Sometimes you get offered a gig that sounds like it’ll either be a terrible idea, or such a weird idea that maybe something really cool will come from having the balls to take it head-on. A good example would be flying to Idaho to play a redneck in a zero-budget indie film that never got released. Another example is when a friend says “we need a guy to play Hitler at Comic Con and walk around with a bunch of really hot girls in SS outfits” and I go with it.
This was on behalf of a company called Haute Campe, a subsidiary of an art collective called Century Guild. Haute Campe sells original prints of old, obscure/campy movie posters. In some cases, they have 80-100% of every remaining original print for a given film. They’re the kind of posters Quentin Tarantino would stare at for hours and jerk off to while shoving toes into his mouth. One of Marilyn Manson’s assistants even showed up to the Haute Campe booth to shop on his behalf. These posters start at easily $800 for the smallest one, while something like a subway sized print of an original Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS poster (one of, I think, only 10 in the world) goes for upwards of $20k. Hell, they sell 11×14 patronage prints for $50 each.
They really wanted to get some attention to their booth by way of shock factor. The idea was to have a group of 3-4 girls in SS outfits trailing Hitler, walking around Comic Con and handing out flyers. Since a friend of mine was involved with the firm, she recommended using me for the Hitler role. “He’s crazy, he’ll do it!” must’ve been her pitch. I don’t know. Since she was also a GodsGirls model, the SS girls would be plucked from the GG ranks for this occasion.
When we spoke on the phone, I made clear that I had a few primary reservations :
- I don’t want to wear a giant swastika on my upper arm, nor display any other nazi insignia
- I don’t want to walk around alone as Hitler — I want to always be flanked by SS girls, so we appear as a group effort and it’s more obviously a marketing ploy
- I will be playing a self-deprecating, goofy Hitler
I was assured all three of those would be “no problem”. They had 4 SS girls lined up to join me throughout our walks on the main exhibition hall. In lieu of the upper-arm swastika emblem would be the Haute Campe logo. And I was free to play Hitler as goofy and self-deprecating as I’d like. In addition, since my debut comedy DVD was just being released, I was allowed to bring along glossy flyers advertising said DVD and hand those out along with flyers for the booth I was promoting. It all sounded kind of above-board at this point. I was gonna get a 3-day Comic Con pass, food and hotel paid for, a little “walking around” money, be able to promote my comedy album, and hangout with some model friends of mine from GodsGirls.
The reality of it was, as these things go, considerably more fucked. Just days before the start of SDCC 2010, all the SS girls got cold feet. So, instead of 4 SS girls flanking me at all times there was just one. My hopes for being able to slip through the halls and maybe get a few passing glances was shattered when, 2 days prior to the event, it “leaked” to the press that there would be a Hitler cosplayer at the event. Members of the Jewish Defense League were even interviewed about it, saying it was in poor taste . My request to not wear swastikas was mostly upheld – but since they had rented a historically-accurate version of Hitler’s outfit, there were quite a few of ’em. They made concessions that “well, there’s only two tiny swastikas on the actual outfit” 1I have since been reminded that most of the little swastikas were covered with photos/logos — only the one on the hat remained, and would be covering the giant upper-arm swastika with their logo. Unfortunately, their logo was 4 legs arranged in a swastika shape. That didn’t exactly help my case.
My first day there wasn’t so bad. I walked around with my cohort SS girl (whose name escapes me, so let’s call her Lisa), took some photos with people, then I got to remove the g’damned costume and walk around just normal and chill. Having never seen Comic Con in person before, I was in awe. It’s quite a thing to see people so devoted to a slice of pop culture that they’ll spend months working on a detailed, accurate-to-the-millimeter costume for it, and pay huge amounts of money just to attend the event and walk around wearing that costume. People will line up for hours on end just to be in an audience of 100s to see a 30-second trailer for a film a few weeks before anyone else gets to see it. They’ll stand in halls for the better part of a day just to ask one silly question of an actor who played their favorite character in some obscure Sci-Fi series. It’s absolutely fascinating. The constant thought I had throughout the convention was : “I hope one day to be a part of something that would inspire 100s of people to line up just to hear me talk about it”.
As the night approached, parties were starting up all over the place. They were, of course, private “elite” parties. I was in this awkward space that I’ve occupied for years now. I grew up as something of an outcast nerd, but always just outside of nerd culture in either an attempt to wiggle my way into the “cool kids table”, or out of general disinterest for most of nerd culture. I’ve never cared for comic books, I like very little Sci-Fi (Star Wars is an outlier for me), I’m not a very active TV viewer, I don’t read fiction novels, and I think both Doctor Who and Star Trek are grossly overrated. On the other hand, I’ve never belonged at the “cool kids table” for reasons that I will never quite understand, but I also don’t necessarily disagree with. I was hanging out with a GG Model friend of mine (not the SS girl I was with for most of the day) and she walked into a restaurant and I tried to follow and the security guard said “sorry, private party”. She turned, saw me standing outside, and shrugged. As if to say “ahh… sorry. I’m not gonna vouch for you getting in here, despite no one stopping me to check if I was allowed in”.
That’s how much of the weekend went. Many GGs were at the event, and there was a strong GodsGirls presence (both physically, with the models, and virtually in the form of hand-out flyers and giant banners) around the booth I was promoting, and many of those GGs went on to all sorts of awesome private parties. Even my SS girl (who was also a GodsGirl) disappeared towards the end of each day to schmooze with partygoers. Meanwhile, I wandered around to dive bars, surrounded by people who were far more accustomed to the madness of Comic Con and knew all the references that eluded me. Drinking alone in plain clothes during Comic Con without any good reason to be there is a special kind of do-not-belong-ness.
On the second day, there was this huge Twilight panel, which brought a shit-ton of people lined up to… I don’t know.. ask questions and get an early look at the trailer? I guess? I walked past the line, got called names, someone even put a clip on YouTube of it, and then I got interviewed by some local news station that was there just to find out why people gave that much of a fuck about Twilight. What bothered me was that I wanted to stay in character, but my SS girl was just “hey, I’m some normal girl in a costume”. So, the interviewer asked our names and she gave them. I just tried to laugh it off, keeping my accent going. But I also wanted to express — as myself, not as my character — how fascinated and inspired I was to see all these people line up for something.
Take a beat while you think about what I’m saying. I, while dressed up as and talking like Hitler, told a reporter “I’m so inspired and fascinated by all these 100s of people lining up for something like this. I hope one day I can do something so great that it gets people lining up for hours on end just to be a part of it”.
Yeah. I realized the cringe of that moment a little too late, like… a few seconds later when the reporter said “ohhh.. wow. that’s… okay… Back to you, Stan”.
At one point, I’m walking around as Hitler — alone this time, cause SS girl had GodsGirls duties — and I was suddenly unable to work my way through the crowd. I stepped on someone’s foot while trying to figure out what was holding us up. It turned out that the crowd was standing still because they wanted to meet and talk to a celebrity who was working their way through the crowd. That celebrity was Jon Favreau 2I have a story coming up about how I have very close ties to him through family, and accidentally missed a chance to party with him in the Iron Man ...continue. That foot I stepped on? Also Jon Favreau. I looked up, he saw me and said “ohhh jesus christ”. I said “Oh hi, Jon Favreau! Big Fan!” (in my Hitler voice). He said “let’s move the fuck on!” and his security pulled him out of there.
Sorry, Jon Favreau.
The last night I was there — Sunday night — was considerably less packed. I drank alone at a bar for a bit and met this incredibly attractive woman who made out with me for reasons I’ll never understand, told me to call her “sometime next week, cause I’ll be in LA” and then I drove home. That girl never responded to my text message a few days later, inquiring about her travel plans. She did at least send a selfie of her driving around the next day, so I’m attaching it to this post cause.. fuck it, why not.
One day, I’ll tell this story onstage at SDCC while promoting some mega-successful thing or another and we’ll all have a good laugh. Until then… sorry Comic Con. I didn’t mean to bring Hitler to your party.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||I have since been reminded that most of the little swastikas were covered with photos/logos — only the one on the hat remained|
|2.||↩||I have a story coming up about how I have very close ties to him through family, and accidentally missed a chance to party with him in the Iron Man house|