A First-Time Monster Con Experience

Text and photos by Armand Vaquer

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" during our February photo shoot.

As a veteran of many different conventions over the years, I've accumulated a lot of photos of myself with celebrities. This year I decided to take a different approach at Monsterpalooza.

I asked my The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan model Miki Hayashi to assist me at the sales table during my presentation, "Scene To Seen" at this year's Monsterpalooza. My daughter was originally going to help, but a three-week bought with the flu made that an impossibility. Miki agreed to do so.

She is originally from Kyoto, Japan (her parents now live in Osaka) and she never attended a monster convention before. So this was a new experience for her.

She attends college in Orange County and it took her about two hours to get to my house in Tarzana Friday evening. Once she arrived and after freshening up, we headed to Monsterpalooza in Burbank (about 15 miles away).

Once we got there, we stood in line to get in. While doing so, we spotted Haruo Nakajima and his daughter Sonoe on the walkway between the convention center and the main Marriott Hotel building. Sonoe and I spotted each other and gave big waves and she motioned to her dad of my presence. He smiled and waved also.

After getting our wristbands, Miki and I went over to the Nakajima table. I introduced Miki to Sonoe Nakajima. I asked Miki if she'd like an autographed photo of Mr. Nakajima (my treat), she said yes. She picked out the beautifully colorized photo of Mr. Nakajima in a Godzilla suit (with the proceeds going to Japan earthquake relief). She had Mr. Nakajima sign it and then we had her pose for a couple of pictures with The Man (above).

Miki, by this point, was beaming. She said that Mr. Nakajima is "very famous" in Japan and it was a thrill to meet him. She can't wait to email the photos I took to her parents in Japan.

During the time we were at Monsterpalooza, I introduced Miki to a number of prominent G-fans including Richard Pusateri, Steve Ryfle, Peter H. Brothers, Bob Johnson and others.

We then wandered around the convention, first taking in the museum exhibits. Miki appeared to be awe-struck by the figures on display. I asked her if she'd like a photo of her (above) with one and she agreed. She wants to send that one to her parents as well.

After the museum, we wandered around the vendors area. She and Julie Adams (Creature From The Black Lagoon) talked about Miss Adams' USO visit to Tokyo during the Korean War.

After seeing the vendors area, we went back into the lobby and bumped into Godzilla (and other monsters) suit-maker Shinichi Wakasa, who was buying himself a beer at a small bar set up in the lobby. I introduced Miki to him and they had a brief conversation in Japanese. I then took a picture of Miki with Wakasa (below).

At this point, I had to get my things for the "Scene To Seen" presentation at the theater in the main building of the Marriott from the car. After doing so we headed over to the presentation room and met up with Peter H. Brothers and his friend Gordon.

Following our presentations, Miki and I headed for Kabuki Japanese Restaurant in the media center area of Burbank, but once we got there, we found that the waiting list was long and we's have at least a 25 minute wait before being seated. So we went instead a few doors away to Fuddrucker's for dinner. We didn't care what we ate, we were both starved.

After dinner, we headed back to my residence and Miki headed back home in the Long Beach area.

The next day, I received this very nice note from Miki:

Hi Armand,

Thank you so much for last night. I had a great time, the event was very interesting.

And thanks for pictures. I was so happy to see the Godzilla guy and take pictures with him.

And I'm glad that your presentation went very well.

Thanks again

It was fun photographing Miki at the convention and enjoyed watching her experience a monster convention for the first time. I think it comes through in the pictures.


  1. Hey Armand,

    Thanks for sharing both the photos from Monsterpalooza and the story that went with them. The 'con sounds like it was a lot of fun! I wish that people like Haruo Nakajima made appearances at american 'cons. I'm just another Godzilla fan who would love to meet him.

  2. Thanks, Dai. Mr. Nakajima is 82 and unless there is a convention or film festival willing to have him, it is likely that Monsterpalooza will be his last in North America. If you have a convention nearby, get a hold of the organizers and see if they would have him as a guest. - A.


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