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Bruce Campbell at Trek Expo 99 in Tulsa

Bruce Campbell

Saturday

Actor Bruce Campbell, who plays Autolycus on Hercules and Xena, appeared at Trek Expo 99 in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 26, 1999. The audience roared as Bruce walked onto the stage, casually dressed in brown pants and a brown short-sleeved shirt with bright vertical patterns.

Bruce's performance was energetic, creative, and highly interactive. His demeanor reminded me of an old-time traveling snake-oil salesman. His remarks were often so silly and flippant that it was difficult to determine if he was serious or joking. Without a doubt, his performance was the most entertaining that I had ever seen at a convention. Bruce did and said so many amusing things that I can only recall a fraction of them.

Bruce spent the entire hour telling humorous anecdotes and answering questions from the audience. Bruce included everybody in the fun, accepting questions not only from the reserved seats, but also from the general admission bleachers. At one point, he couldn't hear a question from the bleachers, so he leaped from the meter-high stage to meet the attendee face to face. Afterward, he deftly vaulted back onto the stage, but said, "That was easier to do a few years ago!" Later, he left the stage again to hear another question, but this time he returned via the stairs behind the stage. A noise was heard, as if Bruce had fallen and hurt himself on the stairs, but then he emerged from the curtain and said, "That's just a little backstage humor!"

In addition to answering questions, Bruce also posed some. He wanted to know how many attendees were from Tulsa. Surprisingly, only a few applauded. Bruce then wanted to know who had traveled the farthest to attend the convention. Several people raised their hands and reported their points of origin, but Bruce wasn't satisfied. He wanted to hear from people who had come from really far away, like China. Someone said that they had come from Ireland, to which Bruce replied, "Get out of here!" Bruce then wanted to know who lived closest, within half a mile or so, maybe the guy who sweeps up at night. He said he was just kidding about that.

Bruce mentioned that he was growing his moustache because he would be returning to New Zealand to shoot the last ever episode of Hercules. He said that the episode would involve Autolycus and his ex-wife (played by Traci Lords) committing the very first bank robbery in history. Bruce wittily suggested that some of the older guys in the audience might be familiar with Traci Lords "from the privacy of their own homes".

Somebody asked if Callisto would be returning next season. Bruce said that she would. Somebody else wanted to know if Autolycus might get his own series. Bruce said that he didn't think it would work with Autolycus alone. He said that it would be like eating only spicy foods for dinner every night, that it would quickly give you a stomach ache. Bruce thought it might work if Joxer were also in the show, because no matter how much of a buffoon Autolycus might be, he would always look good compared to Joxer.

Somebody asked what it was like kissing Renee O'Connor in "The Quest". Bruce said that, in addition to the kiss, he enjoyed putting his hand on Renee's behind. He said that Renee is very athletic and works out on a StairMaster. He said that her buttocks were so firm that his hand didn't even make an impression. Bruce joked that, after the scene was over, he didn't think he had done it quite right, and he wanted to shoot the scene again.

Bruce revealed that he was writing a book about the entertainment industry (tentatively titled Confessions of a B Movie Actor). He said that he was also working on a project called "Fanalysis". The audience got quiet, and Bruce said, "You don't like the sound of that, do you?" Bruce said that he would be conducting videotaped interviews with some of the attendees to obtain material for "Fanalysis". Sometimes, Bruce would turn questions around on people, asking them, "What do you think?" Apparently this, too, served as research for "Fanalysis".

Bruce said that he likes the internet and that his e-mail address is bcact@aol.com. The "bc" comes from his initials, and "act" comes from what he does. He said that everybody always asks, in a whiney voice, "Why are you on AOL?!" Bruce answers, "Because it's free!" He mentioned that his web site address is www.bruce-campbell.com. He explained that he had to add the dash because www.brucecampbell.com was already owned by a car dealership.

Bruce read some of the e-mail that he had received from fans. One woman wrote to complain that her husband was acting like Autolycus. Another person wrote to ask how Bruce liked making porn for twelve year olds, apparently referring to the scantily clad women in Xena and Hercules. Some of the e-mail contained what Bruce called "backhanded compliments", such as "Everything you do is so cheesy, but you're very good at it," and "I saw you on The X-Files, and it's nice to finally see you do some acting."

Some of the e-mail was downright insulting. One e-mail made fun of Bruce's chin. Another e-mail predicted that Bruce would be making a living by shaking the hands of weird, creepy guys at conventions. Bruce said that some of his e-mail made him want to call the police, but he said that not all of his e-mail was like that. One person wrote to thank Bruce, because his funny performance in "Porkules" had helped that person through a very difficult time in their life.

Somebody asked about the scar on Bruce's chin. Bruce said he didn't have an interesting story about the scar, but that he should probably make one up someday. He said that he got the scar when he was a kid, just fooling around in the back yard. He said that somebody had recommended some kind of laser surgery to remove the scar, but Bruce said that he preferred to just let himself deteriorate.

Somebody asked about "Army of Darkness", and Bruce said that the shooting lasted for 103 days. He said that, most days, he would get up at 4 AM and work until 2 AM the next day. Somebody asked if there would be another "Evil Dead" movie. Bruce replied, "Why would I want to do that?" Apparently, the filming of "Army of Darkness" was so grueling that he wouldn't want to put himself through that again.

Bruce described a special effect from "Evil Dead II" in which he shot a hole in the wall and torrents of blood came gushing out and pinned him against the opposite wall. He said that they couldn't find a pump that would make the blood gush forcefully enough, so they built part of the set on its side, and Bruce would lay down on the "wall" while the blood drained onto him from a 55-gallon drum above. Nobody knew how long or how forcefully the blood would pour from the drum, so Bruce asked the director how they would know if he was in distress while the blood was pouring on him. The director told Bruce that, if he got into trouble, he should wave his arms wildly, and they would stop the blood. Bruce laughingly observed that he would be waving his arms wildly throughout that whole scene anyway. It turns out that it took 19 seconds for all the blood to drain from the drum.

Somebody asked if "Brisco County" might be revived, perhaps as a feature film. Bruce said that he didn't think so, because the show was too old, and it had only lasted for one season. Bruce recalled that a Fox executive had said that he would eat his desk if "Brisco County" didn't make Bruce a star within a year. After "Brisco County" was canceled, Bruce sent the executive some sauce to put on his desk.

Somebody wanted to know if Bruce had any advice for aspiring film makers. Bruce advised them to stay in Tulsa (or whatever their home town might be) and just make films. He said that many people make the mistake of going to Hollywood, hoping to work on somebody else's film, when they could simply arrange their own financing and produce their own film. Bruce said that the original "Evil Dead" was financed by local investors, like rich doctors and lawyers. He also mentioned that those original investors have probably made their money back ten times over.

Somebody asked when Bruce's "big break" happened and how long it took. Bruce said that "Evil Dead II" was his big break, and that it took four years. Another attendee asked if Bruce had any projects planned for the future. Bruce said that he had to turn in the manuscript for his book by September, but after that he was free to do anything he wanted.

Buy "Evil Dead: Hail to the King" featuring Bruce Campbell at Amazon.com!
Bruce Campbell

Sunday

Actor Bruce Campbell, the star of the Evil Dead movies, returned for another appearance at Trek Expo 99 in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sunday, June 27, 1999. This time, he was dressed in black pants and a black short-sleeved shirt with white tropical designs. Bruce wanted to know how many people had seen him the day before. Many people had, but there were also a lot of new people in the audience. Bruce told the new people that this was their chance to show how intelligent they are, since there had been so many stupid questions the day before.

The first question was, "Does your moustache have a personality of its own?" Bruce said that his real moustache didn't, but that he sometimes had to wear a false moustache, and the false moustache would appear to be slanted at different angles from scene to scene. It is unclear whether Bruce considered that question to be stupid, but shortly thereafter, Bruce began to refer to the people to his left as the "smart side of the room", while the people to his right became the "dumb side of the room".

A girl near the front stood up to ask a question. After hearing the question, Bruce asked the girl's mother if she was online. The mother said no, so Bruce recommended that she should get online so that her daughter could be better informed. A man wanted to know if Bruce had any updates about the release of a movie called "Ice Breaker". Bruce asked if the man had been to his web site. The man said yes, so Bruce asked what the web site had said about it.

A woman said that she had completed an independent film, and had taken it to a film festival, but that there weren't any distributors there. She wanted to know how to find a distributor for her film. Bruce jokingly recommended that she should take her film to a festival that has distributors. "Which film festival did you go to?" Bruce taunted, "The Tulsa International Film Festival?" The woman replied that her film had been shown at the Atlanta Film Festival.

Bruce described some aspects of Sam Raimi's directing style, and he revealed that many elements in Raimi's films were obscure homages to films that had influenced him. Bruce explained that the popular line, "Give me some sugar, baby," from "Army of Darkness" had been made up by Raimi on the spot as they were shooting the scene. Somebody asked how Bridget Fonda had gotten involved in "Army of Darkness". Bruce said that she was a big fan of the "Evil Dead" movies.

A young woman asked if Bruce had any advice for aspiring actors. Bruce asked her if she wanted to be an actor. She wavered between actor and singer, then finally decided upon singer. Bruce invited her onto the stage to sing for the crowd. She refused, but Bruce told her that she would have to get used to singing in front of lots of people if she wanted to be a singer. The woman remained reluctant, so Bruce offered to sing a song himself, if she would sing a song first. The woman finally agreed and climbed onto the stage. Bruce asked about her name, and she said it was Jasmine. Bruce said, "I'm enchanted, enameled, and embalmed."

Jasmine drifted toward the rear of the stage, but Bruce prodded her back to the front where the brightest lights were. Jasmine asked about music, but Bruce said that there wouldn't be any music. Bruce asked which song she would sing. Jasmine couldn't think of one, so Bruce suggested that she should sing "Happy Birthday". Ultimately, Jasmine decided to sing the song from the end of the Hercules and Xena animated movie. After a moment of hesitation, Jasmine performed the song. Her performance was adequate, considering the circumstances, and the audience applauded her bravery. Then came Bruce's turn. He announced the title of the song that he would sing, then he simply sang the title a couple of times before moving on.

Somebody asked how Bruce had gotten his role in "The X-Files". Bruce said that his agent just kept bugging them until they gave him a part. He also said that Fox was already familiar with him from his work in "Brisco County" and "Tornado". Several people asked about future projects, or whether Bruce would ever be in a particular movie or television show. Eventually Bruce said, "Actors don't know anything. Just remember that, and you'll be okay."

Bruce read more of the e-mail that he had received. One person wrote to say that they only watched his movies because they were so bad. "Moon Trap" and "Maniac Cop" were cited as examples. Another person wrote, "You make every movie you're in ten times better, which is good, because all of the movies you're in are really bad." A mother wrote to thank Bruce, because his performances had cheered up her son, who had been injured in a car accident.

Buy the "Evil Dead II" Special Edition DVD starring Bruce Campbell at Amazon.com!

Pictures

In some ways, these pictures are much better than the ones I took last year. In other ways, they're much worse. Oh well, at least I tried. This year I managed to take most of my pictures from the floor. That's better than the bleachers, right? Hopefully, these images will give you a sense of what it was like to be there. Enjoy!

Saturday: Bruce prepares to point the finger of doom.
Saturday: Bruce hears a question.
Saturday: Bruce answers a question.
Saturday: Bruce answers a question more emphatically.
Saturday: Bruce explains a special effect from Evil Dead II.
Sunday: Bruce looks almost apologetic.
Sunday: Bruce selects another target for his witty jabs.
Sunday: Bruce has an imaginary opponent in a headlock.
Sunday: Bruce hears yet another pointless query.
Sunday: Bruce looks rather menacing.
Sunday: Bruce answers one more stupid question.
Buy "Army of Darkness" starring Bruce Campbell on DVD at Amazon.com!

Personal Footnote

Now, I could be delusional, but I'm almost certain that Bruce tried to call on me twice. I don't know why he did, because I was sitting way back in the bleachers, minding my own business, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. It's weird, because something similar happened last year with Hudson Leick. She just singled me out, for no apparent reason. Maybe it has something to do with my binoculars. Maybe the celebrities see me, way back there in those uncomfortable bleachers, squinting through those binoculars, and maybe they think, "That poor guy must be a really big fan, but he just can't afford to sit up front." So maybe they feel sorry for me and make an extra effort to include me in the activities.

Anyway, on Sunday, as I was watching through my cheap, K-Mart binoculars, Bruce suddenly pointed at me and asked what my question was. I thought he must have been talking to somebody else, because I hadn't raised my hand. When nobody responded, Bruce got more specific and said, "You, in the back, two people next to the aisle, do you have a question?" I didn't know what to do, so I just sat there, looking like a total idiot. Bruce quickly moved on, but, a few minutes later, he pointed at me again and said, "We haven't heard from you yet." This time, I looked around to see if anybody was responding, then Bruce said, "I guess not."

A lot of people must be wondering why I didn't just stand up and say something. I honestly don't know. I guess Bruce just caught me off guard, and my mind went blank. Or perhaps I was afraid of becoming the target of Bruce's witty jabs. One thing's for sure, next time I'll prepare some questions in advance. That way, I won't blow my chance to show Bruce how intelligent I am.

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