Seeing a celebrity at a convention is a certain joy, be it at an autograph stand, a private booth, or sitting among a crowd of hundreds in a Q and A panel. I went to MegaCon in March with my coworker Tyler. To our amazement, they had booked half a dozen A-list celebrities — or what passes for A-list celebrities in the geek world. Stan Lee. William Shatner. Half of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. These are our heroes.
Our first panel that Saturday was one James Marsters, a versatile character actor trained in theater, and best known as the loveable bastard Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His public image has been spotty, especially after the fiasco that was Dragonball: Evolution. To my surprise he was approachable and forthcoming during the panel, although it took some time to get used to his natural American accent.
One fan asked if it was difficult kissing Sarah Michelle Gellar. “You’re asking,” Marsters said, “if it was difficult. . . to kiss Sarah Michelle Gellar?” After a gentle mocking, he said that it was difficult to kiss well in front of the camera, which Sarah provided much guidance for.
He was then asked about his part in the upcoming Torchwood miniseries. The show was jumping broadcasters, going from its home at the BBC (where it began as a spinoff of Doctor Who) onto premium cable network Starz. As part of the show’s revamp, American characters were being added to the team, including Marsters and Bill Pullman.
Marsters spoke about kissing John Barrowman. “Let me tell you one thing, guys,” Marsters said. “Shave. Your boyfriend or girlfriend will appreciate it.” He then said something about the nature of the show that he liked. “One of the things that the show goes out to prove,” he said with all earnestness, “Is that gay people can be heroes.”
His statement hit me like a sucker punch.