Kansas City was a sort of last-minute thing. We had found out a few weeks earlier that René was going to be filling in for someone at a Slanted Fedora con so, after ending a Saturday night shift, Lindsay and I hopped in her Honda CRV, stopped at a gas station to get road trip munchies, and headed off into the night.
The six-hour drive was filled with conversation and 80s music from Tulsa's local retro-pop show. When we lost radio reception, we switched over to CDs, covering everything from The Music Man to the All American Rejects. We even had a Buffy the musical ("Once More With Feeling") sing-a-long sometime during the wee hours of the morning. We finally arrived at about 4 a.m. and trudged through the parking garage to our hotel. Chrysa was already waiting for us, watching Monty Python on her way-cool laptop.
After falling asleep for only a few hours, we were awakened by the sounds of a drum line practicing somewhere in our vicinity. Strange, but I swear, true. So much for sleep. The con awaited!
It was a rainy Sunday, gray skies outside, and the last day of the con, so it made for smaller crowds, but that was nice. A more intimate setting, and René had no problems in drawing a crowd. From almost the first moment his table was set up outside the dealers' room, a steady line formed. He wasn't even supposed to be signing for the con-goers yet, but gracious as ever, he jumped right in, signing just about everything imaginable... figurines, posters, photos, and then some!
It's always fun to observe René interact with his diverse fan base. Some people are quite shy, content with merely being in the presence of their favorite actor, while others want a photo to preserve the moment. Some want to ask him about specific episodes, while others have the desire to discuss romantic chemistry. It's especially amusing to watch him with little kids and catch their reactions as they try to understand how the guy in front of them signing their picture is the same man who can morph into birds and other creatures. Ever the gentleman, he does his best to interact individually with each fan on their level, all the while keeping a steady pace and moving the line.
So, about one-and-a-half hours of signing and chatting later, Dave Scott dropped by and asked René if he was ready to set up for his autograph table inside. Autograph table inside?! A true sport, René packed up his stuff and headed inside, ready to go at Round Two.
The dealers' room crowd was considerably larger, probably seating between 200 and 300 people. Dave had them go up for their autographs a couple of rows at a time, so that made it a little more manageable, but it was still a pretty hectic pace. But, that actually ended up being a good thing.
As people filtered through the line, they were able to purchase a hand-drawn cartoon that René drew for them right there as they watched. The little cartoon depicted a bucket that said "Odo" and had a little thought balloon, which René personalized for them. A neat memento on its own, most people gladly donated the money for it when they found out it was going to Doctors Without Borders, a charity René supports (DWB sends doctors into dangerous situations to help those who need it most). An announcement from Dave about René's drawings and DWB helped raise crowd awareness, and more people requested the cartoon as they came through the line.
After another hour-and-a-half, maybe two, René wound things up and took a quick breather before his Q&A. On his way back to give his talk, a woman came up and asked for a cartoon. He took the time to draw it for her because, as he reasoned, "It's for charity."
At that point, he was whisked up front for a meet-and-greet session with the audience, taking a few minutes to pose for pictures before taking the stage for the next hour, sharing his memories and fielding questions from the audience.
Taking Photos with René
by Lindsay Crochet
The digital camera I was using in Kansas City has the ability to shoot short video clips, and I got a really cute one of René with all the money we raised for charity that day. Here are a few captured stills from the video...
1. René's posing with the money, thinking I'm just snapping a picture.
2. He reacts as I tell him I'm actually shooting a video clip.
3. Aha, he understands and is a little impressed...
4. He "steals" the money, putting it in his pocket!
Photos by Talia Myers and Lindsay Crochet