I am a Pop Culture Expo virgin, or newbie, if you will, the kind of fellow who looks at ComicCon with bemusement from afar. I shan’t be for long, however, as I’m joining event/concert producer Gary Sohmers and his merry band of fans, fantasists and what have you – 20,000 expected – Saturday and Sunday May 24-25 at the Aleppo Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington. I’m going not purely out of curiosity mind you, though there is that, too. I’m moderating panel discussions with four of the 30-plus celebrities who will grace the Expo this year: “Game of Thrones” Kristian Nairn (the one-word speaking Hodor) and Esme Bianco (the oft-naked prostitute), Ernie Hudson (of “Ghostbusters” and “Oz”) fame and Pete Best, who as most everyone knows has the tag “Best of the Beatles,” which is to say he was the Liverpool skiffle group’s drummer pre-Ringo. (Room capacity: 150. Sign up early.)
Aside from getting to chat with these fine folks – my role will be to introduce and toss some of my own journalistic bon mots their way and solicit yours – you can participate in a costume and videogame contest (with videogame aces, by remote), snag autographs, peruse 150 vendors of collectible vintage and modern toys, comic books and other artifacts. This stuff goes on from 10 AM – 6 PM, and then at night there’s a VIP “Party with the Stars,” where the towering Nairn will DJ – he’s a famous DJ, too.
One of the key folks there – and Boston peeps will remember him from his chaotic, but funny days at WBCN – is voice-master Billy West. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0921942/ Another, uh, “person” you might want to interact with is NAO (pronounced Now) who is an MIT-built robot on loan. It’s designed to help kids with autism and if you buy tix on line put it the discount code PCXNAO and $5 goes to the purchase of a NAO for New England schools with autism programs. www.aldebaran.com
Other flesh and blood types in the house: Sam Huntington (“Veronica Mars”), Alaina Huffman (“Smallville,” “Supernatural”), Mark Goddard (“Lost in Space” – wow! We can ask him if Dr. Smith was really that good a villain that he got away with sabotage week after week.), and Maria Kennelis (WWE). Our favorite singing daughter of a good musician friend Dez (Bentmen) will be there, the lovely Casey Desmond. There will be artists and comic book people, too. Autograph fees? Oh yes. And they vary.
Tickets begin at $15 or $25 for a two-day pass and VIP packages start at $149. It’s rather likely you’ll be spending more than that as you procure autographs and various detritus from the world that will spread itself out at the Shriners. The website below will give you details.
99 Fordham Rd., Wilmington, www.PopCultureExpo.com