Road Trip 2014: At Monster Mania March 08 2014, 3 Comments
I am here at Monster Mania in Cherry Hills, New Jersey, which is just over the bridge from Philadelphia. In fact, I can see the Philly skyline from my hotel room--not that I get much time in my hotel room. . . because this is a very busy show.
Yesterday, I arrived at 1PM and, after checking in, I began my booth set up. I am the only person in the "celebrity" room who brought lots of stuff to sell, so it took me a while to get it looking the way I wanted. I was particularly excited because we have something new just for this show--Vincent Price Gothic rings! I plan to post some good pictures of them and get them up for sale on this site very soon! But they are really amazing, and I was thrilled to see them when I picked up the Fedex box at the hotel front desk.
While everyone's "handlers" were settng up their booths, I got mine in shape and then went up to change. I got back down to the room at 4PM, and for the next six hours, the steady flow of fans never stopped. It was amazing!
The people at this show are true classic horror fans--and there are fans of all ages. . .the youngest being age four! I LOVE that! Whenever I go to shows, I never charge for photos or autographs. Everyone seems astonished and grateful for that, because all the other guests charge fees for both of those things. I spent my childhood watching my dad sign autographs and have his picture taken with anyone and everyone! He did this because he believed that--as Helen Hayes told him when he began his career on Broadway in 1935--"actors are public servants". What that meant to him was that, without their audiences and fans, actors don't have a career. And so, his job as an actor was to be there for his public. And he always was! At least ten people came up to me last night and shared their stories of my father's correspondence with them: They sent him letters or photos, and he always responded!
If my father didn't charge for a photo or autograph, how on earth can I--who am merely here to represent the Price legacy! Whenever I come to these shows, I feel like my job is to channel my dad. It's a tall order (pun relating to my 6'4" father fully intended). As I am always told, no one has ever met anyone who didn't like Vincent Price. (I'm afraid the same cannot be said of me--though I generally do try to move through the world as an open-hearted and kind person.) Truly, my father was an extraordinary man, especially since he worked in a business built on ego. He loved loved loved people--loved meeting them, hearing their stories, encouraging their dreams, and being with them.
I am a sort of odd mix between my mom and dad--social to a point, but someone who has to shut the doors and be home to recharge. At the end of six hours last night of chatting with fans, hearing their stories, signing autographs and having my photo taken, I was both grateful and uplifted, but also exhausted. I have come to realize that that wasn't true of my dad at all. For him, all human interaction was his fuel for living. He thrived on the energy of other people.
Where we are completely alike is in our need to travel and see the world. This road trip has been an amazing opportunity to see the world and its inhabitants and extraordinary treasures through new eyes.
Yesterday, before coming here, I had a chance to take a whirlwind tour of the Barnes Foundation--a collection I had long been wanting to see. The most striking aspect of the collection is the way that it is hung--not chronologically in any way, but according to Mr. Barnes' view of how each piece related to another. What that means is that you can have an early Renaissance annunciation in the same room as a Matisse, along with a grouping of Native American jewelry, with a few African masks thrown in for good measure. Since this is exactly how I grew up, I immediately loved it. I didn't have time for a tour, so I asked a museum worker for an explanation of Mr. Barnes' approach. She told me that he saw a flow between the pieces and everything in the room was aimed toward helping the viewer understand that flow. From the ornate metal door latches and other architectural details that guide the eyes to what Mr. Barnes hoped we would see in that particular piece, to the chairs that relate to the subjects of the paintings (a large chair for a large lady--as though she might step right out of the frame and sit down to have a nice chat)--the hanging is clever and thought provoking.
My favorite room was probably one filled with drawings, some of which were by artists that most people have forgotten, but about whom my father often spoke--most notably William Glackens. Mr Barnes managed to create an unlikely flow between the fluid drawings Glackens did of New Yorkers and the colorful drawings by Sisley of marine scenes. It was an unexpected but delightful juxtaposition. And, of course, the great Matisse paintings and murals, the phenomenal Van Gogh of the postman, the Picassos, Native American textiles and pottery were all more than worth the price of admission. But my personal favorite may have a large painting by Honore Daumier. I most know Daumier's work through his drawings and cartoons, and so I was surprised by the fluidity and abstraction of this piece. . .and so interested to see how his drawing style translated into painting. It's always a joy to discover something new!
My father was certainly there in spirit. For all his reverence for the visual arts, his ever-present sense of humor never left him--even in the hallowed halls of a museum. And so, yesterday, as I was taking in a wonderful Frans Hals portrait of a bearded man, I turned to my left and caught a glimpse of a rather typically garish Chaim Soutine portrait of what looked--on my initial glance--to be a clown. "Oh look," I swear I heard my father say right in my ear, "the Barnes Foundation has an original Red Skelton."
Today promises to be a busy day here in New Jersey. I will be giving my talk at noon, which is always lots of fun. And my nephew, Jody, is coming down from Northern New Jersey to spend part of the day with me. Two generations of Prices--and yet we are only six months apart! My father always used to say that he was the perfect example of planned parenthood: "Get one kid through college and then have the next one!" I will also be having dinner with the always wonderful Bryan Hewitt, a fan who has come all the way from England to hear my talk and have dinner with me! What fun!
I have been posting regular entries on my Road Trip blog, which you can find by clicking on Cooking Vincent at the top of this page. Or you can just click here: The Road Trip Blog
But I just wanted to write this as a kind of "postcard" from Monster Mania. My dad always loved sending postcards to his family, friends, and fans. I am so grateful for all the Vincent Price fans who have visited this site! We are hard at work to add some of the features you have been asking for. But mostly we are just really grateful to you for keeping the Vincent Price legacy alive!
More soon, I promise!
Have a great weekend.