For YOU! OR: humbled, but back intact.

In a fairly recent episode of SMODcast, Kevin Smith and guest host Macolm Ingram, a local Torontonain film maker and bear, were dicussing Malcolm's disapproval of the "Biforcated cock community" (Kevin's words) and what Kevin percieved as in-fighting, from one sexual minority towards another. Malcolm argued that it was like NAMBLA wanting to march in the gay pride parade-He didn't want them waving his flag, for him to be under their umbrella. An understandable argument, and one that was one of my first thoughts when approaching the Metro Toronto Convention centre, for this years Comic Con Fan Expo. Just as not all sexual fetishes are equal, neither are all nerds, and the more fuzzy bear ears and make-up I saw, the less felt comfortable being under that umbrella.

I've been going to the comic con for years. Back when it actually WAS called the Toronto Comic Con. Then HobbyStar marketing, the event organizers, decided quite literally to put all their eggs in one basket, combining the Comic, Gaming, Horror, Sci-Fi and (*sigh*) Manga events into one, and rechristening it the "Fan Expo". It brings out a lot more people, and it means you can catch a glimpse of the Soup Nazi charging money for autographs on your way to the bathroom. Some of the costumes are pretty cool, but for every hot girl dressed as Supergirl, or shockingly accurate Ghostbuster you see, theres about 20 pale basement dwellers dressed as obscure final fantasy characters. By entering the convention floor, Hobbystar has basically entered you into an enviroment where you and this guy are peers. Contemporaries. Ugh.

But, apart from the occasional bout of self righteousness, having to say "paaaaaar-don me" as you inch past someone with a gigantic cardboard n' tinfoil sword, and having to deal with comic book guys*, the convention is a good time for a guy like me. Free junk, cheap(er) comics, earthy aromas, what's not to like?

Oh, and I almost got into an altercation with 80s Wrestler "The Iron Sheik".

The Comic Con/Fan expo has this weird effect, where even if you've been there for 3 hours, you'll still turn around a corner and see an entire row that you missed. One such turn, landed me 2 feet away the aforementioned Hulk Hogan rival and symbol of 1980s Iranophobia, Mr. Sheik. Sitting next to him was fellow 80s wrestler, Elvis look-alike and challenging video game character, the "Honky Tonk Man". Taken aback, I continued to walk past both gentlemen, before turning around to snap a candid photo of the two doing their thing. A souvenir of my chance encounter. It was at this point that several shouting men descended upon me. Evidently, taking a photo was not a good idea. Before I knew it 3 guys had circled me. One guy would shout something and the Another guy would repeat what the first guy shouted. It was like if Chuck D. and Flavor Flav were circus carnies.

"Get a Picture!"
"Let me take your bag"
"He's a Legend!"

They were grabbing at my bag and nudging me in the direction of Iron Sheik. Iron Sheik, who had been mid-pitch to someone else at the time ("You want picture with me and that fucking gay faggot Hulk Hogan?"), stopped his pitch and looked at me menacingly. Honky Tonk Man, taking a cue from Sheik, did the same. So now I'm 2 feet away from a couple of 80s wrestlers giving me the stare-down with 3 of their handlers poking and prodding me into taking a $25 photo.
"uh, no, no thank you, sorry, no thanks, sorry, I'm set thanks, no thanks" and I got the fuck out of there. I mean, it's not to say that I thought that Iron Sheik was going to get me in the Camel Clutch and make me humble, but I've never been one for hard sell situations, and this was about as hard sell as it comes.

Remember that scene in "The Wrestler" where Randy "The Ram" Robinson is working a small town wrestling convention in a school gym, and there's barely anyone there? Just a bunch of injured old wrestlers selling DVDs and 8x10s? It was really sad wasn't it? That memorable scene is now the African child with bugs on his face of the wrestling community. "These men took slams for years...for YOU, and now you can pay them back right now!" I heard one of the shouters say to the crowd. It's funny, because I didn't realize I currently owed a debt to professional wrestlers. I was under the impression they were doing it of their own accord and were making at-worst a comfortable living in their day. Had I known the couple hours of wrestling I was able to sneak past my parents would come back as money owed, 20 years later at a place I went to buy comic books, I wouldn't have tuned in.
What's next? "Patrick Duffy publicly humiliated himself pretending to be sexually attracted to Suzanne Somers for YOU!! Pay him back!!" while I'm at the Post Office?
Granted, the fact that I attempted to take a free picture of the pair means I clearly had a perverse interest, but I don't think vague interest should equal monetary obligation.

* By "Comic book guys" I don't mean the noble comic enthusiast/collector/etc. I'm of course referring to the admittedly dying breed that is the comic book retail guys, as perfectly encompassed on The Simpsons. The kind of greedy, mean spirited businessmen that can convince themselves that any single issue of a modern comic is worth over a hundred dollars, and that charging US cover price is a limited time convention deal-of-the-century. May they one day be crushed under the weight of their chromium halo-foil variant covers and Magic: The Gathering cards.

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