Before I stop posting about Texas Frightmare Weekend, I’d like to extend any amount of gratitude to my fellow vendors, as well as the security crew and the volunteers who made the show happen. The Czarina and I always look forward to seeing regular and new vendors, and having Dametria Green of The Curiositeer stop by is one of the many highlights of the show. Dametria and her boyfriend have been regular Triffid Ranch customers since the first Triffid Ranch show at Frightmare back in 2009, and we consistently run into them at other local events. A show that ends without running into them, or at least a quick view of the Curiositeer booth, is like a broken pencil.
I’d also like to give a serious shoutout for my immediate show neighbor, Shaun Kama of Halloween Tattoos, who had to listen to me recite carnivorous plant information over and over and OVER all weekend. What became particularly scary was how many people we knew in common, including glass artist R.C. Whitus of Drink With The Living Dead. When I’m ready to get more skin art done, Shaun is at the top of my list for out-of-town artists to get my business.
So it ends until this time next year. The next big convention: FenCon X in Addison, where it all started. I wonder what happened to the catgirl who smirked “Whoever heard of anyone selling plants at a convention?” all those years ago?
And the smiles keep coming. Oh, they keep coming. In fact, about the only bad attitude at the whole show, seen from my side of the vendor’s booth, came from a Dallas Observer Street Team writer who wandered around with a curled lip as if someone had stapled a small turd under her nose. Everyone else with the Street Team was having a blast, but she obviously wanted to be back in Uptown or Highland Park with the other Beautiful People. Her MO was to walk up to vendors, sneer “So why is this so special?”, and wander off bored as soon as anyone tried to answer her question. Either she’s trying to fill the niche left emptied by former Observer writer Robert Wilonsky, or she’s gunning for an editorial position at D magazine. Even so, even she couldn’t ruin the mood.
On that subject, Texas Frightmare Weekend is becoming quite the media event as well. Lots of photographers and reporters, with regular photo slideshows on a lot of local media Web sites, and precious little interest in the sort of “Look at the freaks” coverage you used to see from our local newspaper whenever a convention was in town. (I don’t miss that, and I definitely don’t miss one certain reporter who would demand freebies and special access in exchange for coverage of a convention, who would then slam the convention because he got everything he demanded. I suspect he really, really misses the Nineties and his long-dead control over local media coverage.) Combine them with the various touring podcasters, and some of the conversations were as bizarre as anything in the movies, films, and books being celebrated at Frightmare. It almost, almost, makes me nostalgic for my days in journalism.
One of the many reasons why I so thoroughly enjoy being a vendor at Texas Frightmare Weekend, and I have a LOT of reasons, is because everyone is so mellow and so blasted happy. You’re among 4000 to 10,000 stone horror fans, half of them in costumes that would leave my paternal grandmother in pattern nightmares for years, and they’re all smiling. Not “I’m smiling so I don’t start shooting at school buses” smiles, either. These are folks who wait the entire year for Frightmare, and even when things don’t go precisely as planned (such as when The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus had to cancel his appearance due to filming deadlines on the show), they don’t just deal with it. They aren’t grabbing water and sugar to make lemonade: they’re grabbing the ice, the salt, and the tequila and making margaritas that will peel the enamel off your teeth in big floppy strips. In other words, my kind of people.
And to explain the situation with my grandmother, I just like to point out that my two late grandmothers had completely different attitudes. My paternal grandmother admitted she still had nightmares after seeing James Whale’s Frankenstein back in 1932, and she disowned me when I celebrated my 19th birthday by seeing the local premiere of George Romero’s Day of the Dead. My maternal grandmother’s birthday was Halloween, and she was a walking recreation of the “Hell’s Grannies” skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Guess which one I took after?
Expect some serious changes to the Triffid Ranch through 2013. It’s not just in an expanded list of shows, or in cosmetics such as new banners and plant nametags. (That said, though, the Triffid Ranch inventory is now color-coded for easier identification. Red tags are for carnivores, while green tags are edibles, blue are succulents, and black are toxic or poisonous ones.) Besides a desperately-needed revamping of the main Web site, it’s time to change focus on the plants themselves. In the last half-decade, first-time customers who couldn’t believe they were looking at actual carnivorous plants at a horror convention are now sophisticated enough to want something new and not immediately accessible, so it’s time to expand for them as well. We’ll still continue to carry old stalwarts for those finally ready to take a chance on a beginner carnivore, but it’s time to expand further into pygmy sundews, Mexican butterworts, and even more terrestrial bladderworts, among many others. This is in addition to an expanded line of custom arrangements and environments, including the long-promised ultra-hot Capsicum bonsai.
And along that line, yes, the photo above is of a year-old Trinidad Scorpion pepper plant. It’s just one of many babied all winter long, and it’s going to be joined by a new batch of exotic peppers. If things work out well, this just might convince my little brother to come out to visit for the first time in two decades, because he’s a chilehead to end all Capsicum addicts.
As mentioned previously, Texas Frightmare Weekend 2013, in many ways, summed up the last five years of the Triffid Ranch. May 3 marked the fifth anniversary of the first-ever Triffid Ranch show, and it just keeps getting better and better. New customers, old friends, interested cohorts who aren’t quite ready to move away from “typical” gardening yet…they all came together last weekend in what was, so far, the largest show by volume in which the Triffid Ranch ever appeared. If Frightmare keeps going like this, not only am I planning to help celebrate Frightmare’s tenth anniversary in 2015, but I’m planning also to hold festivities of my own for the Triffid Ranch’s tenth as well.
Obviously, it isn’t a real party without photos. Over the next few days, keep an eye open for a cross-section of typical Triffid Ranch customers and their beloved plants. I wouldn’t have them any other way.