Here, kitty: Catwoman comes calling

Comic-book convention is a roving event

Scene: Clubs, Bars, Nightlife

July 29, 2004|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Holy Catwoman, Batman! She's everywhere!

A week after Catwoman opened in movie theaters, two of the former feline temptresses will be among the celebrities convening in Towson for a comic-book convention.

Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether -- actresses who played the first two Catwoman roles -- will pose for photos, take audience questions and -- purrr-haps -- fight for the attention of original Batman Adam West. The three actors will appear together at the convention.

The convention -- officially titled Super Megafest -- is not connected with the new movie. It's a roving event for superhero enthusiasts that was started in 1998 by three collectors based in Newark, N.J., and has taken place there and in Boston. This is the first time Super Megafest has come to the Baltimore area.

"You have to look at the show as a social experience, a big party," explained Ken Laurence, a founder and promoter of the event. "People go to hang out with other people who are into the same kinds of things."

There is no particular reason the Cat-Bat cast is touring together. They are easy to work with and tend to draw a enthusiastic crowd, said Laurence.

"It becomes almost chaos from time to time -- not that I'm a rock star -- but I have three generations of fans," said West, who has been featured at other Super Megafest conventions. "They say, `Oh my God, Mr. West, you are so young and pretty! My God, we thought you were dead,' " the actor -- now in his 70s -- said jokingly. Asked why he's still popular, West didn't miss a beat. "I think it is my legs," he said.

Julie Newmar, 71, who played the first Catwoman in the Batman television series, enjoys hearing from fans. "They really tell you what they think," she said. "The men who are there -- some are becoming fathers now -- say, `You were my first turn-on.' ... It is truly a heartfelt gift, a glorious gift to hear something like that," she said with no trace of sarcasm.

Playing Catwoman "is like being the most popular girl in the sixth grade," she said. "All the boys want to taunt you and tease you and the girls want to be you."

If you can't be like Catwoman, owning your own Bat gear may be the next best thing.

West has a warehouse full of Bat memorabilia, including the Bat-surfboard, several costumes and a full set of original scripts with his notes. The Smithsonian is pestering him for one of his costumes, and collectors have offered him thousands of dollars for other items.

Meriwether -- who played Catwoman in the 1966 Batman: The Movie and in the second season of the TV show -- has no plans to squeeze into a catsuit. "I wouldn't be able to fit into it any more," said the 69-year old actress with a laugh. "Mine was a metallic latex that was very uncomfortable to wear and very hot."

Other celebs of yesteryear are scheduled to be there, including Joanna Cameron (Isis), Cindy Morgan (Caddyshack), and Booth Colman (Planet of the Apes).

In addition to gawking at the actors, convention goers can see regular people walking around in superhero costumes, and there will be a costume contest.

Roughly 100 vendors will hawk superhero gear. Expect to see vintage and current comic books, old superhero toys, DVDs of the television shows, original costumes and props from the movies.

Cartoonists will hand out sketches of their characters, and old movies will be screened. An exact replica of the Batmobile will be on display -- driven up from South Carolina for the event.

For more club events, see Page 28.

Super Megafest

What: Superhero enthusiasts convention and Bat-party

When: Convention is Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The Bat party is Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel, 903 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson

Cost: $16 or $6 for children under 12. Call 201-261-4982 for more information

FYI: The Bat party will include a question-and-answer session with the members of the TV Batman cast and a screening of the 1966 movie.

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