Last weekend, I did something so unlikely that I actually took myself by surprise. When the ballot came out for the annual Rondo Awards (best classic horror events, publications, compilations of the previous year as voted by horror fans), I nominated myself as a write-in. But before I tell you for which award, I should share why it was such a totally uncharacteristic thing for me to do.
For the past decade or more, I have been constitutionally unable to stomach any awards shows whatsoever -- Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys or even the Kennedy Center Honors. It wasn’t always that way. I used to throw an Oscar party every year and I ALWAYS won the betting pool. I had a uncanny ability to know exactly who was going to win every award -- a combo, I think, of a lifelong love of research, my childhood relish of logic problem puzzles, and growing up in The Biz. Then one January, something weird happened. As awards season ramped into gear, I was struck by the urge to avoid all the shows completely. That seemed so strange to me that I ignored my impulse and turned on the Oscars as usual. Five minutes into the first monologue, I found myself on the other side of the house doing almost anything to avoid watching. Still I kept drifting back thinking I "should" see what was happening. But every time I did, and listened to another winner wax on, I felt not only apathy, but a slight revulsion. Eventually I turned the show off and opened a book instead.
The next year, the same resistance overtook me -- and this time I knew better than to even try watching.The years passed and not only didn't I tune in, but I became one of those obnoxious people who, the moment they quit an addiction, like to flaunt their superiority: I pontificated to anyone who would listen about the egotism of awards shows. Inside, however, I found myself wondering if I was disingenuous as I judged the people I couldn't bear to watch. Was I turned off by awards shows because they mirrored back to me the ways in which my family and I had never been “good enough”: Had my parents never quite "measured up" enough to receive Oscars, Emmys or Tony? Or, much closer to home, did I somehow feel like a failure for not having followed in their footsteps at all?
A few years ago, I realized that in addition to awards avoidance, I also have awards amnesia. I snapped to this when I was moderating a panel sponsored by National Museum of Women in the Arts. While I was being introduced, a number of the awards I have been given by arts organizations were mentioned -- and I had absolutely zero memory of receiving a single one of them. Not one! All in all, I guess you could say I have a conflicted and peculiar relationship with awards of any kind. One which I didn’t really understand until very recently.
These past few months one word seems to be cropping up very often as I am stepping into a new chapter of my professional life by doing more public speaking and writing. That word is deservability. By this I mean the feelings of shame and lack of self worth, which I carry around based on the ways in which I internalized the messages of my upbringing. You see, I have managed to make it to my fifth decade never ever feeling good enough, never feeling like I deserve success or prosperity. And so, my life has been a difficult dance with success and failure, prosperity and lack, doing what I love and overcompensating for my fears.
Cut to last Sunday when an email announcing this year’s Rondo Awards ballots popped into my inbox. Sure enough — my dad was nominated, and so were Sara Karloff and I for a panel on which we appeared at Wonderfest in Louisville, Kentucky. Very happily, so was Peter Fuller for our Vincent Price London Legacy Tour that we hosted last fall. It was very exciting!
Then, as I read through to the bottom of the ballot, I saw a write-in category that intrigued me: Monster Kid of the Year. Now I have no clue what that award is for actually -- perhaps the biggest fans of the industry? But in that moment, I suddenly thought: “Well, I’m a Monster Kid! I’m a kid who has been celebrating the legacy of my father, along with all the other fans who love him. I think I’ll nominate myself.” And before all my usual naysaying thoughts could surface, I found the perfect photo, wrote this post and published it on Facebook:
So, I'm nominating myself for the Rondo Awards' Monster Kid of the Year. My main monster is lack of self-worth. So writing this social media post feels waaaay scarier than any of my dad's movies! But I have been dedicated to preserving and promoting my dad's legacy of love, joy and yes, because he was an amazing human being who deserves not only to be remembered, but also to be celebrated! To vote for me #VictoriaPrice as Monster Kid of the Year, please write me in on your ballot.Thank you so much for all you do to keep the #VincentPrice family legacy alive! Click here to vote: http://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/?p=224
What happened next surprised the heck out of me. A flurry of responses came in, and kept coming in day after day after day. Here are a few
Victoria, self-worth is a given. It's one of those things you have upon birth, and it can never be taken away. It can be misplaced, or forgotten, but you still have it. How can you even imagine you have none? Without you, I'd never have seen this picture, and my life would have less wonder. Thank you.
We've all got monsters but thank you so much for being brave and sharing your monsters with us! I loved your brutally honest introduction to the cookbook. Your transparency only makes us as fans feel truly connected to you and all that you share makes us richer for knowing you! Thanks, Victoria!!!
I understand the lack of self worth thing because that's a monster we share. But, my dear, from my perspective YOU ROCK! !
Thank you for sharing, I fight the same battle myself. Stay strong and glad your father was such a positive influence on you. He was a gem, to say the least.
Buck up, Buttercup! You are NOT alone... So many of us - who follow in the shadows of our famous parents now find ourselves unconsciously measuring our legacy against their successes at the same age that we are now. Please let me be the last to tell you - that you're not only succeeded - but that both of your parents would be damn PROUD of what you've accomplished! Damn proud. We who have known you since you were the cutest little pussycat in the neighborhood are with you every step of the way. Don't believe me? Judging from the responses above - you're in good and loyal company, my Dear Victoria.
Victoria, your biography of your father is by far the best book ever written about the Great Man. You're an excellent writer and more than deserving of a Rondo, or indeed of any literary award I can think of. You're definitely a world class Monster Kid, and beloved by all of us.
Victoria, your candor is refreshingly brave in an age where everybody wants to be perceived as confident, in control, and "cool", even at the expense of the truth. You kinda broke into the Monsterfan scene a short time ago, and rather suddenly, but you have very quickly become beloved through your own personal qualities. Being your dad's daughter may have been your 'foot in the door', so to speak, but your truth, your amazing innate goodness, and your courage, have quickly made you stand far out as an individual, on your OWN merits. You've shown yourself to be a true standout individual, a real credit to the genre but more importantly to the human family, despite your own insecurities and having some mighty big shoes to fill, in front of a big audience. I think so very highly of you as an individual. It must've been frightening to present yourself in such high profile to a huge bunch of people who've spent their lifetimes immersed in horror and all things "Vincent Price". In a a short time, you've fit right in and captured the hearts and respect of all. I don't even think of you as "Victoria Price-- Vincent Price's daughter"", but as "Victoria Price-- amazing, introspective, and fun woman who just happens to be Vincent Price's daughter". That last part, initially monumental, has become almost incudental, because you've earned your stripes by yourself, on your own. If you still feel beleaguered by doubts of your own self worth, know that you mean an awful lot to us, your friends and fans. You earned it. On your own. :)
Every single reply brought tears to my eyes and I was filled with immense gratitude for everyone who took the time to reply with such love, generosity and kindness!!!
So, here’s the thing. . .I've been trying for almost a year now to capture in words what the horror community has meant to me these past few years. As most people know, I am not a horror fan. I don't like being scared, I don't like violence, and hard as I try, I just don't get the desire to choose to watch those things -- let alone pay good money for them! (Needless to say, however, it is a good thing so many fans do, or my dad wouldn't have had near as much fun as he did!)
By now, though, everyone knows that I am a fan of horror fans, because of how the fans really "get" my dad and love him and have kept his legacy alive. But it wasn't until this week, after nominating myself for Monster Kid of the Year, admitting to my personal monster of self-worth, and being flooded by the most amazingly loving vulnerable brave honest kind responses, that the lightbulb went off and I was able to articulate what it is I really LOVE about horror fans.
We may not like the same kind of movies. In fact, my own friends often tease me for my taste in movies, especially my weakness for feel-good sports movies. But the horror fans don’t seem to care. They have embraced me for what I am — although I didn’t even know it — a Monster Kid, just like them!
We Monster Kids are a community — and I use the word "we", because the horror fans have welcomed me with open arms — of people who have felt “different" in one way or another our whole lives. The ways in which we feel different don’t really matter. Often, our differences make us different from one another. But that’s the beautiful thing — there is no conformity for Monster Kids. Whoever you are is fine!! We don’t fit in — and most of us don’t really even want to. But society doesn’t celebrate us outcasts — until one of us become famous enough to break the rules. Society teaches us to marginalize, judge, pick on and bully those who are different. So the horror fans changed the rules by creating a forum where difference, creativity, weirdness, otherness — being a Monster Kid — is celebrated.
Going to horror conventions and meeting horror fans is teaching me that it is OK for me to be exactly who I am — actually not just OK, but perfect, fun, and fabulous! And that, in turn, is changing how I am moving through the world. Which is what I got to see, hear, feel, and know in the marrow of my being this week: All of the loving responses made me realize that my problem is not being a Monster Kid, but rather having been ashamed of being a Monster Kid. I have been so fearful of being who I am that I have hidden it from almost everyone — sometimes even myself. But that’s changing as I begin to let go of shame and embrace my deservability. Turns out that nominating myself for Monster Kid of the Year became my unexpected coming out party, my debutant ball danced to the tune of my dad’s hilarious rendition of Monster Mash. My first steps in saying: Hello World. I'm a Monster Kid and I'm not ashamed of it!
All it took was a wild-ass leap of faith in nominating myself for an award whose real purpose I still don't even know. I've always believed that whatever blesses one blesses all. . .So, I've come up with what I think is the perfect solution to my awards aversion: I nominate us ALL, all us freaks and outcasts, iconoclasts and weirdoes, all of us who haven't felt like we fitted in, all of us who have felt like we were too different for our own good.
I nominate us ALL as Monster Kids of the Year.
It's time to rock on with our bad selves and flip shame the bird. Let us fully embrace, enjoy, and celebrate who we are and in doing so, shine our lights so brightly that all the other Monster Kids out there find their way back home to themselves and the life of joy and pride and deservability that is the true birthright of every single person on this planet (instead of the far grimmer one elucidated by my dad in this video.) Let's celebrate diversity and difference by doing that Mash, that Monster Mash, with pride and joy! So, join me fellow Monster Kids. Let's dance!