Page last updated at 08:36 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Fans sink fangs into Twilight

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Twilight fanatic Emma reveals why fans went to a convention in Northampton to celebrate the new film

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

With the Twilight: New Moon film out later this month, fans are eager for another dose of romance and vampires.

But what makes 800 devotees gather at a hotel over three days to worship the stars of Stephenie Meyer's hit franchise?

Twilight: New Moon scene
Some fans of the franchise have been labelled Twi-Hards

"My husband is a Twlight widow. He thinks I'm bonkers," says Odette, from Milton Keynes.

This is Odette's third Twilight convention, and she says it's not just about meeting the actors.

"It's more the social atmosphere, meeting friends who are in the Twilight community, hanging out with the girls, and getting away from my husband for the weekend.

"I do have a social life. I'm not a typical Twi-Hard, as they call them. I don't follow them around the world."

'Robsessed'

On this autumnal weekend in Northampton, five actors from the Twilight films have flown in for an extended bout of hero worship at this unofficial event.

They include "bad vampires" Rachelle Lefevre (Victoria) and Edi Gathegi (Laurent), members of the werewolf pack Chaske Spencer (Sam Uley) and Tyson Houseman (Quil Ateara) plus Gil Birmingham (Billy Black).

While the film's romantic leads Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) and Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) are not present, their images are everywhere: on T-shirts ("Robsessed"), on mugs ("Team Edward"), and on bags ("I freakin love Edward Cullen").

In the dealer's room, fans can also buy Twilight badges, action figures, baseball boots, plasters and air fresheners.

Emma and Odette
There are not many men - disappointingly!
Twilight fan Emma (left), with Odette

There is even a Robert Pattinson snow shaker.

'Love story'

Odette's friend Emma makes an observation about the male-female ratio at the convention.

"There are not many men - disappointingly!" she says, surveying the hoards of teenage girls. "A big lack of men."

Among the 800 attendees, the vast majority are still at school.

Emily, 15, from Milton Keynes, says it is Twlight's "intense love story" that appeals to teenage girls.

"I got into the books quite a while before the film came out. I'm really excited about New Moon - to see how the characters have progressed."

She says she's keen to meet Edi Gathegi: "He seems such a down-to-earth guy, and I thought they'd be stuck up because they're Hollywood stars."

Emily's friend Ellie, from Northampton, adds: "We've got school on Monday but we won't be able to stop talking about it. In our school literally the whole of Year 11 loves Twilight."

Emily adds: "It's 10 million times better than Harry Potter!"

Both girls say they are looking forward to the three themed parties that will run each night of the convention - baseball, masquerade and 1920s.

Twilight stars on why they like to meet their fans

'You're so cute!'

Ahead of the baseball party, the opening ceremony takes place in the main hall.

Organiser Jason Joiner, of Massive Events, makes a plea for the audience not to "squeal" as the guests arrive. Instead there are screams and whoops.

Edi Gathegi is first up on stage. "You beautiful UK people!" He has them eating out of his hand in seconds.

Next it's Tyson Houseman, a newcomer to the Twilight family and at his first UK convention.

"I have always wanted to run onto a stage and yell 'Hello England!' really loud," he says.

"You're so cute!" calls a woman's voice in the audience.

"Don't try to jump on me, I'm really sick right now," says Houseman, who is genuinely nursing a cold.

'Weird encounters'

Cam Gigandet, Edi Gathegi and Rachelle Lefevre in Twilight
Gathegi (centre) and Lefevre (right) appear in both Twilight and its sequel, New Moon

Away from the excited fans, Houseman downs a hot honey and lemon and ponders how New Moon will change his life.

"A lot of people I've met so far haven't been too crazy or too scary," he says, "but I know the other guys have had some weird encounters.

"Taylor [Lautner - who plays Jacob Black] was telling me there was a 40-year-old woman who pulled down her pants and she had Taylor's name on her underwear. I'm trying to prepare myself for that kind of thing."

Co-star Edi Gathegi says: "I've been with this movie since the beginning and I feel like I've been on this never-ending rollercoaster. The fans are some of the most amazing that anybody can ask for."

He sees the romantic backdrop to the story as a key factor in its success.

"It's romance first and vampires second, so it draws teenage girls in their millions."

'Not just for girls'

Shaun Hancock
Shaun from Dublin says being one of the few males "has its perks"

Caralee Loonat, from Batley, West Yorkshire, who is attending the convention with her 10-year-old daughter, agrees: "I like vampires I like love stories - it's a good mix."

One of the handful of male fans at the hotel is Shaun Hancock from Dublin. It's his first convention and he's just emerged from a photoshoot with Rachelle Lefevre.

"My friend dared me to get Rachelle to bite my neck!" he laughs.

"I read the books about six months before the first movie. It's like a drug, you get addicted to them, you have to read them over and over.

"It's not just for girls, there's fighting stuff that would catch guys' eyes."

There are other European fans too, including some from Sweden and France.

Nadege, from Lyon, says: "I write for a website and I sometimes talk to the actors on the phone, but I want to meet them so I am coming here."

Her friend Doriane, from Bordeaux, at her first convention, has just met Rachelle Lefevre. "It was awesome," she says.

Gold pass

Nadege and Doriane
Nadege and Doriane crossed the Channel to meet the stars

Of course, being a Twilight fan takes time - and money.

Rebecca, 15, from Newbury has paid £195 for gold pass access to her heroes. The price includes an intimate drinks reception.

"You get to meet famous people and you don't normally get to do that," says Rebecca, who adds that her mother paid for the ticket.

She admits it can be daunting to meet someone famous for the first time.

"You have to forget about that," says Rebecca, "and think of them as another person, or you'd be stuttering all the time - which I did a little bit."

She says she's most excited about meeting actor Chaske Spencer. Why?

"Because he's hot."

Sheep machine

If there's any evidence needed that the stars are happy to mix informally with their public, witness the scene at the first night baseball party.

A huge crowd suddenly gathers around the "bucking sheep" machine in the main hall, whooping and cheering.

Astride the sheep is actress Rachelle Lefevre. She hangs on like a tenacious vampire, until she's flung to the ground in a blaze of red hair.

That really is what you'd call getting down with the fans.

Twilight: New Moon is released in the UK on 20 November.



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