This past weekend, I attended one of the best Rolling Roadshow events the Alamo Drafthouse has ever thrown, an absolute all-timer that delivered far more than I ever could've imagined. That probably sounds like hyperbole ("Doesn't this guy work for the company?", you're thinking), but do keep in mind that the evening ended with me getting to hug Val Kilmer.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me explain: the Rolling Roadshow is the Drafthouse's traveling screening series, and they pull off all kinds of incredible events - Robocop at police headquarters in Dallas, the annual Jaws on The Water series (read my report on that here), Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Devils Tower in Wyoming, just to name a few - and this past weekend they served up a two-day Val Kilmer weekend built around Tombstone and Top Gun. For the former, they bussed everyone out to J. Lorraine Ghost Town, just outside of Austin; for the latter, they screened Tony Scott's 1986 classic at Camp Mabry, right there on the runway.
Prior commitments kept me from attending the Top Gun event, but lemme show you all the cool stuff we saw at the Tombstone event. For starters, J. Lorraine Ghost Town's many buildings had been transformed into saloons, with each offering a different flavor - some had poker tables, some had beers, some had different kinds of booze on-hand (vodka, tequila, whiskey, and so on). These were open bars, so believe me when I say the drinks were coming non-stop on this good eve.
Elsewhere, people in Doc Holliday costumes roamed the area, along with horses and jailers and a band playing. If you've ever been to one of these "ghost towns", you know that they're only really immersive if they're overflowing with people who are really into the whole deal, and that was certainly the case at this event. Everyone was into it. Some of 'em even climbed into coffins!
Eventually the sun began to set, and it was time to take our seats. Just before the screening started, word spread that Kilmer was making the rounds, and - sure enough! - there he was, hobnobbing with attendees, hoisting a rifle on the shooting range, and generally just being an absolute boss. When celebrities show up to these kinda things, you never really know what you're gonna get: some of 'em are standoffish, or keep themselves hidden until it's time to take the stage. Not so with Kilmer. Dude was out mingling with everyone and generally just being a class act. When he finally took the stage (with the Alamo Drafthouse's own Henri Mazza), you could feel the love coming from the crowd. It was something else.
Val provided a brief introduction to the film, charming the pants off everyone in the process, and then it was time to watch George P. Cosmatos' film. With drinks and popcorn in hand, we watched Tombstone, out under the stars and with Val in attendance, and for a few brief hours, everything was right with the world.
So, about that hug.
Midway through the film, a buddy and I found ourselves in need of a refill, so we moseyed on over to a nearby saloon to replenish our cups. We stumbled upon a group of friends who were on a similar mission, and as we stood there talking, Val entered the room. The man was beaming. One by one he went around the group, shaking hands and doling out hugs as needed. When he got to me, I went with a hug (I mean, come on, how could I not - this is The Saint we're talking about here. Iceman. Madmartigan. Jim Morrison. Nick effing Rivers!). It's a moment I'll never forget, and the perfect grace note to what was already an absolutely perfect evening.
If y'all ever get a chance to attend a Rolling Roadshow event, I really can't recommend it enough. You never know what will happen at these things, but you can always rest assured that what happens will be memorable and awesome. Big thanks to everyone who came out, and to Alison Narro for providing the photographs in this post.