Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I’m Back! An experience with Arnold Schwarzenegger

I told you I’d be back! So where have I been? Well, the studio mostly, completing various projects but I also (as the title and photo would suggest) met this gentleman, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger….
But first (as is often the case with me) a back story… Back in 2009 while checking my e-mails I was surprised to read, “Arnold Schwarzenegger is now following you on Twitter” I was aghast for all of 3 seconds! “THE Arnold Schwarzenegger?” I asked. Had he (for some reason) singled me out and decided to follow me on Twitter? Of course not, it was just a PR thing during his time as Governor of California, most likely off the back of those California Tourism TV ad campaigns shown in the UK that he starred in asking, “when can you start?” But for those 3 short seconds I was reminded of much I adored the guy and how there once was a time in my life when he was the only ‘current’ Hollywood actor who’s work I would go see on its initial release (an accolade perhaps only shared with Jim Carrey). As memories of care free evenings watching his movies with my brother and quoting his one liners with friends in art college came back to me I thought how amazing it would be to meet him someday, well that ‘someday' was to be the 21st of September 2017 at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham.

Event organisers An Experience With were bringing Schwarzenegger to the UK for a special black tie dinner experience celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of my all time favourite movie aliens, Predator! I remember catching it on TV one Saturday night expecting to be as entertaining as Commando (that we had watched the night before) and it was, but more so as this one had an alien in it, one with no interest in invading the planet- this one simply wanted to hunt humans for sport! I was hooked, I watched it and its equally great sequel over and over, read the comics and would draw the Predator throughout my teenage years so this event would not only present me the opportunity to meet Mr. Schwarzenegger but also raise a glass to one of my favourite aliens, this was too perfect to miss! Dressed up in our finest (Mrs Jones especially!) we arrived at the Hilton for what would be our second black tie event celebrating an alien! We made our way into a ball room which was surrounded by Arnie related replicas and props from such Terminator, T2, Conan the Barbarian and of course, Predator some of which were to be auctioned off later that evening. There was even a Predator on hand posing for photos, which I did (taking my first selfie on my new phone).

We took our seats and sipped our complimentary drinks while being entertained by top swing vocalist Robby Darin and the State 51 Swing Orchestra and they were superb, somehow managing a rare thing, playing all my favourite songs. They continued to entertain while we started on our “high-quality 3-course dinner” which starting (appropriately enough) with a starter, comprising of Parma ham with grilled peach, rocket leaves, parmesan flakes and black olive dressing followed by the main course of braised feather blade of beef with spring onion, crushed new potatoes, baton vegetables, broccoli and pan jus finished off with dessert strawberry cheesecake with fruit coulis garnished with seasonal fruits and crème chantilly and it was as delicious as it sounds. After coffee, the prize draw and auction an on screen run-through of Schwarzenegger’s incredible career and accomplishments was played before a countdown commenced introducing Arnie to the stage where he was met by a massive round of applause! When he did, it was an amazing experience, seeing the man himself in person! Just in case there were any doubts that it really was him he walked up to the end of the stage and yelled, “Get to da choppa!” which was met with an even louder cheers as he took his seat for an hour-long chat with interviewer Charlie Webster. Clearly in awe of him she asked about his amazing life, becoming the youngest person to win the Mr Universe title, winning it seven times in total, his career in Hollywood along with the making of Predator. His friendship with Danny DeVitto and his one time rivalry with Sylvester Stallone during the 1980s they would try to out do one and other, such as who had the least body fat, who was the most ripped, who had the biggest guns and killed the most people on screen and of course who made the most at the box office. It seemed at one time he tried to have more muscles than Arnie to which he quipped “Well, I say, good luck!” He also revealed Sly’s artistic side, discussing his paintings not to mention delivering a hilarious Stallone impersonation! The conversation then turned to politics and his becoming the 38th Governor of California and his pride in it being one of the largest economies in the world and No 1 in the US for clean air and water addressing another subject close to his heart the environment he raised concerns of how worldwide, seven million people are dying every year because of pollution. The hour seemed to fly by and it was time to wrap up but not until he was presented with a replica of the machete used in Predator to cut a giant 30th anniversary cake made by AB Cakes before going through to another room to meet and greet fans I followed on shortly after to meet him myself for a quick handshake and photo, before going back to my table to discuss how amazing he was with other table guests whom he had also inspired in some way over the years. We had an amazing time, many thanks to all involved especially Mr Schwarzenegger himself.

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


12 comments:

  1. Wonderful, Arfon, as ever. They say never meet your heroes, but, you have the knack of either having the right heroes or bringing out the best in them - probably both! Best of luck with your next endeavours in and out of the studio.

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    1. Moira, Thanks for that I have been very lucky when it comes to meeting people who I have admired or been inspired by over the years. I hope to have some more encountered in the future! x

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  2. It's always good to meet one's heroes - as long as they don't disappoint in some way. I've met Bob Hope, Rikki Fulton, Maya Angelou, Stan Lee, and Will Eisner, but I never had to pay for one of those 'meet'n'greet' situations, which, for me, would take the shine of it just a little. True, I did pay to see Bob Hope's shows, but it didn't cost me extra to meet the man, I simply 'ambushed' him at the stage door - before his show on one occasion, and after his show on another (10 years later). Last I heard, it cost over £100 to meet Stan Lee and get his autograph - and more than that if you wanted a photo with him as well. I preferred it when you could just turn up at a signing and he made himself available. It's the organisers of such events who are responsible for the charges involved of course, but it somehow makes it seem a tad mercenary to me. What's your take, AJ, and how much did the event cost, if you don't mind me asking?

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    1. Kid, It’s not a matter of minding you asking me, I just feel that discussing costs would take the shine off it. But I make no secret of it, follow the link provided in the post and you will find all costs there. The simple fact is that the world of celebrity has changed a lot in the last 30 years ago and if you think you can simply ‘ambush’ Arnold Schwarzenegger then good luck to you, Arnold was on stage so I had effectively paid to see his show, but a show that allowed me the opportunity to get dressed up and take my wife out to a spacial black tie evening, good food and drink along with music and entertainment and rather than ending the evening standing outside the stage door hoping to meet the guy I had a sure way of meeting him, shake his hand and have a professional photograph taken of the occasion. The same goes for Stan Lee, he has gathered an overwhelming amount of celebrity in the last 20 years or so and I doubt you could go up to him on the street to shake his hand these days, these people are surrounded by ‘their people’ and they will knock you back if you over step the line. I would much rather meet my heroes on their terms and walk away feeling happy about it than taking a chance and be knocked back and disappointed (your original point) think of it as buying a sure way of obtaining a positive memory of the people you admire. I was going to list the famous people I have met over the years but it would take so time to complete, I will make a future post of it.

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    2. Well, that's sort of what I was getting at, AJ. If discussing the cost takes the shine off it for you, then you can see why PAYING the cost would take the shine off it for me (remember, I'm a frugal Scotsman). Arnold's evening doesn't sound so bad because, as you say, meeting him was included in the price of the show, but I just think the monetary aspect involved in meeting celebrities nowadays takes something away from it. Having said that, a pal told me about Stan doing one of these shows at a comic convention, and when he was finished doing his 'contractual' meet'n'greets and was walking around the comics hall afterwards, he was signing autographs for people quite freely. Stan's the Man.

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    3. Stan’s people will stop this sort of thing happening. Last time I saw Stan he was dashing about on a motorised cart, guess its easier for him to get away these days! I know what you mean about the cost, but then I had a chance to meet Leslie Nielson (one of my favourite comedians ever) a few years back but missed out due to the cost, he died six months later (and not forgetting poor Adam West) tells me that I can’t sit around waiting for chance, if I am meet these people I have to seize the moment and make full use of opportunities presented to me, life is too short for regrets so I am happy to pay to keep them at bay and fond memories.

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    4. Then I guess there are no celebrities I'm desperate to have my photograph taken with, AJ, 'cos I don't think I'd pay for it. If it happens it happens, if it doesn't - que sera, sera.

      I went to see Bob Hope's show because I'm a fan, and the official photographer covering the event took our photo together. I went to see Stan Lee at a signing and he was happy to pose and sign autographs. I ran into Rikki Fulton in John Menzies in Glasgow, and I met Maya Angelou after her shoe in the Royal Concert Hall (didn't get a photo or an autograph though).

      And I forgot to mention Archie Goodwin (and his wife), who I (among others) spent an evening with in Glasgow in the mid-'90s. However, if paying for these photo-events works for you, then who am I to say thee nay? Who's next on your list?

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    5. (Er, that'll be 'show', not 'shoe'. Wasn't wearing my glasses.)

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    6. I had a chance to meet Stan back in 1995 and I know that had I gone that time it would have been very different experience to now as it was still on the cusp of the recent Marvel mania created by all the movies and TV shows. Bob Hope I never had the pleasure of meeting however my wife did, she was performing at Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham London (so I guess he came to see her)... I have been fortunate to meet a great many people that I admire or been inspired by over the years and as I said before I will list them in a future post, the ‘wall of fame’ much like the rest of the studio is currently being refurbished. Not counting the people who have called me over the years I have been lucky to meet people outside the meet and greet circles Sir Patrick Moore, Wilf’ Lunn and David Bellamy, great heroes of mine whom I have had the pleasure of knowing personally. All of which I have worked with/ worked together on projects or provided me with testimonials for my work, Professor Heinz Wolff and Lionel Fanthorpe (he performed a blessing at our wedding) I will post something about this, as the list is too long! Don’t worry about the “shoe” I said I was wearing a “spacial black suit”

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    7. I'll look forward to reading that post, AJ.

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  3. Predator is a great film. It's funny how well Arnie has slipped into politics - I'd never have expected that.

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