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An Interview with
The Chesapeake
Helpers Society

1.    Your group appears to be one of the older fan clubs as well as one of the most active.  Was it in existence during the original run of the Beauty and the Beast TV show, or did it grow out of a need to continue the enjoyment of the show? Tell us a little bit about when the group was new and how it evolved.

April 1989. There was an ad in "Pipeline" (Do you like/love Beauty and the Beast? Interested in forming a club - our contact # is...) Five people met in Arundel County, Maryland and formed a local fan group for Maryland and Virginia - named after the Chesapeake Bay - Chesapeake Helpers' Society for Beauty and the Beast.

 2.    Does your active membership still consist largely of people who were in the original fan club?

 No. There are still a few original members; but now, in addition to Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, we have members in Vermont, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Alaska, England, Australia, Paraguay and Canada.

 3.    You seem to be involved in community service activities. Was that always a part of the goals you set for the Chesapeake Helpers? Are you a visible group in the community?

Yes, we have always had involvement in community services activities, in keeping with the values of the tunnel community. Our members have actively participated in and donated time and money to such organizations as Breast Cancer Research, Pediatric Aids, Women and Children Shelters, Food Banks, Cat Shelters, National Institute of Health, S.O.M.E. (a local food bank, So OthersMight Eat), literary organizations providing books to children, Arthritis Foundation, Alzheimer's Foundation, Sarcoidosis Foundation, and other organizations that deal with lung diseases.

 4.     We know that you folks are responsible for making the Winterfest candles for the Beauty and the Beast conventions in July. When and how did that tradition start? And we would love you to describe the candle making process.

We started with the Kingdom by the Sea #1, 1999 convention. The candle making is a family secret, handed down from generation to generation. If we tell you, we'd have to dip you in hot wax and stick a wick on your head - LOL!!

 5.     We also know that the Chesapeake Helpers have a great sense of humor. The performances at the summer conventions look as if you have a really good time together. Are those performances mostly the fruit of one person’s imagination, or is it more of a spontaneous group effort?

Our talent numbers are a group effort - a product of warped minds and seriously disturbed childhoods.

 6.     What kind of activities are you involved in at the moment?

Our usual activities consist of Winterfest, Summerfest, Saowen, monthly meetings, social events, EBay sales to raise money for charity, charitable work year round, hunting for prizes for Beast Bingo, and one of our favorite past-times - eating.

7.     What kind of community service and outreach activities are you still involved in? Do you have any particular pet projects?

Some of our pet projects are raising money for S.O.M.E. and other food banks, The Children's Inn at The National Institute of Health, and for various cat rescue shelters.

 8.     When you contact members of the community to volunteer yourselves in the name of fans of an old TV show, what kind of responses do you get?

The responses we get are very positive.

 9.     Are there any specific interesting reactions or responses you’d like to tell us about?

Most of the time when we mention that we are a fan group for the television series Beauty and the Beast, we hear, "Oh, I remember that show." "I loved that show." "Wasn't that the show with that lion guy and/or the Terminator babe?"

Also the "WOW!!!" reaction we get when we have gone to various Renaissance Faires with "Vinny", or when "Vinny" shows up on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, or Griffith Park in LA, or at subway stations and on the streets of NYC as well as various drainpipes all over the U.S. (Thank you, Lisa.)

 10.   In your outreach activities, has there been a specific moment that was particularly meaningful to the group?

Particularly meaningful moments for us are our contributions to the Sarcoidosis Foundation in memory of late member and beloved treasurer, Clarettta Gamble, to the Arthritis Foundation for another deceased member, and one of our "founding mothers," Marian Wagner, and to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of our current members, Renee Long being one of these.

 11.   Is there a specific part of Beauty and the Beast that your group especially enjoys?

Our group really enjoys the family spirit as well as the values depicted in BATB.

 12.   Has your organization ever hosted a convention?

No, we have never hosted a convention; but we have lent our assistance to many through the candles, panels, monetary donations, and setting up our tunnel and chamber at some of the "drive-able" conventions.

 13.  Do you ever get together to attend performances by some of the stars of Beauty and the Beast?

Whenever possible, we have attended Broadway shows and local theater productions as well as non-BATB fan conventions.

14.  Other than the conventions, have you ever been involved or interacted with members of the Beauty and the Beast cast or staff?

Yes, members have had dinner with Roy (and Kay) Dotrice in London, had dinner with Ritch Brinkley, who also attended some of our club meetings and one member's birthday party. G.R.R. Martin has had lunch at a member's house while he was touring in Philadelphia, and of course, various after-hour social events and "happy hours" with many of the cast.

15.   Does your group own any memorabilia from the Beauty and the Beast TV show?

Yes, we have costumes, candles, scripts, pictures, Pascal's pipe sticks, crew jackets, and an authentic original ad from a NYC subway train.

 16.   Do most of your members’ friends and families know that they are Beauty and the Beast fans? It would seem that it would be difficult to be a closet fan in such an active group.

Yes, this is a hard one to keep secret.

 17.   Are any of your members also active in other fandoms?


 18.   In this technological age, why does Chesapeake Helpers still send only snail mail newsletters?

We prefer the personal touch of sending the newsletter through the mail. Our members look forward to receiving hard copies, something they can share and save. Not all of our members have email, preferring the personal touch of fandom, to include birthday and anniversary cards sent through the mail, as well as flowers and memorabilia.

19.   Do you keep scrapbooks of all your activities?

Yes, we have a club archives.

 20.   Are there any of your members you would like to recognize specifically for any reason?

Yes. Our "Vinny" (Lisa), who hardly ever says "no" to our wild schemes. To Judy, Loretta and Kathryn for their devotion to and hard work with no-kill animal shelters. And, of course, to our "President for Life" Brenda, for keeping the club going, keeping us all together with a minimum of bloodshed, and preventing a plethora of cement overshoes.

 21.   Why do you think the show is still remembered and celebrated by its fans after all these years?

 Because of the values portrayed, the sense of family and belonging, and unconditional love and respect.

 22.   Is there anything else you would like to say about Beauty and the Beast or to its fans?

Yes. Remember the spirit of the tunnels, respect your fellow fans and the show itself.

Here are a few links if you would like to see video of  a little soft shoe, a conga line and some disco.