To boldly go ... to Framingham: A trek to fan con Super Megafest

Super Megafest offers the relics of our escapist fantasies. Make it so.
By S.I. ROSENBAUM  |  January 5, 2011

SUPER 
SET TO STUN From former Monkee Peter Tork arm-wrestling WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas

The entire 20th century is crammed into a ballroom in the Sheraton hotel.

It's all here at Super Megafest: the Beatles in their Yellow Submarine, the Scarecrow and Mrs. King, the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A hundred years' worth of fevered nerdery. It's hard to take it all in. There's Han Solo's pistol! There's the Enterprise communicator! I fall to my knees in front of a tub of action figures, little effigies, and dig my hands through the cool plastic bodies.

These days, fandom has gone mainstream. Every movie producer has to show up to San Diego Comicon; it's not even embarrassing. And then there are celebrity-free cons, run by fans for fans — Boston alone has Arisia, held January 14 to 17, and Boskone, coming up next month.

Super Megafest is something different. Organized by a private company, it's a kind of merch orgy/B-list-celebrity petting zoo. Only here can you see Chewbacca, Big Bird, the guy who played that one rebel officer on Hoth, Marina Sirtis, some wrestlers, Christopher Lloyd, a guy who was in a movie once with Bruce Lee, Peter Tork, and the Playboy Playmate of the Year from 1982.

The 20th century, man. Every mask we ever wore. Every escape we ever made.

***

Batman is out front, leaning on the Batmobile. It looks like the model from the 1960s series; Batman is wearing a satin cape. He's kind of tired-looking, like he just got home from work and it wasn't a good day.

There's a guy next to him who's answering questions about the car, but Batman isn't looking up at all. What do you want from me?, his bent shoulders seem to ask. What do I want from him? This isn't Gotham City. This is a fucking Sheraton in Framingham.

***

Inside, the hotel is packed with people. Many of them are, like me, reasonably attractive, young, and okay-smelling. In addition, as at all cons like this, there's also a high proportion of people with severe facial disfigurements, neurological disorders, and regrettable haircuts.

I know there's no real difference between me and them, though. We're all here because at some point in our lives we needed a place to hide.

We inch down a long hallway, get tagged and ticketed, and spill into a ballroom full of . . . oh my God. It's full of merch. Big tables of merch. Shelves of it. Despite myself, I feel a tug toward certain objects — not the T-shirts or the action figures, but the artifacts on display: Scully's FBI badge. The TARDIS key. I feel like I've found this place where all these things are almost real. Almost within reach.

I float around for a while in a daze. For about half an hour it remains enchanting.

PHOTOS: Scenes from Super MegaFest, by Derek Kouyoumjian

But there's also something about Super Megafest that makes it harder to suspend disbelief, something that underscores the fakeness of these things. All these relics that once meant so much to us, these things that at one time or another saved our lives — it's all crap.

***

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