Saturday, March 17, 2012

Asheville Tattoo Fest

Time for a confession.

Today was the first time I've trooped in more than a year. If it weren't for the good graces of my Carolina Garrison CO, I'd be on the inactive list.

While my family and work are still the number one priorities in my life, trooping at the First Annual Asheville Tattoo Fest reminded me that I still immensely enjoy suiting up in the white armor to bring smiles to kids of all ages---even the ones with kids (or grandkids) of their own. You might wonder what a tattoo convention has to do with Star Wars, but you should know that Star Wars-themed skin art is a genre unto itself as demonstrated by books like Shane Turgeon's The Force in the Flesh. Either way, the organizers were thrilled to have Boba Fett (BH-4413), a Tusken Raider (DZ-6975) and a Stormtrooper (me) walking the floor and taking photos with the guests. They even offered us moonshine---but troopers don't drink on the job.

As I mentioned before, it had been a while since I attended a 501st appearance, but the reactions were the same as always. Awe from those who remember you from their childhood...

Excitement from those who can't wait to tweet about who they saw at the show...

Fear from those who aren't quite sure if you intend them harm...

And then there's the silent acknowledgement in passing from those who think they're a little too old to still love Star Wars. Quite a few of those. But as limited as my vision might be inside that Stormtrooper helmet, I saw you taking a picture of me from across the room. It's okay, bro, Star Wars is for everyone.

As far as highlights from this event, two moments stick out in my mind. One was when Mamie White of The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia stepped off the stage to take a photo with us. The other was when Boba Fett stumbled across a guy getting a tattoo of Boba Fett. Meta, dude.

A big thank you to my wife (DZ-4009) for acting as our handler and photographer for this event.

Some sage advice: Whether you run into troublesome kids who want to jump on your back or just a fan who needs you to take a photo with their camera, a handler is invaluable to any 501st appearance. Thanks to TK-7404 for getting us into the show! Keep on troopin'!