It was a scorcher that Saturday afternoon, but not even the triple-digit heat could keep the Bat Fans away. The masses huddled to The Paramount Theatre to celebrate Austin's Day of The Bat, and to view the camp classic Batman (1966).
But while the fans were eager to get inside the theatre and cool off, there was one irresistible draw outside in the blazing sun. A diabolical plan to make us oooh and aaaah, and melt, perhaps? Behold, it was The Batmobile! Everyone was crowded around it, and I mean everyone. There it was, parked in the middle of Congress Avenue, which had been blocked off between 7th and 8th Street. Why the barricade, you ask? Alas, The Bat-Copter was actually due to make an appearance that day, but had to cancel due to Hurricane Irene. Bah! Curse that storm!
Before long, my inner thermometer told me to get indoors. As I entered the building and my eyes adjusted to the absence of sunlight, I found people were excitedly milling about and glancing at the booths, tables, and refreshment bars. There was merchandise galore inside the lobby. Comic book vendors were there offering toys, models, t-shirts, and comics. At a table of Paramount swag, I saw a limited edition poster print made for the day's screening, and it was beautiful. Oh, and how about this for a purrrfect touch? A costumed Batman was making the rounds and posing for photos. Even the bar was getting in on the action by offering a special drink, a "bat-tini." Holy cocktail buzz, it was tasty!
Upstairs was a private event where Gold and Platinum Film Fans had a personal meet-and-greet with the original caped crusader, Mr. Adam West himself. Last year, I got so caught up in the festivities that I missed my chance to meet West. Well, riddle me this! Who wasn't going to miss meeting Batman again this year? That's right. Yours truly.
I made my way up the stairs with a mix of excitement and heat exhaustion. Was I delirious? Was I really about to meet Gotham's hero? As I got in line, I was transported back to memories of taking pictures of Santa Claus as a child. Good Lord, don't let Adam jokingly ask me what I want for Christmas; I'd probably crack up into maniacal giggles like The Joker. I felt crazy from the heat already, the last thing I need is an episode that will get me a one-way ticket to the nut house (or Arkham Asylum).
Finally I calmed down and approached Adam West, cool as a cucumber. We greeted, talked for a moment, and then posed for Annie Ray to take our picture. At the last second, I photobombed my own picture and flashed my best batusi at the camera. Although needlessly silly, we all had a chuckle at that.
"Oh, nice one," West told me as I shook hands goodbye and made way for someone else. Although he's likely been subjected to that pose a billion times before, it was still nice of him to say that to me.
Making my way into the auditorium, I relaxed as showtime approached. The buzz in the auditorium, however, was feverish. By the time our hosts came out on stage, the crowd was ready to explode. Film programmer Jesse Trussell came out first to thank everyone for the turnout, and when he introduced Adam West the audience went bat**** crazy for the pop culture icon. West quipped and played the masses like a seasoned veteran. Charming, self-effacing, and endlessly funny, he shared stories and then fielded questions from the auditorium.
Some of the questions inquired about his thoughts on the recent Christopher Nolan movies (oh, and he confirmed that he is NOT going to cameo in nest year's The Dark Knight Rises). He expressed great admiration for those "expensive films," but reiterated that his take on the Caped Crusader was from a much different time. In contrast to the current Dark Knight, Adam finished by proclaiming himself as Gotham's Bright Knight.
And with that, he exited the stage, the light dimmed, and everyone got to partake in some 1960s campy goodness. That afternoon, all of us were children again. It was too warm for Santa Claus to show up, but we still had something to cherish. That afternoon, we all believed... in Batman.
Even if we didn't get a visit from Mr. Freeze that day, it was still one Bat-tastic time.