Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

The Joy of Sackhoff (a very special "Battlestar at the Bagdad")

The penultimate Battlestar Galactica on Friday night gave its viewers a sadly creaking starship, confirmation (maybe) of just what the heck happened to Starbuck on Earth, flashbacks (preparing us for the prequel? Perhaps) showing how life sucked for several characters before the Cylons nuked all those planets, and the promise that next Friday’s 2-hour finale will take place in an asteroid field and may literally be “Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies.” It’s that brutal of a show, as we viewers know. And the penultimate Battlestar screening at McMenamins Bagdad gave several hundred of us the geek-contact high of meeting and listening to Katee Sackhoff, who’s played Starbuck. How many of us geeks have a crush on Sackhoff? Probably most everybody in the Bagdad that night.

Friday night kept threatening to run off the rails, and that it didn't and was in fact a pretty successful night – especially once Sackhoff and Company arrived – was a relief. That said, many people couldn’t make it in, and KUFO DJs Cort and Fatboy, the hosts for all this madness, have been apologizing for that. There will be an official video of Sackhoff’s talk, to show it actually happened.

I was at the Bagdad from 5:30 to past midnight; others were there even longer. I spent a lot of time at the event’s edges and corners – having dinner with friends and acquaintances at the edge of the main pub, floating around and seeing who from the radio station had arrived, running a quick errand to put books back in my car – and only sporadically saw the crowd. Except at 6, when I took a take-out box of the pub's Cajunized tater tots and passed the tots out to people in the line. That line was already one-and-a-half blocks long: down the block of SE 37th to that short bit of SE Clay, and past the eastern edge of the theater building and in front of a few houses. It was a relatively quiet crowd, too – lots of people using computers, listening to iPods, reading, or socializing in small groups – and it got quieter as I neared the end. I was speaking more softly back there as I asked people if they wanted tots.

(In case anyone in line during the tot delivery was confused, I AM NOT FATBOY. He and Cort were still on-air at that time (that’s the link to their Friday show); they got to the Bagdad around 7:30, and stationed themselves at the bar trying to get centered. So what I did was an Unofficial Passing of the Tots; Fatboy gets to do the Ceremonial Passing of the Tots. That’s his thing. His bailiwick. His little red wagon. I just helped, like I’ve done before.)

The event kept threatening to go nuts because there were JUST SO MANY PEOPLE, and everyone behind-the-scenes knew the chance was high that a good number of people would get turned away. Complicating things was a stand-up comedy show at 7:00 in the theater, and some (lots of?) people bought tickets to that so they could get in early and save seats for the showing. I wonder if there was a strange vibe during the stand-up show: so many in the audience weren't there for the comics! After the stand-ups, the Bagdad staffers cleared out three rows for the radio show people, their guests, and Sackhoff's family and friends. (I wonder if it would’ve been better to block off those rows before even the comedy show, but I don’t know how to run events like these, so I don’t know if that would’ve been feasible. Easy for me to say They should have fewer seats to sell tickets for! You can see the problem.) To their credit, Bagdad staffers later let some (how many?) of the overflow people into the Bagdad’s Backstage Café, so they could watch the episode on a big-screen plasma. As for me, I started to worry that the entire audience in the stand-up show was waiting for Battlestar, which would’ve meant that even more waiting people would’ve been screwed. I was honestly relieved when, around 8:30 p.m., plenty of people did file out of the theater after the comedy.

Then, in the main theater, things went as they have on past Fridays, just more so: loud settling-in and socializing while the SciFi Channel played reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Moonlight (which I gave a new name: Fang Angst!). People were especially protective of their seats. Theater employees walked the concessions line asking people if they already had seats inside, since if they didn’t yet they likely wouldn’t get them by the time they’d bought their food and beer.

Less than 15 minutes before Battlestar would start, I was still bouncing around the theater in my caffeinated way. I headed out to do one more pre-show errand, and got back to the lobby to see a knot of people and Cort and Fatboy addressing them. I saw it wrong: my first thought was Crap, these are people trying to get in who can’t. Wrong: it was Katee Sackhoff’s group of family and friends, and what looked like fractiousness was, I guess, excitement. But thinking it was a brewing melee, I ducked through another door into the theater and walked past a table to my seat…just in time for her family and friends to finally make their way in, to thunderous applause and hooting. (I passed within five feet of Katee! I passed within five feet of Katee! Why not be enthusiastic? This was finally starting to become fun.)

Cort and Fatboy started speaking a few minutes earlier than normal – about 10 minutes before air instead of 5 – and pointed out Sackhoff in her row, introduced special guests (and now hosts of KUFO’s morning show) Rick Emerson, Sarah X. Dylan and Tim Riley, and told people to BEHAVE THEMSELVES. And we did. As with the other screenings, we’d shut up quickly when the show would come back from commercials, and the joyful geeky reverence emanated. There was lots of grinning, even with the drama onscreen.

Later the Backstage Café overflow viewers, and others who had waited, waited, waited, were carefully led into the theater for the Q&A with Sackhoff. That Q&A was Standing Room Only, and thank everything, EVERYONE was well-behaved: no shoving. People were kneeling in the middle aisles and lining the walls; several, including a woman fetchingly dressed in the BSG standard issue black-over-gray shirt combo, formed a line at the microphone. Questions would happen. And, for the most part, they were NOT DUMB and NOT ANAL-RETENTIVE questions. (“No three-part questions about ‘Hot Dog’ Costanza,” the DJs had warned us.)

The audience, no surprise, loved Sackhoff. She spoke for an hour. She gave a good talk: plenty of silly stuff, plenty of serious stuff, from sneaking a key part of her wardrobe off the set to her cancer scare, which required surgery; that cancer, thank goodness, had not spread past the thyroid. The silly stuff was because A) she's funny and B) she has ALMOST NO FILTER. (Really. In her previous radio interviews with Cort and Fatboy she's described a sex act.) Among the silliness: a woman reached the microphone and asked if she could use her “Human or Cylon?” iPhone app on Katee, a clever way around the DJs’ request not to ask for photos. That one time was allowed, because it really was a clever way to ask. Well done. (She was human! Well, Katee Sackhoff is. Are we sure yet about Starbuck? Really sure?) And local artist Dylan Meconis (LiveJournal’s quirkybird) gave Sackhoff a copy of her Starbuck portrait from her “Galactisimpsons” fan art. Earlier, Meconis had made sure the print had the corners trimmed off, BSG-style. One other way geeky focus was on display…

Come midnight, after Sackhoff posed with people from the radio station for a somewhat more controlled photo session than could’ve happened earlier, Cort and Fatboy made sure Sackhoff and her group got out with a minimum of fuss, and the audience left happy. And the DJs could start to RELAX; the day had been really stressful for them, and it showed. Some of us lingered well past midnight, talking and commiserating and boggling over what had just happened. We basked, which is odd to do on a cold night but it’s possible.

There’s one more week of this glorious madness: two more hours of Battlestar Galactica, which will air 9 to 11 next Friday. The Bagdad will open doors at 8:00 and, as Fatboy’s assured us, NOT have a stand-up comedy show beforehand. No Sackhoff that time – she’s back in L.A. hunting for whatever her next acting job will be – but it will be special in its own way.
Tags: bsg, portland, radio

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