DragonCon Burlesque: Glamour Geek Revue

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big fan of the world of burlesque, vaudeville and sideshow acts, and that is saying it mildly. There is something extremely appealing to me to see the bravery of expression (in whatever form it takes) that comes out in these type of art forms – that the women and men who take the stage to express themselves are fierce and fearless. They are literally willing to reveal everything, not just down to pasties, but parts of their soul for the sake of their art form, and that is powerful to see how the artists can translate what they are feeling to the audience. It is glorious to watch.

This is long overdue, because it took me a while to full process what a impactful show The Glamour Geek Revue at the Sheraton on Saturday night over Labor Day weekend at this year’s Dragon Con was. It literally was one of the hottest tickets, so to speak, to wait for. Lines started wrapping around hours before the doors opened at 11:15 pm for a midnight start. House had to hold the doors until after 12:25 am before everyone would finally be seated and the show could begin. At full capacity of 1,300 people making it one of the largest stages to perform on.

With Talloolah Love at the helm, as producer, performer and emcee, she juggled the hats of titillating geekery to a perfection. With over 90 acts submitted from all over the world, it was a labor of love and process to dwindle it down to 13 performers to compile a lineup with the right feel, from solo numbers to group numbers that rounded out a total of 16 separate acts with no intermission for the 2016 Dragon Con Burlesque: Glamour Geek Revue.

Atlanta’s own Candybox Revue bookend the evening with ensemble numbers. First by starting off with a powerful Game of Thrones inspired number, called the “Dance of Dragons” with Talloolah Love as Daenerys Stormborn and Roula Roulette, Candi Lecoeur and Sin Tillating as her dragons. The “Dance of Dragons” was graceful, elegant and strong to see these women provoke an array of emotions. At the end of the number, Talloolah Love emerged as the emcee for the evening and kept the show moving along at a nice and even clip.

Following CBR, Black Mariah from Dallas, Texas, took the stage over with her first number of the evening. Black Mariah’s “Slave Leia” act was confident, sassy and sexy as hell to watch as she brought an empowering motif to the iconic Slave Leia from Star Wars and made it all her own. Phoebe Nyx made several appearances on the stage, for her own whimsical Muppets inspired acts. From Fozzie Bear to Beaker to Kermit, all of them endearing and delightful as she played along with her ukulele, mixed in part with equal parts comedy and sweetness. At the end we all wanted more Phoebe Nyx and Muppets. Atlanta’s own Atomic Bomb, Nikki Nuke’m was a belly dancing firehouse with her “Fallout” inspired number. The muscle control, flexibility and the ability to make her body move in ways that do not seem natural is what makes her one of the most fascinating artist to watch.

Up next was Fritz Krieg, from Atlanta’s own nerdesque troupe, Hysteria Machines. Fritz performed as Mad Eye Moody from the Harry Potter lore, for his “Mad Eye Pretty” number and was he ever oh so pretty as he pranced, with some shimming of garb removal and in general had really good comical timing. It was a real treat to watch him on the stage as the first boylesque performer of the night, but would not be our last.

Vita DeVoid from Tampa, FL, took the stage as Lucille Ball for her “VitaMeataVegaMin” performance and it was priceless and chuck full of hilarity. Next was Big Mama Dixie Crystal, out of Charlotte, NC. She was mesmerizing as she brought new life into a “Labyrinth” number. Dixie Crystal started dressed up in a big white crystal encrusted ball gown as Sarah for the famous dance scene out of the movie during “As the World Falls Down,” then Dixie morphed into the Jared, The Goblin King. For the final reveal, she transformed into the owl. It was one of the most breathtaking performances of the night.

Atlanta’s own Estella Zorn, another member of the Hysteria Machines troupe took the stage and her Avatar Korra was to die for. She battled the elements with power and grace. Also from Charlotte, NC, Dee Dee Perks brought a bit of Super Mario Bros with “Bowser” balancing striptease, hooping and splits. Dee Flowered, from Athens, GA, graced the stage with a sinister performance as the “Penguin” and she played the supervillain to perfection, monocle and all. Atlanta’s own Persephone Phoenix, the executive director of Hysteria Machines, took the stage for her “Red Right Hand” act that not only made us all want to “Scream,” but was dark and provocative too. Black Mariah graced the stage for the second time with her “Sin City Stripper” act. While the act was highly enjoyable, provocative even it didn’t hit the same cords for me as her “Slave Leia” number.

Up next was Avery Wolf as the supervillain, Two-Face with Coquette du Jour as Sugar and Estella Zorn as Spice in “Razzle Dazzle,” from Hysteria Machines’ production, “Gotham, a Tale of Two Faces” performed on the Dragon Con Burlesque stage. This number was so much fun to watch. The sheer energy and dynamic presence that each of the moving characters created was so intense.

The final act for the 2016 Dragon Con Burlesque was a “Mad Max” inspired commanding anthem that was a sheer force to be reckon with by The Candybox Revue. This was a super intense chair number with six members of The Candybox Revue – Flame Cynders, Kat Asstrophy, Candi Lecoeur, Sin Tillating, Roula Roulette and Desta del Carmen.

For me, along with the other 1,299 people in attendance the 2016 Dragon Con Burlesque: Glamour Geek Revue was a huge success. I can’t wait to see how it gets topped next year.

Dance of Dragons by The Candybox Revue

Talloolah Love as Producer, Performer and Emcee

 

Black Mariah as Slave Leia

Phoebe Nyx as Fozzie Bear with a ukulele

Nikki Nuke’m belly dancing Fallout

Fritz Krieg’s Mad Eye Moody is Oh So Pretty

Vita DeVoid as Lucille Ball

Big Mama Dixie Crystal brings Labyrinth to Life

Estella Zorn as Avatar Korra was to die for

Phoebe Nyx is back as Beaker and her ukulele

Dee Dee Perks as Bowser

 Dee Flowered as the sinister Penguin

Persephone Phoenix made us all Scream

Black Mariah graced the stage again with Sin City Stripper

Avery Wolf as Two-Face accompanied by Sugar & Spice (Estella Zorn and Coquette de Jour)

Phoebe Nyx is back one last time as Kermit with her ukulele

Final performance of the night was The Candybox Revue ensemble piece of Mad Max

 Curtain Call

Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog at DragonCon

What I love about DragonCon is the versatility to what they provide for content – from panels to parties and events across the board. There is always something to see, do and experience at this grand 4-day pop culture extravaganza (which is quickly starting earlier and earlier as the years march on). For me there are so many highlights that it’s hard to put into words; but I always look forward to seeing what DragonCon offers over on the Whedonverse track. Which for those of you who are not familiar with this track, it is the fan track for all things related to Joss Whedon, like Firefly, Dollhouse, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer… shall I continue? Really he’s the creator of some of the most beloved and iconic television series that have helped to define the landscape and watercooler moments of our collective pop culture experience.

So every year at DragonCon it’s always a curiosity to see if they are going to do a double feature of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Once More With Feeling” and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog or pick one and run them back-to-back. This year, they went with a back-to-back run of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and if you haven’t seen it yet, this is something I highly recommend seeing. It’s hilarious through and through, but to get to see it at DragonCon is even better, because you are in a ballroom filled with people to the brim who love it as much as you do and sing along word for word. Think Mystery Theater 3000 and amp it up to ten. This year there was a fun twist, as the gender roles were flipped, renewing an already hysterical show and making it so much more fun.

Photos of Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog at DragonCon

Pin-ups by the Pool Party DragonCon Style

The annual Pinups at the Pool Party was the hot place to be on Friday, September 2 at DragonCon. Presented by none other than Atlanta’s own, Talloolah Love and hosted by the devilish, Sig Sawyer. The hour long party was in full swing with a bevy of beautiful, geeked out people who were in love with their fandoms and truly embracing all of what it means to participate in DragonCon. From mermaids swimming in the deep end of the pool, to finding Harley Quinn and her cohorts splashing around to the guards of 300. There was a little something at the party for everyone to partake in. Not to mention the secret judges roaming the grounds of the Sheraton’s pool area for the costume contest to find the final five contestants, with one lucky lady taking home the goody bag of gifts. It’s always a blast to come out and see everyone getting lost in a good time, regardless if they are dressed to the nines or in full costume, there is nothing better than spending an hour at this party, surrounded by friends and good times.

Full Photo Gallery of Pin-ups by the Pool Party

Interview with actress Amber Benson at Dragon Con 2015

Every year, Dragon Con calls upon many big name guests, from a multitude of creative outlets. Included are many actors appearing in SciFi related series and movies, among all mediums imaginable. This year was no exception. In fact, the talent list, in my humble opinion, seemed a bit off center, with many more interesting characters than previous years.

I am not known to be a star struck kind of person, which made a stroll through the Dragon Con Walk of Fame somewhat enticing. I am much more fascinated by the reactions others have to their favorite celebrities, and the measures people take to get that special selfie with the character of their admiration. Through my traipsing of the Marriott Ballroom, I saw a lot of what I expected; famous folks with long lines of people waiting to get a photo signed, enjoying the scenes where people were truly engaged with their admirers, and feeling sad for the few (who will remain nameless) who were simply going through the motions to get through the lines.

After a few minutes, I was happily the recipient of a little bit of serendipity.  Rose Siggin, ‘Legless Suzi’ on the past season of American Horror Story (AHS), had just set up shop to meet her fans, and nobody else had noticed, yet. I was free and clear to walk up and say hello. Anybody who knows of Siggin, knows she is an extraordinary actor, who has overcome incredible physical challenges. Despite her hard persona on AHS, she is quite down to earth and humble. I found myself asking about her personal experience working on the set of AHS. Right from the first response, it was evident how much her family is the priority of her life. With her husband and daughter at her side, behind the table, she spoke of times when Kathy Bates endearingly chased her daughter on the set, the support of her family during filming, and the comradely among the cast (Bates, Bassett, Roberts). She has a true appreciation for her work and her life.

Adding to the fortune of my day, upon leaving the Marriot, I was informed I was selected to partake in a Q&A session with Amber Benson on the following day. Benson, who is well known for her portrayal of Tara on the cult classic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a returning guest to Dragon Con. She started her professional career as a child actor at age 13. Twenty-five years later, she has migrated to the world of writing and directing. Among the many commitments she had throughout the weekend, she started Thursday by leading a two day acting workshop. This is where the discussion began.

A very relaxed Benson walked into the room of reporters, nonchalantly mingling among the crowd while migrating to the front of the room. She sat on the stool in a crossed legged, yoga style position and connected immediately with all in the room. I describe the Q&A session as a discussion, because Benson we talked about the topics as a group. It was relaxed, and open, and informative. Her career as an actress, her love of the scary, her advice for actors breaking into the business – all of it. For more details to the life of the former Buffy star, take a look at the video:

Finding the SCI in Dragon Con 2014

by Glenn Robelen

Ariel WaldmanIt’s Thursday, and Labor Day Weekend 2014 is less than 24 hours away. I am in the Atlanta Westin Hotel, riding down on a full elevator, heading to the lobby. Joining me are a few Star Trek characters, a couple of Science Fiction personas I didn’t know how to describe and a zombie. In the back of the elevator car, a family visiting for the weekend, who are entertainingly perplexed by the transformed folks traversing along side them. A guy in his late teens, a member of the family, blurts out, “What’s going on this weekend?” After a couple of moments of silence, I answer, “It’s DragonCon.” I further explain, “It’s a Sci-Fi convention, similar to ComicCon, with a significant influence of Dungeons and Dragons.” Upon reaching the lobby of the hotel, one of the Star Trek characters worked his way through the crowd, approached me, and said “The Dragon in Dragon Con represents much more than the game. It is a full Sci-Fi fantasy experience.” I have always known DragonCon as an extreme multi-sensory experience, but as I stood corrected, it hit me right then that I needed to reevaluate new meanings for the “Con”. I was brought to the fundamental question – what is the science that makes the science fiction fantasy worlds possible?

Over the years, DragonCon has always been defined as a fantasy getaway, to experience panel discussions with actors, writers, special effects directors, costumers and any other groups that supports the production of Sci-Fi based stories and games. Let’s not forget the dynamic costumes and cosplay, but that is a topic covered in a write-up by itself. In evaluating all of this, I realized I needed to find the Science and theories of Quantum Physics and Multiverses that set the premises of Science Fiction.

Stephanie OsbornAnybody who has been to DragonCon will tell you, with the hundreds of panels and discussions it’s a bit of a daunting task to identify the sessions to participate. Although sessions are all categorized by track, each session may only be linked to a single track; attempting to create a schedule across multiple tracks is enough to make anybody lose their patience, if not their mind. That said, it is possible to create your own theme to follow with significant tenacity, mine being Quantum Physics and Time Travel. The actuality of the situation was I had to jump from the Science Track to the  Space Track, to the Alternate History Track, and back to the Science Track to find the sessions to get my answers. As I began attending these sessions, I soon became aware that when talking about Time Travel and Quantum Physics, EVERYTHING is theoretical. Nothing is ever stated as fact, as research inference can change day to day, as new research results are uncovered. Even the simple concepts taken for granted, such as gravity, the speed of light, etc., will be phrased in terms of theories.

My first stop, the panel discussion Practical Time Travel. It was a perfect introduction to the topics of Time Travel and Multiverses, Wormholes and Blackholes. The conversation of the session was based on not only parallel universes, but also universes that have up to 12 dimensions. A three dimensional model is represented by the variables X, Y, Z and T (time.) In a nutshell, we as humans, don’t have the overt senses to innately relate to more than the three dimensions. With the limitations of the human body, we must go beyond base comprehension and imagination of what the human body can sense and interpret. Additional panels and discussions focused on this point providing richer insight to theorems and philosophies.

McKinnonStephanie Osborn, a former NASA Scientist and a current Novelist, brought to the discussion a series of slides outlining many scientific explanations of popular theories. She touched upon the Higgs boson (the God Particle) research in modeling our universe, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in defining changes in time measurement in relation to space, Lorentzian Manifolds (wormholes) and Tipler Cylinders as possible theories of time travel models and multiverse theories of Cosmic String and M-Theory to describe theories of time traversing to specified destinations. Osborne is a renowned writer who applies her advanced training in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics to create a series of Cosmological Mysteries. Her uncanny ability to explain the models of time travel possibilities, based on actual NASA scientific research and accepted hypotheses, gave a true sense of validation, as she strives to do in all of her writing.

Also in the panel was Nicole Gugliucci, PhD, who enlightened the crowd with theories related to the Universe’s cosmic existence and evolution since its Big Bang origin. Gugliucci focuses her research on low radio frequencies emitted from our galaxy and galaxies beyond. Focused on the hypothesis that low frequency radio telescopes can identify hydrogen from the early universe, the interpretation of this data used to derive further theories for research. She contributed significantly to the conversation, specifically when discussing quasars and black holes.

GugliucciIn her later panel, Chasing the Signal: Secrets of the First Galaxies, Gugliucci explained the utilization of an array of up to 32 low frequency radio telescope strategically plotted in proximity to each other (low farms), allowing her and her research team to gather data and create colorful models of the universe, based on the existence Hydrogen atoms. All of this mind bending data feeds into her understanding of Intense Universe Inflation and the belief that the universe holds many secrets, with many more discoveries to be made.

Tying this multitude of scientific theories together was the woman who claims to have a Masters in Disasters, Mika McKinnon. McKinnon has educational training in Physics and Geological Physics, McKinnon is a renowned Science Consultant to many movies and television series, as well as respected writer for space.i09.com and Physics Today. In addition to participating in the panel of Practical Time Travel,  she was a panelist in Science is Stranger than Fiction (Science Track) and The Best News that Wasn’t (Space Track.)

Matthew P. LowryHer dynamic energy, no pun intended, set a precedent of excitement in explaining the possibilities of Physics, Cosmology, and Time Travel, while presenting hard scientific data in an everyday conversational style. McKinnon has served as a consultant to Stargate and numerous other series, pilots and big screen endeavors, yet still put forth a playful, though cerebral explanation of Time and Physics Theories. Her favorite theory seemed to be about time travel and cloning from one time orientation to another. In another theory she explained time travel as speeding through space — first eluded to in Einstein’s theory of relativity, Time Dilation — in essence, racing through time to get to the future. Like all the panelists, McKinnon expressed uncertainty about traveling to the past, agreeing that while mathematically possible, there are as yet no universally accepted theories of how to do it.

I had the opportunity to sit down with McKinnon and get her thoughts on the definition of Time, Time Travel and Multiverses. Look out for the video interview, where she goes into an everyday description of these theories, coming soon to the Target Audience Magazine site.

Annalee NewitzAs if all this were not mind blowing enough, there was the presentation Staring into the Multiverse, given by Matthew P. Lowry, the Skeptical Physics Professor. An explanation of advanced telescopes and spectra lines (color waves) in support of the Big Bang, Quantum Foam and Intense Universe Inflation began the conversation, with the real fun still to come. It all became much more enriching when Lowry began dabbling in the theories of Multiverses, and specifically Tegmark’s four level theory of Multiverses. The basic premise of the theory — which is mathematically supported– is that multiple universes exist and that new universes are created with every decision and all possible outcomes. The best example of this theory would be paradoxical question of Schrödinger’s cat. A cat is in a closed box. There is an equal chance the cat has been poisoned within the box, based on chance circumstances. To all outside the closed box, the cat is in both a state of living and a state of being dead. Tegmark claimed two independent universes would exist for each state of the cat. Could you imagine if a person had a choice of 17 hair products to use in the morning, and the mathematical possibilities of all 17? I make this statement in jest to exemplify the enormity of the theory, where mathematical reasoning often leads to philosophical reasoning in our struggle to conceptualize the mind blowing rationale of the dimensions we don’t see, the universes that may or may not exist and the application to our own lives.

Todd Roberts (Hampson)With all of this stated, Physics, along with the study of Life, Astronomical, Chemical and Earth Sciences, provides infinite possibilities of existence based on mathematical probabilities and modeling. Quantum Physics takes these disciplines further, creating possible alternate universes and new realities that are the makings of incredible fantasy world for games, movies and many other story telling media. The measurement of time is a constant discussion in the world of Theoretical Physics, and is inseparable from the definition of Spatial Dimension, a term of questionable accuracy given the dimension may be based on plane that is not spatial at all. I would not be surprised if Quantum Physicists derives a dimension that we will never see or feel. (Maybe the concept of dark energy falls into this category?)

With recent advancements of CERN and recent discoveries regarding Particle Acceleration, there are so many more possibilities realized within our universe. Who is to say that all of these fantasy worlds are actually fantasy? Will we someday be able to clone ourselves to different points of time, or maybe traverse through a wormhole to get to another century? Not only do these questions fuel the creativity of the Science Fiction supporting DragonCon, they open the doors of understanding the universe potential while giving insight to the Human Race.

 

The following are DragonCon Panel Discussions, with participating panelists, referenced in this article:

 

Practical Time Travel – Alternate History

Dr. Nicole Gugliucci

Mika McKinnon

Stephanie Osborn

Harry Turtledove

Dr. Scott Vigué

 

The Myth and Realities of Steam Power – Alternate History

Jonathan Strickland

Dr. Scott Vigué

 

Chasing the Signal: Secrets of the First Galaxies – Science

Dr. Nicole Gugliucci

 

Science is Stranger than Fiction – Science

Mika McKinnon

Annalee Newitz

Tedd Roberts

David Shiffman

Ariel Waldman

 

Staring into the Multiverse – Science

Matthew P Lowry – Physics Instructor

 

The Best News that Wasn’t – Space

Mika McKinnon

Roy Kilgard

 

Creating Great Science Non-Fiction – Science

Fraser Cain

Liz Heinecke

Lee Johnson

Annalee Newitz

 

Cary Elwes talks “The Princess Bride” at Dragon Con 2014

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Cary Elwes

Cary Elwes, best known to his fans as Westley in the 80’s cult classic The Princess Bride, sat down at a press conference at Dragon Con to discuss his new book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, to be released on October 14. The book, a compilation of behind-the-scenes stories, photos and interviews from the classic movie is Elwes’s first foray into writing. Target Audience Magazine was there as he reminisced about the making of the beloved movie and gave insight into the new book.

Can you share any stories about your cast mates?

Sure, sure. There are so many stories, this is why I wanted to write the book. My first day of shooting was the fire swamp with Robin. I called Rob (Reiner) the night before because I was nervous. I was 23 and this was my first big movie. So I called him and asked him what to expect and he said (imitating Rob) “Aw, it’s an easy day. You’re going to rescue Robin from a big burst of flame and then you’re going to jump into quicksand and then you’re going to wrestle a couple of guys dressed as rats, no big deal.” And I said, “That’s no big deal?”

So we get to the set and first up is rescuing Robin from the flame spurt. So we had a big safety meeting and long story short, they told us where to stand, where not to stand, etc. They tell me, “So you’re going to grab her and move away from the flame, then we’re going to douse her with a fire extinguisher. So the stuntmen go in and do it first and we watch them. Bill Goldman missed all of this, he was on a phone call or something, but he walks back in the middle of the take and as I’m grabbing Robin, this huge burst of flame comes out of the ground and I hear, (imitating Bill) “Oh my God, she’s on fire!” and Rob goes, “Cut, cut.” And he turns to Bill and he goes, “What’s going on?” Bill says, “You’re setting fire to the leading lady on the first day, what are you, nuts?” And Rob says, “Bill, you wrote this. It’s in the script, it’s in every single draft of the script. This is where he saves her from the fire swamp. And Bill says, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I forgot.”

He had completely forgotten. And of course, seeing this huge burst of flame, he thinks there’s been an accident and that Robin’s dress wasn’t supposed to catch on fire. This was my first day, my first scene and this is how it all started. So there are plenty more stories like that in the book.

Did you ever think when you were making the film that it would become the classic that it is now?

You know, you never know when you’re working on a movie if it’s going to be successful. You hope, of course. No one ever sets out to make a bad movie, you always want the film to be successful. But as Bill Goldman says in his book, and I urge you to read it if you haven’t, “Nobody in Hollywood knows anything about making hit movies, because if they did they would make them all the time and we’d all be producers.” He said he knew this movie was strange, he called it an oddball film. We all knew we were making something fun and we had a great time doing it. So, of course we were disappointed when the film opened and didn’t do the business we had hoped. Fox marketing department, they were great guys, but they had no clue how to market this film. Was it a comedy, was it action, was it an adventure, was it a fantasy, was it a kid’s movie, an adult movie, what was it?

So the one thing they came up with was the grandfather, Peter Faulk, reading to Fred Savage from the rocking chair. And it didn’t really sell the movie, because there was no Westley, no Buttercup, no Rodents of Unusual Size. Little boys thought it was a girl’s movie because of the title and adults thought it was a kid’s movie, so nobody really went to see it. It wasn’t until the VHS market took off that people started buying and renting it, lending it to friends, giving it as gifts at holidays.

I remember, almost ten years later, I was at a restaurant and a waitress asked me how I wanted my meat cooked and I said medium rare and she said, “As you wish.” That came as a wonderful surprise for all of us. I think that a film that was “mostly dead” was suddenly brought back to life.

The book comes with a poster by Shepherd Fairy. Were you involved in the direction of the poster?

I never tell Shepherd what to do (laughs). He’s too talented for that. I pitched the idea to him and he loved it. I thought it was a natural fit, considering his work and he graciously accepted right away and came up with this fabulous poster that is now part of the book. Actually in the hardcover version, if you take the cover off the book, inside is Shepherd’s poster, which is very cool. I don’t believe that’s been done before. It makes it a very wonderful and unique limited edition.

It’s been rumored that your Fat Albert impression got you the part of Westley. Can we hear it?

(Laughs) How do you know about that already? It was weird. I grew up in England, as you know but I had an American stepfather who took us on vacation to the States as a kid and I became fascinated with American television, The Jeffersons, All in the Family, Mork and Mindy, these shows were a huge influence on me. So when I met Rob (Reiner) not only had I seen Spinal Tap, but I already knew him as Meathead, you know? He couldn’t believe that I knew about SNL or The Jeffersons. Somehow Bill Cosby and Fat Albert came up and I just went “Hey, hey hey!” and Rob just burst out laughing and said that was the tipping point for him and he knew I was the right guy because I had a sense of humor. And I’m glad he did, I’m glad I did it.

Were there any improvised moments or things that happened that weren’t in the original script?

Yes, again on the first day, the second sequence of the fire swamp scene when I was rescuing Robin from the quicksand. The way it was set up was very clever. They had a trapdoor that they filled with sand and they had a trapdoor that they were holding up by hand literally underneath with latex foam and a piece of plywood. So Robin’s stunt woman went in and Andy, my stunt double, went in after her. We were watching the playback and I remember thinking that it didn’t look very dashing for Andy to hold his nose while going into the sand, but he had to in order to keep sand out of his nose. And Rob said, “Eh, it’s all right, that’s what we’re going to do.”And I said, “Please just let me talk to the stunt guy so I can see if we can do something different.” So I go over and I talk to Andy and in the next take, he just stuck the sword in the ground and just dove into the sand, didn’t hold his nose or anything and Rob jumps up and says, “That’s great!”

Then the special effects team came up and said, “Mr. Reiner, just wanted to say, this was not built for that purpose. Someone could break his neck and that might slow down production a little. And I don’t recommend we do it twice.” And Rob went, “Cary, I don’t know what to tell you, they said it’s too dangerous, we still have a lot of shooting.” And I said, “Just let me try one.” And he was petrified, obviously, because if I injured myself, that was it.

Andy took me aside and said “So here’s what you do. You have to time it correctly.” So I went in and did it once and that’s the take that’s in the movie.

There was a lot of playing around like that. Of course, Billy Crystal had the most improvisational moments. I think he would deliberately try to make me laugh. In the scene where he’s supposed to be pushing air out of my body he started tickling me, he was really messing with me. We were both banned from the set because we were ruining the takes. You can Google outtakes and you’ll hear the entire crew laughing.

This is your first book. Do you see a future in writing or will this be a one-time thing?

That will be up to the book sales (laughs).

You said you read the book when you were a kid. When you were filming, did you feel a sense of ownership over your character?

Ownership? I try not to own anything. I try to be open on three things when I’m on a set: listening, being present and being grateful. I just felt incredibly grateful when I got the part. I thought they made a mistake choosing me, honestly. I love the book and if you haven’t read it, please do. It is so great. There’s a reason why Bill is one of the greatest writers, he is truly phenomenal. It took me almost a year to get him to let me write this book, because this is his favorite book and movie and he was afraid that it might get messed up. He finally agreed and I wouldn’t be here if not for him. I’m standing on the shoulder of a giant.

Can you tell us how the reunion photo (for Entertainment Weekly) came to be?

That was the 25th anniversary and EW wanted to do a reunion shoot and it was beautiful, the way they set it up. It was nice to have everyone back together. It was the first time we’d all been in a room together. I mean, we still talk to each other just not all together like that. When we were all together again for the screening, that was great. Bill sat behind me and he hadn’t seen the movie since the first screening in 1987 and he couldn’t believe the audience knew every line and were cheering when characters came on screen. He was sitting behind me going, “Oh my God.” He couldn’t believe it. He came up to me afterward and he says, “Can you believe how much they love the movie?” And I said, “Bill, you wrote a classic. It’s a beautiful film.”

How long did you have to train to be able to do the stunt work?

I had two months to train. Mandy didn’t tell anyone but he had been training for two months prior to the start of filming. So when I showed up for the first rehearsal, he already knew how to fence left handed. He was very proficient at that point and was well ahead of me. We had Rob Anderson, who was an Olympic fencer and Peter Diamond, who was an amazing fencer and stuntman. Sadly they have both passed on now. They taught us so much.

Westley is your most iconic role, is it also your favorite?

Definitely my favorite. I call it the gift that keeps on giving because I still meet grandparents with their grandkids and even today people have old VHS tapes that they’ve passed on through generations. It’s amazing, you can’t wrap your head around it. It’s just one of those phenomenal things. I feel very blessed.