It wasn’t so long ago that liking comics, science fiction or any other aspect of “geek” culture would get you wedgied, swirlied or otherwise quietly ostracized from mainstream social circles.
How the wheel has turned!
Nowadays, if you tell people around the office water cooler that you didn’t see the last Avengers movie, they’ll look at you like you just said you don’t have indoor plumbing in your house, and then, after you leave, quietly whisper to each other that you’re an elitist.
Are things better or worse now? Hard to say.
The lines are definitely longer at AwesomeCon, though, which is happening this coming weekend at the Convention Center downtown. What started in 2013 as a relatively small fan convention has mushroomed into a major DMV cultural event, complete with a roster of guests including Weird Al Yankovic, four cast members of Star Trek: the Next Generation, and the guy who played Hercules in that Xena spinoff from the ’90s.
Fans of Marina Sirtis, the benevolent and busty Counselor Deanna Troi, will be excited to know that she is on the list. Also on tap: Brent Spiner (Commander Data, the modern version of the emotionless Mr. Spock), Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher, a somewhat dull character who writers kept interest alive in by creating some sexual tension between her and Captain Jean-Luc Picard) and Jonathan Frakes (Commander William Riker, aka No. 1, another bland character).
Older movie buffs will be excited to see Ralph Macchio, the original Karate Kid, at the convention. If you decide to buy an autograph for $40, ask him about what it was like working with Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny.
Even older comics fans will remember Lou Ferrigno, the hulkier half of The Incredible Hulk, a 1970s TV series also starring Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner, the Hulk before he gets angry.
Kelly Lebrock will be there because she was in Weird Science, but she will always be better remembered for that ’80s Pantene shampoo commercial where she says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” If you go and you find she is no longer beautiful, please be kind, despite the temptation to taunt her.
Although we haven’t heard much from him lately, revered and respected actor Anthony Michael Hall, star of coming-of-age iconic classics such as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, will also be in attendance, probably talking more about his roles in Weird Science, Edward Scissorhands and The Dead Zone.
Another serious and beloved actor of his time, Val Kilmer, best known for his portrayal of Jim Morrison in The Doors movie and his appearance alongside Tom Cruise in Top Gun, has also been reduced to signing autographs for money on the weekends, although his John Hancock is $75.
Somewhat curiously, James Brindenstine, NASA administrator appointed during the Trump administration, will also be in attendance.
Maybe the guest list’s not exactly chock full of A-listers, and maybe geek culture isn’t quite totally mainstream just yet, but AwesomeCon’s guest list might be the most eclectic ever compiled.
If only they’d gotten Worf …
AwesomeCon, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW; Friday, April 26, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, April 28, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets, $15-$999.