I’ve attended Monster-Mania in Cherry Hill numerous times, including this past August when I met Clive Barker. However, I’ve never gone to the events they put on in Maryland. When I saw that my friend Diamond Dallas Page was going to be there, I decided to make the trip. I hadn’t seen him since I attended his DDP Yoga workshop in July, and I also wanted to get a great professional photo with him. This was my chance to make that happen.
When I arrived at the hotel where Monster-Mania was taking place, a guy spotted my shirt and told me that it was great to see a fellow DDP fan. I told him how I know Dallas and he mentioned that he works for him when he’s in town. I asked him where Dallas was set up and he said, “downstairs.” I got on the escalator and headed in that direction, passing waves of costumed horror fans celebrating iconic franchises such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.I approached Dallas’ table and lined up behind other fans. A few minutes into speaking with one fan he spotted my “Unstoppable” t-shirt and said, “Unstoppable! Hey, Michael!” After wrapping up with the fan in front of me, Dallas gave me a handshake and a big hug. We hung out and talked for a while about numerous things, including his “Positively Unstoppable Challenge,” how I’m doing with my DDP Yoga certification process, and more. It was great catching up for a while. Then I told Dallas I needed to grab lunch and that I’d be back.After having a bit to eat, Dallas and I resumed chatting and hanging out. Anytime a fan would come up to talk to him, take a photo, or get an autograph, I’d step aside and let Dallas do his thing. Our long conversation covered a wide range of topics, including next year’s DDP Yoga Transformation Summit, the 10th anniversary DDP Yoga Retreat, which is hopefully taking place in June 2020, new workouts and a documentary that are on the horizon, new DDPY merchandise, and more. I noticed a large gold belt on the table and I said, “Is this the real deal or a replica that you received.” Dallas said, “This is the same championship belt I’m holding in that photo. It’s my first WCW World Heavyweight Championship belt.” I responded with, “Wow! That’s incredible. This thing is really heavy. What is it made of?” Dallas said, “Brass.” I’ve held replica belts before and there’s no comparison. This one weighs around 30 pounds, where replicas weigh a fraction of that. I said, “You need to bring this belt into the photo area later so fans can pose with it.” He said, “That’s a great idea. I’ll do that.” I told Dallas I was going to wander around. He gave me a fist bump and said, “I’ll see you in there.”I stopped and chatted with a few horror icons, including Kane Hodder, best known as Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. I mentioned how I met him in Cherry Hill a few years ago and how he left his table before I could pay him. I said, “I waited for you to return to give you the money for two reasons. First, it was the right thing to do. Second, you’re Kane Hodder. I figured you’d hunt me down and kill me.” We both laughed hard, and then I mentioned how I saw the photo of him and DDP together at the convention. He said, “Yeah, people think I’m him all the time. From the nose up, we look the same. One time, a guy came up to me and said, ‘Hey! The last time I saw you, you had your head between your legs!'” I laughed at this and Kane continued, “I didn’t know what the hell the guy was talking about. I thought, ‘Was I throwing up when he last saw me?’ Then I realized that he thought I was Diamond Dallas Page. I get that all the time!” I told Kane I never made that connection until now, but I can see how casual fans might make that mistake. Kane told me how he thought Dallas was a great guy and that he enjoyed seeing him at the convention. I was second to last in line for a photo with DDP, and he gave everyone the belt to pose with in their photos with him. When it was my turn he said to the guy who was leaving, “Hand the belt to Michael.” I approached him with it hanging over my shoulder and DDP smiled and said, “See what you started!” I said, “Are you going to hold onto this thing?” He said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it.” We put our hands together to form the Diamond Cutter symbol, and the photo was taken. What I really appreciated was how much time Dallas spent with fans, making sure each photo was as good as it could be. Several times he requested that the photographer take multiple shots, which is something I’ve never seen any other celebrity do. It’s that attention to detail and dedication to the fans that sets Dallas apart from his peers.After my photo printed out, I walked back to DDP’s table and asked him to autograph it. Knowing that I’m in the midst of getting certified to teach DDP Yoga, he wrote some words of encouragement in addition to his autograph. Dallas was also kind enough to record a short video message for a friend of mine, which both of us greatly appreciate, and I was ready to hit the road. Dallas got up and gave me another big hug. I said “goodbye” to his daughter Lexy, and I was on my way. While the time it took to get to and from Monster-Mania was substantial, Dallas made it more than worth my while. He exceeded my expectations, and I’m happy to call him a friend.