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Meeting 80s Stars At Chiller Theatre, Part 2: October 2016 And October 2017

Welcome to Part 2 of my series detailing the 80s stars I had the pleasure of meeting at Chiller Theatre in the New 10s. In this article, I'll be talking about my encounters with the 80s stars who were at the October 2016 and October 2017 Chillers. By this point, I now had a general idea of what to do and how to act at the convention. After the ill-fated October 2015 encounter with Howard Finkel as detailed in Part 1 of this series, I decided to leave the recorder at home, and because of that, things went a lot better than they had before.

Johnny Caps and Mackenzie Phillips

I started off the October 2016 Chiller experience by meeting Mackenzie Phillips, noted in the 80s for her work on the classic Norman Lear sitcom One Day At A Time. Ms. Phillips was very friendly, even when I asked her about the high levels of drama on the show (I mean the episodes themselves, not behind-the-scenes). She talked about the importance of the show, and I came to understand what she meant.

Another sign of how friendly Mackenzie is was that she didn't get upset with me for wearing a Rolling Stones hoodie. I forgot what she wrote about Mick Jagger in her autobiography High On Arrival, and when I met Mackenzie again at Chiller five years later, this time wearing a Mickey Mouse hoodie, I apologized for wearing the Stones hoodie in our 2016 picture. She was very kind about it, though, and I thanked her for that kindness.

Johnny Caps and Eddie Deezen

After Mackenzie Phillips, I met Eddie Deezen, a Facebook friend of mine who made an impression on me with his voice work as Donnie Dodo in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird. He was very friendly and very talkative, and I got along with him well. With how friendly he was, I feel sorry for Eddie, who is currently being cared for due to mental health issues, and I wish him well. Dealing with mental health issues is not fun at all.

Johnny Caps and Dean Cameron

I then met another Facebook friend in Dean Cameron, who memorably played Chainsaw in the 1987 cult classic comedy Summer School. We talked about the negative reception the movie initially got, and how it ended up being a cult favorite. We also talked about the camera work he did on the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats, which was an excellent movie. Dean was fantastic to meet.

However, there is a bit of bad news here. I did an interview with Dean earlier this year, but unfortunately, my recorder wasn't able to pick up a lot of the audio on his end, so I had to scrap publication of it. He was understanding when I told him about that, but I felt disappointed in myself. If Dean ever comes back to Chiller, I'll apologize to him again in person.

Johnny Caps and Robert Romanus

Speaking of classic 80s high school comedies, the next star in the grand parade was Robert Romanus, who memorably played Mike Damone in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I'd first interviewed Robert via e-mail for RetroJunk in 2010, and we were Facebook friends until he deleted his profile a few years ago. Robert recognized me from Facebook and our mutual friends Steve Mona and Danny O'Connor, and he was very charming. I only wish I had remembered to bring a print of him in Fast Times to sign that was given to me as a 31st birthday present in 2013. Maybe Robert will come back to Chiller someday. That way, we could get a new and clearer picture as my camera was on the fritz.

Johnny Caps and Glynnis O'Connor

Near to Robert was Glynnis O'Connor, whom I remembered from her role as Sally in the 1984 comedy Johnny Dangerously. She told me that the movie was very fun to shoot, and I told her of how much I enjoyed watching it. She didn't have any pictures from Johnny Dangerously available for signing, but I got her autograph on a picture from one of her other roles, and she was very kind as well.

Johnny Caps and Nancy Allen

After Glynnis, I met another Facebook friend of mine, Nancy Allen, whom you all know and love from 80s movies like Dressed To Kill and RoboCop. More recently, she's been active as the executive director of weSPARK Cancer Support Center, and I had the chance to thank Nancy for all she's done in the fight against cancer, a fight that hits close to home as I lost my mom to multiple myeloma.

I plan on reaching out to Nancy again soon about the possibility of an interview. Between her acting and her charity work, there's a lot of ground to cover with her. This also wouldn't be the last time I met Nancy at Chiller Theatre, but I'll save that tale for Part 4 and end this section by saying that if Nancy Allen comes to a convention near you, be sure to say hello to her.

Johnny Caps and Michael Beck

Speaking of Facebook friends, I met Michael Beck for the first time at the October 2016 Chiller. While most may associate Michael with the 70s because of The Warriors, he also appeared in 80s cult favorites like Xanadu and Megaforce. I told him about my enjoyment of both The Warriors and Xanadu, and he liked hearing those compliments. As with Nancy, I would meet Michael again at Chiller a few years later, but that will also be detailed in Part 4.

Johnny Caps and Deborah Van Valkenburgh

Another Warriors cast member I met at this Chiller was Deborah Van Valkenburgh, whom I also knew of from her work in the 80s cult classic Streets Of Fire. She was friendly to meet, but there was a bit of awkwardness as I almost forgot to pay her for the autograph and picture before she reminded me to do so.. I know I mentioned in the first part of this series that Patty Mullen reminded me of the importance of that, and I would remember it for the most part at future shows, but I sort of embarassed myself with Deborah, and I hope she'll come back to Chiller someday so I can compensate for it by paying immediately.

Johnny Caps and Tiffany

I then met one of the most iconic pop singers of the 1980s when I got an autograph of, and picture with, Tiffany. One of my favorite songs by her has my name in it, "Johnny's Got The Inside Moves", so I knew I had to get a reference to that on the picture I got signed. I look forward to Tiffany's return to the Chiller Theatre convention someday as I would love to get a new picture with her. We both look fine in this picture, but the lighting was lousy in the room she was in, so if she were to come back to Chiller, we could do a new picture.

Although I didn't get a picture with him this time out, I met Caroll Spinney for the second and last time at this Chiller. He had given me a free autograph in October of 2014, and although I was thankful for it, I also felt a bit guilty about it, so I paid to cover both the previous autograph and a new one. As it ended up, I got two more autographs of Mr. Spinney, so I had one made out to me and one made out to my brother. Caroll was still very friendly, and I'll always be glad I had the chance to meet him once more before his passing.

Johnny Caps and Gary Riley

Also at this Chiller was Dean Cameron's fellow Summer School star, Gary Riley, who played Chainsaw's friend Dave. Like Dean, Gary was very friendly to meet, and like Dean, we also discussed how the movie didn't do well initially, yet saw its' reputation improve over time. That's something I like about 80s movies. A lot of them are now getting the respect they were declined in their initial theatrical runs, and Summer School is a fantastic example of a title like that finally getting some respect.

Johnny Caps and Kirsten Baker

I then met the first of two Friday The 13th, Part 2 cast members at this Chiller when I got an autograph of, and picture with, Kirsten Baker, who played Terry in that movie. You may remember that Terry wore a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and Kirsten was wearing the shirt again at Chiller. She still looks amazing, and I was hoping to work on setting up an interview with her. However, I was having trouble getting my iPhone to show the Pop Geeks website properly on the Sunday of that show, so I wasn't able to at that time. Hope springs eternal, though, and I'll try to see if I can still land an interview with her someday.

Johnny Caps and Michael Pare

I then met Michael Pare, the actor behind memorable 80s film characters like Streets Of Fire's Tom Cody and Eddie Wilson of Eddie And The Cruisers. Streets Of Fire was the movie I chose to get an autograph from, and I told Michael of how I first came across that movie on TBS in the 90s and how, even though it was edited for TV, I thought it was fantastic, leading me to rent the tape a while later. Michael was fantastic to meet, but that went for all the talents at this show.

Johnny Caps and Kristy McNichol

After Michael, I met Kristy McNichol for the first time at Chiller. I got her autograph on a picture from The Pirate Movie, and I told her of how I think that movie is better than it gets credit for. I complimented her on her singing in that movie, and she liked hearing that. Unfortunately, though, the lighting was not the best in this room, so the picture could've come out better lighting-wise. Thankfully, as I'll detail in Part 4 of this series, I would have a chance to take a better picture with her.

Johnny Caps and Mark Margolis

Up next was Mark Margolis, an actor who, among his many credits, memorably played Shadow in the 1983 adaptation of Scarface, the killer who was going to kill the diplomat and his kids, much to the chagrin of Al Pacino's Tony Montana, who has a rule about not shooting kids. I told Mark that his role, although small, was very memorable, and he seemed a little offended when I referred to the roe as small. I apologized to him for my words, and he accepted the apology, but it was still pretty awkward for me.

That wrapped up Friday of the October 2016 Chiller, so I went up to my hotel room as I was back on site for the show this time, and I got a good night's sleep. I was up early the next day to get on the pre-show line, and once we were let in, I went to the room where a Jaws 2 reunion was being held to meet the next talent in the grand parade.

Johnny Caps and Gigi Vorgan

Gigi Vorgan was at this Chiller as part of the aforementioned Jaws 2 reunion, but what I discussed with was her work in the 1988 movie Red Heat, where she played Officer Audrey. She told me she had fun working on that movie, and I thought that was great to hear. I only wish I'd thought to ask her about her extensive work in the field of ADR in the 1980s, but if I ever have the chance to interview her, I'll definitely have some questions about that.

Johnny Caps and Teri Weigel

After Gigi, I met another famous Facebook friend of mine in Teri Weigel, Playboy's Miss April 1986 who appeared in 80s cult classics like Cheerleader Camp and Savage Beach. Teri was very friendly to meet, and had a lot of great pictures available to be signed. I didn't go for an 80s picture to be signed, but if Teri ever returns to Chiller, I'll definitely get one autographed. In the meantime, I need to reach out to Teri about an interview. I'll do so soon.

Johnny Caps and Marsha Warfield

Next up was Marsha Warfield, who memorably played bailiff Roz Russell on Night Court. I told her about how much I enjoyed watching that show, and also of how I liked her 90s comedy album This Isn't Gross, This Is Important. There was a bit of awkwardness when she mentioned that I had to get a ticket for the picture and autograph combo as that's how the booker who brought her in works, but I got it sorted out quickly, and the picture came out well.

Johnny Caps and Lauren-Marie Taylor

The second Friday The 13th, Part 2 cast member I met at this Chiller was Lauren-Marie Taylor, who played the character of Vickie in that movie. When I met her, although I got a picture from Friday The 13th, Part 2 signed, the movie I discussed with her was John Belushi's final movie Neighbors, where she played the role of Elaine, the daughter of Belushi's character Earl. Lauren-Marie spoke very highly of John, and that was lovely to hear. If John Belushi were still alive, I wonder if he would've gone out on the convention circuit. I didn't think to ask Lauren-Marie that, but if she ever comes back to Chiller, I will.

Johnny Caps and Holly Fields

I met a future Facebook friend of mine when I said hello to Holly Fields, a talented and versatile actress whose 80s credits include movies like Communion and The Big Picture, appearances on TV shows like It's Garry Shandling's Show and MacGyver, and Madonna's infamous banned Pepsi commercial. Holly was fantastic to meet, and I would have the chance to interview her several months later for Pop Geeks, where she had some fantastic stories to share. The interview link is highlighted in the previous sentence, so check it out when you have a chance.

Johnny Caps and Shavar Ross

Although I would meet several more stars at the October 2016 Chiller, the last 80s star I met at this show was Shavar Ross, whose 80s credits included Dudley on Diff'rent Strokes and Reggie in Friday The 13th, Part V: A New Beginning. I'd actually met him in the hotel elevator Saturday night, but I knew I wanted to get his autograph and picture the following day. He was very friendly. We were actually Facebook friends briefly a few years ago. It didn't last too long, but that's okay. Some talents only like to associate their pages with their fellow professionals and not with fans. He was still cool to meet, though.

With the October 2016 Chiller Theatre in the books, I started saving for the following year. I didn't attend the April 2017 Chiller, but I did go to the October 2017 Chiller, and for me, the show keeps getting better. October 2017 was a great example of that. I didn't attend the April 2017 Chiller, which marked the show's return to the Hilton Parsippany, so October of 2017 was my first time at this hotel, and I came to like it better than Chiller's previous location, the Parsippany Sheraton.

Johnny Caps and Kelli Maroney

The first star I met at the October 2017 Chiller was my longtime friend Kelli Maroney, the star of 80s favorites like Night Of The Comet and Chopping Mall. I first befriended Kelli about a decade earlier when I interviewed her via e-mail for RetroJunk, the site I was writing for at the time. It was a very early interview for me, and you could tell if you looked at it, but we became friends instantly, and have remained that way since.

I loved meeting Kelli in person. She recognized me immediately, and I would say hello to her and get several autographs and photos with her throughout the weekend. The meeting went so well that it played a part in the second interview we would do, this time on the phone for Pop Geeks. Here's the link to that interview, where I feel I came up with better questions that time out. If Kelli comes to a convention near you, be sure to say hello to her.

Johnny Caps and Catherine Mary Stewart

Alongside Kelli was her Night Of The Comet co-star Catherine Mary Stewart. Catherine was actually the very first talent I ever interviewed for Pop Geeks when I made the jump to that site in 2014, and I told her about how honored I was to interview her. Catherine was also very friendly to meet, and she liked hearing me compliment her eyes. In fact, as people say my eyes are my best feature, I had her sign a picture, "Johnny, we both have beautiful eyes"...At least that's what I recall having her sign. I'll need to go into my archives to double-check that.

Johnny Caps and Lance Guest

Next to Catherine was Lance Guest, whom she starred with in the 1984 sci-fi action-comedy The Last Starfighter. Lance was fantastic to talk to. We talked about what fun The Last Starfighter was, and we also talked briefly about the musical theater adaptation of the movie, which I've yet to see a production of, but find interesting that they created one. I had Lance sign a picture from The Last Starfighter with the personalization, "Johnny, game on! Lance Guest". Lance is a very cool fellow.

Johnny Caps and Leon Isaac Kennedy

After Lance, the next star in the grand parade was Leon Isaac Kennedy, who appeared in 80s cult classics like Body And Soul, Lone Wolf McQuade and the sequels to his 1979 breakthrough hit Penitentiary. I did feel a little awkward approaching Leon as he was having an early dinner at his table, but he was very friendly to me. If I recall correctly, i got a Lone Wolf McQuade picture signed. Now that's a fantastic movie, and he played a fantastic part in it.

Johnny Caps and Tim Cappello

I then had the pleasure of meeting Tim Cappello again after having first met him at Chiller in October of 2015. He remembered me from that previous meeting, and he was just as friendly this time out as he was when I first met him. When I met him in 2015, I got his autograph on a picture of him performing in concert with Tina Turner. This time out, I got his autograph on a Lost Boys picture. That reminds me that I need to reach out to Tim soon about setting up an interview.

Johnny Caps and Michael Des Barres

In that same room was Michael Des Barres, the singer and actor whose 80s credits included taking over for Robert Palmer as lead singer of The Power Station, acting in movies like Ghoulies and Pink Cadillac, and co-writing one of the most sexually driven songs of the 80s, Obsession. That was the main focus of my brief conversation with Michael as I told him of how I would perform that song at karaoke with my friend Stacey, who ran the operation until finances and a lack of interest brought the evenings to an end, and how we always brought the house down when we sang it. It's always wonderful to tell the talents themselves the impact their work had on you.

Johnny Caps and Alison Arngrim

I then met Alison Arngrim, who memorably played Nellie Olsen on Little House On The Prairie into the early 80s, and has spent a lot of time in recent years as an advocate for many noble causes. I told Ms. Arngrim of how I was fascinated by reading of her time as a young stand-up comic in the book I'm Dying Up Here, and how I admired her charitable endeavors. I also purchased a copy of her autobiography, Confessions Of A Prairie B*tch: How I Survived Nellie Olsen And Learned To Love Being Hated. It's a fantastic read, and while many may view the character of Nellie in a bad light, Alison is one of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.

Johnny Caps and Willie Tyler

After Alison, I met actor and ventriloquist Willie Tyler, who made a lot of appearances on TV specials in the 1980s. He had Lester with him, and we got an autograph and photo together. Willie did seem a little quiet, but that's understandable. A convention can be pretty overwhelming, even for the talents themselves. Mr. Tyler was still friendly, though, and I hope he might come back to Chiller someday so I can take another picture with him.

Johnny Caps and "Mean" Gene Okerlund

The next 80s star I met was another WWF/WWE Hall Of Fame member, but this encounter went a lot better than the time I met Howard Finkel. "Mean" Gene Okerlund was not mean at all. He was very friendly to meet, and he still had that fantastic booming voice. I told him of how I liked his work in the 1990 Exorcist spoof Repossessed, and how he was the second cast member from that movie, after Linda Blair, that I met at Chiller. He felt he made a mistake with the first picture I paid to get autographed, so he got another one and gave the second autograph to me at no charge. That was a very kind thing for him to do, and I'll always remember that.

Johnny Caps and Leah Ayres

At the October 2017 Chiller was a cast reunion for the 1981 horror movie The Burning. Of all the cast members from that movie, Leah Ayres was the one I was most interested in meeting. A future Facebook friend of mine, I told Leah of how I loved her work in Janice in the 1988 movie Bloodsport, and she signed a picture from that movie for me. I would go on to interview Leah a few months later for Pop Geeks, and she's a fantastic storyteller, so you can read that interview at this link. You'll love reading her stories.

Johnny Caps and Gilbert Gottfried

I then had the opportunity to meet the much-missed Gilbert Gottfried. Known to 80s fans for his loud and livewire comedy style on the stand-up stage and in movies like Beverly Hills Cop 2, Gilbert was very soft-spoken in person, but he was very friendly. I told him of how I loved listening to Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, and how I would routinely retell his (alleged) stories about people like Danny Thomas and Milton Berle to my friends. I still do to this day. We lost a true comedy genius with Gilbert's passing this year, but I feel lucky that I had the chance to meet him.

Johnny Caps and Melissa Manchester

Another future interview subject and Facebook friend would be the next talent I met. Melissa Manchester is a brilliant singer/songwriter/actress whom I loved meeting. I'd been an IndieGoGo backer of her album The Boys, a fantastic album to listen to, and i had the chance to mention that to her in person. I then got an 80s picture of her signed with the personalization, "Johnny, you should hear how she talks about you. Melissa Manchester". For more about Ms. Manchester's life and work, and her own recounting of her Chiller Theatre experience, check out this interview I did with her back in 2020 for Pop Geeks.

In the same room as Ms. Manchester was a 30th anniversary cast reunion for A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Having rewatched the movie shortly before Chiller, I met all the cast members there, starting with Penelope Sudrow, who played Jennifer. I told her that I thought she had an awesome death scene in Dream Warriors, and we got a picture together. When I shared it to her Facebook fan page wall in 2018, though, she removed the picture for personal reasons I can't get into here, so I'm respecting her wishes by not including my picture with her in this article. Penelope was very friendly to meet, though.

Johnny Caps and Heather Langenkamp

After Penelope, I got an autograph of, and picture with, Heather Langenkamp. She looked just as lovely in 2017 as she did in 1987, and she was fantastic to meet. I got an autograph of her as Nancy being held by Robert Englund's Freddy Kruegger, and the personalization I had her write was, "Johnny, I wish you were holding me. Heather Langekamp". I always try to go for unique and unusual personalizations when I get my autographs.

Johnny Caps and Rodney Eastman

Next up was Rodney Eastman, who played Joey. When I greeted him, I did so by calling him Mr. Eastman, but he told me to call him by his first name, which I found very kind. If they're a talent I've never met or interviewed before, I usually refer to them as Mr. or Mrs. when I first greet them. If I have met them or interviewed them before, though, I'll refer to them by their first name. When it came to Rodney, as with all the stars I met at this Chiller, he was very kind to meet.

Johnny Caps and ira Heiden

I then met Ira Heiden, who played Will. Again, he was very friendly to meet. I had him sign an autograph with the personalization "I Am The Wizard Master". I told him, too, that I thought his character had a cool death scene, and he liked hearing that. I find it interesting that so many horror stars like compliments about their death scenes. I think that's because these stars appreciate the impact the movies have had on their audience. That plays a big part in conventions like Chiller, the bond that entertainment forms between its' creators and fans.

Johnny Caps and Jennifer Rubin

I wrapped up my time in this room by meeting my friend, both on Facebook and in real life, and a future interview subject, Jennifer Rubin, who played Taryn. She recognized me, and we got along fantastically when we met. She even said we looked like we could be brother and sister. I had her sign a Dream Warriors picture with a variant on one of her memorable lines from that movie, "Johnny, we're beautiful...and bad. Jennifer Rubin". I then mentioned that I didn't exactly know if I fit the description, but she complimented my looks, and when I interviewed Jennifer for Pop Geeks in 2018, she had some lovely things to say about how we're all beautiful. Follow this link to check out that interview. I retired to my hotel room for the night, and was up early the next day to get on the pre-show line, as I always do when I go to Chiller.

Johnny Caps and Willie Aames

There was a reunion of several Charles In Charge cast members at this Chiller, and the first cast member I met was Willie Aames. When I met him, though, what I discussed with him was his time on the VH1 Celebreality program Celebrity Fit Club. More accurately, I asked him the question I ask most reality TV veterans: How much reality is in reality television?

Willie had a fascinating view on the subject, talking about the editing process and how certain cast members are picked to play certain roles. It was a fascinating look at the process. I got an autograph of Willie on a recent headshot of his, and we took a photo together. He was very kind to meet. Again, I know I say that a lot, but the stars I've met at Chiller, to a person, have been very friendly.

Johnny Caps and Alexander Polinsky

The next cast member in the Charles In Charge reunion that I met was Alexander Polinsky, who also follows me on Twitter. He was very funny and very friendly to meet, even when I told him I wasn't a fan of Teen Titans Go!, which he does occasional voice work on. He understood that not everybody likes the show, and I think he shows that understanding more than the show's writers and producers do. I could've gone for a Charles In Charge picture for Alexander to sign, but instead I went for a more recent photo of him. Alexander was very cool to meet.

Johnny Caps and Jennifer Runyon

The third cast member from Charles In Charge that I met was my Facebook friend Jennifer Runyon. As with quite a few of the friends I've met at Chiller, she recognized me when I told her who I was, and she was very kind. I had her sign a vintage bikini picture of her with the personalization, "Johnny, let's go for a swim. Jennifer Runyon". I tend to go for that personalization on bikini pictures. I probably should also have purchased one of her Ghostbusters cards that time, but if she ever comes back to Chiller, I'll definitely remedy that situation.

Johnny Caps and Charlene Tilton

I stepped out of the room with the Charles In Charge reunion to get an autograph of, and picture with, another Facebook friend of mine, Charlene Tilton. I asked her about her infamous time hosting Saturday Night Live, the episode where the late Charles Rocket unwittingly dropped an F bomb at the end, and she told me how surprised she was by that. She also talked of being impressed by Prince's performance that evening, and how Prince told her he liked her work on Dallas. I look forward to Charlene's eventual return to Chiller.

Johnny Caps and Nicole Eggert

I went back to the room with the Charles In Charge reunion to meet Nicole Eggert. Knowing the bad time she had on the show, though, I didn't talk about that with her. Instead, I extended my compliments to her on how she overcame painful experiences to become a powerful and kind figure. Nicole was fantastic to meet, and she's another talent I hope to interview someday.

Johnny Caps and Scott Thomson

Staying with the theme of 80s stars at Chiller, I met Scott Thomson, who had the small but memorable role of Arnold in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. A future Facebook friend of mine, Scott was fantastic to meet, and I loved that the personalization he wrote for me was inspired by a line of dialogue said to him by Judge Reinhold, who played Brad. Fast Times At Ridgemont High is a wonderful movie that, even 40 years after its' release, still has a resonance to it for high school students past, present and future, and Scott played a part in making the movie so memorable.

Johnny Caps and Larry Storch

The last 80s star I met at this Chiller Theatre was the late, great Larry Storch, whose 80s credits included appearances in two of Blake Edwards' most underrated movies, S.O.B and A Fine Mess. I told Larry of how I liked his work in those movies, and he enjoyed hearing that. He didn't have pictures from those movies available, though, so I got his autograph on a picture of him as Get Smart villain The Groovy Guru. Larry Storch was an amazing talent, and I only wish that the Emmys had thought to include him in the In Memoriam this year.

After meeting a few stars more associated with either the 70s or the 90s, I went up to my room for the evening, and spent Sunday of the October 2017 Chiller just walking around and saying hello once more to many of the stars I met that weekend. Of all the October Chillers I'd attended, the 2017 Chiller was the best up to that point, but even better times were on the horizon.

That does it for Part 2 of this mini-series about meeting 80s stars at Chiller Theatre. Part 3 is coming soon, and will detail my 2018 Chiller visits, including the first April Chiller I would ever attend. Until then, keep the spirit of the 80s alive.

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