James Bond fans were hungry for his return. And I was hungrier than most.
A Bond convention. Dinner at ’21’ in support of Cubby Broccoli’s favorite charity. A world premiere of a Bond movie.
All this in two days – my patience was finally being rewarded.
After a trip from Virginia to New Jersey, I was settled in at my friend Gary’s house. He put the GoldenEye soundtrack on ‘repeat’ and we contemplated what we would be in for, while we perused his scrapbooks from previous Bond films.
The next morning we headed into Manhattan early, and Gary dropped me off at the Millennium Broadway, where Creation Entertainment was holding it’s second (and final) James Bond convention.
I was sharing a table with noted Bond poster collector Richard Karcher. Earlier in the week Creation was starting to overbook dealer tables and called to ask if we would give up our table. We laughed and hung up the phone.
I was selling some extras from my collection, along with issues of Spies Magazine, and the new illustrated biography comic of Pierce Brosnan that I had published with Delmo Walters, Jr. Another reason I booked a table however, was early access to the dealer’s room.
Unfortunately they didn’t have dealer name tags, so as I went around to the other tables looking for goodies a security guard kept harassing me, telling me that the convention hadn’t started yet. I kept pointing out that I was a dealer – I was allowed to be in there. Maybe they were still mad about being laughed at.
My gambit paid off, because I got some rare pieces from Dave Worrall, including the 1967 Casino Royale World Premiere Program. Dave’s Corgi collection was on display, as well as some props from GoldenEye and other Bond films.
Once the general convention audience was let in, Creation’s overbooking in such a small venue caused a claustrophobic nightmare. Besides hordes of fans, camera crews from various TV stations were interviewing dealers, fans, and celebrity guests.
I asked Kimberly Last if she wanted to escape the chaos, and she agreed that it would be nice. After leaving Delmo to man the table, I took Kimberly out to lunch at an Italian restaurant a few blocks away.
Once we returned to the convention, the presentations began in earnest, with question and answers sessions following. Michael Wilson, the gang from TWINE entertainment, Pierce Brosnan, Isabella Scorupco, and director Martin Campbell all gave quick talks that were very well received.
The questions ranged from asking about Simon Aturif’s contributions to GoldenEye, which Wilson explained were very early on and therefore not used, to a Japanese fan asking Pierce what the title of the next Bond film would be. Pierce said he didn’t know. Luckily at the end Delmo was able to give Pierce the original artwork of the gun barrel centerfold of our comic and he commented on what a great likeness it was.
The best response came from the presentation of Daniel Kleinman’s credit sequence. Everyone was stunned. Jaws were on the floor. People were screaming “play it again!” It was a wonderful moment.
After their talks, John Cork graciously introduced me to Michael Wilson as “the world’s greatest historian of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” I thanked Michael for his talk and told him I was really looking forward to GoldenEye.
Later John introduced me to Bruce Feirstein. Bruce was trying to track down a copy of Mad Magazine with their first Bond parody. I knew the issue, April 1965, but I didn’t have one with me. I did send him a copy later and he told me that reading the Bond parody as a child made him want to become a writer. It was actually a continuation of a theme, because at the previous Creation Convention, I had given Michael France a copy of Alligator, the Harvard Lampoon Bond parody, which he had been looking for.
After the convention was over, a number of us went for dinner at Puleos Too, where we talked about what we had seen, heard, and bought. Tomorrow was the big day!
The next day it was more of the GoldenEye soundtrack, and a limo to take us to ’21’, the famous New York club and restaurant mentioned in Diamonds are Forever and 007 in New York. ’21’ was having a charity dinner to benefit The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens at the behest of the Broccolis. The package included dinner and tickets to the premiere.
After an initial drink, we were seated and served a wonderful meal. By this time the excitement was really building. Then it was back to the limo for the ride to Radio City Music Hall. The marquee was heralding Bond’s return and Pierce’s first crack at 007. We had wonderful center seats, just a few rows up from the orchestra, which was playing a medley of Bond themes.
To thunderous applause, Pierce Brosnan took the stage and introduced Martin Campbell (“the loudest director I’ve ever worked with”), Desmond Llewelyn, Famke Janssen, Isabella Scorupco, and Sean Bean.
Desmond took the microphone and said “Thank you very much. Now I want you to pay particular attention to what I’m saying tonight. I have had a Scotts Bond, an English Bond, a Welsh Bond, and now an Irish Bond. Now you in the audience, that are Irish, we know that you have done it again. I don’t know what it is about the Irish, but you’ve got something that we haven’t got as a Celt. You make me green with envy. Tonight you are going to see the birth of the definitive Bond… Pierce Brosnan.”
The crowd cheered like crazy. The curtains parted, the gun barrel appeared, and a promise made at the end of License to Kill in 1989 was fulfilled. James Bond had finally returned.
Afterwards a group of us went to Sardis, and dissected the film to the nth degree. While I loved the pre-credits sequence, I disliked the fact that Pierce’s introduction was upside down in a Russian toilet stall. I thought Famke totally stole the show, and the tank chase was a perfect “only Bond” moment.
I sadly had to decline an offer to the after party at the Museum of Modern Art, as there was a long drive ahead of me the next day.
It was an unforgettable weekend that made up for a 6-year absence. Welcome back, Commander Bond.
Photographs by Charles Helfenstein, Delmo Walters, Jr., Gary Firuta, and Brad Frank.