This past weekend marked TheGailyGrind.com’s first time at Fan Expo Canada and my third (three years in a row, to be more specific). Fan Expo Canada, which takes place in downtown Toronto, is the largest event of its kind in Canada and the third largest in North America.
Having just celebrated its 23rd year, the fan convention now regularly sees over 125,000 people during a four-day period. Taking place in a space of over 750,000 square feet, the event hosts over 1,000 exhibitors sharing their products, and brings millions of dollars into Toronto.
That’s all great, but we were interested in the LGBT fan favorites attending the event. And let me tell you, there were several. We’ve brought you coverage of Kathleen Turner, John Barrowman, Famke Janssen, Rocky Horror icons Tim Curry, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell, and news on hit queer web series Carmilla.
Fan Expo Canada 2017 has the honor of being Kathleen Turner’s first fan convention experience. Unsurprisingly, several people asked me why she was over here (usually celebrity guests have strong connections to sci-fi or horror projects, or had a role in a cult classic). My go-to response was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, the 1988 film for which she voiced the character of Jessica Rabbit. But, really, who cares?! She’s Kathleen Turner.
A resident of New York City, Turner has been an activist for decades with the likes of Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way. She does a lot of volunteering, gives a lot of speeches and generally should have spent more time on the collective public’s radar than she has in the past decade.
Speaking of decades, it’s been a long time since Turner played Chandler’s trans parent, Helena Handbasket, on Friends. A knowing fan asked about the role.
“Nowadays they’d have a real transgender person doing it,” said Turner.
She went on to explain that at the time she was doing a show about queer icon Tallulah Bankhead when she was approached by the showrunners.
“The creators of Friends came up to San Francisco to the show and they asked me if I could do this,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Let me get this straight. I would be a woman playing a man playing a woman? I have not done that before.’ So I thought it would be funny.”
“I just love the challenge of the work.”
Out actor John Barrowman was also around for the weekend. But unlike Turner, he was unleashed onto the stage without a moderator. I had heard his panels were outrageous, and now I can tell you they live up to the hype. He walked up in a Doctor Who TARDIS onesie (a shout-out to fans of his days on the show) and heels and gave the ASL interpreters one hell of a job to do.
Going into this, I figured I’d pull a few quotes whenever something gay was mentioned, but just about his whole panel was gay, including the sharing of stories we’ve covered here (re: when he streamed his husband’s penis on Facebook) and here (re: when actor Stephen Amell stripped down for Barrowman’s birthday) on TheGailyGrind.
So, I’m instead just posting his entire panel below for your viewing pleasure:
I do, however, have to make special mention of Montana, a buff surfer type who stripped off his shirt as he walked up on the stage, turning Barrowman into a pile of mush before kissing him and explaining he has a girlfriend. Barrowman caught up with him after the panel, and what resulted are some of the best Instagram photos I’ve ever seen.
Now, when most fanboys think Famke Janssen, their minds immediately go to Jean Grey of the X-Men movies. But this gay lady could only envision her role on How to Get Away with Murder. Janssen plays lead character Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) ex-lover, Eve Rothlow. Or maybe not so ex-lover.
“There are so many fantastic scenes between the two,” said Janssen. “Because there was so much history of two characters who had known each other from a long time ago who were now in very different parts of their lives.”
“Annalise is a very strong character who really gets her way most of the time, but now all of a sudden somebody comes back into her life who’s kind of an equal.”
More controversial, however, was Janssen’s time on Nip/Tuck as Ava Moore. She said when out creator Ryan Murphy invited her on board, he didn’t have a clear idea where her character was going. And then two weeks before the end of the season he told her: “‘’Ava Moore is a man.’”
“He said, ‘Trust me, it’s gonna work.’ And it did.”
“But that’s sort of the example of how on television you don’t know entirely what you’ve signed up for.”
So, despite the fact that Tim Curry, Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick were at Fan Expo, they didn’t end up joining Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell for The Rocky Horror Picture Show panel. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m damn happy I saw Curry at his own panel.
Curry has been in a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2013. And although his speech is slow, what comes out of his mouth is as sharp as ever.
Among the many questions he was asked was what are some of his craziest fan stories. His response? “I was actually stalked for quite a long time by a 250-pound transvestite who was on parole for the murder of his lover.”
“So that’s probably the most interesting thing.”
And then later he shared a Trump story, which I just had to publish on the interwebs so it can live forever.
Fans of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York will recall it was set in the Plaza Hotel, which Trump owned at the time, and that the Donald made a cameo appearance in the film. Well, Trump was with Marla Maples at the time, and according to Curry he had this exchange with director Chris Columbus.
“‘I want you to meet Marla. She’s a very, very talented actress.’”
“‘Of course, she’s a pain in the ass, but then they all are, aren’t they?’”
Folks, the president of these United States.
In case you’re wondering, despite the men being no-shows, the Rocky Horror panel was still a great time because Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell are absolutely delightful.
Campbell especially proved herself to be very aware of Rocky Horror’s legacy around sexuality and LGBT issues.
“I was not aware at the time that it was going to have the effect it has had, but I think it is so brilliant that it’s encouraged people to express their sexuality, be proud of their sexuality, give full rein to their sexuality, never be ashamed of their sexuality, and express their sexuality. And it’s onward and upward for everybody, and those that aren’t in this room sometimes need to be reminded that people don’t choose their sexual preferences.”
“What is wonderful is that seeing that film helped people feel that they could express themselves and there was nothing wrong with that, there was something to be proud of. And it’s just always very moving when people tell us their own stories.”
Quinn also shared some special moments, including how her friend wouldn’t let her younger brother go to the original Rocky Horror play (which Quinn, Campbell and Curry all starred in) because it would “‘make him question his sexuality,’”.
But the story that brought down the house was Quinn’s about a nervous fan who came up to her at a convention in Orlando a few months ago. The girl gave her a card.
“It said on it, ‘Thank you,’, and I opened it up and it said, ‘For turning me gay,’” Quinn explained. “I said, ‘It’s been an absolute pleasure.’”
You can watch some of their panel below.
Finally, let me tell you a bit about the Carmilla panel.
After three successful seasons, the little web series that could has come to an end. But it’s quickly moved into another format. The Carmilla movie will see where the gang’s at five years on, and stars some new faces like Cara Gee and Wynonna Earp’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley.
And now we have a premiere date: Oct. 26, 2017.
Potentially even more exciting than the news that we have a less than two-month wait was the official release of the movie’s first teaser trailer, which you can now watch on repeat below.
So, that was one more year of Fan Expo Canada for yours truly. I know: my job’s tough.
Next stop: TIFF!