1999 Guests

Guests who joined us for our very first year.

Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest J. AckermanSF Historian and Collector

Forry Ackerman was as charming and fascinating to listen to as ever, doing many panels and readings, attending the Masquerade and making his presence felt at the convention. Forry will always be considered CONvergence’s FIRST guest of honor, just one of the countless firsts belonging to this legend of Sci-Fi.

Thirteen CONvergence members were drawn randomly at Opening Ceremonies from those who signed up, and these “Lucky 13” had the opportunity to sit down with Forry on Saturday morning for an intimate chat. The Lucky 13 were given autographed certificates as souvenirs of their special chat with Forry.

A legend of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the man who coined the term Sci-Fi: The one and only Forrest J Ackerman was our first CONvergence Guest of Honor.

Forry is a man of many firsts, including being the winner of the very first Hugo Award (and five more since!). Forry founded Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1958, which he would continue to write and edit for over 30 years. He has also written and edited countless Sci-Fi-related articles and books.

Forry is also the keeper of the largest collection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy memorabilia in the world. It fills his home, the world-famous Ackermansion.

Forry has called himself “A Sci-Fi sponge that should be squeezed for information and anecdotes for as long as I’m here.” We thank Forry for sharing himself with us, and letting us “squeeze him” a little.

Forry’s panels at CVG 1999 included:

  • From Scientifiction to Sci-Fi
  • Two Readings from “Letter to an Angel: The Lon Chaney Story”
  • I Remember Karlon Torgosi – Movie Monster Greats
  • Forry Ackerman’s Slide Show Presentation

Pam Keesey

Pam KeeseyAuthor of Vamps! and other fiction

Pam Keesey made for a great guest, hosting a variety of interesting panels and making her presence felt for the entire convention weekend.  We extend her our thanks and hope to see her at future conventions.

Pam Keesey is enjoying a growing reputation as an authority on women’s roles and themes in modern fiction. In 1998 Pam released Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale. This book traces the Vamp figure from silent film to modern movies such as The Hunger and even Basic Instinct.

Pam’s panels at CVG 1999 included:

  • Does This Lipstick Go With This Lightsaber?
  • Taken in Vein
  • Pulpy Goodness or Fortified Literature?
  • Publish or Perish
  • Queer Imagery in SF/Fantasy

Pam also participated in the following panels at Krushenko’s:

  • Monster Culture
  • The Works of Pam Keesey

Harry Knowles

Harry Knowles

“The surest way to make this (convention) five days is to not take this mike away from me.”
– Harry Knowles (2001)
“I look forward to just kicking back and getting wildly intoxicated and geeky with a ton of intoxicatingly geeky geeks.”
– Harry Knowles (2005)


Harry Jay Knowles is an online film critic known for his movie news and review website, Ain’t It Cool News.

Harry was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Helen Jane and Jarrell Jay Knowles. His early years were spent traveling the Southwest and Mexico with his parents who did light shows for touring rock bands. His parents then settled in Austin and began trading comic books and movie memorabilia from the upstairs floor of their Victorian era house. Harry’s parents also produced the Austin Fantasy Film Fest in 1976, one of the first science fiction conventions in Austin. Harry spent many hours watching B-grade horror movies as well as other genres from mostly bootlegged 16 mm prints.

In 1994, Harry fell while pushing a cart up a ramp at a convention, and was subsequently run over by the cart with its 1200 pound load of memorabilia. The accident injured his back and left him virtually bedridden. With money from his mother’s life insurance, he purchased a top-of-the-line computer and a friend arranged for Internet service allegedly so they could play Doom online together. After teaching himself how to navigate the Internet, Harry began frequenting newsgroups to exchange gossip and rumors with other fans about upcoming films.

After being chastised by future film critic Mike D’Angelo for posting binary image files to the newsgroups, Knowles launched the website that would become Ain’t It Cool News in February 1996. A principal offering was Harry’s colorful movie reviews, but the secret weapon was the insider news from a network of “spies” inside the entertainment industry. These spies were initially a fabrication to give Ain’t It Cool News’ content some flair, but later the site would attract genuine sources who wanted to retain their anonymity and so took on spy pseudonyms.

Due to the popularity, or perhaps the notoriety, of the website, Harry was sought out by the mainstream media, including magazines, newspapers, and television news programs. In 2000, he was ranked #95 in the Forbes Power List. This is in recognition of the influential power of his website. Due to his unorthodox style of journalism, Quentin Tarantino referred to Harry as “the Wolf Blitzer of the Internet.” Harry has made guest appearances on the television shows Siskel & Ebert at the Movies and Politically Incorrect.

On March 15, 2003, Knowles’s was impersonated by Horatio Sanz in a sketch on Saturday Night Live, wherein he was referred to as “that chubby guy from Ain’t It Cool News.” Knowles feigned offense on his website at being called “chubby.” “I’m morbidly obese,” he quipped on his site, “and I’ve worked hard to get there!”.

Every year since 1999, on the weekend closest to his birthday (December 11th), Harry Knowles hosts an event called the Butt-numb-a-thon; a 24-hour film festival featuring un-official premieres, and vintage films. Additionally, Harry co-programs Austin’s Fantastic Fest, an eight-day film festival focusing on the genres of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Both events are held at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin.

Harry married Patricia Jones on July 15, 2007 at Green Pastures in Austin.

Visit Harry on line at http://www.aintitcool.com.

Harry Knowles 1999 BadgeHarry Knowles 2001 BadgeHarry Knowles 2005 Badge

Jay Knowles

Jay and Harry KnowlesFather of Harry Knowles and Contributer to AintItCoolNews.com

From Jay “Father Geek” Knowles myspace.com page:Who is Father Geek (aka J. Jay) who is to play your host on this page, this labyrinth of pixals, paper and plastic; brass, tin and heavy metal; ink, toner and paint that will overflow this electronic page over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years. Well, I was born into a middle class family of 4th generation Texans 8 months before we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. My father was an officer in the Army Air Corp and I spent most of my first 2 years in the backseat of a cream colored 1940 Chevy traveling the great American west from one air base to another.

At age 3 we set down roots in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, The Majestic Theatre and the Buckhorn Saloon, the headquarters of the 4th & 5th Army and the “West Point of the Air”. I led that storybook, 1950’s TV family life, joined Boy Scouts and earned my Eagle with a bronze palm. I played every inning of every game thru 4 years of Little League baseball. My mother was president of the PTA and I made pretty good grades. I played in the band from 6th to 12th grade and drove a 4 door turquoise 58 Chevy my senior year.

I was the 1st of my friends to have a TV (B&W, 13″) in his bedroom (1951), and I went to alot of movies in SA’s giant single screen film palaces and at the many drive-ins around town in the days of 50 cent admissions, 5 cent bus rides, candy bars and cokes, & 10 cent hot-dogs and hamburgers. I earned my spending money by charging 50 cents an hour to do yardwork, plus 5 cents a turd to cleanup after the hundreds of dogs that freely roamed the streets. Later as a teen I opened a bicyle custom shop with a friend in his parents garage. Basically we’d take off the kickstand, chain-guard & fenders, raise the seat, turn the handlebars upside down and collect $15.00, plus keep all the parts. For another 10 bucks we’d add a paint job. No store bought bikes back then had the now common “off road look”, buuuut that’s what all the guys wanted, sooo we did a brisk business.

In 1965 I enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin and it’s been my home ever since. I had vague, but fleeting, thoughts of becoming a lawyer and I was a member of UT’s varsity debate and public speaking teams. Like most of my generation I was politically active. In Texas at that time the power had rested with the Democrats since reconstruction so the revolutionary thing to do was be a Republican. I joined their youth wing. I majored in Speech & Sociology, then Advertising. I became a professional political underling, working for candidates and in the PR dept. at Republican State Headquarters on the 7th floor of the Littlefield Building at 6th and Congress here in Austin. I was on Nixon’s staff at the 68 convention in Miami. My future wife (1860’s North Texas ranching family) was the social chairman of the political club that I was the PR man for. We started to hangout, and watch movies together. We enrolled at the UT Film school and our politics started to shift to the left.

In 1969 we formed a high-octane, mind-numbing lightshow performance company (complete with pyro effects & 20+ projectors)called “Mind’s I”, working with all the pop rockers of the day (did 40+ shows with a little ol’ band from Texas,ZZ TOP), and shooting some commercials & short musical films in 16mm for clubs around the state (way before MTV). We began collecting posters (movie & rock) & comicbooks as we traveled throughout the southern USA. Did alot of the big classic “POP FESTIVALS” from the west coast to the East.

Our Son arrived at the end of 1971 and we opened a pop culture collectibles store (N. E. Mercantile Co. Inc.) based out of Austin. We crisscrossed the country doing festivals and collector shows 25 or 30 times a year until he started public school in 2nd grade, we had begun to collect movies, cartoons, and trailers on 16mm. I bought a VCR in August of 1976. We started sculpting bronzes and setting up at “Rennie faires”, (“Leather Phantasies & Heavy Metal Realities”)and a sister came on the scene in 1981.

In 1984 we divorced after 18 years together. She got the kids. I got depressed. Life goes on and by the Spring of 1989 I had pulled myself together and my son moved in with me. We re-entered the collectibles marketplace as “Jay’s 20th Century Esoterica”. Then in 1992 my Ex died in a tragic firestorm out on the North Texas plains at Lake Kemp and I suddenly had both my kids back. What is it that Goldblum says in that big dino flick? Oh yeah, “Life finds a way.”After aintitcoolnews.com took off in the late Fall of 96 I decided to never SELL another part of our pop culture collections, no matter how high the offer, not because I’m rich (I’m far from it), but because I’d much rather have my HULK 1, or KISS ME DEADLY poster than a shoebox full of money which is much more common and far easier to come by.

Well, that’s a peek at the primal ooze that formed the bio-hard-drive that is to be your host on this page as we journey together thru the refuge of the 20th century popular culture mirror that it has been my pleasure to archive all these years.

Jay Knowles 2001 BadgeJay Knowles 2005 Badge

Gordon Purcell

Gordon PurcellComic book artist

Gordon was a trooper in a year when we were trying to figure out how to fit comics programming into the structure of our con. Always a treat to listen to, we were very happy to have Gordon Purcell as a part of CONvergence.

Comic book penciller Gordon Purcell has a long list of credits to his name, and has found particular success in the area of comics licensed from movies and TV. His work includes Star Trek, X-Files, Xena, Lost in Space, Godzilla, Young Indiana Jones, Barb Wire, Terminator, and others, plus illustrations for Star Trek young people’s novels from Pocket Books and Star Trek coloring books. Gordon has also pencilled traditional super hero fare for DC, Marvel and Image Comics.

Gordon’s panels at CVG 1999 included:

  • The Insane World of Comics
  • Giving Birth to a Star Trek Comic Book
  • How I Stopped Worrying About the Bomb
  • Xena, X-Files & Star Trek: The Comics
  • Spandex vs. The Suit (or Superhero vs. Non-Superhero Comics)

Gary Russel

Gary RussellProducer of the Doctor Who audio series

Doctor Who writer/producer Gary Russell spent much of his weekend outside of panels in the Minnesota Dr. Who Viewing Society’s (MNDWVS) poolside cabana, joining in their Men Behaving Badly party. He spent part of Saturday night playing guest DJ at the party, spinning many ’80’s favorites.

Gary Russell is a writer and editor who has enjoyed a long association with all things Doctor Who. His and partner Jason Haigh-Ellery’s Big Finish Productions has been granted the license to produce original audio adventures of Doctor Who. Stephen Cole, consulting editor of the BBC Doctor Who books, acts as Executive Producer for the audio series, which is considered party of official Doctor Who canon by the BBC.

Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy all co-starred (as the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors, respecively) in the first release in this new series: The Sirens of Time by Nicholas Briggs. Each have gone on to record additional solo adventures, paired with companions from the original TV series.

In addition to his work as producer on the Doctor Who Audio Adventures, Gary Russell is also the author of several Doctor Who novels, a contributor to the Short Trips anthologies, and writer of the novelization of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie shown in America on the Fox Network.  He has been the editor of Doctor Who Magazine, and produced 20 issues of his fanzine Shada from 1979 to 1995.

For more information on Gary Russell, Big Finish Productions, and the Doctor Who Audio Adventures, check out the Big Finish Web Site.

Gary’s panels at CVG 1999 included:

  • Doctor Who in Print
  • Lights, Camera, Novelization
  • Doctor Who in Black & White
  • How TV Shows are Made
  • Doctor Who Audio Plays
Connie reclining