Seamus O’Tooles Becomes Club Fangtasia for Halloween

November 4, 2010

True Blood’s Fangtasia comes to Australia for one night only at Knox’s Seamus O’Toole’s Irish pub

The author's own costume. I chose to go as Sookie after she had been beaten up by the Rattrays

Sookie meets the Maenad

Recently Hub Productions held a True Blood convention in Australia. I was lucky enough to attend the Melbourne event. During the course of the day, many competitions were held. One was to win tickets to a Fangtasia inspired Halloween party being staged at Knox’s Seamus O’Tooles Irish Pub. Unbelievably I managed to win tickets to this event.

So what was it like?

Well, to start off with, I had won general admission tickets, but promptly upgraded them to VIP tickets. This got me a snappy Club Fangtasia lanyard as well as special entry along the red carpet, which was handy because it was freezing cold outside and my costume of choice was Sookie Stackhouse AFTER she had been beaten up by the Rattrays (Season One, episodes 1 and 2).

The VIP ticket entitled me to exclusive access to a private room all night, plus a free True Blood cocktail and canapes during the night. The cocktail I chose was one called Plasmapolitan and it was delicious. The canapes were brought out throughout the night, but most of these I missed because all the fun was happening downstairs in the general admission area.

There were Fangtasia dancers who danced on podiums at certain times during the night. All the bar staff wore fangs. There was also a special merchandise stand that sold True Blood t-shirts, Merlotte’s aprons, etc. These were all reasonably priced too.

Jessica actually goes by the name Robyn and is one of the crew for Hub Productions

And the costumes – oh my goodness! While I was the only Sookie who had been beaten to a pulp, there were plenty of other Sookie’s there in varying degrees of disrepair. There were vampires apleny too. And while I only saw one guy who resembled Eric, there were plenty of Godric‘s as well as a couple of maenads. An honourable mention must also go to the man dressed as Bob the cat. While the theme was True Blood, there was also a brilliantly made up zoombie, a girl from Gryffindor and a couple of bananas in pyjamas.

Special prizes were offered to the best dressed for the night, as well as for randomly picked VIP ticket holders. The prizes on offer were all fantastic and ranged from four-packs of Tru:Blood to signed photos, True Blood DVDs, and even a signed episode one script.

Overall, I would have to say that this was actually the best night out I have had in a LONG time!

(Photo Credit: Lenore Mills)

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An Australian True Blood Fan’s Convention Experience

October 11, 2010

A lot of True Blood fans can be found all over the world, including in Australia and New Zealand. One such fan, our good friend Lizzie 1071, kindly agreed to share her experience with everyone here on TrueBloodNet.com. Thanks so much, Lizzie, for sharing your awesome experience with us! Read on and enjoy!

TRUE BLOOD CONVENTION (SATURDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2010) in SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

By LIZZIE 1071

I was lucky enough to attend the first Aussie True Blood Convention, organised by HUB Productions, on Saturday 25 September 2010 in Sydney, New South Wales. I went with my two friends, Craig and Nicole, who are also Truebies.

The lucky attendees of the convention got to see Sam Trammell, Kristin Bauer, Todd Lowe, and John BillingslyCharlaine Harris had to cancel out at the last moment but promised to make arrangements to tour OZ/NZ next year.

The event was an all day affair, starting at 9:00 am and finishing at 6:00 pm. Afterwards, the guests had to fly to Melbourne, Victoria, for another Convention which was to be held on the Sunday. Most of the guests were only in OZ for a few days due to the length of the journey. (No wonder guests are jet lagged! And once here, they always say they want to come back for a longer stay!)

Though not the biggest convention I have attended, True Blood did manage a respectable crowd, seeing that True Blood was never promoted in OZ like it was in the US or UK.  From the crowd, I gathered that they were mostly Bookies with a scattering of Truebies.  There was a scattering of Dealer Tables selling all sorts of T-shirts, memorabillia, comic book (singular, as they had all sold out except for one “Sam” issue), photos for autographs, ‘silver’ fangs on chains, etc.  Some beautiful auction items and a “to die for” Bill and Sookie autographed photo were part of the raffle.  Naturally I bought tickets, though I did not win. An auction was held, and it did very well. A Sam t-shirt went for $A220, an Eric for $A80, Bill and Sookie with a couple of additional items went for $A180, a little red case for a “fang attack” went for $A170, a lit up glass sign of True Blood (in pink light) went for $A260, a S2 cast poster for $A1600 and a S3 signed cast poster for $A1000.

The main draw, though, wasn’t the auction. It was the stars who were at the convention.

JOHN BILLINGSLY

The first guest was John Billingsly, who plays Bon Temps Coroner Mike Spencer.  I have seen John many times in his capacity as the Doctor in Star Trek Enterprise.  He’s very funny and not shy in the least.  What I saw on stage on Saturday was a very hyped up John.  He was very “out there” and completely in control of the audience, making them almost wet their pants with laughter!  He encouraged questions with the promise of lollies (candy) in return!  The crowd loved him!  I wonder if the “booze for dolls” he was swigging contributed to his “spritely” personality!

John loves working on True Blood and hopes he will be in Season 4.  He said he enjoys his role on True Blood and that he loved the orgy moments, but that they filmed in LA at an ungodly hour and it was very cold!  The extras who were mainly in a state of undress for the orgy scenes would arrive on the set with blankets and no one knew each other before hand. John described it, saying that when the director called “action,” everyone would drop their blankets and get on with it!  I don’t know if John was kidding or not, but he said the going rate for extras to show  boobs was $50 a breast.  One lady complained that she was only allowed to show one boob as there was a budget cut!  John’s biggest beef was that he was not given $50 a ball!

When asked how long it takes to tape an episode, he said because of the budget, localities, special effects and stunts, it would take around 9 to 10 days, where a network show would take about 7 days. He said that one scene of his at the orgy lasted a few seconds on screen but took 2 days to shoot!

He also said that if he could be anyone on the show it would be Jason, as it is a very challenging role.  Lafayette was his  second choice. John said the Special Effects Department was extremely good and that the  “Miss Jeanette” corpse was very realistic.

John has been to OZ 5 or 6 times before and said it was like Louisiana as they had snakes in common!

TODD LOWE

Todd  was Charlaine Harris’ replacement and was very happy to be here, even though he only got a day’s notice. (He was very jet lagged.) One thing that struck me with Todd was how slight he looked compared to what he looks like on screen.  I know the camera puts on weight, but I did expect him to be taller and larger.  Todd is musically gifted and has a band, the Pilberry Knights.  He sang a verse of a song and yodelled for the audience, which was a very cool treat!

In response to a question from audience on how he researched his role as a Vietnam Veteran, Todd gently reminded the audience that his character is an Iranian Gulf War Veteran, not a Vietnam Vet like Terry Bellefleur is in the books (which confirmed my belief the room was full of Bookies). Todd said that his role was written as comedic and that he had to find the right balance so that the audience found his character sympathetic as well as comedic.

He originally auditioned to be Hoyt role and was offered the Terry role, which he is very happy doing. His favourite episode was Season 2, Episode 10 where he kicked arse at Merlotte’s whilst under the control of Maryann!  Terry finally got to be a tough guy and played with a gun! Todd also mentioned that the orgy scenes were difficult to act out due to the very cold conditions (ie 33-38 degrees F.) Ice cubes were given to the actors so that they would not breathe out steam, because in Bon Temps you don’t exhale steam!

Todd was asked if he preferred the Gilmore Girls or True Blood.  He said he enjoyed his time on Gilmore Girls but it was not a show he could watch with his mates!  With True Blood, he and his mates hang out on Sunday nights and watch (with a bit of footy thrown in!).  When asked what other character would he like to be, he said Jason, just like John Billingsly did, as it would be a challenging role! Lafayette was also Todd’s second choice!

A concerned audience member asked whether Stephen and Anna‘s marriage would affect the direction of the show and how Season 4 would play out.  Todd said, (tongue in cheek, I hope,) that Sookie could be showing her ‘goodies’ to the Viking next season and that he could see Stephen standing in the corner, arms folded, making sure things did not go too far!  He said he would like to see that, but then became serious and said that both actors were professional.

Todd is hoping that the series will skip ahead in time, as Arlene‘s pregnancy at the current rate will take about two more seasons for the baby to be born and that could become tedious! Let the baby be born and let’s see what will be wrong with it!

One thing that Todd is glad of is that he does not have to do nude scenes because he does not have the physique of some of the other cast members. He gets a bit freaked out with some of the stunts and uses a double for some of those, like when Malcolm came into Merlotte’s and threw him across the bar.  He did not want to go on that ‘spring’ machine (like the one Stephen used in his finale scene with Queen Sophie Anne). One scene that made him uncomfortable was having to say that he wore “possum peckers” to Sam.  Made him feel a bit like a yokel, but now that he has watched that scene, he does not feel too bad about it now.

Todd was asked by Stephen to play at his wedding to Anna (they had heard the band play a couple of times).  Todd felt honoured.  He said he could not believe all the paparazzi hovering around in helicopters and boats nor could he believe the house where the couple were married, in Malibu. Todd also told us that the Bridal Dance was “Such Great Heights” and that Stephen sang two songs – “Rustle for the Chain” and “Mystic Train”.

When asked who was a practical joker on the set, Todd said that no one was, but that Stephen was a great mimic and could mimic just about anyone (did he mimic Eric’s voice in the finale for real?).

KRISTIN BAUER

Well, what a very slim woman Kristin is! Very slight!  Kristin and her husband had been in Sydney for 5 days and were enjoying sightseeing.  They stayed at the old Q Station (the old quarratine station on the north shore) and had been whale watching. Whilst in Melbourne, she will visit a Koala colony. She spoke about her love of animals and her concern for the whales and congratulated Australia on its stance against whaling in the South Pacific region. Kristin also said that she made a sketch of Alex (which was auctioned off on TrueBloodNet.com), with the proceeds going to a dog and cat rescue.  She now intends to draw Stephen Moyer with the same intent.

In answer to a question on what it’s like working with Alexander Skarsgard, Kristin said he is lovely and funny.  It was a challenge learning Swedish and that they both had fun with that.  Kristin said that her favourite scenes were ones with Alex, Stephen and Anna.  Actually, she was very gracious about Stephen and Anna.  Kristin said that she had trouble with her fangs and that they gave her pain.  She asked Stephen how he coped with the teeth and he said that she had to live with the pain, and she now does and is able to cope knowing that they do hurt and feel uncomfortable and you just have to work around it.  She also said that if her clothes looked great, then they were really uncomfortable!  Kristin also shared that she likes the Jessica character and feels it is a challenging role.

One funny tidbit that Kristin told was of that scene where she, Eric, Bill and Sookie were running out of Fangtasia in Season 1.  Both she and Alex were on a skateboard-esque thing to give the illusion of gliding, with fans blowing on their hair.  Poor Stephen had to run and pick Anna up and still run.  She said the writers had no clue about some things, since  it’s easy for them to write “pick up Sookie and run” but in reality it’s very hard to shoot!  After a few takes, all the actors heard was Stephen huffing and a puffing!

Kristin said that having Denis O’Hare on the show raised the bar and she felt honoured to have worked with him.  She is hoping for some flashbacks of Pam next season – she would love to know how she and Eric met and how he got to turn her.  She has only read book one of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and did not want to read any more in case it influenced her acting.  Her husband, Abri van Straten, reads them though and tells her if she will be appearing that season. Luckily, Alan Ball signed her up as a regular and she got quite a few scenes, more than she would have gotten if the books were followed verbatim.

Two questions put to Kristin were:  If she was Pam, who would she like to bite: Eric, Bill or Sookie, and who would she bite as herself: Alex, Anna, or Stephen. As Pam, Kristin said she’d bite Sookie. Her answer was more descriptive for herself. She said that Alex would say “what’s up, Kristin,” and if she bit Anna, Anna would probably bite her back. If she bit Stephen, then Anna, being such a fiesty young thing, would kick her arse, so, seeing she was a married woman, it would probably be Anna! LOL!

Kristin was asked to do a scene from True Blood.  She picked the one where she and Lafayette were in the cool room and she had Laf up against the wall and said “Maybe I wear too much pink” etc.  She also commented on the conversation in the bathroom at Fangtasia with Jessica – she feels like she is True Blood’s version of Carrie Bradshaw, but giving bad advice!

When asked about the blood tears that she and other vampire cast characters on True Blood shed, Kristin said that thanks to IRT Special Effects, they have to cry normal tears and post production colours them in, which is better than before where coloured corn syrup was put in the corner of their eyes. She also explained the “silver” reaction vampires have. The make up artists put a special resin on the actors, which makes the skin bubble and burn — it’s like a glue and takes a while to set.

Kristin commented on several shots that were difficult to film due to several issues. One was the scene where Russell is burning in the parking lot of Fangtasia. For those shots, Denis’ makeup looked awful he had to wear full eyeball contact lenses (which can be very uncomfortable). Another difficult scene was when Bill was being tortured and  he had to hold Lorena up so that Sookie could stake her. Kristin said that Mariana Klaveno loved being on True Blood, but that scene, with all that goo on her and on Stephen, was her undoing.  Poor Stephen had to hold Mariana up for the staking and then had to rest Mariana between takes and the goo stuck them together.

When asked how long a night shoot took, Kristin said sometimes they would be on set for 16 to 17 hours.  Not all that time would be productive – lots of it is spent hanging around whilst standins did lighting checks, etc.  She said she would love True Blood to go on for years and could just see the Vamps with their walkers putting their Vamp teeth into glass jars at night!

Kristin said, in answer to a question about how Charlaine Harris feels about True Blood, that Charlaine loves the show and sees her books and the show as two different mediums, both to be enjoyed!

SAM TRAMMELL

Sam came on to loud applause and once again, I was surprised as to how slight he really was.  Sam is a good looking man!  He also knows how to get around!  Sam has been in Sydney a couple of days and has already taken a taxi to famous Bondi Beach, hired a wetsuit and surfboard and shot the waves! Later, he took the 443 bus to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Manly (another famous surf beach), hired a wetsuit and surfboard and shot some more waves!  What a guy! He was also interested in our few types of footy (football) as there were finals and semi finals being played for different codes that Saturday. Sam said that he had a couple of days in Melbourne then he has to fly back to the States.  I was most impressed that he took the effort to get to know this city (and bus numbers), even though he was only here for a very short period of time, but said he would definitely be back!

When asked what would be his favourite “shift to” animal, Sam said a lion! Sam originally tried out for Bill, but was told that Alan Ball was looking for a non American for the role to give the character mystique. Alan suggested that he try for Sam, and Sam’s glad that he did!  When he got the role, he said he screamed  like a little girl because he was a shapeshifter who owns a bar!

Sam said he has no issues with nude roles as he had to go full frontal on broadway, on his second play! Sam said he loved acting on TV but being in front of an audience in theatre was a really great feeling. One thing that Sam really enjoyed in Season 3 was that he got to play “bad arse” Sam.  His favourite scenes were the ones featuring King Russell at the TV station, especially when he ripped the spine out of the anchor man.

There was a lot of talk and laughter re Sam’s sex scenes with Daphne on the pool table.  Lots of jokes and offers were hollered at Sam by the ladies in the audience, as well as alternatives in lieu of pool table. The one that took Sam’s fancy was the “air hocky” table! Sam said that those scenes on the pool table were very uncomfortable.

Another popular scene that was brought up was the sexy “hard water” scene in Season 3, Episode 1 with Bill. Sam shared the joke that he and Stephen pulled on the unfortunate stand in guys, getting them to stand close, take their shirts off and kiss whilst he, the Director and Stephen laughed their guts off on the side lines!  Sam said that he was to use a stunt double when Rene was kicking him at the cemetary in the Season 1 finale after he shifted to human from a dog. However, when he saw the condition of the stand in’s bum, he was disgusted and said he did not want anyone think it was his bum, so he did the scene himself! Sam said they shot a great scene when Sam jumped over the camera and changed into the dog mid flight, but this scene was not used.

Sam’s hopes for Season 4?  Well, he would not divulge if he killed Tommy or not and said that he still hoped he had a chance with Sookie. Sam told us that he gets more recognition now and gets asked for autographs, but not as much as “Robert Patsy’.  Sam said that the inside of Merlotte’s was on a stage and that the outside plus his trailer was on the Warner Bros. lot, along with a few other True Blood sets.

A few tidbits that Sam revealed about himself included that he was classically trained in piano and plays the guitar, and he likes the Blues style of music.  Sam also tried some Aussie slang – “goodonya” and “G’day mate”!  He got a few laughs!  He said there was some sort of parady done of Merlotte’s and if you google “Merlotte’s sitcom” it should come up!

Sam shared that what really offended him in Season 3 was Joe Lee‘s horrid off-white underwear!  He said it was hard trying to focus on set looking at that!  He said that the actor playing Joe Lee was a good bloke.  Sam also did a display of different Southern accents, which went down well with the crowd!  Sam asked whether we thought Jason’s accent sounded like the past US President, George W. Bush.

Another thing Sam shared is that he was the second victim on the first season of Dexter! Sam was a delightful guest!

After the talks, the actors obliged the long queues waiting for their signatures. Then the guests were quickly whisked away to the airport to fly to Melbourne for Day 2 of the True Blood Convention!  It was a bloody good day!

(Image Credits: HBO Inc. and Lizzie 1071)

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A Bat’s Eye View of Eyecon!

November 18, 2009

A couple of the fans who won tickets from TrueBloodNet.com agreed to write up their experience at the convention.  We’re so glad they had a good time and agreed to share their experiences with us!  Thank you Beatrice and Sharon!
Their Eyecon Story:

4TogetherC

Our journey began when I came across the TrueBloodNet.com contest. I wanted to win so badly I could taste it. All I had to do was state the question I would ask the cast if I had the opportunity. My question was “What character on the show would you most want your character to do bad things with?” I checked my email several days later after accepting defeat, and lo “ I was a winner”! I jumped up, grabbed the phone at 12:30 am and called my friend Sharon, and told her we won. Oh, but that was just the tip of the ice burg. Reality set in. We had to figure out transportation and lodging on a budget that was so small it was almost invisible. I broke the news to my husband and he broke the news to me that he had Guards the same weekend. Crap now I had to find someone to help out with the kids too! Ok, I called the campground that I have a membership with and asked if they had any openings. After the representative was done laughing she sounded surprised that she actually had exactly the days we needed. Sharon and I pawned the kids off on different friends and family. Things were starting to fall into place.

Thursday night we got a late start and it was pouring down rain .The kids and husbands were fairly easy to pry off however the family dog had to be bribed with a biscuit to move away from the magical vacation door. We jumped in the car making sure our families didn’t go on recon missions to bring us back. We drove from New Jersey through seven states, torrential rain storms and a set of wiper blades going nonstop, with no sleep.

Eighteen hours later we were in Florida driving around in circles. After threatening the Evil GPS and all its components we found our way to the campground. We pitched the tent took a well-deserved shower and ventured out to the Conference center. We registered at the Eyecon convention and were recruited to donate blood. Because they rarely allow us out of the state of New Jersey and we are women on a True Blood mission we saw fit to have more fun giving blood than anyone has the right to. By the time we were done we each had a T-shirt, extra cookies and juice. Now were talking, breakfast and lunch! I can guarantee the vamps there [red cross] will never forget our names.

Our next stop was the vendor room. Our first table was for the Choroideremia Foundation, which Deborah Ann Woll supports. It raises money for research on this degenerative genetic eye disease that causes irreversible blindness. I bought raffle tickets, not thinking I would win but feeling good that I was donating to a good cause. To my surprise I did win one of the prizes, a T shirt!  There were only a few more tables to visit and we left the convention feeling a little disappointed that there weren’t more vendors.

After an evening of fighting a GPS for directions and a demon possessed flashlight that kept blowing bulbs and leaving us in the dark, we devoured our cookies and juice and called it a night.

On Saturday there were quite a few more people at the Eyecon convention but not enough that it was overcrowded. This was great! We talked with members of the band Nova Echo and got an autograph and pictures. Next we moved on to the Q & A’s. The first one was with Sam Trammell. Yes, I asked my winning question. Sam turned red and laughed but never really answered the question saying he would get in trouble. This question had the same effect on Todd Lowe, however he answered saying Arlene. The autograph sessions were great we were actually able to talk directly to the stars. Sam couldn’t believe my last name was truly Blood and I pulled out my license to prove it. After the autographs we once again fought the demon GPS back to our campsite, had Chinese food and relaxed. About 7:30pm we started getting ready to go to the Fangbangers Ball. We got to the Conference center about 45 minutes before the ball so we went to the Nova Echo concert and sat in the back realizing most of the people were not in costume yet. (Talk about awkward). The music was good and not that many people showed up. It was to our surprise that Todd Lowe sang two songs with the band and then we looked to our left and right next to us stood Allan Hyde, Ashley Jones and Sam Trammell. Can you say “We’re in Heaven!!” We did not bother them; we continued to watch the concert and smile. We went to purchase one of Todd’s CD and he autographed it and took a picture with us and then Sam, Allan and Ashley took one with us too. It was AWESOME!

NelsanatBallC

Although we had fun at the Fangbanger’s Ball, it was not the same as the advertising of the event. The description in the advertising left one with the expectations of seeing Fangtasia or a representation there of. This ballroom fell a little short. On the upside it wasn’t overcrowded and one could stop and talk to the star of their choice. But I’m still wondering if the judging of the costumes happened or not [Editor’s Note: It didn’t, disappointing yours truly as well who went as an incompetent shifter].

Leaving the Ball at 1:00am, we popped in Todd’s CD, let’s just say: not for kids or the faint of heart. However, we found it twisted and entertaining.

Sunday, the last day for the Eyecon Convention and the final Q & A’s, with Ashley, Nelsan, and Allan. While Ashley was entertaining, Allan was genuinely sweet and innocent and opened up sharing many personal stories. But it was Nelsan who took the show. He was funny and almost fearless in his answers and stories about other cast members. He answered my question, but only after first trying to get clarity about “bad things”. Sharon and I both said “use your imagination”. Nelsan’s answer was he wanted to do bad [criminal] things with Eric and nasty things with Anna, also mentioning Stephen Moyer did good by her. On a more serious note he discussed his sister’s death and domestic abuse. All the stars were down to earth , humorous and pleasant to be around. After the Q & A’s we attended another autograph session where we met up with Kasandra from TrueBloodNet.com and thanked her. Overall, we had a wonderful once in a lifetime adventure. Now it was time to drive 18 hours and seven states home. Thanks again to the TrueBloodNet.com fairies [Editor’s Note: We’re shifters not fairies!] for sprinkling a little magic in our otherwise ordinary lives.

~ Beatrice Blood

~ Sharon DeHainaut

We at TrueBloodNet.com are thrilled that you got to go and had a good time.  You were very inventive and fun!  Wish we’d met up earlier!

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