Reflections on Dragon Con from a celebrity handler

In my travels throughout the convention circuit over the past decade, there are certain individuals whom you only see at conventions who become very good friends of yours and play one role or another at the various cons. Among one of my dearest friends is Torie Varkett and her special place in the world of conventions, fandom and science fiction at present is that of celebrity handler. That is, Torie and many other friends of ours are those selfless and dedicated individuals who are tasked and trusted with taking care of the celebrity while they are at the convention.

These celebrity handlers are those folks who are fans at heart, but professional through and through when aiding, caring for and being watchful of those personalities they are assigned and making sure their convention experience is as smooth as possible. While Dragon Con is a huge show, I actually did not even see my dear friend Torie, although we had planned on driving to Dragon Con together. Torie instead drove up with another dear friend and celebrity handler, Lissa Brown O’Rourke and both are consummate professionals who not only help the celebrities they assist all weekend long, but by default also help make sure the convention attendee has a great interaction with the celebrity.

On a recent Facebook post by Torie, I saw that she reflected on her Dragon Con experience and one perspective we seldom hear from is that of the sometimes overlooked yet entirely indispensable celebrity handler. I found her reflection on Dragon Con telling in all that it encompassed, and as you read her thoughts, ask yourself how in the name of the Lords of Kobol could someone have such an extensive, amazing and lucky Dragon Con experience!?

“Every time I volunteer to work a convention someone asks why I do it and my answers always change. Each event adds a memory that can’t be repeated or replaced, as my bff (Lissa Browne O’Rourke) likes to say ‘Who has more fun than us?’”

Here are a few of the highlights of DC: Road trip with Lissa Brown O’Rourke – it was fun. Each day I got a hug and kiss on the cheek from Avery Brooks, I watched Terry Farrell hug and comfort many of her fans who got emotional and also got down on the floor and played with the little ones. Michael Dorn and I talked about his flights aboard his F-104 and George Takei’s reaction to the pictures of my two Jason’s and Hailey from years ago “Oh Myyyy”. Hanging out with Jennifer, Luvia and Brian from Continuum while they sang karaoke after the Stargate party and backing up Eliza and Rick Fox in the elevator. Getting molested by Michael Rooker and the best hugs from Irone from the Walking Dead.

Maybe most important not going all “fan girl” when I met Lee Majors, Lindsey Wagner and Lucy Lawless – that was tough lol. But it’s not all about the stars, I always get to meet new friends like Val Verse and Scott and reunite with old ones like Lana Lutz and Clint, Laura Ann, Petee, Sal Catalano, Bob Catalano and Linda among others, I consider some of them my extended family. I talk too and see them more than my own kids. There is always a bit of networking that goes on as well and I had the opportunity to interact with some new promoters and was offered new opportunities at future events.

So why do I do it? Because among the chaos that goes on it’s a lot of fun and isn’t that what life is all about?”

Yes Torie, that is in so many ways what life is all about! So welcome to the world of a celebrity handler my friends and yes, I am also quite jealous. Live long and prosper in your life Torie, which is apparently quite well lived!

Written By: Torie Varkett & Tye Bourdony

Tye Bourdony is a Sci Fi cartoonist and creator of ‘The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi’, a mediator, science fiction reporter and the U.S. based content editor for Sci Fi Pulse. He is also a graduate of the Barry University School of Law, SUNY Purchase and H.S. of Music & Art. Tye currently works in Florida’s 9th Circuit as the Staff Family Mediator, is currently the Public Information Officer for the Osceola County Bar Association and has a regular self-published column in Sci Fi Magazine.  You can visit Tye on facebook and at or send him your thoughts and story/article ideas to

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