I went to every Dragon*Con between 2009 and 2015. One year, I was wandering around the convention by myself and decided to check out the Walk of Fame. It’s an area at the convention where celebrities have their own tables and can sell autographs and photos. I’m not an autograph collector, but I liked just walking through to see who was there and catch a glimpse of some stars in person. At this point in the day, it was getting late and there weren’t many people in the room. As I made a clockwise loop around the room, I spotted a particular frosty-haired voice actor who had a table against the left wall. It was Vic Mignogna.
This was Dragon Con 2013 and although a lot of Dragon Cons blend together, I remember this particular encounter vividly. There were two guys talking to Vic, so I thought I’d be able to slip by unnoticed. Unfortunately, he spotted me and called out my name.
I had first met Vic at Anime USA in 2005. I was the chairman of Anime Boston and had a successful year under my belt. Someone must have told him who I was because it wasn’t long before he started hounding me to be invited to our next convention. Our Director of Guest Relations also happened to be at the convention and I felt really bad for introducing him to Vic and totally throwing him under the bus. He wouldn’t let up on the poor guy all weekend.
One advantage of the way Anime Boston selects and approves guests is that there is a Guest Selection Committee. Names can be suggested to the committee via the convention forums (both in a public suggestion thread and a staff-only suggestion thread), but only a majority vote of the committee members can actually get a guest invited. No matter how much someone hounds any particular person, it’s only the committee that can decide who gets invited. Committee members are also relatively anonymous. Very few people on staff know who the committee members are. They aren’t necessarily all in the Guest Relations division and they aren’t necessarily all Executive Directors. Maybe there’s a random Security staffer. Maybe there’s someone from PR. Maybe someone from Registration is on the committee. The Convention Chairman might not even be on the committee in a particular year. This anonymity helps protect them from aggressive guests and also from any animosity by any guests or fans who may not have received an invite.
It was early days for Vic, so at this point his reputation was mostly for having a rabid fanbase that could be difficult to wrangle. His name was suggested to the Guest Selection Committee and he eventually ended up getting invited to Anime Boston 2006. (Other than the facts above of how the Guest Selection Committee operated, I’m not going to discuss anything internal to Anime Boston in this post. It’s also not relevant to this story.)
I saw Vic again at San Japan 2008 where we were both guests of honor. He was one of many participants in my Anime Unscripted improv event. I know there’s some videos of the event on YouTube, but I haven’t watched them because the event had some cringe-worthy moments I’d rather not re-live. I recall he didn’t seem to be particularly adept at improv, which is fine because it’s tough and not everyone has mastered that skill. I know I haven’t.
…so when I was at Dragon Con 2013 and he called out my name as I walked through the room, I really didn’t want to talk with him. At this point, his reputation among convention organizers and attendees was fairly widespread and he had even conducted panels at some conventions in attempts to fight the rumors. However, I would be polite to him and walked over. I figured he might just want to say hello or ask a question about AnimeCons.com.
As I got to his table, he had stopped talking to the other two guys at his table. They seemed to be (male) fans with whom he was well acquainted, but I was never introduced. He immediately asked if he could be invited back to Anime Boston as a guest. I explained that I had stepped down as chairman after 2006 and wasn’t even on Guest Relations staff anymore. (I took over the Game Shows department in 2011 and I’ve been there ever since.) He wasn’t about to take “No” for an answer. “Yeah, but you KNOW people!” I told him that invites were up to our Guest Selection Committee and that I’d let them know he was interested…but that still wasn’t good enough. It’s like he wanted an invite right there on the spot. Even if I was still in Guest Relations or even the Convention Chairman, that still wouldn’t be possible. I re-iterated that I’d tell the Director of Guest Relations and the Guest Selection Committee that he wanted to come back. And then, as if a switch had been flipped, he turned around and started talking to the two guys again. There was no “Thanks”, no “Goodbye”, no “Good to see you”, or anything. He just turned around and started talking to the guys again.
I stood there for a moment. I was dumbfounded. Even though I had found him to be an aggressive diva, I had been nothing but friendly toward him. (…or as friendly as I could be while not offering him a guest slot.) It’s as if when he realized that he wasn’t going to get an invite from me on the spot, he just mentally blocked me out and ignored me. It struck me as very rude…so naturally, as a direct result, I never passed his name on to anyone.
I looked at him, the two guys he was talking with, shrugged, and walked off.
I never saw him again after that. I certainly don’t mind.