I’ve transcribed some interesting sections from The Amazing Show’s most recent episode, which can be found at itricks.com/randishow. Randi does tend to tell stories, and meander a bit when telling a story, so I’ve edited the following pretty heavily. Check out the podcast for more detail, and a short story about opening for Frank Zappa…
The Amazing Show w/ James Randi – September 4, 2008
Justin: So explain; what is Dragon Con
Randi: A good question. It’s very hard to answer.
It’s a mass of… well… the official count is 37,000 people I think. But, it’s quite a bit higher than that, and for various reasons we don’t have an official, real time count of the number of heads, because a lot of them had several.
These are people… wow… hard to describe. Really hard to describe. First of all I must say that Dragon Con; first time I’ve been to it, first time I’d even ever heard of it, I admit. It was quite a surprise to me. It was not what I expected it would be, it was much much more, and it was much more important than I ever thought it could be.
Dragon*Con I kind of expected would be a knock down, drag out riot […] and it was not at all. First of all, the class of people there represented was much different from what I thought; I’m not going to say higher, or lower or anything, but much different. There were people from every walk of life – but the most important thing I observed; a lot of people in wheelchairs; a lot of disabled people. A lot of extremely corpulent people […]
These are misfits, Justin. Misfits who FIT when they’re at Dragon*Con, and they fit with this milieu. They’re at home. No one questions their existence or their appearance or their behaviour at all. […] Everyone helped everybody else. No one had any kind of disability or unusual factor in their lives or a difference in appearance or attitude or whatever that other people didn’t understand and accommodate to immediately.
These are misfits who are not misfits when they’re there
I’m trying to not be unkind by calling them misfits; a lot of them are…
Many are not; I think that the majority of them are not.
I think it’s a hell of a thing. I enjoyed myself from the moment I set foot in one of the five hotels in Atlanta that were jam packed. Five full hotels, and they weren’t all staying at those hotels, but the traffic on the street; everything from wheelchairs and Darth Vaders bumping into each other because they couldn’t see through the mask. Capes and wands and light sabers, and everything you could imagine. It was fantasy world come to life…
I was never happier.
I’m a bearded magician, 80 years of age, and if that isn’t a misfit, I don’t know what is.
Dragon Con was a tremendous experience for me, and certainly I want to do it next year and the year after because they had several skeptical groups meeting. The rooms that we were assigned filled up immediately, and there were people standing around the walls.
Justin: That’s what happens when you bring the A Team; you can’t just roll in with Randi, Plaitt and Shermer and expect not to fill the room.
It was really very heartening, and we got excellent comments and questions. Really excellent.
It’s very hard to sum up Dragon Con, I can assure you. We had a hell of a time. It was quite something. Atlanta Georgia will never look the same to me again.
So, Randi is planning on being back, even though he’s scheduled to be in the UK for part of the time next year’s event is scheduled… he says he’s planning to make some adjustments to his schedule. Maybe we can get Dawkins too for next year.