Tag Archives: comic conventions

Disturbing parallels involving “The Blair Witch Project”

Back in the early Nineties, back during the beginnings of my science fiction essay writing days (which made about as much of an impression as Jeffrey Dahmer’s track record with managing vegan restaurants), I was a regular guest at a series of now-long-defunct Dallas-based comic conventions. While the main emphasis of the shows was on packing as many people into the dealer’s hall as possible, the promotion of these shows usually emphasized at least one child or cult actor from the Sixties, signing autographs and otherwise comporting themselves in interesting fashions. (I can, for instance, relate without shame that I was very nearly responsible for causing one such former child actor to jump out a 20th-story window in a Fort Worth hotel nearly 20 years ago. That story involved a friend’s phone prank, two of the scariest strippers in the Southwest, and an abandoned copy of the second issue of Evan Dorkin’s Milk & Cheese comic, and will only be related in person. During the book tour, and only after the publisher delivers the baby crocodile monitor that’s a deal-breaker for the contract in lieu of an advance.)

The organizer of said convention was, in some ways, savvier than any of us realized, as I realized when I asked him why the shows kept featuring Sixties-era TV actors as headliner guests instead of, I don’t know, inviting various literary science fiction stars. In fact, that was the argument I was giving him at the time. He just guffawed and told me that those actors were absolute gold for his shows. Nobody in the general public would give a flip about Gil Kane or Harlan Ellison as a guest star, but radio morning show hosts and “Weekend Guide” editors would go bonkers for the opportunity to relate “Hey, Bill Mumy of Lost In Space is going to be out at the show this weekend, so don’t miss out!” As much as it ground my jaws at the time, he was right, and a lot of attendees who’d sooner gnaw their own legs off than go to a comics convention raced out to the shows because of that connection.

And now the horticulture connection. Many of us GenXers may remember Heather Donahue, mostly for her starring role in the 1999 movie The Blair Witch Project. Judging by a recent interview, I suspect that she’d appreciate a quote from former Butthole Surfers lead singer Gibby Haynes: “The worst thing in the world is to be famous with no money.” She apparently moved from acting into medical marijuana, and she’s currently on a tour to promote her upcoming book Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot.

Reading the interview, I was struck by how much her life paralleled mine. In 1999, she was starring in The Blair Witch Project. In 1999, I was working for SCI Fi magazine, a publication that passed up on covering the original Blair Witch Project but made up for it with sycophantic coverage of Blair Witch 2. She dumped all of her acting memorabilia in the desert and moved into medical marijuana. I dumped all of my science fiction writing memorabilia on eBay and moved into carnivorous plants. She started taking medical marijuana to treat PMS. I was born just weeks before LSD became illegal in the US. She had concerns with writing about her experiences after a friend was busted by the Feds. I had concerns with writing about my experiences after confirming I had an FBI record for allegedly selling government secrets to the Daleks. She has fans in the millions, and will probably do very well with her book tour. I have fans in the dozens, and couldn’t give away my books with free beer. The similarities are just uncanny.