Once again I’m wearing costume – but I get to the hotel lobby, and realise it’s raining outside! Back to my room to swap my wig and mask for a big woolly hat, and to tie my skirt up around my knees, to evade the worst of the rain. Ballroom gowns – great in a ballroom, but outdoors in Nova Scotia in November? Terribly draughty…
If people ask about my costume, I shamelessly plug my book. One woman screams (actually screams!) at the sight of it. There certainly seems to be a lot of Labyrinth love in Nova Scotia. There are signs on the walls of the convention centre saying “Unattended children will be given to the Goblin King”. I also spot this Jareth tattoo.
I queue for an hour to get a good seat for the Gates McFadden Q&A. This does mean missing the panel on shark movies (and I can never resist a bad shark movie) – but I’m with friends, so the time goes quickly – and it’s worth the wait.
Gates is a really interesting speaker. She’s probably best known for her work on Star Trek – The Next Generation, and she spoke about that a lot (including playing practical jokes on set, and failing to recognise Michael Dorn without his Worf make-up) but about half the questions were about Labyrinth. It’s clearly an experience she remembers fondly. “Someone had to teach David Bowie how to waltz” she sighs – like, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it!
She was also full of praise for Jim Henson, who she first worked with on The Muppets Take Manhattan – she talked about being on the set alone (or so she thought) with Kermit – who then started talking to her!
Gates later worked with Henson on Dreamchild, a film where the grown-up Alice remembers her friendship with Lewis Carroll, which features some of the characters from Alice in Wonderland done by the Henson Creature Shop. It’s recently been re-released on DVD after being unavailable for years, and it’s well worth a look. Such a pity Henson never did complete adaptations of the books – they would have been so much better than those Tim Burton CGI monstrosities.
As we file out, the music that’s playing is The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie, and I find myself feeling unexpectedly emotional. After the costume contest, as the con draws to a close, I wander down to the Grand Parade, and blow bubbles into the darkening sky. It’s going to feel weird taking the costume off…