The world is a little chaotic right now. I'm here to provide you a distraction. Close to a year ago, it was announced that Luke Perry, my childhood crush, Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills, 90210 was going to be at a new convention called REWindCon in Crystal Lake, IL. The convention was originally supposed to take place in September 2016, but was rescheduled to this past weekend, November 11-13 in Bloomingdale, IL or as the convention likes to call it, "Chicago."
Personally, I have never been to any of these types of conventions. My closest experiences would be attending auto shows as a kid with my family where I met the women from G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and Peter Reckell (Bo from Days of Our Lives). I remember thinking it was weird that people just stand in line to meet these people and then move on to the next person and stand in line to meet them and so on and so on. But as we all know, history has a tendency to repeat itself, so I found myself at 35 years old way too excited about standing in line to meet celebrities such as Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, Christine Elise McCarthy (Emily Valentine on BH90210), Keith Coogan (Kenny from Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead), the London brothers, and more. As time went on, REWindCon would announce more and more celebrities and I would get more and more excited about going.
Close to a month before REWindCon, it was announced that Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling were going to be there too. This meant that from the original cast the actors who played Kelly, Donna, Dylan, Brandon, Andrea, and Jim would all be there. This was a BH90210 fan's dream come true. Ian Ziering (Steve Sanders) was supposed to be there too, but when the convention was rescheduled, he unfortunately had to cancel. Not sure what Brian Austin Green (David Silver) was up to, but sadly, Shannen Doherty (Brenda Walsh) was not there due to battling that whole breast cancer thing (you got this, girl!).
The week leading up to the convention was a struggle. At the beginning of the week, I was ecstatic to go to REWindCon, full of hope that things were changing in the US. Then the election happened. I mean, really happened. That hope turned to fear and sadness. Instead of being something I was legitimately excited for, REWindCon was turning into a distraction from reality. And it was, but it was also a reminder of what happens next is ultimately up to you. Leading up to the convention, I kept on thinking about what I was going to do after this. REWindCon was something I was hyping up so much and my dreams were becoming reality. So now what? When I graduated from the writing program at Second City, I thought the same thing. So now what do I do? The world is your damn oyster. Post-Second City, I used my comedic voice for stand-up and eventually molded my passion for writing and Beverly Hills, 90210 into this site. It's still a work in progress, but it's here and most importantly, makes me happy. I love writing about this damn show. It has so much material. I just have to keep up with it.
Enough about this and onto the good stuff. I attended REWindCon with one of my best friends, Aleen. The two of us go way back. We grew up in the same neighborhood, were in Girl Scouts together, watched a lot of Ghostwriter (word!) together and talked about how similar our names are next to each other. Aleen moved away from New Berlin, WI after middle school. We didn't keep in touch. Then this thing called Facebook came around and we got reconnected. She posted a lot about 90s jamz I liked and 80s/90s movies I regularly referenced. After a few years of FB friendship, we found ourselves both living in Chicago. We reunited after not seeing each other for maybe 15 years. We started hanging out regularly and haven't missed a beat since. It was fun to be attending a convention like this with someone who understood who all of these celebrities were and was equally as excited to see them.
We arrived in Bloomingdale around 4, checked into the convention and then got ready at the hotel because us bitches were going to prom. REWindCon prom. We didn't don formal wear, instead we went with dresses that are in our regular clothing rotation. Honestly, REWindCon prom is what you would probably expect. It was part of the VIP packages and was promoted saying that there was going to be dancing, karaoke and celebrities from the convention. Prom was hosted by the actor Chase Coleman. I'm personally not familiar with him, but I feel like that was the jest of this whole convention. We would walk past someone and nudge each other and ask each other if that person was a celebrity, saying, "I think that's someone." The thing is, these people have aged since they were in their "hey day." I recognized a few people from being promoted on the website. There were maybe 50 guests in attendance at prom, which I would say at least half were volunteers for the event. Some people got really into it and wore old prom dresses. It was pretty fun.
This is Chase Coleman. We might not be familiar with his work, but we'll
still snap a pic. It's for the experience, after all.
As the prom went on, a few celebrities rolled in. It was like watching WWE, but here you saw celebrities stroll through glittery streamers hanging from the door frame. One of the celebrities who strolled through was Keith Coogan of Adventures in Babysitting fame. His date was his beautiful wife, Pinky Lovejoy-Coogan. Aleen immediately recognized him and had a minor freak out. We said hello and his wife instantly conducted a photo shoot.
Mrs. Coogan was OK with us smooching up on her ma'an. He's a gentleman and cleared it first. You'll hear me say this a lot throughout these celebrity interactions, but he was so nice. I mean, I know we paid money to hang out with these people and he was probably getting paid for it, but I was still expecting some of them to be aloof or hard to approach. Not Keith Coogan, he accepts his fans, so much so that he said he married a fan. Hey, Luke! I'm available.
In one of our "I think that's someone" moments, we saw Mark DeCarlo. We recognized him as the host of the 90s dating show Studs and as the coach from the movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with my ma'an, Luke Perry).
In the hallway, we ran into Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame. We actually saw him earlier when we scoped out the REWindCon grounds for the next day and had a debate of if he was a celebrity or not. From far away, I thought he was Jeremy Miller (Ben from Growing Pains, he was near that table). Aleen thought he was an everyday guy. Seeing him closer, I knew it wasn't Jeremy Miller, but it was "someone." We brought out our phones many times throughout the weekend to confirm if they were indeed "someone." Then at prom, we realized there was no question that he was the guy from Gremlins and that he probably shouldn't get us (or anyone, really) wet.
Turns out that if you smuggle 99 Berries into a convention prom, you will go up to any celebrity from the event and take your picture with them.
The prom had a curfew and so did we. We had to get our beauty rest as the next day was Luke frickin' Perry day. LUKE FRICKIN' PERRY DAY!!!! We went back to the hotel, had a Mariah Carey dance party and hit the hay.
We woke up, both dried our hair in a bucket. It's a Made for TV hair dryer attachment that is truly magic and makes your hair look like the Cowardly Lion. I had to look my best for Luke. This wasn't just any day that I dried my hair in a bucket. It was Luke frickin' Perry day. After doing a stupid dance routine that I put on the Internet, we made our way to the convention.
As part of our VIP package, we were told that we had early entrance. That wasn't really true. This convention was run mostly by volunteers who really didn't know what was going on. Not their fault. The experience itself was totally worth it, but if this was a Yelp! review, I'd probably give the convention itself maybe 2 stars. The experience would put it up to "you can't really put a price on it" stars. So it's a little tough to really weigh it out.
We were told that we couldn't actually enter the convention yet because all of the celebrities were going to their tables. This experience was super weird. We were surrounded by all of these people hootin' and hollerin'. Trust me, I was hootin' and hollerin' too, but internally. It was a weird paparazzi experience at a Hilton in Bloomingdale, IL with nostalgic celebrities. There were a lot of boy bands at this convention. Sure, I love me some catchy boy band songs, but honestly I was more of an alternative girl. Get me tipsy enough (off of that 99 Berries) and I'll school your ass on an NSync dance routine, but I prefer my music of this era to be by PJ Harvey (I once named a cat Polly Jean) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and named other cats, Flea and Apache Rose).
Fans of boy bands sure do love their boy bands. Think New Kids on the Block era screaming, but by women 25 (being generous, here)-55 years old presently. There were members of O-Town, AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys, and Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick of NSync. The women at the Bloomingdale Hilton went nuts as each guy walked by.
As more celebrities walked by, the anticipation of the Beverly Hills, 90210 cast was nearing. In walked Jason Priestley, followed shortly by Gabrielle Carteris. I am so happy I got to witness this moment. Gabrielle called out Jason's name and they ran to each other, kissed each other on the lips and hugged each other hello.
What a moment! Although the cast has kept in touch and seen each other over the years, REWindCon was the first time that they were all reunited together in 20 years. As a voyeur, I can say that the BH cast genuinely likes each other. Throughout the weekend while waiting in line, I saw some really sweet moments of the cast talking to each other, smiling and hugging each other. Sounds dorky, but it was really nice to see.
Shortly after, the doors officially opened for REWindCon and we were unleashed to stand in line to meet celebrities. Aleen and I went downstairs to get our picture taken with Alan Thicke (from Growing Pains fame) first. I used the free picture voucher from my VIP package for this pic.
These things are funny. Sure, you "meet" these people, but they see hundreds, maybe even thousands of people at these things. I mean, I know we're really good looking (especially in Bloomingdale), but can't say we left a lasting impression (whatever that means). We both told Alan that we enjoyed his work, took this picture and that was pretty much it. Later in the day, we went over to the Seaver Fever section and said hello to Jeremy Miller and Tracy Gold too and showed Alan Thicke how our pic turned out. The thing is, you have to pay for everything at these events. If a celebrity autographs anything, it costs anywhere from $10-20 and blurry selfies cost anywhere from $20-40. We felt weird going up to some people's tables because we had to spend our money wisely (and mine was going to the BH clan).
After we snapped our pic with Alan Thicke, we took a quick lap around and went to Keith Coogan's table. I'll say it again, but Keith and his wife are just great. They had one of the best set ups there. Keith made a backdrop from Adventures in Babysitting to make it look like you were climbing the building. Genius. With a little direction of, "Bend over with your head tilt to side, now pretend to hold a rope," we got this sweet pic:
Aleen used her free autograph card and received a sweet promo pic of Keith as the character Kenny in Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. After all of the fun at Keith's table, we went back downstairs to get pictures taken with Christine Elise (Emily Valentine from BH90210) for me and the London Brothers for Aleen.
I was so excited to meet Christine Elise. She was nice enough to grant me an interview while at REWindCon. As I went up to her in the photo booth, I told her that we had been emailing and introduced myself from the Whoa! She was so funny. She said, "I thought you were a boy," as she may have confused me with the 9021Bro (who I later met too). Being the sweetheart she is, she then told me I wasn't a boy, but a beautiful woman. I brought my "Having a great time at the Gynecologist" sign in and snapped this pic with her:
At the time, Christine didn't know what the sign said. This picture soon became a nightmare as I had to try to retrieve it at least 4 times as it wasn't printed. I had fear that I had gone too far with the sign, but alas I got it and it ended up getting me a free picture with Tori Spelling for all of the trouble. For those keeping track, this picture was $40.00.
Aleen was geeking out about the London Brothers. Earlier when we were watching everyone walk in, she decided that she had to spend money on a picture with them. $40.00 got Aleen this:
This London Brothers pic was taken afer Aleen went up to their table and told them she had difficulty telling them apart. They told her that she could look down at the table and clear that up for her since it had their names listed. She's a Physician's Assistant, y'all. J/K. She's actually incredibly smart.
When leaving the photo area, we saw Joey Fatone and were lucky enough to sneak an illegal pic with him:
We got reprimanded for taking the pic, while Joey Fatone was reprimanded as well being told to charge for those at the table. Sweet Kelly Bundy shirt, Joey.
With a verbal slap on the wrist about pictures, we went upstairs again and stood in line to meet Tori Spelling. At this point, I had seen Luke Perry come in the building, but wasn't ready to say, "hello," yet. We stood in line for 40 minutes to be told that Tori was going to lunch and would be back in 30 minutes. I gotta say, Tori was definitely the most popular one at REWindCon. She consistently had the longest line (even over Jason and Luke). We ditched the line and instead went by James Eckhouse (Jim Walsh from BH90210 a.k.a. best dad). I paid $20 for this blurry pic:
That James! What a nice guy! I told him about the Whoa! and he genuinely encouraged me to keep writing. We talked comedy and about our experiences attending Second City. $20 well spent!
The time to get our picture with Luke Perry was fast approaching. Aleen and I grabbed a quick bite and did some breathing exercises in the car. Holy crap. It was happening. I was about to meet the man who I date in doll form. The line was crazy, but as we were ushered in, I got super nervous thinking what if my dreams are crushed in this very moment. Nope! Not crushed at all. Luke Perry was so incredibly kind. I went into the photo booth, shook his hand and we exchanged names as if I didn't know who he was. Luke said, "We hug." We embraced and then smashed our faces together for this pic (which cost $60.00):
Thankfully my hair cooperated and this picture turned out so well. REWindCon was like a wedding day for me. AHHHHH!!! I just met my childhood crush and he was sweet as pie. Be still my frickin' heart!
Aleen used her free pic voucher for Luke.
The hard/best part was done. We had made contact. Face contact.
We walked around a bit more and hopped in to see the band Port Chuck. It's a band with a bunch of soap stars who play acoustic Bon Jovi covers. It was fitting and fun enough. After that, we went to the Seaver Fever panel. The panels we attended were great. Seriously, very informative and interesting to watch. People asked the cast of Growing Pains about being typecast. Jeremy Miller said it was difficult at first to find work after the show, Tracy Gold went onto Lifetime movies and Alan Thicke talked about how he now simply gets cast to play Alan Thicke.
It was time to go back to the Church of Beverly Hills. Tori still had a super long line so we went over by Gabrielle Carteris. I had just met her downstairs by the photo booth during one of the many times I tried to retrieve my Christine Elise pic. Sure, I rag on the character of Andrea Zuckerman, but Gabrielle herself is an amazing person. She was so friendly and again really encouraging about the Whoa! She even thanked me for writing about them. We talked about her work at SAG. This blurry pic was another $20.00 well spent:
We hugged it out and then moved over to Jason Priestley's table. There was no intention to buy a cell phone pic with him too, but in the moment of it all, Aleen looked into his eyes and forked over $40.00 for this:
Boy, oh boy, was Jason Priestley a sweetheart. I told him about the Whoa! and he was encouraging too. All of these people were just so nice. I confessed that although Brandon was great, my heart went to Dylan. He then put his arm around Aleen and walked off with her. $40.00 for the pic, but the memory itself is priceless. He also stood on his tip toes in this pic. I'm here for the facts.
Day 1 was about to wrap up, but not before we attended the Beverly Hills, 90210 panel. Man, what an experience. They had a beautiful tribute to Shannen Doherty, talked about their favorite plotlines, social media presence (turns out the Luke Perry Twitter account is the totally fake, will never get verified account), whether Tori really likes popcorn and ice cream and more. At one point in the panel, someone asked their favorite lines from the show. Jennie Garth said, "I choose me." They opened the question to the audience. I raised my hand and Gabrielle Carteris called on me. I said, "Have a good time at the Gynecologist." Christine Elise cheered. How cool is that? These people from the show that has had such a huge influence on me were right there in front of my eyes in the very same room. Crazy. And for the Luke Perry hug tally, I got number 2 right here. Luke was near the stage talking to fans. I didn't know if I would have another chance so I just had to. I went up to him and said I was going in for another hug. He responded saying, "Well I'm giving them." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
That night, we ordered pizza and watched crappy TV at the hotel. While checking my BH9021Whoa Instagram account, I saw that someone named Joanna Cassidy liked a few of my pictures. I looked at the account thinking she looked familiar. Oh, hey! It was Rose from Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead! This was so crazy to have a day with all of these celebrities and then to have other celebrities that they worked with acknowledge your pics. Fun times.
Aleen and I got ready for another fun-filled day. I was between two outfits and then went with one of my favorite dresses saying out loud that I'm wearing this in hopes that Tori Spelling compliments my outfit. Spoiler: she did!
The first mission was to finally go to Luke Perry's table. Sure we met briefly when we had our face-smashing picture taken together and hug #2, but this was the time I actually got to to talk to him. I decided I was going to come clean and tell him about how I date his Dylan doll. I went in for another hug (hug #3 for that tally) and then paid $30 to get this picture taken (REWindCon counted it as a combo with my autograph voucher, otherwise it would have cost $40.00):
As a kid, I don't think I would have thought this would actually be happening, but here I am with my arm around Luke frickin' Perry. And look at us? G'ahhhhhhhh. Thanks for that photogenic gene, mom!
I told him about my Steve Harvey appearance and he told me that his brother loves Steve Harvey. Either his brother missed my episode or didn't want to pass along the fact that there's a girl on the Internet who dates a doll version of him. I don't know. Either way, I showed him how he jumped out of a cake for me on my birthday:
He laughed and said that his butt really looks like that. Showed his friend who just took our pic and then said something about his "gluteus maximus." Guys, this is called true love. We hugged again. #4!
After my Luke fill, we went to Christine Elise's table. It was time to get that interview. We joked about the "Gynecologist" line and how ridiculous it was. Any fan from the show knows that Emily Valentine was pretty dang cool. Sure she drugged Brandon and then destroyed the homecoming float, but the woman who played her was pretty cool. She had a punk rock image that was projected from the real person. Over the time of Whoa!-ing, occasionally, Christine Elise would give some Internet love. I saw other BH sites and podcasts interview her, so I thought I would ask too. I was so happy that she obliged. I'll post the interview separately, but a takeaway is that no one knows where the guy with the 4 on his shirt is. Here's Christine Elise and I by Hilton waterfall:
Once we wrapped up the interview, Aleen and I went to get our "Good Guy Duo" picture. As a fan of the show, it was important to me to get "nice" pics with my favorites from the show so I spent $110.00 to get a picture with Jennie Garth and Jason Priestley. As mentioned earlier, this convention was horribly run. On Sunday, we spent most of the time waiting for pictures because the schedule kept changing. Saturday seemed busy, but there weren't a lot of people there on Sunday. According to Christine Elise, the convention wasn't well attended at all.
Anyway, while waiting for the Jennie/Jason picture, we saw that Luke was also in the photo booth. I put it out in the universe that maybe, just maybe Luke could hop into our pic. I walked into the photo booth and Luke saw me thinking I was getting another pic with him. We had a tad awkward moment when I said, "Uhhh, actually I'm getting this one with Jennie and Jason." Luke sat down and then we asked if he could hop in too. He did! The universe was listening!
Going into these pics, I wanted them to look like cast pics. I'm happy to see my vision played out (with a near boob grab to boot, oooohhhwwiiieeeee!).
I thought that would be it, but then Jason said, "You want one with Jennie and I, right?" I sure did! BONUS PIC! I asked Jason to pretend to punch me in the face like the opening credits. Success!
This was first interaction with Jennie Garth too. She's just as beautiful as she is on TV.
We walked around a bit more after these pics and stopped back by Keith Coogan's booth. Aleen got us matching "The Dishes are Done, Man!" aprons that Keith autographed.
Whatcha gonna eat? I'm gonna cook for you. Seriously, come on over.
The two of us went back downstairs and stood in line again to get our picture taken with Tori Spelling. Due to lines, we hadn't actually interacted with her yet. The weird/cool part about this convention is that the celebrities are just walking around. I accidentally bumped into Vincent Young (Noah Hunter from BH90210) on the stairs. I wanted to talk to him too and go to his table, but I was running out of money. I weighed it out the day before and thought it was more important to me to meet/get my picture with James Eckhouse (they shared a table).
We went into the photo booth with Tori. I gave her a hug and she was eyeing my outfit. She said, "Cute dress!" I said, "I got ready this morning hoping you would compliment my outfit." She responded, "Mission accomplished!"
Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!
Man, what an experience overall! After we snapped the Tori pic, we went into the Movie Mania panel with Keith Coogan, Zach Galligan, Cole Hauser, the Janitor from the Breakfast Club/Oily Bohunk in Sixteen Candles and a few others. We got there late because of all the waiting for pictures/schedule changes. This was a very informative panel too. Zach Galligan discussed why people should never become an actor and stories of people financing a movie by second mortgage. After the panel, we talked to Zach more at his table because Aleen wanted to know who his favorite Gremlin was. He didn't really answer, but asked us to come up with a character cuter THAN Gizmo. He specified, "Not as cute, but cuter than." I was stumped, I don't know about you.
We waited around forever to retrieve our Tori pic. During this time, we went back and talked to Christine Elise some more. She was absolutely the best and sent us home with a few of her pictures. She let us choose. I chose the promo shot of her drugging Brandon. She was so kind that she said she had to give me one more and then sent me off with this:
She's the best!
Aleen and I left REWindCon with our Tori picture in hand and a Super Moon on the horizon. I got home and told my mom every detail just like I'm telling you. I watched an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 and thought about how my life is forever changed because I now met the majority of these people, told them about the site and got to hug my childhood crush 4 times in one weekend. All I have to say is "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" And maybe, "Whoa!"