Working with Amanda
What an amazing experience, doing something that I never thought possible, working with my idol Amanda Tapping. I know that she was only one guest of the many, but it was still an awesome experience. Armageddon is hands down my favourite event of the year. I love the atmosphere and the people, my con family. So it was such a great experience to be in a place that I love with a person I adore.
I had already met Amanda once before, the previous year at Gate the the Sanctuary in Melbourne. This event was much better experience, being a volunteer instead of nervous attendee. It gave me the opportunity to make a different connection with Amanda. This experience was less stressful and much more relaxed, which helped.
As usual for an Armageddon event, I helped with the set-up on the Friday. This includes setting up the stages and signing areas, setting out the photos and putting up the posters. My friend Jodie and I had also organised to have a small stall to help raise money for DEBRA. Our good friend Liam had passed away earlier in the year and we wanted to do something in his memory. DEBRA supports people with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), which is something Liam suffered from. We created a tribute video and collected items to sell including autographed items and some artworks.
We miss you Liam.
Amanda at the Party
As always the weekend started off with a VIP cocktail party on the Friday night. When the guests arrived Amanda was surrounded by fans wanting to meet and talk to her. When things quietened down I asked if she was okay for a drink or food. She asked me if I was her minder and I said not really just a volunteer. Her response was “You’re just a beautiful, happy, smiling person”. She then put her arm around me and gave me a bit of a squeeze.
As a volunteer I always do my best to blend in and let the paid attendees have their moments. I helped to move Amanda around the room to mingle with different attendees. It was a little bit hard and in the end I felt a little like a stalker hanging around. I was holding her drinks and food for her, I did get to chat with friends too though. There was a conversation I had with Amanda when I said something but then commented. “You’ll have to excuse me I’m overtired and a little bit crazy”. Amanda’s response was to give me a hug and say “Me too!”.
During the evening Amanda kept offering me her wine; for the record I didn’t drink any. Which was good because I got pulled over by a booze bus on the way home. After picking up some Macca’s because I never remember to eat at these events.
There were moments throughout the night where I did mingle away from Amanda. I always make the effort to speak to all guests as I could work with any of them. Said hello to Sylvester McCoy as I’d worked with him at a previous Armageddon. I also got to speak with Aliana Huffman briefly and Adrian Paul. That was when I helped Amanda escape the clustering fans to say hello to him herself. I also had a great little chat with Agam who is another beautiful person that I adore.
I was wearing a dress to the party and I had an issue with the shoulder straps falling off. It was really annoying me, Amanda noticed it though and whispered to me that she was having the same problem. Throughout the night, Robin liked to use his special inside voice. Which was basically him talking extremely loudly, whilst Amanda just stands there and shakes her head at him.
Later on in the evening people started getting their photos taken with Amanda. Normally you don’t let that happen, but Amanda and the other guests were all okay with it. I ended up being the one taking the photos for them. When my friend Kara came for a photo, after I’d taken it she asked if I wanted one. Tried doing the right thing as a volunteer I declined, but Amanda pulled me in for a photo. She gave me a huge hug and then kissed me on the top of my head. This photo is still one of my favourite photos with Amanda, I especially love the hugs and smiles. Plus these photos are a little more nice and casual than the professional photos.
Then came Saturday, my job for the weekend was once again in the media area as a gopher/runner. Which is basically a person who stands behind the guests and runs and gets food or drinks when asked. Or to sit with guests when their minder needs to do something. It’s my favourite job as a volunteer and I love the running around and keeping busy. Plus I get the variety of sitting with different guests.
Spent quite a bit of time talking with Sandeep and Jeff from The Guild, another show I enjoy that’s hilarious. Also spent time talking with Agam, I learnt that this was only her second convention. Her minder for the weekend was my friend Kara and it was her first time volunteering. Robin was also amazing and a little insane, he liked to just randomly jump up and go for a wander. His minder definitely had her hands full with him.
With me volunteering it meant I couldn’t help Jodie man the stall, but thankfully she managed to find people to help her out over the weekend to keep the stall manned and allow her to do what she wanted to do. Got to sit with several different actors, like Sylvester who I also took to his panel. Also sat and chatted with Louise Jameson, Nicholas Brendon & his brother Kelly.
During the Saturday I got photos with the different Stargate guests, firstly one with Robert Picardo. I did my quick costume change behind the scenes, which surprised the guests when I walked in for photos. I also got another photo with Amanda, because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. She loved my costume and especially my P90, she grabbed it from me and posed with an adorable grin. When she handed me back the P90 she comment with a sad face “I miss my gun”.
I managed to attend the VIP Sanctuary panel as it was a little later in the day. Something that happened earlier had upset me and so I did hide behind the stage for most of it. Because I was there, I then got to walk back to the greenroom with the guests. Amanda slung her arm over my shoulder, looked at me and asked “Was I too goofy?”. I was a little taken back, but replied with “It was goofy but that’s okay ’cause you’re goofy and goofy is fun”. Amanda just smiled in response. When the guests started leaving for the day, Amanda turned and gave me a hug, she thanked me for my assistance.
Dinner with Amanda
That night there was a dinner with the Sanctuary guests at the hotel. So I rushed off to the hotel, got changed into my dinner outfit in the hotel toilets. Not the first time that’s happened and probably not the last. I sat at a table with a few friends, we had a good conversation going when the guests turned up. Amanda came over and sat next to me, she told us she’d kept herself awake dancing to her iPod before dinner. I said I’d gotten changed in the toilets, she laughed, smiled and said “Well you look fantastic” so I blushed. The waiter at the hotel was totally an Amanda fanboy, he kept bringing her glasses of wine the whole night.
There was a point where Amanda told us the story of how she met her husband. Then everyone was telling stories of how their parents met, I was like “My parents have been divorced since I was six”. Someone responded with “We’re telling good love stories”. I responded with “It is good, it meant I have four parents and get more presents”. Amanda laughed and grabbed my shoulder and said “Me too!” The topic of AT6 came up, an event to be held in the UK the following year. When I said that I couldn’t go, she asked why not and then followed with “Who do I need to call for you! I need my Aussie posse”. This then lead to me planning my first overseas trip.
During the conversation the topic of Vegemite and the Vegemite girls arose, then someone mentioned there are now Vegemite chips. Amanda said that she needed to try some, so I knew I had to go home via the shops. Amanda had brought some Sanctuary for Kids books with her, to sell and raise money for the charity. The book is an animated story of a day on the Sanctuary set titled ‘Rubber Rocks and Apple Boxes’. Everyone at our table brought a book and then Amanda, Agam and Robin signed them for us.
Once we had finished eating dinner the guests swapped seats and I ended up with Robin next to me. And of course I was having another night of failing to keep my dress straps up. Robin would subtly push the straps back up for me if he noticed. Although he took a photo with me and pushed my straps down, he signed my book “Keep your straps down”. Agam also told me that I looked lovely, I of course felt awkward with all the compliments. After all, I only wear dresses when I attend these events.
Was given the opportunity to sit with a lot of different guests on the Sunday. When I was sitting with Lance Guest from ‘The Last Starfighter’ we had an interesting conversation. I told him I was embarrassed that I didn’t understand the movie. He said that it was okay, that the movie was probably before my time. He asked me what I was doing in 1984, but could tell by my face “You weren’t even born yet, right?” I nodded.
I’d managed to buy almost a whole box of Vegemite chips the night before and had brought them all in. They got opened fairly early in the day and all the guests, staff and friends were trying them. Robin and Mark Sheppard loved them the most, ended up taking a few packs at the end of the day. I definitely have a Vegemite reputation at conventions, when friends saw the chips the general comments were. “What else would you expect from Smiley?”.
During the event the guests were given these Lego ‘I Love Armageddon’ badges that they put on to wear. Agam gave me hers and I was wearing it when I had my photo with her. When I got her autograph she had to point it out. I ended up getting a couple more photos with Amanda on the Sunday, one with my friend Sarah. The other with a Stargate costuming group I’m a part of called SG-7. When I was standing with my SG-7 friends waiting in queue, Amanda walked past. She see’s me and starts singing ‘Smiley’s got a gun” like the song ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ – Amanda gave me a theme song. As I left the photo session Amanda hugged me again and her hugs are amazing.
During the weekend, there had been a lady sitting with Adrian Paul. Here name was Victoria and she told me that she had been asking everyone what my name was. Everyone had responded ‘Smiley’ but no one seemed to know my actual name. Doesn’t surprise me, in the convention scene I am only really known as Smiley. At one stage I was sitting with Alaina Huffman and I got her to autograph on my Stargate Shirt. She spent quite a bit of time looking at all the different autographs on it and seemed impressed. She was the first Stargate: Universe actor to sign it.
As the end of the weekend neared I started getting my autographs, Robert autographed my Stargate shirt. He was the last main cast member of Stargate: Atlantis to meet, only need Beau Bridges to have all of SG-1 too. Got Amanda to autograph my photos, I also gave her one of my pattern drawings. She spent quite a bit of time looking at it.
The Best Weekend Ends
As the guests were starting to leave, Amanda was still there signing with a queue. Robin had curled up on his table with the tablecloth wrapped around him. Whilst Amanda was still singing myself and friends were hanging around the area chatting and entertaining ourselves. Probably entertained Amanda too whilst she was autographing away. Once Amanda was done I walked back with her, some other guests and staff to the green room. I gave her some of the left over packs of Vegemite chips and we had a good little chat.
After finishing off some things, I then said my goodbyes and ran off to complete some errands. As I was heading back I happened to run into Amanda, Agam and Robin again. They were on their way out of the venue and I held the door open for them. Robin grabbed me and pulled me in for a big hug, followed by Agam and then Amanda too. I was a little speechless as I watched them go. I think this was the biggest fangirl moment of my life.
The event then ended with an aftermath party, organised by Gifts for the Geek. Always an amazing way to chill out after the weekend and great way to spend time with friends. This event I just remember being tired, I collapsed onto the couch and stayed there.