Ed. Note: We are pretty excited to welcome Mayim Bialik as a special Comic-Con correspondent. She became a part of your upbringing as a tiny stylish genius named Blossom, and now brings her signature quirk the brainy Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. Mayim is also a wife and mother of two boys, and blogs regularly about her experiences over at Kveller.com, and has a book coming out next year. Oh, she also has a PHD IN NEUROSCIENCE. We are honored to call her a “special correspondent.” (It’s OK if we call you that, right? Great.) — MC
I don’t just play a geek on TV; I am one.
I was raised on comic-books, Star Wars, and being “different.” That’s the phrase all parents have to use when they see that their kid is weird. As an adult, this geekiness has only multiplied exponentially as I have developed a love for graphic novels and adult comic books, science fiction, Elvis Costello, esoteric philosophy, and neuroscience.
I have 2 young sons. They are geeks, too. I can tell already. It happens.
Here’s a few thoughts on my first Comic-Con Experience: By The Numbers.
12: Time (AM) people started lining up for our 12.30 PM panel. Every year, The Big Bang Theory panel gets bigger and bigger and this year was no exception. A friend of mine got on line at 7 am and there were 4000 people AFTER her in line. Because they’re all waiting for a seat in the main ballroom, many people just wait in line for earlier panels and then stay in their seats for hours until it is time for the Big Bang panel to start. Now that’s dedication.
4500: Approximate number of people who came to The Big Bang Theory panel discussion. I always get nervous before performing, and waiting backstage before our panel, my heart was going a mile a minute. I had no idea what to expect. It never occurred to me to watch previous years’ panels before attending and participating in one myself! I walked out and saw an ocean of people and a lot of bright lights – think baseball stadium lights. What shocked me once I took my seat was how quiet and respectful the crowd was during the questions and answers. Not that I expected a rowdy aggressive lot, but they hung on our every word and really seemed riveted. One question from the audience came from a soldier just back from Iraq who thanked us for helping get them through being stationed. Another audience member thanked our producers for making Sheldon’s quirks not a diagnosis, but simply who he is.
I got asked a bunch of questions from the audience, and The best part of the panel for me was when an audience member asked what’s up with all of my character’s sexual innuendos and interests. I had no answer for this, and Chuck Lorre took the mic and said in a deep sort of voice, “Mayim is a very sexual actress.” We all cracked up… He wasn’t done: “She is a dirty, dirty girl”…!
I love interacting with Jim Parsons and we got to be so playful at the panel. Someone remarked that I was leaning against him and we looked so cozy. I feel so close to Jim; I saw him in “The Normal Heart” this summer in New York which was absolutely beyond moving.
1: Number of guests I could have visit me backstage before the panel. Security is tight backstage at Comic-Con. I wasn’t sure I could even get to see my friends who came, much less get them into the panel. I had to ‘trade’ my publicist to allow in my guest! The publicist waited outside in the hallway until we got her a spare pass to let her come back in. This friend of mine is a huge Big Bang fan, and I think she could not believe she was walking into our lunch break room, all of us just hanging out and having our chips and sandwiches. She handled it well; she didn’t freak out and snap any pictures; she took it all in and I think it made her weekend.
3: Number of The Big Bang Theory posters I stole after our final autograph signing; I couldn’t resist. The poster depicted the cast as superheroes. The autograph signings were truly frantic. We were escorted from backstage entries onto the convention hall floor and areas were roped off so we could walk through. Once at the signings, people passed by us very quickly. I saw some really cool Big Bang T-shirts and we also got to see some pretty awesome costumes, including what I think was a She-Hulk and her Spiderman boyfriend (he was in a full spandex suit) and a really tall tattooed pierced young woman in an Ewok-inspired bikini. She wore an “I Love Nerd Girls” button. Go figure. I’m a nerd girl but I for sure never looked that. Vavoom!
2: Number of printed-off-the-web photos a renegade fan risked his life to have signed by us despite security repeatedly shouting at him: “No personal items sir!” The look on this fan’s face was amazing: it conveyed the following: “I don’t care if they take me down with a bullet to the head; I am going to get these pictures through this line or die trying!” It’s really neat to meet fans of the show up close and personal. Some people were super shy and barely spoke to us, and others were very chit-chatty and asked to take pictures with us while talking the whole time. (Those people might also have been on a lot of uppers, I don’t know.)
45: Number of minutes it took for us to travel 3 blocks from the Convention Center to the Hard Rock Hotel for a photo shoot. The traffic was insane. I am sort of glad I didn’t opt to stay down there because it was impossible to get anywhere! In addition, because we are all so recognizable, it was hard to walk anywhere without kind of a scene. Even trips to the bathroom had us escorted by security with the entrances roped off so we could pee in peace! A few friends of mine who came in from Florida for Comic-Con met me at the Hard Rock just to say hi, and we quickly realized that the only place we could talk was in a hallway near the bathrooms; literally every square inch of space in San Diego seemed to be teeming with people looking for celebrities.
24: Number of Starburst candies eaten on the TV Guide yacht where we had a photo shoot; it was the only vegan-friendly candy available. The photo shoots were the most surreal part of the day for me personally. I am a second generation American Jewish funny-looking kid who grew up in Hollywood. How did I get here?! Jim and I took some awesome pictures together, and Melissa Rauch and I posed back to back like Blossom and Six just for fun. She said if anyone told her when she was a teenager that she’d one day take pictures with Blossom, she never would have believed it.
1: Number of cast members from The Big Bang Theory who honestly wished they could walk around all the booths and geek out with their people. Yes. That one person would be me. I love comic book shops. I love Japanese anime stores. I love T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and stickers with characters on them. I love browsing graphic novels and adult comic books, and I love anything retro superhero. I love X-Men and I am extremely and maybe inappropriately excited about Cowboys and Aliens. I love it all and Comic-Con looked like miles and miles of comic book stores all tucked into cute little booths! I was experiencing some serious longing to roam around. But I didn’t want to make a security request to do it and I didn’t have a mask with me. Also, my red converse were pretty recognizable. Note for next year: Bring mask and change of shoes.
2: Number of times the entire Big Bang Theory cast traveled in a giant grimy freight elevator in the bowels of the San Diego Convention Center, packed in like sardines with our various managers, publicists, and security chaperones. There’s something about working with my cast mates on the Warner Brothers lot that seems very ‘right.’ By that I mean, we all drive up in our cars (some fancier than others, and all fancier than my Volvo) and we work together at making our characters come to life. Sometimes we see each other at publicity events, and we are all appropriately gussied up. But to see my cast mates in freight elevators and in the loading docks of the convention center was so incongruous… They seemed like ‘real’ people, not the famous actors I often think of them as.
3: Number of comic book-themed buttons on my denim jacket: Justice League, Fantastic 4 and Dr. Jean Grey. Yes, I brought them from home. I wanted to look like “myself” at Comic-Con, but “myself” when I am not working usually consists of black T-shirts with denim skirts or black skirts. I had to step it up a notch, obviously.
7: Time of night our after-party hosts thought it appropriate to have naked dancing women at. The sun was still up, which in my book means it’s too early for wearing not much more than a triangle of fabric over your nethers attached by a string and copious amounts of body paint. There were also butterfly/fairy(?!) wings involved. As a modest woman, this was a bit shocking. And as a woman who proudly hails from a religious tradition that is often criticized for supposedly oppressing women, I have to tell you that these naked dancers seemed more put upon by their jobs dancing than most “oppressed” religious women are. Did I mention two of them were dancing in cages? Yes, cages. And no, there was no 1980s metal band video being filmed. Cages! I wanted to break open those bars and set those women free by letting them fly away. Alas, their wings were not real.
100: Percent of emails from my cast mates with my exact same sentiments: We had a blast at Comic-Con 2011. It felt like a giant morale-building exercise: Squeezed together in small quarters, up against thousands of people who all want a piece of us, all of us hungry and tired and in need of a stiff drink pretty much all day. And although I didn’t get to geek out as a spectator on the floor of the convention center, I still managed to geek out in my own way.
I guess the lesson here is this: You can take the geek out of Hollywood, but you can’t take the geek out of the geek.