scissorhands on set. We now know, though, that incompetent film editing is the least of Weinstein’s flaws.
Johnny Caps and Matthew De Meritt
I then met Matthew De Meritt, who was one of E.T’s suit actors. I thanked him, too, for his part in making E.T the classic it was. Matthew was a little quiet, but very friendly regardless. Just as I had Henry sign a picture in Letters To E.T with his name and character name, I had Matthew sign it that way as well. Henry’s name and character name were on the left, while Matthew’s name and character name was on the right. Black marker made the autographs come out well.
Johnny Caps and Deborah Dutch
The E.T cast members had to be called away for the professional photo ops, so while I waited for them to return, I went back to the Scream Queen Reunion room for another picture with my friend Deborah Dutch. We took photos with her sunglasses both on and off, and whether she’s wearing sunglasses or not, Deborah exudes cool in every way, a coolness that is equally matched by her great kindness.
Johnny Caps and Dee Wallace
I went back to the Ballroom, the location of the E.T reunion, to get Dee Wallace’s autograph, as well as a picture with her. I mentioned that I interviewed her for Pop Geeks in 2018, but she didn’t remember our interview. I understand, though. With her many credits, she’s done many interviews as well, so it’s easy to lose track of who you’ve talked to before and who you haven’t. Dee was friendly about it, though, and I enjoyed meeting her in person.
Johnny Caps and Robert MacNaughton
After Dee, I met Facebook friend Robert MacNaughton, who played Michael in E.T.. I’d first met him at Chiller in October of 2015, and he remembered that I had my recorder going at that show. I told him that I had to scrap the Pop Geeks article I was planning after another October 2015 guest, WWE Hall Of Famer Howard Finkel, mentioned he wasn’t allowed to give unauthorized interviews, even if they didn’t have anything to do with wrestling.
Although that made me realize that all my interviews that weekend were technically unauthorized, when I met Robert again in 2022, he said he would’ve authorized it if it had been published. We also talked about what a phenomenon E.T was, and how rare a book like Letters To E.T is nowadays. I said that I couldn’t imagine a book like Letters To Shang-Chi, and Robert talked about how a lot of movies today are the same. That led me to recommend Everything Everywhere All At Once to him, and he said he’ll check it out. You all should, too, if you haven’t seen it yet.
Johnny Caps and Gina Schock
I went across the Ballroom to meet Gina Schock, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer who was, and still is, the drummer for The Go-Go’s. As with Christie, Terry and Judie, I talked about my autism spectrum disorder and its’ connection to my 80s fandom, especially how I was able to use the latter to help me live life with the former. Gina liked hearing that. I purchased his pictorial autobiography and a picture with her, and I’ll be reading her book in anticipation of sending her an interview request for Pop Geeks within the next few months.
Johnny Caps and Lorraine Bracco
The next star I met, Lorraine Bracco, I was actually going to meet earlier in the day, but she had to leave the convention for a bit to tend to some personal business. I met her later that day instead, and found her to be very friendly. We talked about her work in the Blake Edwards movie Switch, and she also expressed a pleasant shock in seeing the picture I had her sign, a late 80s/early 90s photo of her rocking a black bra. She asked me where I got the picture from, and I said eBay. I liked that she enjoyed seeing it.
Johnny Caps and Terry Farrell
I milled around for a bit and then went up to my room for the night in anticipation of Day 3 of Chiller. I was up early for preshow as always, and when I got in, I met Terry Farrell again and gave her my contact information in the hopes that I might land an interview with her. She told me she’s waiting on doing interviews at the moment, but as she has my contact information, there’s still some hope that perhaps an interview might happen. Although I mentioned that this year is the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I told Terry that, if I were to interview her, I would talk about the whole of her career, past, present and future.
There was a vintage headshot of Terry that highlighted how lovely her eyes are, so I again went for the inscription, “Johnny, we both have lovely eyes. Terry Farrell”. She not only complimented me on my eyes, but my eyebrows as well. She talked about how eyebrows can frame the eyes, and she liked how my eyebrows framed my own. I’ve never gotten compliments on my eyebrows before, but to get them from a great beauty like Terry is an honor.
Johnny Caps and Judie Aronson
I also met Judie Aronson once more and gave her my contact information. She told me she doesn’t really do interviews anymore, but she does occasionally check the e-mail address she gave me in a PM from her Facebook fan page. As my friend and two-time interview subject Kimmy Robertson would do and say, I’ll put it out there into the universe that I’ll be able to do a more in-depth interview with Judie soon.
Johnny Caps and Craig Bierko
Before I met Terry again, I talked to Craig Bierko while waiting for Judie that morning. He was a frequent guest of Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, and I was a Patreon backer of the show until Gilbert’s passing. We shared memories of how we came to know all sorts of salacious show business gossip from the podcast, and it was nice to reminisce with someone who really knew Gilbert well. After I got my next picture and autograph with Judie, I got an autograph and photo with Craig. He’s a really tall man, and a really cool man.
Johnny Caps and Deborah Dutch
Finally, I got a few more pictures with Deborah Dutch before the show wrapped up. As I did every day we met, I gave her a big hug, and she hugged me right back. After that, I just milled around until my friend came to pick me up. When I was heading home, I was thinking about what a great time I had. I think this was the best October Chiller I’ve attended so far, but I’m already planning ahead to the 2023 Chillers, which I know will be even better than the previous shows, and the previous shows were already fantastic to begin with. With the guest list of every show, Chiller keeps topping themselves, and I’m glad to be along for the ride.
You see, a lot of people noticed me from the Chiller Theatre Fans group, and both they and Chiller staffers have started referring to me as a goodwill ambassador for the show. I’ll gladly take that compliment. Several Chiller staffers, as well as the convention’s creator, my friend Kevin Clement, thanked me for always promoting and speaking positively about the show. I’ve dug Chiller from my first time attending in October of 2014, and I’ll continue talking gladly about it for a long time to come. It’s the only convention I attend, and it’s my favorite.
As to future Pop Geeks articles, several Flashback Interviews are in various stages of development at the moment, but keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for interviews with dancer Deborah Jenssen, Oscar-winning makeup artist Kevin Haney, the aforementioned actress and artist Wally Wharton, two-time Oscar-winning sound designed Russell Williams II, and comedienne Monique Marvez. Lots of writing in the works, but I love sharing my work with you, the Pop Geeks audience.
Keep rocking on and flying high, everybody!