One Hell of a Ride…From Dusk Till Con’s First Year
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down the masterminds behind From Dusk Till Con. It was there one year anniversary this past Halloween. It’s hard to belive that a site that was never intended to move this far has turned into the massive juggernaut that it is. To become the one stop shop for all things to do with horror conventions is a big responsibility. One that they have taken on like true warriors!! This site has been responsible to inspiring many to venture off into their own. Hell, Encyclopedia Psychotika owes a lot of its success to FDTC! This article was ran originally posted on FDTC November 7, 2010. Journey with me, if you will…
One Hell of a Ride…From Dusk Till Con’s First Year
Malice Psychotik: So, it’s one year since the site has been active…How are things?
Mr. Chainsaw: Well, it’s been one year and we’re still here. To not only still be doing what we’re doing, but have had the fans elevate us to the level we’re at right now where we are THE authority on the horror convention scene as recognized by promoters, manager, celebrity guests, and most importantly the fans themselves, is an absolute honor. What more is there to say?
Malice: Did you ever imagine one year ago, the site would be the juggernaut it is today?
Ricardo del Muerto: I honestly had no idea and I am humbled every time I see the support our community has given us. Walking into a convention and seeing people wearing our shirts and the huge amount of interest the fans have is just amazing.
Mr. Chainsaw: Truthfully? Never. Then again, we never set out to do anything other than create a quaint little corner of cyberspace for friends to get together and share their experiences from other conventions around the country. Apparently others outside of our circle also felt the need for such a place and helped to grow our humble community.
My wife was saying in the early going that this was going to turn into something huge, but I never really thought so. I would have been happy to just make some new friends, attend some cool shows, and have things to write about. Less than a year later, From Dusk Till Con has become its own brand and all these doors have opened up for us that I would have never thought possible. I sometimes think someone is going pinch me and I’m gonna wake up.
Malice: At what point did you realize you “Arrived”? Did you have a moment when you realized “Wow, this shit just got real!”
Ricardo del Muerto: If “Arrived” means creating a site that has helped many horror fans make better decisions on where to spend their hard-earned convention money, then I knew we arrived right away. I think the moment I realized that “Shit got real” was at Wizard Comic Con when an excited fan recognized the shirt and I was able to meet a fellow Dusker who shared my intense enthusiasm about the site. Since then, we’ve seen more and more people popping up on the con circuit representing From Dusk till Con and wearing our shirts. It has also helped when great Vendors have given the Dusker Nation discounts for pointing out that they belong to our forum. I could not ask for stronger loyalty from our community and I look forward to meeting more people who share the love of cons as much as I do.
Malice: To be around FDTC for even a week you will see the community stands apart from other message board communities. What do you think makes The Dusker Nation stand apart?
Mr. Chainsaw: I think the Dusker Nation represents the core of the hardcore convention fans everywhere – the type that travel around the country to various shows or even just support the shows in their own regions religiously. They all love the culture and breathe, eat, sleep, and bleed it as a way of life. In our community there’s no politics, no hierarchy, no leaders – we’re simply all equals and all friends. In the first year we’ve been around, very little moderation has been needed as the community has done a great job of sustaining itself with everyone being respectful and considerate of each other.
Our members meet up at conventions across the country, hang out together, join up to go out and eat together, party together, and all around exist as a nationwide extended family. Other online forum communities may boast larger numbers, but I firmly believe you’d be hard pressed to find a more tight-knit community than the Dusker Nation.
Malice: What are some of your fondest memories from the last year?
Ricardo del Muerto: My fondest memory has been the surprise birthday party at Spooky Empire. It was unbelievable! Chainsaw and I had 2 cakes designed in our likenesses and so many people from the Dusker nation (most whom I have never met) came out to wish us a Happy Birthday. It was an experience I will never forget. Of course having some celebs show up to hang out and share some cake was pretty awesome as well.
Mr. Chainsaw: I think the whole year in itself has been one long fond memory making it impossible to pick out just one moment. A few of my favorites though were: Meeting and hanging out with Mikey Perez, the Return of the Living Dead cast, and Mark Patton at Famous Monsters Con after hours, hanging out with Ken, Lyndell, and Jerry at Flashback Weekend where we had dinner, drinks, met Bruce Campbell, and huddled out in the cold until the wee hours of the morning tailgating at the Midway Drive-In, the entire Texas Frightmare Weekend trip (which we shared with Ken, Stacy and Chris Carbeau, Danny and Jen, Chuck Moran, Target Jon and his brother, and Richard Malone, among others, and finally, Spooky Empire 2010, the site of the greatest surprise birthday party I’ve ever been a part of and the largest Dusker meet-up to date which I’m proud to say went down in my home state of Florida in one of my favorite cities in the country, beautiful Orlando, FL.
Malice: FDTC is known for putting on one hell of a party. Do you have any epic tales of Horror Con glory at these meet ups?
Mr. Chainsaw: We’ve had some great meet-ups this year but the one at Spooky Empire by far takes the cake. Aside from being the largest gathering of we’ve had yet (with over 40 registered FDTC members in attendance along with their guests), we had quite a few celebrity guests come out to the party and make it that much more memorable. You really had to have been there, but between Jason Mewes taking our beer cooler and jumping into the pool with it and using it as a boat, Gary Busey holding court for almost 2 hours off in another corner and talking about his “Buseyisms,” and others like Danny Trejo, Heather Langenkamp, and the Return of the Living Dead cast showing up to hang out and partake in food and drink, it was about as memorable as it can get. My favorite part, however, was the fact that we got to do a raffle and hand out over a dozen cool prizes to our FDTC faithful, including a hand signed photo by none other than the legendary Lon Chaney Jr. Being that our fans have been so great to us over the course of the first year, it felt great to be able to give back to them and show them that they are immensely appreciated.
Malice: With the site growing as fast as it is, where do you see it in a year?
Ricardo del Muerto: Wow, in a year? I think we will continue to bring some hardcore convention coverage because our site is literally run by our fans. We have them to thank for all the great information and support. As many know we trying our hand at bringing some great conventions guests to the Midwest for Days of the Dead. So we have a lot on our plate but we refuse to settle for mediocrity and will continue to push the convention scene for us and many others as hard as we can.
Mr. Chainsaw: If you told me a year ago that FDTC would be where it is now, I would have told you to put down whatever you were smoking – obviously I was wrong. I think I’ll leave it up to the fans to decide where we are in a year given that predictions don’t seem to be my strongest asset.
Malice: Let’s talk about your FDTC’s involvement in Days of the Dead this July. How did this come about?
Mr. Chainsaw: Well, to make a long story short, there was an already established convention from the east coast that was looking to expand and add a new show out in the midwest, particularly Indianapolis. A few other people in the convention business were also on board to handle various aspects of the show. For whatever reason the convention that was going to be putting the show on changed their mind and another entity took over the show. At some point Petey Mongelli of Spooky Empire was brought in as was Bill Philputt of Re-Evolution Management – two guys that are undoubtedly among the best at what they do. From Dusk Till Con was asked if they wanted to be sponsors for the show and we were in the middle of discussing that when the second entity backed out. At that point, someone unrelated to the show threw my name out there as a possible organizer given my background in promoting and management in the music scene when I was living in South Florida and From Dusk Till Con was asked if they would want to be partners on the show. After mulling it over for a few weeks, Rick and I decided to go ahead and get on board. Petey has sadly since dropped out due to time constraints involving planning his two shows in Florida and by default From Dusk Till Con has become the main entity involved with the show.
Believe it or not, it was something we really had to think long and hard about getting involved with, and I especially lost sleep on quite a few nights as I debated whether or not I wanted to jump into this arena. On the one hand, it’s a dream come true for any con fan to be asked to come on board and help create a convention of their very own. On the other hand, I seriously debated whether or not I wanted to make that transition from fan to promoter and risk having the enjoyment of conventions spoiled for me a bit by introducing the business aspect into it. Not only that, but promoters always get so much heat from fans for things that beyond their control, like not getting that one rare Friday the 13th guest who was in the part 7 for all of 3 minutes, or not having enough Italians, or because a guest chooses to charge more than fans think is justified. Finally, I was worried that all of the other convention promoters who I’ve always admired on both a personal and business level, would cease to see me as an acquaintance and begin to view me as a competitor in what is certainly a very aggressive business.
Rick and I consulted with friends, family, and a few of the FDTC faithful in making our decision and in the end concluded it would be ridiculous to not jump on what amounts to the opportunity of a lifetime. We gave it an immense amount of thought and I think we made the right choice.
Malice: What role is FDTC playing exactly?
Mr. Chainsaw: Bill is taking care of booking the talent for the show and providing his connections to help set up some of the events for the weekend – he’s an elite level talent in his field and arguably among the cream of the crop when it comes to talent management. FDTC is pretty much taking care of the rest – marketing, creating a web presence for the show, conceptualizing what the show is going to be like, handling the business operations, and managing the show on the day of.
We’re talking to a slew of other big names in the horror world to come in and assist with various aspects of the show, and we should be announcing those entities as the convention evolves and begins to take form.
Malice: What have you learned from this experience (with Days of the Dead) thus far?
Mr. Chainsaw: I actually have a new-found respect for show promoters, especially the ones that put on great events, and we’ve only just begun planning! It’s seriously some insanely hard work! There’s so many things that go into the planning of a show that it’s really impossible to grasp unless you actually put yourself in those shoes and do it for yourself. I’m also learning how hard it is to nail down guests for a convention and how complicated the business end of that can be at times. Finally, I’m realizing that I’m going to have to accept the fact that no matter how hard you work on something like this, you’re always going to let someone down, whether it be from not being able to get that one guest they asked for so passionately, or because your show didn’t have enough of this, or it had too much of that – I hate letting people down and it’s something I’m going to have to learn to deal with. But I do embrace the challenge of living up to lofty expectations.
Malice: When designing the guest list, what are some deciding factors?
Mr. Chainsaw: I feel so in debt to the fans who supported FDTC to even be in this position to begin with that I’m running Bill Philputt ragged trying to pursue every single guest request that gets made on the forums. Luckily, Bill is a consummate professional with tons of experience and has been very patient with my overflow of ideas and the overly annoying Type A manner in which I go about pushing them on everyone.
Truthfully speaking, we are trying to listen to the fans as much as we possibly can, but there are other criteria that we’re following in putting together the guest list. Firstly, we want to focus mainly on guests that have either never before been in Indianapolis and the surrounding area, or that haven’t been there in a few years – so many great shows already have a presence in the region and the last thing we want to do is reproduce what has already been done. We’ve actually had to scratch a few names off of our wish list as they have recently been announced by other conventions that operate in the area. Secondly, since horror fans are a varied bunch, we’re trying to represent that same variety at Days of the Dead – you’ll see some mainstream names, some traditional convention favorites, as well as some guests with more cult backgrounds. Finally, we’re considering the people that we ourselves as fans would like to see at a show. We go to several shows every year, stand in line for autographs just like everyone else, and have our own ideas for who we would like to meet, whose autographs we’d like to add to our collections, and who we’d like to see at a Q&A.
Malice: How do you think DotD is going to stack up against some of the other shows that are happening that year? What about the talk that you guys are “moving into” HorrorHound Weekend’s territory by doing another show in Indianapolis?
Mr. Chainsaw: I honestly don’t worry about how we’re going to “stack up against other shows.” It’s a notion that really doesn’t cross my mind at all. The main focus with most of our guest list for Days of the Dead is to bring in guests who have not done the region before, or at least not done it in a long time, so as not to replicate what other shows are doing – this, we feel, will be both to our benefit, as well as to the benefit of other shows in the area. We’ve actually had to already cross out several names of our wish list and even cancel a few names because they have been announced by other nearby conventions.
As far as “moving into” HorrorHound Weekend’s territory, that’s just a silly notion. We don’t feel that way and more importantly, I know they don’t feel that way at all. Bill spoke to Nathan about it before FDTC even came to be involved and Nathan gave him his blessing and stated it was ok as long as the new show gave HorrorHound enough of a cushion as to when it was held (a few months apart so as not to cannibalize off of each others potential attendance). HorrorHound is going to have a great show this year and I look forward to attending as a fan and a long time patron. I also think Days of the Dead is going to be a great show, and I certainly think horror convention fans in the region are enthusiastic enough about the scene that they would be more than willing to come out and support both shows.
Malice: As far as events go, what kind of special touch is FDTC going to add?
Mr. Chainsaw: I don’t want to give away too many secrets and spoil any potential surprises, but all of us involved in the planning of the show are HUGE fans of horror in general. We’re the kind of people who celebrate Halloween all year round, embrace all things spooky as a way of life, and just have an all around respect and reverence for the genre that goes beyond words. We really want to make it more than just an autograph show and have it be a celebration of creepy culture that revives the magic we all felt growing up with these films we love so dearly. It’s our goal to make the events just as important a part of the overall show as the guests are.
Malice: Is there anything that you can leak us about the show? Any hints about future guests?
Mr. Chainsaw: We’re in the middle of negotiating quite a few contracts with potential guests at this time as well as speaking to various other entities in the horror business about bringing in various events to Days of the Dead 2011. I wish I had more for you, but right now everything needs to be kept under a tight lid. I will tease that two of the guests that were at this past weekend’s Scarefest show in Kentucky heard about Days of the Dead at the show and want to get on board the guest list by any means necessary. Given who they are, it’s impossible to turn them down so they may likely end up being part of our next batch of guest announcements.
Malice: Time for some “Out-of-Hat” questions!
Mr. Chainsaw: Shit….I knew this was coming. Just kidding…let’s do it!
Malice: What do you think is one of the biggest problems facing the horror community today?
Mr. Chainsaw: I don’t quite exactly know if by “horror community” you mean as it pertains to horror on film or the social aspect and the fans, so I’ll answer about the latter.
It seems to me that horror has fallen into the same trap that some of the other alternative counter-cultures have, particularly the punk culture, where you see a great deal of competing amongst fans over who is “more dedicated” or “a truer fan” or all this other bullshit like getting hung up on labeling horror and fighting over what horror is and isn’t. In the end, none of that should matter I think. Everyone comes into this scene for their own reasons and many of us do so from all walks of life. However, we all share a common bond, whether it be an affinity for the things that go bump in the night, or a love for the monsters hiding just around every corner, or just a taste for the chilling, the macabre, or the outright gruesome. Most people outside of this subculture don’t understand, and will never understand, what we see in it. That’s totally ok. What’s not ok is when horror fans draw lines in the sand against each other socially as if this was high school all over again – if anything, we should all be more accepting of each other given that the outside world often is not.
Malice: What is your definition of “Classic Horror”?
Ricardo del Muerto: Classic horror for me is a film that can transport you into the time frame to which is was intended without you knowing. For example Wolfman, I would normally complain about quality and the black/white but the movie is so poignant that I never really notice. I just respect the medium as is and love the film for all its dated intricacies. I think a great classic film is one that tells the story so well that you do not have time to focus on the aspects that directly relate to you, instead you relate to the film. Oh and anything Hitchcock!
Malice: What are your criteria for an “Epic Party”?
Mr. Chainsaw: I can’t disagree with you there. This is known as “The Sam Raimi Formula” in any circles.
Malice: What is the likely hood that the next FDTC party will involve Midgets, Furries, or a combination of the two? More importantly, will we see the infamous “Horror Filter”?
Mr. Chainsaw: You pretty much just described a Saturday night at Rob Fox’s house.
Ricardo del Muerto: I think the likelihood is very strong that Furries and Midgets will make an appearance at one of our parties. I think that we owe this kind of debauchery to the fans and supporters and as for the Horror Filter, I am not at liberty to talk about that.
Malice: Days of the Dead takes place during July 4th weekend. A time where families around this grand United States of ours partake in BBQ’s and other cook out activities. What say you to a Days of the Dead Cook Off?
Ricardo del Muerto: I would say that a Days of the Dead cook off would be simply amazing! I am definitely for that idea and I hope we have some great BBQr’s in the mix because I would enjoy the Hell out of that! Thank you Malice for getting the wheels a turnin’.
Malice: What is the weirdest idea you have ever had for advertising FDTC? (Make up a real strange one if you have to!) Mr. Chainsaw: We actually have done very little to no advertising at all for FDTC. All the growth has been through the word of mouth of the fans from one convention to the next. In the early going though, when the forum began to really start growing and we wanted to push more interest I had the idea that I could offer to publicly humiliate myself over the internet if certain milestones would be met (such as for new members, post count, etc.). I was desperate back then and was more than willing to offer up my dignity in exchange for some publicity. I’m glad it didn’t come down to that and people found other reasons to check in and grow the site that didn’t involve me making a total ass of myself.
Malice Is it true that FDTC was set to have a guest spot on Sesame Street?
Mr. Chainsaw: This is true. Unfortunately, the producers found Ricardo’s outfit to revealing and provocative and the episode never aired.
Malice: There has been some rumors that there is something big going to be revealed around the first of the 2011? Something big, something “Apocalyptic”! Does FDTC have any connection to this?
Mr. Chainsaw: It’s possible. We seem to find ourselves in all kinds of interesting things lately. Everyone will just have to stay tuned and find out!
Malice: Well, I’m really glad that I could interview the two of you, on this the anniversary of FDTC! It’s been real fun, and I’m glad you have submitted yourselves to this battery of questions! Is there anything out else you would like to add for the Dusker Masses?
Ricardo del Muerto: Malice, you do the best interviews around so the pleasure has been all mine. If I could say one more thing to the Dusker Nation it would be to stick with us, because you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Mr. Chainsaw: I really just want to thank everyone for pushing us to where we have come in our first year – without the support of each and every fan and member of the Dusker Nation, we would not be where we are and there would be no From Dusk Till Con, no Days of the Dead, nothing. This is truly a community that belongs to all of you, and we’re honored to be representing such a great scene.
With that, here’s to the last year of FDTC’s rise to the top! Duskers I salute you! Here’s to 100 more year on top!! If you have never been to FDTC, I urge you to check it out. The have a wonderful message board community. They also offer the latest in news from horror conventions all around the country! They are also host to some other brilliant writers that churn out interviews with vendors, movie reviews, and much more!! Here are some points of interest:
Well, Freaky Darlings, I’m going to go back to the padded room for the night. I’ll make sure to chew through the straps for you again soon. Keep an eye out for some cool reviews to come soon. That’s all for now…
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,
P.S. I guess this sort of makes them the Dusker of the Month for November since there wasn’t one!