Pop Life

     I’ve always been a fan of pop culture. Maybe because I’m an artist and I like to be on top of trends. Maybe because it allows me to hold onto some lost part of my youth. Maybe because it’s just plain fun. For me there are hundreds of reasons why I gravitate to the world of pop.

     I recently spoke with local celebrity Gary Sohmers, producer of the North East Regional Pop Culture Expo at the Shriner’s Auditorium. Mr. Sohmers is heard regularly on Boston radio shows sharing his knowledge of all things collectible with local listeners. The self-proclaimed “King of Pop” was energized about the Wilmington show. The event was an interesting mash-up of old and new. Something for everyone. In Gary Sohmers words, “part P.T. Barnum, part Mark Twain.”

     The show did not disappoint. The Shriner’s Auditorium was the perfect venue with more than enough room for the weekend’s myriad activities. Upon arrival, I attended a discussion panel of independent comic book creators. The audience was sparse, but there was plenty of passion on the stage. Four artists discussed the timeline of their work from inception to finished product. The artists’ unwavering commitment to their craft was commendable. The discussion panel was overshadowed by Micky Dolenz of the Monkees strolling through the auditorium. Micky looked great dressed in all black with a black cowboy hat. Coincidentally, the current incarnation of The Monkees just released a new album. That’s climbing the Amazon.com music charts. I listened to a few tracks and I was transported back to the summer of 1968.

     I wandered through the rest of the Pop Expo where vendors were selling memorabilia to rabid fans. I posed for a picture in front of the Space Chariot from “Lost In Space”. There were lots of Cosplay people in costume from television, comic books and cartoon shows. Dr. Who seemed to have the biggest following, right behind the six or seven Deadpool in attendance. I saw an elderly man dressed as the Wizard of Oz. As I approached to ask if I could take his photo, I realized he was not in costume. I witnessed a live wedding on stage where the wedding party and the minister were dressed as Pokemon characters. Who am I to judge? I was in the  middle of this crowd of artistic, offbeat, diverse fans of pop culture – and I fit right in.

     The celebrity line up was certainly eclectic. These guests were not Hollywood has-beens. They were hard working entertainers who have maintained a career in a business that treats people as disposable items to be cast aside when the next big thing comes along.

     I spoke with Barry Bostwick of “Spin City” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” fame. He played Brad opposite Susan Sarandon’s Janet. Barry gave me the inside scoop on the new Rocky Horror movie airing on Fox television later this year on Halloween night. (Spoiler alert: Tim Curry will be the narrator!) Barry was engaging to speak with although at the end of our conversation he said, “I didn’t know people still worked for newspapers.”

     My favorite celebrity guest was Archie Comic’s writer Alex Simmons. We talked about Archie’s ageless appeal.We discussed the modern makeover the residents of Riverdale have undergone to make them relevant in the modern world. Mr. Simmons teaches art and writing workshops where he uses his creativity to inspire young people. I was inspired from the ten minute conversation we had about the secret of life: find your passion and make it your career. I told Mr. Simmons I gave similar advice to my sons many years ago and it worked out well for them. When I disclosed I was still trying to get my own career off the ground, Alex Simmons replied, “It looks like you already have.”

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