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Vampire Ball 4: Michael McMillian & Jim Parrack Talk True Blood

Posted by Jason Smith On November - 15 - 2013

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Sean Harry’s Starfury events has been running conventions for 16 years now, and his Vampire show convention was back for it’s 4th annual event. True Blood guests this year were Michael McMillian who plays the Reverend Steve Newlin and newly turned Vampire. Denis O’Hare was originally billed to be appearing too, but had to cancel due to acting commitments on American Horror Story. He was replaced with a few days to go by Jim Parrack who plays Hoyt Foddenbury.

I had met Jim before at another convention and he was a great guest so was happy with him to be replacing Denis. I was also looking forward to meeting Michael for the first time.

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It was return to the Thistle Hotel at Heathrow for this years convention, a venue used for the Vampire Ball two years previously so I was familiar with the location and layout of the hotel. The con rate for the hotel was a very reasonable £60 a night for a twin/double without breakfast. And a regular ticket for the convention cost £90 making this a very affordable convention to attend. I arrived early this year and was looking forward to meeting fellow Truebie friends and catching up.

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The opening ceremony was in the main convention hall which was laid out with big round tables seating 20 odd people to a table so we all sat together for it. Sean Harry introduced the guests in turn and told us that Jim Parrack would be arriving the following morning on the red eye.

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The meet and greet for Gold Ticket holders followed this and then it was the first themed party of the weekend, Movie Maniacs. There were some great cosplays on the dance floor, including one of my favourites, Ash from the Evil Dead. I work my Sheriff Andy Bellefleur costume for this party. The party went on until 2am, as it did for every night of the convention. Talks the following day were scheduled to start at midday, so this worked well with the late night party the night before. Vampire Ball is known for it’s laid back atmosphere which the guests enjoy and mingle more with the attendees at the parties because of this. Guests were dancing on the dance floor and chatting to people outside for a good portion of the evening.

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Saturday saw a 2pm photo shoot with Michael and Jim. I wore my Sheriff’s outfit for this photo shoot along with Talbot, a crystal urn prop filled with jelly to look like Russell Edgington’s spiked Vampire lover. Michael commented on what a great prop Talbot was which was nice of him.

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The first of two talks featuring Michael and Jim was after this. Jim talked about his directing work and his method as an actor. Michael spoke about his comic book work as well as that of his part as the Reverend Steve Newlin.

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The autograph session for Gold Ticker holders was at 5pm and some Regular ticket holders were allowed in after this so I decided to get my autographs then. I have a fake arm cast with signatures from a dozen odd True Blood actors on it so I got Michael and Jim to sign that.

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The cosplay parade was the first event of the evening followed by a gig by Christian Kane. We entered the cosplay parade as Vamp Camp, from Season 6 of True Blood. Three of us wore blue scrub with the numbers 1-4 on them and we were guarded by a guard in body armour. Talbot even had a little blue scrub outfit of his own. It was great fun to take part!
The evening party was the Vampire Ball with some people going in Masquerade with masks on. One of our friends had a birthday surprise cake and we all ate this along with the jelly from Talbot, which has become a bit of a tradition at conventions now.

The party went on late into the night again and everyone had a great time.

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The next morning we were all meeting at 10am for a photo shoot with Michael in our blue scrubs from Vamp Camp. He thought it was great and came out to talk with use afterwards after the photos had been printed and he could take a look.

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The afternoon saw another talk from Michael and Jim with some more behind the scenes stories from the set of True Blood. The closing ceremony was packed and we managed to get a table towards the front for this. The guests all said they had a great time and there was a birthday cake brought out for Sean for the 16th birthday of Starfury. The party went on late once more and Jim Parrack spoke to some of my Truebie friends for a good portion of the night.

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Another great con from Starfury. Next years event is September 26-28 at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole. Janina Gavankar (Sam’s shapeshifting girlfriend Luna) has already been announced as a guest.

Looking forward to see who else from True Blood will be announced!
 
Note: You may also recognize the ladies from the Great Northern True Blood Pilgrimage in some of the photos below.
 

Jason Smith

Jason Smith

I'm a true blood fan who is a big fan of conventions featuring actors from the show and love cosplaying as characters like Andy Bellefleur and Vampire Eddie.
Jason Smith
Jason Smith

Sean Harry’s Starfury events have been running for many years now and the third annual Vampire Ball was hosting True Blood’s regular guests Allan Hyde who plays Godric and Mariana Klaveno who plays Lorena. Mariana had cancelled two years previously and I was on honeymoon the previous year so was looking forward to meeting her for the first time as well as Allan who was very funny at the first Vampire Ball.

The venue this year was the Renaissance hotel next to Heathrow airport which makes it easier to get to for con goers outside of the UK. I arrived late evening on the Friday night and bought regular tickets on the door. After checking into my hotel room it was straight down for the opening ceremony in the main hall. Sean Harry opened the con and introduced the guests. His banter with the crowd was great and he joked about the lack of Twilight guests at his cons. Juliet Landau and James Masters were the big names to keep the legions of Buffy fans happy this year.

Mariana Klaveno was the first True Blood guest introduced and she joked that she had kicked Allan Hyde in his privates backstage. Allan came out minutes later doubled up pretending that actually happened. Allan was sporting a beard which I had not seen before so looked a bit older than the last time I had seen him. Mariana had her hair dyed blond.

 
After the opening ceremony there was a meet and greet for gold ticket holders that I would be missing out on this time. Following this there was a party themed on Sunningdale from Buffy. I went dressed in my Captain Hammer T-shirt with black gauntlets. I met up with Truebie friends I had made at previous cons and we sat at a table together. The party went on late into the night. There were a few people in Merlotte waitress costumes including a bloke in drag as Sookie which was hilarious. 

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After breakfast the next morning my first True Blood related activity was the photo shoot at midday with Allan and Mariana. I dressed in my Andy Bellefleur sherif costume for this and Allan and Mariana aprreciated the effort I had made with the costume. A little while later in the afternoon they gave the first of their two guest talks together. The talk started a little late as Allan is a big Chelsea fan and had been watching them beat Arsenal on the TV!

 
Allan and Mariana joked about Godric’s Obi-Wan style comeback as figure in shining white light. When asked what other True Blood character they would like to play, Allan said Lorena and Mariana said Lafayette. Their favourite True Blood episodes were Godric’s death scene and Lorena torturing Bill. Allan talked about how he played someone much older by studying videos of old people and doing less which made him look more wise. If they could appear in other shows, Allan said he would like to be in the Walking Dead and Marianna said she would like to be in Game of Thrones. Allan said he would like to be a chef if he wasn’t an actor. He recounted a funny story of making Bolognese sauce all day for a friend and his friends flatmate making one out of a jar that his flat mates thought was better! Mariana spoke about the infamous head twist scene when she was making love to Bill and how they had to take a dummy life cast of her torso. They would leave it on set naked and she asked them to cover it up so they put a bra on it!

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The Vampire Ball: a fan experience with Allan Hyde

Posted by Jason Smith On November - 30 - 2010

I’m quite a newbie on the convention scene so this was my second convention and first Starfury convention. The first one had guests exclusively for True Blood, but seeing as this one had 2 guests advertised, Mariana Klaveno who plays Lorena and Allan Hyde who plays Godric, I thought it was worth going as a True Blood fan. The rest of the guests were mostly from Buffy and Angel. Mariana was one of 2 guest cancellations with a week to go, and the replacements were both from non True Blood shows so I was a bit disappointed! I needn’t have been, as Allan Hyde turned out to be one of the best True Blood guests I’ve seen, and by far the funniest guest talk I’ve seen!

Allan at the opening ceremony

The convention was held at the Thistle Hotel Heathrow, which is a tube ride and hopper bus ride from Heathrow terminals 1,2 & 3. Given its close proximity to the airport, there were quite a few foreigners attending. There were also quite a few Scandinavians who were there to see Allan, who is from Denmark. We first saw Allan in the opening ceremony on the Friday night where the guests were all introduced briefly on stage. This was his first UK convention!

As a gold ticket holder I got to meet all the guests in a sit down meet and greet afterwards that went on for several hours. I’d been to Copenhagen recently so I asked Allan about the abundance of all you can eat Herring buffets that seem prevalent in the restaurants over there. This led on to us talking about the Noma, recently voted the best restaurant in the world and near the docks in Copenhagen. He said it had a 90 day waiting limit to get a table!

After the meet and greet there was a Buffy themed party on the Friday night. I went as Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible’s sing a long blog. I saw several ladies dressed up in their Merlotte’s waitress outfits! Didn’t see much of the guests on Friday night, as the meet and greet had gone on quite late!

Jason as Andy Bellefleur and Allan

On the Saturday morning, I went for the photo shoot with Allan dressed as down and out Andy Bellefleur with the hula shirt and arm cast on. He thought the costume was quite funny! There were other ladies there dressed in True Blood costumes for their photo shoot with Allan. Everyone was quite excited!

Then in the afternoon he gave his first guest talk by himself. He was hilarious. He’s only just about to turn 21 and was telling us about hearing about the audition from a Danish agent while he was in his last few months of school. He recorded a tape which was sent to the USA and thought of it as a great audition experience. When he was told he had the part for Godric a few weeks later he said he had a difficult choice to make as it meant not finishing his final school exams. Even his headmaster said he would be foolish to turn down such a great opportunity to be on a mainstream US TV show!

He then went on to tell us about going to LA for filming for a couple of months. It was the first time he had been away from home living with his parents. He was amazed by room service and the fact he could fill his mini bar with lots of sugary drinks and foods that he didn’t get at home. Given he wasn’t of legal drinking age when he was over there; he said he didn’t get any alcoholic drinks in his mini bar! He loved the fact that his room was tidied up for him when he got back from a day’s filming!

He talked about where he got his inspiration to play Godric, who is several thousand years old. He said he got his mannerisms from watching old people, who are quite low key and quiet when they say what they are going to do.

A year or so later he went back went back to LA when the True Blood episodes with Godric were airing. He then went on to tell us about the hassles of getting a car to drive over in LA as he was so young they all cost a fortune. He got a Rio from 2003 which cost him 1800 dollars a month to rent! Man, was he ripped off so he said! He also talked about working with Alex Skarsgard who plays Eric. Some Swedish attendees commented on how strange his Swedish lines that Alex, who is Swedish, helped him to pronounce. Danish and Swedish are quite close languages but it is easy to say words in a Danish way rather than a Swedish way if you are Danish. Allan blamed this on the fact that the only Swedish people he spoke to were drunks who had crossed the bridge from Sweden to Copenhagen to take advantage of the relaxed Danish licensing laws! It was a great talk and so funny!

Group photo of all the guests

The autograph signing for gold ticket holders took place after the talks. There was a free photo for gold ticket holders featuring all of the guests that you could get signed and you could get one guest signature from each of them for free. I also paid to get Allan to sign my arm cast from the Andy Bellefleur costume I wore at the photo shoot earlier. He was the fifth cast member from True Blood to sign the cast!

Jason as Vampire Eddie

In the evening, I took part in my first cosplay parade. Buffy and Angel featured heavily in the 20 odd attendees that were taking part! I was dressed as Vampire Eddie complete with reclining chair. There was a lady playing Lorena with great blood tears makeup and another girl who played one of Marianne’s victims who had had their heart ripped out! There was a fake ripped open rib cage in her Merlotte’s waitress top and heart which was held in her hand. She came second in the competition! It was quite tricky doing the walk round the dance floor during the parade as I was sat in a chair. I ran on to the middle of the dance floor, sat down for a bit and then got up and ran off again. It was great fun!

There was a concert by a couple of the guests after that and then the Vampire Ball which saw lots more great costumes and ladies dressed up in Vampy dresses. I saw Allan a few times during the evening standing at the bar surrounded by a half semi circle of adoring True Blood lady fans. He was loving it!  All in all, it was a great convention and I’m really glad I went! Starfury are already selling tickets for Vampire Ball 2 next October. It’ll be interesting to see which guests they can get from True Blood!
 
 

Jason Smith

Jason Smith

I'm a true blood fan who is a big fan of conventions featuring actors from the show and love cosplaying as characters like Andy Bellefleur and Vampire Eddie.
Jason Smith
Jason Smith

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