It’s 5:00am. Darren’s dad drives us to the airport to catch our 7:30 flight. We hit the McDonald’s drive-thru for breakfast—a decision I regret while sitting on the plane; no sleep mixed with a belly full of caffeine and Mcbreakfast is an unpleasant travel combo.
We have a layover at Dulles Airport and don’t arrive in Pittsburgh until after 2:00pm. There’s an accident on the expressway so our cab driver takes the scenic route. It’s a beautiful, tree-filled view, but the extra mileage amounts to an $80 cab ride.
We arrive at our hotel for the night, a Holliday Inn. Darren and I opt to upgrade our reservations to separate bedrooms; we are both so tired that we need a few hours of private rest.
I wake up to a new friend: a cold sore on my inner lip. It seems that the intensity of my no-sleep-no-exercise-all-caffeine-and-grease-and-beer-diet has manifested itself in the form of an irritating fever blister. I think to myself that tonight I should take it easy. And then I think, ‘yeah right!’
Darren and I meet downstairs at 8:00pm for dinner at the hotel restaurant. The food is horrible, but the waitress – a charming yet surly dame with a smoker’s laugh – makes up for it in personality. While eating we see a couple of ladies in brightly-colored wigs and corsets exit through the lobby. Judging from the hotel’s otherwise conservative clientele, they are either REPO! fans or call girls.
We finish our meals and go to the front desk to have them phone a cab. They tell us that it could be upwards of an hour and a half to get one. We immediately regret not flagging down those potential REPO! gals for a ride. A few heated phone calls to cab companies later and we are able to shanghai a driver within the half hour.
It’s 9:15pm. We pull up to the Regent Square Theatre and find a mob of REPO! fans outside. They are split into 2 rather large lines: ticket holders, and those on a waiting list for tickets. REPO! is completely sold-out and there are easily over 100 people who are not guaranteed a seat. I take a few pictures of the line and am swarmed by fans, including a young woman who starts freaking out, hyperventilation Beatles-mania-style. I also see several familiar faces: a couple of Pavis, a Luigi, a Repo Man, a Blind Mag, a short-haired GraveRobber, an Amber Sweet, and the 2 girls that we saw pass in the hotel lobby. It turns out they were REPO! fans!
An attractive woman in a nurse’s outfit with Raggedy Ann hair approaches Darren and I as we enter the theatre. Her name is Mel Practice. She is a fetish model and does not yet have a ticket. She pleads with us to let her in, saying how much she’s been looking forward to REPO! We tell her that we actually don’t have any extra tickets, that we’ve already given up our 2 seats to make room for fans. We watch her walk over to the line of ticket holders to ask if anyone has an extra pair. She lucks out.
Darren and I meet the theatre’s manager, Gary Kaboly, and ask if he could set up extra chairs in the aisle and in the front of the theatre. He’s a super cool guy, and agrees.
It’s 10:00pm. Darren and I take the stage to introduce the movie. It’s a madhouse inside, a beautiful REPO! madhouse.
The movie starts. Darren and I sneak off to share a pitcher of beer across the street at a local pub, and then return to conduct a Q & A and sign autographs. I tell one of the fans dressed as Pavi that I like his mask. He responds by saying that he’ll have a different mask at the next screening. I ask a guy dressed as Luigi what he’s gonna do if he finds a hole. He tells me that he can’t answer that because he’s in the presence of his parents. Two serious questions. Two serious answers. I love REPO! fans!
Mel Practice and her boyfriend, Joel, approach Darren and I and ask if we want to go with them to an after-hours fetish event. We say yes, but after a couple of hours of signing things and taking photos with fans, we lose our steam and instead suggest going back and having a couple of drinks at our hotel. They agree.
At our hotel, Ms. Practice shares with Darren and I some stories about medical fetishism, and tells us that this community would totally eat REPO! up. A running “CLEAR!” gag ensues. She also tells us about clown fetishes. Her boyfriend shows us a youtube video of his band, The Botched, a beer-gutted punk performance act where he struts about the stage in a skintight Adam West Batman suit.
It’s after 3:00am when they leave. I look around at the empty beer bottles lining my hotel room, and fall asleep.