The weekend of the 21st to the 23rd of April 2017 is going to be in my memories as one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life 🙂
I decided to attend Magic Con in Bonn, Germany after Zach McGowan cancelled his attendance to Survival 2 Con in London due to work commitment. I still remember that moment clearly, I was about to leave work and quickly checked on my twitter and saw the news. My heart sank and I could have cried but given the circumstances I had to keep the sadness and disappointment bottled inside. Driving home, in my one hour long commute I started thinking about Bonn. Could I take another risk like that? What if Zach cancelled again? Would my boss swap my holidays at such short term? Would my husband be angry at me for potentially “wasting” even more money? By the time I arrived home my mind was made up, I was going to Bonn, regardless of all the advice from friends that suggested otherwise.
The following couple of weeks passed incredibly quickly and the closer the date came the more nervous I got. I was afraid all the tickets would sell out before I could buy them on the day (the on line shop was already closed), I was worried because I don’t speak a word of German, I was concerned about actually meeting Zach. What if he found me annoying or worse even what if after all I didn’t like him. I have been lucky in the past to meet some of my favourite celebrities, figure skater Brian Joubert, The Backstreet Boys, Alex O’Loughlin from Hawaii Five 0, and in all occasions they turned out to be very charming and friendly but something at the back of my mind was nagging at me and saying “don’t go to Bonn”.
I nearly cancelled two days before but luckily I didn’t because the experience turned out to be even better than what I could ever have dreamt and Zach was beyond my every expectations.
But I won’t bore you anymore with my random babble, lets talk about what we are all interested into, how was meeting Zach McGowan? I’ll divide it in chapters.
- First photo shoot and first impressions. Zach’s first photo op was on Friday 21/04/2017 at 16:00 hours. For the occasion I was wearing my “You are so Vane” t-shirt and being the first day of the Con I was still trying to find my bearings around the place and on what to do. While queuing for the photo I heard someone calling my name. It was Ulla, a friend from twitter that recognised me. Having her there made me feel a bit better. When we reached the door of the photo op room she looked at me very excited and said “He is in there” and me to her “Oh God he is real”. I was very nervous, borderline shaking. Everything happened so fast I didn’t even realised it. They gave us literally 10 seconds, go up to Zach, take your pic, go away. I asked him for a “koala hug” (which I realised in my brain scrambled state came out more like a “kohala”) and he said “sure” with the sweetest of smiles. I hugged him and he hugged me and everything was over. Only much later I looked at the pic and as many people now already pointed out I noticed that my hand went under his jacket while taking the pic. I honestly have no recollection of it, I guess it had to go somewhere anyways right? But it makes me smile every time I look at it. I’m very happy with the picture, but the experience was too fast to be satisfying. I remember thinking “If this is how it’s going to be I’m not sure I’ll like it that much”. I’m greedy I know but that’s how I felt.
- First panel and question about accents. Right after his photo shoot Zach had a Q&A panel and his answers were smart, funny, sweet, I just enjoyed it very much. People were asked to walk up to the microphones to ask their questions and the spot light was on them. I didn’t like the idea but thought “When am I ever going to get another opportunity to speak directly to THE MAN HIMSELF” so up I went and asked “You perform different accents very well, like the British for Charles Vane, a mean Russian for Anton, how do you learn them, how do you make them yours and…could you do a little Italian for me please?” Zach answered that the best way of learning an accent is to spend time with a native speaker and told the story of when he first arrived in L.A. and practised different voices and accents with tapes that a friend had given him. He said he couldn’t try an Italian accent because without preparation it would suck (bless him and his professionality) to which I answered “I’m available tomorrow for private lessons” (sometimes my mouth speaks before my brain can engage).
- Second panel and question about movies. Zach’s second panel was on Saturday morning at 12:15, closely followed by his second photo session at 13:30. This time my question was “If you could star in the remake of a famous movie what would it be?” I think he liked the question as he tilted his head back and started laughing (he does that quite often which is incredibly cute). He answered that since he was a kid he has dreamt to be in a western movie and with some luck that dream might come true soon. I hope so because that’s a dream that Zach and I have in common. He also said that he would like to portray a Superhero and mentioned he wouldn’t mind to be the new Wolverine. One more thing that I remember about the panel is that someone asked what he likes to cook the most and he said “I’m a dude, I like to cook steak”.
- Second photo shoot “We are Pirates after all” On Saturday morning Zach had a second photo session and this time I decided to wear my King Roan t-shirt which on the back has a logo with “Captain Charles Vane crew” written on and my twitter username. I was queuing with my friends Laura, Susi and Jessica and we trying to decide if to have a pic together with Zach on top of the second one alone with him (first for Jessica who was there only on the Saturday). When an idea forms in my mind it usually turns into reality pretty quickly so I bought the extra ticket and told the security dude “I want a pic alone with him and one with my friends”. So up I went to Zach, this time feeling a bit less nervous than the day before. As soon as he saw my t-shirt he gave me a big smile saying “Oh I love the t-shirt, I should have one too” and me to him “have you seen the back?” and him “Wow I love it”. So I told him ” I want the t-shirt to show in the pic can you hug me from behind this time?” he was very patient and kind and placed his arms around mine and his face right next to mine. This time I was aware of having hands too and I placed mine on his, you know, a bit of physical contact is always nice. As all that took a bit longer than the allocated 10 seconds the security dude looked at me with the “go away” glance but I didn’t as I wanted the pic with Jessica and Susi. So Jessica went over to Zach’s left, Susi stayed to his right and he placed his arms around them. So I turned to him and said “Where do I go?” He started laughing and said “Come right here” so I leaned over his chest and once again he lowered his face next to mine, I thought “I could actually get used to this” At this point I guess security was ready to kick me out but I felt like saying something so I turned to Zach and said “Sorry for creating trouble” and him still with his sweet smile “Not at all” and me “We are pirates after all” and him “Exactly” and then off I went, much happier than the day before and incapable of stopping smiling.
- First autograph session and first two hugs. I will say it already, the autographs sessions were the best thing ever! The photo ops were far too fast but because most people at the Con were there for other actors we had plenty of time to pass with Zach and I most definitely made good use of it. Initially I was even worried that I would never get to him in time because my ticket was number 1664 and they were letting people in in this order: Platinum Tickets, then Gold, Silver, numbers in sequence in groups of 200, Day Tickets and finally us. It took what felt like forever but eventually I got there. Zach recognised the t-shirt and said again “I wish I had one”. I showed him the piece of paper where I had written what I would like him to write on my pic and he was really amused by it because it said, quoting Charles Vane “They are few, you are Manu. Stay Strong.” I chose that because I wanted something quite memorable and different. I also loved the little smiley face he puts near to his autographs, it’s incredibly cute”. Then I said “I have something for you” and gave him a stuffed toy turtle dressed up as a pirate and a key ring with a pic of him and his dog Sophie. He loved both. Then I gave him a calendar of my Italy and asked him if he had ever been there and he said “Once when I was about 20 but I should go back”. After that he actually came out from the signing table and came over to give me a hug. Best moment of my life (don’t tell my hubby), the guy gives the best hugs. He actually means it, not just a “touch-less thing” but a real squeeze that stays with you. When he released me I said “Thank you for being so inspiring” and him “No thank you for your support and all the work you do on twitter” (he really checks everything guys and he remembers) and gave me another hug saying “See you at the party tonight”. If I had any doubt about being too tired to stay late at the party they all dissipated, Red Bull kept me awake. While I was leaving I heard him saying to his assistant while showing her the pirate turtle “Did you see this I love it” Which filled my heart with joy because he said it when i wasn’t there anymore so it felt even more real.
- Saturday night party and dancing with THE MAN. So even though I was rather exhausted Susi, Jessica and I stayed at the party just to see if we could catch a glimpse of Zach. We were talking at the table where Jessica’s mom was sitting when Zach (holding a beer) and his fellow actors passed right behind us and disappeared somewhere, presumably to enjoy dinner or a drink in peace. We went to the bar and passed the time chatting and dancing. Zach and the actors reappeared later on but stayed in a different area, talking among themselves. Luckily nobody was bothering them so they seemed to enjoy themselves. We were also having a good time but still keeping an eye on Zach because after all when would we ever be in the same bar with him another time? At some point Susi and I needed the bathroom so off we went and just as it happens sometimes in life while we were queuing guess who went to the men’s loo too? Yep, Mr. McGowan himself. Of course there was no queue at the gents so he was much faster than us. When Susi and I came back Jessica wasn’t at the bar anymore and we looked for her a bit when I noticed a lot of people on the dance floor and kind of spotted her from afar. I knew that there could be only one reason for her to be there “alone” and that was because the actors had joined the dancers. Basically the people on the dance floor had made way and the actors were dancing in the middle, at least 5 or 6 of them including Zach, Dean O’Gorman, Adam Brown and the two from Outlander (sorry I forget the names). Between me and them I kid you not there must have been a hundred people densely packed. It was like Mission Impossible to even think to get closer. But I have had hamsters as pets for many years now and they have taught me that being small and stubborn you can get anywhere with a bit of effort and will. So I worked my way through the “dancing wall of people” and sure as hell I got myself pretty close to where Zach (and Jessica) were. The actor from Outlander was between Zach and I but I was already happy to be in such close proximity. The song that started at that moment was “Shape of you” by Ed Sheeran, which will be always in my heart as the song I danced with Zach McGowan. Then suddenly the older dude moved away and I found myself right in front of Zach. I would have been the happiest woman already but my feelings rocketed right over the moon when he said “What’s up Manu” (Whaaat he remembered my name???), gave me a high five and enveloped me in another one of his awesome hugs. I still can’t believe all this happened for real, I think I might have dreamt the all thing ;). Shortly after the actors went back to the bar. It was getting very late, it was already about 02:00 am and we were shattered and had to go back to different hotels so we decided to call it a night. Jessica wasn’t going to be there on the Sunday so her and I went to the bar to say bye bye to Zach and he gave us another high five. I think I only slept about 3 hours that night, too much adrenaline going through my body.
- Second (and best) autograph session. The morning of the Sunday I was feeling rather zombie-like even after a nice shower but after breakfast off I went to the Con again in hope to be able to give a last good bye to that wonderful man called Zach McGowan. When I arrived the queue for the autographs was already pretty long because many people were waiting for Tom Waishila from Game of Thrones. I had paid for an autograph with him too so I had to wait for ages once again just to be told eventually that his time had run out and we were going to miss out. Disappointing! Anyways when my turn finally came I went over to get another autograph from Zach but I had to wait more because he was giving an interview and his “queue” was blocked. So he finished and what does a loyal fan say to the man of her dreams when he finally welcomes ther with the usual “What’s up Manu?” I said, not believing the words that were coming out of my mouth, “You talk too much dude”! He tilted his head back and laughed once again, I think he might find me somehow amusing 🙂 Then I said ” Tell me how you manage to look so good after a night partying?” and he said “I don’t know, I’m shattered inside” and then he added ” Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a shower”. At that point I was having fun too and all the fan-celeb nervousness from two days before had disappeared, I felt like talking to someone that I had known for a long time. I told him “A friend (you know who you are but I won’t say your name) asked me how you smelled when I hugged you on Friday and I said “he smells good”, maybe today then I would give a different answer” He laughed again and gave me a high five. Then I asked him if that Western movie that he talked about at the panel was a secret or if I could talk about it and he said that nothing is certain yet, (apart from the movie that he is going to do in Malaysia with Bob Morley) but it has been his dream since he was a kid so he really hopes it will happen. The lady that was there checking on things reminded me that I was supposed to get an autograph so I showed Zach my calendar of him and once again he loved my work. I said “I should be in charge of your merchandise” and he answered “Yes you should”. He scrolled through and loved the pic of him with the leopard in South Africa and then he gaped at the shirtless pic of Vane on the March page. I explained that was a birthday present to myself so he asked me “when?” and put a circle around the 19th writing “Happy birthday Manu”. Then in case I forgot he turned the page to May and wrote “Happy birthday to me” on the 5th. He told me that he was very excited because for the first time he would be able to pass his birthday with his daughters as on all the previous years he was away working. And given that the pic on that page was the one of him and Sophie he said “Sophie will be with me too”. After that I told him that a couple of friends of mine are trying to organise a Black Sails convention in England and that there will be a The 100 con in Paris next year, asking if he was planning to attend and he said it all depends on work commitments but he would love to. The people behind me in the queue were starting to get agitated (sorry guys the dude talks a lot 😉 and I couldn’t seem to manage to persuade myself to get away from him) so he came out of the table once again and gave me a goodbye hug. Then he asked me “Are you flying back home today?” and I said “Unfortunately yes” so I got another hug. I can’t remember why but then I told him that his British accent on Black Sails was so good that my husband couldn’t believe he was American and that earned me my third and final hug. Honestly guys I don’t think my husband has hugged me as many times in a year as Zach has hugged me in three days.
So this is in “brief” my Magic Con and Zach McGowan experience. To anybody that wonders how this talented actor is in person I can only say that he is even more handsome. His bright smile and the sweet expression of his face are dreamy. He is smart too, with a great memory for names and details. And he is down to Earth and friendly, really easy to talk to and appreciative of our support.
Keep loving and support Zach because he truly deserves it.
I hope I didn’t bore anybody too much and that you enjoyed my story. Believe in your dreams and don’t be scared of making them become a reality. It doesn’t always work out but when it does….It’s truly unforgettable and rewarding. The memory of my time in Bonn will always be in my heart and will fill it with joy every time I think about it.
Thank you Jessica, Susi, Laura, Ulla and of course Zach for sharing this wonderful time with me.
And to my dear friends Dianne, Judi, Barbara and Ocean your time will come and it will be wonderful. Believe in the dream and it will become true.
Lots of love,